Ohio State's decision to reject the Rose Bowl invitation was received enthusiastically in at least one corner of the U.S.—at the University of Minnesota, which had finished the season as runner-up to Ohio State in the Big Ten. The school's faculty senate voted 108-33 in favor of postseason play. When the invitation to meet UCLA in the Rose Bowl was extended, Minnesota said a quick yes. Within minutes the campus was filled with students—singing, screaming, snake-dancing and setting off fireworks. In the cool autumn air the noise may have carried all the way to Ohio.
Before the start of the Army-Navy game, a group of Army cheerleaders spoofed Navy's field-goal kicker, Greg Mather. They pranced onto the field with a giant slide rule and surveyor's equipment and lined up the angle of the goalposts for several minutes. Finally one of them, dressed in a Navy uniform and wearing Mather's number 85, trotted triumphantly onto the field, poised majestically 20 yards behind the ball, charged forward and, of course, fell flat on his back. It was a good act, but unfortunately for Army, the real Greg Mather was unimpressed. Early in the second quarter of a scoreless game, Mather took out his tape measure, marked out a spot on the Army 22-yard line and kicked a field goal to give Navy a 3-0 half-time lead.
Army went 76 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, 56 of the yards coming on a long pass from Dick Eckert to Tom Culver. Al Rushatz scored on a plunge from the one. Navy regained the lead quickly, moving 51 yards on a pass from Bob Hecht to Jim Stewart and a 13-yard run by Bill Ulrich. Then Mather again produced his tape measure and kicked a 36-yard field goal to round out a 13-7 Navy victory, Navy's third successive win over Army.
December 11, 1961
Boston College, like Army, choked on its own pregame humor. Someone hired a plane to circle Fitton Field before the Holy Cross game. Attached to the plane was the streamer: "GO BC, Trim the curls of the HC girls." But Holy Cross ran up a quick 24-0 lead and won in a walk 38-26. Boston College's fine runner, "Thumping" Harry Crump, was stopped by HC's tight 5-4-2 defense. Said Eddie Anderson, Holy Cross coach: "We were afraid of BC's size, but we wound up out-muscling them in the line." The top three:
1. PENN STATE (7-3)
2. SYRACUSE (7-3)
3. RUTGERS (9-0)
While Alabama was asserting its claim as the top team in the nation by crushing Auburn 34-0, other southern football powers were winning their last games with similar ease. Georgia Tech beat rival Georgia 22-7, relying on running when its passing game failed. Halfback Billy Williamson scored on runs of 31 and six yards, the former at the expense of his brother Wally, who was the last Georgia defender. Said Georgia Coach Johnny Griffith with irrefutable logic: "We lost because we didn't play well enough to win."
Tennessee ran and ran and ran as it defeated hapless Vanderbilt 41-7. Five of the Tennessee touchdowns came on runs of 31 yards or longer, the granddaddy of which was a 97-yard kick-off return by Glenn "Unbreakable" Glass. Vanderbilt's defeat, its eighth of the season, came just hours after its student body newspaper suggested that Vanderbilt withdraw from the Southeastern Conference. The game showed why.
Duke sent Notre Dame to its worst loss of an already uncomfortable season, 37-13, as Quarterback Walt Rappold completed 12 of 19 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Notre Dame made a touchdown with 70 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Duke's lead to 14-13, but Rappold threw some quick passes to Pete Widener, one for 43 yards, a second for 16 and a touchdown seconds before the half ended. Notre Dame never recovered from the jolt.
Mississippi, which will play Texas in the Cotton Bowl, closed out its season by slapping Mississippi State around 37-7. It was Mississippi's most impressive win since it crushed Chattanooga 54-0 last month. Texas Coach Darrell Royal saw Ole Miss against State and said: "This is as good a Mississippi team as any I have seen." Thus the one-upmanship begins.
John Bahen turned from bum to beauty in 14 seconds as Miami beat Florida 15-6. Bahen fumbled in his own territory and, just like that, Florida scored a fast touchdown to lead 6-0. So Bahen took the kick-off from Florida on his own seven-yard line and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. Miami's strong defense held Florida to minus yardage throughout the game.
North Carolina had no trouble beating Virginia 24-0 to even its year's record at 5-5. Although it was an unhappy way for Virginia to end the season, the folks around Charlottesville were only too willing to settle for the year's record—four wins, six losses—four more wins than in the previous three years. The top three:
1. ALABAMA (10-0)
2. LSU (9-1)
3. MISSISSIPPI (9-1)
Oklahoma finished a turnabout season by defeating Oklahoma State 21-13, its fifth straight victory after five straight losses. State did its best to help out. After scoring a safety to lead 2-0 in the first quarter, State let Oklahoma's free kick roll untouched, a high school mistake that gave Oklahoma the ball in State territory. Oklahoma drove in from there for a touchdown. Later State moved to the Sooner 13. Jim Dillard ran to the one and fumbled right into the hands of one of his linemen, Jerry Runyan, in the end zone. If Runyan had held onto the ball it would have been a touchdown, but Runyan dropped it, Oklahoma recovered and marched for another touchdown.
Colorado, the Big Eight champion and Orange Bowl opponent of LSU, had a nice workout with the Air Force, winning 29-12. The Air Force had a brief fling, going ahead 12-7 before Colorado marched for three touchdowns, wearing out the Air Force with manpower. Ben Martin, Air Force coach, shook his head and said after the game: "Boy, would I love to have material like that." The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (8-0-1)
2. COLORADO (9-1)
3. MINNESOTA (7-2)
SMU frittered away a 20-0 lead, then scored a last-second touchdown to salvage a 28-28 tie with TCU. The tie, however, was not enough to save SMU Coach Bill Meek's job. He was fired minutes after the game ended.
Rice beat Baylor 26-14 as 168-pound Butch Blume scored 20 points to win the Southwest Conference scoring championship. Blume ran 50 yards for one touchdown, four for another, kicked field goals of 27 and 33 yards. Said jubilant Coach Jess Neely: "When he trotted out with the seniors before the game I felt like grabbing him and saying, 'Hey, come back. You're too little to be a senior.' "
Texas Tech beat West Texas State 1614 as H. L. Daniels, a reserve fullback, kicked three field goals. The top three:
1. TEXAS (9-1)
2. ARKANSAS (8-2)
3. RICE (7-3)