Event Date: July 14th, 1989
Event Description: USFL Championship Preview
Source: Pro Football Weekly
The Oakland Invaders will take on division rival Denver in this Sundays’ USFL Championship game at the Pontiac, Silverdome. The game will be seen on ABC television starting at 8:00 pm eastern time.
Here’s how the teams matchup:
SEASON SERIES: Invaders 2-0
The Invaders booted the Gold 23-13 in Week 9 in Denver, then again by a score of 35-14 in Oakland in Week 19.
Invaders: Ex-NFLer Steve Dils, at age 34, is playing the best football of his career. During the regular season, Dils ranked 4th in passing with 4,005 yards and an efficiency ranking of 85.0. Dils completed 58.4% of his passes while also tossing 23 touchdowns as compared to only 13 interceptions. In last weeks’ playoff win over the Baltimore Stars, he completed 12 of 23 passes for 195 yards, a pair of touchdowns and one interception.
Gold: The strength of Denver’s offense is the passing game. Vince Evans is also 34 years old, but in playoff wins over the Houston Gamblers and Tampa Bay Bandits he showed he still has the legs to outrun any pass rush and the arm to beat any defensive back. Against Houston, Evans threw for 263 yards and one touchdown. This past season, Evans was in the top five for pass completions (339), pass attempts (617), and passing touchdowns (24).
Invaders: Gordon Banks is the number one target and will be motivated for this game as he will want to show that he is the best receiver on the field. Banks led all Oakland receivers with 73 receptions for 1263 yards and 12 TDs. He has a good supporting cast in Dokie Williams (66 receptions) and Mike Sherrod (650 yards).
Gold: They have a clear-cut advantage with their top two receivers both surpassing 1,000 yards this year. Lonnie Harris (1,421) and Marc Lewis (1,066) will be a handful for the Oakland secondary. Harris and Lewis are great targets up the middle, while Willie Gillespie (569 yards and 6 TDS) is the deep threat.
Invaders: Doug DuBose had a sensational season in his first year with the team finishing with 885 yards rushing. Fullback Lakei Heimuli averaged just 2.5 yards per carry but, he supplied important pass protection and filled the role of blocking back for DuBose.
Roughriders: Earnest Anderson was the teams leading rusher amassing 470 yards, but was held to just two rushing touchdowns. Tony Boddie filled the role of third down back, (366 yards receiving), while Evans added another 305 rushing yards to the team total.
Invaders: Fred Nordgren led the team in tackles (116), with Dave Browning finishing second with (99). Linebacker Tom Cousineau led the team with five interceptions, alongside cornerback Derrick Martin, while also chipping in 97 tackles and eight sacks. David Greenwood finished with four interceptions after returning to the league after a stint in the NFL.
Gold: The strength of this unit lies with their front seven. Bruce Thornton finished second overall with 16 sacks while linebacker Willie Pless added eleven with Dave Stalls finishing with ten. Stalls and Pless were also amongst the league leaders in tackles with 140 and 133 respectively.
Punting: Oakland has the edge with Jeff Partridge averaging 43.8 yards per punt as compared to 38.7 for Chris Norman.
Kicking: Oakland’s Kevin Shea gets the nod here over Jeff Brockhaus. Shea finished with 42 field goals on 44 attempts as compared to just 29 field goals on 31 attempts for Brockhaus.
Kick returns: Doug DuBose led the league with a 27.6 kick off return average, while Tony Boddie averaged just under 22 yards per return.
First year man Raymond Chester has been largely credited with helping to turn things around in Oakland. Gold head coach Mouse Davis is an offensive genius whose unpredictability can drive defensive coordinators crazy.
Everyone loves an underdog and the Denver Gold seem to be relishing their role as improbable championship contenders. They defeated both defending champion Houston and the Tampa Bay Bandits who sported the leagues’ best record heading into the playoffs. However, the Invaders seem to have Denver’s number after defeating them twice during the regualr season.
PREDICTION: Invaders 27, Gold 24