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Original Issue



HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: Three and possibly four teams from this conference should finish the season with top national ratings. No conference in the country can present such heavily talented squads as Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan.

Michigan State may well be the team to pick up the marbles. Hit by key injuries in 1956, they were never at full strength. This was a handicap then, but now, in most instances, they have new men with a half year of play under their belts who are ready. Quarterback Jim Ninowski will adequately replace Pat Wilson; in fact, even be better. The halfbacks should be Blanche Martin, a speed merchant, and the big and fast Walt Kowalczyk, returning for his third year of first-string duty. Twenty-eight lettermen return, and their good squad speed will place the Spartans among the nation's outstanding teams—barring the recurrence of injuries to key personnel.

Minnesota sports the best squad that Murray Warmath, one of the game's soundest coaches, has had in his tenure at Minneapolis. The Gophers were not hurt by graduation and are large in the line, with only average speed in the backfield. The halfbacks are more the fullback type of runner. In Bobby Cox the Gophers have the finest quarterback in the conference. The excellent line, a trademark of Warmath's teams, is anchored by two seniors, Tackle Frank Youso and Guard Dave Burkholder. Look out for a sensational sophomore running back named Billy Martin. On the dark side, Minnesota plays eight conference games, with many of the tougher ones away from home.

Iowa was unhurt by graduation except for Kenny Ploen, who was a serious loss. They have depth, experience and quality. If they can replace Ploen, they will be as good or better than last year. No team can boast of two better tackles than Alex Karras and Dick Klein. Either Randy Duncan, a junior, or Olen Treadway, a holdover, will replace Ploen. The Hawkeyes will have more speed in the backfield, largely because of fast sophomores like Gene Sessi, John Brown and Bob Jeter. Quarterback, then, is the only real problem.

Michigan was hard hit by graduation, having to replace both starting ends, a guard and center on the line, a right halfback and one half of its veteran quarterback combination. Nonetheless, rumors out of Ann Arbor are that the Wolverines have great young replacements and will be near the top again as usual. Their backfield will be formidable this year despite the loss of Terry Barr. Jim Van Pelt is a good quarterback. Junior Fullback John Herrnstein is headed for greatness, and in Jim Pace they probably have the best running back in the Big Ten. They should improve steadily as the season progresses.

Ohio State threatens to open up their offense and throw the ball this season. Returning from two years in the service, Andy Okulovich shows promise of being the best passer the Buckeyes have had since the days of John Borton. With the schedule better arranged (they do not play Michigan State and Minnesota) and a sound defense, the Buckeyes may be the surprise team of the conference.

Northwestern, under the first-year coaching of Ara Parseghian, showed vast improvement in 1956 and may be even better this fall. Major strength is at halfback, where the mighty mite, Bob McKeiver (5 feet 4½ inches, 158 pounds), one of the top ball carriers in the Big Ten last season, and Willmer Fowler, conference 100- and 220-yard dash champion, hold forth.

Purdue lost Len Dawson, the passer, along with Lamar Lundy and Bob Khoenle, his two great receivers. Returning are their four leading ground-gainers, headed by Fullback Mel Dillard, who led the Big Ten in rushing. If the Boilermakers can find enough depth from their frosh squad and a reasonable replacement for Quarterback Dawson, they may have as good a first team as anyone.

Illinois has been suffering for several years for the want of a good quarterback and has also hurt badly for the lack of a strong line. Coach Ray Eliot feels that his team will be better than generally rated and hopes for a first-division berth. The feeling in some circles is that the Illini are not quite ready to compete with the top teams in the conference, however.

Wisconsin, after a dismal 1956 season, is heavily dependent on a fine group of sophomores for an improved team this fall. The Badgers will be big and strong, and youthful enthusiasm may take them a long way. Indiana is very large and very slow, and it looks like an impossible task to fit this kind of material into their new offense. They are a unanimous choice for last place.

