Missouri's Dan Devine, the loser, looked like a man who had just learned that his disease was incurable. He was leaning against a table in the silent gloom of his locker room, whip-dog-tired, a towel around his neck, a paper cup of water in his hand, his large brown eyes fixed vacantly on a lot of things that could have happened. He talked softly and very, very slowly. "I don't think...I can remember a team of ours ever playing this well...and losing," he said. "But they do too many things too well." They are the relentless Cornhuskers of Nebraska, and this is how they leave you after a football game. Devine had got them in his own stadium on a warm, picturesque homecoming day, before the largest crowd (58,000) ever to see a sports event in the state—the perfect upset situation in one of the most important college football games of the year—and he had got them 14-0 down in the first quarter with a poised, vicious, well-prepared, thoroughly dedicated team of his own. But he had somehow lost, 16-14. And the only explanation seemed to be that Nebraska was overwhelming.
"They are even better than I thought they were," said Devine.
Indeed Nebraska is. The Cornhuskers had to be to get away from Columbia, Mo. with their seventh victory of the season, especially the way they did it. They went into the game as the nation's leading scorers and with the fattest total offense average in the land, but they had not met a really testing opponent and certainly had not been forced to come from behind. Suddenly, against Missouri, they were far behind, farther behind than any Bob Devaney-coached team had been in seven years.
Missouri simply took the opening kick-off and disrespectfully rammed the ball back 80 yards in 11 plays to a touchdown with shifty, 200-pound Quarterback Gary Lane passing and running to perfection. A hot-and-cold operator who was obviously going to be hot this day, Lane got the score himself on a 22-yard run so slick and weaving it seemed he was meandering through a field of sunflowers—not Nebraska.
November 8, 1965
Nebraska had hardly recovered from this effrontery when Missouri's superb defensive back, Johnny Roland, intercepted a pass at midfield, and Lane got hot again. He sent Halfback Charlie Brown tearing through guard for 11 yards, he swept end for 11 more, he shot a 19-yard pass to End Jim Waller—a routine curl-in—and he sliced Carl Reese through the middle for another touchdown from one yard out. It all looked so easy you figured the uniforms might have been switched.
Not only was Missouri's offense clicking at this point, the defense, featuring End Russell Washington up front and Roland's jolting play in the secondary, was making the Cornhuskers look almost inept the first three times they had the ball.
But this is the kind of team Nebraska is: big, mobile, deep, patient, mysteriously unemotional, workmanlike and confident. Nebraska is so big that a pro scout commented, "When they run out there, you can see the field tilt." It also has just enough quickness in the backfield with self-assured Quarterback Fred Duda and slashing runners like Harry Wilson and Frankie Solich that a defense, even a tough one like Missouri's, can never relax. The Cornhuskers took their time getting started, but when they did, about six minutes deep in the second quarter, you could almost foretell the result.
The touchdown that got Nebraska back in the game came in just four plays. Wilson squirted around end for five yards. Duda, a thick-legged senior, flipped a 14-yard pass to the split end, Freeman White, who is 6 feet 5 and weighs 230. Wilson then cut through tackle and fled 37 yards to the Missouri one, and Fullback Pete Tatman plowed across. It was 14-7. A ball game.
Nebraska Coach Bob Devaney, a plump, droll fellow even in moments of crisis, said later, "I don't particularly get a bang out of starting games 14-0 behind. But we'd been scoring over 30 points a game, so I didn't really think we were going to get beat by that score. We might have panicked if we hadn't finally found out we could move the ball on the ground. But we're not a rah-rah team. We know if we do our jobs well we'll win. So when we found out we could run, our problem was solved."
Duda solved it almost singlehanded. The next time Nebraska got the ball, still in the second quarter, he drove the Cornhuskers 89 yards for another touchdown. The drive was Nebraska at its brutal best: Solich for seven, Tatman for three, Solich for three, Duda for 12, Solich for seven streaking through the middle, Wilson for three, Wilson for two. Monotonous but effective. A giant coming to life.
Finally the biggest moment arrived for Duda. It was fourth down and one at the Missouri 39. The Tigers pulled in tight. Duda faked beautifully to Solich in the middle—the whole stadium tackled Solich—but Duda kept the ball, shot to his left and around the corner. Absolutely no one was there. And Duda went scooting down the sideline for 38 yards to the Missouri one. A moment later Tatman scored his second touchdown.
