HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Link Army, Pittsburgh, Navy, Syracuse, Colgate, Penn State, Holy Cross and Boston College into one league; borrow pro tem Yale and possibly Cornell from the Ivy; name it the Big East or the Northeastern Conference, and this "damn Yankee" combine would rank right up there with any conference in the country. In other words, some of the best individual teams in the nation this fall are to be found among the so-called independents, particularly those in the East.
Away from the eastern section, most of the large colleges are enrolled in conferences, so the independents occupy a smaller niche in the picture, but Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.)—see The Eleven Best Elevens—hold the independent banner aloft, and College of the Pacific needn't hide from anyone.
Army, with its fine line and fleet backs, must be ranked at the top of the heap in the East and close to the summit nationally (see The Eleven Best Elevens). Although three members of Army's so-called starting back-field are missing, there were few games last year when the combination was the same. Actually, this was the root of all of Army's fumbling and poor ball handling preceding the Navy game.
Pittsburgh is big and powerful. More than slightly reminiscent of the Panthers of the '30s was last year's edition under the direction of John Michelosen. The 1956 club may be stronger, but look at that schedule—opening with West Virginia, closing with Miami and interspersed with such breathers as Syracuse, Duke, Minnesota, Notre Dame and Army!
Syracuse, like Pittsburgh, is saddled with an awesome schedule. The first four games are enough to make brave men tremble and grow pale: mighty Maryland, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Army. Few teams in the nation could go through this foursome unscathed. If Syracuse does it must be rated close to the national peak.
Colgate last year was uncrowned champion of the Ivy League, defeating five of its schools. Rugged, well-coached, and hard-hitting, it could beat anyone on a given Saturday.
In the hallowed Little Three, Williams is the popular choice to supplant Wesleyan as champions because of the best freshman team in the school's history, undefeated in five games. Amherst should be better than its so-so 1955 team, but I lean toward Wesleyan to retain its championship.
COLORS: Purple and white.