TENNESSEE vs. TEXAS A&M (Dec. 28). Both accent rugged defenses and power running. Vols have no one to match Aggie Back John Crow and will be outweighed some 15 pounds to the man up front. A&M's only weakness is lack of depth. Vols definitely have better kicking. Psychologically, Tennessee may have the edge. Aggies' morale could be shaken by Bryant's departure. Swayed by sentiment, an upset. TENNESSEE.
OREGON vs. OHIO STATE. Ohio State plowed under all Big Ten competition with an irresistible ground game. Few teams can boast of a better starting backfield unit than Oregon, and variations of formations and strategy have brought them a long way. Still it's hard to conceive how their defense can stand up under the battering Buckeyes. Closer than expected but...OHIO STATE.
MISSISSIPPI vs. TEXAS. From the remnants of a 1956 squad which went winless in the Southwest Conference, Darrell Royal lifted the Longhorns to second place in his first season. But Ole Miss is a team with a mission: to wipe out the stigma of the Sugar Bowl humiliation by Navy three years ago. Vaught's Rebels have the speed, size and equipment to do just that. MISSISSIPPI.
RICE vs. NAVY. Excellent quarterbacking, good passing and running, complemented by a steadily improving defense that gave up only 13 points in the final four games won Rice the SWC title. Hit-and-flit defenses, a pro-type offense with basic power and a strong bench combine to make this the best squad in the Middies' history. So my pick is the "laughing boys" of NAVY.
DUKE vs. OKLAHOMA. After blazing through their first five games, the Blue Devils hit a mid-season slump and finished with a single win and two ties. Sooners, of course, were the biggest story of the season when they lost a single game. Biggest weakness of each team is lackluster passing to integrate with powerful running game. Sooners have greater squad speed and make the most of an "alternate team." I lean toward Sooners' speed. OKLAHOMA.
HICKMAN'S SEASON RECORD:
1.73 RIGHT, 82 WRONG, 13 TIES, .645 PCT.