The bowl picture was taking shape. Ohio State (8-0-1) and UCLA (7-3) were almost certain to appear in Pasadena; Texas (9-1) and Mississippi (8-1) were set for the Cotton Bowl; LSU (9-1) and Colorado (8-1) were paired for the Orange Bowl; Alabama (9-0) and Arkansas (8-2) for the Sugar Bowl. Still to be decided: the Gator Bowl, which has Georgia Tech (6-3) but not a second team; the Liberty Bowl, which was still looking for someone to play Syracuse (7-3); and the Bluebonnet, which was eying Rice (6-3). The best bets for the open spots: Utah State (9-0-1), Penn State (7-3), Duke (6-3), Miami (6-3), Auburn (6-3), Kansas (6-3-1).
For some 28 minutes the Pitt Panthers behaved like a pack of wild alley cats. They led Penn State 14-13, but then State's diversified power began to show. Quarterback Galen Hall spread the Panther secondary with precise passes to ends and halfbacks, who alternately went deep and buttonhooked; and Roger Kochman, Al Gursky and Buddy Torris pounded through gaping holes to give State an easy 47-26 win.
Syracuse, perhaps still contemplating its controversial loss to Notre Dame, almost got caught up in its own second thoughts against Boston College. But the Orangemen finally made it past the Eagles 28-13, when Ernie Davis, who finished the job of breaking Jim Brown's career records, and Gary Fallon ran back intercepted passes 61 and 25 yards for touchdowns in the last minute.
December 4, 1961
Not even the most loyal sons of Rutgers in the mob of 25,500 that overflowed the school's pretty little sunken stadium at New Brunswick gave the Scarlet Knights much of a chance after Columbia took a 19-7 lead late in the third quarter. But, fired up by Dave Brody's 58-yard kick-off return, the Knights attacked the weary Lions so relentlessly that they scored four times in the last period to finish unbeaten for the first time in 93 years. Bill Speranza's 10-yard pass to Lee Curley got Rutgers back in the ball game, his one-yard plunge put them even at 19-19, Steve Simms crunched over from the three-yard line, Pierce Frauenheim scored on a 30-yard pass interception and the Knights won 32-19.
While Columbia was getting its lumps at New Brunswick, Harvard was trading a few with Yale at New Haven where The Game almost erupted into a battle royal. The Crimson gratefully turned three Eli misplays into touchdowns, scored another on a pass and licked the bumbling Yales 27-0. Harvard thus tied Columbia for the Ivy League title, as Dartmouth spoiled Princeton's hopes of making it a three-way knot by beating the Tigers 24-6. The top three:
1. PENN STATE (7-3)
2. SYRACUSE (7-3)
3. RUTGERS (9-0)
The Atlantic Coast Conference has become inured to shock, but rarely has there been anything like what hit Maryland. The confident Terps scored against Virginia and then reeled under the pasting of their lives. The Cavaliers' Gary Cuozzo pitched three short touchdown passes to third-stringer John Hepler, Ted Rzempoluch ran an intercepted pass back 95 yards and Virginia lifted the Terps right out of the Gator Bowl, 28-16.
Miami's slick George Mira, pitching fast balls like a major leaguer, found a willing catcher in End Bill Miller. Between them, they picked apart Northwestern's secondary and led the Hurricanes to a 10-6 victory.
While unbeaten Alabama rested, LSU poured it on poor Tulane 62-0 to tie the Crimson for the SEC lead. The top three:
1. ALABAMA (9-0)
2. LSU (9-1)
3. MISSISSIPPI (8-1)
The scramble for recognition was over in the Big Eight. Colorado's conference champions, stung by word that the Orange Bowl intended to bypass them for Kansas, thrashed Iowa State 34-0 as Billy Harris ran 87, 59 and three yards for touchdowns. The victory brought the hoped-for invitation from Miami.
Missouri, with no bowl ambitions of its own, gained great satisfaction in beating Kansas 10-7. Coach Dan Devine's pregame strategy worked. While the Tiger linemen stopped the Jayhawk runners cold, their backs cross-bucked Kansas to distraction. But it was a good old-fashioned sweep by Bill Tobin that finally beat Kansas in the last quarter.
