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Another team with a hot sophomore quarterback is SMU, where Mike Ford passed for 2,064 yards in 301 attempts in '77. His favorite target was Emanuel Tolbert, the No. 2 receiver in the nation last year—and he's still around.
TCU looks fairly pathetic, but fairly pathetic is a pretty good season for the Horned Frogs these days. They were 2-9 in '77, and should be 4-7 this year. Steve Bayuk is a gifted quarterback, but he needs more protection than he is getting.
In each of the last 10 years the Big Ten title has gone to Michigan or Ohio State (or both). Michigan State, however, finished only half a game behind the Big Two in the conference standings last season, and with its NCAA probation due to end in time to permit a Rose Bowl trip, the Spartans have extra incentive for mounting a challenge.
The Spartans' success is likely to hinge on Quarterback Ed Smith's passing. In two previous seasons at East Lansing, he has thrown for 3,480 yards and 23 touchdowns. Split End Kirk Gibson and Tight End Mark Brammer, who combined for 49 receptions, 916 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago, head the receiver corps, along with Flanker Eugene Byrd, returning after a shoulder injury. Leroy McGee, who gained 720 yards in '77, is Coach Darryl Rogers' best runner. Apart from Linebacker Dan Bass, who accounted for 134 tackles, and a secondary headed by safety Tom Graves, the defensive unit is woefully short on experience. It also has little time to mature. By the end of the season's fifth weekend the Spartans will have played USC, Notre Dame and Michigan.
At Indiana, where Coach Lee Corso says his team is getting better, Quarterback Scott Arnett is a threat to run or pass. His effectiveness could be greater because of the recovery from injury of Tailback Mike Harkrader, who in 1976 became the only freshman in Big Ten history to gain more than 1,000 yards.
The Big Ten's best passer is 19-year-old Mark Herrmann of Purdue, and he may be the best in the nation. Herrmann was second in NCAA rankings a year ago as a freshman when he threw for 2,453 yards, 18 touchdowns and a 55% completion rate. If he cuts down on his 27 interceptions, Coach Jim Young's team will resume its traditional role as "Spoilermakers."
Fresh from a bowl appearance (Hall of Fame) that was its first since 1962, Minnesota now must rebuild its offensive line or even yeoman Fullback Kent Kitzman won't be getting much yardage. Kitzman set NCAA and Big Ten records for most carries and yardage last season when he ran 57 times—13 times in succession in one span—and picked up 266 yards against Illinois. Paul Rogind is an accomplished field-goal kicker.
The bottom half of the Little Eight is, as usual, up against it. Some questions: What does Iowa Coach Bob Commings say to his quarterback when he blows a play? His quarterback is his son, Bobby. How many scoreless ties would it take to make a smashing season for good-field, no-hit Wisconsin? Can either team win the Illinois-Northwestern season opener?