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Both North Carolina State and Wake Forest will cause Clemson some anguish. Last year NC State took a magnificent defensive unit, dressed it in white shoes, won eight of 10 games and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. Coach Earle Edwards will try to build another such defense around End Mark Capuano and an attack around Runners Charlie Bowers and Bobby Hall. Coach Bill Tate calls his Wake Forest team "a bunch of boys who are fun to watch." The most fun can be found in watching Quarterback Fred Summers, who took the Deacons out of the pigeon class and led them to wins in their last four games.
At South Carolina, Paul Dietzel has 21 lettermen back but he is especially cheered by the return of Defensive Back Ben Galloway. Quarterback Gayle Bomar is the big man at North Carolina, which needs more like him. Virginia has balance and two fine runners in Frank Quayle and Jeff Anderson—but that can't carry the Cavaliers too far. Maryland Quarterback Alan Pastrana, fully recovered from a knee injury, will try a new offense for the Terps, and why not? The old one scored all of 15 points in the first six games last year. Blue Devil Quarterback Al Woodall allowed a coed to write a term paper for him during the spring, leaving Duke—and himself—in trouble.
Once again the rugged SEC has contributed four teams to the Top 20—Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and LSU. And a Top 21 probably would have included Georgia. The Bulldogs, looked upon as a team to beat last year, played three big games and served as a beatable team each time. This year, as a spoiler, Georgia could defeat enough clubs with high hopes—including Tennessee and Florida—to have a season worth celebrating 12 months later than expected. Everything rests upon Mike Cavan, a sophomore passer around whom Coach Vince Dooley has erected a pro-type attack. Brad Johnson and Bruce Kemp are reliable runners, and Bill Stanfill's presence eases the loss of All-America Tackle Edgar Chandler.
Auburn is a little quicker and a lot deeper than last season, but its schedule (Miami, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama—in succession) probably will keep the Tigers from improving on 1967's record of 6-4. Quarterback Loran Carter, the SEC's passing-yardage and total-offense leader, is back, along with his favorite target, Tim Christian. For the first time in 19 years Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught will start a sophomore quarterback. He doesn't have to—he wants to. Archie Manning, says Vaught, is straight from the mold of Eagle Day or Glynn Griffing or Jake Gibbs, which means he can pass, run and think. The trouble is the Rebels are starting nine other sophomores, too.
Coach Bill Pace has hardened up Vanderbilt's traditionally soft noses, but the Commodores will still lose more than they win. Kentucky currently has one of the SEC's finest losing traditions and its very best player, Dicky Lyons, who might be good enough to beat a few teams all by himself. Mississippi State cannot expect much improvement on last year's 1-9 performance.
For years Mid-American teams enjoyed trampling all over poor Toledo. But that was before the arrival of Coach Frank Lauterbur. Pretty soon the Rockets began to give opponents trouble and last season, after losing their opener to Ohio U., they won nine straight and tied the Bobcats for the conference title. Perhaps it is only coincidental, but Toledo's success was followed by three coaches leaving the league; Bowling Green, Kent State and Marshall all have new leaders. This season should get back to more traditional form, with Ohio and Miami favored for the championship—but nobody is discounting Toledo anymore. The Rockets still have Tailback Roland Moss, a powerful runner who scored 16 touchdowns in 1967, and they have added a little (5'10", 175 pounds) quarterback, Steve Jones, who is an adequate passer and a better runner. The defense is solid, too, with All-MAC End Mel Tucker to lead it.
Ohio has 16 returning starters, including a good aerial act in Quarterback Cleve Bryant and Split End Todd Snyder, and Coach Bill Hess has filled the holes in his defense with capable players. At Miami, Coach Bo Schembechler, who likes to grind out his yardage, has the runners for it in Quarterback Kent Thompson, Tailback Bobby Glover and Fullback Don Wade, and his defensive line, led by Tackle Ken Root, is the best in the league.
The rest of the MAC will be busy chasing the leaders. Bowling Green, under new Coach Don Nehlen, has problems in the offensive line while Western Michigan and Kent State both are faced with breaking in rookie quarterbacks. Perry Moss, the new man at Marshall, has brought in a number of junior college transfers but the Thundering Herd is still mostly pitty-pat.