Champaign, Illinois

COLORS: Orange and blue
BASIC OFFENSE: T with variations
1956 RECORD: Won 2, lost 5, tied 2
WATCH FOR: Take-charge Quarterback Bill Offenbecher, an upset engineer

THE DOPE: The fighting Illini are low on halfbacks. This is what Coach Ray Eliot says, but there are plenty of coaches who would gladly settle for what he has at hand in this department. Eliot has a first-rate quarterback in Bill Offenbecher, who stepped in to engineer the 20-13 midseason upset of Michigan State last fall. Offenbecher showed great improvement during spring practice and moved Eliot to comment: "Encouraging." The starting halfback slots will be filled by Captain Dale Smith and Bob Mitchell. Both are fine breakaway runners, though Mitchell has been hampered in the past with a recurring leg injury. There are several promising but untested sophomores to provide halfback depth. Fullback is well manned by Ray Nitschke and Jack Delveaux, two fine power runners. "Top defensive problem," says Eliot, "is development of a center who can handle linebacking duties." But this, apparently, is the only spot in the line which has the Illini coach worried. This team will miss Abe Woodson and may not finish in the Big Ten first division, but it should improve on last year's record and come up with at least one major upset.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 27 at UCLA, N (no game)
OCT. 5 Colgate (no game)
OCT. 12 at Ohio State (6-26)
OCT. 19 Minnesota (13-16)
OCT. 26 at Michigan State (20-13)
NOV. 2 Purdue (7-7)
NOV. 9 Michigan (7-17)
NOV. 16 at Wisconsin (13-13)
NOV. 23 Northwestern (13-14)

Bloomington, Ind.

COLORS: Cream and crimson
1956 RECORD: Won 3, lost 6
WATCH FOR: Combined elements of single wing and T formation in new offense

THE DOPE: The Hoosiers had scarcely finished waving goodby to ex-Coach Bernie Crimmins at the end of last season when they had to throw another farewell party for newly appointed Coach Phil Dickens. Dickens, after a highly successful tenure at Wyoming, took over the Hoosier reins only to be suspended by the Big Ten for one year for illegal recruiting. The installation of a new offense and a critical shortage of experienced manpower spell trouble for Dickens' understudy, Bob Hicks, who is in charge during Dickens' enforced absence. Arnie Steeves, the only experienced pivot in the lineup, was lost for the season as a result of surgery performed this summer. Four lettermen return at guard but only one, Tom Cousineau, has extensive game experience. The Hoosiers will have good passing, according to Hicks, but he adds "ends and other receivers lack the speed and agility to make the most of it." Then, too, there is the tough schedule, which sets up Michigan State, Notre Dame, Iowa and Ohio State for the first four weekends. In any other conference Indiana would have to be rated in the first division, but in the big-time Big Ten, the Hoosiers will be lucky to stay out of the cellar.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 at Michigan State (6-53)
OCT. 5 at Notre Dame (6-20)
OCT. 12 Iowa (0-27)
OCT. 19 at Ohio State (14-35)
OCT. 26 Villanova (no game)
NOV. 2 at Minnesota (no game)
NOV. 9 Cincinnati (no game)
NOV. 16 at Michigan (26-49)
NOV. 23 Purdue (20-39)

Iowa City, Iowa

COLORS: Gold and black
1956 RECORD: Won 8, lost 1
WATCH FOR: All-America Tackle Alex Karras; tightest defense in the conference

THE DOPE: The Hawkeyes will have 30 of their 44 Rose Bowlers returning, but improvement of other teams in the conference makes it seem doubtful Iowa will repeat as Big Ten champion. Coach Forest Evashevski considers his prospects "good...if we can develop a defense to match that of 1956. We will have more backfield speed, largely because of the addition of fast sophomores. Again quarterback is a key spot, with the No. 2 man of 1956 having to come through." This is a large order for Randy Duncan, the heir apparent to magician Kenny Ploen's bag of tricks. Ploen was the team's leading ground-gainer, passer and a key defensive back. Duncan passes well enough, but is not the all-round ballplayer. The line, with the possible exception of center, will be as strong as last year's nearly impregnable wall. Alex Karras will be back at left tackle, while Dick Klein, a massive 250-pounder, will man the other side. It was on the defensive ability of key men such as these two that Iowa held nine opponents to a total of 65 points, including four shutouts. Iowa will be as good, if not better than last year, but it takes an awful lot of good bounces to win the Big Ten title.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 Utah State (no game)
OCT. 5 Wash. St. (no game)
OCT. 12 at Indiana (27-0)
OCT. 19 Wisconsin (13-7)
OCT. 26 at Northwestern (no game)
NOV. 2 at Michigan (14-17)
NOV. 9 Minnesota (7-0)
NOV. 16 at Ohio State (6-0)

