Special to College Sports Journal
ATLANTA — As part of an ongoing series throughout the fall, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame posts This Week in College Football History, which takes a look back at some of college football’s landmark moments over the last 147 years.
This week features a historic win by Penn over Navy in 1986. The Quakers went on to finish their finest season to date in 1986, completing a perfect 10-0 record for the first time.
Oct. 18, 1986
Penn defeated Navy, 30-26
Navy quarterback Bill Byrne had a milestone day, setting academy records for career passing touchdowns (26) and passing yards (4,099). However, his efforts were not enough as Penn pulled off the upset to improve their record to 5-0, their best start since 1947. Midshipmen running back Chuck Smith broke off a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to give his team a 20-10 lead heading into the final quarter. Quaker quarterback Jim Crocicchia opened the fourth quarter with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Brent Novoselsky to trim the lead to 20-17 and hit Novoselsky again with just under three minutes remaining to take a 23-20 lead. Crocicchia struck again with a nine-yard scoring toss to Jim Bruni to extend Penn’s lead to 10. Smith ran into the end zone a second time to pull Navy within four, but the Quakers recovered the ensuing onside kick and held on for the victory. Penn won its fifth-consecutive Ivy League title in 1986 and finished with a perfect 10-0 record, the program’s best finish to-date. Navy ended the 1986 season with a 3-8 record.
Oct. 12, 1968
Texas defeated Oklahoma, 26-20
The win over Oklahoma marked the second of Texas’ 30 consecutive victories under College Football Hall of Fame coach Darrell Royal from Oct. 5, 1968-Jan. 1, 1971. The Sooners built a 14-6 halftime lead with touchdown passes by Bobby Warmack to Steve Zabel and Eddie Hinton while the Longhorns were held to two field goals by Happy Feller. After a Texas touchdown and two-point conversion to level the score, Feller booted a third field goal to take a 17-14 lead. Texas extended the lead to 19-14 when defensive tackle Loyd Wainscott took down Warmack for a safety. Warmack responded by rushing for a 15-yard score with eight minutes remaining to take a 20-19 lead. On the Longhorns’ final possession, quarterback James Street took over with 2:37 to play. He hit Deryl Comer for three completions to put his team in scoring position. Texas fullback Steve Worster carried two Sooners across the goal line with 39 seconds left to cap the 85-yard drive and the 26-20 victory. Hall of Fame tailback Steve Owens rushed for 127 yards for Oklahoma. Texas featured Hall of Fame fullback Chris Gilbert and current interim athletics director Michael Perrin, a 1968 NFF National Scholar-Athlete. The Big Eight Co-Champion Sooners finished the season with a No. 11 ranking and a 7-4 record after a loss to SMU in the Bluebonnet Bowl. The Longhorns finished as the SWC Co-Champion and Cotton Bowl Champion with a 9-1-1 record and a No. 3 ranking.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
Oct. 13, 2001
No. 8 Fresno State defeated Colorado State, 25-22 (OT)
Fort Collins, Colorado
Fresno State was enjoying its best start since beginning 7-0 in 1991, but they were given a scare during a tough road test against Colorado State. The Rams had it all but won, grabbing a three-point lead on a 21-yard touchdown strike from Bradlee Van Pelt to Pete Rebstock and a two-point conversion with 27 seconds left. Bulldog quarterback David Carr frantically completed three passes to set up a game-tying 48-yard field goal by Asen Aparuhov. Colorado State possessed the ball first in overtime, but the Rams went three-and-out. The Rams opted to go for it on fourth down, but they were stopped by Fresno State’s defense, led by 2001 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Vernon Fox. Aparuhov booted another field goal for the Bulldogs to win the game on the ensuing possession. Carr topped 300 passing yards for the fourth time of that season on his way to winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The Bulldogs finished with an 11-3 record after a loss to Michigan State in the Silicon Valley Classic. Colorado State ended the season with a 7-5 record after a win over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.