Iowa, looking desperately for someone to beat, caught Notre Dame in a fumbling mood and whipped the Irish 42-21. The Hawkeyes pounced on six Irish fumbles, intercepted five passes, and Joe Williams returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (8-0-1)
2. COLORADO (8-1)
3. MINNESOTA (7-2)
Texas A&M's Jim Myers had little to be thankful for last Thursday. First, his Aggies were chewed up unmercifully by Texas, 25-0. Then he lost his job. The Longhorns, after softening up the Aggies in the first half with 31- and 39-yard field goals by Eldon Moritz, hit them full force with their superb backs in the second half.
But, for all its wondrous skills, Texas still had to share the SWC title with Arkansas. The pesky Porkers ran over Texas Tech 28-0, tying Texas and winning an invitation to the Sugar Bowl. TCU, so mighty a week earlier, was no more than a weak foil for Rice. The Frogs quietly rolled over and played dead as Randy Kerbow ran and passed the Owls to a 35-16 victory.
Arizona, frustrated by a stiff Arizona State defense for almost three quarters, scored three times in less than 10 minutes and beat the Sun Devils 22-13 before 40,164 at Tempe, the largest crowd ever to see a sporting event in that state. New Mexico State's Preacher Pilot, the nation's leading rusher and scorer, ran for 319 yards, three touchdowns and 12 extra points as the Aggies whomped Hardin-Simmons 54-8. The top three:
1. TEXAS (9-1)
2. ARKANSAS (8-2)
3. RICE (6-3)
While UCLA and USC were conducting their own private run for the roses, California and Stanford were battling just as earnestly for the Big Five cellar. They both made it. Cal couldn't run against the Indian line, it couldn't defend against Jim Smith's passes or Stan Lindskog's running, and Stanford won 20-7 to share last place with the Bears.
Washington's Jim Owens decided that his Huskies had had enough free enterprise. He shuttled Quarterbacks Kermit Jorgensen and Pete Ohler in and out with the plays, and Washington, for the first time, revealed an imaginative offense against Washington State. Jorgensen and Ohler threw touchdown passes, and speedy Charlie Mitchell broke away for 23 yards with 1:30 to go, to put the Huskies ahead 21-17. At Eugene, Oregon State turned an Oregon fumble into a touchdown and beat the Ducks 6-2. The top three:
1. UTAH STATE (9-0-1)
2. UCLA (7-3)
3. WYOMING (6-1-2)
SATURDAY'S TOUGH ONES
Army over Navy. The Cadet wounds have had time to heal—all except the one left by two straight losses to Navy. Stiffer defense will win for Army.
Boston College over Holy Cross. The Eagles have been maturing against tougher competition, but they will have to stop Pat McCarthy to beat the Crusaders.
Alabama over Auburn. But the unbeaten Crimson Tide may have a real tussle. In the end 'Bama's bruising defense, the best in the nation, and Pat Trammell will make the difference.
Georgia Tech over Georgia. It's been a tough year for rookie Coach Johnny Griffith. Tech will add to his troubles.
Mississippi over Mississippi State. Ole Miss can't afford to take its old friends too lightly. State is dangerous.
Tennessee over Vanderbilt. The Vol single wing is never easy to stop. It is even tougher since talented Mallon Faircloth took over as the No. 1 tailback.
Miami over Florida. The Hurricanes' Mira and Miller are the most potent M&M punch since Mantle and Maris. Their passing antics will be enough to beat Florida.
Notre Dame over Duke. The Irish can't be as bad as they looked against Iowa. Their line, at least, is too tough for Duke.
Oklahoma over Oklahoma State. The Sooners have their second wind. Bud Wilkinson is sure to have some new tricks up his sleeve for the Cowboys.
Rice over Baylor. Randy Kerbow has spruced up the Rice attack, and the Owls look to him to carry them all the way to the Bluebonnet Bowl.
LAST WEEK'S PREDICTIONS: 13 RIGHT, 7 WRONG
SEASON'S RECORD: 132-62-6