1. OHIO STATE (8-0)
2. OKLAHOMA (7-0-1)
3. MICHIGAN (9-0)
Acquainted as you are with the high-ranking Midwestern powers who will soon determine a conference championship, a bowl berth and still greater national prestige, turn now to a matchbox-size version of the big game that was played last week. Unbeaten Miami of Ohio met defending champion Kent State for the Mid-American Conference title and Tangerine Bowl invitation before a record league crowd of 27,363. Visiting Miami won 20-10, surviving early jitters and a third-quarter shoving match. Chuck Varner scored twice, on a nine-yard pass reception and a two-yard run, and Dave Draudt kicked two field goals, one an MAC-record-equaling 52-yarder. "This thing is worth a million dollars to me," said Redskins Coach Bill Mallory. His team was recently determined the best in the country by a computer analysis published in an Ohio paper. And where did the computer put those overblown Buckeyes? Twenty-fifth but trying harder.
Oklahoma, unbeaten, third-ranked nationally and on probation, was not a part of post-season bowl speculation. The Sooners were not going anywhere except into the teeth of the toughest part of an already difficult schedule—Missouri, followed by Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma State. Motivated by bad fortune, Oklahoma blew the highest ranked of those four opponents right off its own home field. Waymond Clark and Joe Washington rushed for 261 yards and three touchdowns between them as the Sooners romped 31-3. Missouri, meanwhile, could gain only 44 yards in 48 snaps as the Selmon brothers, Lucious, LeRoy and Dewey, combined for 21 tackles. Eight of them caused 39 yards in losses.
Nebraska, 7-1-1, seemed headed for a Cotton Bowl berth opposite Texas after burying Iowa State 31-7. David Humm tallied once and completed two scoring passes. The game's leading rusher was Cyclone freshman Mike Tyson, who covered 137 yards in 26 carries after replacing the injured Mike Strachan. Iowa State also lost Quarterback Wayne Stanley in the first half.
Seven points this way and Kansas would now have a 4-5 record; five points that way and the record would be 9-0, including wins over Tennessee and Nebraska. As it is the Jayhawks are 6-2-1 after edging Colorado 17-15 in their fifth game to be decided by two or fewer points. While Quarterback David Jaynes was trying—and largely failing—to round up Heisman Trophy support in the widely televised game, the Kansas defense was showing exceptionally well. The Jayhawks forced three fumbles and two interceptions to thwart a Colorado offense that outgained Kansas 354 to 220. The last turnover came with 21 seconds to play at the KU 23, well within field-goal range for barefooted Fred Lima. Jaynes rushed for what proved to be the decisive score in the third quarter but completed only 11 of 26 passes for 170 yards.
Oklahoma State held the Big Eight's leading rusher, Isaac Jackson, to 31 yards in 10 carries in a 28-9 win over Kansas State. It was the Cowboys' first victory since Sept. 29 and followed consecutive ties with Nebraska and Kansas. A 55-yard pass to the Wildcat two on the game's first play set up the initial touchdown. Kansas State was stymied throughout by a defensive charge led by Glenn Robinson, who sacked Quarterback Steve Grogan four times for 21 yards.
While Ohio State and Michigan prepared for next week's showdown with easy victories, the rest of the Big Ten also played pretty much to form. Indiana and Iowa remained winless in the league by falling to Northwestern and Wisconsin respectively while Minnesota was crunching Purdue 34-7.
Northwestern is now 3-3 in the conference after edging the Hoosiers 21-20 on Greg Boykin's second TD of the game, which capped a 68-yard drive in the final 45 seconds, and Jim Blazevich's PAT. Bill Marek had a sensational first quarter, scoring three touchdowns and gaining 131 yards as Wisconsin bombed Iowa 35-7. Before quitting, Marek added another score and 72 more rushing yards. The sophomore tailback is only 43 yards short of joining Rufus Ferguson, up to now the Badgers' only 1,000-yard rusher. "There were so many big holes I just didn't know which one to pick," he said. "With tackling like ours," said Iowa's Frank Lauterbur, "anybody could look like an All-America."
Minnesota also got off to a fast start in its win over the Boilermakers. With Rich Up-church leading the way—he gained 177 yards for the day—the Gophers scored 24 points in the first 19 minutes.