Old Ivy is the Master of the Last Weekend, and Dartmouth its champion. In 1972 Yale, Penn and Dartmouth entered the final Saturday with a shot at the title, but when it was over there was Dartmouth again, beating Penn 31-17 for a fourth straight championship. But graduation has cost the Indians 15 starters, and All-Ivy Halfback Rick Klupchak is the only Big Green gamebreaker.
No wonder then that Cornell, Penn and Yale anticipate this autumn with delight. Cornell possesses what would normally be considered Dartmouthian experience and balance, but must overcome a lack of explosiveness as well as put to rest the minor racial problems that plagued its athletic winter. Yale and Penn have two of the league's most exciting players. Eli Quarterback Tom Doyle showed heart and speed in the 45-14 humiliation of Dartmouth a year ago. And Penn's Adolph (Beep Beep) Bellizeare raced for 849 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first varsity season.
Brown has a new coach, John Anderson, 32 lettermen and Halfback Hubie Morgan, up from the undefeated freshmen. Harvard plans a ball-control offense to accommodate graduation losses, but the defense remains unaccommodated. Princeton is coming to grips with mediocrity and could challenge Columbia for the cellar.
Cornell meets Penn Nov. 24, and that should establish this year's King of the Last Weekend. That is, unless both teams have already been Greened.
Having done an Avis the past two seasons, Bowling Green is now ready to put itself in the driver's seat. In their opening game a year ago the Falcons took the steam out of Purdue's Boilermakers 17-14. One reason the Falcons seldom reached such heights again was because 5'11" Quarterbacks Reid Lamport and Joe Babies had trouble seeing over tall defensive linemen. Falcon quarterbacks completed a mere 35% of their tosses last year, but Coach Don Nehlen has tried to improve their down-field vision, if not their height. Most of the considerable offensive thrust, however, will come from Tailback Paul Miles (second in the MAC in rushing with 1,024 yards) and Fullback Phil Polak (third with 783 yards). Further solidity will be obtained from a defense that ranked 10th in the nation. The main blocks in that wall will be Linebackers John Villapiano and Joe Russell, Tackle Tom Hall, End Tom Fisher (he sacked runners for 17 losses and eight fumbles) and a reliable secondary.
Kent State, winner of its first MAC title last year, will be hard to unseat if its offensive line can be rebuilt with quality. Capable Greg Kokal will throw frequently to Gary Pinkel, Eddie Woodard and Gerald Tinker, Olympic 400-meter relay gold medalist. Tinker led the conference by averaging 14 yards on 19 punt returns. Also on hand will be the MAC'S outstanding defensive player, Middle Linebacker Jack Lambert.
Perched on the perimeter of the race will be Ohio, possessor of some bright and twinkling talent that could lead the Bobcats into contention. Quarterback Rich Bevly will steer an offense that could be vibrant if Tailbacks Bill Gary and Tim Worner remain healthy. Miami's go-power will come from 5'10", 205-pound Bob Hitchens, who last year led the country in rushes (326) and was second in yardage (1,370). Western Michigan's front four last year averaged 239 pounds and helped the Broncos build the second-best rushing defense in the land. The new front four, however, weighs in at just 212. Since winning 35 in a row from 1969 through 1971, Toledo's Rockets have fizzled. They could move up this time if they find a passer who can ring up some points for the experienced defense to protect. Trouble is, there is no letterman available at quarterback, so Toledo may end up Rocketless.
To defend its title, East Carolina will rely on Wild Dogs and Carlester Crumpler. There will be others to help out, but the most notorious of the Pirates will be their defensive unit—the Wild Dogs—and Crumpler, a tailback who does to tacklers just what his name implies. Crumpler, the conference's athlete of the year, is 6'5" and 220 pounds of locomotion who last season gained 1,330 yards and scored 17 times. The Pirates of a year ago averaged nearly 400 yards a game on offense and will again be quarterbacked by Carl Summerell. As for those Wild Dogs, they will be led by Danny Kepley, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior linebacker.