THE TOP THREE:
1. OHIO STATE (6-0)
2. NOTRE DAME (6-0)
3. NEBRASKA (7-0)
In the Big Ten last week the subject was roses. Ohio State's Woody Hayes has been to the Rose Bowl, but he would love to go again. Purdue's Jack Mollenkopf, who has never been there, probably is dreaming about it. And Michigan's Bump Elliott, a pessimist, will not even admit there is such a thing. Right now all three have a chance to go. Ohio State and Purdue are 4-0 and Michigan is 3-1 in Big Ten games.
But not even Woody Hayes liked OHIO STATE'S chances late last Saturday. He was prepared for what his scouts called Iowa's "three-ring circus" but did not anticipate how hard his No. 1-ranked Bucks would have to scramble to hold the eager Hawk-eyes. Despite three fumbles and a blocked kick, Ohio State took a 21-13 lead. Then, while Hayes sweated on the sidelines, Iowa moved steadily forward until Halfback Craig Nourse pounded over from the one with two seconds to go. That made it 21-19. Quarterback Gary Snook tried to sweep left end for the tying points but Linebacker Dwight Kelley smacked him down six inches short of the goal line. "Why, they climbed all over us like mad bulls," said Woody unbelievingly.
Purdue needed no survival techniques to beat Illinois 26-14. Just good solid football did it. The Purdue linemen, especially End Harold Wells and Tackle Jerry Shay, repeatedly beat the bigger Illini up front. Meanwhile, sophomore Quarterback Bob Griese passed to End Bob Hadrick (he caught eight) for a touchdown, Fullback Randy Minniear smashed through for three scores and the Boilermakers won easily. Asked about his chances for going all the way to the Rose Bowl, the careful Mollenkopf replied, "We're going all the way to Michigan State next week. That's as far ahead as we're looking."
Whatever Ohio State and Purdue might have in mind, MICHIGAN just plods along methodically, hoping that someone will do in its rivals. With Quarterback Bob Timberlake running for two touchdowns and four extra points, the Wolverines thumped Northwestern for 29 first downs and 336 yards rushing and thus beat the Wildcats 35-0.
About all the other Big Ten teams can hope for now is an opportunity to upset somebody's New Years plan. MICHIGAN STATE, for instance, can make trouble for Purdue. The Spartans looked impressive downing Wisconsin 22-6. MINNESOTA, too, can hurt the Boilermakers. Quarterback John Hankinson passed the Gophers to a 21-0 win over Indiana.
Missouri tried to gamble against unbeaten NEBRASKA in the last quarter of a scoreless game. When Quarterback Gary Lane faded back to his end zone to pass, Husker sophomore End Coleman Langston stormed in from the blind side and dropped Lane for a safety. A few minutes later Nebraska Quarterback Bob Churchich and Halfback Kent McCloughan teamed up on a 37-yard pass play and down went Mizzou 9-0. Now it is up to KANSAS to keep the Huskers from the Big Eight title. The Jayhawkers played it cozy as they edged Kansas State 7-0 on Halfback Gale Sayers' 77-yard run. OKLAHOMA had a time holding off Colorado 14-11.
Oklahoma State, unhappily, ran into the hottest passer in the country—TULSA'S Jerry Rhome—and what had been the nation's second-best pass defense suddenly disintegrated. Rhome threw for four touchdowns, End Howard Twilley caught 15 for 217 yards and two scores and Tulsa buried the Cowboys 61-14.
Miami of Ohio had a surprise for BOWLING GREEN—an unbalanced line and a switch to a running game. But the undefeated Falcons had their own secret weapon. Sophomore Fullback Stew Williams, a 230-pounder who moves like an avalanche, roared over the Redskins for the touchdown that won the game, 21-18.