1. NEBRASKA (6-0)
2. MICHIGAN STATE (6-0)
3. NOTRE DAME (4-1)
After an undistinguished early season, the Midwest was busy trying to ignore Arkansas and reestablish itself as the king of college football. Unbeaten Nebraska, whose Fred Duda (10, left) took up where he left off the week before with his deadly passes, was one candidate for the top. So was Michigan State, also undefeated, and Notre Dame, loser only to Purdue.
Colorado, everyone thought, would be NEBRASKA'S first real test. The Buffs were unbeaten with two ties, and they played tough defense. Not tough enough, though. The Huskers got a 10-3 lead and then came the crusher. Pinned back on his own five, Duda passed into the wind to Split End Freeman White on the 35, and White outran the pack for a 95-yard touchdown. Nebraska went on to win 38-13. "A great team," said Colorado's Eddie Crowder. "About three touchdowns better than last year."
For all its proficiency, Michigan State does not stand alone in the Big Ten. MINNESOTA, a dark horse of middling ability, is still undefeated in conference games, thanks to a last-ditch Michigan gamble that failed. When Quarterback Wally Gabler took the hard-luck Wolverines in for a touchdown with only 1:22 to play, he cut Minnesota's lead to 14-13. Michigan went for two points, but End Bob Bruggers and Linebacker Gary Reierson rushed formidably and Gabler's hurried cross-field pass soared harmlessly out of the end zone. So Minnesota had its third straight and the battered old Little Brown Jug.
When Wisconsin began juggling the ball like a hot toddy, OHIO STATE pounced on three fumbles, turned them into a touchdown and two field goals by Bob Funk and beat the Badgers 20-10. NORTHWESTERN surprised Iowa with a punishing ground game that tumbled the Hawkeyes 9-0. ILLINOIS' fast sophomores ran often against Duke. One of them, Halfback Cyril Pinder, broke the game open with an 80-yard run, and the Illini won 28-14.
Indiana had heard of WASHINGTON STATE's remarkable propensity for beating Big Ten teams, but the Hoosiers, sitting on a 7-0 lead, did not think it could happen to them. It did. The Cougars moved 62 yards in the last 1:31, scored on Tom Roth's last-play pass to Doug Flansburg and then took the game 8-7 on Roth's two-point toss to Ammon McWashington. It was enough to make ex-Yale Coach John Pont long for the comparative serenity of the Ivy League.
Missouri, getting ready for its Big Eight showdown with Nebraska, went after Iowa State with its big running game. Charlie Brown and Johnny Roland swept the State flanks, Carl Reese hammered away inside and the Cyclones succumbed 23-7. What did Missouri's Dan Devine have in mind for Nebraska? "Prayer," he said plaintively.
Meanwhile OKLAHOMA and KANSAS were improving. The young Sooners hushed Kansas State's passing game with a hard rush, and Oklahoma won 27-0. Kansas took the opening kickoff 66 yards for a score against Oklahoma State, and then its tough defense shut out the Cowboys 9-0.
Bowling green, shaken up by Fred Gissendaner's 85-yard punt return in the ankle-deep mud at Kent State, slogged back to take a 7-6 lead on Tom Luettke's plunge and Jim Perry's placement. But the Falcons had to hold Kent on the two-inch line to beat them for the Mid-American lead. MIAMI of Ohio, an easy 34-0 winner over Ohio U., could take it away from them Saturday.