NOV. 23 at Notre Dame (48-8)

Ann Arbor, Mich.

COLORS: Maize and blue
BASIC OFFENSE: Multiple offense
1956 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2
WATCH FOR: Running of fleet Tailback Jimmy Pace, fastest in the league

THE DOPE: The Wolverines will be loaded for bear in the backfield, but major losses up front may leave the line a little thin. Gone are Ron Kramer and Tom Maentz, the best pair of ends in college football last year; Dick Hill, guard; Al Sigman, tackle; and Mike Rotunno, center. These losses prompt Coach Bennie Oosterbaan to predict glumly: "We can't help but be weaker at the start of the season." Oosterbaan's end problems will be lessened by Gary Prahst, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior who seems a certain starter at Kramer's old position. The backfield will be well-rounded, with veteran performers at every position. Quarterback Jim Van Pelt and Tailback Jim Pace will give the Wolverines a slightly improved passing attack over last year, while Fullback John Herrnstein and Wingback Mike Shatusky are capable ground performers. Herrnstein scored seven touchdowns to tie Teddy Barr for team scoring honors last year, while Shatusky's two touchdowns against Iowa were the bombs that destroyed an otherwise perfect season for the Hawkeyes. Pace is perhaps the fastest man in college football and will provide all the speed Oosterbaan will need. If the replacements can be properly seasoned, Michigan could challenge Michigan State for the Big Ten championship on October 12.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 at S. Calif. (no game)
OCT. 5 Georgia (no game)
OCT. 12 Michigan State (0-9)
OCT. 19 Northwestern (34-20)
OCT. 26 at Minnesota (7-20)
NOV. 2 Iowa (17-14)
NOV. 9 at Illinois (17-7)
NOV. 16 Indiana (49-26)

NOV. 23 Ohio State (19-0)

East Lansing, Mich.

COLORS: Green and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Multiple offense
1956 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2
WATCH FOR: Pile-driving Halfback Walt Kowalczyk

THE DOPE: The Spartans, with Minnesota, must be rated co-favorites for Rose Bowl duty. Basically, Michigan State will stick with its complex and generally successful multiple offense (which includes several varieties of the T, double wing, single wing and spread formations) although Coach Duffy Daugherty points out: "We'll make some changes, retaining the plays that have been successful, adding new ones and throwing out some we didn't gain with. On some plays we'll change the blocking to see if that will help." As for Spartan chances this fall, Daugherty says: "I think we'll have a pretty good team. We've got a good number of veterans returning, including some like Walt Kowalczyk, Dave Kaiser and Pat Burke, who were injured last year and didn't get a chance to play much." Dan Curry, a huge guard, may be MSU's first-string center. "We've got a real center in Don Berger," Duffy said, "but he has a knee injury and we don't know how much he'll be able to play for us. And we have a couple of good guards so we can afford to try Curry as a center." Only apparent weakness on the team is left halfback where Daugherty has but one experienced man returning. This is Blanche Martin, a 190-pound junior with speed. The rest of the backfield is three-deep in every position, and as Duffy says: "That isn't too bad."

