The Southwest Conference, where form rarely prevails, was conquered by a preseason favorite for one of the few times in its gaudy history when methodical TCU set down Rice 21-10 (see page 50) to win the title and a spot in the Cotton Bowl. Beaten only by Iowa's Big Ten champions, the Homed Frogs started slowly, were given the spark they needed by Halfback Marvin Lasater, who romped 58 yards after plucking a Rice fumble out of the air (see page 51), and went on to score twice more.
Defense was a scarce commodity at Dallas, where SMU and Baylor ran and passed for a total of 817 yards and 62 points. But, when it was all over, the difference was SMU's Don Meredith, who passed for 206 yards (8 for 19) and two touchdowns, ran for 50 yards and two more scores, the last with 1:11 to go, to outshine Baylor's Buddy Humphrey and give the Mustangs a 33-29 victory. At Lubbock, Arkansas defeated Texas Tech 14-8 for its fourth in a row after six straight losses. The top three:
1. TCU (8-1-0)
2. SMU (5-4-0)
3. RICE (4-5-0)
Iowa's Randy Duncan turned runner to keep the Notre Dame defense honest, found the target with his passes often enough to lead the Hawkeyes to a 31-21 win over the Irish. George Izo tried his best to keep Notre Dame in the game, running for one touchdown and passing for two more, but he could not get his pass-dropping teammates to cooperate.
Normalcy nearly returned to the Big Ten where traditional games were the order of the day. Indiana, long the league's foot scraper, provided the only surprise, rising to tie Purdue's defensive dandies 15-15 and slip into the first division for the first time since 1947. Wisconsin sewed up second place by beating Minnesota 27-12; Illinois handed Northwestern its third straight loss 27-20; Ohio State turned back inspired Michigan 20-14 despite Wolverine Bob Ptacek's record-breaking (24 for 35 and 241 yards) passing.
In other games, Oklahoma thumped Nebraska 40-7 for its 13th straight Big Eight title and an automatic Orange Bowl bid; Kansas' Larry McKown and Homer Floyd teamed up on a last-minute 80-yard pass play to deadlock Missouri 13-13; Michigan State finally won one, defeating Kansas State 26-7. The top three:
1. IOWA (7-1-1)
2. OKLAHOMA (8-1-0)
3. WISCONSIN (7-1-1)
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]