1. MICHIGAN (8-0)
2. NEBRASKA (7-1)
3. OHIO STATE (7-0)
While Johnny Rodgers was doing his usual thing, his Nebraska teammates were doing theirs in that 33-10 victory over Colorado. In fact, it was Rodgers' backfield mates who put the first three touchdowns on the board with one-yard plunges—David Humm, Gary Dixon and Bill Olds. That splurge on successive possessions gave Nebraska a 19-0 first-quarter lead.
Humm had excellent protection as he completed 11 passes in 16 attempts for 130 yards. Dixon led all rushers with 94 yards in 19 carries and Olds added 76 more.
Colorado, aided by the recovery of its own blocked punt, was able to narrow the margin to 19-10 by halftime. The touchdown was the first Nebraska's defense had allowed in five weeks. Linebacker Jim Branch keyed the Black Shirts, whose job was made easier because the Buffaloes' Charlie Davis saw limited action after reinjuring his shoulder.
Oklahoma won its sixth game of the year, against Iowa State, and, just as in the previous victories, it did the job without allowing a touchdown. The Sooners ran inside more often than usual in the 20-6 victory because of the slick turf and the wide deployment of the Cyclone ends. That enabled Fullback Leon Crosswhite to gain 113 yards in 25 carries and score one touchdown. Greg Pruitt totaled 102 yards and he tallied the clincher in the closing moments. The fifth nationally ranked Big Eight team, those Cinderellas from Missouri, slammed Kansas State 31-14. The victory followed upset triumphs over Notre Dame and Colorado. Kansas ended its conference losing streak at three games in a 13-10 upset of Oklahoma State. Bob Helmbacher kicked field goals of 36 and 21 yards, the second with less than five minutes left to seal the victory. Kansas, normally a passing team, ran without much success in the first half, then went to the air in the second. That enabled David Jaynes to throw a 37-yard strike to Bruce Adams in the third quarter.
Duffy Daugherty finally discovered the tonic his disappointing Spartans have needed this year. He announced his retirement, whereupon Michigan State went out and jolted Purdue's Rose Bowl hopes 22-12. "We wanted him to go out a winner," said Safety Brad VanPelt. "You could see it in the guys' faces."
You could see it on the field, too, where Quarterback Mark Niesen scored on long-distance romps of 57 and 61 yards. Meanwhile, the Spartan defense tossed Purdue Quarterback Gary Danielson for 60 yards in losses. The Boilermakers were unable to muster the emotion proper for their own circumstance. Coach Bob DeMoss, recovering from pneumonia, was ordered to the press box by his doctors.
Michigan's Bo Schembechler is a man who learns from his mistakes. A year ago he tooted that his Wolverines were the best team in the nation—and they promptly lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Last week, after they remained unbeaten with an unimpressive 21-7 win over Indiana, he was asked where he thought Michigan ranked. "I wouldn't tell you," he snapped.
The other Big Ten leader, Ohio State, also seemed uninspired against mediocre opposition. The Buckeyes won 27-19 but Minnesota gave them much more offensively than they anticipated and, at times, could handle. Champ Henson, the nation's No. 2 scorer behind Louisville's Howard Stevens, scored two touchdowns, his 14th and 15th of the year, and gained 131 yards. Illinois ended a season-long seven-game losing streak—and put the damper on dissension rumors at least momentarily—by sticking Northwestern 43-13. A 28-point third quarter broke the game open. Wisconsin seemed saddled with a tic after a late touchdown drive fell inches short, but when Iowa's Dave Harris stumbled over a blocker in his own end zone, the Badgers had a safety and a 16-14 victory.