1. USC (4-0)
2. UCLA (5-0)
3. WYOMING (4-0)
At 10:40 p.m. the kicker's toe hit the football and sent it high into the air at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The score was Stanford 24, Southern Cal 23 and now, as the ball sailed toward the goalposts, the clock showed 0:00 left to play. "I looked up to follow the ball and saw the clock flicking to all zeros," said the kicker, Southern Cal's Ron Ayala. "I thought the ball might not carry far enough. And it drifted a little, too." The ball skimmed over the crossbar, barely inside the left upright, but for a split second Southern Cal Coach John McKay didn't know if the 34-yard field goal was good. "I looked at the people behind the post," said McKay, "and they went crazy. That's when I knew it was good. If the referee didn't confirm it, they would have killed him."
Across the field, Stanford Coach John Ralston stood momentarily in disbelief, then began to run out of the wrong end of the Coliseum. Stanford's brilliant linebacker, Pat Preston, threw himself on the ground at the five-yard line and lay there sobbing. Ayala dropped to his knees and also began to cry before his jubilant teammates swarmed around. "Neither team should have lost," said McKay.
The game was indeed a classic, a victory that USC partisans will rank with the great ones. The teams had spent the night trading the lead, Stanford moving primarily on Jim Plunkett's passing and USC retaliating with an assortment of runs, interceptions and Jimmy Jones passes. With 63 seconds left, Stanford's Steve Horowitz kicked a 37-yard field goal to put Stanford ahead 24-23, and the Indians looked like winners when they backed up Southern Cal on its own 15 with 51 seconds to go. But Jones began hitting receivers all over the field and suddenly, with 15 seconds left, Southern Cal had a first down on the Stanford 17—but no more time outs. With the clock stopped momentarily for a shift of the first-down chain, Ayala raced on the field with eight seconds left. Quickly putting down the tee and drawing a bead on the goal, he set himself to kick. With two seconds left, Center Sid Smith snapped the ball to Jones, who was holding. "Their field goal was more beautiful," said McKay, "but ours was bigger."
USC's rival for the Pacific Eight's spot in the Rose Bowl will emerge from this week's UCLA-Cal game. Each had an easy tuneup, UCLA surviving five first-half fumbles to whomp Washington State 46-14 while Cal ripped Washington 44-13 behind No. 2 Quarterback Randy Humphries, who came in after Steve Curtis broke his collarbone. Cal's Randy Wersching, a left-footed, soccer-style kicker out of Austria, had three field goals, and UCLA's Dennis Dummit passed for as many TDs. Washington State was so bad that its fans peppered the field with the apples the Kiwanis Club had sold before the game on behalf of charity.
It was snowing and freezing cold in Laramie, but sophomore Quarterback Gary Fox braved it all to guide Wyoming past UTEP 37-9—the Cowboys' fourth straight win.
1. PENN STATE (4-0)
2. SYRACUSE (3-1)
3. WEST VIRGINIA (4-1)
Penn State had won its first three games, of course, but the Nittany Lions really hadn't impressed anybody in beating the likes of Navy, Colorado and Kansas State—except maybe Navy, Colorado and Kansas State. In fact, the weekly pollsters had dropped Penn State from second to as low as ninth, and with unbeaten West Virginia coming up the word was out that maybe the Lions were ripe for the first defeat in their last 23 games. "When the polls dropped Penn State from its No. 2 spot they might just as well have made us No. I," moaned West Virginia Coach Jim Carlen. "That's what we became to Penn State."
The Lions beat West Virginia worse than even the 20-0 score might indicate. The Mountaineers came into Beaver Stadium with the nation's No. 1 rushing offense, but the Lions held them to 138 yards on the ground, let them pass midfield only twice after stopping an opening drive and blanked West Virginia for the first time in 40 games, dating back to 1965. And against a West Virginia defense that was ranked No. 2 nationally, Penn State mounted scoring drives of 59, 64 and 68 yards. The most spectacular play—a 66-yard bomb from Chuck Burkhart to Lydell Mitchell—set up State's first TD. After watching this, Carlen had a few strong words to say about the polls. "Ratings are useless," he fumed. "I'm not so sure that Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the country. Penn State can play any team and I'll bet on Paterno's boys. Why, the pros are going to draft at least six of those defensive players." One of those six, Safety Neal Smith, intercepted two passes to set a school career record of 14.
At New York's Yankee Stadium, a crowd of 63,786 turned out to watch the latest disaster in the nation's most overrated rivalry and—predictably as ever—Notre Dame thrashed Army 45-0. Somewhere back in the Dark Ages the games began to be billed as "classics," and the idea has lingered despite the fact that Notre Dame has won 26 times to Army's eight. This year a so-so Notre Dame team gained 617 yards, the most ever given up by Army, and the gray-uniformed cadets amused themselves to the bitter end by chanting, "We want six," or simply, "Kill." Notre Dame's Joe Theismann personally accounted for 273 yards, including two scoring passes.
