Lee Corso, who was such a success at Louisville, should do better than 2-9 in his second year at Indiana. Quinn Buckner will be following the basketball coach's orders to stay away from football (he was a fine defensive back), but Corso has some worthwhile returnees, especially at the so-called "skill" positions. Corso envisions Quarterback Bob Kramer flinging to Receivers Trent Smock and Mike Flanagan. At Champaign-Urbana, the Fumbling Illini (29 lost in '73) hope to hang on to the football better and score more than 19 touchdowns.
Wisconsin Coach John Jardine is pleased with a good spring practice and good recruiting. The Badgers should improve behind the running of All-Big Ten Tailback Bill Marek and the throwing of Gregg Bohlig, who was No. 2 in the conference in passing and total offense. Purdue was 5-6 in Alex Agase's first year. This time, Agase says, "We have the nucleus to be a winner." Notable in that nucleus are Defensive Tackle Ken Novak and Fullback Pete Gross.
Colorado, which plummeted into a three-way tie with Iowa State and Kansas State for last place in the Big Eight in 1973, could take off on some kind of Rocky Mountain high in 1974. True, the Buffaloes gave up an alarming average of 22.7 points a game last fall, but new Coach Bill Mallory specializes in turning soft noses hard; at Miami of Ohio he not only compiled an enviable 39-12 record, his Redskins led the nation in total defense last year. Mallory, who goes around growling things like "I want 11 people on that ballcarrier!" inherits a more meritorious offensive roster. Standouts include All-Big Eight Guard Doug Payton and sophomore Tailback Billy Waddy.
Kansas State will get in somebody's way even though the Wildcats went Colorado almost one better—or almost one worse, as it were—by allowing an average of 23.6 points a game last season. Coach Vince Gibson, who considered 1973 a rebuilding year and had a 5-6 record to prove it, can expect some much-needed help from sophomore Linebackers Theopilis Bryant and Carl Pennington. "They're the best I've ever seen," says an unblushing Gibson. Only three starters return to the Wildcat offense, but one of them is Quarterback Steve Grogan and he may be enough.
There may be hard times at Kansas, for All-America Dave Jaynes, the drop-back artist who passed for 2,131 yards last fall, has graduated. While grooming replacement Scott McMichael, a red-shirt sophomore, Coach Don Fambrough wisely plans to rely more on the ground game, particularly the punishing runs of Fullback Robert Miller. Whenever McMichael does want to test his arm, Emmett Edwards will be around to do some of the wondrous things that made him the Big Eight's leading receiver last season. On defense, End Dean Zook (whose brother John plays for the Atlanta Falcons) and Back Kurt Knoff are all-conference pluses.
Having come up with three head coaches in the past four years, Oklahoma State must now find replacements for 12 starters. Quarterback Charlie Weatherbie sparkled as a freshman last fall, but a lack of good receivers may dim his luster. One happy alternative is to hand off to Fullback George Palmer.
Iowa State, which lost four games by a total of 13 points, and then upset Missouri and Oklahoma State, must again be rated unpredictable. One shining certainty is that Mike Strachan. who has already raced for 2,364 yards, will again be an all-conference terror.
In the powerful SEC, where even a fifth-or sixth-place team is a candidate for national recognition, Florida and Auburn bear close scrutiny. The Gators were struggling last season until Don Gaffney stepped in at quarterback, whereupon they won five straight for an eventual 7-5 record. The defense—best in the SEC last year—has seven returnees. Berj Yepremian, Garo's little brother, will do the placekicking.