For the Memories: Part 3



Part III: 1988 College Football Tournament


By Glenn Guzzo


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


            In the first round, all of the top eight seeds, including top-ranked Notre Dame, advanced. So did No. 12 Oklahoma State, No. 14 UCLA and No. 19 Michigan, thanks to the heroics of Barry Sanders (308 yards rushing), Troy Aikman (405 yards passing) and Leroy Hoard (4 TDs), respectively.


            Seven upsets, none more startling than No. 38 Pittsburgh’s 13-10 shocker over No. 11 Oklahoma, raised the caution flag for all favorites. No. 33 Illinois (QB Jeff George) knocked out Brett Favre and Southern Mississippi. No. 26 Hawaii (PK Jason Elam’s three field goals were decisive) eliminated No. 23 Alabama, 16-13.


            Emmitt Smith (Florida), Andre Ware (Houston), Ricky Proehl (Wake Forest), Herman Moore (Virginia) and Harold Green (South Carolina) were eliminated, too, while Darryl Johnston (Syracuse), Rodney Peete (USC) and Eric Bienemy (Colorado) play on.


            Remember (see Strat-O-Sphere for Parts I and II), this was played solitaire, mostly with basic-game rules. Remember, too, that the Strat-O-Matic college game differs from the pro version in several ways, including many more “Receiver” readings on quarterback cards and interception-return ratings for each team.


            Here’s a recap of the first round:


1        Notre Dame     (11-0) vs.        48        Dartmouth        (5-5)    … Notre Dame, 81-0

2        West Virginia    (11-0) vs.        47        Princeton          (6-4)    W. Virginia, 52-0

3        Nebraska         (11-1)  vs.        46        Cornell             (7-2-1) Nebraska, 51-0

4        Miami               (10-1)  vs.        45        Penn                 (9-1)    Miami, 37-3

5        Auburn (10-1)  vs         44        Navy                (3-8)    Auburn, 45-6

6        Florida State     (10-1)  vs         43        Texas Tech       (5-6)    Florida St., 49-10

7        USC                (10-1)  vs         42        Penn State        (5-6)    … USC, 21-14

8        Arkansas          (10-1)  vs         41        Oregon             (6-6)    Arkansas, 34-14

9        Wyoming          (11-1)  vs         40        Baylor              (6-5)    Baylor, 28-17

10    Houston           (9-2)    vs         39        Arizona State    (6-5)    Arizona St., 23-14

11    Oklahoma        (9-2)    vs         38        Pittsburgh         (6-5)    Pittsburgh, 13-10

12    Oklahoma St.   (9-2)    vs         37        Florida             (6-5)    Okla. St., 24-21

13    Clemson           (9-2)    vs         36        Texas A&M     (7-5)    Texas A&M, 10-7

14    UCLA              (9-2)    vs         35        Wake Forest    (6-4-1) … UCLA, 34-28

15    Syracuse          (9-2)    vs         34        Michigan St      (6-4-1) Syracuse, 28-10

16    S. Mississippi   (9-2)    vs         33        Illinois               (6-4-1) Illinois, 37-17

17    UTEP               (10-2)  vs         32        Virginia (7-4)    … UTEP, 30-14

18    Army                (9-2)    vs         31        Arizona            (7-4)    … Army, 26-17

19    Michigan          (8-2-1) vs         30        Iowa                (6-3-3) Michigan, 35-21

20    Colorado          (8-3)    vs         29        BYU                (8-4)    Colorado, 10-3

21    Georgia            (8-3)    vs         28        Indiana             (7-3-1) Georgia, 35-20

22    Washington St  (8-3)    vs         27        N.Carolina St.  (7-3-1) NC State, 45-17

23    Alabama           (8-3)    vs         26        Hawaii              (9-3)    Hawaii, 16-13

24    LSU                 (8-3)    vs         25        S. Carolina       (8-3)    … LSU, 44-7



Teams were re-seeded for the second-round, with top seed vs. lowest seed and so on. The Round 3 results:


