1. OKLAHOMA (6-0)
2. NEBRASKA (7-0)
3. MICHIGAN (7-0)
Notre Dame's glaring lack of a first-rate passer finally cut the Irish down after five straight wins. And, of course, the team that did it was their annual tormentor, USC, whom they have not defeated since 1966. "To beat Notre Dame you have to bomb them and do it early," said Coach John McKay. "They couldn't rally. The only thing we were afraid of was that they would ball-control us to death."
The Irish never had a chance to exhibit any ball-control tactics, for USC had a 28-7 lead after 20 minutes and held on easily to win 28-14. Edesel Garrison, an inexperienced end who is one of the nation's fastest quarter-milers, scored USC's first touchdown in the opening quarter on a 31-yard pass from Jimmy Jones, breaking clear from Clarence Ellis when the All-America cornerback slipped attempting to stay with a quick Garrison cut. Garrison scored the next first-period touchdown on a 24-yard pass from alternate Quarterback Mike Rae. Once ahead, the Trojans had little difficulty containing Cliff Brown's desperate passing. He completed only 12 of 35 and was intercepted three times, including a 53-yard touchdown return by Defensive Back Bruce Dyer for USC's final score.
While Notre Dame stumbled, Nebraska walloped Oklahoma State 41-13. The Cowboys managed to halt Cornhusker drives the first three times they had the ball, but alter that it was an easy trail to Nebraska's 17th straight win. Jeff Kinney scored a first-quarter touchdown on a 25-yard run, Dave Mason ran an intercepted pass back 27 yards for a TD and Jerry List scored on a 42-yard pass from Jerry Tagge, who completed 13 of 22. Slotback Johnny Rodgers broke loose for Nebraska's final touchdown with a twisting 92-yard punt return. He had scored on a pass earlier in the game and amassed 232 yards rushing, receiving and returning punts. "They're awesome," gasped losing Coach Floyd Gass when the game mercifully ended. "They're stronger than last year, and they deserve their ranking. They have a good offense and a tremendous defense."
Oklahoma was fired up, too, killing Kansas State 75-28. Halfback Greg Pruitt gained 294 yards in 19 carries, as the Sooners galloped to 711 yards on the ground, an NCAA record. "The amount of offense was unreal," said Coach Chuck Fairbanks.
Michigan remained undefeated with a solid 35-7 win over Minnesota and held on to the Little Brown Jug. Tailback Billy Taylor scored two touchdowns and gained 166 yards in 33 carries, boosting his three-year total against Minnesota to 468 yards and six touchdowns. But like Notre Dame, the Wolverines showed little passing finesse; their quarterbacks could complete only two of 10.
Ohio State's explosive offense, led by a lanky soph tailback, Morris Bradshaw, crushed Wisconsin 31-6. Bradshaw scampered around end for 88 yards for a second-quarter touchdown—a school record run from scrimmage—then returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 88 yards for another touchdown following the Badgers' only score.
Northwestern stretched Indiana's losing streak in the Big Ten to nine games with a 24-10 win, while Illinois ended its nine-game losing streak, upsetting Purdue 21-7 with two second-half touchdowns, the last coming on a 38-yard run by soph George Uremovich late in the fourth period. Joe Duenas, a tiny, 5'7", 170-pound reserve quarterback, came off the bench in the second quarter with Colorado nursing a 3-0 lead over Missouri and stirred the Buffaloes to a 27-7 win. Unbeaten Toledo's winning streak reached 30 as Chuck Ealey passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-7 win over Dayton, the last team to beat the Rockets. That happened in 1968.