In a year marked by the manic fluctuation of the national rankings, a constant has been the series of eye-popping offensive performances.

First, Illinois' Howard Griffith scored eight touchdowns against Southern Illinois. Two weeks later, Northern Illinois' Stacey Robinson set an NCAA quarterback record with 308 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 73-18 victory over previously undefeated and 24th-ranked Fresno State.

Last week, Texas Christian's Matt Vogler -- the backup quarterback -- threw for 690 yards against Houston. Yet he was overshadowed by his Cougars counterpart, Heisman Trophy candidate David Klingler, who threw for seven touchdowns in Houston's 56-35 victory. (Another Heisman candidate, Brigham Young's Ty Detmer, recently set an NCAA record with his 12th straight 300-yard passing game.)

Houston and Texas Christian combined for 1,436 yards last Saturday, breaking the NCAA record of 1,436 set by Arizona State and Stanford in 1981. On Oct. 27, Nebraska rushed for 557 yards in a 45-13 win over Iowa. Four teams -- Houston, Brigham Young, Virginia and Miami -- are averaging more than 500 total yards.

The main beneficiaries of all this offense will probably be the leading Heisman candidates, Klingler and Detmer. Because their numbers are similar, the play of their respective teams may make the difference. Houston is ranked No. 3 and Brigham Young No. 8. Virginia quarterback Shawn Moore and Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy are also Heisman possibilities.

Moore vs. McGwire

Moore leads the nation with a pass efficiency rating of 166.4. His only serious challenger appears to be Detmer (158.9). San Diego State's Dan McGwire -- brother of Oakland Athletics first baseman Mark McGwire -- is third at 148.2. . . .

Because of schedule commitments, it appears Florida State will not play a full Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule until 1995. Conference officials were hoping that the Seminoles could play a full ACC slate by 1993.

"We've got contracts and obligations," said Florida State Athletic Director Bob Goin. "I've never tried to wipe out a football schedule and start anew." . . .

The four finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker: Notre Dame's Michael Stonebreaker, Miami's Maurice Crum, Colorado's Alfred Williams, Illinois' Darrick Bronlow and Clemson's Levon Kirkland. The award will be presented Dec. 4 at the Downtown Athletic Club in Orlando, Fla. . . . Georgia Tech's Ken Swilling is among the 15 candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back. North Carolina State's Jesse Campbell, Notre Dame's Todd Lyght and Michgan's Tripp Welborne are among the others. . . .

Minor bowl rumors: Clemson to the Hall of Fame, USC and Michigan State to the Hancock, Oregon to the Freedom Bowl and Syracuse to the Aloha. . . .

By tying USC last week, California guaranteed it would not lose to either the Trojans or UCLA for the first time since 1958. . . . Pittsburgh's 45-0 loss to Miami last week was its first shutout loss in 54 games and its worst defeat since a 56-7 loss to Notre Dame in 1971.