The Big Ten, perennial home of hardhitting powerhouses, sat up and performed for the visiting firemen last week, treating invaders like so many unwelcome relations as Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan and even Northwestern made hometown stadiums rumble with cheers.
Ohio State's ground-huggers continued to rely on the attack they know best, but strangely enough it was the pass (for two extra points) that brought them a 23-20 victory over surprisingly stout and deep SMU. Big SMU Quarterback Don Meredith nearly passed the Buckeyes dizzy with 19 for 28 and 213 yards, but couldn't hit the big ones.
Coach Duffy Daugherty used his regulars sparingly, taking the opportunity to get a long, satisfying look at his many talented hands as Michigan State ran up 502 yards and rumbled over and through California 33-12.
Michigan suffered briefly while USC pondered its conversion strategy after almost catching up 20-19 in the last quarter, but the jittery Trojans twice incurred penalties, then switched signals and failed to make the winning points on a completed pass. Michigan's burly fullback, John Herrnstein, finally had his day, scoring twice, setting up a third touchdown and bulling for 144 yards.
Iowa's untested line proved its worth, holding TCU to a mere 87 yards as the Hawkeyes won 17-0. Quarterback Randy Duncan provided the aerial arm and Bob Jeter the ground effects. Jeter left 54,500 fans gasping when he broke away at the TCU 39, dropped the ball on the 12, grabbed it on the first bounce and stumbled to Iowa's first touchdown.
But it was left to Northwestern, winless last year, to provide the day's biggest upset. The Wildcats, led by Halfback Ron Burton, who scored twice, rose up to smite favored Washington State 29-28, then carried Coach Ara Parseghian, unaccustomed to such lofty heights, off the field on their shoulders.
Illinois and Indiana did not fare so well. The Illini showed an amazing reluctance to hang on to the ball, fumbling away an 18-14 decision to UCLA, whose Phil Parslow returned a deflected pass 98 yards for a touchdown and later recovered a bobble to set up the winning score. Indiana gave Notre Dame a few bad moments, but the sputtering Irish attack finally got moving to win 18-0.
Oklahoma, operating from a weird and wonderful assortment of formations with chronometerlike precision, completely humbled game West Virginia 47-14. Putting aside their ball-control game, the Sooners stabbed quickly and assuredly from the conventional and split-T, moved their ends in close and split wide, flanked their halfbacks to either side and made use of a widely unbalanced line as they threw the ball frequently and accurately. Quarterbacks Dave Baker and Bobby Boyd (see below) were two of Oklahoma's sleekest operators, helping to confirm the rumor that Bud Wilkinson has another amazing ball club.
In Other games, Purdue crushed Nebraska 28-0; Air Force beat Detroit 37-6. The top three:
1. OKLAHOMA (1-0)
2. OHIO STATE (1-0)
3. MICHIGAN STATE (1-0)