College Football: Babes in Wonderland

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With 30 m.p.h. wind gusts at Norman, Okla., it was obviously blowing too hard for anybody except a wildcatter to suggest gambling on a pass. But when Notre Dame Quarterback Terry Hanratty throws to End Jim Seymour, it is more like a sure thing. Sophomores Hanratty and Seymour are the hottest young passing combination in the U.S., and even though they strut their stuff for unbeaten Notre Dame, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, they figured to have their hands full with an Oklahoma squad that was also unbeaten and ranked No. 10. They made it look easy, though, Seymour caught three Hanratty tosses for 47 yds.: one set up a touchdown; another a field goal. But Seymour had to leave the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle when a Sooner defender grabbed his leg as he leaped to catch a fourth pass. Hanratty stayed on long enough to complete eleven out of 17 passes for 129 yds., then joined Seymour on the sidelines to root on the subs as the Fighting Irish handed the Sooners their worst defeat in 21 years, 38-0.

Through the Hoop. Brief though it was, the performance was impressive for a couple of downy-cheeked teen-agers who were playing only their fifth game of college football. But Terrence Hugh Hanratty, 18, and James Patrick Seymour, 19, are a pair apart, even if they still get 35 shaves out of a Beep-Beep blade.

Terry Hanratty can zing a football 60 yds. with a flick of his right wrist on a trajectory so flat that the ball will rise no more than 10 ft. off the ground. When he was still in high school, he stood at one end of a gymnasium and flipped the ball four times in a row through an 18-in.-wide basketball hoop at the other end of the building. Jim Seymour, at 6 ft. 4 in. and 205 lbs., is still growing and he can run the 100-yd. dash in 9.7 sec. He can also "juke" his hips, dip his shoulder, toss his head, flutter his eyelashes, and leave a safety man twisted up like a pretzel as he cuts downfield for a pass. He can then leap 4 ft. straight up and pluck a football out of the sky—with such tenderness that one observer reported: "You can stand right next to him and never hear the ball hit his hands."

Individually, Hanratty and Seymour are wondrously talented athletes. Talent is one thing; teamwork is another. The true baseball fan applauds the double play more loudly than he does the home run. The true tennis fan sits entranced at the ballet performed between two perfectly matched doubles partners. And for the football buff, the difference between a blasting plunge into the line and a perfectly executed forward pass is the difference between prose and poetry. The rapport that exists between a gifted passer and his favorite receiver is part instinct, part practice, and part alchemy. Bennie Oosterbaan, who formed half of such a team when he was on the receiving end of Benny Friedman's feathery passes at Michigan in the 1920s, calls it "a familiarity with each other's capacity." Hanratty and Seymour have that familiarity, and their capacity, at least for excitement, seems limitless.

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