There it is, in the trophy case on the second floor of Washington State's Bohler Gymnasium, a fat, ancient football, varnished to preserve a 50-year-old legend painted on it in black letters: "WSC 14, Brown 0." Close by, in a glassed display of athletic clippings, is a picture of William H. (Lone Star) Dietz, the Cougars' coach of that undefeated year, gloriously got up in stovepipe hat, formal tie and swallowtail coat, an outfit he bought in honor of the first official invitation to a West Coast team by the Tournament of Roses.
This is not the only time the Cougars have been to the Rose Bowl. The second and last occasion came in 1931, after they won nine straight and blossomed out in bright, all-red uniforms, helmet to shoe-tops. The new outfits failed to impress Alabama, which routed the Cougars 24-0, or a Los Angeles sportswriter, who wrote: "The Cougars showed up looking like 11 bottles of strawberry pop—and displayed about as much fizz."
Now it is Rose Bowl time again—or so it seems to the small college town of Pullman (pop. 15,100), tucked away in the rolling wheat country of southwest Washington. Last Saturday old Cougar grads gathered for a homecoming game against Oregon, and the 21,000 who filled the wooden stands of Rogers Field could talk of nothing else.
The excitement did not overwhelm Quarterback Tommy Roth, who in this game showed himself to be steady, responsible and unhurried, although his gifts might be described as more mechanical than artistic. As one worried-looking scout noted, "He's not a classic passer, and he isn't even a good rollout passer, but give him protection and he'll get the ball there." Roth got it there eight times in 14 tries as Washington State beat Oregon handily 27-7. It was the first time since 1932 that the Cougars had won five straight. They now own a 7-1 record and at least a plausible claim to a Rose Bowl bid, assuming they get by Arizona State and Washington in their final two games.
That is about the only plausible thing you can say for the Cougars. Everything else about them is absurd. To begin with, they beat Iowa 7-0 with 36 seconds left to play. Then they upset Minnesota 14-13 with 2:40 left on the clock. After losing to Idaho 17-13, they scored twice in the final two minutes 15 seconds to tip Villanova 24-14 and came out with an 8-7 victory over Indiana. This last one is notable since, when WSU scored its only touchdown, the clock read exactly 00 to play.
The fellow to blame for all this disrespect for the law of probability is 35-year-old Bert Clark, now in his second season as the Cougars' head coach. A star linebacker under Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, Clark came to Washington State after seven years as assistant to Jim Owens at Washington. He is a soft-spoken native Oklahoman, with a dimpled grin, a flair for phrase and all the enthusiasm of the 36 sophomores who dominate his 56-man squad. Early this year Clark told a sportswriter, "Our li'l ol' football team is young and stupid, but we'll be in condition." To overcome stupidity and promote condition Clark put his young team on a three-a-day workout program.
"Mornings we just spent teaching," he says. "Afternoons we turned 'em loose on each other—got tough. Nights we went out under the lights and ran nothing but pass patterns. No coaching. We just turned 'em over to the quarterbacks and told 'em to pass, pass, pass."
The night drills confirmed Clark's suspicion that Roth, an erratic passer in 1964, was the key to his entire offense. Running pass patterns against no opposition, Roth would hit, say, 30 out of 32, or 29 out of 30. "That decided me," says Clark. "I figured if we could protect Tommy, he'd get the ball to our receivers. So we did a lot of changing in our blocking to get him time to throw."
In the belief that all good college teams today are sharply coached and well-conditioned, Clark has sought what he calls the "winning edge." In the Cougar dressing room are three large charts. One is called the "defensive board," which sets such single-game goals as "1.5 interceptions," "cause three fumbles, recover two" and "no third-down success—10 yards or more." The "offense board" calls for such items as "no fumbles lost," "no mental errors inside 10-yard line" and "make five big plays in game."
A third board honors the names of the "Best Blocking Lineman," "Best Defensive Lineman," "Best Blocking Back" and "Best Defense Back." Rich Sheron, a junior end, has won the "Blocking Lineman" award four times this season; a senior tackle, Wayne Foster, has won the "Defensive Lineman" citation three times, while Willie Gaskins, the Cougars' alert safety man, has taken the "Defensive Back" award five times. "Rip," "Spike" and "Punch" have been added to the Cougar backfield nomenclature. "Rip is Left Halfback Ammon McWashington. "Spike" is Fullback Larry Eilmes, a workhorse runner and a deadly blocker, while "Punch" is anybody who plays right half, usually Joe Lynn, a strong, stocky sophomore. It is doubtful if such designations make the Cougar backs run any faster—none of them has unusual speed—but it seems to please Clark to think so.
