Florida St, Alabama, Ohio State, UCLA survive, LSU stuns Wisconsin, BC wins, A@M rolls

Paul Kenney – Sunday Recap

Wow!!

Maybe it was the result of the Polar Vortex, but Broadway should hope for such boffo openings as we saw in the first week of the 2014 college football season.

It was a “Phantom of the Opera” evening for the so called “elite” of the 2014 season.

We’ll begin in Arlington, Texas and Jerry Word, where the 18 point favorite No.1 Florida State Seminoles, after jumping out to a 17-0 lead, hung on for a 37-31 victory against a bunch of gritty Oklahoma State Cowboys.

It was a sloppy dog-fight for the defending National Champions which won its school tying record 17th straight game, but ominously, FSU were only able to rush for 107 yards against a young rebuilding Pokes defense. Yikes!!

“We all preached it, but I do think that they felt the pressure of being No.1, now I think, we can relax and go play football,” said Coach Jimbo Fisher.

They’d better, or the dream of a repeat will disappear quicker than gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick. Who?? Exactly!!

In the other surprise, Alabama a 26 point favorite over West Virginia, found itself “tied” 17-17 late in the first half, and if not for a half dozen drops, including a sure TD pass in the fourth, the Mountaineers may have been on the cusp of springing the monster upset.

What was very disturbing for the Crimson faithful was the exploitation Alabama’s secondary which once again struggled (365 yards passing) against a spread offense.   Double Yikes!!

But if anyone can figure it out, it is the “Bear” clone, St. Nick, Nick Saban.

In Baltimore the Midshipmen of Navy held a 7-6 halftime lead against the mighty Bucks of Ohio State, and were down 3 to start the fourth quarter, leaving the Middie Faithful with a sense that Navy just might torpedo the mighty SS Urban Meyer.

But a pair of late TD’s, and the solid play of r-shirt freshman J.T. Barrett, only the second freshman since the Truman Administration (1950) to start an opener for the Boys from the Horseshoe, finally prevailed.

WOW!!!

Rule number one, if the urge to place a few shekels on a team should bubble up inside, remember, noon kickoffs, especially for West Coast teams traveling east, is a very dangerous proposition.

That premise once again reared its ugly head, this time in Charlottesville, Virginia as the mighty Bruins of UCLA, and its Heisman candidate QB Brett Hundley hung on for a 28-20 win over lowly UVA.

The other team from LA, a 22 point favorite over the Cavaliers, needed three TD’s from its defense, a first since Ronald Reagan occupied the White House – 1986 – to avoid the upset. Yikes!!

Virginia was able to sack the athletic Hundley (who scored the only offensive TD on a tough run) five times, and kept him under duress the entire game.

Despite the smallest home crowd since 1998, maybe there is some fight in the Sons of Thomas Jefferson, there certainly was on Saturday.

On the debut stage James Franklin’s Nittany Lions of Penn State won a dramatic last second (3 on the clock) victory in Dublin over a very good Central Florida squad, when PSU kicker Sam Ficken booted a 36 yarder for the 26-24 victory.

Somehow it just doesn’t seem right that a coach with the surname of O’Leary should lose in the last second in Dublin!!   Oh well, I’m sure he was able to find comfort with a few Guinness!!

So much for controversy, as newly minted USC Coach Steve Sarkisian saw his Trojans, and QB Cody Kessler run a PAC-12 record 105 plays, as Southern Cal crushed Fresno State; 52-13.

Sark, who was once the offensive coordinator for Pete Carroll’s championship teams, proved you can come home again.

In another truly entertaining game with massive playoff implications, LSU came roaring from a 17 point second half deficit to knock off the Badgers of Wisconsin: 28-24.

LSU under the “Mad-Hatter” aka Coach Les Miles has now won a school record 46 in a row against non-conference opponents.

Wiscy was no pushover, and under Miles the Bayou Bengals are a jaw-dropping 22-21 when trailing in the fourth quarter.   Amazing!!!

