Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unforgettable Openers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unforgettable Openers

Article excerpt

One game can change a season in college football -- and it could happen in Game 1.

This season starts with a long weekend of games, kicking off Thursday night and ending Monday night. While the schedule is mostly packed with powerhouse-vs.-pushover tilts, there are some intriguing matchups: Alabama against Michigan, Boise State at Michigan State, South Carolina against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech facing Virginia Tech.

But as Appalachian State reminded us all a few years back, you never know when a classic is about to break out.

That unforgettable upset makes this Pick 6 of memorable season- openers in college football history.

USC 42, ALABAMA 21, Sept. 12, 1970

The Sam "Bam" Cunningham Game. At this point the legends have probably overtaken the reality, but this much is true: USC fullback Sam Cunningham, who is black, ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries at Legion Field in Birmingham against an all-white Crimson Tide team.

Alabama coach Bear Bryant had already taken steps to integrate the Crimson Tide after years of segregation. But Cunningham and the Trojans made it clear to anyone who was uncomfortable with that plan that if Alabama didn't start recruiting more black players it would not remain a football power.

UCLA 20, NEBRASKA 17, Sept. 9, 1972

The Cornhuskers were No. 1 and hadn't lost a game since 1969. The Bruins were coming off a two-win season.

Led by Mark Harmon, yes the actor, running a newly installed wishbone offense, UCLA snapped Nebraska's 32-game unbeaten streak. Harmon passed for 65 yards and ran for 71 and a touchdown at the Los Angeles Coliseum and Efren Herrera hit a 29-yard field goal to provide the winning margin with 20 seconds left.

GEORGIA 16, TENNESSEE 15, Sept. 6, 1980

Herschel Walker's first game. And on his carry, he brought the house down.

With the Bulldogs down 15-2, Walker ran 16 yards for a touchdown, busting through Tennessee tacklers and running over safety Bill Bates.

The longtime great Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson famously said what everybody else was thinking: "My God, a freshman!"

MIAMI 31, FLORIDA STATE 0, Sept. 3, 1988

Bobby Bowden's first preseason No. …

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