For the Memories: Part 2



Part II: 1988 College Football Tournament


By Glenn Guzzo


            For the love of board games, nostalgia, and a REAL college-football playoff … Here is the remainder of the first round in the tournament using the 48 teams from Strat-O-Matic’s 1988 college football cards.


            Remember (see Strat-O-Sphere for Part I), this was played solitaire, basic rules.


            Last time, we revealed the heroics of Barry Sanders, the embarrassment of Andre Ware, the clutch winning drive by USC and the shock of Oklahoma’s loss.


            This second batch of a dozen games featured some future National Football League Hall of Famers and some dramatic finishes, including four upsets. For more on the fortunes of Brett Favre, Troy Aikman and others, read on.



No. 36 TEXAS A&M – 10                No. 13 Clemson – 7

            The most lackluster game of the tournament so far featured nearly as many punts (16) as passes (17) when two one-dimensional offenses struggled, mostly unsuccessfully, for yardage on the ground. A&M tailbacks Darren Lewis and Larry Horton combined for 138 yards on 28 carries. Horton’s 33-yard dash early in the third quarter accounted for about half of the Aggies’ only lengthy drive of the game, ending in a 1-yard TD dive by fullback Robert Wilson that was the final score of the game. Clemson QB Rodney Williams ran for 117 yards on 18 carries, including a 26-yard TD in the first quarter, but he completed only 3 of 11 passes for 56 yards. The final stats could not have been much more even. A&M had 229 yards rushing, 275 total yards, 12 first downs and four pass completions. Clemson had 224 yards rushing, 280 total yards, 12 first downs and three pass completions. Each team lost one fumble and had no interceptions.

            Next up for Texas A&M: Miami.


No. 14 UCLA – 34                             No. 35 Wake Forest – 28     

            UCLA’s Troy Aikman vs. a weak pass defense. Result: A best-of-tourney 405 yards passing for UCLA. But it took an 80-yard drive against the clock and TB Eric Ball’s two-yard run off tackle with 15 seconds to play to give UCLA a victory instead of an upset defeat.

            Aikman hit six bombs in the game, two of them for TDs to FL Mike Farr (7 catches, 146 yards). But none were bigger than the two long ones Aikman hit in the final, 80-yard drive. Wake Forest had taken a 28-27 lead with 1:15 to play on Mike Elkins’ 36-yard pass to WB Ricky Proehl (10 catches, 149 yards). Then, after a touchback on the kickoff, Aikman hit SE Reggie Moore for 35 yards, Farr for 29 and TE Charles Arbuckle for 14, setting up the decisive run by Ball (16 carries, 109 yards, 2 TDs). In the end, a pair of first-half field goals by UCLA’s Alfredo Velasco (39 and 34 yards) proved crucial.


No. 15 SYRACUSE – 28                   No. 34 Michigan State – 10  

            It’s been a while since a higher seed won handily, and Syracuse led only 14-10 well into the fourth quarter. But the Orangemen established their dominance with two long first-quarter drives and solid defense throughout, then locked things up with two fourth-quarter scores. RB Robert Drummond (126 yards, 2 TDs), FB Darryl Johnston (2 TDs), QB Todd Philcox (194 yards) and WR Rob Moore (6 catches, 81 yards) gave Syracuse a balanced, turnover-free offense and Michigan State could manage just 205 yards of offense and 10 first downs.


No. 33 ILLINOIS – 37                      No. 16 Southern Mississippi – 17    

            Brett Favre vs. Jeff George. Although this one goes in the books as an upset, Southern Mississippi’s 9-2 record that earned the high seeding masked lackluster cards, especially on defense. Illinois TB Keith Jones ran for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns and George passed for 207 yards. Favre did throw for 304 yards and 2 TDs, but a 71-yard TD pass came when the score was 37-10. And he was erratic all day, connecting on just 17 of 38 throws, including two interceptions that led to 10 Illini points. Illinois also capitalized on a fumbled kickoff (field goal) and a turnover on downs late in the game (touchdown).

            Next for Illinois: Auburn.


