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Original Issue

BUT THIS YEAR IT'S...

1 NOTRE DAME

Notre Dame football rises up out of the featureless flat sand and scrub surrounding South Bend like a sort of Colossus of Rhodes. For sheer mass, power and over-lordship of the landscape, the Fighting Irish somewhat resemble the panorama of refineries and steel mills which springs up suddenly from the dunes at one of the next turns in the Indiana Turnpike, a melodramatic 1930s mural that writes its own title—"The Sinews of a Nation," or something like that. But Notre Dame is more than the sinews of college football; it is the biceps, or maybe the gut. If the fate of the United States somehow depended on a single football game, the President or the Joint Chiefs of Staff or whoever was recruiting the team would arrive at South Bend, hats in hand, invoking the hallowed names of Rockne, Leahy, Dorais, the Four Horsemen and Touchdown Jesus. Congress would pass a special subsidy and the CIA would inquire about stunts, ties and fake injuries.

The Yankees and Packers fell and have had the modesty to stay fallen, but glory days are back with a vengeance at Notre Dame. Pro football men, whose fate does depend on winning games, were more numerous than ever at spring practice. Jim Trimble, personnel director of the New York Giants, walked away one afternoon shaking his head in disbelief.

"A nice team," he said drily.

"Yes, there are some who can play," his companion answered.

"Some," Trimble said. "I'll trade Ara even up."

Another NFL scout's comment was yet more impressive for its lack of hyperbole, its sincere specificity. "I'd trade my front four for theirs right now," he said.

Look at that long metallic line of gold helmets: 16 of 22 starters return from last season's Cotton Bowl winners, including Tom Gatewood, 210 pounds of the best wide receiver in the country, who caught 79 passes for 1,166 yards; Ed Gulyas, who ran for 558 yards last year; Walt Patulski, now 6'6" and 260 pounds, left end on a defensive line that averages around 240 pounds, who 17 times nailed opponents for long losses; and Clarence Ellis, an All-America deep back last year who started out by feeling he did not belong on the Notre Dame first team. Ellis is now better than ever and a bit more confident.

"Other schools worry about winning their conference," says Dave Kempton, only in his second year as assistant sports publicity man and still learning how they think at Notre Dame. "Down here they talk about winning the national championship. Not cocky, but sort of casual, like you and I would talk about going out and having a beer."

Last year's beer was a bit bitter, alkalized by the memory of a 38-28 loss to Southern California which not only ruined a perfect season but cost the Irish a national championship. "That meant," Patulski says, "that we almost had success, that we had a degree of success." He is a tall, hawknosed, unusually amiable giant who smiles easily, but his tone left no doubt how the Irish feel about relative success. When he talked about a 10-1 season, a Cotton Bowl victory and a No. 2 national ranking, his voice was grim.

This year Notre Dame would like No. 1. The Irish are ordering it in the casual way you would order a cheeseburger to go with that beer. That means beating everybody, including the annual nemeses—Purdue, Michigan State and USC—and revenge-minded LSU in a season-ending night game at Baton Rouge. "The Cotton Bowl, that was a start," Patulski says. "People are saying things like: Joe Theismann, someway, managed to win all those games for us. This year we don't have him. But we'll do it without him."

The loss of Theismann lends a certain mystery to the team. Since Parseghian discovered John Huarte in 1964, there has been only one year when he has not had an All-America playing quarterback. Yet now, surrounded by perhaps his best talent ever, he must deal with four diverse, rather inexperienced candidates.

First there is Jim Bulger, tall, rawboned, almost Namathlike in visage, who has exactly two plays of varsity experience. He has an exceptional arm—"when he throws a curl pattern you need a surgeon to remove the ball from the receiver's chest"—but has had trouble learning the complicated and multifaceted offense favored by Parseghian. Another junior, Pat Steenberge, played a little over 40 minutes last year as Theismann's backup. His throwing is merely adequate, but the knowledge he assimilated while working with Theismann makes him the best-rounded of the four. Finally there are Cliff Brown, a sophomore who, in between kicking 50-yard field goals, spent the spring learning, and Bill Etter, a senior who is Notre Dame's heavyweight boxing champion.

"There is no need to choose until the Friday night before the first game," he says. "We always prepare two or 2½ quarterbacks every week anyhow. There's no problem having two quarterbacks work with the first unit."

"But how far can you go with an average quarterback?" someone asked.

"To the national championship," Parseghian replied.

