FOR THE MEMORIES
Notre Dame Rolls,
By Glenn Guzzo
Strat-O-Matic’s college football game of the late 1980s brings together several of the issues often discussed in The Talk Show: Desire for Strat-O-Matic college football, nostalgia and some of the unique ratings that were found in that game.
Unlike SOM’s pro football game, the college teams had their own interception-return column. Punters were rated for kicks that could not be returned. Blocked punts were refined statistically with split chances. And the Long Gain chart had shorter gains in the college game. All were attempts to provide compensating interest in a game that lacked individual player cards for offensive skills players (all players at a position were grouped into a collective rating for that position), ratings or names for offensive linemen and names for defensive players.
The game is easy and fun to play, with 48 teams per year (probably all of the major teams with winning records and four to six teams per major conference). Even the Ivy League was represented, with four teams offering easy fodder for Division I schools. All teams were rated in consideration of the strength of their schedule. And even that wasn’t enough to deflate some of the Ivy schools – they were given the dreaded “breakdown” ratings that turned fumbles and other good defensive plays against the run into Short Gains.
So we gave the last of three Strat-O-Matic college sets – the one based on the 1988 season – a whirl. We thought we should see blowouts and close games and we wanted to determine a true national champion. So we put all 48 teams into a tournament. All three of our wishes were granted.
Teams were seeded 1-48, but not very analytically. I put the four Ivy League teams at the bottom, in order of won-lost record. Then I seeded the rest in approximate order of “blemishes” (losses and ties) on their carded records. The Strat-O-Matic cards show only the regular-season won-lost records, so the seeds do not conform to the final AP Poll. Nor do they reflect a careful analysis of the cards to determine relative strength. In the case of teams with identical records, seeding orders usually were determined by which teams had the widest differential in offensive touchdowns allowed vs. defensive touchdowns allowed.
So it’s easy to argue about the seeds, because they are arbitrary. But whether a team was ranked No. 10 or No. 40 made little difference. As it turned out, few of the higher seeds had an easy time of it in the first round.
Here’s how the first round matched up:
1 Notre Dame (11-0) vs. 48
5 Auburn (10-1) vs 44 Navy (3-8)
7 USC (10-1) vs 42 Penn State (5-6)
13 Clemson (9-2) vs 36
14 UCLA (9-2) vs 35 Wake
17 UTEP (10-2) vs 32
18 Army (9-2) vs 31
24 LSU (8-3) vs 25
After the first round, surviving teams will be seeded again to decide the Final 12. Repeat the process to whittle the tourney down to the Final 6. Then, give the top two surviving seeds a bye. Those two, plus the survivors of the other two games will make a Final 4.
Here are the results of the first half of the first round. Future installments on Strat-O-Sphere will follow the progress of the tournament.
Keep in mind, we used the basic game for ease of solitaire play (in the college game, a given team might have separate alignments for 3-4, 4-3 and 5-2 defenses). We called the offensive plays for both teams and let the solitaire play-calling chart choose run/pass. There was no keying or double-teaming. However, we used the recommendation on the play-calling chart to adjust defensive run calls for teams with run-dominated or pass-dominated offenses. As you will see, this very effectively simulated the way a human manager would dare a bad passing team.
We used the advanced timing system. All plays that stop the clock – including first downs – were 15-second plays.
No. 1 NOTRE DAME – 81 No. 48
Without a single play gaining more than 30 yards, a backfield full of future pros (Mark Green, Tony Brooks, Ricky Watters, Anthony Johnson, Rodney Culver) gained 587 yards rushing. Overall, Notre Dame outgained
The Mountaineers were unspectacular, but didn’t have to be very sharp in outgaining the Tigers 539-143. QB Major Harris ran for two scores and passed for a third. TB A. B. Brown rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Hurricanes showed the first balanced offense, running 39 times for 216 yards and passing 35 times for 216 yards against the best the Ivy had to offer. QB Steve Walsh passed for two scores and FB Cleveland Gary ran for 88 yards and a TD. Penn becomes the first underdog to score – a third-quarter field goal following an interception.
WR Lawyer Tillman caught eight of Reggie Slack’s passes for 136 yards and two TDs as
The Seminoles struck for 28 points in the final to turn a 21-10 game into a route. RB Sammie Smith ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns, QBs Chip Ferguson and Peter Tom Willis each threw for a TD and the
No. 7 USC – 21 No. 42 Penn State – 14
Trailing early in the fourth quarter, The Trojans blocked a punt and turned it into a go-ahead field goal, then marched 89 yards to a TD after a Penn State fumble to avoid a huge upset. The Nittany Lions became the first underdog to score twice – on Michael Timpson’s 78-yard punt return, and on an 82-yard interception return. Both scores gave
The Razorbacks ran to a 17-0 lead and built it to 34-7 with a Mr.-Inside (FB Barry Foster)-Mr. Outside (QB Quinn Grovey) ground game. Two
No. 40 BAYLOR – 28 No. 9
If any team figured to be overseeded it was
Baylor’s prize: They get to play Notre Dame in the second round.
The Sun Devils would need all the breaks to upset
The first quarter was something to watch.
But with the defensive play calls leaning towards pass, Ware hit just 21 of 51 tosses and TB Chuck Weatherspoon ran for just 52 yards in 12 carries – 47 of those yards on two tries. Perkins had 181 yards on 28 carries for the Sun Devils, who also had 158 yards passing from QB Daniel Ford.
Next up for
This upset shocked the tournament when Alonzo Hampton raced 79 yards on a punt return early in the fourth quarter for Pitt’s only TD.
No. 12 OKLAHOMA STATE – 24 No. 37 Florida – 21 (OT)
With Oklahoma State committing four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumbled punt), the teams traded touchdowns throughout regulation, which ended in a tie after Emmit Smith’s second TD of the game, a one-yard blast off tackle with 1:15 to play that capped a 77-yard, nine-play drive. Smith had 93 yards in 30 carries for the Gators, who also scored on an interception return and got 200 yards passing from QB Kyle Morris.
Stay tuned – more first-round action to come. So far, we know that in the second round, Notre Dame will play