No. 1 Notre Dame  34                                                           No. 40 Baylor 14

            Baylor’s Cinderella dreams were rudely awakened in the first half, as Notre Dame built a 24-0 lead, due in large part to a pair of interceptions that required the Irish to march just 16 and 29 yards to TDs. The Bears turned the tables, scoring just before the end of the first half on a 28-yard drive following an interception. Then Baylor marched just 33 yards after a 25-yard punt for the only score of the third quarter to make it 24-14. But Notre Dame QB Tony Rice, who led all runners with 110 yards on 22 attempts, dove in from one yard with 10 minutes to play to end all doubt. The Irish rushed for 301 yards in all and held Baylor to -18 on the ground, thanks to eight sacks worth 56 yards in losses. Baylor QB Brad Goebel passed for 201 yards, but suffered three interceptions and the eight sacks.


No. 2 West Virginia  36                                                         No. 39 Arizona State 21

            In its first-round victory against over-matched Ivy League foe Princeton, West Virginia’s defense dominated while its offense sputtered. Same story early in this game as the Mountaineer defense was mostly responsible for West Virginia’s early 5-0 lead. The defense sacked Arizona State QB Daniel Ford for a first-quarter safety, then strangled the ASU offense deep in its territory, leading to a field goal after a mere 39-yard drive. Ford, 2 of 9 passing for 31 yards and an interception (on his first pass), gave way to Paul Justin midway in the second quarter, and what a difference: Justin hit 7 of his first 8 passes, moving the Sun Devils 78 yards to the go-ahead touchdown on his first drive, then finding TE Ryan McReynolds for a 10-yard TD to put ASU up, 14-5, with 1:30 to play in the half.


Suddenly, Arizona State was looking like the team that frustrated Andre Ware and Houston. It looked like trouble for West Virginia. But the Mountaineers finally gained a sense of urgency, scoring a field goal on the final play of the half after moving 52 yards in four plays. The Mountaineer momentum carried over into the third quarter. West Virginia intercepted Justin and marched 74 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, 15-14. QB

Major Harris hit WR Reggie Rembert for a 26-yard score to end an 85-yard drive and Harris scrambled 20 yards to the end zone on a Pass Rush to finish a 55-yard drive.


Ahead 29-14, the Mountaineers surrendered just one more score, Justin’s 41-yard pass to SE Leland Adams two plays after a West Virginia fumble. But ASU’s upset hopes were dashed when Justin fired his third interception midway through the final quarter, leading to TB A.B. Brown’s 13-yard TD around end.


            West Virginia outgained Arizona State, 407-217. Harris ran for 99 yards and passed for 159 more while Brown had 92 yards and two TDs. Arizona State managed just 6 yards rushing on 18 carries and its two quarterbacks combined to hit only 15 of 39 passes with four interceptions.


No. 3 Nebraska  17                                                                No. 38 Pittsburgh 0

            Pitt’s tough defense set the stage for another upset. Instead, Nebraska’s even tougher defense recorded its second straight shutout – no other team did that.


Scoreless for 20 minutes, the game was settled on two strong Nebraska drives, one each in the second and third quarters. Tailback Ken Clark (25 carries for 117 yards) finished both drives with scoring runs. The Cornhuskers moved 75 yards on four runs in the second period. Clark ripped off tackle for 32 yards and QB Steve Taylor (18 carries, 106 yards) flew around end for 38 more to the Pitt 1-yard-line. Clark dove over from there. Nebraska took the second-half kickoff and drove 68 yards in nine plays, with Clark scoring from 6 yards out.


Pitt managed jut 204 yards and three turnovers. Nebraska did not turn it over at all.


No. 4 Miami   41                                                                    No. 36 Texas A&M  7

            The Hurricane secondary devastated A&M, which neither ran nor passed well. Two interception-return TDs in the second quarter, and two short scoring drives following interceptions in the fourth quarter made this a one-sided game.


