Houston, one of the new giants of the Southwest, should win the Missouri Valley Championship for the third straight year, although competition is expected to be stronger than in the past two seasons. Coach Hal Lahar will again run from the split-T.
Coach Odus Mitchell begins his 13th season at North Texas State with a coaching record surpassed only by Jess Neely in Texas. Following what seems to be a trend in college football, Mitchell will run his team out of the pro-type Chicago Bear T, with the belly series and considerable flankers and split ends. A man to bear watching on this team is Halfback Abner Haynes, first Negro to play for North Texas, who last year, though playing on the second unit and seeing action just half the time, led the Missouri Valley Conference in rushing. He is the school's finest back since Ray Renfro of the Cleveland Browns.
In the Border Conference, Arizona State appears to be a shoo-in champion again. The Sun Devils of Tempe and their exciting little ball-carrying wonder, Leon Burton, are ready to rise from comparative obscurity to a front-row seat among the national grid powers. The three Texas members of the Border Conference—Hardin-Simmons, Texas Western and West Texas—figure to battle it out for runner-up honors. If Hardin-Simmons can do anything satisfactory about replacing Ken Ford, the nation's No. 1 passer in 1957, the Cowboys appear to have the edge on the other two, for Coach Sammy Baugh has a fine crop of sophomores to supplement 18 returning lettermen. Arizona and New Mexico A&M should again battle it out for the cellar.
Texas Tech, the ex officio member of the Southwest Conference (it cannot compete for the football title until 1960), is still building for its big-time debut two years hence and probably will not improve much on the 2-8 record compiled in 1957.
COLORS: Red and blue
BASIC OFFENSE: Slot T
1957 RECORD: Won 1, lost 8, tied 1
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 15 of 28
WATCH FOR: A wide-open passing game directed by Ralph Hunsaker
THE DOPE: The Wildcats will be throwing everything in an effort to escape the Border Conference cellar. "We will have a better team than we had last year, but we are still lacking the necessary speed," says Coach Ed Doherty. "Consequently, we will rely heavily on our passing. The outlook for Arizona can be summed up as a rebuilding year—rather than one to set the world on fire." The Wildcats tackle the toughest schedule of their history with 15 lettermen holdovers from the once-victorious '57 squad. Key returnee is Ralph Hunsaker, director of Doherty's pro-type offense. Hunsaker and Jim Mason last year completed 131 of 238 passes between them, good for 1,345 yards and five touchdowns. Halfback Bill Overall, the Cats' leading ground-gainer, and Warren Livingston also return, along with starting Fullback Bill Keasler. Best on the line, which Doherty must completely rebuild, is Tackle Jim Jordan. Much of Arizona's success depends upon sophomores, outstanding of which are Halfback Delbert Hodge and Tackle Tony Matz.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
COLORS: Maroon and gold
BASIC OFFENSE: Multiple
1957 RECORD: Won 10, lost none
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 24 of 30
WATCH FOR: Sprinter Leon Burton and Passer John Hangartner