No. 2-ranked Florida tuned up for a showdown with No. 6 Auburn, beating Virginia Tech, 35-18, Saturday at Gainesville, Fla., to extend college football’s longest unbeaten streak to 17 games.
“We didn’t talk about the big, big game at all this week,” Coach Galen Hall said after tailback Neal Anderson ran 13 yards for one touchdown and threw 46 yards to Frankie Neal for another to get the Gators rolling.
“We knew this was a game we had to take care of in order to reach our goal of being ranked as high as a football team can. That is what we’d like to be, and we knew we had to take care of VPI in order to get there at some point.
“If something bad had happened today this would have been a very sick locker room,” Hall said.
Kerwin Bell, the nation’s passing efficiency leader, had two second-half touchdown passes, and fullback John L. Williams rushed for 140 of his 153 yards after intermission. Williams took over when Anderson, who rushed for 78 yards in 12 carries, had to leave the game because of a bruised knee.
Bell, who has thrown for 15 touchdowns this season, hit 14 of 27 passes for 180 of Florida’s 506 total yards.
“I think they deserve their national ranking,” said Virginia Tech Coach Bill Dooley, whose team fell to 3-5. “They are No. 2. They have outstanding personnel, and I’m very impressed. In order for us to win, we would have to play an almost mistake-free game, and we didn’t do that.”
Florida (6-0-1) travels to Auburn next Saturday for a crucial Southeastern Conference game. Unbeaten in three conference games, the Gators are ineligible for the SEC title and postseason competition because of NCAA probation.
Hall and his players, however, have set a goal to be the conference’s best team and win the school’s first national championship.
Alabama 28, Memphis State 9--Mike Shula completed 24 of 34 passes for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns, all to different receivers, in a game at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl.
Shula, son of Miami Dolphin Coach Don Shula, threw three touchdown passes in the second half as Alabama (5-2) extended its 7-3 halftime lead.
In the first quarter, Shula hit split end Greg Richardson with a 21-yard touchdown pass.
His 26-yard toss to flanker Al Bell moved Alabama further ahead, 14-3. With 3:24 left the third period, he hit split end Clay Whitehurst with a seven-yard pass and capped off his performance with a two-yard strike to halfback Bobby Humphrey with 2:59 left in the game.
Memphis State (2-4-2) got all its points on field goals of 31 and 44 yards in the fourth quarter by Thomas Ingles.
Both teams had trouble with turnovers. The Tide fumbled five times and lost the ball on four occasions.
Danny Sparkman completed 16 of 37 passes for 121 yards for the Tigers, but he also threw five interceptions.
Georgia 26, Kentucky 6--Freshmen Wayne Johnson and Tim Worley and sophomore James Jackson each ran for a touchdown at Athens, Ga., as the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats for the eighth year in a row.
Jackson, the starting quarterback, scored on a five-yard run. Tailback Worley scored on a nine-yard run, and backup quarterback Johnson scored on a 27-yard run
Also, sophomore tailback Lars Tate rushed for 94 yards and freshman fullback Keith Henderson ran for 74 against the nation’s fourth best rushing defense .
Georgia, 5-1-1 overall and 2-1-1 in the SEC, also got field goals of 41 and 26 yards from Steve Crumley in lifting their home-field record in the 1980s to 32-3.
Kentucky (4-3, 1-2) avoided a shutout when Bill Ransdell engineered an 80-yard drive that ended on Ivy Joe Hunter’s one-yard plunge with 10:18 left in the game.
Mississippi 35, Vanderbilt 7--Quarterback Kent Austin hit split end J.R. Ambrose for two touchdown passes at Oxford, Miss., to spark Ole Miss to its first Southeastern Conference victory of the season.
Austin returned to the lineup for the first time in 2 1/2 games as the Rebels improved their record to 3-3-1 and 1-2.
Vanderbilt, 2-5-1 and 0-3-1 in the SEC, was held in check by an Ole Miss defense that trapped freshman quarterback Tim Richardson in the end zone twice and caused him to fumble away the ball on two other occasions.
Austin, who completed 18 of 26 pass attempts, moved into seventh place in career total offense in the SEC, passing for 256 yards.
He hit Ambrose for a 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 62-yard play in the third quarter. Ambrose caught six passes for 123 yards.
Austin also passed 15 yards to Jamie Holder for another touchdown.
Georgia Tech 6, Tennessee 6--Carlos Reveiz, after missing a chip shot minutes earlier, kicked a 51-yard field goal with four seconds remaining as 16th-ranked Tennessee settled for a tie at Knoxville, Tenn.
Reveiz kicked a 55-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to get Tennessee (3-1-2) on the scoreboard, but he was wide left on a 21-yard attempt at the 4:18 mark.
Georgia Tech (4-2-1) got a 22-yard field goal from Thomas Palmer in the first quarter and a 28-yard field goal from David Bell early in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee quarterback Daryl Dickey, a senior subbing for the injured Tony Robinson, completed 16 of 22 passes for 153 yards but was unable to draw the Volunteers close to the goal line.