It was a week in which the five bulldozers of major college football—Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and UCLA—continued their crunching way through what little opposition is left them, as did the heroes from Trinity, Alfred, College of Emporia, Heidelberg, Idaho State, Centre, Juniata, Muskingum and 16 other small colleges whose 1955 records are still immaculate.
But, above all, last Saturday was a great day to be back on the old campus in such collegiate way stations as Cambridge, New Haven, Champaign, Knoxville and Berkeley. It was a day when the overmatched boys at home ripped up the form charts and turned their dreams of glory into gleeful reality (see below). Football, they were showing the country, is still a game of marvelous surprise, where the emotions of one unexpected victory, even one long run such as that of a Penn back against Notre Dame, can cure an entire season of frustration.
"How good is Michigan, really?" has been a favorite football question ever since the Wolverines squeezed past Michigan State on the second weekend of its season. Illinois, which had already lost three of its four conference games, may have provided the answer last Saturday. The Illini ran all over their disorganized visitors from Ann Arbor, accumulating 461 yards from scrimmage against only 190. The final score was a perfectly fair measure of the difference between the two teams that day, but it must be remembered that ever since the time of Red Grange, Illinois has enjoyed luring a favored Michigan team to Champaign for an afternoon of humiliation.
November 14, 1955
Much of last week's effervescence at Champaign came from the performance of Bob Mitchell, a skinny substitute sophomore halfback who helped break up the half-time tie of 6-6 by carrying the ball 173 yards in 10 tries after he entered the game in the third quarter. Part of it came from the dismal failure of Michigan's passing attack to its two great ends, Ron Kramer and Tom Maentz, who caught only three of 21 passes for 17 yards.
But there is nothing quite like knocking over a Rose Bowl favorite, and Champaign loved the feeling. Now the Wolverines are tied with Michigan State for the Big Ten lead, and after their earlier wobbly victories over Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa, the conference is wondering if Michigan has lucked out for the last time.
Yale and Army have played football together off and on since 1893, but this year's game was to be the last of a memorable series because of an Ivy League theory that its teams are no longer tough enough for such high-powered outside competition. Last year the Cadets verified this theory by a 48-7 score. This year, with All-America End Don Holleder at quarterback, Army moved into the Yale Bowl as a three-touchdown favorite.
Early in the game the point spread looked justified. Army dominated the first quarter and sent a couple of Yale first-stringers limping to the sidelines. At the start of the second quarter they took only five running plays to move 55 yards for their first touchdown, but they missed the conversion.
All of a sudden, the Elis forgot their Ivy League manners. Their line out-charged the Cadets, their backs ran around and sometimes over Army tacklers. They built a 14-6 lead, and it wasn't until five minutes before the end that Holleder completed his first three passes for a second touchdown, but it was too late. With temperatures on the field running high—and even higher among the 61,000 seated in the Bowl—Yale ended the series as they started it: ahead.
Depressed but not discouraged, Don Holleder told what it is like to be a quarterback: "Well, sir, you have a lot more responsibility, but I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it. The trouble is on a day like today, if you have nowhere to pass the ball, you just can't run with it if they rush you like that. That's when it's tough."
GEORGIA TECH 7
They are rebuilding football at Tennessee this year under Coach Bowden Wyatt, who learned his craft from General Bob Neyland, the university's football father. Last Saturday another Neyland protégé, Coach Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech, brought the nation's eighth-ranking team to Knoxville to show 47,000 homecoming rooters how far their new movement had to go. As the old grads were settling in their seats, the Volunteers marched straight to a touchdown in nine plays. Then they held on doggedly until Tech eventually tied the score in the fourth quarter. But all around Knoxville you'd have thought the Tennessee youth movement had already arrived.
After dropping a humiliating 47-0 decision to UCLA two weeks ago, Coach Lynn Waldorf, who not so long ago had sent three consecutive California teams to the Rose Bowl, growled: "One of these days we got to get back into this conference." The once-Golden Bears had beaten only puny Pennsylvania when they entered their Memorial Stadium in Berkeley last Saturday against Washington, still regarded as an outside chance to upset UCLA and represent the West in the Rose Bowl.
With the score tied at half time, Pappy Waldorf turned over the chores to a third-string quarterback named Ralph Hoffman and two 140-pound halfbacks—Donn Smith and Nat Brazill. The 219-pound Washington line lumbered awkwardly in chase of this undersized backfield but couldn't prevent third-and fourth-period touchdowns which gave the Bears their first conference victory of 1955 and the Pacific coast its biggest surprise of the season.
Harvard is known as a November football team, which means it drifts aimlessly through its schedule until it is time to play Princeton and Yale for the Big Three title. Princeton likes to win them all and had a perfect 4-0 Ivy League record until it went to Cambridge last Saturday. But the Tigers lacked the services of Royce Flippin, their captain and star tailback who has been crippled with a trick knee and has confined his activity to three plays against Columbia and winning the pre-game flip of the coin in every game so far. Nonetheless, Princeton had reason to regard Harvard as merely a warmup for next week's Yale game.
It was dark and rainy in Harvard Stadium, but most of Princeton's gloom came from a pair of Harvard halfbacks, Dexter Lewis and James Joslin. When Joslin threw an eight-yard pass to Lewis for the Crimson's third-period touchdown, William E. Crosby III came in to kick the extra point. When Princeton's Dick Martin missed his team's conversion with only 2½ minutes left to play, it meant the Tigers' first loss at Cambridge in 13 years. The rain was scarcely enough to dampen Harvard joy at the prospects of keeping the Big Three title.