2 NEBRASKA

Sorry, city folks, this year there won't be any of those meet-the-rubes anecdotes about the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Not so much because Nebraskans are getting fed up to the ears (no corn intended) with big-city barbs about their bucolic ways, but because there is barely room in which to pen their pigskin surplus.

Not one, not two, but three excellent quarterbacks are the most Z obvious excess. Jerry Tagge, a farm-boy type from Green Bay who completed a mere 61% of his passes, holds virtually all Nebraska passing records after only two years and is a strong runner, too. Van Brown-son, a flamboyant type from Shenandoah, Iowa, has the one other significant record—a 65% completion rate—and is a better runner. But a Nebraska coach admits that sophomore David Humm, son of an accountant at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, is probably already the best quarterback technically, both running and passing.

Last season's largest oversupply, Jeff Kinney and Joe Orduna alternating at I-back, has been halved, but Kinney, who gained 694 yards rushing and 206 more receiving, clearly looks capable as a full-timer. Leaping, tumbling, weaving, wriggling Slotback Johnny Rodgers (who moves to the wing when Nebraska substitutes a spread formation for the I) seems slipperier than ever. He was one of the flashiest sophomores in Big Eight history, and that means regular double-teaming.

Nebraska may have a weak spot: middle guard, where the Huskers lost All-Big Eight Eddie Periard. Bob Pabis and Joe Duffy missed spring practice because of injuries, yet the Huskers still had big Monte Johnson, Rich Glover and "a kid named [John] Peterson who came to practice on his own and is tearing them up." The Huskers' strongest single feature may be their defensive backfield, the best in the nation, where Safety Bill Kosch and Corner-backs Joe Blahak and Jim Anderson all return. Monsterman Dave Morock left, but Dave Mason "could be as good a monster as we've ever had," and sophomore Glen Garson, switched from offensive halfback, gives the Huskers a good deep man.

Minnesota, Utah State, Hawaii and the rest will find out what last year's opponents discovered as Nebraska went undefeated and became No. 1 in the nation by beating LSU in the Orange Bowl while Texas and Ohio State lost. After Nebraska finished first in the rankings and the whole state broke out in a rash not only of bumper stickers and buttons but of such esoterica as wooden No. 1 statues, clocks with Big Eight symbols all around a "Nebraska No. 1" center and Nebraska helmets with the number 1 on them made into table lamps, Coach Bob Devaney felt obliged to declare an official Back-to-Earth Day. But overconfidence should not be a hazard. The Huskers reaffirmed their down-to-earthness this spring, chipping in to buy flowers for all the cafeteria helpers on Mother's Day. That is the team's only real weakness—sentimentality.

3 MICHIGAN

The only thing about the 1971 Michigan Wolverines that does not immediately impress you is their modesty. They are much too good for that. It's not so much that they are cocky as simply confident about the upcoming football season. Just ask them. Naturally, Coach Bo Schembechler says, "Aw, we might make it as high as 20th." But then you don't expect No. 1 talk from head coaches, particularly the good ones. It is the Michigan players who will tell it to you straight.

"There's no place like first place," says Tailback Billy Taylor. "Last year—second place? Nothin', man." Offensive Guard Reggie McKenzie is even more direct: "We feel we'll be undefeated."

The Wolverines did go undefeated last year—for nine games, that is—before losing to Ohio State 20-9 in a continuation of a rivalry that has become one of the most dramatic in college football. In the last two years this regular-season finale has not only decided the Big Ten championship but has eliminated a national champion. In 1969 Ohio State was undefeated and ranked first in both polls before being upset by Michigan 24-12. Last year Ohio State's victory cost the Wolverines the crown. (Michigan, 9-0 before the game with the Buckeyes, was ranked third behind Texas and Notre Dame and ahead of Nebraska. A final 10-0 record would certainly have done the job, what with Texas and Notre Dame both losing and Michigan ineligible for the Rose Bowl.)

Of course, the coming season won't be as easy as Taylor and McKenzie imply, but all that heady talk about No. I may not prove far wrong, despite the absence of a proven quarterback.

"No problem," says McKenzie to that particular point. "You know who the quarterback is? Bo, I tell you! He calls a great game."

