Clemson is a team with good experience coming out of a so-so performance in 1957, and offensively the Tigers will be as explosive as anything in the Southeast. This is due largely to a quarterback named Harvey White, around whom Coach Frank Howard has built the team's attack. Clemson's schedule is difficult, but the team is strong enough to survive if it plays up to its potential.
Miami has been on the verge of great football achievements for several years, but a tough, big-time schedule has always dimmed the bright promise of Coach Andy Gustafson's teams. This year, with tiny Quarterback Fran Curci to lead the offense, Miami is in its best position yet to rank among the leaders.
Wisconsin has put the rest of the Big Ten on the alert. Last year the Badgers gave Ohio State its worst afternoon of the season, using a lineup heavily weighted with sophomores. Coach Milt Bruhn's men can both run and pass, and with the experience they lacked in 1957 they are likely to be the surprise of the year.
Mississippi maintains a somewhat weak schedule for a perennial southeastern leader, but nonetheless Coach John Vaught's players have generally proved their mettle later in a bowl game, as they did last year against Texas. With Fullback Charles Flowers and Quarterback Bobby Franklin showing the way, the Rebels will be in the thick of the fight for the southeastern championship.
Oregon State is not an overpowering team, but it plays the kind of precision football that was the trademark of the Red Sanders teams at UCLA when Coach Tommy Prothro was working there as an assistant. With plenty of speed and a good defense the Beavers ought to dominate the unhappy western football scene.
So what kind of football may we expect from these fine teams and the dozens that will be giving them fits on Saturday afternoons? Plenty of scoring, for one thing. Except in isolated instances such as Ohio State, where the supply of topnotch football players is so overwhelmingly abundant, the day of grind-'em-out split-T football—"four yards and a cloud of dust," as the late Herman Hickman used to call it—is about over.
MIAMI GOES RADICAL
It isn't just that the defenses have caught up with this particular offensive technique, although such is indeed the case; in the meeting of the NCAA Rules Committee in Florida last winter, several radical changes were written into the rules. One involves the point after touchdown, and another alters the rules on blocking. These new rules cannot help but affect the appearance of collegiate football this coming season.
The point-after-touchdown rule is the one that has caused the biggest stir, and rightly so, for it is the first change in football scoring since 1912, when the value of a touchdown became six instead of five points. Under this new rule, a place kick for extra point counts one point, as always, but if the conversion is made by a run or a pass it is worth two points. Although this piece of football legislation has brought cries of anguish from the coaches (see HOTBOX), since it is they who must accept the responsibility for the wrong choice if it backfires, it was, after all, their own fraternity that made the decision. Ever since the coaches assumed the responsibility for writing the rules of football for the NCAA, they have increased the complexities of the game to the point where it is practically unplayable without the most expert instruction and long hours of drill. In other words, the coaches have gradually been making themselves indispensable.
As far as the fan is concerned, the new conversion rule should make for far more exciting football, something the colleges have seriously needed since the intrusion of the wide-open pro game has threatened their gate receipts. Not only will the dull conversion play become something worth watching in a tight game, it will increase the urge to gamble.