"We were nervous at first," said Duda. "I've never seen us so tight. We just couldn't react. I wasn't really worried when we were behind 14-0, although Missouri was coming at us like they owned the field and everything on it. I just wanted us to unwind. When our line kicked out on that first touchdown drive, it steadied us."
All of these things combined to steady Nebraska, but Nebraska still was behind 14-13, because Larry Wachholtz, the placement kicker, was too deliberate on the second conversion try, and did a rare thing for him. He missed, wide. The score in fact remained that way until there were just 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Nebraska was 60 yards away from doing something to change it. You sort of knew the Cornhuskers would, but even Bob Devaney must have started to wonder when. Well, it was time.
Ron Kirkland plowed for five yards, and Wilson made three, and Duda ran his keeper again for eight. Chuck Winters got five and Tatman plowed for four. Sheer power. But it was fourth and one at the Missouri 35 now, and right here Missouri helped a little to seal its doom, although Nebraska truly looked as if it were thundering along well enough to get there anyhow. What happened was that Winters made enough on a straight blast for the first down at the 32, but a Missouri lineman uttered a remark that an official did not like, and he tacked a 15-yard penalty on the end of Winters' run. So it was first down at the 17. Nebraska promptly crunched on to the nine, and here Larry Wachholtz got a chance to redeem himself. With fourth down and two at the nine and only 5:56 remaining, Devaney played percentages. Wachholtz kicked a 26-yard field goal into the grass horseshoe end of Missouri's Memorial Stadium, and a couple of Nebraska players on the sideline were actually seen to be jumping up and down joyously. "Why, they almost look like kids," said Publicity Man Don Bryant. "How 'bout that?"
The victory was probably the finest of Bob Devaney's sparkling career, the most crucial, the sweetest comeback, all of that. It practically insured him of his first perfect (10-0) record, a goal he has come very close to but never quite made. It seems now that an awful lot of huge Cornhuskers will have to be out sick for Nebraska to lose to any of its last three Big Eight rivals, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Nebraska's talented middle guard, Walt Barnes, summed up the whole thing—the strength of both teams and the fierce game that it was—when he said, "Missouri almost blew us off the field all day. It's too bad a team like that has to lose."
He is right. Last Saturday the team from Missouri would not have lost to very many others.
1. MICHIGAN STATE (7-0)
2. NEBRASKA (7-0)
3. NOTRE DAME (5-1)
Nebraska and MICHIGAN STATE will not meet this year, so nobody will ever know which is truly better. The Spartans, however, continued to look impressive as they trounced Northwestern 49-7. Their tough line tore into the Wildcat backs with such fury that Northwestern made only seven yards rushing. And once Quarterback Steve Juday got the State backs going, they minced Northwestern's defense into small, ineffective pieces. Fullback Bob Apisa crashed over for three touchdowns, Halfback Clinton Jones scored a couple and Northwestern's Alex Agase became a believer. "One of the finest teams I've ever seen," he said. "They're too big to run on, they don't give you much time to pass, and I've never seen backs run with such power."
Purdue, so high two weeks before, was all but dead as ILLINOIS throttled the Boilermakers 21-0. Coach Pete Elliott put his jolly green defenders into new alignments—like an eight-man rush and a special defense called Griese-Go—and they almost chased Bob Griese clear out of Memorial Stadium. Bill Harper, a blitzing 183-pound linebacker, hounded Griese for 74 yards in losses, and once End Bo Batchelder even stole the ball out of his hands. For points Quarterback Fred Custardo threw two touchdown passes, and Fullback Jim Grabowski, who gained 163 yards, plunged for a score. MICHIGAN, Illinois' next opponent, beat Wisconsin 50-14. For a change everything broke right for the hard-luck Wolverines. Quarterback Wally Gabler passed expertly, and Fullback Dave Fisher and Wing-back Carl Ward ran with equal felicity.