"If I were a back," he says, "I'd like to be called 'Punch' when my number came up. Take 'Punch 19.' Now doesn't that make you want to punch that line? Our 'Rip' back, he's the fella who has to go with the ball—rip it through. And 'Spike,' he does a lot of blocking at the corners—he spikes 'em, see? Those are good aggressive names to call out, and it's a helluva lot better than yelling, 'Hey, you.' "
It is extremely difficult, now that the Cougars have proved they can win one the easy way, to find a man in Pullman willing to discuss anything but the Rose Bowl. One who manages to resist the temptation is Bert Clark. Holding fast to coaching tradition, he won't talk about the future, but if you want to discuss the Cougars—that's different. "What gets me is the excitement of this team," he says. "All I have to do is yell, 'Hey, who's excited?' And they yell right back. They're excited about every game we play—and every play we run."
1. USC (5-1-1)
2. UCLA (5-1-1)
3. WASHINGTON STATE (7-1)
One other wonder of West Coast football this year has been UCLA. For a while last Saturday, however, Washington threatened to pass the Bruins straight into obscurity. Quarterback Tod Hullin, a sharp thrower, and End Dave Williams, a superb catcher, got the Huskies three touchdowns for a 24-14 lead at half time. But Gary Beban, UCLA's flashy sophomore who had passed and run for both Bruin scores, put his team back in the game with a brilliant 60-yard run. Then imaginative Coach Tommy Prothro came up with his weekly surprise: a Z streak, he called it. With UCLA on its own 40, Tight End Dick Witcher unobtrusively lined up as a flanker outside his split end while Washington was still in its defensive huddle. Witcher broke down the sideline, Beban found him with a perfect pass and away he went. The Bruins won 28-24. "We were lucky," said Prothro, but he must have had his tongue in his cheek.
USC, which has to whip the amazing Uclans November 20 if it is to keep Washington State out of the Rose Bowl, enjoyed a 35-0 rout of California. The Trojans battered Cal for 379 yards, and shifty Mike Garrett got away on two long punt returns—for 74 and 87 yards, respectively.
Everybody, including New Mexico, expected WYOMING to come out throwing against the Lobos' weak secondary, which had yielded 13 touchdown passes. But the Cowboys, once they found their pitch-sweeps going well, rarely bothered to pass. Sophomore Tailback Jim Kiick ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and Wyoming beat New Mexico 27-9 for the first time in four years to move within a game of the Western AC title. "It sure feels good," said Wyoming Coach Lloyd Eaton. "We haven't had Lobo hide in a long, long time."
Brigham Young also indulged in a rare treat, beating Utah 25-20 for the first time in seven years as Quarterback Virgil Carter threw four touchdown passes.
Lots of teams have soccer-style field-goal kickers, but who ever heard of a Norwegian ski-kicker? Well, MONTANA STATE's Jan Stenerud, who is both, sidebooted one for 59 yards, then was short with a 67-yarder as the Bobcats defeated Montana 24-7.
1. MICHIGAN STATE (8-0)
2. NEBRASKA (8-0)
3. NOTRE DAME (6-1)
That old campaigner, MICHIGAN STATE's Duffy Daugherty, was taking nothing for granted. His powerful Spartans had just trounced Iowa 35-0—with Clint Jones running for four touchdowns—to clinch a tie for the Big Ten title. "Don't forget," he warned, "you have to be voted into the Rose Bowl." His real worry was not that or Saturday's final Big Ten game with Indiana, but Notre Dame a week later. That one could be for the national championship.
Other Big Ten teams were playing out the string. In the closing minutes MINNESOTA's John Hankinson completed eight straight passes and then sneaked over from the one to give the Gophers a 27-22 win over Northwestern. OHIO STATE pulled one out over Indiana 17-10 on Will Sander's fourth-quarter touchdown. PURDUE walloped Wisconsin 45-7. At Champaign, there was the annual bit of brotherly strife between the Elliotts, MICHIGAN'S Bump and Illinois' Pete. Bump, as he always does, won, 23-3.
Kansas got caught up in NEBRASKA's relentless meat grinder 42-6 and came away chopped up and dutifully impressed. Six different players scored as the Huskers piled up 510 yards. "Man, they were the best football team we have ever faced," gushed Kansas' Jack Mitchell. "I had no idea any team could whip us like that."
