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Remember the good old days when the Big Ten was a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust conference? Now it's 10 to 20 yards and a clod of AstroTurf, and scoreboards are aglow with points. In five games last week Big Ten teams scored a total of 307 points and completed 179 of 360 passes for 2,331 yards. The turnaround has been so pronounced that the Big Ten leads the nation's conferences in passing yardage with an average of 197.9 a game per team.
Perhaps the best indication to date that throwing the ball in the Big Ten is no mere passing fancy came last week as Minnesota stunned visiting Ohio State 35-31. Altogether, 100 passes were unleashed. The Gophers' Mike Hohensee, a junior college transfer from California, threw a school-record 67 of them. He also set Minnesota marks for completions (37) and passing yardage (444). The Gophers, who trailed 21-7 at the half and 31-21 in the fourth period, pulled out the game when Hohensee fired his fourth and fifth touchdown passes. Both were caught by reserve Tight End Jay Carroll, who had earlier grabbed another TD pass. Minnesota Coach Joe Salem admitted that Carroll's scoring plays were designed to get the fullback open. But Salem didn't mind at all that Hohensee hit Carroll instead on passes covering 27, 18 and 28 yards, the last with 2:38 left.
Illinois led Michigan 21-7 at the end of the opening quarter and was driving early in the second period. A blowout appeared imminent. It was: Michigan won 70-21. Defensive Halfback Jerry Burgei's end-zone interception thwarted the Illini's second-period thrust, and from there on the game belonged to the Wolverines. Michigan Quarterback Steve Smith ran for three touchdowns and passed for three more, two of them scored by Anthony Carter.
Iowa ended a two-game slide with its first victory over Purdue since 1960. The Hawk-eyes won 33-7 by more or less corraling Boilermaker Quarterback Scott Campbell and Wide Receiver Steve Bryant. Campbell, who entered the game leading the nation in passing efficiency, completed 21 of 41 passes for 211 yards. Bryant, who was the No. 1 receiver in the country with 50 catches, was held to one reception. Gordy Bohannon, operating out of Iowa's new shotgun spread, which deploys two tight ends, passed for 136 yards and scored on runs of 12 and seven yards. "Twenty cotton-pickin' years!" shouted Iowa Coach Hayden Fry after the game. "The players are doing the hokey-pokey."
Another happy coach was Wisconsin's Dave McClain. The Badgers' 28-7 win at Indiana gave McClain his first victory in the Hoosier state since he left Ball State in 1978 to take his current job. Jess Cole, who passed for a touchdown in the first half, scored on a seven-yard run in the third period and collaborated with Split End Michael Jones on a 56-yard touchdown pass-run in the fourth. David Greenwood's 65-yard return of an interception cemented the victory for the Badgers, who are tied with Michigan for first place in the Big Ten, a game up on Ohio State and Iowa. Michigan State's game with Northwestern produced 39 total completed passes and 476 total yards passing.
There were lots of passes in the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech game, but the Irish got most of the yardage and an easy 35-3 win. The Yellow Jackets gained only 134 yards through the air, while the Irish picked up 253. Freshman Tailback Robert LeVette tied a Tech record with 14 catches, but they were good for only 50 yards. Another freshman, 5'7", 163-pound Split End Joe (Small Wonder) Howard of Notre Dame, hooked up with Quarterback Blair Kiel on pass-runs covering 96 and 58 yards.
Oklahoma trailed 14-0 at Kansas State before the Sooners even got off a play. The Wildcats drove 80 yards for a touchdown in the game's first offensive series and then, after recovering the ensuing onside kick, put together a six-play drive for another score. Kansas State increased its lead to 21-0 early in the second period by converting a Sooner fumble into a TD. Freshman Halfback Alvin Ross made the score 21-6 with a four-yard run just before halftime, but Oklahoma missed the extra-point kick. The Sooners' troubles continued in the third quarter: A penalty nullified a touchdown, a first down at the Wildcat 12 was missed by inches and a fumble was lost at the Kansas State two. A 12-yard run by Ross and a two-point conversion run closed the gap to 21-14 as the final quarter began. From there on Oklahoma Quarterback Darrell Shepard was in charge. He ran 20 yards to pull the Sooners to within one but missed on a two-point pass try with 6:47 remaining. Then, after a short quick kick by the Wildcats on third-and-18, Shepard took the Sooners 60 yards in four plays. He dashed the last 49 for the go-ahead points with 2:31 to play. A two-point run by Shepard completed Oklahoma's 28-21 comeback.
Kansas did better, surprising Iowa State 24-11 in Ames. Frank Seurer bedeviled the Cyclones by passing for one touchdown and running for another. He completed 12 of 18 for 132 yards and ran for 101 yards.
Like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State fell behind quickly: 17-0 to Nebraska after one period. Unlike the Sooners, though, the Cowboys didn't regroup, and they lost 54-7. The Oklahoma State defense, second in the nation with an average yield of only 216 yards a game, was torn apart by the Cornhuskers, who gained 546 yards. I-Backs Roger Craig (121 yards, including a 69-yard scoring run) and Mike Rozier (102 yards plus a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown) did much of the damage. The Cowboys committed seven turnovers, but had the distinction of scoring the first touchdown Nebraska's defense had allowed in six games.