The grass chewing head man, who is 11-0 in season openers, used his patented bold move, after what appeared to be a three and out to start the second half, and called for a fake punt to secure the first down, and change the entire momentum of the game.

The victory propels LSU into the playoff race.

But the most impressive team of the first week was the Aggies of Texas A&M, who marched into Columbia, South Carolina, and marched out with a stunning 52-28 victory over Steve Spurrier’s Cocks.

In the distant days of Spurrier’s Florida “Fun-n-Gun” the Head Ball Coach used to say, “We hung a half-a-hundred on ‘em.”

Well this time it was the Aggies freshman QB Kenny Hill, who torched the Gamecocks for school record 511 yards through the air, as the Sons of George H.W. Bush scored 7TDs in its first eleven possessions.

Truly a Fifth Avenue penthouse worthy performance!!

And as always, the man who retired the MOO Award (Master of the Obvious) Mr. Obnoxious, analyst Gary Danielson said in the Navy – Ohio State game, “I would take the penalty, because if you don’t OSU will be in field goal range.”

Really!! And for this they pay him large dinero. Only in America!!!

On the local front it was close for a half, but BC exerted itself in the second, and defeated UMass 30-7 spoiling the debut of Coach Mark Whipple.

Finally a shout out to the Temple Owls who stunned Vanderbilt 37-7 as the Commodores turned the ball over seven times.

It was Temple’s first victory over a SEC opponent since FDR sat in the Oval Office in 1938!!

Good for them – and Temple which won a total of 2 games last season, just may be ready to do some flexing this season.

That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 2 Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.   pk

Saturday Football

We begin the opening week of the 2014 season with a snap of inspiration.

Freshman Aaron Golub is getting the opportunity to be one of Tulane’s long snappers.

“Let me alert the media,” you say!

Well the big deal is; Golub is legally blind.

“Close one eye, then make a fist with the hole the size of a dime, and put that opening to your eye, and that is Aaron’s continuous view,” said his snapping instructor Chris Rubio.

The kid has overcome that Himalayan obstacle and is embracing the opportunity to compete on the team. “There is nothing you can’t accomplish, if you really want to do it,” said the snapper.

Tulane head man Curtis Johnson is equally impressed.

“Aaron is a tremendous young man who has not let adversity overcome his desire to fulfill his dreams of playing college football,” he said. Good for you coach. We need more guys like Johnson.

This weekend let’s “see” which teams, (with apologies to the Boss), are blinded by the bright lights, and which seize victory, seemingly in a snap.

No.13 LSU vs. No.14 Wisconsin – (ESPN, 9 p.m.) Houston Neither coach plans on announcing his starting QB until game time.

For the faithful it’s almost like waiting to hear the legendary voice of the recently deceased Don Pardo on the “Price Is Right” shouting in his mellifluous baritone for a contestant to, “C’mooon Down!!!”

In his nine years as the eccentric leader of the Baton Rouge eleven, Coach Les Miles, aka the “Mad Hatter” has compiled a stellar resume which includes 95 victories and a national championship.

Last year’s squad sent nine players to the NFL, so, while the cupboard remains stocked with talent, it is as thin as Barak Obama on experience, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

Whoever is called upon (Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris) to direct the Death Valley wagon train, he is cocooned in luxury by four returning o-line starters, anchored by its All-America tackle La’el Collins.

The Tiger faithful are also hoping that the next great Bayou back will be the nation’s top rated recruit; Leonard Fournette – (4.3 forty) – who will be expected to carry the early offensive load.

The D, led by ends Jermauria Rasco, Danielle Hunter, and backer D.J. Welter, has more speed than a West Virginia meth-lab, and must be the early season standard bearer.

Once again, the Big Ten has an opportunity to show the country; that when it lines up against the “big boys” its conference is no longer a card carrying member of the Humpty Dumpty Society.

And just as the swallows annually return to Capistrano, the staple in Mad-Town, is the Badger’s ground assault, which is the envy of all; including the Israeli Army.

