Running back Keith Byars could miss Ohio State's first three football games because of a broken right foot.

He led the nation's major colleges in rushing and scoring last season.

"How do you replace a man who last year scored 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,764 yards and caught 42 passes?" Coach Earle Bruce lamented after Byars was hurt in practice Monday.

"It's quite obvious to me we've lost a great, great player for our opener against Pitt (Sept. 14). We hope it's 50-50 for Colorado, and that it gets better than that as we go toward Washington State and Illinois."

The Buckeyes will open defense of their Big Ten title Oct. 5 at Illinois.

Byars finished second to Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie in the voting for the Heisman Trophy last season . . .

Southern Methodist fired P.J. (Bootsie) Larsen as an assistant football coach because he and his family vacationed in a Wisconsin summer home owned by John Appleton, the Dallas Times Herald reported.

Appleton's name had come up during the NCAA investigation of SMU's recruiting program. The school had told Appleton and eight other SMU supporters to keep out of the school's football program.

Larsen, who came to SMU from Southern Mississippi with Coach Bobby Collins in 1982, was fired for "violations of university policies," the school said in a prepared statement Sunday . . .

Four predominantly black colleges will play a doubleheader football game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

Albany State, Grambling College, Morris Brown College and Alabama State will compete Nov. 9 in the first Atlanta Football Classic for African Famine Relief.

The game will be supported by the predominantly black National Baptist Convention, which is meeting this week in Atlanta . . .

Ed Robinson, 19, a sophomore forward on the Texas Tech team, died of an apparent heart attack while playing a pickup game in Lubbock, Tex. An autoposy was ordered.