Two years ago Baylor lost every conference game. Last year Baylor went to the Cotton Bowl on an 8-3 record, having knocked off Texas, Arkansas and Texas Tech along the way. And so, the '75 season is an encore to a miracle and, no matter what happens, it will be a bit of a letdown. Graduation took the flower of the offensive backfield and five regulars on defense, including All-America Linebacker Derrel Luce and All-Conference Cornerback Tommy Turnipseede. Mark Jackson, who was an outstanding replacement for Neal Jeffrey against Arkansas and Texas Tech, will quarterback, but he will have to cut his teeth on Ole Miss, Auburn and Michigan. If Jackson, a good runner, works out as a passer, and if Coach Grant Teaff can find a couple of linebackers, and if the rest of the defense can recover from its losses, the Bears could be bullish. A long shot perhaps, but Baylor is used to being that.
SMU, 6-4-1 last year, has the offense guided by junior Quarterback Ricky Wesson, a 165-pound scrambler who passed for nine TDs and ran for 10 in 1974. But graduation scattered the defense; for the Mustangs to record their fourth straight winning season requires shoring it up.
Rice, with a student body of only 2,400, not only fields a football team but has the temerity to take on Notre Dame and LSU. Last year the team was young and green and wound up 2-8-1. This year, with 16 regulars returning, the Owls will be wiser, and their running game, which failed them last year, will be reinforced by some talented freshmen.
TCU has the two best passers in the conference in Lee Cook (106 of 237 for 1,191 yards) and backup Jimmy Dan Elzner (28 of 89 for 427), but not much else. The Horned Frogs might improve on their miserable 1-10 last year, but playing Nebraska, Alabama and Arizona State isn't going to help.
Brown used to be the butt of all sorts of old Ivy jokes, but no one has been laughing at the Bruins lately. In fact, isn't it about time to break them up? They had the third-best rushing defense in the country last year (108 yards per game), and John Anderson has already done what no other Brown coach has been able to do since the middle '50s: put two winning seasons back to back.
With 18 starters returning, all Brown lacked, it seemed, was a quarterback. To fill that void it can thank Vermont for folding its team and delivering 6'6" Bob Bateman, who passed for more than 1,800 yards last year. Linebacker Paul Serrano and Tackle Phil Bartlett lead the defense. And for close games, Anderson has Jose Vilante, best Ivy placekicker since the Gogolaks (two 49-yarders in 1974).
Folks around The Hub bemoan the loss of Split End Pat McInally, Harvard's first All-America since 1941. But then, the Crimson doesn't have anyone who could have thrown to him, anyway. Coach Joe Restic will count on his running game, so all he needs is someone to give the ball to last year's leading rusher, Tommy Winn, or Fullback Neal Miller. Princeton dropped four of its last five games, but Coach Bob Casciola has veteran Quarterback Ron Beible, who could establish new Tiger passing records, and Fullback Bob Reid. With 15 starters on hand, Princeton has its best title chance since 1969.
Carmen Cozza of Yale doesn't get bothered when fans mourn the loss of a good senior class. They were depressed in 1969 after the Calvin Hill-Brian Dow-ling group departed, but Cozza won another co-championship. Just three offensive regulars are back from last year's co-champs and—guess what?—no quarterback. But only Michigan yielded fewer points per game and most of the Eli defenders return.
Dartmouth's superb linebackers, Reggie Williams and Skip Cummins, provide an excellent defensive nucleus, but offensive inconsistency cost the Big Green its sixth straight title last season. Mike Brait moves in at quarterback. Penn's got problems now that Adolph (Beep Beep) Bellizeare is gone but the Quakers still have the league's best returning runner, Jack Wixted. George Seifert, Cornell's new coach, neglected to bring a quarterback with him from Stanford, so All-Ivy Split End Bruce Starks is bound to be lonely. Columbia should improve on its 1-8 record, although attendance may dwindle even more now that New York City's subway fare has gone up.