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Michigan, Missouri Have Won 20 Of Last 23

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By Wayne DeNeff

Michigan and Missouri, two teams which have combined to win 20 of their last 23 football games, collide here tomorrow in a test of strength between Big Ten and Big Eight powers.

The Wolverines have won 10 of their last 11 games, dropping only the Big Ten title game to top-ranked Ohio State at the end of last season, while the Tigers have won 10 of their last 12, losing twice at the end of last season to Oklahoma and Kansas.

The conference football schedule doesn’t start until a week from Saturday for Michigan and Missouri but for a lot of fans in those states their enthusiasm is just as great for tomorrow’s game.

That’s because the Wolverines and Tigers have gained recognition in the polls and nothing except the Vietnam war sparks more interest and debate.

Missouri was ranked ninth in the Associated Press and United Press International polls while Michigan held down the 13th and 11th places, respectively.

A win for either team will provide a tremendous boost—maybe into the top five—while the loser will have to fight its way back with a string of conference triumphs.

Michigan opens its seven-game Big Ten slate here against Purdue a week from tomorrow while Missouri takes on Nebraska in Columbia in the first of seven straight Big Eight tests.

The polls can’t be ignored, as imperfect a method as it is for determining the nation’s best.

Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian frankly admits that the chief aim for the Irish, since they are not in a conference, is to gain that cherished position atop the polls.

And why shouldn’t Woody Hayes like the polls?

It gives his Buckeyes something to shoot for this season when they can’t make a return trip to the Rose Bowl.

It’ll be an interesting matchup of offensive and defensive talents here tomorrow for two unbeaten squads—the Wolverines 42-14 and 45-7 victors over Vanderbilt and Washington and the Tigers the winners over Air Force, 19-17, and Illinois, 37-6.

Michigan has rolled up more than 1,000 yards total offense largely on the running and passing of quarterback Don Moorhead and the running of Glenn Doughty while Missouri traditionally is tough defensively and has limited its two opponents to just 212 yards on the ground. The 375 yards given up on passing indicates an area of concern for Coach Dan Devine but his Tigers faced one of the nation’s great passers in Gary Baxter of Air Force. Ol’ Mizzou has yet to yield a touchdown by rushing.

Missouri, using an attack similar to Michigan’s and featuring quarterback Terry McMillan and tailback Joe Moore, also has moved the ball well, totaling 890 yards—627 via land and 263 via air.

Michigan’s defense, although yielding a touchdown to Vandy on a sustained air attack and giving up big chunks of ground to Washington up the middle, has been strong, too, against scoring. The Wolverines have yielded 285 yards on the ground and 193 through the air—not bad at all in these days of overwhelming offenses.

While much has been written about the offensive players, the estimated 56,000 who’ll see tomorrow’s game, should look for some outstanding plays by the defense, too.

Missouri has an exceptional senior linebacker in Steve Lundholm, a 6-0, 190-pound, hard-hitting tackler who last week against Illinois dove over a blocker to crumple quarterback Steve Livas.

Lundholm, who calls the defensive signals, had more tackles and interceptions than any other linebacker for Missouri last year and his block on two Alabama players to spring Dennis Poppe free for a touchdown on an interception was one of the outstanding plays of Missouri’s 35-10 Gator Bowl triumph.

Poppe is a rangy senior safety who stands 6-3 and weighs 205.

Michigan’s defenders are led by linebacker Marty Huff, who is the top Wolverine in tackles, and defensive backs Tom Curtis and Barry Pierson.

Curtis raised his career pass interception total to 20 with a pair against Washington last Saturday and is now only nine short of the NCAA record set by Illinois’ Al Broskey in 1950-52. Pierson had a great day against Washington with some key tackles and also grabbed two interceptions.

PHOTO CAPTION: Tigers!: A pair of outstanding defensive players for Missouri, which will take on Michigan’s football team here tomorrow, are linebacker Steve Lundholm (top) and safety Dennis Poppe.