No. 17 UTEP – 30                              No. 32 Virginia – 14

            Virginia built a 14-0 second-quarter lead on two long drives, then was helpless the rest of the way against a swarming UTEP defense that shut down the run, intercepted six of Shawn Moore’s passes and returned two of them for touchdowns. The Miners, who managed just 242 yards and 10 first downs of their own, also rode to success on the strong leg of PK Chris Jacke, who connected on field goals of 40, 49 and 38 yards, booted three extra points and had four touchbacks on kickoffs. TB John Harvey ran for 102 yards and the only UTEP offensive touchdown.


No. 18 ARMY – 26                            No. 31 Arizona – 17

            This matchup between two teams that run very well but pass hardly at all went in favor of mistake-free Army, which turned two Arizona fumbles in Wildcat territory into 10 points. Cadet HB Mike Mayweather rushed for 126 of Army’s 305 yards and two second-half touchdowns. His 24-yard TD run on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter turned out to be the final score of the game. Arizona’s offense often stalled between the Army 20 and 30 yard lines. Although Doug Platt drilled a 49-yard field goal that pulled Arizona to within 12-10 at the half, he also missed on attempts of 40, 45 and 43 yards (success range: 2-6, 11, 12).

            Next for Army: UTEP.


No. 19 MICHIGAN – 35                               No. 30 Iowa – 21

            Michigan, which ended up No. 4 in the Associated Press’ post-bowl rankings, is the primary victim of the seeding system used for this tournament. Michigan’s strong defense and a low-turnover offense that is steady on the ground and in a Flat/Short passing game makes them much better than the 19th-best team in this tourney. But the Wolverines’ 8-2-1 regular-season record gave them a much tougher first-round opponent. Instead of facing a Texas A&M or even an Ivy League school, Michigan had to face Iowa (6-3-3), a  team that tied Michigan in 1988.

After a tentative start for both teams, Iowa scored first, in the second quarter, on the first of QB Chuck Hartlieb’s three touchdown passes. But Michigan took the kickoff and marched to a tying score, the first of FB Leroy Hoard’s four short TD runs. Michigan built its lead to 28-7 early in the fourth quarter on Hoard’s fourth score. Michigan TB Tony Boles rushed for 156 yards on 32 carries while Iowa ended with -26 yards rushing after six Michigan sacks worth 39 yards. Hartlieb hit 24 of 41 passes for 260 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. WB Deven Harberts caught 8 balls for 118 yards and one score.

Next for Michigan: Syracuse.




 No. 20 COLORADO – 10                            No. 29 BYU – 3

            When Colorado completed an 80-yard drive on Jeff Campbell’s 26-yard catch and run midway in the second quarter, it looked like the sluggish offenses finally would get untracked. But this Long Gain touchdown on a third-down Short Pass (following 28- and 14-yard runs by Eric Bienemy) proved to be the only TD of the game.

            A stalwart Buffalo defense and BYU’s own ineptitude kept the Cougars out of the end zone. BYU completed only 17 of 52 passes, including 8 receiver drops, while throwing four interceptions and suffering five sacks. Only five of 14 rushing attempts gained yardage. Colorado, with just six first downs, didn’t fare much better, but Bienemy had 112 yards on the ground and Campbell’s only catch made the difference.

            Next for Colorado: UCLA.


No. 21 GEORGIA – 35                                             No. 28 Indiana – 20

            Tailback Tim Worley had 10 runs of 13 yards or more and ran for four short touchdowns as Georgia advanced to the second round. Worley gained 209 yards in all. The Bulldogs’ punt-return team excelled as well – Georgia had three short touchdown drives following a blocked punt and a pair of 27-yard returns by Chuck Carswell (five returns, 115 yards in all).

            The special teams made the difference, as Georgia out-gained Indiana only 442-401 and turned the ball over three times to just one for Indiana. Hoosiers Tailback Anthony Thompson and fullback Cal Miller combined for 245 yards rushing. But most of Indiana’s offense came in the second half, after Georgia had built a 28-3 lead early in the third quarter.

            Next for Georgia: Oklahoma State.



No. 27 North Carolina State – 45                             No. 22 Washington State – 17

            Washington State’s dynamic offense vs. NC State’s stalwart defense. NC State’s ho-hum offense vs. Washington State’s leaky defense. Who would you want?