In all, A&M threw five interceptions (and lost two fumbles), while completing only 8 of 32 passes for 92 yards (not counting 29 yards in sacks). The running game didn’t work much better, with 111 yards on 42 carries. The seven turnovers gave Miami excellent field position most of the game, but the Hurricane offense squandered several golden opportunities.


It didn’t matter, because Miami had so many of them. It scored first on a field goal following a 35-yard punt return. Still in the first quarter, slow-footed Miami QB Steve Walsh scrambled out of a pass rush to gain 50 yards (a  Long Gain on the defense card), setting up his 9-yard TD pass to Randal Hill on the next play. With the score 17-0 after Miami returned an interception for a 36-yard TD, A&M fielded a punt near midfield and called a timeout to take one shot with a bomb on the last play of the first half. The Long Pass was intercepted and run back for a 74-yard touchdown, turning the game into a 24-0 halftime rout.


Miami PK Carlos Huerta had five PATs and two field goals.


No. 5 Auburn   21                                                                   No. 33 Illinois  13

            This one shaped up as a possible second upset for Illinois, because it could score faster if it needed to with the strong arm of Jeff George, while Auburn has a suspect offense. In fact, Illinois dominated the first half, but trailed 7-3 at intermission.


On Illinois’ second possession, the Illini drove from their own 3-yard-line to the Auburn 6, but Howard Griffith (10 carries, 50 yards, plus 6 receptions for 46 yards) fumbled on first down. Illinois’ defense held and gave the offense field position at the Illini 47 following a punt. George led his team to a first down at the Auburn 2, but Illinois had to settle for a field goal.


George finished with 278 yards passing and Illinois achieved 24 first downs, but too often drives that started around the Illini 20 stalled around the Auburn 40. Illinois gained 423 total yards, but punted seven times.


Meanwhile, Auburn made the most of its few opportunities, scoring one TD each in the second, third and fourth quarters. RB James Joseph (16 carries, 113 yards) broke away twice, for a 48-yard score that put Auburn up in the second quarter, and for a 17-yard TD in the third. Then, up 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers drove just 21 yards for the clinching score following George’s only interception.


George drove Illinois 78 yards to a score with 45 seconds remaining, but the Illini could not recover the ensuing on-side kick.


No. 6 Florida State   28                                              No. 27 North Carolina State  3

            Deion Sanders returned two punts for touchdowns and also ran an interception back all the way in a prime-time performance. Sanders had 168 return yards on seven punts. His 49-yard dash opened the scoring and his 61-yard score in the third quarter gave FSU a 21-3 lead. Later in that quarter, he returned an interception 84 yards for the insurance TD.


The weak NC State running game (29 carries, 11 yards) could not exploit Florida State’s porous run defense. The Wolfpack never had much hope about passing well, connecting on 13 of 42 passes for 150 yards, but also suffering six sacks for 35 yards in losses.



No. 7 USC   47                                                                       No. 26 Hawaii  6

            USC rebounded from its scary narrow victory in Round 1 with a ruthless assault on would-be Cinderella Hawai. Jerry Lockwood ran for 96 yards and 3 TDs and Rodney Peete passed for two scores and 270 yards – 215 to Eric Affolter, who had 9 catches and a TD. Hawaii managed just 120 yards in offense. USC led 23-0 when Hawaii managed its only score on a 90-yard kickoff return and then missed the point-after.



No. 24 LSU  27                                                                       No. 8 Arkansas  24

            Just when it looked like the favorites would run the table in this round, LSU put together a proud performance that overcame the adversity of five seemingly disastrous turnovers. With Arkansas overwhelming LSU’s running game (25 carries, 25 yards), LSU QB Tommy Hodson lit up the Arkansas stadium by hitting 31 of 50 passes for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns to overcome 3 interceptions. His favorite receiver, Tony Moss, had 10 catches for 150 yards. While Hodson was starring, the LSU run defense stuffed 28 of Arkansas’ 47 rushes (1 yard or less each) to thwart the powerful Razorback running attack surprisingly often.


            LSU was deep in Arkansas territory repeatedly, but Hodson twice threw interceptions inside the Razorback 15, and three other first-and-goal possessions resulted in one turnover on downs and two field goals. Still, LSU led 10-0 after the first quarter.


