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Woody Hayes wanted Ohio State to take a big lead in its opening game against Minnesota so he could "sit in a chair on the sidelines and enjoy watching the reserves." Hayes had to put in a full day's work, however, as the Buckeyes looked good but not great in a 34-19 victory. "We can play a lot better," he said afterward. "I was disappointed in the defense."
There wasn't too much wrong with the offense. Archie Griffin scored a touchdown and ran for 133 yards to break the school's career-rushing record, while Quarterback Cornelius Greene scored twice and set up two more touchdowns with his passing. Greene threw 12 times, completed nine and had no interceptions. "It always feels good to win the first one on the road," said Hayes.
Wisconsin defeated Purdue 28-14, marking its first road win in four years. The Badgers led by only 6-0 at the half but interceptions set up a pair of third-quarter touchdowns that broke the game open. Illinois handed Indiana its 10th straight Big Ten loss, 16-0, and Michigan State, which scored only nine TDs last year, had six in a 41-7 rout of Northwestern.
Oklahoma wanted some lopsided wins early in the season to bolster its No. 1 chances, but Baylor proved uncooperative. The Sooners scored on their first possession but a rash of fumbles and penalties took them into the final quarter with a bare—and unusual—7-5 lead. Then Quarterback Steve Davis, Halfback Joe Washington and Wide Receiver Tinker Owens all scored touchdowns to spark a 28-11 victory. Washington was the real difference, rushing for 156 yards in 17 carries, a personal high. "Our game plan," said Coach Barry Switzer, "was to make as many mistakes as we could in order to get them out of our system. I don't feel our performance this afternoon justifies our No. 1 ranking."
Baylor Tailback Steve Beaird said, " Oklahoma didn't impress me at all like they did last year." But there may have been good reason for it. Sooner Defensive Coordinator Larry Lacewell said of the 5'7" Beaird, "We haven't had much practice tackling guys that short."
After Nebraska destroyed Oregon 61-7, Coach Tom Osborne said he was glad the Cornhuskers didn't quit with a 33-0 halftime lead. "Last year we had a tendency to jump on people and then take it easy," he said. Oklahoma State was no less impressive in its 59-0 win over Wichita State, while Kansas State dropped Tulsa 31-14.