Missouri, still harboring bowl hopes, was too knowing and too skillful for Colorado's young Buffs. The Tigers forced the breaks and then made them pay off as Quarterback Gary Lane had a good day running and passing Mizzou to a 20-7 win. OKLAHOMA, still in the Big Eight race, got ready for Missouri by taking Iowa State 24-20. But Kansas State, which has not won in nine games, lost again, to CINCINNATI 21-14.
What once looked like a respectable season has suddenly become a nightmare for Army's Paul Dietzel. AIR FORCE, yearning desperately for a win over a service rival, got it when Quarterback Paul Stein ran five yards for one touchdown and passed 27 for another. The score: 14-3. "Our biggest win," said Coach Ben Martin. "We're in the fraternity now."
Tulsa's Bill Anderson and Howard Twilley were at it again in a 51-18 whomping of Louisville. Anderson threw five touchdown passes, all to Twilley (who caught 15), completed 29 of 54 for 362 yards to break another one of Jerry Rhome's season records (234 completions to 224). Twilley now has 106 catches for the year, 233 for 3,050 yards and 30 scores in his career.
Miami of Ohio almost did not get its anticipated share of the Mid-American title. The Redskins had to come from behind on Bruce Matte's 30-yard run to overtake tough Toledo 20-16. But BOWLING GREEN, a 20-6 winner over Marshall, can tie Miami by beating Ohio Saturday.
1. PRINCETON (7-0)
2. SYRACUSE (5-3)
3. DARTMOUTH (7-0)
For once Floyd Little could not carry Syracuse alone. The bandy-legged Orange wonder zipped through OREGON STATE for 151 yards, and still the Orange lost 13-12, largely because it messed up its extra-point tries and could not stop Paul Brothers' two little touchdown passes.
Life for Pitt's John Michelosen this season has been just one touchdown after another mostly by opposing teams. NOTRE DAME was the latest to enjoy Pitt's puny defense, 69 to 13 points worth. Attacking from the power I, Quarterback Bill Zloch ran Pitt's disappearing ends silly with keepers, pitchouts and handoffs and Halfback Bill Wolski hammered out five touchdowns. It got so that even Notre Dame's Ara Parseghian was embarrassed. Shocked by Pitt's ineptness, he said, "In my wildest dreams I never expected this."
Penn State, that other backward giant among the East's major independents, won, but not easily. The Nittany Lions jumped off to a two-touchdown lead over Kent State and then had to struggle to keep it. Halfback Mike Irwin's 33-yard run finally convinced the stubborn Golden Flashes, and they succumbed 21-6.
Navy overwhelmed Maryland 19-7. While sophomore Quarterback John Cartwright tormented the Terps with wide sweeps, options and two touchdown passes, the Middies stopped them cold with a blitzing nine-man front. Navy fired three men to the outside to take away Maryland's wide running game and the rest swarmed over Quarterback Fred Cooper like a pack of angry bees.
Ivy Leaguers can hardly wait for unbeaten PRINCETON, 14-6 winner over Harvard, and unbeaten DARTMOUTH to tangle. The Indians, explosive on offense and stifling on defense, routed Columbia 47-0 as Pete Walton, Paul Klungness and Gene Ryzewicz stormed through the Lions. YALE managed to outlast rallying Penn 21-19, while CORNELL'S Marty Sponaugle, running and passing for five touchdowns, led the Big Red past Brown and its slick passer, Bob Hall, 41-21.
1. ALABAMA (6-1-1)
2. TENNESSEE (4-0-2)
3. FLORIDA (5-2)
Bowl scouts were all over the South last week and some—Sugar and Orange Bowl people who watched ALABAMA rout LSU 31-7—drooled at what they saw. The second time 'Bama got the ball, Quarterback Steve Sloan hit Dennis Homan with a 45-yard touchdown pass. After that the Tide just rolled on and on, and Coach Bear Bryant was ready to listen to all bids.
Florida and TENNESSEE had admirers, too. For 56 minutes tenacious Georgia held the Gators' Steve Spurrier and Charley Casey down. Then Casey confused the defense by lining up at flanker instead of split end, and Spurrier passed to him for 46 yards. On the next play Spurrier threw to Jack Harper for 32 to give Florida a 14-10 victory. For a half Georgia Tech's Kim King dazzled unbeaten (but tied) Tennessee with his knee-high passes. But in the third quarter Harold Stancell picked one off and carried it back 36 yards for a score, and that was the end of Tech. Sophomore Quarterback Charlie Fulton ran for 133 yards, passed for a touchdown, and Tennessee won 21-7.
