MICHIGAN STATE 47
NOTRE DAME 14
No. 5, the rangy boy in the green jersey, was the outstanding man on the field. He led his team with hot skill, this senior playing his last year for Notre Dame. He did everything else that could be asked of a man. He passed (for 178 yards), blocked, tackled, kicked and—toward the end—wept. It was not quite enough. Quarterback Paul Hornung's Notre Dame team, a team rich in promise and in sophomores, managed to hold Michigan State 7-7 at the half. After that it was Michigan State in a demonstration of power, wave on wave, that followers of the Spartans will long remember.
But it will also be worth remembering awhile that, at the end of the game when Paul Hornung walked off the field, he was surrounded and escorted by his conquerors, the whole Michigan State team.
The night before the game Hornung turned in early but had a hard time getting to sleep. When sleep did come it brought a series of bad dreams and fitful awakenings dominated by a mammoth scoreboard flashing: Michigan State 21, Notre Dame 0. The reality the next day was worse than the nightmare: Michigan State 47, Notre Dame 14.
October 29, 1956
Early in the game, Hornung judged that State was vulnerable on the outside. In the huddle he told his team: "Listen you guys, if we can stay fired up, this team can be had." Stay fired up they did, and early in the second period a pair of Hornung passes took it to the eight. A few plunges later, Hornung pitched out to Halfback Frank Reynolds for the touchdown. Hornung converted.
Halfback Dennis Mendyk, 183 pounds of straight-arming uncooperativeness, gathered in the following kickoff for Michigan State and set off. He was all alone at mid-field with nothing between him and the goal line but daylight when Hornung appeared on the scene and dumped him. But 12 plays later State scored. Hornung, shaken up and taken out of the game when he tackled Mendyk, returned to action and ran the kickoff back 30 yards. Through the rest of the half neither team could score; and the score stayed 7-7. In the dressing room Coach Brennan slammed Hornung on the back and announced, "Fellows, you have 30 minutes more to pull off one of Notre Dame's greatest achievements."
But in football, as in song, "que sera, sera." Michigan State had too many guns. Substituting liberally and powerfully, the Spartans used their depth to grind down Notre Dame's inexperienced line. When the score swelled to 27-7, Hornung knew that something drastic had to be done. His old Louisville schoolmate, Halfback Sherrill Sipes, came back to a huddle and said, "Horn, throw me one. I can get clear in the middle." The pass covered 17 yards to the State three. Sipes went over on the next play for a touchdown and Hornung converted.
The South Bend cheers soon turned to moans of pain as State ground out seven touchdowns in all for the highest score in all of its 23 games with the Irish. Hornung was still pitching when the gun sounded. After he left the dressing room, his back was slapped red by pummeling student admirers.
Three hours later he was standing in front of the mirror in his tiny room at 219 Walsh Hall, shaving for a 9 o'clock date. "Don't let anybody tell you it's easy to be a good loser," he said through a ring of lather. "It isn't. It's the toughest thing in the world. But the way those Notre Dame kids treat you after the game—they make you almost happy you lost." He paused in the middle of a razor stroke and added: "I said, almost."
PENN STATE 7
OHIO STATE 6
For 51 minutes and 46 seconds Coach Woody Hayes's Buckeyes, unbeaten and eying a third straight Big Ten title, and Coach Rip Engle's Nittany Lions, a respectable Eastern power but a 17-point underdog, battered each other about with good old-fashioned defensive might. Both had their opportunities, but neither could bend the other back enough to score in this fierce intersectional contest.
At that point in the stalemate, Penn State Quarterback Milt Plum, whose educated toe proved the difference in the teams, spiraled a 73-yard, wind-helped punt that set Ohio back on its haunches at the three. OSU appeared to be digging out of the hole and was ready to gamble on a fourth down situation needing less than a yard on its own 24. Coach Hayes foiled this by sending in a substitute. The delay cost Ohio State five precious yards, forcing a punt. This turn of events gave new life to the Lions and seemed to unstarch the Bucks. Thirteen plays later Penn State had pumped 45 yards with Gilmore carrying the last foot for a touchdown after two other shots from the same spot had been thwarted. Plum then kicked the margin of victory.
