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This Texas Aggie football team, which beat down Baylor 19-13 in a savage Donnybrook that may well have decided the Southwest Conference title, is created in the image of Coach Bear Bryant. It is not deep enough in talent to crush most of its foes—this was the second straight week the Aggies had to come from behind to nip the opposition in tight thrillers—but it has the capacity to become overwhelming when it has to be, a capacity to produce with the winning play when that one play means the ball game.
Its great strength is defense—a gambling, scrambling line which shoots the gaps at midfield but tightens and tightens as it is pushed back toward its own goal; fine defensive backs who concentrate on slamming down the opposition's running game and figure on intercepting enough passes to blunt any effective aerial attack.
The list of stars on this hard-nosed outfit is long enough to do credit to a Hollywood supercolossal. Charlie Krueger at tackle is relentless in defensive pursuit; Jack Pardee is one of the country's truly fine linebackers and a jolter at fullback. But the pride of the Aggies is John David Crow, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound halfback whom Bear Bryant lured into Texas from Springhill, La. He is a power runner with great speed, a good passer and receiver, a devastating tackier and a sure defender against passes. He plays with a primitive zeal which early earned him Bryant's ultimate accolade: "A boy who will butt you."
The fact is that Crow was just about the difference between these two fine teams. For more than three quarters of the game they had traded touchdowns, with a Baylor conversion giving the home team the edge by a single point, 13-12. That was when the Bears had their final and most humiliating taste of Crow. Starting with a 23-yard sweep around end and winding up with two reckless smashes into the middle of a ganged-up Baylor line for the final four yards, this amazing halfback was the heart of the Aggies' final drive to victory. During his night's work he carried the ball 14 times for 76 yards-more than any other player on either team. He intercepted one Baylor pass, threw one himself for six points and, of course, scored the final touchdown himself. He turned Saturday night into a sad occasion for Baylor, which had entered the game with its highest hopes for a championship in many years and had hoped to prove its rights before a sellout homecoming crowd in Waco.
Even with their precious victories over Baylor and TCU, the Aggies still have a tough row to hoe if they are to win their first conference title in years. Southern Methodist, idle this week, is a fleet, daring ball club sparked by the daring Charlie Arnold, a quarterback of tremendous merit who can pass any team dizzy.
Should the Aggies fail, Baylor and TCU still rank as contenders. TCU let down last week after their 6-7 loss to A&M the week before, and Miami caught and beat them 14-0. But any club with Jim Swink and Chuck Curtis in the backfield has to be rated high. Baylor suffered a cruel loss when Quarterback Doyle Traylor broke his ankle in practice before the Aggie game but is lucky to have almost as good a quarterback in Bobby Jones.
Elsewhere in the Southwest, Arizona State, West Texas State and Texas Western share the Border Conference lead with undefeated records. This conference could well end in a tie since Arizona State does not play either contender. Art Luppino of Arizona, though hampered by injuries, is one of the best backs anywhere and has already set the alltime rushing record over a four-year period.
In the sprawling Missouri Valley Conference, Houston, which lost in a non-conference game to Auburn, 12-0, continues to look like the class of the league. They even tied Texas A&M 14-14 a couple of weeks ago. Quarterback Don Flynn has run the team well and Donnie Caraway has shown blasting power at fullback. Tulsa, with a victory and a tie in conference play so far and a bunch of promising sophomores, plays Houston Nov. 10 in the game which should decide the championship.