Just call this the Year of the Falcons. The mascot is getting a good name at both the Air Force Academy and Bowling Green State University. Out in the Colorado Rockies, Air Force owns a 13-game winning streak that dates back over two seasons and is the longest in the nation. The Ohio-based Falcons, meanwhile, are right behind with a 12-game victory streak.
On the season, they are 10-0 and 9-0 respectively, and join top-ranked Penn State as the only perfect-record major college teams.
The Nittany Lions get the most respect of the three, largely because they have been so prominent for so long and play the toughest schedule.
Air Force, which is currently ranked fourth in the AP writers' poll, comes next, thanks partly to victories over Notre Dame and Army. What the academy does against fellow members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) doesn't seem to carry as much weight, a problem Brigham Young has faced often in the past. BYU, Air Force's next opponent, has had problems gaining national acclaim playing the likes of New Mexico and Colorado State, but overcame this hurdle last season when it went 12-0 to earn the N o. 1 ranking.
The lack of recognition is further multiplied for Bowling Green, which plays in the largely overlooked Mid-American Conference, which hasn't had a team ranked in the Top 20 since Miami of Ohio in 1975. Bowling Green, in fact, hasn't risen higher than honorable mention in this season's polling. Quarterback Doug McClure has been one of the sport's best kept secrets and the most prolific career passer after Doug Flutie.
Don't expect McClure to be showcased until the all-star games, either. A major bowl isn't in the picture, with a Dec. 14 date in the California Bowl Bowling Green's likely destination.
Air Force, on the other hand, could have the pick of a few major bowls now that the WAC has terminated its tie-in with the Holiday Bowl. The Sugar, Orange, and Cotton are all possibilities if it beats BYU and Hawaii, as is the Fiesta, where the absence of conference commitments opens the door to an Air Force-Penn State matchup. Briefly speaking
When the bubble finally burst, it burst emphatically for Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau. Entering the Illini's critical Big Ten showdown with Iowa last week, Trudeau had thrown 215 consecutive passes without an interception, a national record. Against Iowa, five of his aerials were skyjacked in a nightmarish 59-0 loss, in which the Hawkeyes jumped out to an incredible 35-0 first quarter lead. Trudeau's first pass, by the way, was completed, but promptly fumbled away by All-American receiver Da vid Williams. For disheartened Illini fans, the collapse was hauntingly reminiscent of the team's 45-9 loss to UCLA in the 1984 Rose Bowl.
Who is the only coach with a TV show aired in Rome, Potsdam, and Brooklyn? Dick MacPherson of Syracuse, whose weekly, hour-long Dick MacPherson Show is carried in each of these New York communities, plus a number of others around the Empire State.
The most marketable name in college football this season may belong to J. C. Penney, a reserve running back with the University of Miami, Fla. School publicists refer to his his statistical portfolio as ``the J. C. Penney catalog.''
Minnesota coach Lou Holtz: ``At some schools a lifetime contract means if you're ahead in the third quarter and moving the ball, they can't fire you.''
After nine games, Michigan's defense has yet to give up an extra point, a fact made all the more amazing given the Wolverines' 7-1-1 record. If it weren't for field goals, they'd be undefeated, untied, and virtually unscored on. Michigan has relinquished only two touchdowns all season, one to Wisconsin and the other to Indiana, but the conversion was missed on both occasions. A TV replay showed that Iowa should have been credited with a touchdown on a pass play at the back of the end zone, but it w on anyhow on the strength of four field goals. Incidentally, only two major college teams have gone through an entire season without giving up a point, Duke in 1938 and Tennessee in 1939.