Ohio State's Woody Hayes, it now appears, would rather switch than lose. Last Saturday he went for two points—and made it—and had Quarterback Don Unverferth throwing the ball all over Ohio Stadium. One Unverferth pass scored, and others got the Bucks in range for Bob Funk's 18-yard field goal with 1:17 to go as Ohio State edged Minnesota 11-10.
There was no great hysteria in South Bend last week. The REMEMBER buttons (for USC) had been put away, and maybe that was why Navy led the Irish 3-0—until the last play of the first half. Then Nick Eddy grabbed a screen pass from Quarterback Bill Zloch and ran 55 yards for a touchdown. In the third quarter Zloch and Fullback Larry Conjar went over for scores, Safety Nick Rassas ran back a punt 66 yards and NOTRE DAME eased to a 29-3 win.
"While Nebraska and Missouri were playing solid football, others in the Big Eight acted as though the name of the game were laughs. COLORADO and Oklahoma fumbled nine times and were penalized 210 yards before the Buffs won out 13-0. IOWA STATE gave away 10 points on fumbles in the first half and then recovered to beat Oklahoma State 14-10.KANSAS intercepted five Kansas State passes, recovered three fumbles and thrashed the Wildcats 34-0.
Tulsa's Bill Anderson and Howard Twilley staged another of their air raids to crush Southern Illinois 55-12. Anderson threw for four touchdowns and completed 42 passes to break his own single-game record. Twilley caught 18 for a one-game record and scored twice for a career mark (24). The Mid-American had a new leader as MIAMI of Ohio beat Bowling Green 23-7 to lead by half a game. But the Redskins must still play TOLEDO which upset Kent State 7-3.
1. SYRACUSE (5-2)
2. PRINCETON (6-0)
3. NAVY (3-3-1)
For an old paratrooper SYRACUSE'S Ben Schwartzwalder has a curious preference for keeping his football on the ground. But it is no wonder when he manages to come up with a superb halfback like Floyd Little, a bursting runner with the moves of a soft-shoe man. Little led Pitt a chase in New York's Shea Stadium. Running mostly out of Schwartzwalder's new crooked I (fullback and tailback behind the long side guard in the unbalanced line), he scored on runs of 15, one and 26 yards and tossed in a superb 95-yard kickoff return for a fourth touchdown, as the Orange smashed the helpless Panthers 51-13. There was more to Syracuse than just Little, however. Fullback Larry Csonka, a 230-pound sophomore, smashed the Pitt line for 90 yards and the Orange defense brutalized Pitt Passer Kenny Lucas with a frightful rush.
Unbeaten PRINCETON got caught up in a free-scoring brannigan with Brown and won 45-27 for its 15th straight, but not before Bruin Quarterback Bob Hall showed that he belongs in the same league with Tiger Tailback Ron Landeck. Hall completed 19 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 95 and scored once. Landeck's 10 completions were good for four touchdowns, he scored one himself and ran for 105 more yards. DARTMOUTH, the Ivy League's other undefeated team, had trouble with Yale's Watts Humphrey, who passed the Elis into a 17-7 lead. But the Indians came back strong, scored twice in the last quarter and won 20-17. HARVARD and PENN played to a 10-10 tie, while CORNELL beat Columbia 20-6.
Army, to its surprise, was upset by COLGATE 29-28. Ray Ilg, a tough, crashing linebacker, wrecked the Cadet attack, then moved to fullback to smash nine yards for the tying touchdown. The Red Raiders won on Larry Stankovits' placement. Things were easier for BOSTON COLLEGE. With Quarterback John Blair throwing two touchdown passes and Brendan McCarthy and Terry Erwin each scoring twice, the Eagles routed VMI 41-12.
Two other independents won easily. Rutgers was no match for BOSTON U. as the Terriers won 30-0, while HOLY CROSS scored its first victory, over Buffalo 20-7.
1. ALABAMA (5-1-1)
2. GEORGIA TECH (5-1-1)
3. FLORIDA (4-2)
It was Dizzy Dean Day in Jackson, Miss., and the townspeople gave the old Cardinal a handsome handmade shotgun. But it was MISSISSIPPI that did the shooting in the afternoon game of a day-night doubleheader. Down on its luck this year, Ole Miss dragged favored LSU down to its own level and won 23-0. It was no game after the Bengals lost Nelson Stokley, their good sophomore quarterback, in the second quarter. Sophomore Fullback Bobby Wade and Halfback Mike Dennis ripped through LSU for 153 yards.
