So powerful have Edwards' teams been in the 14-team Ohio Conference that only five conference members are willing to schedule Wittenberg. During the past eight years no one in college football has matched Edwards' 63-6-1 record, which included a 30-game winning streak between 1962 and 1965. To be sure, Wittenberg has its problems this year. The league's top quarterback is gone, along with a receiver known as the Living End and several fine backs. But Bill Edwards is all smiles.
Quarterback problems? Rocky Alt appeared only briefly last year, yet hit 17 of 33 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns. Fine backs missing? In 1967 Fullback Jim Justice rushed for 438 yards, 300 of them in the last three games. No Living End? Maybe not, but Split End Ray Ward is far from dead. Beyond that, the offensive line will be the biggest in years (though averaging only 205 pounds). As for the defense, End Jim Feltz, Linebacker Bruce Borland and Middle Guard Tim Hunter are back from a unit that ranked ninth in the nation last year by holding its opponents to 166 yards per game.
"What is Eastern Kentucky?" Well, Eastern Kentucky is a 220-pound guard named Fred Troike who paints abstract art, sleeps on the floor and likes to report for practice wearing nothing but coveralls and a cowboy hat. Eastern Kentucky is Ron Reed, a 205-pound linebacker who has led the team in tackles for two years and, like 10 of the team's 22 best players, got his start by one day wandering into Coach Roy Kidd's office and politely asking permission to try out for football. Eastern Kentucky is Teddy Taylor, a 195-pound middle guard who once lived in cabins with dirt floors but now lives in enemy backfields. In last year's Grantland Rice Bowl game he stole a Ball State handoff and ran 39 yards for a touchdown. It is also a linebacker named Paul Hampton from Belfry, Ky., who leads a ringing locker-room chorus of Cabin on the Hill after every victory. And it is John (Twiggy) Tazel, a 6', 165-pound flanker who grabbed 11 passes in that Rice Bowl game.
But mostly, Eastern Kentucky is the arm of one Jim (Goose) Guice, an invaluable quarterback whom Colonel blockers protect with zeal. "Jim isn't the kind who throws every time, so he doesn't get as much recognition as some others," Coach Kidd apologizes. Who is Kidd kidding? The golden Guice has been honorable-mention Little All-America twice and he has passed for two miles at a completion rate of 54.2%.
Eastern Kentucky had not really heard of Guice until the first game of his first year. He was sent in as a fourth-quarter desperation substitution with Eastern trailing Austin Peay 21-7. In that one quarter he completed 10 passes for 162 yards, three touchdowns and a stimulating 35-30 Eastern Kentucky victory.
So that's what Eastern Kentucky is, a tatterdemalion of walk-ons and country boys who leaped from a 2-8 record in 1963 to 8-1-2 last year. It's nobody at all. Just a team that lost only three players from 1967. Just a team that the folks around Richmond, Ky. are betting on for a small college championship. Just a team that is silly as a Guice.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
There is nothing out-of-date in Fargo these days, at least not on the campus of North Dakota State. The girls have no dormitory curfews, and there are plenty of antiwar protests to make headlines in the Fargo Forum. No, no one is far ahead of North Dakota State except in one way. The school has been outprogressed by that celebrated non-small college, San Diego State. In 1966, the Bison of NDS were unbeaten until they played the Aztecs and were ritually slaughtered 36-0. Last year they wisely did not schedule SDS. They outscored their opposition 353-98, led the nation in rushing with 299.6 yards a game, wound up 9-0 for the season and still finished second to San Diego in the rankings.
But now NDS has a chance for a timely move. Again it does not play San Diego, and, given the toughness of the Aztecs' schedule, there are hopes for No. 1 in North Dakota. Back from '67 is a splendid crew of veterans. On offense is Halfback Tim Mjos (pronounced Muss), who rushed for 945 yards and 13 touchdowns, Fullback Jack Hagen, who picked up 553 yards in total offense, and Halfback Paul Hatchett, who averaged 6.3 yards for 46 carries. Quarterback Terry Hanson is gone, but Bison Coach Ron Erhardt feels either Bruce Grasamke or Joe Cichy will do. The defense is wicked-looking, too, particularly with gigantic Mike Berdis, 6'5", 290 pounds, and Terry Nowinsky, 235, at the tackles. Safety Del Gehrett, who intercepted five passes and returned three for touchdowns, also returns. And best of them all will be 235-pound Jim Ferge, who might make Little All-America at defensive end, or middle guard, or linebacker, or...well, anywhere, that might raise NDS over SDS.