During a time-out with 27 seconds left, Illinois Coach Mike White and Quarterback Tony Eason huddled, only to discover they were both thinking of the same play, one they felt would bring them their team's first win over Michigan since 1966. Illinois trailed 16-10 but had the ball at the Wolverine two-yard line on fourth down. The agreed-upon play was an off-tackle run by Halfback Dwight Beverly. The Wolverine defense had already given up 243 yards rushing to the Illini and had been riddled for 272 yards through the air by Eason, who had completed 28 of 47 attempts. Those 515 yards in total offense were the most ever yielded by Michigan. On the game's pivotal play, though, the visiting Wolverines stopped Beverly cold. Michigan got 177 yards rushing from Tailback Lawrence Ricks and 125 yards on five catches by Flanker Anthony Carter. It was Carter who scored his team's only touchdown on a 40-yard pass from Steve Smith in the first quarter. The rest of the Wolverines' points came on field goals of 30, 45 and 47 yards by Ali Haji-Sheikh. By winning either of its final two games, against Purdue and Ohio State, Michigan can clinch the Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State coasted past Minnesota 35-10 behind the passing of Mike Tomczak, who completed on 13 of 17 for 224 yards. Split End Gary Williams caught three balls, tying an NCAA record of having caught at least one pass in 42 straight regular-season games. By gaining 133 yards on 22 carries, Tailback Tim Spencer went over 1,000 yards for the second year in a row. Spencer's total for the season is now 1,057 yards.
After catching a pass from Wide Receiver Al Toon late in the second period against Indiana, Wisconsin Quarterback Randy Wright was tackled and landed on his head. Wright, who it was feared might have suffered a broken neck, was rushed to a nearby hospital. After X rays turned out to be negative, Wright returned to the game, completed four of eight passes and led the Badgers to a 14-10 lead. Alas, that wasn't the end of a dramatic little story for Wright and Wisconsin. With the score tied 17-17, Indiana's Babe Laufenberg, who made good on 24 of 32 passes for 297 yards, completed five throws during a last-minute drive. Only four seconds remained when Doug Smith came in and kicked a 42-yard field goal that enabled Indiana to pull out a 20-17 victory.
Two weeks before taking on Iowa, Purdue Coach Leon Burtnett spotted something in the statistical sheets that he found very interesting. What Burtnett noticed was that even though Hawkeye Punter Reggie Roby was then second in the nation with a 47.5-yard average, Iowa's opponents were returning many of his kicks good distances. So Burtnett groomed freshman speedster Steve Griffin to be his new punt returner by having him spend a lot of time fielding balls from the team's kicking machine. Griffin, handling punts for the first time as a collegian, ran back three of Roby's kicks for 92 yards, including one return of 71 yards for a touchdown as the Boilermakers won 16-7. Northwestern beat Michigan State 28-24 for its third win of the season, as freshman Quarterback Sandy Schwab passed for one touchdown, ran for another and caught a pass for a third.
It was billed as a matchup of two of the country's finest runners—Oklahoma State's Ernest Anderson, No. 1 in Division I-A with an average of 189.7 yards a game, against Nebraska's Mike Rozier, No. 5 with a 141-yard average. It was no contest: The Huskers prevailed 48-10 and Rozier outgained Anderson, who left the game in the third period with bruised ribs, 251 yards to 68. Rozier's big day gave him 1,379 yards for the season, breaking a team mark established 32 years ago by Bobby Reynolds.
Missouri defeated Colorado 35-14 and Kansas upset Iowa State 24-17. Fullback E.J. Jones of the Jayhawks rushed for 112 yards, caught three passes for 30 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Bowling Green beat Ball State 28-7 to become the new leader in the Mid-American Conference. Central Michigan, which had been first, was blanked 23-0 at Miami. In a game between teams that were both 0-8, the winner was Eastern Michigan, which bumped off Kent State 9-7 to end the nation's longest losing streak at 27 games. Tulsa solidified its grip on the Missouri Valley Conference lead with a resounding 59-21 triumph over West Texas State.
Penn State handed North Carolina State a 54-0 shellacking as Nittany Lion defenders recovered four fumbles, intercepted three passes, allowed only one penetration inside their 40 and sacked Wolfpack Quarterback Tol Avery four times for 45 yards in losses. Penn State passed for 202 yards, 192 of them by Todd Blackledge, who completed 14 of 24 attempts. Flanker Kenny Jackson gained 122 yards on seven catches. The Nittany Lions picked up even more yards on the ground—289 in all—and got two touchdowns apiece from three backs: Jon Williams, Tony Mumford and Curt Warner, who gained a total of 106 yards as he carried 19 times.