            But in the second quarter, LSU’s Vic Jones lost a fumble at the LSU 8 and Arkansas QB Quinton Grovey circled end for a 9-yard score three plays later. Then LSU fumbled the kickoff at its 34 and the Razorbacks scored three plays later to take the lead, 14-10. It was 17-13 at half. Then Arkansas took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards in seven plays – six of them gaining 11-15 yards each. Grovey passed for the final 14 yards and Arkansas led 23-13.


            However, Arkansas’ first turnover – a fumble at its 31 yard line – led to a Hodson touchdown pass to flanker Alvin Lee with 1:15 to play in the third quarter. Then with 10:15 remaining in the game, Hodson and Lee hooked up again on a TD throw that put LSU up 27-23. There was one more thrill to come: Hodson threw an interception that gave Arkansas the ball at the LSU 41 with about 5 minutes remaining. But the LSU defense came up large again and got the ball back on downs to seal the victory.


            Next: As its reward, LSU will enter Round 3 as the lowest-seeded team and will be paired with No. 1 With Notre Dame.



No. 12 Oklahoma State   28                                                  No. 21 Georgia  27

            The second-guessers in Georgia will be non-stop after this one. The Bulldogs’ decision not to go for a two-point conversion after scoring a go-ahead TD early in the fourth quarter may have cost them the game.


            Oklahoma State phenom Barry Sanders ran for a 44-yard TD on his first carry to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead, but Georgia built a 13-7 halftime lead on a 33-yard interception-return touchdown and two field goals by John Kasay. After yielding Sanders’ electrifying TD run, they held him to a feeble 2 yards on 11 carries for the rest of the half.


            The surprisingly low score between two teams with strong offenses and weak defenses could not last. The second half was a wild back-and-forth affair featuring long drives and big plays. Sanders, who rushed for 224 yards in the second half alone (270 overall), scored on a 4-yard run as the Cowboys took the second-half kickoff and marched 80 yards. Georgia answered with a 90-yard drive to recapture the lead on the last play of the third quarter. OSU took that kickoff and marched 80 again, with Sanders scoring from 5 yards out after runs of 35 and 27 yards on the drive. OSU now led 21-20.


            A sub-plot at this point: All eight kickoffs had been touchbacks. Kasay (touchbacks on rolls 4, 7-10) and Oklahoma State’s Cary Blanchard (6-8, 10) gave their defenses a chance. But Blanchard’s next kickoff was taken by Tim Worley at the Georgia 3 and the tailback (who also gained 94 yards rushing and 32 receiving) took it back 97 yards to stun the OSU crowd. With 11:15 to play in the game, there was no reason to believe this would be Georgia’s last score, but in retrospect the Bulldogs should have gone for two. They had scored only one offensive TD and, if the Cowboys scored again, Blanchard is flawless at the extra point it would take to put OSU ahead. Instead, Kasay’s point after put Georgia up 27-21. It seemed fine when Georgia punted out of bounds at the Cowboy 12 with about 6 minutes to play. But Oklahoma State drove 88 yards to the winning score. Sanders got loose for 48 yards on one play, but his biggest run of the game came on 4th and 11 with 1:30 to play. Guessed right, he bolted for 13 yards to the 1-yard line, then went over for his fourth TD of the game on the next play.



No. 20 Colorado  17                                                                           No. 14 UCLA   13

            UCLA lost fumbles on fourth-quarter kickoff and punt returns, leading to the winning score, as UCLA blew a 13-0 first-half lead. Colorado had no offense with 148 total yards, 73 of them on a single second-quarter scoring drive that cut UCLA’s lead to 13-7. But the Buffaloes had to move only two yards following Jo Jo Collins’ 24-yard punt return to set up Ken Culbertson’s 40-yard field goal to make it 13-10. Then, when UCLA fumbled the next kickoff, Colorado needed only 29 yards on the winning drive. The run-dominated Buffs scored in unlikely fashion – on an 18-yard Flat Pass from Saul Aunese (one of three completions all game) to little-used fullback George Hemingway.


