An A.P. man called his desk and they refused to believe him. At Lafayette, Indiana, where Michigan State was playing Purdue, the public-address announcer solemnly intoned, "At the half, Northwestern 43, Michigan 0." Then he did a quick double take and blurted out, "We feel there's been a mistake here. We'll have to check back." In Madison, Wisconsin, where Iowa was playing Wisconsin, another announcer read out the same score in the Camp Randall Stadium press box, then shrugged his shoulders helplessly when 50 heads snapped around in his direction. "Well," he said, "that's what it says here."
Northwestern scored four touchdowns in seven minutes of that unbelievable second quarter, added another before half time and two more in the last two periods. The Wildcats pounced on Michigan fumbles, intercepted passes and tackled like demons. Every few minutes another Northwestern back seemed to be crossing the goal. Burton scored twice more; Willie Fowler, the other blistering-fast halfback, scored two; Thornton returned an interception 37 yards and two second-string halfbacks also got into the act. Sam Johnson ran 34 yards (see right), and Ray Purdin took a 19-yard pass from sub Quarterback Chip Holcomb, son of the Northwestern athletic director, for a finale. In the meantime, the defense, led by Linebacker Jim Andreotti and two large and belligerent tackles, Andy Cvercko and Gene Gossage, smothered Michigan completely when it had the ball.
In the second half Parseghian humanely sent in the third and fourth teams and Michigan scored three times, but who cared. The result could have been 75-0 just as well. As it was, no one had run up so many points against Michigan in 67 years.
If there was an individual standout, it had to be Thornton, a blue-eyed, brown-haired, Jack Armstrong type of young man from Chicago, who spent the afternoon passing and running the Wolverines dizzy when he wasn't faking them out of their cleats. Still a bit embarrassed by his sudden fame—he has played a big part in all four Northwestern victories—Thornton tries to give all the credit to the rest of the team, insists that he honestly doesn't want to be a star. Apparently there isn't much that he can do about it. Dick's father, an electrical foreman for the Chicago Park District, once played quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early '30s and began to teach his son the game when Dick was only 2. They still spend summer evenings practicing together in Olympia Park.
An all-state high school quarterback, Thornton picked Northwestern over 47 other colleges because "I knew I would be happiest here" and because of Parseghian. "You have to like and respect a coach, because he plays a big part in four years of your life. Ara's just a wonderful man."
To show Parseghian that they all felt the same way, the Northwestern players hoisted him to their shoulders at game's end and carried him off the field. "It was a welcome change," he said happily in the dressing room.
NEVER AN UNDEFEATED SEASON
Northwestern has never been a great football school—it has never had an undefeated team and the only outright Big Ten championship it ever won came in 1936—but down through the years there have been some very good Wildcat teams. Back in the early years of the century Northwestern was strong, and under Dick Hanley in 1930-31 the Wildcats lost only two games, sharing the conference title both seasons. Pappy Waldorf had winners in the decade before World War II, and Bob Voigts took Northwestern to the Rose Bowl 10 years ago.
But it has been a long time since anything quite so exciting as this has happened around Chicago, where Northwestern has been in an eclipse of late, where the University of Chicago dropped football altogether 19 seasons ago, where the Cardinals are usually in the backwash of the pros and even the Bears seem to have let down. This fine Northwestern team and its equally fine coach seem to be on the verge of bringing football respectability back to town.
It would be a mistake to get too excited, of course. In the next five weeks the Wildcats must play, in order, Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Illinois. It is doubtful that any other college in the country faces such a murderous schedule from here on out. If Northwestern can win three more, it will have had quite a successful season indeed.