What kind of a year was it for Hickman's Hunches? Here are the hot mathematical facts: 181 right, 68 wrong and 9 ties, for a batting average of .727—not including ties. The results of Saturday, November 27, and Thanksgiving Day were 19 rights and 6 wrongs. Humble Herman, modestly speaking, doesn't believe that any expert has a better record. My definition for an expert is a local boy away from home.
The three most disappointing teams to me were Illinois, Alabama and Texas—in just about that order. Form reversals were a dime a dozen from the first day of the season until the end, but three teams withstood all the ravages of time, tide and T's, split or otherwise: UCLA, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Behind the solid coaching of Woody Hayes, the Buckeyes mowed down all opposition to win the Big Ten title. Ohio State was essentially a fourth-quarter team—a trade-mark to be proud of. Oklahoma moved machinelike through its schedule. The Sooners were picked to win the Big Seven title—which they have won with monotonous regularity the past seven seasons—and probably go undefeated. They did both with ease.
The Bruins of UCLA may have been the best pure single wing team in several years. Disdaining flankers, men in motion, and "the multiple offense," they operated from a plain single wing, left or right, with a balanced line. Perfection of detail was the keynote, both on offense and defense. Expressed numerically: UCLA, 367 points; opponents, 40. I picked UCLA to win the Pacific Coast Conference title and USC to play in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins did and the Trojans are. Most of the "experts" went for California or Oregon.
December 13, 1954
Let's see how my other preseason predictions stood up. I picked Duke and Maryland as the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference and they were. The Blue Devils, outside of the two thrashings given them by Army and Navy, were a good football team. They play Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Mighty Maryland was disappointing to many. The Terrapins lost two games—7-12 to UCLA, 7-9 to Miami—and had an inexplicable tie with Wake Forest. Still, I am not certain but what they might have been one of the best three or four teams in the country at the close of the season. Red Sanders thinks so, and ask Don Faurot at Missouri (Maryland, 74; Missouri, 13). On the nose, too, were West Virginia and Va. Tech to finish one-two in the Southern Conference and Mississippi to win the SEC championship. I picked Yale to be the best in the Ivy group. Cornell lost its first four and then won its last five to tie for the lead. I picked Rice to be the runner-up in the SWC (the Owls tied for third with Baylor) and Texas Tech to win the Border Conference. I missed in the Missouri Valley Conference when Wichita won it. As noted, Ohio State fooled me and I underrated Michigan's sophomores. Wisconsin and Iowa held up strong, while my dark horse, Minnesota, ended up with only two losses. I thought Illinois would defeat Ohio State. Score: Illinois, 7; Ohio State, 40. Don't think I haven't heard from that one.
OPEN SEASON NOW
Notre Dame might not have been as sensational as the previous edition, but Terry Brennan can well be proud of his first year of what promises to be a memorable coaching career. Other coaching wreaths should go to unsung Blanton Collier at the University of Kentucky and Bowden Wyatt, whose amazing Arkansas team won the undisputed championship of the Southwest Conference.
The regular season is history but the big Bowl games are still coming and Hickman's Hunches will try to maintain that .727 percentage. How does that little ditty go:
O'er the stadiums snowfalls hover,
Losing coaches run for cover.
Never got around to winning,
Open season just beginning.