With all the major teams now in action, national rankings began to come into clearer focus. The big three of the Big Ten—Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State—were on exhibition for the first time; so was Oklahoma. After the way they performed against extraterritorial opposition, there could be no doubt but that they proved the merit of those prophets who had picked them to lead the national rankings. Georgia Tech, another early favorite, was again on the winners' list, but again not so impressively as might have been expected. Still, with the season so young, form was beginning to tell. It confirmed the suspicion that Tennessee, under perfectionist Bowden Wyatt, is a power to be recognized; that Mississippi is indeed a true southern giant, not just a Gulliver. Pittsburgh's Panthers alone lived up to the great expectations of the East.
All the giants of eastern football stepped onstage last Saturday and, when they put on their acts, some of them looked like mighty scrawny giants.
Mighty Yale, heavily favored to toy with little Connecticut, staggered from the field at half time like a poleaxed bull on the short end of a 14-6 score. Coach Jordan Olivar got his reeling giant back on its feet for two third-period touchdowns and a 19-14 win but, even so, Connecticut was on Yale's three-yard line as the game ended.
October 7, 1956
Army, yet another supposed bully boy, showed dangerous cracks in its armor in beating VMI 32-12 at West Point. The Black Knights swept to two quick first-period touchdowns and then were taken aback as the Virginians punched across two of their own, slicker and quicker. This disregard for Army's reputation forced Coach Earl Blaik to use his first unit for most of the game, and the win was costly. Gene Mikelonis, Blaik's "best back," suffered a torn knee ligament and will be out for the rest of the season.
Colgate mauled Cornell 34-6, showing no respect for the Big Red's No. 2 Ivy League rating, while Pittsburgh topped Syracuse 14-7 in a battle for the East's No. 1 rating. Navy used its entire team (39 players) to rip William and Mary 39-14. The Middie reserves rose to the occasion by outscoring the first team 20-19.
Penn State extended Pennsylvania's losing streak to 19 games (longest in the country among major colleges) with a 34-0 win at Franklin Field. The Nittany Lion offense was varied (three touchdowns by ground, two by air) and should provide a tough test for Army next week.
Williams unleashed a lusty running attack that broke Trinity's 15-game winning streak 46-7 and set the Ephmen up as Little Three title favorites. Williams sophomores, up from last year's spectacular freshman squad, made the difference. Other scores:
Brown 20, Columbia 0
Dartmouth 13, New Hampshire 0
Princeton 28, Rutgers 6
Lafayette 20, Temple 0
Delaware 33, Lehigh 7
Union 13, Vermont 6
Maine 40, Rhode Island 7
Boston U. 19, Massachusetts 6
Springfield 28, Amherst 7
Middlebury 21, Wesleyan 6
The word is out around the Southeast Conference: Beware Ole Miss. In Memphis on Saturday night Mississippi showed even more strength than had been expected. Experts had rated the Rebs near the top of the conference but largely because they play only Tennessee among the best of the SEC, skipping Georgia Tech and Auburn. The way Ole Miss took Kentucky apart (37-6), however, shows that Mississippi is ready for anyone. The Rebs ran, passed and kicked with a finesse and finality that far eclipsed Georgia Tech's showing against this same Kentucky team a week ago. Only Tennessee, 35-7 conqueror of Auburn, looks like a possible road block to a clean league record.
The Southeast's two Louisiana entries showed unexpected strength in dropping close decisions to Southwest Conference teams. A poor Tulane punt set up Texas for its only score of the day, and the Long-horns had to hang on grimly to edge the Green Wave 7-6 at New Orleans. Texas A&M, the recipient of a questionable pass completion call on the enemy's 12-yard line, went on to score its lone touchdown and edge LSU 9-6.
The toothless Georgia Bulldogs, still without a touchdown in two games, were outplayed by Florida state, had to rely on a 26-yard field goal by Ken Copper, a third-string end, in the last 90 seconds for a 3-0 victory.
Vanderbilt simply had too much for little Chattanooga, scored four times in the first quarter and breezed to a 46-7 win in which third-stringers saw plenty of action.
Quarterback Charlie Bussey led Clemson downfield against the clock in the final three minutes to gain a 20-20 tie with Florida in a wild, wide-open game at Gainesville. Trying for the extra point that would win the game, the Tigers could not find the kicking tee and were assessed five yards for delay of the game. Then, when Horace Turbeville booted the point anyway, Clemson was caught holding and penalized another 15 yards. This time Turbeville, kicking from nearly 30 yards out, missed.