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 Indiana (53-6)
OCT. 5 at California (no game)
OCT. 12 at Michigan (9-0)
OCT. 19 Purdue (12-9)
OCT. 26 Illinois (13-20)
NOV. 2 at Wisconsin (33-0)
NOV. 9 Notre Dame (47-14)
NOV. 16 Minnesota (13-14)
NOV. 23 Kansas State (38-17)


COLORS: Maroon and gold
1956 RECORD: Won 6, lost 1, tied 2
WATCH FOR: Quarterback Bobby Cox, outstanding ground-gainer, passer

THE DOPE: The Gophers lost only five lettermen through graduation and thus will have the most experienced squad in the conference. The line will be big and strong—but slow—with fair depth at all positions except guard. Principal weakness confronting Coach Murray Warmath is a lack of outstanding halfbacks. Billy Martin, a Chicago sophomore, is a good prospect and may break into the lineup early. It was a lack of halfbacks that slowed Minnesota last year and actually kept the Gophers from the Rose Bowl (they lost only one game, tied two). Bobby Cox at quarterback and Bob Blakley at fullback will be the strong points in the Gopher offense. Cox was the take-charge guy in Minnesota's 20-7 upset win over Michigan last year, carrying the ball 19 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He also was outstanding ground-gainer for the season with a net of 553 yards on 130 rushes; he completed 18 of 53 passes, three of them for touchdowns and led the team scoring with 36 points. Biggest stumbling block in the path of Minnesota's Big Ten championship aspirations appears to be Michigan State, and though a lot could happen to change the picture between now and Nov. 16 when the two teams meet, right now it looks as if that will be the date on which the Big Ten's Rose Bowl entry will be decided.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 Washington (34-14)
OCT. 5 Purdue (21-14)
OCT. 12 at Northwestern (0-0)
OCT. 19 at Illinois (16-13)
OCT. 26 Michigan (20-7)
NOV. 2 Indiana (no game)
NOV. 9 at Iowa (0-7)
NOV. 16 at Michigan State (14-13)
NOV. 23 Wisconsin (13-13)

Evanston, Ill.

COLORS: Purple and white
1956 RECORD: Won 4, lost 4 tied 1
WATCH FOR: Pony back Bob McKeiver, one of the finest runners in the conference

THE DOPE: The Wildcats could have walked across the waters of Lake Michigan last season and created no greater surprise than the way they played football. In his first season Coach Ara Parseghian performed a major miracle in catapulting Northwestern from a tailender to a power in Big Ten football. He transformed the Wildcats into a spirited, aggressive team that achieved a respectable sixth-place finish in the conference. With the exception of Michigan, no team beat Northwestern by more than seven points. This year, Parseghian is still beset with his manpower shortage, but he feels "the over-all quality of the squad will be up a bit." Here is how he sizes up his team: "Some of our sophomores came through with pleasing spring-practice performances which should give us more depth. Perhaps we won't have so many 60-minute players this fall. We feel we succeeded in restoring a high degree of spirit and desire last year and I think it will continue this fall. We will need it because we'll lose the psychological advantage of last season when not much was expected of us. This year we won't be able to surprise anybody." No championship here, but this team is a spoiler.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 at Stanford (no game)
OCT. 5 Oregon State (no game)
OCT. 12 Minnesota (0-0)
OCT. 19 at Michigan (20-34)
OCT. 26 Iowa (no game)
NOV. 2 at Ohio State (2-6)
NOV. 9 Wisconsin (17-7)
NOV. 16 at Purdue (14-0)
NOV. 23 at Illinois (14-13)

Columbus, Ohio

COLORS: Scarlet and gray
1956 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3
WATCH FOR: Oft-injured Halfback Don Clark, passing of Quarterback Lynn Theis

