When Slippery Rock State College annually plays Shippensburg State College in their Pennsylvania Conference football game, attendance seldom tops 10,000. Their 33rd meeting, however, could draw more than 60,000 fans for a game played hundreds of miles from both campuses.
Original plans this year called for Shippensburg to entertain Slippery Rock at 7,600-seat Seth Grove Stadium in Shippensburg, a town of 6,000 about 40 miles south of Harrisburg. Instead, the two will meet in the University of Michigan Stadium today as part of a Band Day program expected to draw more than 25,000 high school band members from throughout Michigan.
The love affair between Slippery Rock and Michigan began in the early 1950s when Wolverine P.A. Announcer Steve Filipak began giving Slippery Rock scores. Other announcers have continued the tradition: a careful intonation, pause, the score and then cheers or groans from Michigan fans.
"Slippery Rock is sort of like a little brother to Michigan," said Bruce Madeg, Michigan's assistant sports information director. "We go out of our way in the press box to make sure we get the Slippery Rock score for the writers. The fans want it, too."
Ticket prices for Michigan home games normally are $9. For this out-of-state extravaganza, they will be $5. Gate receipts will be split four ways -- between the two participating schools, Michigan and the bands. Both Slippery Rock and Shippensburg are counting on the money to help boost their athletic funds and recruiting budgets.
Elsewhere in college football today:
Fifth-ranked Missouri will have to be wary of mistakes when it faces No. 4 Texas at Columbia, Mo.
The Missouri-Texas game is one of five contests today matching top 20 teams against each other.
In the others, top-ranked Southern California (3-0) is at No. 20 Louisiana State, which has walloped Colorado, 44-0, and Rice, 47-3, in a night game. No. 18 Penn State (1-1), trying to rebound from a stunning 27-14 setback at the hands of Texas A&M and star running back Curtis Dickey, is on the road against six-rated Nebraska (2-0), featuring I. M. Hipp.
Seventh-ranked Michigan State (3-0) visits 15th-ranked Notre Dame (1-1), beaten by Purdue, 20-22, last week. And No. 14 Ohio State (3-0), under the direction of sophomore quarterback Art Schlichter, is at 17th-ranked UCLA (1-2) in a nationally televised game.
Elsewhere, No. 2 Alabama (2-0) is at Vanderbilt; third-ranked Oklahoma (2-0) is on the road at Rice in a night game; Houston, rated eighth, visits West Texas State; No. 9 Washington (3-0) entertains Fresno State, and 10th-ranked Purdue (2-1), led by passing standout Mark Herrmann, is host to Oregon.
Also, No. 11 Michigan (2-1) plays at California, an upset winner over Arizona State and Arizona; Florida State, rated 12th, is at Virginia Tech in a regionally televised game; 13th-ranked Arkansas (2-0) is home against Tulsa; No. 16 North Carolina State (3-0) entertains undefeated Wake Forest in a night game, and 19th-ranked Southern Methodist (3-0), without star quarterback Mike Ford, out for the year, hurt, visits Tulane in a night game.