1. NOTRE DAME (7-0)
2. OHIO STATE (7-0)
3. NEBRASKA (8-0-1)
Last Saturday morning in Des Moines a football fan was in the wrong town but celebrating nonetheless. He was a Nebraska rooter, dressed in a red jacket and cowboy hat, and he staggered along a deserted city street yelling, "Go Big Red." If he felt lonely and confused it was because his team was 30 miles to the north, in Ames, preparing to play Iowa State.
Seven thousand Cornhusker followers did manage to get to Ames and help swell attendance in Clyde Williams Field to record size (36,500). Nebraska's three powerful backs, Joe Orduna, Jeff Kinney and Dan Schneiss, ran for 277 yards and scored five touchdowns, and Quarterback Jerry Tagge, replacing injured Van Brownson, threw two TD passes as the Cornhuskers defeated the Cyclones 54-29. A good many Husker fans came with oranges in order to make their bowl preference apparent, and threw the fruit onto the field in full view of scouts who represented, alas, the Sugar and Cotton Bowls. Iowa State students countered by tossing apples, bananas and tomatoes into the Nebraska rooting section. After the game Nebraska Coach Bob Devaney was concerned that his team might also be pondering the bowls. "What they better be thinking about is Kansas State next week," he said.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, Kans. Vince Gibson's Kansas State Wildcats won their sixth game of the year—and fourth in a row—beating Oklahoma State 28-15. "We made enough mistakes to lose, but our kids just won't quit fighting," said Gibson. The mistakes were two fumbled punts. Kansas State Quarterback Lynn Dickey, fully recovered from his early-season rib injury, passed for 189 yards against the Cowboys, but while showering after the game he ruptured a blood vessel in his right knee.
Those Orange Bowl scouts who were absent from Ames spent Saturday in South Bend observing Notre Dame's powerful offense at work. They also saw the legend of Joe Theismann reach new proportions as the Irish quarterback piled up 381 yards passing and running in a 46-14 victory over Pittsburgh. Although he did not become a starter until the seventh game of his sophomore season, Theismann now has 4,741 career yards in 21 games—three more than Terry Hanratty amassed in 27 games. Stat-happy Notre Dame also keeps track of something called total performance, a category that includes punt and kickoff returns and pass receptions. Counting Theismann's prediscovery yardage as a sophomore punt-return specialist—punt-return specialist?—and the 13-yard touchdown pass he caught against USC that same year—pass receiver?—Joe has now surpassed George Gipp as the all-time Irish performer.
At Madison, Ohio State was a touch sluggish while defeating Wisconsin 24-7. Rex Kern started but was soon alternating with his sub, Ron Maciejowski, who had also guided the Buckeyes against Wisconsin in 1968 and '69, when Kern was ailing. OSU had a narrow 3-0 lead when Ron trotted out, but he promptly threw a long pass to set up a Buckeye touchdown. In the third quarter he did it again. But Ron also threw four interceptions, which made the Buckeye victory an uneasy one. Was the team looking ahead to Michigan? Coach Woody Hayes said, "No, I don't think they did that at all. A fellow who keeps his fist clinched all year can't hit a lick."
Mike Adamle, the Big Ten rushing leader, scored four touchdowns to rally Northwestern to a 28-14 win over Minnesota. The Wildcats now have a 4-1 conference record and—of all things—a sniff of the Rose Bowl. If Michigan beats Ohio and if Northwestern beats Indiana and Michigan State, then it's probably the Wildcats in Pasadena.
Toledo won its 20th in a row, defeating Northern Illinois 45-7.