1. MICHIGAN (9-0)
2. NEBRASKA (9-0-1)
3. NOTRE DAME (8-0)
While Michigan and Nebraska were motoring onward in impressive fashion, beating Iowa and Kansas State by a combined score of 106—13, those other unbeaten monsters of the Midwest, Notre Dame and Ohio State, suddenly found themselves climbing toward No. 1 on their hands and knees.
All last week Ara Parseghian warned anyone who would listen that Georgia Tech's quick defenders were going to be tough to handle. Not too many people listened. The bookies made the top-ranked Irish a 27-point favorite. And in the subways the honorary alumni were saying things like "This is Ara's greatest team ever," and "Get off my foot, you dummy, what are you, a Texas fan?" Then they played and Notre Dame was lucky to escape with a 10-7 victory.
"We had to be good to pull this one out," said Parseghian in the same relieved tone that Xerxes must have used after Thermopylae. Like the Persians, the Irish moved well—until they got close. Twice Joe Theismann passes were intercepted, once a Notre Dame fumble wound up in Tech hands and three times Notre Dame field-goal attempts fell short. Finally, with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter, sophomore Scott Smith kicked a 34-yard field goal, and Notre Dame led 3-0. The advantage was short-lived. Shortly after, on a first-down-and-25 play, Tech Quarterback Eddie McAshan hit Larry Studdard with a 66-yard touchdown pass, and the stunned Irish were trailing 7-3 and facing a chilling 20-knot wind going into the last quarter. Things became even more bleak when Theismann drove the Irish deep into Tech territory only to have a pass stolen in the end zone.
Undaunted, Theismann kept pitching, and with less than 10 minutes to play he connected on a 46-yard pass to Ed Gulyas, who caught the ball while lying on his back at the Tech 34. Suddenly spurred, it took Notre Dame just six plays to score from there, with Denny Allan scrambling two yards behind the blocking of Larry DiNardo for the touchdown. Theismann finished the afternoon with 293 yards passing and running, giving him school records of 2,136 yards for the season and just over 5,000 for his career.
In Lafayette, Ind., with President Nixon watching on television, Ohio State huffed and puffed and finally blew Purdue down 10-7 by means of a 30-yard field goal with 2:04 to play, which did little for Woody Hayes' humor. "I think positively," he snapped at reporters who suggested that Ohio State no longer looked like, well, Ohio State. "You don't win with a negative attitude. You can call me boisterous, mouthy or whatever, but you don't talk down to my players. I don't, and I don't expect you to. If you want to write us off, that's your business. The old coach isn't going to, though."
With Purdue acting as though it were in another giant-killing mood, there were times when it didn't seem to matter what the old coach was thinking. Playing in a soggy combination of rain, sleet and snow, neither team managed so much as a first down for the first 10½ minutes. Then the Buckeyes drove 71 yards in six plays, sending Big Ten scoring leader John Brockington off right tackle for the final 26 yards and the touchdown. Twelve seconds later, just long enough for marvelous Stan Brown to grab the kickoff and run 96 yards, it was a 7-7 tie.
After that Purdue was either punchless or Ohio State was awesome defensively, depending, of course, upon which side of the stadium you were sitting. Purdue managed just three first downs, 54 yards rushing and 17 passing. But six times the Boilermakers found themselves with first downs inside the Ohio State 41, once as close as the 17, and six times they gave up the ball.
Early in the fourth quarter Purdue had moved to the Buckeyes' eight and was faced with a fourth and one. While everyone was waiting for the field-goal kicker to come charging onto the field, Purdue sent Brown straight into the middle of the Ohio State line. And he got zapped by Linebacker Doug Adams. No gain and no first down and no more opportunities would come Purdue's way. It was one of 17 straight times the Boilermakers had failed on a third or fourth down. With that kind of record, coach, why didn't you go for the field goal? "Well," said Bob DeMoss, "I thought we could make a first down." Oh.
When Woody Hayes got his chance he said to hell with first downs and sent in his kicker, Fred Schram. Ron Maciejowski—in for Rex Kern, who had completed only one of six passes for three yards—had brought Ohio State to the Purdue 13 with just a little more than two minutes to play. In came Schram, up went the kick and President Nixon reached for a telephone. First he called to congratulate Hayes. Then he called DeMoss. "I know how you feel," Nixon said. "I've had a couple of tough losses myself."
Meanwhile Michigan was warming to the task of facing Ohio State this week by plowing Iowa under 55-0, and if Bo Schembechler was not a man considerate of his fellow coaches that easily could have been doubled. Michigan scored five of the first six times it had the ball as Quarterback Don Moorhead increased his career total offense to 3,528 yards, breaking the Wolverine record set by All-America Bob Chappuis in 1942-47. Schembechler's defensive assassins held Iowa to just 88 yards on the ground and 34 through the air. Afterward someone made the mistake of trying to compare Schembechler with Woody Hayes, his ex-coach and ex-boss. "Don't do that," said Bo. "That makes him look bad. I'm not that good and I'll never be."