Mississippi State, the other home team, was not so fortunate. ALABAMA came out throwing, Steve Sloan hit Dennis Homan with a 65-yard pass in the third minute and State never recovered. Later, David Ray kicked a 27-yard field goal as 'Bama won 10-7. State Coach Paul Davis did not like the result, but he understood it. "You just can't give Alabama that easy touchdown and then beat them," he said.
Florida, as much a favorite as LSU, was similarly fated to lose. AUBURN, behind 10-0 in the first half, suddenly perked up when Alex Bowden, a seldom-used senior quarterback, came in. He threw two first-down passes, something Auburn almost never does, both for touchdowns, and Linebacker Bill Cody, scoring on a 29-yard pass interception and a fumble recovery, did the rest of the damage as the Tigers won 28-17.
Georgia, meanwhile, was involved in a wild one at Chapel Hill. North Carolina, with Danny Talbott passing and running for 318 yards, had the Bulldogs whipped 35-21 going into the last quarter. Then Lynn Hughes, a defensive safety moved to quarterback, scored three times, Preston Ridlehuber broke off a 31-yard run and Georgia won 47-35. GEORGIA TECH, also caught in a free-for-all, beat Duke 35-23, as sophomore Kim King had one of his good days. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 141 yards and three scores. "Men," said Tech's Bobby Dodd, "we have out-proed the pros."
Maryland's busy Tom Nugent, busy switching his coaches, busy switching his arguments and busy switching his players, ended up the week with Safety Fred Cooper at quarterback, which must have been the right thing to do because Maryland took South Carolina 27-14. NORTH CAROLINA STATE came up with a seven-man umbrella pass defense that confused Virginia's Tom Hodges and won 13-0. CLEMSON, still unbeaten in league play, bombed Wake Forest 26-13 for its fourth ACC win.
1. ARKANSAS (7-0)
2. TEXAS TECH (6-1)
3. SMU (3-2-1)
The thing about SMU is that, in the role of a "breather " it keeps popping up on the schedule—and winning. Four weeks ago the Mustangs tied Purdue, a team then ranked No. 1. Last week, in Dallas' Cotton Bowl, they met Texas, ranked ninth, and scored 21 points in the final quarter to humiliate the once-proud Longhorns 31-14. Badly beaten in total offense, 330 yards to 187, the Steers were still in the game with 9:58 left. But SMU sophomore Jim Hagle burst 93 yards for one score, Ronnie Reel went 58 yards with an interception for another and Mike Livingston passed 45 yards to John Roderick for a third as the Mustangs beat Texas for the first time in six years. A telegram to Coach Darrell Royal earlier in the week may have been the portent. It said simply: FORGET IT.
Arkansas was not forgetting anything, especially all the records other SWC teams have been setting for years. The Hogs smothered Texas A&M 31-0, tying two of those records (19 consecutive wins, 12 straight in the league). While the Aggies watched Harry Jones, his alter ego, Tailback Bobby Burnett, took up the cause with 111 yards for two touchdowns.
But the path to the title is not all that cotton-soft. In the way, besides SMU, is TEXAS TECH, whose Halfback Mike Leinert is quite frank about it: "We've got pride and we'd like to go to a bowl—the Cotton Bowl." The Red Raiders also have Donny Anderson, who accounted for 224 yards and scored twice in a 27-0 victory over Rice. Little-used Quarterback Kent Nix led TCU to a 10-7 upset of Baylor.
1. USC (4-1-1)
2. UCLA (4-1-1)
3. WASHINGTON STATE (6-1)
While USC, with a week off after its humiliation by Notre Dame, spent the time regrouping, neighboring UCLA as well as WASHINGTON STATE continued to look like legitimate Rose Bowl contenders. Loser only to Michigan State—in its opener and not by much—UCLA beat Air Force 10-0. A perfect play caught the Falcons flying the wrong way. Halfback Mel Farr slashed over right guard on a counter, angled sharply to his right and fled 37 yards for a touchdown. Kurt Zimmerman's 31-yard field goal put the Bruins out of reach.
