Ranked No. 2 in the preseason polls and a 20-point favorite to beat Missouri, Alabama did an el foldo before a national television audience and 63,000 stunned onlookers in Birmingham. Before the game an ABC executive voiced the hope that Missouri somehow might score at least one touchdown before halftime so the eastern viewing audience wouldn't turn off and turn in. He got his wish and more, as the ball-hogging Tigers took a 20-0 halftime lead en route to a 20-7 victory.
With no mind for sustained drama, Tony Galbreath gained 75 of his 120 yards in the first quarter, one of his 32 carries producing the game's first touchdown. Another hero was Defensive Tackle Keith Morrissey, a former high school quarterback who was making his debut in that position for the Tigers. The 227-pound Morrissey made nine individual tackles, including two sacks of Alabama Quarterback Richard Todd that washed up a Tide comeback with seven minutes left. Bama's running attack gained only 31 yards (in 34 carries) while Missouri, with a 75-57 edge in plays, rushed for 206 yards.
"They made us look like some kind of barnyard outfit," the Bear grumbled.
September 21, 1975
Alabama's loss caused Shug Jordan, in his 25th and final year as Auburn head coach, to warn his seventh-ranked Tigers about upsets. "Remember," he said, "Goliath was a 40-point favorite over Little David, but Little David knocked him on his can."
The Tigers, however, either missed the point or weren't listening as Memphis State, a 17-point underdog, stung them 31-20. Six Auburn turnovers and the passing of sophomore Quarterback Kippy Brown enabled State to build a surprisingly easy 24-0 half-time lead as Auburn's offense never crossed midfield. The Tigers closed the gap in the third quarter, scoring twice on their first two possessions, but a fumble killed their hopes as State drove 76 yards for the clinching touchdown. Auburn's Mitzi Jackson, who scored on a 61-yard run, finished with 177 yards on 21 carries, the best game an Auburn runner has had in 16 years. It also marked the first time since 1965 that both Alabama schools dropped their opening games.
In Knoxville junior Tailback Stanley Morgan scored on a 50-yard draw play, a 70-yard punt return and a one-yard sweep to lead Tennessee to a 26-8 rout of Maryland. The Vols defense also sparkled, recovering three fumbles and holding the Terps to two first downs in the first half.
Completing nine of 12 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, Florida Quarterback Don Gaffney ran for another score as the Gators crushed SMU 40-14. Florida racked up 527 yards total offense in its most impressive opening win in nine years.
Clemson, a dark-horse pick for the Atlantic Coast Conference title, committed eight turnovers in a 17-13 loss to Tulane after giving Coach Red Parker another turnover of sorts before kickoff. Taking a pitchout in warmup drills, Running Back Don Tester-man turned the corner, nailed his coach full tilt and sent Parker sailing into the end zone. "I wasn't paying attention," Parker said. Tulane's Wyatt Washington was. He intercepted three passes, returning one 76 yards for a touchdown.
Elsewhere, Wake Forest won its first ACC game since 1972 by upsetting North Carolina State 30-22; Kentucky veered over Virginia Tech 27-8 and South Carolina made Jim Carlen's coaching debut a happy one with a 23-17 defeat of Georgia Tech.
1. Florida (1-0)
2. Tennessee (1-0)
3. Kentucky (1-0)
Al Conover, the flamboyant coach of the Rice Owls, said his two quarterbacks were so even in ability that he would wait until game time and have them cut cards to see who would start against Houston. Tommy Kramer got the job when his queen of clubs beat Claude Reed's seven of diamonds. Conover's ace in the hole, however, was Gary Cox, whose 70-yard punt return gave the Owls their first touchdown in a 24-7 upset. Rice also got an 86-yard interception return for another touchdown from Larry Brune en refute to a 24-0 half-time lead.
Texas scored the first three times it had the ball and led 19-0 after little more than nine minutes, but the Longhorns' 46-0 rout of Colorado State came too easy to answer Darrell Royal's questions. The most pleasing aspect of the game for Longhorn fans was the running of sophomore Fullback Earl Campbell, who gained 103 yards in 13 carries and had a 75-yard touchdown run nullified by a clipping penalty.
It was a familiar story for Texas A&M—great defense, no offense—in a 7-0 defeat of Mississippi. The Aggies limited the Rebels to two first downs until late in the fourth quarter, when Ole Miss marched to the A&M 11-yard line before being stopped.
Reserve Tailback Billy Taylor carried six times for 51 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run to cap a fourth-quarter drive as Texas Tech beat Florida State 31-20. The Red Raiders also got fine defensive work from Nose Guard Ecomet Burley, who blocked a conversion attempt and made a key sack of quarterback Larry Key.
Arkansas shot down Air Force 35-0.
1. Texas (1-0)
2. Texas A&M (1-0)
3. Baylor (1-0)
While Ohio State was spanking Michigan State in East Lansing (page 12) Michigan indicated in its 23-6 licking of Wisconsin that the Big Ten again will be the Big Two this season. The Wolverines gave up three interceptions, a fumble and a 56-yard punt return but 'still held the Badgers to two field goals.
On offense, Bo Schembechler turned loose senior Tailback Gordon Bell, who raced for 210 yards on 28 carries and caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from freshman Quarterback Rick Leach.
While Bell made a shambles of the Badger defense, Wisconsin's All-America candidate Billy Marek gained only 58 yards on 21 carries and Quarterback Dan Kopina completed only three passes for 27 yards.
