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Meanwhile, the Sugar Bowl had been sounding out the Navy brass about a postseason game, and the Tuesday before the Army game word leaked down from the Pentagon: Navy, which had not been to a bowl since 1923, would accept a bid if it won or tied. Navy elected to win. Before the usual 100,000 spectators at Philadelphia, it traded touchdowns with Army as though they were going out of style. George Welsh was superb. He completed only five out of 11 passes but three of them were for touchdowns, and he scored a fourth himself. Chunky Fullback Joe Gattuso played like a demon, making tackles, smashing out first downs and punting. The little Navy linemen, bouncing all over Municipal Stadium, completely frustrated the big Army line. Navy won 27-20.
Next to come was Mississippi, the Southeastern Conference champions, in the Sugar Bowl. Ole Miss was 9-1 and its big, strong line, which outweighed Navy by 19 pounds a man, had given up only 47 points. Quarterback Eagle Day and Halfback Jimmy Patton, later a defensive star for the New York Giants, were the leaders of a high-powered offense. It was easy to understand why the pairing drew the fire of the Dixie press. Eastern teams, they proclaimed, just did not play the South's brand of big-league football.
The game, as they predicted, was a mismatch. Navy simply ran over Ole Miss. Taking the opening kickoff, Navy marched 70 yards on sheer power with Gattuso bursting the final three through an eight-man line. Welsh threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Weaver, and Gattuso went over from the one after a 93-yard drive in the third quarter. Mississippi made only one feeble pass at Navy's goal near the end, and that wound up with a fumble on the 12-yard line. Navy won 20-0.
Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught knew when he had been licked. "We sure got the hell kicked out of us," he said later. "Those little madmen from Navy play this game like they want to get in their last licks before the world comes to an end."
The chances of a miracle team emerging in the East this fall are fair. It might even be Navy again. Or it could be Penn State, Army or Pitt, all coming off mediocre seasons and all with new coaches. Or Yale, with a gang of shiny sophomores. But more likely, the best team in the area will be SYRACUSE, and that hardly will be a miracle.
Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, naturally, would be the very last to agree. Like most college coaches, he broods about such things as 20 lost lettermen, sophomores and an early opener with Baylor. But Schwartzwalder, if pressed, will admit that any team with Floyd Little on it has to be good.
Little, perhaps the best breakaway back in the country, has already intimidated more people than Groucho Marx. Whenever he takes off with the ball, which is about 20 times a game, his bandy legs churning, dipping and twisting, defenders have a problem. "He's like an eel," says one admiring opponent. "You think you have position on him and get ready to squash him. Then—zonk—all you got is an armful of air."
Last year after some painful early experiences when opposing defenses ganged up on Little, Schwartzwalder moved 235-pound Larry Csonka from linebacker to fullback and installed his version of the fashionable I formation, a crooked alignment that stacked the tailback and fullback behind the guard in Syracuse's unbalanced line. It was all designed to spring Little loose, and did it ever. While Csonka smashed inside for 795 yards, Floyd gained more than a mile—1,065 yards running. He added 248 yards catching passes, 677 more running back kicks and scored 19 touchdowns.
The combination could be even better this fall, because Schwartzwalder has added a few more homemade twitches to his I and Csonka has acquired some new skills. Instead of just hammering, he has learned to shake a hip and cut when he gets past the line of scrimmage. "If the opposition wants to take care of Little, they can do it," says Schwartzwalder. But he warns, "They will have to pay the price now that Csonka can shake 'em up inside. And we have a quarterback who can pass."