THE DOPE: The Buckeyes may be in for their roughest season since Coach Woody Hayes took over six years ago. With one of his lightest, greenest teams yet, Hayes claims, "We'll have to change strategy." This means that Ohio State will abandon its chugging offense for a relatively flamboyant attack, but it is doubtful that the switch will improve the won-lost figures. Only five regulars return to the first team. Hayes says of his squad: "Boy, we're green. There simply isn't any substitute for experience. We're thin in some spots, particularly center, and we have to have better speed." The line will miss monstrous Guard Jim Parker, who broke open the opponents' middle like a charge of TNT. Inexperience and lack of beef in the line are the principal reasons Hayes plans to use a more diversified attack. They will pass more, go up the middle less. Last year the Buckeyes threw 50 passes, ran 524 ground plays. Hayes also figures he'll use "two platoons as much as possible." Lynn Theis, who underwent a knee operation last winter, is heir apparent to the quarterback job. He is a top passer, but. he starts out with no proved receivers at the ends. Looks like Woody the Woodpecker's troubles are just beginning.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 Texas Christian (no game)
OCT. 5 at Washington (no game)
OCT. 12 Illinois (26-6)
OCT. 19 Indiana 35-14)
OCT. 26 at Wisconsin (21-0)
NOV. 2 Northwestern (6-2)
NOV. 9 Purdue (no game)
NOV. 16 Iowa (0-6)
NOV. 23 at Michigan (0-19)

Lafayette, Ind.

COLORS: Gold and black
1956 RECORD: Won 3, lost 4, tied 2
WATCH FOR: Less passing, stronger ground game built around Mel Dillard

THE DOPE: The Boilermakers will miss Lennie Dawson, who was the first player in history to lead the Big Ten in both total offense and passing for three straight years. But instead of sitting around dreaming about the good old days, practical Coach Jack Mollenkopf has taken inventory and changed his merchandising procedures accordingly. Purdue, he says, will be a ground team, and the reasons are obvious. Returning to the lineup will be Purdue's four leading ground-gainers, headed by slashing Co-captain Mel Dillard, the fullback who led the Big Ten in rushing with 873 yards in 193 carries. Mollenkopf feels the 1957 version of the Boilermakers "could be better than last fall," but a great deal will depend on development of sophomores, particularly at quarterback, end and guard. The tackle spots, manned by hulking Wayne Farmer and Nick Mumley, will be strong, as will center with Co-captain Neil Habig. Ross Fichtner, a sophomore, is a top candidate for quarterback. He was voted most valuable player on last year's frosh squad. If Fichtner reaches his potential sooner than expected and if Mollenkopf can find some ends, Purdue could be a galloping dark horse.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 Notre Dame (28-14)
OCT. 5 at Minnesota (14-21)
OCT. 12 Wisconsin (6-6)
OCT. 19 at Michigan State (9-12)
OCT. 26 Miami (Ohio) (no game)
NOV. 2 at Illinois (7-7)
NOV. 9 at Ohio State (no game)
NOV. 16 Northwestern (0-14)
NOV. 23 at Indiana (39-20)

Madison, Wis.

COLORS: Cardinal and white
1956 RECORD: Won 1, lost 5, tied 3
WATCH FOR: Extensive use of belly series and quarterback option

THE DOPE: The Badgers, with the worst record in the conference last year, had little enough to lose through graduation but somehow they lost it. Even so, Coach Milt Bruhn's outlook for the 1957 season is "optimistic." With only three starters returning from last year's team, the Badgers will place great dependence on sophomores, a bumper crop loaded with potential. But even with a talented group of youngsters, Bruhn admits that their greenness will hurt in the line, especially at the critical tackle spot. Though three lettermen return at quarterback it looks as though sophomore Dale Hackbart has the inside track to this position. He stands 6-3, is a good passer, fakes well and runs the option play with finesse. Bruhn tagged him the outstanding back on the team during spring drills. Another sophomore, Eddie Hart, will be pushing the team's leading ground-gainer, Danny Lewis, at left half. Hart broke most of Alan Ameche's records at Mary Bradford High in Kenosha, Wis. End and center are solid, but Bruhn is having trouble finding Big Ten tackles and guards. If he can patch up his line, Bruhn will improve on last year's 1-5-3 record, but he is still a year or two away from scaring anyone.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 Score):

SEPT. 28 Marquette (41-0)
OCT. 5 West Virginia (no game)
OCT. 12 at Purdue (6-6)
OCT. 19 at Iowa (7-13)
OCT. 26 Ohio State (0-21)
NOV. 2 Michigan State (0-33)
NOV. 9 at Northwestern (7-17)
NOV. 16 Illinois (13-13)
NOV. 23 at Minnesota (13-13)