For some, like Louisiana State's defending national champions, there was promise of continued greatness, while for others, like North Carolina, there was only despair. But for a good part of the country last Saturday, the good old autumnal excitement was back as football played out its first week.
Held at bay for a half by two galloping quick kicks and a 46-yard field goal by Rice's Gordon Speer, jittery LSU settled down and methodically took the tiring Owls apart 26-3 before 48,000 at Baton Rouge. Taking his cue from the way Rice was stacking its defenses against the LSU inside running game, Coach Paul Dietzel altered blocking assignments to allow for better trapping and introduced some hipper-dipper reverses. All-America Halfback Billy Cannon fired the first scoring shot, sweeping right end for 17 yards on a pass option in the third quarter. Keeping up their zealous pursuit and blocking, the Tigers added a 33-yard field goal by Halfback Wendell Harris and two more touchdowns in the final period.
Coach Frank Howard's "country boys" from Clemson looked more like city slickers as they piled up a 20-6 lead over North Carolina. But Tar Heel Quarterback Jack Cummings began pitching in the last quarter, and the Tigers had all they could do to hang on long enough to win 20-18 (see page 15).
Elsewhere, in the South, Georgia Tech got a slam-bang linebacking job from Center Maxie Baughan and held off challenging Kentucky 14-12; Georgia looked every inch the SEC contender while defeating Alabama 17-3; Maryland's imaginative Tom Nugent unveiled his "I" formation and, along with it, a sure-handed passer in Sophomore Dick Novak and a sure-footed kicker in End Vince Scott, who booted field goals from 48, 41 and 31 yards, as the Terps hammered West Virginia 27-7; William and Mary defeated Virginia 37-0 for the first time in 19 years.
This section had little action, and most of it was disappointing. Richie Lucas, a quarterback with a golden arm, led Penn State to a 19-8 win over Missouri. And while Lucas was shining, his Missouri counterpart, Phil Snowden, was booed by a home-town crowd of 28,000 for his inaccuracy as a passer.
Coach Lisle Blackbourn, back at Marquette after four years with the Green Bay Packers, found a passer who can throw in Pete Hall (22 for 43 and 273 yards) and an end who can catch 'em in Larry Hubbard (11 for 132 yards), but couldn't find a way to stop Pitt End Mike Ditka. Big Mike snared two touchdown passes from Quarterback Ivan Toncic and blocked a punt to set up the score that won for the Panthers 21-15.
Texas turned loose a passel of eager sophomores against Nebraska and shut out the Cornhuskers 20-0.