With only 3:35 remaining, the Buckeyes regathered their poise, dusted off their rusty air arm and soared 80 yards in just five plays for a touchdown of their own, Sophomore Don Clark slamming the last three. Kremblas set himself for the extra point try only to see Hayes again substitute, costing OSU five more precious yards. Kremblas, who then missed the point, tried to recoup with an onside kickoff. But Tackle Clint Law smothered the ball for Penn State on his 48, and the Lions stalled out the remaining minute and 58 seconds—a painful period for the Bucks and their 82,584 faithful witnesses.
Hayes electrified writers when he announced after the game, "I lost the game with my dumb decisions...don't blame the kids. The mistakes were mine."
The bubbling Engle didn't see it quite that way. "These kids of mine deserved to win," he said. "We beat a great team and a great coach."
He's the best all-round back I ever coached," purred Wyoming Coach Phil Dickens after the game. Dickens was purring about a sturdy, long-muscled halfback named Jim Crawford, who singly and deliberately wrecked Utah Saturday afternoon and lifted Wyoming to within close range of the Skyline championship. The loping halfback from the little cow town of Greybull, Wyo. lugged the ball 31 times, more than the entire Utah team. He piled up 154 yards rushing, only three less than the entire Utah team. He shouldered 22 yards through right tackle in the first period to score Wyoming's first touchdown; he flipped a 10-yard pass for the second touchdown at the end of the first period; pounded to the one-yard line to set up the third touchdown just before the half. His tackling and blocking, especially his blocking, were just as battering as his rushes.
It was a whacking victory for Wyoming; they had never won a homecoming game from Utah and, by some relentless hex, had beaten the Redskins only once at Laramie in the 32 years the schools have been playing. With only mediocre opposition the rest of the season it looks like an unbeaten year for the Cowboys—provided Jim Crawford stays healthy.
The highly ranked Rebels of the University of Mississippi are a solid, sound and strong football team. They block viciously. Their team speed reminds one of Oklahoma. On defense they rank second in the nation, having given up only one touchdown (to Kentucky) in their first four games. Yet somehow Ole Miss went down before fired-up Tulane 10-3, in full view of 30,000 astounded witnesses in Jackson, Miss, last Saturday night.
It looked at the start like no contest. In a driving rainstorm Tulane Fullback Ronnie Quillian let the ball slide off his foot and out of bounds at his own 27. With Fullback Paige Cothren driving up the middle, Mississippi reached the Tulane 12. Then Cothren, owner of one of college football's most educated toes, calmly booted a 12-yard field goal, his sixth of the young season. The game was less than five minutes old. As the teams sloshed back and forth for the rest of the first half, Ole Miss was clearly superior.
The rain stopped, the moon came out and the Tulane team exploded immediately after the second-half kickoff. On the first scrimmage play Tulane's tiny (5 feet 10 inches, 160 pounds) Quarterback Gene Newton burst through his right guard, cut far to the right and suddenly was free at the sidelines. He had the vital step on three Mississippi defenders and simply outlegged them 86 yards to score.
The clinching break came at the end of the third quarter when Mississippi fumbled at midfield. Fired with the thought of victory, Tulane then put on its only drive of the night. When the march died, Tackle Emmett Zelenka calmly dropped back to his 21 and booted a field goal into a strong wind from a poor angle.
HORNUNG (5), HERE FAKING A HAND-OFF, QUARTERBACKED NOTRE DAME TO TWO TOUCHDOWNS, MOST YET SCORED AGAINST MICHIGAN STATE
HORNUNG PASSED 178 YARDS, MADE LAST-MAN TACKLES, AS AGAINST ART JOHNSON (30, ABOVE), RAN INTERFERENCE, AND DID THE KICKING
AGGRESSIVE, SWARMING AND DURABLE MICHIGAN STATE LINE POWERHOUSES ONE OF NOTRE DAME'S FORWARD THRUSTS TO CRUSHING STOP
THE ELEVEN BEST TO DATE