In one of the more unusual moves of the year, Florida Coach Ray Graves switched heads. That is, he put head defensive coach, Gene Ellenson, in charge of the offense and head offensive coach, Ed Kensler, in command of the defense. The transplant was part of a plan to revive a Gator offense that had scored just 34 points in losing its last three games. Alas, Florida failed to score for the first time in five years, and the defense gave up more points than any Gator team in 26 seasons as Georgia won 51-0.
Kentucky, too, did not score, losing to Vanderbilt 6-0 in another Southeastern Conference game, even though Dicky Lyons set an NCAA career runback record. Lyons, who had returns of 34 and nine yards, raised his kick-runback yardage to 2,208. The Commodores got the only touchdown on a three-yard run by Dave Strong. Mississippi Quarterback Don Farrar, filling in for injured Archie Manning, ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns as the Rebels stopped Chattanooga 38-16. Bill Cappleman's three scoring passes enabled Florida State to defeat Mississippi State 27-14.
Atlantic Coast Conference quarterbacks had assorted misfortunes. Clemson defenders dropped Maryland passers for 74 yards in losses as the Tigers won 16-0 and moved into position to take their third straight ACC title. North Carolina Quarterback Rick Lanier, rolling out to pass, tripped over the referee in a 41-6 loss to Virginia in a game in which Frank Quayle and Jeff Anderson each scored twice. Leo Hart of Duke had his jersey ripped off and, even worse, twice failed to score after driving to the North Carolina State one-yard line in a 17-15 loss. And Quarterback Freddie Summers of Wake Forest had four of his throws stolen by Pat Watson (an ACC record) as South Carolina pulled off a 34-21 upset. The one quarterback who did escape trouble was South Carolina's 5'9" Tommy Suggs, who tossed four touchdown passes—three of them to Johnny Gregory.
Memphis State players could be forgiven if they thought they saw tank tracks in the turf after Houston runners hacked out 430 yards and a 27-7 win. Five interceptions and four fumble recoveries kept the Cougars in possession most of the afternoon as Paul Gipson gained 140 yards. As for Georgia Tech players, it was more a case of being outpaddled by the Navy ballcarriers in a rainy battle at Atlanta. The Middies, rated as two-touchdown underdogs on dry land, emerged as 35-15 victors with anchors aweigh. Dan Pike sloshed for 141 yards, and Mike Lettieri skimmed 79 for a touchdown with a punt return.
Two Southern Conference squads—Richmond and The Citadel—lost to two independents, the Spiders falling to Virginia Tech 31-18, the Bulldogs to West Virginia 17-0. Tulane beat Tulsa 25-15, when Wayne Francingues threw a scoring pass late in the fourth quarter.
1. USC (7-0)
2. OREGON STATE (6-2)
3. CALIFORNIA (5-2-1)
"We're not nervous," said USC Coach John McKay the day before his No. 1-ranked Trojans played California, "we're scared." But McKay, an old kidder, was only fooling. He wasn't scared, he was mad. What rankled McKay was a prediction by Stanford's John Ralston that USC would be beaten by Cal's good defense, one of the best in the nation. The Bears had given up only an average of 90.1 rushing yards and 5.6 points a game. "All we heard was what a great lineman Ed White, the middle guard, was," said O. J. Simpson later, ''so we went out to blast him." O.J. took care of that personally. He ran his first five plays directly at White for gains, and after that the Cal defense was easy for the Trojans. Led by Simpson, who scored on touchdown runs of 39 and seven yards, USC ripped through California's highly touted line. And for variety, Quarterback Steve Sogge, throwing mostly to sophomore Bob Chandler, a replacement for injured Flanker Jim Lawrence, picked apart the Bears' secondary. Sogge completed 10 passes, eight of them to Chandler, and threw for three touchdowns as USC coasted to a 35-17 victory.
Despite USC's unbeaten record, it seems there is one crisis after another for the Trojans. The next one is Oregon State, Saturday in Los Angeles, in a Pacific Eight showdown that almost certainly will put the winner in the Rose Bowl. OSU Coach Dee Andros, who knows what to expect from UCLA's Tommy Prothro, warned his team, "he'll throw some new wrinkle at us right away." Sure enough, Prothro did—a tricky spread formation that broke Halfback Mickey Cureton loose for 38 yards on the first play and set up a touchdown. The Bruins also scored on Halfback Greg Jones's 101-yard kickoff return, but they still were behind 24-21 at the half. Then OSU got its ball-control game really going. With Fullback Bill Enyart bulling inside the tackles and Wingback Billy Main getting away behind trap blocks, the Beavers kept the ball for all but three plays in the third quarter and one of those was a UCLA safety. Enyart, Main and Larry Watson scored, and Oregon State won 45-21. How does Andros feel about USC? "Well, we take nothing away from them," he said, "but we give nothing to them either."
The rumor in Palo Alto was that Stanford Coach Ralston's job was in jeopardy. After a brilliant start the Indians had lost three and tied one, and a scalp could have been in danger. But against Washington, sophomore Don Bunce—who took over when Quarterback Jim Plunkett bruised his rib cage—and Flanker Gene Washington teamed up to ease the tension. Bunce ran for one score and passed for three touchdowns, two of them to Washington, as Stanford beat the Huskies 35-20. Oregon, meanwhile, defeated Washington State 27-13.