Randy Dean, an engineering student with a 3.95 grade-point average, earned another A when he led Northwestern to a 31-25 upset of Purdue, his father's alma mater. Dean completed six of eight passes for 127 yards and rushed for 42 more in his first start at quarterback. The game had another ironic note for losing Coach Alex Agase: Greg Boykin, whom Agase recruited when he coached at Northwestern, rushed for 123 yards and scored three touchdowns. "He didn't show us anything we didn't already know," Agase sighed.
Lee Corso savored his second Big Ten win in three seasons as Indiana took Minnesota 20-14, holding the Gophers scoreless in the second half. Courtney Snyder, who rushed for 174 yards, paced the Hoosiers, but Terry Jones got the winning touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak. In another Big Ten inaugural, Illinois whipped Iowa 27-12.
Pity the Oklahoma Sooners, who fumbled 12 times and lost 75 yards in penalties in their season's opener against Oregon. Paying for these mistakes, the Sooners had to settle for 617 yards total offense and a 62-7 victory, their 21st in a row. Barry Switzer used 59 players in the lopsided Duck hunt, Horace Ivory making his collegiate debut by gaining 104 yards on nine carries.
In other games Nebraska parlayed a 122-0 edge in punt return yardage with rugged defense to hold off LSU 10-7; Washington State's Chuck Diedrick kicked four field goals in an 18-14 upset of Kansas and Miami of Ohio extended its unbeaten streak to 24 with a 50-0 devastation of Marshall.
1. Oklahoma (1-0)
2. Michigan (1-0)
3. Ohio State (1-0)
It will obviously take more than mere success for Joe Paterno to change his mind on the merits of the NCAA freshman eligibility rule which, in the unheralded person of Tom Donovan, helped Penn State to a 34-14 conquest of Stanford.
"I still don't like the rule," Paterno said after unleashing Donovan in a record-breaking varsity debut. "I still think it's bad for the kids."
It didn't do much good for Stanford, either, as Donovan, substituting for the injured Jimmy Cefalo, became the first frosh in State's history to rush for more than 100 yards. He picked up 113 on 10 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run late in the first half. Donovan, whose name did not appear in the depth charts, found out he would be used only hours before the game, when Paterno told him he would carry in the plays.
Penn State also unveiled a variety of formations in rushing for 330 yards on 70 carries while the Lions' defense loosed a three-man front against Mike Cordova's passing attack. Cordova threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.
Syracuse recovered from seven fumbles, a blocked punt and a 17-0 deficit to beat Villanova 24-17 in a game no one seemed to want from start to finish. With 17 seconds left Syracuse was penalized for pass interference, giving Villanova the ball on the Orange two-yard line. On the next play the Wildcats fumbled for the sixth time and Syracuse recovered. Replacing Bob Mitch, Quarterback Jim Donoghue led the Syracuse comeback by passing for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
West Virginia turned two second-half interceptions into touchdowns on the way to a 50-7 rout of Temple, a one-point loser to Penn State the week before. It was Wayne Hardin's second-worst defeat in five years with the Owls.
On another front, Army marched over Holy Cross 44-7.
1. Penn State (2-0)
2. Pittsburgh (1-0)
3. West Virginia (1-0)
No running back in USC's proud history, including Mike Garrett, O. J. Simpson or Anthony Davis, started a season more impressively than did Ricky Bell in USC's 35-7 conquest of Duke, which left Trojan alumni breathing easy about Davis' replacement.
A 6'2", 215-pound junior tailback, Bell shattered the USC single-game rushing record—set by C.R. Roberts in 1956—by ripping off 256 yards on 34 carries. He also scored four touchdowns and made good the prophecy of Roberts' wife, who told her husband, "Your record's going to fall tonight, honey." Roberts, who set the old standard of 251 yards against Texas, came out of the stands to congratulate Bell when Ricky left the game with 4:06 remaining.
"I didn't have any idea I was that close to the record," Bell said. "I just wanted to play a good game. I figured I'd carry 15 or 20 times but never 34. Man, now I know what O.J., A.D. and the rest went through."
Bell tore inside and outside almost at will, but it wasn't a solo effort. The USC offensive line ripped gaps in the Duke defense that any of the "Baby Brigade" could have run through. A lot of them did, since the fourth-ranked Trojans used nine different backs to net 434 yards.
California and Colorado combined for 948 yards of total offense and innumerable defensive mistakes before the Buffaloes won 34-27. Colorado Quarterback David Williams rushed for 114 yards and the winning touchdown while completing nine of 15 passes for 108 yards and another score.
UCLA's veer attack looked sluggish before John Sciarra, the Bruins do-everything quarterback, directed his mates to a 37-21 win over Iowa State. Sciarra moved the Bruins 91, 69 and 59 yards for scores on three successive possessions in the third quarter. Sciarra himself carried 25 times for 102 yards With no accomplished back to share the running chores he will be UCLA's marked man.
Arizona State solved a quarterback problem while beating Washington 35-12. Fred Mortensen got a field promotion under fire when he came into the game with the score 14-12 and 11:38 left, and guided the Sun Devils to three touchdowns.
In other contests, San Diego State shut out Oregon State 25-0 and Texas A&I ruined Aloha Stadium's inaugural by crushing Hawaii 43-9.
1. USC (1-0)
2. UCLA (1-0)
3. Arizona St. (1-0)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Tailback Ricky Bell got off to a ringing start in Southern California's 35-7 win over Duke. Bell scored four touchdowns and averaged more than seven yards a carry as he set a USC one-game rushing record of 256 yards.
DEFENSE: Missouri Tackle Keith Morrissey, 6'4", 227-pound sophomore, anchored a stout defense that limited second-ranked Alabama to 118 yards. Morrissey contributed nine individual tackles to the Tigers' surprising 20-7 win.