Which is not to say that there aren't some pretty good arms and legs around to carry out Schembechler's will. Sophomore Kevin Casey, who fits the "good ball handler" stereotype, should edge Tom Slade for the quarterback job. The offense will again depend on the option. With a game-breaking runner like Taylor and regulars Fritz Seyferth and Glenn Doughty, Michigan should have no trouble moving on the ground. But Casey will have little time to grow into the job or become accustomed to the pressure. Because of an unusual season opener with dangerous conference rival Northwestern at Evanston, Casey must start playing for the Rose Bowl in his very first game.

Again Michigan will have a stingy defense. The 1970 unit surrendered only nine touchdowns and there are talented replacements for five all-conference graduates. Cornerback Tom Darden has switched to safety to head the secondary.

Don't be surprised if Michigan finishes on top of the Big Ten and ends up No. 1. Taylor and McKenzie warned you.

4 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

John McKay's record in 11 years as head coach at USC is such that a season without a Heisman Trophy winner or a trip to the Rose Bowl or both is a disappointment. After four straight Pacific Eight championships, the Trojans' 6-4-1 record in 1970 had some alumni considering leaps off the top of the Coliseum scoreboard. What probably dissuaded them was the season-ending upset victory over Notre Dame. 4 "They have not beaten us in four years," says McKay, himself a fighting Irishman. The mediocre season was blamed on a few premature daydreams by seniors about fat pro contracts, a defense that allowed the most points in USC history (233), injuries and a tough schedule. The Trojans of 1971 are stuck with that last headache again.

Apart from difficult conference games, notably Washington, Stanford and UCLA, the Trojans must play Oklahoma at Norman and three weeks later meet Notre Dame at South Bend, where they have won only twice since 1933. The '70 upset cost the Irish the national championship, so the 43rd renewal of the rivalry should be bloody.

As usual, McKay and his staff have gathered plenty of material to compete at this level. One of the dangerous weapons will be Sam (Bam) Cunningham, who has the most alliterate name of any Los Angeles athlete since Bill (The Hill) McGill was playing high school basketball. Cunningham is a junior fullback who averaged 6.4 yards a carry last season and blocked well. He did even better in the spring game—running, throwing and receiving for three touchdowns. McKay is not known for letting talented runners stand around idle.

"We've been thinking about Sam," he says. "He'll carry the ball twice as much as any of our fullbacks have since Ben Wilson left. He'll get the ball 20 or 25 times a game."

Senior Quarterback Jimmy Jones should pass Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson to become Troy's alltime total offense leader (if he doesn't hand off to Cunningham too often, and if he can keep a promising backup quarterback, Mike Rae, on the bench). Jones, a Pennsylvania import who was blamed by some fans for the failures last year, already holds or shares 10 school passing records and in two seasons has led the team to a 16-4-2 record.

True to the traditions of a school that has had such football stars as Grenville Archer Lansdell Jr., Morley Drury, Garrett Arbelbide, Aramus Dandoy and Marger Apsit, there are some strange and fancy names on the Trojan squad. Soph Artimus Parker is a likely starter in the defensive backfield. New Split End Lynn Swann beat UCLA's fabled—and ineligible—Jim McAlister in the long jump at the state high school meet. Defensive Tackle Mike McGirr has the name, shape and disposition of a grizzly bear.

And speaking of interesting names, on the very strong freshman team this fall there is a wide receiver by the name of John McKay Jr. Wonder where he learned his football?

5 L.S.U.

There are some people who think Tommy Casanova (see cover) was responsible for LSU's opening-game loss to Texas A&M last year. Casanova was hurt while playing on offense in the second quarter and was out of the game when the Aggies won in the last seconds with a pass-run into his defensive territory. There is one person who thinks Casanova was responsible for LSU's 3-0 loss to Notre Dame. "I blew it," says Casanova himself who, despite holding Tom Gatewood to four catches (22 yards), dropped a leaping pass interception just before the Irish kicked the winning field goal. But there are many more people who believe—with ample justification—that Tommy Casanova is the main reason LSU won its nine other games last year and that he deserves to be recognized as the best all-round college football player in the country.

As a sprinter on the LSU track team he has done several 9.7 hundreds, and last season he tied an NCAA record with punt-return touchdowns of 61 and 73 yards against Ole Miss. As a defender he intimidates opponents into playing away from his area and stops such great receivers as Gatewood and Auburn's Terry Beasley. Said one pro scout after watching Casanova during practice: "My wife could scout Tommy and put him down as a first-round draft choice."

