The Big Ten has lost many a skirmish in its ongoing battle with the Big Eight for regional supremacy, but last week roles were reversed.
Wisconsin, a member of the league's second echelon, went right to the Big Eight's jugular in upsetting Nebraska 21-20. The fourth-ranked Cornhuskers were coming off a 61-7 massacre of Oregon, and the only noise the Badgers have made in the 12 seasons since they played in the Rose Bowl was in 1969 when they ended a winless string of 23 games by defeating Iowa.
Wisconsin was helped more than a little by the hip injury that sent Nebraska Quarterback Dave Humm out of the game in the first quarter. Humm's replacement, Earl Everett, could not provide the passing attack the Cornhuskers needed so desperately. The Badgers pulled it off by sandwiching a 22-yard Nebraska field goal in the fourth quarter between a pair of touchdowns. The first came on a one-yard dive by Bill Marek, the second on a 77-yard pass from Gregg Bohlig to Jeff Mack with 3:29 remaining. "It was a simple out and up, something we do every day," Wisconsin Coach John Jardine said. "If the cornerback plays Jeff too close, he goes upfield. He played too close and Gregg got the ball over him."
Nebraska still had plenty of time to score again but Everett hurried a screen pass and Steve Wagner was there to pick it off.
Wisconsin was not the only Big Ten team to score a major upset as Iowa took care of 12th-ranked UCLA 21-10. This one may have been even more unexpected since the Hawkeyes had lost 12 games in a row. New Coach Bob Commings turned Iowa around with some vivid reminders of the '50s, when the Hawkeyes won two Big Ten titles under Forest Evashevski. First, he made his team look like the Iowa of old by ordering similar uniforms. Then he installed Evashevski's old wing-T offense, the one in which he himself had been a guard. But Commings added his own touches as well, a "Bubble 50" defense and a slogan right out of the Bible. "You will win," he told his team when it came in at halftime with a 14-3 lead. "You are the chosen people."
Iowa's defense turned Middle Linebacker Andre Jackson into a standup nose guard two yards off the ball. It limited Bruin Quarterback John Sciarra to 31 yards rushing and 82 passing—compared to the 390 yards of offense he rolled up against Tennessee three weeks before.
Sciarra's counterpart, Rob Fick, produced 154 yards and touchdown passes to Dave Jackson and Mark Fetter. The Hawkeyes iced it with a 91-yard scoring drive just before the end. Commings admitted he did not see much of the last minute and a half. "I've got bad eyes," he said, "and when I'm crying I can't see worth a damn."
Meanwhile, at the top of the Big Ten, Ohio State and Michigan were gallivanting as usual. The Buckeyes demolished Oregon State 51-10 and Michigan skunked Colorado 31-0. Elsewhere, Michigan State topped Syracuse 19-0, Minnesota edged by North Dakota of the small-college ranks 42-30, Purdue battled Miami of Ohio to a 7-7 tie and Indiana suffered its ninth straight loss, 35-20 against Arizona.
Oregon State got off to the perfect loser's start, fumbling the opening kickoff, and the Buckeyes were on their way to the first of seven touchdowns. Archie Griffin gained 134 yards in 16 carries and his younger brother Raymond scored twice in his first college game. Michigan came out throwing against Colorado, 11 completions in 17 attempts, one of them for a touchdown. A school record 88-yard punt return by Dave Brown opened the scoring.
Michigan State got two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Tailback Rich Baes and a 30-yard scoring pass from Charles Baggett to Mike Jones.