Baylor, Texas, Arkansas and Rice are still the favored contenders for the conference title. Baylor's only real problem is whether to use Bobby Ply or Ronnie Stanley as starting quarterback. Stanley accounted for two touchdowns with his passes in a scrimmage last week, but Ply has looked good, too. Rice's Jess Neely, usually a gloomy predictor, is busy saying, "We have as much playable manpower as we've ever had."
UCLA, despite Coach Billy Barnes's tongue-in-cheek protest that "we're overrated," has looked good in practice. Although lacking the passing and power that Bill Kilmer gave them last year, the Bruins have three tricky running tailbacks and good depth in the line, where 216-pound Tony Fiorentino has moved ahead of Steve Bauwens at tackle. USC, lighter and faster than last year, is touting sophomore Willie Brown, who snaked loose from five tacklers and sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown in a scrimmage last week. California and Stanford have both looked better than they did last year.
Washington is concentrating on perfecting 15 offensive plays (instead of the 50 it had in the Rose Bowl) for its opener. Oregon State has been working on its new wing T behind locked gates, while Oregon, unexpectedly, will have to find replacements for three regulars: sophomore Quarterback Bob Berry, who entered the service; Center Joe Clesceri, who quit to become a Los Angeles policeman, and Fullback Bruce Snyder, out for the year with a torn cartilage.