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James Atwater
October 15, 1956
The crowds were growing larger despite some nasty weather, and the games were starting to count—toward league and national titles
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October 15, 1956

Football: Third Week

The crowds were growing larger despite some nasty weather, and the games were starting to count—toward league and national titles

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When Michigan plays archrival Michigan State—as Fritz Crisler, Michigan's athletic director, noted on the eve of the big game—it's civil war. Last Saturday each team brought along its blitzkrieg offense, but the game was fought and won up in the trenches where the linemen wage their savage, static combat. When the head-butting was over, the Michigan State infantry had outlasted Michigan. "It was," said State Coach Duffy Daugherty, raising his Irish tenor over the dressing room bedlam, "the hardest-fought game I've ever seen."

Getting ready for Michigan, Duffy devised a battle plan that was straightforward and simple. "We hope to spread out the defense by splitting our linemen," he said, "and then run up the middle." Duffy had the power for the job—Halfbacks Clarence Peaks and Walt Kowalczyk. To shackle this pair, Michigan Coach Bennie Oosterbaan had his linemen charging mole-low all week long in a slashing converging defense. His penetrating linemen might run into mousetraps, Bennie admitted, but then again they might do some damage. Up in the stadium at Ann Arbor, a sellout crowd of 101,001 ("largest ever to see a sports event in the state," crowed Crisler), huddled under umbrellas and wet newspapers and peered through an intermittent rainstorm in soggy astonishment as Oosterbaan's charging linemen stacked up State's celebrated attack.

Under the stands at half time Duffy often pulls a new offense out of his bag of tricks. Against Michigan he drew up a new defense: a seven-man front with two men frequently dropping out as linebackers. To defend against passes, Duffy deployed his backs in the "Umbrella," an arc formed by two wide halfbacks and two inside safety men.

That did it. Michigan's tiring linemen could not handle the combination of Duffy's new formation and tough reserves. Michigan Fullback John Herrnstein, an 18-year-old sophomore, tried a jump pass early in the third quarter. Instantly State Linebacker Arch Matsos took a step back, stuck up one hand and made a deft interception. Nine plays later State Captain John Matsko riveted his eye on the ball and calmly kicked a field goal from the Michigan 21, the first he had ever tried.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Herrnstein tried again. Running like a Patton tank, he smashed through the State line for five yards and then felt the ball disappear as he was hit by an arm-wrenching tackle. Minutes later Halfback Dennis Mendyk slashed over right tackle for a touchdown and the ball game.

Beautiful, rapierlike passing by John Brodie (12), carved the Ohio State defense as deftly as a surgeon's scalpel, but Stanford, its line riddled by injuries to no less than seven players, could not interrupt the momentum of State's ponderous, crushing attack. Although Brodie passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns, the decision finally rested with Ohio State's brute force and their heavy troops.

Bob Kyasky (22), here dragged down from behind by Penn State's Sam Valentine (60) after an eight-yard gain, settled comfortably into job as Army's T quarterback, hustling Cadets to two quick first-quarter touchdowns. The converted halfback then turned to defensive heroics, intercepted a vital pass, made a saving tackle on Penn State's brilliant Bruce Gilmore to preserve the fruits of his labor on offense.


There was hoarse singing in the University of Pennsylvania showers, the first in three years. Beads of happy sweat twinkled on Coach Steve Sebo's forehead as he autographed bits and pieces of goal posts. The chimes atop ivy-clad Irvine Auditorium pealed "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" For Penn had just beaten Dartmouth 14-7. It was Penn's first victory in 20 starts, its first under Coach Sebo, in its first game of official Ivy League competition. Victory had come, at long last, after years of fruitless and futile trampling under the cleats of Notre Dame, Army, Duke, Navy and California.

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