No matter who wins this week's Big Ten championship game, it now appears that Ohio State will certainly make the Rose Bowl trip. Northwestern, with one loss, has only the barest of outside chances. Should Ohio State lose, putting it into a tie for second with Northwestern, the Big Ten athletic directors would vote Saturday night on the most representative team, which, obviously, is Ohio State. Northwestern's only chance is that should the athletic directors somehow manage to deadlock in the voting, however, the tie would be broken by eliminating the team that made the most recent Pasadena trip. Michigan is eliminated under the Big Ten's absurd rule because it was in the Rose Bowl last year.
In Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma watched Gregory Peck mow down the Indians in a movie called The Stalking Moon, then went out and mowed down Kansas 28-24 to keep alive hopes of tying Nebraska for the Big Eight championship. Oklahoma intercepted two passes in the dying minutes, saving the victory and prompting Kansas Coach Pepper Rodgers to moan: "I'm really depressed. Three things can happen when you pass, but only one happened to us."
1. TEXAS (8-0)
2. ARKANSAS (8-1)
3. TEXAS TECH (8-2)
Not wishing to be embarrassed, Darrell Royal kept his starters in for most of the game as poll-minded Texas bombed hapless Texas Christian 58-0. It was the Longhorns' 28th consecutive victory, and it should have made a lot of voters forget The Great Baylor Scare of the week before. With today's emphasis on position in the polls it is not enough just to win, and the Longhorns can play the numbers game as well as any. Not that they necessarily like to. "I hated to see that score climb just as much as TCU," said Royal. "Good golly, somebody asked me if I didn't leave the first team in longer than usual. I had them in there when we led 30-0 in the third quarter. But TCU would have the wind in the fourth quarter, and nowadays 30 points can go like zap. It's awfully embarrassing when you take your first team out and then have to put it back in."
When Texas recovered a fumbled punt return and went in for a quick score and a 37-0 lead Royal finally pulled his starters. Then the reserves scored three times more.
"Big scores are a bad deal, I know," said Halfback Jim Bertelsen, who scored three times against TCU. "But that's the way they vote a national champion, on how many points you score against people. Guys will tell you we're just out there to win, but you've got to be a realist."
When Texas beat Baylor by only seven points and found itself slipping in the polls, the fans were less than happy. It was just TCU's bad luck to be the next opponent. "We were all upset over the reaction of the people," said Linebacker Bill Zapalac.
"I do think they were a little chapped about the reaction," said Royal.
And now that Texas fans are happy again, will someone play taps over TCU?
Elsewhere in the Southwest Conference, which is Arkansas, the Razorbacks were also dealing in reality as they whipped SMU 36-3 and matched Texas step for step in the race for the conference championship. En route to the victory, Arkansas intercepted nine passes, and Placekicker Bill McClard, well on his way to both the SWC and national kicking records, booted the longest field goal in collegiate history. It went 60 yards and caromed off the peppermint-striped crossbar, winding up in the tuba section of the Razorback band. Oompah!
In Waco, Texas Tech clung to its slight chance for the championship when Charles Napper threw an eight-yard scoring pass to Ronnie Ross to beat Baylor 7-3.
1. AIR FORCE (9-1)
2. ARIZONA STATE (8-0)
3. STANFORD (8-2)
Roses are roses are roses, and sometimes they wilt, and so do people who run bowl games when things happen like Air Force bombing Stanford 31-14. After the previous week's loss to Oregon, for the Air Force it was all or nothing if there were to be any post-season goodies. Up in the Colorado high country the Falcons offered 30-mph winds, a 28° chill and players like Quarterback Bob Parker and Flanker Ernie Jennings.
"We played like there was no tomorrow," said Parker, who passed 13 times to Jennings for 174 yards and three touchdowns. "We were prepared to use everything we had. There was no use saving it."
Defensively, the Falcons poured on the muscle. They switched Eugene Ogilvie from tackle to end and moved 236-pound Buster Allaway to tackle. Cornerman Cyd Maattala moved to rover, with a big sophomore named Duke Mitchell taking his corner. Some moves. Four times Stanford's Jim Plunkett was tagged for losses; Ogilvie was in on three of those plays. And it was Ogilvie who covered a Plunkett fumble when Maattala blitzed and caught him at the Stanford 28. That set up Air Force's last touchdown.
Last year UCLA humbled Washington 57-14, and a score like that can haunt a loser for a long time. "They caught us shorthanded," said Washington Coach Jim Owens, "and when you live through an afternoon like that, you think about it. We were looking to reciprocate."
