Afterward, Baker, smiling soulfully, his Adam's apple bobbing, said he was "lucky" and "wasn't really very good today" and was sweetly self-deprecating, but truth was that a Baker-less Oregon State wouldn't have beaten underdog, underprivileged Villanova. Baker, running and passing, accounted for 260 of State's 299 yards. His passing for the most part was just ordinary (a pro scout said that he will make it more as a runner anyway), but then Baker was rusty. Coach Tommy Prothro also admitted that Baker was injured—a sore right shoulder—and had been advised "not to run." It's lucky for Prothro that Baker calls the plays.
Villanova's bigger—by 15 pounds per man—line was good. The Wildcats also moved the ball well (20 first downs, 246 yards rushing) but invariably they were hurt by tactical misadventures. These did not occur when the powerhouse fullbacks, 240-pound Billy Joe and 235-pound Lou Rettino, ran, but when Quarterbacks Richie Richman and Ted Aceto succumbed to temptation and tried Baker tactics—rollouts and the like—Wildcat drives were stalled. Joe had a 12-yard touchdown run wiped out by a holding penalty in the second quarter.
In New York's Gotham Bowl, Nebraska tried everything but the Peace Corps to stop Mira. The Cornhuskers blitzed, they crashed their ends, yielded the short ground to protect long, and still the black-eyed, olive-skinned junior quarterback lashed them with his line-drive passes. There were 46 in all, 24 completed for 321 yards and two touchdowns—but five other Mira passes were dropped, four more bounced off frozen hands and another sailed artfully overhead as End Bill Sparks slipped and fell on his face at the Nebraska goal line. It was a superb performance by a superb player, Mira, but it wasn't enough for Miami to win.
For such meager crowds, the heroics were a waste, but the games were a wide-screen spectacle of offense. In the Gotham Bowl the lead changed hands four times. Nebraska's Willie Ross ran 92 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown and set up another with a 41-yard run; Fullbacks Thunder Thornton of Nebraska and Nick Ryder of Miami were dreadnoughts. In the Liberty Bowl, Villanova played the kind of underdog game that makes for long, apocryphal stories that will be remembered by people who forget that Oregon State won. But all will remember Baker. By his lights, he had a bad day, but he assured his team of a cool win.