For some, like Louisiana State's defending national champions, there was promise of continued greatness, while for others, like North Carolina, there was only despair. But for a good part of the country last Saturday, the good old autumnal excitement was back as football played out its first week.
Held at bay for a half by two galloping quick kicks and a 46-yard field goal by Rice's Gordon Speer, jittery LSU settled down and methodically took the tiring Owls apart 26-3 before 48,000 at Baton Rouge. Taking his cue from the way Rice was stacking its defenses against the LSU inside running game, Coach Paul Dietzel altered blocking assignments to allow for better trapping and introduced some hipper-dipper reverses. All-America Halfback Billy Cannon fired the first scoring shot, sweeping right end for 17 yards on a pass option in the third quarter. Keeping up their zealous pursuit and blocking, the Tigers added a 33-yard field goal by Halfback Wendell Harris and two more touchdowns in the final period.
Coach Frank Howard's "country boys" from Clemson looked more like city slickers as they piled up a 20-6 lead over North Carolina. But Tar Heel Quarterback Jack Cummings began pitching in the last quarter, and the Tigers had all they could do to hang on long enough to win 20-18 (see page 15).
September 27, 1959
Elsewhere, in the South, Georgia Tech got a slam-bang linebacking job from Center Maxie Baughan and held off challenging Kentucky 14-12; Georgia looked every inch the SEC contender while defeating Alabama 17-3; Maryland's imaginative Tom Nugent unveiled his "I" formation and, along with it, a sure-handed passer in Sophomore Dick Novak and a sure-footed kicker in End Vince Scott, who booted field goals from 48, 41 and 31 yards, as the Terps hammered West Virginia 27-7; William and Mary defeated Virginia 37-0 for the first time in 19 years.
This section had little action, and most of it was disappointing. Richie Lucas, a quarterback with a golden arm, led Penn State to a 19-8 win over Missouri. And while Lucas was shining, his Missouri counterpart, Phil Snowden, was booed by a home-town crowd of 28,000 for his inaccuracy as a passer.
Coach Lisle Blackbourn, back at Marquette after four years with the Green Bay Packers, found a passer who can throw in Pete Hall (22 for 43 and 273 yards) and an end who can catch 'em in Larry Hubbard (11 for 132 yards), but couldn't find a way to stop Pitt End Mike Ditka. Big Mike snared two touchdown passes from Quarterback Ivan Toncic and blocked a punt to set up the score that won for the Panthers 21-15.
Texas turned loose a passel of eager sophomores against Nebraska and shut out the Cornhuskers 20-0.
While Penn State and Pitt were kicking up their heels in the Midwest, Navy put together a resourceful attack and a determined defense to beat Boston College 24-8 (see page 14) for new Coach Wayne Hardin. Along the way, the Middies uncovered a new hero in Dick Pariseau, a defensive back last year, who scored two touchdowns, one on an 80-yard punt return, and teamed up with Quarterback Joe Tranchini and Halfback Joe Bellino, a pair of veterans, to do in the Eagles.
West Chester Teachers, a little Pennsylvania school seeking a big reputation, was well on the way after Halfback Bill Shockley helped the Rams upset Villanova 13-7 to avenge their only defeat last year.
Mississippi was troubled by host Houston's new split-wing T until alert Guard Bob Khayat latched on to an errant Cougar pass and lugged it back 52 yards to set up a touchdown. That did it, and Ole Miss went on to a 16-0 triumph.
Finding the going unexpectedly rough against Kansas, TCU shot bullish Fullback Jack Spikes loose for 64 yards on a trap play, then followed with a short jump pass from Quarterback Larry Dawson to End Jim Gilmore to win 14-7.
It was beginning to look like a competitive year on the West Coast. UCLA, showing rare defensive skill, battled nose-to-nose through four scoreless periods with Purdue, prompting Coach Bill Barnes to claim "a moral victory."
USC, sporting a big, powerful line that held Oregon State to three first downs and 68 yards rushing, got two touchdowns each from Sophomores Lynn Gaskill and Alan Shields and won 27-6.
California, too, showed that it could win, even without Joe Kapp. Coach Pete Elliott provided his halfbacks with more opportunities, and they paid off for a 20-6 victory over Washington State.
In sharp contrast, defenseless Oregon and Stanford hooked up in a real wing-ding before Oregon won 28-27. Stanford pulled within one point of the Ducks on Quarterback Dick Norman's pass to Ben Robinson with a minute to go, but the gambling Indians tried for victory instead of a tie and lost it all when Oregon Halfback Dave Grayson batted down Norman's extra-point pass.
RED GRANGE PREDICTS
Auburn vs. Tennessee
Auburn's great defense, still led by Center Jackie Burkett and Guard Zeke Smith, should be no less impregnable than it was a year ago. And there will be more offense to worry Tennessee. AUBURN.
Kentucky vs. Mississippi
Ole Miss, rolling again with Quarterback Bobby Franklin and Fullback Charlie Flowers supplying the impetus, is too strong for the Wildcats despite the latter's almost upsetting Georgia Tech last week. MISSISSIPPI.
Georgia Tech vs. SMU
Tech teams rarely beat themselves, but SMU's Don Meredith, one of the nation's top passers, will do it for them. A victory for SMU.
Louisiana State vs. TCU
LSU is loaded with talent, while TCU's strength lies in its line. Attack will make the difference, and the Tigers have Cannon, Robinson and Rabb. LSU.
Army vs. Boston College
Navy shot the Eagles down last week, and now it is Army's turn. I can't see BC containing Bob Anderson's running and Joe Caldwell's passing. A win for ARMY.
Notre Dame vs. North Carolina
The Irish are rebuilding and learning under new Coach Joe Kuharich and may find the Tar Heels too advanced. Despite the Clemson loss, I'll take NORTH CAROLINA.
Wisconsin vs. Stanford
Stanford's Dick Norman throws the ball, but so does Wisconsin's Dale Hackbart. A leaky defense will cost Stanford dearly. WISCONSIN.
Northwestern vs. Oklahoma
Northwestern has a fine passer in Dick Thornton, but the big question is: Can the Wildcats match material-rich Oklahoma in depth? I'll be working this game on NBC-TV, so I won't pick a winner.
Iowa vs. California
Things have changed since these two teams met in the Rose Bowl last January. Neither figures to be as strong. A close one, but the nod goes to IOWA.
Southern California vs. Pitt
This may be the year of renaissance for the Trojans, who have come up with a powerful line and breakaway backs to spark the offense. Pitt has lost too much. USC.
LAST WEEK'S PREDICTIONS: 7 RIGHT; 1 WRONG; 1 TIE