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With Ohio State and Michigan a smart quinella bet to Finish atop the conference standings for the fifth time in six years [and to produce a sixth straight Rose Bowl contestant], the other Big Ten schools have been forced to develop new traditions and rivalries of their own. One new tradition growing in popularity is replacing head coaches, and four more changes have been made in order to have a better go at Woody and Bo.
One change is at Michigan State, where Dennis Stolz takes over from Duffy Daugherty. The Spartans upset the Buckeyes a year ago, and their usual combative defense will be overseen by Safety Bill Simpson, a Bill Walton look-alike who scored on one of six interceptions, averaged 40.5 yards a punt and returned two enemy kicks for touchdowns.
Minnesota has brought in track man Rick Upchurch to run with Fullback John King (1,164 yards) and sophomore Doug Beaudoin, a pair that outgained Ohio State's Champ Henson and Archie Griffin last year. Upchurch scored five TDs and gained 214 yards in the spring game. Illinois excitement will emanate from Halfback Lonnie Perrin, who may be another Leroy Keyes. Perrin averaged 4.4 yards per carry as a sophomore, completed five passes for 226 yards and booted a 52-yard field goal. At Northwestern, new Coach John Pont will have Mitch Anderson, the only starting quarterback in the conference to complete 50% of his passes in 1972. Spring knee problems notwithstanding, he will sprint out this fall or hand off to 225-pound Tailback Greg Boykin.
Programs will get a workout at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, where the conference mystery team will pray for the return of injured fifth-year stars Rick Schavietello and Steve Nurrenbern. However, the absence of proven talent should make Coach Alex Agase, just in from Northwestern, feel right at home. Fullback Mike Pruitt will help ease the loss of Otis Armstrong and 14 other starters, five of whom were taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
Indiana's Lee Corso may be a bigger attraction than his team. Fans will come out to see the Hoosier jerseys (formerly crimson) that Corso brightened, the new white shoes and Corso's pregame warmup spectacular. Sadly, for IU fans, Defensive Back Quinn Buckner is expected to spend the fall indoors dribbling a basketball. Iowa sophomore Andre Jackson may again lead the Big Ten in tackles, if the Hawkeye offense does not improve. Wisconsin was 12-18-2 with Rufus Ferguson. Without the Roadrunner the Badgers should seriously consider suiting up Athletic Director Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch.
All teams, as usual, fell into two categories last year—Texas and others. Can anyone prevent another Long-horn stampede?
Well, SMU might have an outside chance. Hayden Fry's successor, Dave Smith, has taken note of the team's exceptional running potential and junked the pro set for the Wishbone. Backs Alvin Maxson and Wayne Morris could make the offense devastating. In addition, the fine defense from last year's 7-4 team returns five starters. Texas Tech will play a lot of Utahs, New Mexicos and Arizonas out of conference and therefore anticipates improvement from 8-4. Quarterback Joe Barnes has mastered the option and has a knack for stunning defenses with the big play. Tight End Andre Tillman returns toting All-America credentials. So does Halfback George Smith, who scored three touchdowns and was the MVP in the '72 Sun Bowl. Unfortunately, the Raiders meet Texas in Austin in their SWC opener.
Freshmen gained more than half of Texas A&M's yardage and scored more than half of the touchdowns. Yet this year the Aggies must depend on still another novice. Lacking a running quarterback, Coach Emory Bellard modified the Wishbone in spring practice. The effectiveness of the new "T-bone" depends on the potential of 6'2" freshman David Shipman and soph transfer Mike Jay. Shipman scored 23 TDs and passed for five more in leading Odessa Permian to the state schoolboy title.