The Uclans now have to get by WASHINGTON, and that may not be as easy as it seemed a couple of weeks ago. The normally landlocked Huskies came alive and drubbed startled Stanford 41-8 as Quarterback Ted Hullin completed 10 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and End Dave Williams caught 10 (a school record). Meanwhile, Halfback Don Moore and Fullback Ron Medved ran for three more scores. "Our execution improved," said Coach Jim Owens happily. That is what it was too—an execution.
Washington State changed the script against Oregon State. Usually, the surprising Cougars come from behind to win. This time they took a 10-0 lead on Ted Gerela's 35-yard field goal and Larry Eilmes' one-yard plunge. Then they hung on for dear life to win 10-8. OREGON, however, had to rally to catch Idaho 17-14. Discerning coaches stationed in the press box sent word to the Oregon bench in the last quarter that the sideline passes would work against the tight Vandals. They did. Quarterback Mike Brundage hit Ray Palm and Steve Bunker with three of them and then threw to Bunker again for the winning touchdown.
Everything possible, it seemed, had already happened to Penn State this season. Bumbling and fumbling had cost the Lions three games, but it appeared their luck finally had turned when Quarterback Jack White's 14-yard pass to Jack Curry put State ahead of CALIFORNIA 17-14 with only 42 seconds to go. However, on the last play of the game Cal's Jim Hunt threw a desperate 46-yard pass into the end zone where little Jerry Bradley, surrounded by three Penn Staters, waited without much hope. Up the three went for the ball, down they came with only a touch of it. It slithered into Bradley's eager hands and Cal won 21-17. "You stick around long enough and good things happen," said Coach Ray Willsey, who seemed suddenly wise.
Brigham Young had something new ready for unbeaten UTAH STATE. The Cougars split both ends, sent four receivers down the sidelines and through the middle and BYU took a 7-0 lead on Virgil Carter's nifty passes. But the alert Aggies soon spread their defense wider and got going themselves. Quarterback Ron Edwards threw three touchdown passes, Halfback Roy Shivers ran through the Cougars for 180 yards and scored twice, and Utah State won its seventh straight game 34-21.
BEST OF THE WEEK
THE BACK: Though sitting out the last 22 minutes, Syracuse Halfback Floyd Little, of the bowlegs and startling shifts and bursts of speed, scored four times (one a 95-yard punt return), gained 248 yards in all against Pitt.
THE LINEMAN: End Bo Batchelder of Illinois made four steals against Purdue, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, all within 20 minutes. His most spectacular play: a 55-yard run after a theft from Bob Griese's hands.
THE 15 HARDEST PICKS
ALABAMA OVER LSU
After Ole Miss, LSU will be more down than up.
GEORGIA TECH OVER TENNESSEE
King, Snow and Tech's fast defensive backs are too tough.
FLORIDA OVER GEORGIA
Running or throwing, the Gators arc difficult to hold.
AUBURN OVER MISSISSIPPI STATE
Defensively, the Tigers are more stubborn than State.
BOSTON COLLEGE OVER MIAMI
Two quarterbacks—BC's—are better than one—Miami's.
NAVY OVER MARYLAND—The Middies are a team, the Terps are an argument.
ARMY OVER AIR FORCE
But the Cadets will be wary against the upsetting Falcons.
MICHIGAN OVER ILLINOIS
Close, but Bump Elliott always beats brother Pete.
MISSOURI OVER COLORADO
Mizzou's strong runners will get away from the young Buffs.
TEXAS OVER BAYLOR
Passes will bother the Long-horns, but not enough to beat them.
USC OVER CALIFORNIA
USC has had two weeks to recover from the Notre Dame rout.
UCLA OVER WASHINGTON
Prothro's Bruins are too tricky for the reviving Huskies.
WASHINGTON STATE OVER OREGON
State seems unlikely but must be doing something right.
WYOMING OVER NEW MEXICO
The stronger Cowboys have an added incentive—the WAC title.
UTAH STATE OVER MEMPHIS STATE
A Case Of Shivers' runs over Fletcher's options.
LAST WEEK'S PREDICTIONS
10 RIGHT, 5 WRONG
SEASON'S RECORD: 60-40-5