Meanwhile, UCLA and USC were looking plenty smoggy. The Trojans beat win-less Washington 16-7 at Seattle, and the Bruins had an even closer scrape in beating Oregon 13-10 in Eugene. With 3:24 left in the game, Oregon was on UCLA's 15-yard line with a first down, but UCLA Safety Ron Carver leaped high to intercept a John Harrington pass and preserve the Bruin victory. "Our players were not emotional for this game," said UCLA Athletic Director J. D. Morgan, while Coach Tommy Prothro said, "Maybe we can play better...I certainly hope so." UCLA's touchdowns came on Greg Jones' 10-yard run in the second quarter and Dennis Dummit's three-yard pass to Gwen Cooper early in the fourth. In the USC game, the nation's leading rusher, Clarence Davis, was held to 84 yards in 33 carries, and the score was tied 7-7 in the last period, but USC turned a fumble into a Ron Ayala field goal and then put it away when Davis scored from the three after a fourth-down gamble by Washington at its own 15 had failed. The action was a little heavier in the stands, where a couple of scuffles broke out between blacks and whites, apparently over the troubles between Washington Coach Jim Owens and some of his black players.
If there were a bowl game especially for the best teams in the country with two or more losses, the participants surely would be Ole Miss and Stanford. The ill-starred Indians, who tied UCLA and were beaten by USC on a last-second field goal, won their third straight, beating the Air Force 47-34 and possibly knocking the Falcons out of a bowl in the process. The Academy has received two bids, but Coach Ben Martin said he probably wouldn't accept either unless his team beat Stanford or Notre Dame this week at South Bend. The Stanford game was tied until early in the third quarter, but then two Jim Plunkett TD passes and Randy Vataha's 62-yard punt return broke it open. Plunkett set three Pacific Eight records: most TD passes (18), yards passing (2,292) and total offense (2,377).
Just when Utah was thinking it had the Western Athletic Conference title in the bag, the Redskins ran into a big snowstorm in Tucson and wound up being upset by Arizona 17-16. The winning points came on Steve Hurley's 21-yard field goal with 11:28 left, but the real hero was Arizona's defense, which got two interceptions and two fumbles to keep Utah in check. Now Utah and Arizona State (which beat UTEP 42-19) are tied for the WAC lead, each with a 4-1 record, but the edge belongs to State, which plays one more league game than Utah. The early leader, Wyoming, lost to New Mexico 24-12 in Albuquerque, ending the Lobos' WAC losing streak at 25 and giving Wyoming a 1-3 record since Coach Lloyd Eaton dismissed 14 black players.
1. OHIO STATE (8-0)
2. MISSOURI (8-1)
3. NOTRE DAME (7-1-1)
Earlier in the week Missouri Coach Dan Devine had regaled newsmen with his version of how the North won the Civil War—"The Union won the toss and took the wind," he said—but the Good Humor man's mood turned black early on against Iowa State. The Tigers fell behind 7-0 quicker than you can say "bowl bid" when Cyclone Linebacker Keith Schroeder scored from 62 yards out after picking off a Terry McMillan fumble in midair. On the sideline, Devine was seething or, as he explained after Mizzou's 40-13 victory, "We don't like to be behind, and perhaps I conveyed this message to my players."
Whatever it was Devine said, the Tigers snapped to attention and put points on the scoreboard seven of the next 10 times they had the ball. Sandwiched between field goals by Henry Brown, McMillan contritely ran for two TDs and passed for two more, a gaudy display that was matched defensively by Linebacker Steve Lundholm, who made 11 unassisted tackles and intercepted a pass to set up a touchdown. Afterward, bowl representatives fairly fell over each other trying to get in a word with Devine, but he was more worried about getting his team ready for its finale against Kansas, which is all that stands between Missouri and a 9-1 record. Worried? About hapless Kansas? Well, get this: the last time the Tigers were as good as 9-1 was in 1960, but their only loss was an upset by Kansas. In the last game.
One of Missouri's victims, Nebraska, remained tied with the Tigers for the Big Eight lead by letting the air out of Kansas State's ball 10-7, before a State record crowd of 41,000 in Manhattan. The home fans yelled until they were purple—matching their clothes—but the Wildcats sputtered and died on the Nebraska eight, which is as far as Lynn Dickey was able to drive them in the closing seconds before time ran out. The difference was Paul Rogers' 39-yard field goal in the third quarter. That made it 7-3, so that Van Brownson's TD early in the last period was enough. "Please let me think about this great victory for awhile," said Nebraska Coach Bob Devaney when reporters quizzed him about bowls. Kansas State's Vince Gibson said, "I can't think of anything funny to say at this point. As for bowls, I think we'll be staying at home."
So, probably, will Oklahoma, which bounced Kansas 31-15 as Steve Owens broke two NCAA career records. His three TDs gave him 54, breaking his tie with Glenn Davis' three-year record, and his 200 yards rushing (on 44 carries) gave him 3,535, beating Eugene (Mercury) Morris' 3,388. Oh yes, Owens also has gained more than 100 yards in 17 straight games. "We went out in the second half and really punished them," said Steve.
While Ohio State was dismantling Purdue (page 22), Michigan warmed up for Saturday's game with the Buckeyes by flattening Iowa 51-6. "We gotta play better," grumbled the Wolverines' rookie coach, Bo Schembechler, but it seems he doth protest too much. Even if Michigan is whipped by Ohio State, the worst the Wolverines can do is tie Purdue for second, each with two league losses, and then Michigan probably would be voted the Rose Bowl ticket for two reasons: its victory over Purdue and its longer drought between Pasadena trips.