In other southern games, Virginia Tech forgot its neighborly spirit in the Good Neighbor Bowl at Norfolk, Va., handing North Carolina state an unexpected 35-6 thrashing. West Virginia toyed With Richmond 30-6; George Washington had more trouble than expected in downing Furman 10-0, and The citadel surprised everyone with a decisive 34-7 win over Davidson.
In a Friday night game Fullback Don Bosseler was the big show, going 97 yards in 22 carries as Miami opened with a 14-6 victory over South Carolina, last week's surprise winner over Duke.
Duke, meanwhile, still seething from the upset, took it out on hapless Virginia 40-7. The Blue Devils scored twice on interceptions, three times on passes and once rushing. The Cavaliers penetrated Blue Devil territory only once, and then for their lone score, in the third period. For Virginia Coach Ben Martin it was more than a lost ball game. His first-string quarterback, Reece Whitley, broke an arm and will be out for the rest of the season.
Maryland edged Wake Forest 6-0 in a game that proved—if nothing else—that the once-terrible Terrapin offense has turned mock turtle.
In the only Big Ten game so far, Iowa took advantage of a pass interception and an Indiana fumble for its first two scores and then proved it likes its new offense—-run from the T formation with a wing back and a balanced line—by marching 82 yards in 12 plays and 69 in 13 to beat the Hoosiers 27-0 in the Big Ten opener. Indiana, which had been delayed in its practice preparations when one of the players came down with polio and the rest were required to take Salk vaccine shots, was obviously handicapped.
In nonconference openers, Illinois came alive in the third quarter after trailing 20-0 at the half, scored four times in less than seven minutes to take the lead from California, finally chalked up a 32-20 win.
Wisconsin simply outclassed an undermanned Marquette squad 41-0, while Northwestern snapped a nine-game winless streak 14-13 at the expense of Iowa state of the Big Seven.
Ohio state, ineligible for the Rose Bowl because of irregularities in its player-aid program, gave its Big Ten neighbors food for thought by romping over the Big Seven's Nebraska 34-7 before a record crowd of 82,153.
Kansas was effective in stopping sophomore sensation Dick Bass and thus held College of the Pacific to a 27-27 tie. Bass was held to 60 yards in 16 carries, an average of 3.1 yards. Last week he averaged 10.2 yards and scored twice.
Colorado took advantage of Kansas mistakes to push across three third-period touchdowns for a 34-0 win. Sophomore Halfback Howard Cook set up one touchdown with a pass interception, passed for 57- and 14-yard scores and once quick-kicked 80 yards. Other scores:
Michigan 42, UCLA 13
Villanova 8, Detroit 7
Miami (Ohio) 14, Xavier 7
Toledo 20, Ohio U. 13
Cincinnati 7, Tulsa 6
Purdue 16, Missouri 7
After losing their first game, Coach Jim Tatum and his North Carolina Tar Heels went west, and this time Oklahoma threw the knockout punch. The bruising Sooners, who scored three touchdowns within four minutes during the second quarter, coasted to their 31st straight victory 36-0. Wilkinson sent his entire team into the game—61 players in all—in a show of strength and depth well beyond that of any other college team. Oklahoma gained 369 yards rushing, showed no signs of releasing its hold on the mythical national championship.
Arkansas turned to the long gainer to dump Oklahoma A&M 19-7 in a nonconference tilt. Rogers Overbey set up the first Razorback score with a 46-yard run, then passed to End Teddy Souter for 41 yards to set up another. Quarterback Don Christian nailed Halfback Ronnie Underwood with a 67-yard pass for the third TD.
The long play was also common in Baylor's easy 27-0 win over Texas Tech. Bear Quarterback Doyle Traylor passed 50 and 23 yards for touchdowns, and Fullback Larry Hickman went 46 for another to hand the Red Raiders their second loss of the season.
Houston, fast growing into one of the better football towns in pigskinhappy Texas, drew 53,000 fans to its 18-7 victory over Mississippi state. Don Flynn, Cougar quarterback, passed for two touchdowns.
