The avid feet of Louisiana State's All-America halfback gobbled up the turf and propelled him into the left side of the Tennessee Volunteer line. Down went Billy Cannon (opposite), down fell the first team in the land on the wildest, woolliest Saturday of the football season.
Had it succeeded, Cannon's raw power smash for two points after the LSU Tigers' second touchdown could have been a game-winning feat of splendor. The Volunteers cut him down. Thus, by the spine-chilling score of 14-13, on a wintry afternoon in Knoxville, ended the nation's longest victory streak (19 straight).
All over the country it was a day for mittens and Miltown as eminent teams met charged-up opponents. For Northwestern, which had raged like a prairie fire through the Big Ten and earned No. 2 national ranking, it was also Black Saturday as a brawny Wisconsin team methodically fashioned a 24-19 victory. For the Princeton Tiger, with roving eye cocked toward the Ivy League championship, it was Crimson Saturday as the Harvards upset them but good 14-0. For another Tiger, Missouri's, it was a wild, blue Saturday as they downed Air Force Academy 13-0. For Texas and Syracuse, ranked third and fourth, it was a day of profound thanksgiving for bare deliverance from the forces of Baylor and Penn State.
But nowhere was victory sweeter or defeat more bitter than at Knoxville. Only once in 11 previous games had an LSU team defeated Tennessee, and Tennessee again had bad news for LSU.
November 16, 1959
The Tigers overwhelmed the Volunteers statistically—outgained them 334 yards to 112—but, by letting a cornerback named Jim Cartwright steal a pass and scoot 59 yards for a touchdown and by fumbling to provide Tennessee another scoring opportunity, found themselves behind 14-7 in the last quarter. Then a Tennessee fumble at the two resulted in a quick LSU touchdown and a noteworthy decision by Coach Paul Dietzel: to go for two points and victory.
Tennessee's Coach Bowden Wyatt jumped up and down and bellowed a warning, unheard by his team in the uproar, to watch out for Cannon. He could have saved his breath. Well-drilled for Cannon's patented off-tackle slants, the Vols were, as Wyatt said later, "mentally stacked up over there. We had 11 people thinking about that hole. That's where LSU has found the white meat all year."
Through bloody lips Tackle Wayne Grubb yelled, "He's coming on the power play," as LSU lined up. Cannon slammed into the line and was smothered 18 inches from the goal.
"We came to win, not to tie," said Paul Dietzel later. "If I had it to do over a hundred times I would do the same thing."
Now, if Northwestern had this wild and woolly Saturday to live over again, it would have held onto the ball. Outweighed 14 pounds per man on the line and bedeviled by Quarterback Dale Hackbart, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound dose of running and passing poison, the Wildcats fatally lost four fumbles to ninth-ranked Wisconsin. The old Northwestern magic was there in flashes, more precisely in an exciting 69-yard touchdown run and a 47-yard end sweep by Ron Burton. But Hackbart, his muscular accomplices and a baffling new short punt formation darkened Rose Bowl dreams at Evanston.
Hidden away before a mere 32,800 witnesses at University Park, Pa., Syracuse and Penn State met in the East's biggest game in years. The seventh-ranked Nittany Lions jauntily pushed the bigger Orangemen around for a while in the first half, but then Ben Schwartzwalder's wrecking crew from Piety Hill (SI, Nov. 2) proved its superior class. Neither a fabulous 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Penn State's Roger Kochman nor the blue-chip quarter-backing of Richie Lucas could prevent Syracuse's 20-18 victory.
At Austin, with a come-from-behind 13-12 squeaker over Baylor, Texas emerged as the nation's only major undefeated running mate for Syracuse and Southern California.
Not all the week's fireworks were set off on the big day or in the big games. An outfit called the Huron Scalpers was the sharpest thing to cut up the Dakotas since Gutzon Borglum (next page); and the McKeever affair was rending the West Coast football world (page 26).
REVOLT IN THE BIG WORLD
Penn State uprising early in 20-18 game won by Syracuse featured 17-yard touchdown run by Halfback Roger Kochman, here pursued by Syracuse star Ernie Davis (44). Kochman later returned a kickoff 100 yards.
Oregon State fumble gave Washington Huskies' George Fleming (on ground) thoughts of recovery, but Beavers' Sonny Sanchez (68) dived to cover ball, as Huskies kept Rose Bowl hopes alive with a 13-6 victory.
Northwestern dream of first undefeated season was dashed after six consecutive victories in a 24-19 defeat by Wisconsin. Before a record 55,282 persons in frigid Dyche Stadium at Evanston, Quarterback Dale Hackbart passed superbly for two touchdowns, ran effectively and directed the Badger attack with expert finesse. Wisconsin's defense, not noticeably strong during the afternoon, stiffened when it had to, as in the picture above, when Halfback Mark Johnston was thrown back at the two.
COLOR OF THE WEEK: STONE WALL IN TENNESSEE
With defeat or victory in the balance, LSU's All-America halfback, Billy Cannon (No. 20), smacks into the Tennessee defense on the biggest play of Saturday's upset at Knoxville. Trying for a game winning two-point conversion, Cannon was met 18 inches from the goal line by Charles Severance (14), Wayne Grubb (61) and Billy Majors (44), and the nation's No. 1 team came tumbling down.