Rutgers couldn't stand the prosperity of three straight wins and fell to Lehigh 17-7. Quarterback Rich Policastro completed 29 of 52 passes, but Lehigh used two interceptions to break it open. Syracuse beat Maryland 20-9 by—surprise—passing. Normally a team to blast away between the tackles, the Orangemen got two touchdown passes in the final quarter from reserve Quarterback Rich Panczyszyn. In the Ivy League, unbeaten Dartmouth took command by rushing for 509 yards to crush Penn 41-0, but all was not well in the Indians' tepee. The school's real Indians put the hatchet to the phony school mascot because, said freshman Howard Bad Hand, he perpetuated a romantic, naive and unrealistic view of the American Indian.
Harvard Quarterback Frank Champi, the hero of last year's tie with Yale, quit early in the week because "football has lost its meaning for me," so the Crimson proceeded to score its most points ever against an Ivy opponent while demolishing Columbia 51-0.
In Pittsburgh everyone was buzzing about Pitt's amazing winning streak, which stretched to the dizzy heights of two games with a rousing 46-19 victory over Navy. It was the first time since 1965 that Pitt had put together consecutive wins and it doubled the Panthers' 1968 victory total. Hopefully, Pitt will not let overconfidence ruin a good thing.
Defensive Game of the Week: Trinity 43, Rensselaer 43, after 900 yards total offense and 56 first downs.
1. OHIO STATE (3-0)
2. MISSOURI (4-0)
3. OKLAHOMA (2-1)
Radio stations all around the state were playing On Wisconsin over and over, and that fine old Badger, Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, wept in the press box. (It was a day for that sort of stuff.) There was a big dance around the Camp Randall Stadium field and some serious talk about Wisconsin's winning streak. The man of the hour, Coach John Coatta, was carried off the field, dunked in the shower and was given the game ball. "Wisconsin is to be congratulated," said Iowa Coach Ray Nagel. "We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later."
What happened was that Wisconsin had gone crazy in the last quarter, scoring all its points to upset Iowa 23-17 and thus end a string of 23 straight games without a victory. It was no fluke, either. Iowa came into Madison averaging more than 500 yards total offense—second in the nation—but Wisconsin held the Hawkeyes to 309. And even without injured Greg (Grape Juice) Johnson (page 58), Fullback Alan (A-Train) Thompson gained 104 yards, scored twice and moved Nagel to say, "That Thompson is one of the best fullbacks I've seen."
Only the mad scene in Madison surpassed the happiness at Ann Arbor, where Michigan threw the Big Ten into a dither by upending Purdue 31-20. The Wolverines forced Purdue's Mike Phipps into throwing four interceptions—his career high—and then used their own passer, Don Moorhead, to pick apart the Purdue secondary. "I just couldn't get a man to cut loose," moaned Phipps, who still accounted for all of Purdue's TDs with two passes and a run.
Purdue's loss brightened the Rose Bowl hopes of Indiana, which beat Minnesota 17-7. Both Purdue and Michigan still have to play Ohio State, an opponent that Indiana luckily manages to sidestep this season. Hoosier Coach John Pont, angered by what he considered listless play by some of his seniors, benched Quarterback Harry Gonso and Flanker Jade Butcher, but Gonso got back in time to pitch out to John Isenbarger for Indiana's winning TD in the last quarter. At Columbus, Michigan State tried to run away from Ohio State's fine defensive back, Jack Tatum, but ran right into End Mark Debevc instead. Debevc intercepted a pass for Ohio State's first touchdown, then recovered a fumble to set up the second. By the time Larry Zelina had returned a punt 73 yards for one touchdown and Quarterback Rex Kern had run or passed for five more, the Buckeyes had run up a 54-21 victory—the most points ever scored against a Spartan team coached by Duffy Daugherty.
While Oklahoma was having its troubles against Texas (page 24), Missouri Quarterback Terry McMillan surprised Nebraska with a 69-yard scoring pass to Mel Gray on the second play from scrimmage, and the unbeaten Tigers went on to a 17-7 Big Eight victory.
Kansas State beat Kansas, as who hasn't these days, 26-22, but it was State's first victory over its rival in 15 years.
In the Mid-American Conference, Toledo's Rockets took another step toward a bowl game and the league title by beating host Bowling Green 27-26. The Rockets won on Ken Crots' 37-yard field goal into a 22-mph wind with only two seconds left on the clock. Crots, whose NCAA record string of 77 extra points was broken a week earlier, had already missed two fielders and had another blocked.
1. TEXAS (4-0)
2. ARKANSAS (4-0)
3. HOUSTON (2-2)
While Texas was taking care of Oklahoma (page 24), Arkansas had to struggle against winless Baylor. Early in the last quarter the Razorbacks were still tied—hogtied, if you will—with the Bears, which was a pretty shocking development considering that Baylor had been chewed up by LSU 63-8 only a week earlier. The game finally bent in Arkansas' favor with a bit more than 12 minutes to play when the Razorbacks' wide receiver, Chuck Dicus, made a supercatch at the Baylor two. The pass from Quarterback Bill Montgomery had traveled 48 yards, and it set up the second of Bill Burnett's three TD plunges. "Sometimes you just throw and hope, and that was one of them," said Montgomery.
