Alabama all but locked up the SEC championship with its convincing victory over Georgia Tech, but the result had little effect on the bowl aspirations of LSU and Mississippi. Mississippi State gave LSU some exceedingly anxious moments before Fullback Earl Gros bailed out the Tigers in the last quarter. Gros ran 30 yards with an intercepted pass, barreled off tackle for 49 more, then plunged over from the one, and LSU won 14-6. Ole Miss, its running game blunted by a hard-hitting Tennessee line, was forced into the air to beat the Vols 24-10. Quarterback Doug Elmore spread the Tennessee defense with his precise passes, creating just enough gaps for the Mississippi backs to dart through.
The other SEC teams were content to play out the string. Auburn, the next team to test unbeaten Alabama, beat Georgia 10-7; Tulane gave Coach Andy Pilney another week of respite by beating Vanderbilt 17-14.
Duke and North Carolina banged heads furiously for 60 minutes at Durham but, in the end, the game was decided by field-goal kickers. NC's Bob Elliott had the Tar Heels out in front 3-0 until Duke's Bill Reynolds got into the act with 5� minutes to go. He kicked a 32-yarder to get the Blue Devils even, then, with six seconds to play, kicked another from the 29-yard line to give Duke a 6-3 victory and the ACC title. Among the also-rans, Maryland used John Hannigan's three-pointer to beat Wake Forest 10-7 while North Carolina State finally released Quarterback Roman Gabriel from his shell. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, ran for two more as the Wolfpack beat South Carolina 38-14. The top three:
1. ALABAMA (9-0)
2. LSU (8-1)
3. MISSISSIPPI (8-1)
Arkansas, maintaining its balance as Texas stumbled (see page 22), moved into a tie for the SWC lead as Halfback Lance Alworth confounded the ragged SMU defenders with his brilliant pass-catching and snaky runs to lead the Razorbacks to a 21-7 win.
Meanwhile Rice and Texas A&M met in Houston to defend the honor of their coaches: Rice's durable old Jess Neely had been hanged in effigy, and the Aggies' Jim Myers was rumored on his way out. "We're going to show people what we think of Coach Myers," said one Aggie. Rice won 21-7, leaving a good many people, including Myers, uncertain just what the Aggies do think of him.
While Nolan Jones scored four times to lead Arizona State past Detroit 40-6, West Texas State assured the Sun Devils of the Border title. Pete Pedro, the nation's leading scorer, ran for two touchdowns to boost his point total to 132, and the Buffs eliminated New Mexico State 35-22. But Aggie Halfback Preacher Pilot ran for 114 yards to lead the major-college rushers with 959. Arizona's Eddie Wilson threw three touchdown passes, and the Wildcats beat Texas Western 48-15. The top three:
1. TEXAS (8-1)
2. ARKANSAS (7-2)
3. TCU (3-4-1)