From his office at a corner table in a joint on State Street in Chicago last Friday night, Big Tom the bookie said, "I make this out to be the worst mismatch since Pearl Harbor. Michigan has got the fastest backfield in the history of the Big Ten. Northwestern has got scholars. The line says Michigan by 33. But you can't hardly get none of my colleagues to book it. You know why? The numbers are too high. What kind of a idiot would give 33 to any team in the world? But what kind of a idiot would take Northwestern and 33 against Michigan? In my business you want to do heavy trade with suckers. You can get killed fooling around with idiots."
Judging from the screaming and imploring and general button-busting racket at Northwestern's Dyche Stadium the next afternoon, there must have been an army of bettors on both sides of the line. Considering that only 31,045 people showed up for the Michigan-Northwestern game in the first place, the last couple of minutes reached a level of loudmouth usually found only in those games that match fire against water.
The question was: Would Northwestern score? Would the poets, artists and drama majors, who had lost 11 games in a row, actually make a touchdown or even kick a field goal against the No. 1 team in the nation?
That the question involved more than pride or curiosity could be detected by shouts of "Kill 'em! Kill 'em!" and "Fumble! Fumble!" and "Please, God, give me just one break in this life!" Such shouts accompany the finish of a game with a wager on it. Ordinarily you would not observe such behavior in a home crowd whose team is behind 38-0 with about a minute to play. Ordinarily the crowd would have been out in the parking lot honking at each other by then.
With a fourth and three at the Michigan 13, Northwestern Quarterback Randy Dean threw a pass to Wally Kasprzycki for five yards. Bedlam. It was Dean's 10th pass completion. For a quarterback with a broken arm, that is about halfway remarkable, no matter what class the opposition.
Actually, it wasn't Dean's whole arm that was broken. It was his wrist. And it was his left wrist, whereas he throws with his right. But it is against NCAA rules to play wearing a cast, so Dean's left arm from elbow to fingertip was wrapped in tape, bandages and sponge rubber. Every time Dean fell on his left arm you wanted to cry out in sympathetic pain. Or else you wanted to cry out that one of the top engineering students at Northwestern ought to have more sense.
Northwestern's best runner, the school's alltime rushing leader, Tailback Greg Boykin, tore up his knee in the first quarter two weeks ago while the Wildcats were being shut out by Indiana. Boykin will not play again this year. Dean isn't sure when he broke his wrist. Maybe it was against Indiana, maybe before. "My adrenaline gets to rushing so fast that I forget my wrist hurts," Dean says.
Anyhow, there were three running plays and then a time-out was called with 34 seconds left, fourth and goal from the four. The crowd going crazy. What to do?
Whatever small success opponents have had against the Michigan defense this year has come from passing. Scott Yelvington of Northwestern, on that fourth down, needed one more catch to tie Pat Richter of Wisconsin as the Big Ten's 10th alltime receiver.
Dean threw a pass to Yelvington for a touchdown.