Be truthful now, Notre Dame and Michigan State. Would you really want to play Alabama? Would you honestly care to spend an afternoon trying to swat those gnats who call themselves linemen and swirl around your ankles all day long? Why, heavens to Bear Bryant. Nobody ought to want to play Alabama unless it just plain enjoys going to football clinics. Which is what last week's Sugar Bowl was—a clinic, with The Bear instructing the nation on what a top team is supposed to look like.
The New Orleans game bore the only resemblance to a contest of importance as the collegiate season finally ended last Saturday and Monday with five bowl attractions. Alabama went into its game wanting to prove that it was as good, or better, than either Notre Dame or Michigan State by defeating a big, talented Nebraska team convincingly. It did exactly that, 34-7, with Bryant second-and third-stringing it throughout the damp afternoon. Had he not substituted mercifully, the score might have gone much higher and the chart of superlatives below would have been even more heavily weighted in his favor.
There was little doubt that Alabama would remain the only unbeaten, untied major team in the land (11-0) after the first play of the game. Quarterback Kenny Stabler, a cool, bazooka-armed junior, faked, raised up, waited, then passed 45 yards to End Ray Perkins, and the rout was under way. No fewer than 12 different Alabama backs darted through and around Nebraska's huge but outquicked line any time yardage was needed on the ground. Overall, Alabama's mistakes could have been charted on a postage stamp.
It was a happy holiday for the whole Southeastern sector. Tennessee got it started early on Saturday in the Gator Bowl by bombarding landlocked Syracuse on Dewey Warren's passes and some vaudeville-type catches in the first half, then holding on for an 18-12 victory. Syracuse's Floyd Little rushed for 216 yards, but the game was out of sight before he really got started.
Then came Georgia. The Bulldogs handled SMU as easily as expected in the Cotton Bowl 24-9, largely on the hammering of Ronnie Jenkins and the speed of Kent Lawrence. It didn't matter between Florida and Georgia Tech and only in the Rose Bowl did a Southeastern team fail to win. None, of course, was represented.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]