Reciprocate is one word for it. UCLA was favored to win by three points but lost 61-20. And Owens never let up. With the score 54-12 Washington booted an onside kick, recovered it and turned it into a touchdown. Sonny Sixkiller, the Husky quarterback, hit 18 of 35 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Then he made way for another sophomore, Greg Collins, who completed six of 11 passes for three more scores. You have to wonder what they were mad about; they didn't even play last year.
With more bowl scouts around than there are sausages on a $4 pizza Arizona State's Sun Devils zoomed past Utah 37-14, stretching their victory streak to 14. Utah hadn't allowed a touchdown in its three previous games.
1. LSU (7-1)
2. TENNESSEE (7-1)
3. MISSISSIPPI (7-1)
Depend on the Southeastern Conference. Just when the cream begins rising, some upstart comes along and shakes the bottle. Auburn was 7-1 and rising after its Oct. 24 loss to LSU, and if the Tigers were going to lose again it surely would not be to Georgia (4-4 and falling). But after a first half that ended with a 17-17 tie, Georgia put it all together, offense and defense, and made it look easy, winning 31-17. "I just don't know how we lost four games," said Georgia End Charles Whittemore, to which Auburn Coach Shug Jordan said amen. "They beat us just about every way you can," said Jordan. "They were simply more effective in every phase, including passing, where I was beginning to believe we excelled."
While Tennessee (7-1) took a week off, LSU plunged on toward its Dec. 5 showdown with Mississippi by coupling a good start with a good finish to beat Mississippi State 38-7. The Tigers opened with two scores, sputtered through the middle periods and then finished with three touchdowns, all the while improving their No. 1 rushing defense by holding State to a mere six yards. LSU has now gone 11 straight games without giving up a touchdown on the ground.
The last player to score that way against LSU was Archie Manning, who spent last Saturday with a cast on his broken left arm watching Shug (Who?) Chumbler pass for four touchdowns while Mississippi was defeating Chattanooga 44-7. "I was a little concerned at first," said Chumbler, a 6'4" junior making his first start, "but as things went along I began to feel better." Like when after Chattanooga's lone score Vernon Studdard took the ensuing kickoff 86 yards into the end zone, returning the game to its proper perspective.
For Mississippi fans the word from the medics on Manning is bright. He is expected to return for the game against LSU, and if not then certainly he will be ready when the Rebels play someone on Jan. 1.
1. DARTMOUTH (8-0)
2. PENN STATE (6-3)
3. BOSTON COLLEGE (6-2)
Unbeaten Dartmouth was moving on the ground and through the air, but it wasn't moving into the end zone and, with 48 minutes gone by, the best the 15th-ranked Indians could show was a 3-0 lead against tough Cornell. Then, at just 3:07 of the fourth quarter, Halfback John Short banged over from the three. Turned on now, the Indians punched across two more touchdowns to win their eighth straight victory 24-0. The Dartmouth defense, ranked fourth in the nation, recorded its fifth shutout while holding Ed Marinaro, the country's leading rusher, to 60 yards, his lowest total of the year.
After a terrible season's start Penn State appears to have found itself. The Lions scored their fourth straight victory by downing stubborn Ohio University 32-22 and left a Peach Bowl scout, Bill Robinson, warm with the idea of having Penn State and Air Force play in Atlanta. Never mind that, said Coach Joe Paterno, we still have to play Pitt this Saturday. "Be sure and play Mike Smith," purred Robinson. Smith set a single-game Lion record by intercepting four passes, returning one of them 28 yards for a touchdown.
Boston College played an offensive first half and a defensive second half to rack Pitt 21-6 and hold a commanding lead in every department except co-captains. Pitt fielded 21 seniors for the coin-toss against BC's tri-captains—and lost the flip.
Syracuse's bid for a sixth straight victory died in the hands of Linebacker Dale Farley, who intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter, and West Virginia rolled on to a 28-19 victory. The theft came with West Virginia leading 21-19 but Syracuse moving strongly toward another score. "That interception made me the happiest man in West Virginia," said Coach Bobby Bowden.
Army, which has been having its problems, stunned Oregon for three quarters with a stout defense and three field goals by Arden Jensen and then held on gamely to salvage a 22-22 upset tie.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
THE LINEMAN: Air Force's All-America-class receiver, Ernie Jennings, gathered in 13 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, which constituted the fattest part of the Falcons' 31-14 victory over Rose Bowl-bound Stanford.
THE BACK: Joe Orduna, who scored three touchdowns against Iowa State two weeks ago, got four against Kansas State on runs of three, 16, one and two yards. With that and plenty of defensive muscle, Nebraska won 51-13.