            Result: Washington State’s Tim Rosenbach passes for 399 yards – and a horror-show eight interceptions. In what had to be the worst rolling I’ve ever seen, Rosenbach hit interception chances 13 times in 58 pass attempts.

            The efficient Wolfpack marched to 10 first downs and a 10-0 first-quarter lead that became 17-0 early in the second. Despite getting only one more first down over the next two quarters, NC State surged to a 45-7 blowout advantage.

            The game turned around late in the second quarter. Rosenbach was on fire, driving the Cougars 79 yards to a score that made it 17-7 and was doing the same thing on the next possession, reaching the NC State 9. But his next pass was intercepted – and returned 103 yards for a TD. Instead of 17-14, it was 24-7. Then Rosenbach was intercepted again on the next possession, and it, too, was returned for a score, 32 yards this time. The Wolfpack had to drive only 50 yards and 8 yards to their next two scores, following two more picks. In all, NC State turned those eight interceptions into six TDs.

            NC State’s Jackson ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Washington State WB Tim Stallworth caught 9 passes for 169 yards and a TD.

            Next for NC State: Florida State.



No. 26 Hawaii – 16                                                     No. 23 Alabama – 13

            Run-oriented Hawai passed for only 28 yards, but a 7-yard toss from Warren Jones to Chris Roscoe with 45 seconds remaining gave the Rainbows a startling upset victory.

            The winning eight-play drive followed an Alabama fumble at its 39-yard line in the final four minutes.

            Though this was not one of Alabama’s better teams, it figured to run very well against a soft Hawaii defense. But the Tide did not roll, gaining just 80 yards on 37 carries. Meanwhile, Hawaii fullback Heikoti Fakava’s 174 yards helped the Rainbows build a 9-0 fourth-quarter lead on three field goals by Jason Elam.

            Alabama finally got its offense in gear at that point. QB David Smith hit Greg Payne on a 33-yard bomb, and found TB David Casteal in the flat for 16 more. Then Casteal burst through the line for a 12-yard TD, completing a 76-yard drive, longest of the day for either team. On the next possession, Hawaii lost a fumble at its 24 and Alabama needed just four plays to register the TD that put Alabama ahead, 13-9. But Tide TB Murry Hill, who scored the go-ahead TD, fumbled on Alabama’s next possession, setting the stage for Hawaii’s heroics.

            Next for Hawaii: Southern California.



No. 24 LSU – 44                                                         No. 25 South Carolina – 7

            Like the rankings, this looked like an even matchup.

Supposedly, SC TB Harold Green and QB Todd Ellis would give the Gamecocks a balanced attack and all that LSU could handle. Hah. The Tigers drove 61 yards to a TD after the opening kickoff, then blocked a punt and converted a field goal. It was 10-0 seven minutes into the game, 17-0 at the quarter and 27-0 before South Carolina got a first down.

The stat sheet says South Carolina was as bad as some of the lowest seeds, including Ivy League teams. The Gamecocks managed only 186 yards and eight first downs, with five turnovers and a blocked punt (to no turnovers for LSU). Ellis was a woeful13 for 46 with three interceptions. Green was worse, with just 15 yards rushing in 12 attempts, including a lost fumble. Meanwhile, LSU’s Tom Hodson hit 21 of 36 passes for 258 yards and a pair of TDs. Tailback Eddie Fuller ran for two touchdowns and caught one of Hodson’s TD passes.

            Next for LSU: Arkansas



Next in this series: Winners play on — the next installment on Strat-O-Sphere will feature the 12 games of the second round:


No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 40 Baylor

No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 39 Arizona State

No. 3 Nebraska vs. No. 38 Pittsburgh

No. 4 Miami vs. No. 36 Texas A&M

No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 33 Illinois

No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 27 North Carolina State

No. 7 USC vs. No. 26 Hawaii

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 24 LSU

No. 12 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Georgia

No. 14 UCLA vs. No. 20 Colorado

No. 15 Syracuse vs. No. 19 Michigan

No. 17 UTEP vs. No. 18 Army