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The Southeastern Conference race got under way with Alabama, Tennessee and Florida cruising to league victories. The Tide, seeking its fifth consecutive title, scored in its first four possessions to beat Vanderbilt 40-7 and bring this lament from Commodore Coach Fred Pancoast: " Missouri didn't do the rest of us any favors by stirring them up."
Auburn, expected to be Alabama's closest challenger, remained winless by losing to the Volunteers 21-17. Larry Seivers caught six passes, two for touchdowns, and was rewarded with all three game balls. Seven Mississippi State turnovers, a 74-yard scoring jaunt by Jimmy DuBose and a 65-yard TD pass from Halfback Tony Green to Larry LeCount, helped Florida win 27-10. Even so, Bulldog Coach Bob Tyler said, "I can't recall a loss in which I felt so strongly we should have won."
In non-league games Georgia tripped South Carolina 28-20, Kentucky tied Maryland 10-10, LSU edged Rice 16-13 and Mississippi ripped Southern Mississippi 24-8. Glynn Harrison's 160 yards rushing and Kevin McLee's 131 helped the Bulldogs put together scoring drives of 80, 83, 89 and 52 yards. Gamecock Coach Jim Carlen said South Carolina was helpless to prevent its first loss. "We couldn't protect everywhere. They ran to the outside to open up the middle and then they ran up the middle."
Kentucky tied Maryland when John Pierce boomed a 45-yard field goal with eight seconds left, only his second in 11 attempts this year. Sonny Collins gained 161 yards to set a new SEC career rushing mark of 3,099 yards. Maryland's touchdown came on a 93-yard kickoff return by Rick Jennings.
LSU won its first game of the year thanks to two touchdown plunges in the first and third quarters by Terry Robiskie. A 52-yard scoring scamper by Michael Sweet, part of a 147-yard afternoon, propelled Mississippi.
Clemson lost 33-28 to Georgia Tech but found a new quarterback in freshman Willie Jordan, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, scored another TD rushing and kicked a 26-yard field goal and an extra point. "Our problem defensively," said Tech Coach Pepper Rodgers, "is that when they throw long, we cover short and when they throw short, we cover long." Clemson had the biggest defensive problem, however, allowing 331 yards on the ground. Fifty-three of them came on a touchdown play in which the ball went from Quarterback Danny Myers to Halfback David Sims via a fumble.
Florida State scored on the first play of the first half—a 78-yard pass—and Iowa State cashed in on the first play of the second half—a 57-yard run—but it was the Cyclones who won 10-6. Although the Seminole defense stopped three drives inside the five, FSU's Keith Singletary missed two short field-goal attempts. Syracuse remained unbeaten with a 31-13 defeat of Tulane. The Orangemen trailed 13-10 at the half, but improved pass defense and the running of Fullback Earl Vaughn gave them the win.
Kansas State deflected a two-point conversion pass in the final minutes to hold off Wake Forest 17-16. The loss dropped the Deacons behind the Wildcats as the losing-est team in college football history.