The 1966 college football season, drawing—with the exception of a few fringe benefits—to a close, has proved as logical as it was predictable. Most of the favorites have lived up to their notices and five major teams—Notre Dame, Michigan State, Alabama, Georgia Tech and Nebraska—are still unbeaten. Nine others have lost only one game, a situation calculated to please the greediest of bowl promoters.
But the game that has excited almost everybody will not be played in a bowl. It is Saturday's meeting at East Lansing between Notre Dame and Michigan State. The victor most likely will win the national championship. Notre Dame does not play postseason games and the Spartans, Big Ten champions again, are prevented by a league rule from appearing postanywhere.
Purdue, for the first time ever, has that right and will play the winner of Saturday's USC- UCLA game in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, despite an NCAA ruling that does not permit schools to make commitments until November 21, the other bowl pairings are taking shape. Alabama is almost a sure bet for the Sugar Bowl, where it probably will meet Nebraska. Georgia Tech reportedly is in the Orange Bowl with Florida (8-1) while Arkansas (8-1) is the probable Southwest Conference representative in the Cotton Bowl, perhaps against Georgia (8-1). That leaves the Gator, Blue-bonnet, Sun and Liberty bowls to pick from an attractive group that includes SMU (6-2), Mississippi (6-2), Syracuse (7-2), Colorado (6-3), Tennessee (5-3), Virginia Tech (7-1-1), Miami of Ohio (8-1) and Wyoming (8-1) or Brigham Young (7-1).
Perhaps the most satisfying victory last week was Purdue's 16-0 conquest of Minnesota. Five times since 1952 the Boilermakers had come close but never quite made it to the Rose Bowl. Coach Jack Mollenkopf had been panned by alumni and students, who even hoisted "Fat Jack Must Go" signs in Ross-Ade Stadium last year. This time Quarterback Bob Griese made sure that his team would get to Pasadena. While Purdue's defense, suspect on some occasions during the season, shut off the Gophers, Griese threw 13 yards to Jim Beirne for one touchdown and kicked a 30-yard field goal. It was a happy day for Mollenkopf. His round face beaming, he shouted, "After all those years of disappointment, this is great."
1. NOTRE DAME (8-0)
2. MICHIGAN STATE (9-0)
3. NEBRASKA (9-0)
The semifinals before the NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN STATE game were harrowing. For Duke's Tom Harp, who had blissfully said earlier in the week, "I always dreamed of playing Notre Dame," the reality was a nightmare. Nick Eddy opened the scoring with a 77-yard run on the second play, and the Irish never stopped until they had humiliated the poor Blue Devils 64-0. Michigan State, with Fullback Bob Apisa resting his ailing knee, was content with a 37-19 shelling of Indiana. But Duffy Daugherty was not making jokes after Indiana's Frank Stavroff riddled his pass defense with 23 completions for 316 yards—a Big Ten record.
With Purdue in the Rose Bowl, the rest of the Big Ten played for kicks. MICHIGAN won over Northwestern 28-20; ILLINOIS clobbered Wisconsin 49-14; OHIO STATE held off rallying Iowa 14-10.
It was businesslike football that unbeaten NEBRASKA played against Oklahoma State, resulting, as usual, in a businesslike win, 21-6. Halfback Harry Wilson boomed through the Oklahoma State line for 104 yards, Halfback Ben Gregory scored on a 10-yard run and Quarterback Bob Churchich went over for two touchdowns. The victory gave the Huskers their fourth straight Big Eight title. Oklahoma, the only team with a chance to catch them, was upset by MISSOURI 10-7 on Bill Bates's 52-yard field goal. COLORADO, a late bloomer in the Big Eight, cinched a tie for second by walloping Kansas 35-18 while Kansas State secured last place, losing to IOWA STATE 30-13.
The "little fellows" had their big game, too, only it turned out to be not much of a game. Dayton, 7-1 and in its best season since 1957, lost to MIAMI of Ohio, the MidAmerican co-champion, 38-6 when Bruce Matte hit 10 of 18 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth.