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Stanford's long list of golden quarterbacks ( Frankie Albert, John Brodie, Jim Plunkett, etc.) might have a worthy addition if sophomore Mike Cordova works out. The 6'4" 220-pounder is not the best passer on the team, or the best field general, but he's probably the best all-round man at the position. The Cardinals are likely to do less passing this season because they have two good runners in Scott Laidlaw and Ron Inge.
Indeed, Stanford again appears to be the best bet to upset USC. The offensive line is strong, with Keith Rowen returning for another season at tackle and frosh starting Guards Gary Anderson and Alex Karakozoff bound to be improved as sophs. Tackle Al TenBruggencate should be able to block people with his name alone. There are three good wide receivers, led by All-Pacific Eight Bill Singler. The defense features such returnees as All-America Ends Roger Stillwell and Pat Donovan and All-Coast Linebacker Gordon Riegel.
UCLA has a new coach, Dick Vermeil, who has tossed aside the Wishbone and installed the Veer. Vermeil is determined not only to change formations but to change the Bruins' image to that of a mighty defensive team. He really does not have much choice since UCLA lost its three top ground-gainers. Back to run the Veer is Quarterback John Sciarra (pronounced "sharra"), who started three games in '73 and shared time with Mark Harmon in the rest.
For that improved defense Vermeil has a talented JC transfer, 6'4", 260-pound Tackle Cliff Frazier, plus All-Coast Cornerback John Nanoski and Linebacker Fulton Kuykendall.
Elsewhere, the league is rife with quarterback trouble. Cal's Vince Ferragamo transferred to Nebraska, conceding the position to Steve Bartkowski. At Oregon new Coach Don Read can rely on his tough defense, led by Tackle Reggie Lewis, and an offense featuring 1,000-yard gainer Don Reynolds. Washington is another team going with the Veer, but still hopes for continued passing success. Washington State, led by Fullback Andrew Jones, second-leading rusher in the league in '73, might improve on its 5-6 record. Oregon State has lots of players back, which doesn't mean much after a 2-9 season.
"Our league hasn't changed a bit," says Michigan State Coach Denny Stolz. "It's Ohio State and Michigan on top again. Below that, I don't know of anybody with an outstanding football team. There should be a big scramble, and we hope to be in it." If some highly touted freshmen live up to their notices, Stolz could take the play away from the others. Much depends on Quarterback Charles Baggett coming back strong after knee surgery.
Pity new Iowa Coach Bob Commings. The Hawkeyes were 0-11 last year and start out this time vs. Michigan, UCLA, Penn State and Southern California. Northwestern also has a nasty schedule—Notre Dame and Nebraska back to back—and John Pont's second season is not likely to be a picnic.
The Big Ten dark horse is Minnesota, which was 6-2 in league competition last year and has won 10 of its last 14 games. Coach Cal Stoll has a good runner in Rick Upchurch, but for the third straight season the Gophers will be breaking in an inexperienced quarterback. Last year's starter, John Lawing, has quit football to concentrate on his prelaw studies. "We haven't reached Big Ten parity yet," says Stoll, "but we proved last fall we have inched closer."