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In the days before Ohio State disdained Rose Bowl invitations, the Buckeyes could be counted on to fight for Big Ten championships. They will still win the title; they just aren't going to have to fight so hard. The real battle will be among the players trying to make Woody Hayes's lineup. For instance: Center Billy Joe Armstrong and Guard Rod Foster are the best blockers Hayes has had, Bob Vogel and Daryl Sanders the best pair of tackles in college today and ad infinitum in the line. In the backfield are Halfbacks Paul Warfield (420 yards rushing, 5.4 average, 5 TDs in 1961) and Bob Klein (177 yards, 6.8 average), Fullback Dave Katterhenrich, Hayes's secret weapon and Quarterback John Mummey (392 yards rushing). If you are still not impressed, Hayes can fashion a couple of more teams potentially as good from men like Quarterbacks Bill Mrukowski (65% passing average for 231 yards) and Joe Sparma (341 yards passing).
CONCLUSION: OSU's 1961 freshman team was one of its best ever. The flow never ceases, nor, presumably, do the titles.
The fun is over. That familiar anxiety which annually seized coaches faced with playing Oklahoma is back. Opponents can start worrying right now about sophomore Linemen Ed McQuarters, Ralph Neely and Glenn Condren, and they might as well prepare to agonize over the prospect of opposing Quarterback Tom Pannell, Halfback Charles Mayhue and Fullback Jim Grisham for the next three years. A reason given for Oklahoma's short decline was the increasing reluctance of good Texas boys to jump from the Panhandle into Coach Bud Wilkinson's line of fire. Wilkinson is still getting good Texans, but the excellent sophomores around are all native-grown. They arrived just in time, too, for Wilkinson lost nine starters from last year's so-so team. Happily, the two holdovers, Center Wayne Lee and Guard Leon Cross, are strong blockers who—along with Duane Cook and Dennis Ward—will give Oklahoma a formidable interior line.
CONCLUSION: The non-Panhandled Sooners could become as popular in Texas as Billie Sol Estes—and will have a better defense.
Rex Russell, center for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, is a diabetic. He needs 60 units of insulin a day and, often, a Coke break at practice. But nobody is worried. He is, in addition to being the hardest-working man on the squad, a consummately aggressive wing-T center and a straight-A pre-med student. He is also like a lot of other Cowboys. Despite an uncommon number of injuries in 1961, they felt then that they really were, as Coach Cliff Speegle has called them, "a knock-around football team with a lot of shake." State has quick-striking tackles and fast guards (Mike Upton, Leland Slack, Billy York). Its centers, halfbacks and Fullback Bill McFarland, who made 42 points last year and gained 331 yards rushing, are aided by Fullback Bob Adcock, Halfback Don Derrick and Wingback Tom Jackson, who together got 525 yards. State has not, however, either size, ends or a quarterback. It will feel acutely all three lacks.
CONCLUSION: Undermanned and undersized, State will again play courageous football—and will win enough to be respected.
"If Big Ten teams made half as many mistakes as the pros, we'd set a record in number of coaches hung in effigy," says Purdue's Jack Mollenkopf. Rival coaches may find this the only non-upsetting thing to come out of Lafayette this year. The Boilermakers have a real team. Twenty-nine good reasons are the lettermen, returning from a squad that had the Big Ten's best defense in 1961 and lost but three games—by a total of seven points. A few good linemen departed, but such luxuries as End Forest Farmer and Tackle Don Brumm are back. Returning, too, are all but one of 12 scorers and every one of the 15 men who rushed 1,417 yards. Both Ron DiGravio and Gary Hogan (52% complete, 1,097 yards passing) return. So do all halfbacks, led by Tom Bloom and Dave Miller. And, as always, fullback is strong: there are Roy Walker (491 yards), Tom Yakubowski, injured last year, and Gene Donaldson, third in rushing in '61.