UCLA QB Troy Aikman, erratic after the first quarter (18-for-39 passing, 175 yards overall), tried to pull off final drive heroics for the second straight game. UCLA moved from its 27 to the Colorado 22, but four of Aikman’s final five passes were incomplete.


No. 19 Michigan  30                                                                          No. 15 Syracuse 21 

            This was no upset for under-seeded Michigan, which has had a tougher draw because its 8-2-1 record was only the 19th best of this tournament, but which finished 1988 as the No. 4-ranked team in the AP poll.


Still, Syracuse was superb in the first half, mounting a 21-10 lead at intermission on power running by FB Darryl Johnston and timely passes from Todd Philcox to Rob Moore (11 catches, 181 yards). The Orangemen blew down the field on their first possession, as Johnston rambled 22 yards on the first play, Tim Drummond raced 25 on the next and Johnston carried for 13 on the third play. Finally Drummond scored on a 4-yard run and Johnston added a pair of 4-yard TDs before the half.


            But Michigan totally dominated the second half, exploding for 17 points in the third quarter and shutting down any play that wasn’t a pass to Moore. The Wolverines got 123 yards rushing from their tailbacks (including a 13-yard TD by Tony Boles), 124 from their fullbacks (including two short TDs by LeRoy Hoard, who now has six for the tournament) and 190 yards passing from Steve Taylor, who completed 16 passes to 10 different receivers. Placekicker Mike Gillette hit on field goals of 27, 48 and 38 yards and added three extra points.


No. 18 Army  34                                                                                 No. 17 UTEP   23      

            Without upsets in the first round, UTEP would have been facing tough USC and Army would have had to contend with Georgia. Instead, they drew each other to decide who would be the darling of the tournament, the lowest-profile member of the final twelve – in a match with Miami.


The matchup was fascinating for another reason. Army, which almost never passes, was facing perhaps the worst run defense in the tournament. UTEP, which passes more than it runs, was facing perhaps the worst pass defense.


Results: Army ran 76 times, passed 0 and had 381 yards and 23 first downs. UTEP passed 53 times for 373 yards, ran 16 times for 1 yard (after deducting 18 yards on four sacks) and had 20 first downs, all by passing.


The game turned on a trio of fourth-quarter UTEP turnovers. The Miners, error-free until then, led 23-10 at half and 23-17 at the time of the first turnover – a fumble by QB Pat Hegarty as he scrambled to avoid a sack. Army capitalized by marching 54 yards in four plays – QB Bryan McWilliams sprinted for 24 yards, RHB Calvin Cass raced for 19 and LHB Mike Mayweather exploded the final 11. Keith Walker’s PAT put Army ahead for the first time, 24-23 with 10:30 to play.


On the next two possessions, Hegarty threw interceptions. After starting 22 of 38 passing, he finished 4 for 15 down the stretch. The first pickoff resulted in a 52-yard Army drive that ended when McWilliams scored his third TD of the game. He had 145 yards rushing on 25 carries. UTEP still trailed by only eight with 5:30 to play, but the final Hegarty interception produced Walker’s insurance field goal with two minutes left.



            The pairings for the next round are set:

            No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 24 LSU

Will Notre Dame’s inability to pass finally be a fatal flaw against decent teams?

No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 20 Colorado

            The Buffaloes have shut down better offenses than West Virginia’s.

            No. 3 Nebraska vs. No. 19 Michigan

Michigan has had an extra-tough road because of their seeding, but Nebraska would have expected an easier match at this stage, too.

            No. 4 Miami vs. No. 18 Army

                        Midnight for Cinderella?

            No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State

Does Barry Sanders have another all-world game in him against a tough Auburn run defense?

            No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 7 USC

                        A classic ready to happen?


            This has worked out very realistically. Eight of the final 12 were seeded in the top 12. And Michigan deserved to be, too.


Once the field is cut to six, the two top-seeded survivors will draw byes into the Final Four.