Quiet, modest, tall, dark and handsome—Casanovian in all respects—Tommy is partially responsible for the Tigers having led the country in defense against rushing the last two years. Only partially, because he had considerable help from Ronnie Estay, a Cajun from Race-land, La., hard by Bayou Lafourche, who plays tackle as if it were a French invention.

It is well that Casanova and Estay are still around, for LSU, as always, will live and die on its defense. In 1970 the Tigers were 9-2 during the regular season largely because the team yielded only 8.7 points a game. Now, with the defense nearly depleted except for its two stars, Coach Charlie McClendon will be hard pressed against the likes of Colorado, Florida, Alabama and Notre Dame.

The offense, however, may be better. "I just hope we haven't hurt our running game by too much passing practice," says McClendon, referring to the work of Quarterbacks Bert Jones and Paul Lyons. Pressure by Notre Dame and later by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl loss showed Jones cannot run, but he has a Y.A. Tittle arm and the pleasure of throwing to Flanker Andy Hamilton, who has already broken Ken Kavanaugh's school pass-catching record. Lyons is more of the take-charge type. A whole flock of good running backs is available, led by Art Cantrelle, who was recently cleared of an assault charge after a barroom brawl near campus. It was Cantrelle's second brush with the law for assault, but in between punches he personally outgained nine of LSU's 11 regular-season opponents. If McClendon can keep Casanova out of the hospital and Cantrelle out of trouble, LSU will be sweet and tough once more.

6 TEXAS

The University of Texas empire fell apart on New Year's Day, 1971 A.D., when Notre Dame upset the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. That ended Texas' 30-game winning streak and also opened the way, at the last minute, for Nebraska to grab the national championship. In spring practice Coach Darrell Royal spent a lot of time poking through the ruins, and what he found was not exactly discouraging. With some solid old critters such as Quarterback Eddie Phillips and Halfback Jim Bertelsen, and some new beef headed by Linebacker Glenn Gaspard, the Horns may be hooking 'em this fall with as much gusto as ever.

The case of Gaspard gives some indication of what kind of talent Texas has. Last year he was so impressive as a freshman fullback that coaches and writers were billing him as the next Woo Woo Worster. In spring drills, however, Royal discovered that he had an adequate fullback—Bobby Callison—so Gaspard was shifted to linebacker. Soon he was making such jarring tackles that Royal was moved to observe, "He's got a lot of those Tommy Nobis traits." As for Gaspard, he gained plenty of respect for the way Phillips runs Royal's Wishbone-T. "Why, shoot," said Gaspard, "he's so smooth that it's a thrill when you get to tackle him."

Phillips, red-haired and freckle-faced, is more than smooth. He is an elusive runner, an underrated passer (as he proved in the Cotton Bowl) and a natural leader. "Eddie is a lot more confident," says Bertelsen. "You could see it in the spring when he just took command." Bertelsen is called "Tugboat" by some of his teammates, but don't be deceived. In speed and striking power he is more like a destroyer. Royal considers Bertelsen the best running back in the country, and the coach also is high on Tackle Jerry Sisemore, "the best athlete we've had on the line of scrimmage since John Elliott."

More Texans than ever will have a chance to see the Long-horns play. The west side of Memorial Stadium has been double-decked, which will add 15,000 seats and increase the stadium's capacity to 81,500—largest in the Southwest. The team these fans will cheer could be very good or just mediocre, depending on how it fares in the season's first half. Right off, almost before you can say LBJ Library, the Longhorns play UCLA, Texas Tech, Oregon, Oklahoma and Arkansas, which is a schedule and a half right there.

"I think it's unreasonable to think we can pick up where we left off," said Royal one day, propping his feet on the desk in his office. "We've had to rebuild an offensive line, and it's been a long time since we've had so many sophomores and new faces on defense. We lost a senior crop that had a lot of talent."

Even a chronic pessimist like Royal must admit, however, that if Texas escapes punishment in those first five games, Year One in the new empire might well be at hand.

7 ARKANSAS

Over the past two seasons Arkansas has won 18 games and lost only four. Ordinarily this would be quite satisfactory, even by the standards of those diehard "Sooey, pig" fans in the Ozarks. Yet around Little Rock and Fayetteville there is a strange sense of frustration, and for good reason: Arkansas can't win the big ones. Say that softly now, lest you find yourself under a ton of bacon, but the argument is irrefutable. In national TV games the past two seasons Arkansas is 0 for 4. In its two most recent Armageddons against Texas, when all sorts of conference and national titles were being decided, the Razorbacks lost a heartbreaker 15-14, and last year a bone-breaker 42-7.

