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1. LSU (3-0)
Auburn threw only four passes against Tennessee, completing one for 10 yards, which is not much from the school that gave us Pat Sullivan-to-Terry Beasley as a steady Saturday diet. But the Tigers knew what they were doing. They stuck to a sound running game and good kicking, forced the Volunteers to commit four turnovers and shocked Tennessee with the South's first big upset of the season 10-6. On Auburn's grinding 81-yard touchdown drive, senior Tailback Terry Henley ran the ball on 11 of the 15 plays, the last 10 in a row. Gardner Jett kicked a field goal from the 20-yard line after Defensive End Danny Sanspree recovered a fumble, and with that 10-0 lead the Tigers turned even more conservative and held on. Said Auburn Coach Shug Jordan, "After we took the ball and rammed it down their throats on our touchdown drive, we were determined that from then on Tennessee would have to beat us. We weren't going to beat ourselves."
"A lot of people didn't think we could win after losing Sullivan and Beasley, so I guess we'll just have to whip everybody and show them," said Henley, now the SEC's leading rusher. "We're one big happy family. We live together, eat together and sleep together and we're gonna win together."
LSU's swarming defense frustrated Wisconsin and made Rufus (Roadrunner) Ferguson think he was knee-deep in a bayou as the Tigers won their third straight home game 27-7. Wisconsin converted only two of its 13 third downs in the game, and Ferguson, who got two TD's against LSU last year, gained only 63 yards in 17 carries. Except for one long touchdown-pass play, Wisconsin never got past its own 36 in the second half. Quarterbacks Bert Jones and Paul Lyons each threw for LSU touchdowns, and a nonscholarship player, Juan Roca, kicked a school-record 52-yard field goal, the first one he had tried from any distance in college football.
Alabama stomped on Vanderbilt as usual 48-21, but Coach Bear Bryant was not overjoyed, also as usual. "I don't know how good we are," he said. "We don't have a good team yet. We do too many things poorly. We're not aggressive and we're terrible on kick coverage." The Tide's Wishbone, run by Quarterback Terry Davis for only two periods, rolled out 369 yards on the ground, with 11 different backs sharing in the yardage.
Undefeated Rice, perhaps miffed that it had been made a 10-point underdog to once-beaten Georgia Tech, seemed to be in fine shape when Mark Williams kicked a 47-yard field goal with 6:43 remaining. The kick gave the Owls an eight-point lead, 36-28. But they had not been able to stop Georgia Tech Quarterback Eddie McAshan all day and they couldn't at the end. The senior signal caller from Gainesville, Fla. put the Engineers on the scoreboard again with his fifth touchdown pass of the day and then, with 17 seconds left, hit Jim Owings for a two-point conversion and a tie, 36-36. Tech's final scoring drive, helped by a pass interference penalty, covered 61 yards in seven plays. McAshan ended the day with 23 completions in 38 attempts for 371 yards. He now has 24 career TD passes, breaking the record held since 1946 by Frank Broyles, now head coach at Arkansas. The finish hardly pleased Rice Coach Al Conover, who felt the interference penalty was "a rotten call." Not only that but he tried to break up an end-of-game fight and came out of the scuffle with a split lip.
Horace King became the first black ever to score a touchdown for Georgia in the Bulldogs' 28-22 win over North Carolina State in Athens. His catch during another drive was a key play leading to a TD. In Blacksburg, the Strock brothers, Don and Dave, led Virginia Tech to a 13-10 intersectional win over SMU and the Gobblers' first victory in three games. Don threw a TD pass and Dave kicked two field goals. Sophomore Nat Moore ran for two touchdowns and had a 95-yard kickoff return called back because of a penalty in Florida's 28-13 win over Mississippi State. Duke won its first game in four tries, whipping ACC rival Virginia 37-13, and South Carolina also made it to the winner's circle for the first time in 1972, beating Memphis State 34-7.
Face-mask penalties, fumbles and other such nonsense marred Indiana's 35-34 win over Kentucky in Lexington, but there were some good performances. Glenn Scolnik caught three touchdown passes for the Hoosiers, and Chris Gartner twice broke the Indiana school record for field-goal distances, first 51 yards, then 52.