Temple's amazing `compact' racks up yardage; Eagles soaring

At Temple University in Philadelphia, they definitely believe that good things come in small packages. Paul Palmer, the starting tailback on the Owls' football team, is proof enough. Small by major- college standards at 5 ft. 10 in. and 180 pounds, he nonetheless leads the nation in rushing, with 176.1 yards per game, as well as all-purpose running, which includes kick returns, with a 241.6-yard average. He was second in the nation in both categories last year. Temple has built its offense around the senior from Potomac, Md., who has outgained the team's passing attack and runs the ball about half the time the Owls, now 5-2, have possession.

In the last two weeks Temple has called his number an incredible 87 times. Palmer has responded, too, just missing the national rushing record with 349 yards against East Carolina, but securing the NCAA mark for yards rushing in back-to-back games when he piled up 239 against Virginia Tech, bringing his two-game total to 588. That broke the previous record of 573 set by Washington State's Reuben Mayes two years ago.

Palmer could write new records for three and four consecutive games, too, if he gains at least 187 yards rushing against Syracuse this week, and tacks on another 155 or more the following week versus Boston College. Palmer would have to fatten up on these clubs, though, to have a shot at surpassing Marcus Allen's amazing five-game stretch, in which he averaged 227 yards during a five-week span in 1981. Temple will meet second-ranked Alabama in what would be Week 5 of the Palmer Watch, and the Crimson Tide isn't likely to let him ring up any big numbers.

Even 100-plus yards, however, would stamp him as special. The Heisman Trophy would probably still be out of the question, since Miami's Vinny Testaverde seems a lock for that award, but Paul realistically has a chance to give Temple a first-team All-America selection for the second straight year. Guard John Rienstra became the school's first consensus pick last year. BC back on track

Ever since 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie left Boston College to play pro football, the Eagles have been trying to find themselves, seldom achieving much consistency. A turning point may have occurred last Saturday, though, when BC, now 3-3, beat Louisville, 41-7. Coupled with an upset of Maryland the previous week, Boston College had its first back-to-back victories in the post-Flutie era.

Against Maryland, Shawn Halloran, Flutie's successor at quarterback, completed 26 of 36 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Sports Illustrated named him the offensive player of the week, a real boost for a player who experienced some rocky periods during last season's 4-8 campaign and who was benched earlier this year.

Now comes an intriguing test on the road against West Virginia, a nemesis that has captured the last six contests in this rivalry. No Flutie-led team was able to beat the Mountaineers, who are 2-4 and looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Few wins between the 'linas

``Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina . . . .'' Several coaches might not agree with that sentiment, especially the ones at East Carolina and South Carolina. East Carolina, which is situated in Greenville, N.C., just snapped a 15-game losing streak, the longest at the major- college level, with a 35-33 victory over Georgia Southern. South Carolina, which enjoyed a 10-2 season in 1984 under National Coach of the Year Joe Morrison, is struggling with a 1-4-1 record. The lone victory, incidentally, came against Western Carolina. This Saturday South Carolina plays host to East Carolina in the Gamecocks' homecoming.

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