When AUBURN got into trouble against Mississippi State, Coach Shug Jordan called in sub Quarterback Alex Bowden. His two scoring passes gave Auburn the game 25-18. KENTUCKY surprised Vanderbilt by running Rodger Bird right at its good defenses—for 132 yards and four touchdowns—and the Wildcats won 34-0. Tulane, in over its head against STANFORD, lost 16-0.
Almost everybody has a chance now in the Atlantic Coast. Even Clemson's Frank Howard could not think of anything funny to say after NORTH CAROLINA upset his Tigers 17-13. NORTH CAROLINA STATE also had a shocker for Duke, a 21-0 pasting. SOUTH CAROLINA, beating Virginia 17-7, was still in it, too.
Miami, having one of its up weeks, battered Boston College 27-6, while MEMPHIS STATE, unimpressed by Utah State's imposing credentials, beat the Aggies 7-0.
1. ARKANSAS (8-0)
2. TEXAS TECH (7-1)
3. SMU (4-2-1)
"If I see a guy on the ground, I say to myself 'Jump!' " The speaker: Bobby Burnett, the leapfrogging ARKANSAS halfback who led the Razorbacks to a 31-0 win against Rice. Burnett gained 116 yards, and the Quarterbackin' Man, Jon Brittenum, hit on 11 of 14 passes as the Hogs won their 20th straight.
Texas ended its longest losing streak (three) since 1956 by beating Baylor 35-14. Coach Darrell Royal gave his players a rare chance to relax, running them through light drills all week. He also told them to "quit being afraid of making mistakes; nobody's perfect." As it turned out, Quarterback Marv Kristynik was perfect. He threw just three passes, each for a touchdown.
Dennis Partee's 25-yard field-goal try for SMU sailed through the air with all the grace of a wounded auk. Deflected, it hit the crossbar, but it was good enough to start the Mustangs on their way to a 10-0 win over Texas A&M.
New Mexico State could not stop the running of Halfback Donny Anderson or the passing of Quarterback Tom Wilson and lost to TEXAS TECH 48-9. Anderson ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson completed 13 of 22 for two touchdowns.
Warren McVea, the precocious HOUSTON sophomore halfback who had been a dud all season, finally broke loose and led the Cougars to a 17-3 upset of Mississippi. Out-racing his defenders, McVea gathered in long passes for touchdowns that covered 80 and 84 yards.
BEST OF THE WEEK
THE BACK: Despite sophomore Quarterback Gary Beban's 58-yard touchdown pass and one-yard scoring plunge, UCLA trailed Washington 24-14. So Beban ran 60 yards for another score, passed 60 for the winning touchdown.
THE LINEMAN: When Miami Linebacker Ed Weisacosky was not busy making tackles (he had 12, plus two assists) he was stealing passes (two) or forcing a key fumble or throwing a big block in a 27-6 rout of Boston College.
THE 15 HARDEST PICKS
PENN STATE OVER NAVY
The Lions move the ball well enough to beat Navy's blitz.
WYOMING OVER ARMY
The Cowboys should romp through the thinned long gray line.
PRINCETON OVER YALE
Humphrey's passes may bother the Tigers, but not for long.
DARTMOUTH OVER CORNELL
Ryzewicz, Beard and Walton will leave the Big Red for dead.
GEORGIA OVER AUBURN
A close one, but Dooley's tricks will save the day for Georgia.
TENNESSEE OVER MISSISSIPPI
The Vols attack and give up precious little ground.
VANDERBILT OVER MIAMI
A tougher defense will win for the tenacious Commodores.
CLEMSON OVER MARYLAND
Howard over Nugent in a battle of quips, wits and I's.
PURDUE OVER MINNESOTA
The Boilermakers hope their bad days are behind them.
MICHIGAN OVER NORTHWESTERN
After a poor start, it is "Go, Blue" again.
ARKANSAS OVER SMU
But not easily. SMU has a knack for surprising favorites.
TEXAS TECH OVER BAYLOR
Anderson's running will overcome the passing Bears.
UCLA OVER STANFORD
The Bruins are for real. Beban will be too much for the Indians.
OREGON OVER CALIFORNIA
Both yield points, but Oregon is better at getting them.
WASHINGTON OVER OREGON STATE
The Huskies have learned to throw—better even than State.
LAST WEEK'S PREDICTIONS
11 RIGHT, 4 WRONG
SEASON'S RECORD: 71-44-5