To a man, Arkansas is aware of this reputation. Take Joe Ferguson. He was a sophomore last season, the best arm on the team—perhaps in the entire Southwest—but only the No. 2 quarterback behind Bill Montgomery. But now Montgomery is gone, as are Bill Burnett and All-America Chuck Dicus, and Ferguson is the man in charge. "Yeah, we know what they're saying about us," says Ferguson. "I cut out one of those articles and pasted it on my wall. I think everybody's conscious of it."

Arkansas fans think Ferguson might be the finest passer east of Sonny Sixkiller. He comes from Shreveport, La., where he broke most of Terry Bradshaw's high school records, and playing behind Montgomery, he passed for 741 yards. But Ferguson also became so disenchanted with life on the bench that there were rumors he might transfer. All that is over now, however, and so is the bad back that bothered Ferguson last season. The trouble, it seems, was that Ferguson's right leg is shorter than his left. So in the spring he began wearing one-eighth-inch foot pads in the heel of his right shoe and now, he says, "I haven't noticed any more problems."

Ferguson is not the only star. "We've got some big-play people with special skills," says Coach Frank Broyles with satisfaction, "so we will be throwing a bit more this season." Tailback Jon Richardson, a big-play person, is blessed with strength and speed, so he will be a threat both as a runner and receiver. Also on hand are Ferguson's top high school receivers—redshirt Mark Hollingsworth and wide receiver Jim Hodge. The defense will be a collection of new faces built around David Reavis, a 6'4", 240-pound tackle. A 6'6", 250-pound offensive tackle, Tom Mabry, is perhaps closest to Broyles' heart, however, partly because he is 6'6" and 250, and partly because he is a golfer. "He has a two handicap," says Broyles, who is so much of a golf fan that he traveled all the way to the Masters to follow Jack Nicklaus. "He must hit it a mile."

The Razorbacks are young and cocky and their schedule includes a number of patsies, so they should fare well—9-2 at the worst. However, Texas comes to Little Rock on Oct. 16 and the game is on national television, so....

8 PENN STATE

The real world caught up with Joe Paterno last season. In five years as head coach at Penn State, he had built a gaudy record of 42-10-1, including a streak of 31 games without a loss, and most of it was due to the toughest defense in the country. Last year most of that defense had graduated, and boom! In the second game, and on national TV, Colorado racked up 41 points. A week later Wisconsin scored 29, then Syracuse 24 to give the Lions three losses by midseason. But the real problem, Paterno felt, was the offense. Not one to wait till next year, Paterno switched from an open attack to the wing-T and put John Hufnagel, a sophomore, at quarterback. Penn State won its last five games, averaging 36 points.

For this reason there is optimism at University Park again this fall. The Lions will present a solid, not-very-fancy offense led by Hufnagel, an adequate passer and better than average runner. However, the players who put a gleam in Paterno's eyes are Running Backs Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris. Mitchell is the slinky type while Harris specializes in head-on collisions with tacklers. Both have the speed and moves to go all the way. The offensive line, headed by Tackle Dave Joyner, is capable of giving them the daylight they need.

While Penn State will do most of its attacking on the ground, Hufnagel can throw the ball well enough to make opposing cornerbacks wary and he has an abundance of targets, including Split End Scott Skarzynski and Bob Parsons, a 6'4½" former backup quarterback who was switched to tight end in the spring and was impressive as a receiver.

If all else fails, Penn State has still another weapon—JC transfer Alberto Vitiello, a left-footed soccer-style kicker. What makes him unusual, aside from his ability to kick long field goals, is that he was born in Naples, Italy. Since Alberto's arrival, Paterno has revived one of his old lines. "I didn't recruit Alberto because he's Italian," Joe jokes, "I got him because I'm Italian."

The defense, at least up front, could be a throwback to better times. Bruce Bannon at one end and Frank Ahrenhold and Jim Heller, the tackles, are not very big but they are quick and hard-hitting. They also can afford to take chances because they are backed up by a quartet of linebackers who, collectively, will form an impressive roadblock. Gary Gray and John Skorupan are back from last year and the other two spots in the 4-4-3 defense will be held down by Charlie Zapiec, who missed most of last season because of an appendectomy, and Doug Allen, a converted defensive tackle. The real worry is in the secondary, where all three starters will be newcomers. They could be vulnerable, especially early in the season.