Unexpected losses last Saturday by top-ranked Notre Dame and its predecessor as No. 1, eighth-ranked Virginia, certainly displeased Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl officials, but didn't dissuade them.
Even if Notre Dame, now 8-2 after its 24-21 loss to Penn State, loses to Southern California on Saturday, it still will be going to the Orange Bowl.
Orange Bowl team selection chairman John Ludwig said after the game in South Bend that Notre Dame is going to Miami Jan. 1 to play Big Eight champion Colorado, no matter what.
"How can you beat Notre Dame?" Ludwig asked. "It's a great organization that gave us a great game last year. No matter where they're ranked, sixth, seventh, whatever, we've got the number one team and, basically, that's what we're looking for."
Sugar Bowl Executive Director Mickey Holmes, who extended an informal invitation to Virginia last Sunday, said that neither the Cavaliers' 35-30 loss to Maryland nor quarterback Shawn Moore's thumb injury would cause him to rethink his decision, and that he will send representatives to Virginia Tech to offer Virginia an official bid Saturday.
Harper Davidson, president-elect of the Orange Bowl committee, said the current bowl climate, in which schools and bowls jump the gun by several weeks in order to cut deals, led to the early choice of Notre Dame.
University of Miami Athletic Director Sam Jankovich said last week that he wanted the Cotton and Orange Bowls to wait and match up the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation, which this week are likely to be Colorado and Miami.
There appears to be no movement on Jankovich's idea, however.
"These situations dictate that you have to do things at certain times, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," Davidson said. "I think Miami now is facing the same scenario as it was last year, and things worked out for Miami then."
Miami, ranked second behind Colorado, won the unofficial national championship in 1989 when Notre Dame upset the Buffaloes and the Hurricanes beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Miami has agreed to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1.
"Making the selections for bowls as early as they make the selections is ridiculous," Miami Coach Dennis Erickson said yesterday. "I just don't think it's fair. What happens is somebody ends up with egg on their face."
University of Virginia team physician Frank McCue, who operated on Moore Saturday afternoon after he dislocated his right thumb in the fourth quarter, listed Moore as "probable" for Virginia's Sugar Bowl game New Year's Day against the Southeastern Conference champion.
McCue inserted a pin in Moore's hand and fitted the fifth-year senior with a cast, both of which McCue said will be removed within three weeks. Moore was released from the University of Virginia Medical Center following the surgery, but spent the night at McCue's home.
Moore, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate who was named to the Kodak All-American team Saturday, was injured when he was tackled by freshman linebacker Louis Johnson as he tried to score on fourth down from the Maryland 2-yard line.
"He came off the field and said, 'There's something wrong here,' " said McCue, who left with Moore for the hospital immediately after the play. "It's not a common injury, but we do see it."
Moore was replaced for the final series by Matt Blundin, who will start next week for Virginia's regular season finale at Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-7 Blundin, a 1986 Parade high school all-American selection who also has played forward for the Virginia basketball team the last three years, has completed seven of eight passes this season for 83 yards.
Blundin started against Clemson last year after Moore injured a shoulder, and completed 14 of 34 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-20 loss.