Oct. 14, 1972
Virginia Tech defeated No. 19 Oklahoma State, 34-32
The Hokies sought to avenge a 24-16 loss to Oklahoma State the previous season as they hosted the No. 19 Cowboys. The game was a battle of air versus ground as Virginia Tech quarterback Don Strock, the nation’s leading passer at the time, threw for 355 yards and two touchdowns, and Oklahoma State rushed for 356 yards. Trailing 32-31, Strock’s brother, Dave, had a field goal attempt blocked by George Palmer. Palmer fumbled the ball at the Cowboys’ three-yard line, and it was recovered by Hokie linebacker Donny Sprouse. Four plays later, Strock converted on an 18-yard field goal attempt with 12 seconds remaining to upset Oklahoma State. The Cowboys finished the season with a 6-5 record, and Virginia Tech finished 6-4-1.
Oct. 15, 1977
No. 12 Kentucky defeated No. 16 LSU, 33-13
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Kentucky was enjoying its best start since 1950, and the SEC was beginning to take notice. LSU led 13-7 in the third quarter before the Wildcats exploded for a variety of touchdowns. Kentucky quarterback Derrick Ramsey punched it in from four yards out to take the lead 14-13. On LSU’s next possession, Wildcats nose guard Richard Jaffe blocked a field goal that was scooped up by defensive end Art Still, a 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and returned 52 yards for a touchdown. The stunned Tigers then gave up an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown that resulted in a commanding 33-13 lead. LSU’s squad included Hall of Fame running back Charles Alexander and 1978 National Scholar-Athlete Robert Dugas. Kentucky also fielded 1979 National Scholar-Athlete Leon Shadowen. Hall of Fame coach Charlie McClendon and the Tigers fell to Stanford in the Sun Bowl, finishing with an 8-4 record. Kentucky was ineligible for postseason play, but finished No. 6 in the final AP Poll with a 10-1 record.
Oct. 16, 1976
No. 12 Florida defeated Florida State, 33-26
For first-year head coach Bobby Bowden, a College Football Hall of Famer, this performance against Florida was a sign of hope and foreshadowed a string of 33 winning seasons, 20 bowl victories, 12 ACC titles and two national championships. The Gators jumped out to a comfortable 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Florida State quarterback Jimmy Black completed his first 12 passes to launch the Seminoles to a 17-13 lead. Florida finally stopped Florida State’s momentum on a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Wes Chandler, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee. After exchanging touchdowns in the third quarter, Florida halfback Tony Green dashed 58-yards for a score and a 33-23 lead. A Dave Cappelen field goal made it a one-possession game, but Florida stopped the threatening Seminoles at the Gators nine-yard line as Florida defensive end Mike Dupree brought down Florida State backup quarterback Jimmy Jordan as the clock ran out. Hall of Fame coach Doug Dickey’s Gators fell to Texas A&M in the Sun Bowl to cap off an 8-4 season. Florida State finished with a 5-6 record, their last losing season to date.
Oct. 17, 1964
Indiana defeated Michigan State, 27-20
College Football Hall of Fame head coach Duffy Daugherty and his bevy of Hall of Famers had only lost to Indiana once in the 14 years prior to their 1964 showdown. The Spartans took an early 13-0 lead thanks to quarterback and 1965 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Steve Juday’s two touchdown passes. After two straight touchdown passes in the third quarter by Indiana quarterback Rich Bader, who threw for 215 yards, the Hoosiers stole back the lead at 14-13. Indiana scored two more times in the fourth quarter, once on a short run by fullback Tom Nowatzk and then on a quarterback run by Bader, granting the Hoosiers a 27-13 lead. Juday threw one more touchdown pass, but the Spartans were unable to complete the comeback. The Hoosiers finished the season with a 2-7 record. Michigan State was not only led by a Hall of Fame coach, but also included four Hall of Famers who would lead the Spartans to national championships in 1965 and 1966: running back Clinton Jones, defensive end Bubba Smith wide receiver Gene Washington and linebacker George Webster. The 1964 Spartans finished the season 4-5.