In days gone by, the first week of football was the occasion for the haves to sharpen their skills against the have-nots, who submitted docilely in exchange for the chance to appear in the large, unfamiliar stadiums of the famous. But times have changed and the "breather" is now an almost forgotten relic of the game. Now the opener is the rough one—the big intersectional contest where reputations frequently crumble before the season is scarcely underway, and new giants occasionally spring up overnight—to everyone's surprise except their own.
Opening week 1956 was chock full of such games: Notre Dame-SMU; Syracuse-Maryland and Duke-South Carolina. Notre Dame and Duke, preseason nominees for the highest national honors, were among those to crumble. Syracuse dumped Maryland, breaking a 15-game Terrapin winning streak, and thus became a new giant. It was unexpected, but, like so many early-season upsets, it was more an indication of the strength of the winner than the weakness of the loser. Teams like Maryland and Notre Dame—always prime targets for anyone on their schedule—can hardly expect to win them all every year.
For the most part, however, opening week ran fairly true to form.
Syracuse began courting the Lambert Trophy—symbolic of eastern football supremacy—with its spectacular 26-12 win over Maryland. The hefty Orange line shoved the Terps about as if they were chess men—an impressive insult since the men from Maryland were supposed to be the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Syracuse Halfback Jimmy Brown showed All-America talent as he scored two Orange touchdowns, set up a third with a 78-yard run, and accounted for 154 of the 258 yards his team rolled up on the ground.
Pittsburgh, frequently billed the best in the East, found the recovered fumble to be its most effective weapon in edging West Virginia 14-13. The Panthers were bottled up in their own territory for most of the game, and they might have been blanked if Mountaineer Fullback Larry Krutko had not fumbled after a jarring tackle inside his five-yard line. Pitt recovered and Halfback Ray DiPasquale went over for the touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, West Virginia fumbled again, this time on the 20, and again Pitt recovered. The Panthers used four plays before Halfback Nick Passodelis scored from the five. But for these two breaks, the day was West Virginia's.
Other action in the East was thin. Lehigh and Lafayette opened strong with victories over Gettysburg (26-7) and Muhlenberg (26-0) respectively. Rutgers beat Ohio Wesleyan 33-13, and Bucknell blanked Albright 13-0.
Rhode Island 13, Northwestern 12
Springfield 41, Connecticut 12
American Int'l 6, Massachusetts 6
West Chester S.T. 10, Delaware 7