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One of the things that help enormously is TV exposure. Owens got that against Texas, and he will get it again this week against Missouri. Which brings up the good point that many of his yards are hard-earned. He has been asked to run against the likes of Texas, Colorado and Kansas State, a group of foes which have won 15 and lost only five. Last Saturday he had a little more room against Iowa State and he sure responded, rolling up 248 yards and four touchdowns.
? Mike Phipps of Purdue. There is a lot of history going for Phipps. He plays in the Midwest which has produced 14 Heisman winners (eight from the Big Ten, six from Notre Dame). He is a quarterback, and no less than 18 winners have played that position. And he is a senior like Owens, which is not a bad thing to be since only four juniors have ever won.
But Mike Phipps has a few other things going for him. He is second in the U.S. in total offense with 2,040 yards through seven games, including the 226 yards he ran and passed for Saturday against Illinois. His team is 6-1 on the season, which means that he is heading for a showdown (on national TV) against Ohio State. A win there over Rex Kern and the No. 1 Buckeyes would just about cinch the trophy, but even a decent performance would heap up a pile of votes. Aside from all this, Phipps holds the unique distinction of having beaten Notre Dame three straight years, and the world is not exactly filled with such types.
Phipps not only beat Notre Dame again this year, he offended the Irish. So adept was he at reading Ara Parseghian's defense, he once came to the line and felt a blitz coming. But fearing his wingback, Randy Cooper, couldn't hear his audible, he turned to him and yelled, "Hey Randy, the linebacker's coming up so I'm going to dump it to you." Whereupon he passed to Cooper for a 20-yard gain—an audible that really was an audible.
? Rex Kern of Ohio State. Like the joke goes, Rex may win the Heisman but he won't play enough to letter. The reason is obvious: Ohio State thrashes its foes so brutally that the first team hardly gets to play. When it docs, however, Rex does everything—pass, run, fake and block—in the grand tradition of Ohio State's other three Heisman winners, Hopalong Cassady, Vic Janowicz and Les Horvath.
His stats would be more impressive if he played more, but he gets things done when he's in there, as, for example, in the Michigan State game when he ran for two and passed for three. And as, for another example, last week when he ran for 94 yards and passed for 117. Only a junior, Kern, even more than Fullback Jim Otis, is the player most responsible for the Buckeyes being No. 1 and currently averaging 44.5 points a game, best in the nation. His case is hurt by his schedule. Ohio State's six victims rather deplorably have won only eight games while losing 33. But when he meets Phipps on Nov. 15 in ABC-TV's "wild card" special, he can make up a lot of ground pretty close to voting time. And there is that precedent for a few junior winners—Doc Blanchard in 1945, Doak Walker in 1948, Vic Janowicz in 1950 and Staubach in 1963.
? Archie Manning of Ole Miss. This 6'3�" 200-pound junior quarterback plays on an erratic team and may feel a kind of it's-all-up-to-me pressure. Thus, he is a rather glamorous loser, as in the Alabama game this year when he hit on 33 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 104 yards and three touchdowns—and lost.
Manning is still a long shot despite his 26-23 upset of LSU Saturday when he ran for three scores and passed for another. Archie has lost three, but he's overturned both Georgia and LSU, and he has another good opportunity coming up with Tennessee.
? Dennis Dummit of UCLA. A year ago no one had even heard of him outside of Tommy Prothro, who was getting him to transfer from Long Beach City College. Now all Dummit has done is hurl the Bruins to a 7-0-1 record (and 38 points a game) with his 13 touchdown passes and enough yardage—1,553—to break Gary Beban's single-season passing record. Like so many others, Dummit is only a junior, and of course one who had no preseason buildup. But he may be driving UCLA to an unbeaten season and the Rose Bowl, and he has that big TV date coming up against USC and Clarence Davis, another transfer junior who is something of a mild candidate himself, considering the yards (958) he's clicking off.
? Lynn Dickey of Kansas State. Pacing the surprise team in the land, Dickey can throw with the best, obviously, after what he has done against both Oklahoma and, last week, Missouri. He piloted 535 yards in total offense against the Sooners in that 59-21 upset, and he threw for 394 yards on Missouri and came very close to pulling the game out in a 41-38 loss. Dickey, still another junior, has his Wildcats 5-2 for the year and still in the race for what would be Kansas State's first Big Eight title in 35 years, and, of course, a bowl bid.