Arkansas' Frank Broyles, ironically, was one of the real forces behind the new rule permitting 11 games. Every school needs money, he argues, and an extra game could add maybe as much as $200,000 in revenue. Frank also used the 11th game to beef up a schedule that is often criticized. Next year Arkansas plays California and for two years after that the Razorbacks have none other than USC.
If the Little Rock game got a good rating, it wasn't because it was a big quarterback shoot-out, as predicted. Plunkett made it a fairly one-sided show. There were times when no quarterback, ever, could have looked better. He devoured a good defensive football team—and sometimes a great one—mainly with short, dump passes out to the side and over the middle to his backs, and with flares and screens, exhibiting his remarkable ability always to find the "hot" receiver, as Stanford calls the open man, or the "cheap" receiver, as Arkansas calls him.
Discovering that the Arkansas defense was Plunkett-conscious, Jim took advantage of it by sending his tough fullback, Hillary Shockley, off the flanks and against the innards of the Razorbacks for 117 yards, including a 43-yard romp for the game's first touchdown.
Plunkett hit 22 of 39 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown. His statistics might have been better—not that those are exactly embarrassing—if he hadn't had a "tired" second quarter, when he went 3 for 13. He said he not only got tired but the humidity, to which he was unaccustomed, made his hands sweat and he couldn't control the ball so well.
No opponent had ever gotten a Broyles team down by four touchdowns in Arkansas, but more bothersome to the Razorbacks was how horribly easy it had seemed. No matter where Stanford started from, whether 80 yards away or something less, Plunkett just moved the Indians as if he were opening against San Jose State again. But he had done this last season, too, against strong teams, in what John Ralston calls "the year that might have been." Plunkett had Purdue stunned 35-21, but Stanford was beaten. And he had USC in shock 12-0, but Stanford lost on the last play of the game. And he had UCLA dizzy by 17-6, only to get no better than a tie. Thus Stanford was 7-2-1 on a season that could have been 10-zip. Last week, however, might have been the start of The Year That Is.
"Our defense finally came of age," said Ralston.
Frank Broyles, meanwhile, will search long and hard to try to figure out what happened to his Razorbacks. They clearly weren't themselves as they stood around on defense for a whole half, nor as Bill Montgomery woefully missed the first seven passes he threw, and 11 of the first 12, and was so ineffective that Broyles grudgingly sent in Joe Ferguson, the highly prized rookie from the same Shreveport high school that gave the world Terry Bradshaw.
It was Ferguson, a whip-arm thrower, who got Arkansas moving for its first touchdown, and then it was the other sophomore, the surrealistic Jon Richardson, who chased down a 37-yard wobbler of a pass from Montgomery for the score that gave Arkansas some reason for hope. It was this catch that narrowed the margin to 27-14 at the half.
It went back to 34-14 right away, but Dicus caught an eight-yarder from Montgomery for one Arkansas touchdown and then Richardson, the son of a postman in Little Rock, went back into action. He took a screen pass, dancing and ducking 17 big yards, to set up the Arkansas score that drew the Razor-backs within six points toward the end.
Arkansas might have considered using Richardson there at the last, using him to do something. He might have won it, somehow, catching or running. It would have done even more wonders for Arkansas integration. But perhaps he did enough as it was, and, after all, it really had been Jim Plunkett's game all the way.