Minnesota. Missing from the Gophers of 1954 are 20 varsitymen and Bob McNamara, whose type comes along to a school about once in a dozen years. Don't shed too many tears, though. The sophomores are reported to be better even than Wisconsin's. Minnesota should cause several gloomy weekends before the fall is out.
Indiana. With only seven varsity players absent from last year's squad, optimism is rampant in the Hoosier camp. Coach Bernie Crimmins told me that this was the best-balanced team he had had in his four years at Indiana. Milt Campbell is the big man in the backfield.
Michigan State. The Spartans fell far and hard in '54. Recovery will not be complete this year as 19 lettermen were lost, but there is a glint in the eye of Coach Hugh Daugherty when he tells you: "We haven't had a squad this green in years. No wonder writers are playing us down this fall. It figures."
Illinois. The Illini, too, have fallen on evil days, and their miseries were doubly compounded with the news that Captain-elect J. C. Caroline, the All-America halfback, was out for the year because of academic deficiency. Despite this, the halfback position is still the strongest on the squad. Three seasoned performers are on hand: Harry Jefferson at left half; Abe Woodson and Mickey Bates at right. The Illini are improved. But so are the rest.
Northwestern. The Wildcats are the biggest question mark in the conference. There is a new coaching staff headed by Lou Saban and 20 returning lettermen from a team that won only a single conference game. Sometimes a new staff has a winning effect on a losing squad and this could happen at Northwestern this year.
Notre Dame. Much has been said about the coming collapse of Notre Dame football. Perhaps my five years at Army have warped my judgment but I just can't picture the Irish having a really bad year. If Notre Dame gets by the strong SMU team this weekend, put it in your little book that the boys from South Bend will have another "representative season." Six of the seven starters are departed from the line, but this was expected four years ago and I'm sure that Coach Terry Brennan's staff has not been caught completely asleep. No backfield can suffer the loss of a Guglielmi without being hurt but Brennan has an excellent quartet in Paul Hornung, Don Schaefer, Jim Morse and Paul Reynolds. Let's postpone the last rites until they play a couple of games.