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It's That Time Again; M-MSU Play Saturday

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By Wayne DeNeff

“Live by the sword, die by the sword,” is a paraphrase of a frequently used biblical epigram.

One word has been changed to make it apply to football.

“Live by the pass, die by the pass.”

And that’s what happened here Saturday to a Purdue team which likes to put the ball in the air and has the passer and the receivers who usually make the attack a success.

But Michigan had the answers with a well-conceived defense which robbed quarterback Mike Phipps of his long aerials and harassed him into quick throws on a number of occasions.

The result was four Michigan interceptions which pretty well bottled up Purdue’s high-powered offense and gave the Wolverines a 31-20 victory in the Big Ten opener.

Now comes another conference test with old-rival Michigan State, battered by Notre Dame, 42-28, and top-ranked Ohio State, 54-21, in its last two appearances after opening with victories over Washington (27-11) and Southern Methodist (23-15).

“Nothing in the past means a thing,” said Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler. “It’s a traditional game and anything can happen.”

Upsets and sparkling performances by the underdog have marked the series and the Wolverines can look forward to the Spartans mustering their best effort of the season.

Notre Dame was “up” and performed just about to perfection when it defeated the Spartans and MSU Coach Duffy Daughtery made a grand concession when he admitted after the game with OSU that the 1969 Buckeyes might rank up there with the MSU teams of 1965-66.

“Their offense is much more versatile, very deceptive and much deeper,” said Daugherty. “Their defense is not as strong as ours was. It’s quick, but not as overpowering.”

So it has taken two mighty fine football teams to bring the Spartans’ record down to the .500 level.

While Phipps was completing 22 of 44 passes for a .500 average and 250 yards which were inconclusive because of the interceptions, Michigan’s Don Moorhead took the air a little more than half as much, hitting on 15 of 25 (.600 average) for 247 yards and just one interception.

Many of Phipps’ tosses were for short yardage but his receivers—Stan Brown (7), John Bullock (6), Randy Cooper (5)—did a great job of running with the ball and turned them into several long-yardage plays.

“Their safetymen laid back so we couldn’t throw the ball deep and their linebackers are as quick and active as any I’ve seen,” said Purdue Coach Jack Mollenkopf. “They held in our tight end and cut off the cuts of our other receivers.

“We didn’t have any place to throw the ball but over the middle and those Michigan linebackers…”

The game will not go down in the 1969 season as one of the high points in officiating.

Michigan fans still are wondering how Brown could have knocked defensive back Bruce Elliott off his feet, make a miraculous catch of the football while on the ground for a 14-yard gain (to the Michigan four) without being called for offensive pass interference.

Little wonder Schembechler was steaming seconds later when middle guard Henry Hill, who had helped an injured Cecil Pryor off the field, was mistaken for a third substitute, and Michigan penalized half-way to the goal for an illegal substitution. Schembechler’s protest only brought Michigan another penalty, for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Purdue had the ball first-and-goal at the one.

Purdue’s first TD followed and it came only a couple of minutes after the Wolverines had gone a long way to dent the scoring thrust by throwing Bullock for a five-yard loss when Purdue had first-and-10 at the Michigan 13.