1. ALABAMA (6-0)
2. AUBURN (5-0)
3. GEORGIA (6-0)
Alabama's new Wishbone offense survived what should be its most crucial test of the year. Tennessee, the best defensive team in the Southeastern Conference, fared little better than the Tide's previous victims against a backfield that has all four starters among the Top Ten SEC rushers. Alabama romped to a 32-15 victory, with 283 yards on the ground. "They made us do some things we didn't want to do," said Bear Bryant. "We had to run outside too much." All did not go according to plan for the Volunteers, either, who made eight turnovers. Tennessee was losing by only one touchdown with four minutes to go, but it gave up the ball on downs at its 25, and the Tide broke the game open. Johnny Musso gained 115 yards in 22 carries, and Quarterback Terry Davis completed three of five passes, two of them to David Bailey for TDs.
At 11 p.m. last Friday the entire University of Florida football team gathered at the 50-yard line of dark Florida Field in Gainesville. The players had plenty to talk about. Their 0-5 record for one, visiting Florida State's 5-0 record for another. "Everybody had his say, and a lot of it was pretty personal," said Captain Tommy Durrance. The next day the inspired Gators pulled a 17-15 upset as usually pass-minded John Reaves went to the air only 11 times, completing four. The first Florida touchdown concluded a 15-play, 75-yard drive in which not a pass was thrown. "This was the best victory we've ever had," said Tailback Durrance, voted the game's Most Valuable Player. As it was, Florida had to withstand a furious assault by State Quarterback Gary Huff, who almost pulled it out.
Auburn remained unbeaten, but only by scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 7-6 deficit to Georgia Tech. Quarterback Pat Sullivan triggered the 31-14 comeback win as he completed 25 of 34 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. During one second-half stretch he hit 13 straight. There was also opportunity for running heroics as Tommy Lowry, a five-year man who had not planned to play this year and at best figured to be a reserve, gained 103 yards and caught two passes. The largest football crowd ever in Georgia, 60,204, gave Tech Coach Bud Carson the boo treatment again. "I'm the head coach, I get the blame," he said stoically.
Georgia continued to roll, with a 24-0 victory over uninspired Vanderbilt as Quarterback Andy Johnson scored twice. LSU had it tougher than expected from Kentucky but survived 17-13. Tulane won its second straight by blasting Pitt 33-8. Steve Barrios became the first Green Wave receiver to gain 1,000 yards in a career. After missing the first four games he now has six catches and a 31.1-yard average.
Three times this year, Duke's Ernie Jackson has been the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Against N.C. State, Jackson moved to offense, where he scored twice and averaged a creditable four yards a try on 14 carries. "I hope they don't keep me there," said Jackson. "I'd rather stick to defense." The Blue Devils won 41-13, but the injury situation that has made Jackson one of several two-way performers remains critical. South Carolina had an easy 35-6 win over Maryland, but the losers made it interesting as Jeff Shugars entered the game at quarterback in the fourth quarter and completed 14 of 27 passes.
Wake Forest continued to puzzle. The enigmatic Deacons followed last week's stunning loss to North Carolina State by defeating a once-beaten Tulsa team that had upset Arkansas. The Deacons scored on seven of their first eight possessions en route to a 51-21 shellacking, and the one failure was a fumble at the goal line. Larry Hopkins rushed for 230 yards in 35 carries. The point total was the highest for a Wake Forest team in 20 years.
Grambling defeated Mississippi Valley State 25-15 for Coach Eddie Robinson's 200th career victory. In a switch on the familiar routine, President Nixon called him before the game.