Art Luppino gained 45 yards and scored twice, though used sparingly in Arizona's 60-0 whitewash Of South Dakota. Luppino, with seven games to play, appears a cinch to beat Alan Ameche's alltime college-career rushing record of 3,212 yards this year. He needs only 92 to tie the former Wisconsin All-America. Other scores:
Texas West. 20, Abilene Chr. 0
West Texas State 48, Sul Ross 0
Cal. Poly 32, N. Mex. A&M 7
Georgia Tech 9, SMU 7
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Coach Phil Dickens of Wyoming was emphatic, not grammatic, after his halfback, Jim Crawford, romped for two touchdowns—one of them a 71-yard canter—to beat Denver 27-0. "If that boy ain't All-America," roared Dickens, "they ain't never been one." His exuberance was understandable. Crawford's pace-setting performance avenged a year-old defeat by Denver which cost Wyoming a tie for the 1955 Skyline Conference title. It also put the Cowboys on an even footing with Utah's big team in the 1956 Skyline championship battle. The wind-up was in calm contrast to last year's finish, when teams and fans slugged it out under the goal posts for 20 minutes after the game. Only fight this year was between two Cowboy fans arguing over which Wyoming player was best.
Utah piled up a 19-6 half-time lead over Montana and then coasted to a 26-12 win in another conference test. Ute Coach Jack Curtice tested his reserves in the second half and was pleased with their performance. Colorado A&M, defending Skyline champ, was held to a scoreless tie by Brigham Young.
Buck Shaw's Air Force Academy Falcons made an impressive debut against the San Diego Pioneers. The fledglings waxed the West Coasters 46-0 with an all-sophomore team, although Shaw was using freshman subs by the second period. San Diego, playing its first football game in history, was no match for the fierce Air Force line, which opened truck-wide holes for the fleet Academy backs. Other scores:
New Mex. 27, Utah St. 19
Idaho St. 19, San Diego Navy 12
THE FAR WEST
The football weekend in the Far West gave clear evidence that the Pacific coast is steadily losing ground to its rivals in the Middle West. Four Coast Conference teams played Big Ten opponents, and the result was four shattering losses in which the Big Ten scored 129 points to a paltry 54 for the PCC. Most notable of these losses was Stanford's 21-7 bow to Michigan state. The Indians tried valiantly, succeeded for a while but just couldn't match State's deep reserve of power. Minnesota, by no means a power within its own conference, handed PCC dark horse Washington its first loss under new Coach Darrell Royal 34-14. California could not hold an early 20-0 lead over Illinois, finally went down 32-20; and Michigan insulted UCLA 42-13. In one of the only two conference games played last weekend, Oregon state forced a richly manned use team to pull out all the stops for a 21-13 victory. Southern Cal had looked almost like the Trojans of old the week before while overwhelming Texas, so Oregon State, which outplayed it most of the way, definitely confirmed its status as a contender for the doubtful privilege of playing punching bag for the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
In the other conference test Idaho threw a fright into Oregon before succumbing 21-14. The Vandals tied the score at 14 all in the third period when they recovered a fumble deep in Oregon territory and Fullback Bill Baxter punched over from the three. But Oregon came back, scored the clincher with less than five minutes remaining when Tom Crabtree climaxed a long drive with a three-yard spurt around right end.
Washington State spotted San Jose state two first-period touchdowns before coming on for a 33-18 win, its first under new Coach Jim Sutherland. WSC Quarterback Bunny Aldrich was at his peak as he hit 12 of 15 passes for 129 yards, while second-string Quarterback Bob Newman was nearly as effective connecting with six out of 12. The San Jose State loss came despite the unscheduled support of two pretty Spartan cheerleaders, Anna Beal, 20, and Barbara Dale, 19. The gals were stowaways on the plane chartered to fly the team to Pullman Friday. They went to the San Francisco airport to see the squad off and climbed aboard "on impulse."
"Nobody minded when we climbed aboard," said Anna. "The players didn't think we'd come, but I think they were glad we did." There was no comment from Coach Bob Bronzan, but he is expected to be more alert later in the season. San Jose plays in Hawaii Nov. 30. Other scores:
Coll. of Idaho 39, Pacific U. 7
Whitworth 35, W. Washington 0
Rutgers stretched its scoring streak to 96 straight games but lost to Princeton; Oklahoma, beating North Carolina easily, scored in its 107th game in a row.
Texas, one-point winner in four of its last eight victories, blocked another conversion to beat Tulane 7-6 with a special play which shoots two backs through—one to decoy blocker, the other to slip by and block kick.
Biggest Saturday crowd was the 82,153 who watched Ohio State open home season by crushing Nebraska; this was a record crowd for a Buckeye home opener, too.
Odds on Rose Bowl contender Oregon State lengthened when Sam Wesley, star back, was ruled ineligible; he had previously enrolled at Lincoln (Mo.) University.
Ronnie Knox, the peripatetic quarterback, telling his story in Collier's, said he's fed up with big-time college football; that if his baby brother Montgomery, 21 months old, decided to play college ball, he would help send him to Harvard.