As Dicus brought the ball back down to earth, he landed on his shoulder, separating it, and now will miss the Wichita State and Texas A&M games. His loss easily could put a crimp in Montgomery's passing game, so far Arkansas' most deadly weapon. Against TCU Dicus had caught scoring passes of 73 and 23 yards, and his 21-yard catch helped the Porkers to their first TD against Baylor. Of course, Arkansas can always fall back on its defense. Except for its only touchdown—the first allowed by Arkansas in the last 21 quarters—Baylor never was inside the 15. "We're not the biggest people in the world and I think Baylor thought they could blow us out," said Defensive Tackle Gordon McNulty. "They may have done it on a couple of plays, but I don't think they could make a living on it."
None of the 49,000 fans thought about leaving the Texas Tech-Texas A&M game before the final whistle—five of their last six meetings had been decided in the last four minutes. This time, with 1:16 to go, Tech trailed 9-6, but Halfback Danny Hardaway scored from the one—his sixth straight carry into the line—and the Red Raiders came away with a 13-9 victory. None of the Lubbock fans were surprised: Hardaway's number 44 won Tech a lot of games when it was being worn by Donny Anderson.
Finally getting its Veer in gear, Houston defeated winless Arizona 34-17 as Quarterback Gary Mullins scored three times. The victory was especially pleasing to Houston Coach Bill Yeoman, who had once applied for the Arizona job, only to be turned down.
1. TENNESSEE (4-0)
2. LSU (4-0)
3. FLORIDA (4-0)
Nobody outside of Nashville was exactly sure why 34,000 fans had bothered to line up on Dudley Field's creaky old bleachers to watch the home team, Vanderbilt, play Alabama. The Commodores had not beaten the Crimson Tide—or anybody else much, for that matter—since 1956, and this season's prospects were hardly much brighter. Oh, sure, everyone had been all fired up about this Vandy team before the season, but then—bang, bang, bang—the Commodores had lost their first three, and once more their black jerseys looked only too fitting.
Well, after spotting Alabama a field goal, Vanderbilt gave its fans the sort of game they have been awaiting all these years. The Commodores not only penetrated Alabama's secondary for two touchdown passes, but their defense—which had yielded 1,299 yards and 96 points in the first three games—limited Alabama Quarterback Scott Hunter to only four completions in 25 attempts, including Christie Hauck's end-zone interception that began Vandy's winning drive in the last quarter. With the fans standing and cheering, Quarterback Watson Brown hit Tight End Jim Cunningham to make it 14-10, the clincher with 2:45 left. "You've got to give Bill Pace credit for taking the program at Vanderbilt and bringing it up to where they beat us," said Bear Bryant. "And, apparently, I've taken ours to where we got beat."
Only an upset of those dimensions could have upstaged what Mississippi's Archie Manning did to another previously unbeaten team, Georgia, in Jackson. Chased all over the field by the Bulldogs' defense, Manning hurt his shoulder late in the first half as Ole Miss fell behind 14-13, and he was still in the dressing room when the teams returned to the field for the second half. "Coach Vaught left two doctors with me," Archie explained later, "and he told me to come out when I felt like it and when they said I could." He got back in the third quarter just in time to set up a touchdown run by Tailback Leon Felts, then stayed around long enough to hit Riley Myers with a 43-yard scoring pass on a play that surprised Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught almost as much as the Georgia secondary. Instead of running on third and short, Manning sent Myers deep. "I sure didn't send that play in," confessed Vaught, who had more than Archie to gloat over after the Rebs' 25-17 victory: sophomore Cloyce Hinton kicked a 59-yard field goal for a national record.
Tennessee's trio of linebackers—Steve Kiner, Jack Reynolds and Jackie Walker—bullied Georgia Tech enough that the Vols took over as the South's No. 1 team by winning 26-8. "You can get a complete education in one afternoon playing Tennessee," said Tech Coach Bud Carson. LSU's defense forced Miami to cough up a fumble and an interception in the last quarter, and the Tigers converted both into touchdowns en route to a 20-0 win. Florida's John Reaves hit Carlos Alvarez for a two-point conversion, and the Gators beat Tulane 18-17.
Virginia Tech's Jack Simcsak—who had already connected from the 55 and 36—missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 16 seconds left, and Tech lost to Kentucky 7-6. The Wildcats' new head coach, John Ray, had accused Auburn's Shug Jordan of pouring it on in an earlier 44-3 win, and Jordan was still smarting after his Tigers drubbed Clemson 51-0. "We played 61 men," said Shug. "We certainly weren't trying to run up the score." Whatever you say, Shug.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
THE BACK: Quarterbacks Denny Painter and Watson Brown hit on 22 of 34 passes as Vandy upset Alabama 14-10. Watson passed for the winning TD but Painter, up from the B squad, threw for 60 yards in the drive.
THE LINEMAN: Michigan Tight End Jim Mandich looked like another Bennie Oosterbaanas the Wolverines upset Purdue 31-20 at Ann Arbor. Mandich, a senior, caught 10 passes for 156 yards, including a four-yard scoring grab.