Operating behind a road-grading offensive line, All-America tailback Melvin Gordon, and his partner Corey Clement, comprise one of the two best tandems in America.

We think Wiscy Coach Gary Andersen will ultimately decide on the more experienced QB Joel Stave to start the game, but if he should stumble, Tanner McEvoy will definitely see some playing time.

Regardless, whoever gets the call, he will be hamstrung by a receiving corps whose overall experience is Twiggy thin.

The D, anchored by ends Chikwe Obasih, Konrad Zagzebski, and nose Warren Herring, has been issued a mandate, to blitz more than the German Luftwaffe.

With apologies to Dorothy, we think LSU’s speed once again reinforces to the Big Ten, that they’re: “Not in Kansas anymore.”

No.16 Clemson at No.12 Georgia (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.) The king (QB Aaron Murray) is dead, long live the king.

The newly crowned ruler is fifth year senior QB Hutson Mason, who voluntarily redshirted in 2012 for this opportunity to be the lead Dawg between the hedges in 2014.

The Bulldogs will snarl behind its scintillating tailback tandem; All-America Todd Gurley, and his equally dynamic partner Keith Marshall (knee) arguably the best pairing since; Bogart and Bacall.

If Georgia’s passel of receivers: Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett, and Chris Conley, Jonathan Rumph, and Reggie Davis remain healthy, memories of Aaron Murray may fade faster than Scott Brown.

Who??

On the defensive side, newly minted D-coordinator Jeremy Pruitt promises a stouter group, and will lean heavily on All-America backer Ramik Wilson, and his talented partner Amarlo Herrera for stability.

But as the Athens faithful are painfully aware, the Dawgs colander secondary is as big of an unknown as presidential nominee for the Republican Party.

The Orange-clad Clemson zealots are about to discover what life is like “PTB” – post Tajh Boyd.

Senior QB Cole Stoudt had been handed the keys to the Tiger Cadillac, but how smoothly it runs, and in which direction it heads, will largely depend on a bunch of untested parts.

The running game will churn on the legs of former walk-on C.J. Davidson, and his partner redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman.

And the receiving corps, led by senior Adam Humphries, and rocket sophomore Mike Williams, remains very much in an incubation stage.

In the early going the D, featuring All-America end Vic Beasley (13 sacks), his bookend Corey Crawford, and backer Stephone Anthony, will be the main support beam for the Clemson season.

Clemson opening its season in Athens is kudos worthy, but Georgia in Sanford Stadium is as deadly as the Ebola virus, or a straight right from Hope Solo at a family party, and the visitors will feel its effects.

No.1 FSU vs Oklahoma State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) Arlington, Texas – Jameis “Crablegs” Winston, the Noles reigning Heisman winner, is focused on leading the Seminoles to a championship redux.

When he isn’t being questioned by the cops, the Tallahassee assassin, is comforted by a seasoned offensive line starring All-America tackle Cameron Erring.

The dual-threat QB also has the luxury of targeting a pair of glue-fingered All-Americas; tight end Nick O’Leary, and wideout Rashad Greene.

The Kenyan quality running game, is led by its relentless plough horse; Karlos Williams.

The D, featuring end Mario Edwards, backer Terrance Smith, and corner P.J. Williams attacks from all angles, and moves faster than a UPS delivery man working on a Friday deadline.

It may be a season of dry wells for the faithful of Boone Pickens University; aka Oklahoma State University.

The offense is under the command of talented junior QB J.W. Walsh, who is ably assisted by tailback Desmond Roland, and a field stretching target in Big 12 sprint champ, Tyreek Hill.

(The kid flies, but can he catch?)

The D has only four returning starters, led by end Jimmy Bean, and backer Ryan Simmons, and will be tested more often than a Jet Blue pilot.

We think The Sons of Bobby Bowden celebrate with a post-game crab legs feast, as FSU begins its title defense in a dominating fashion.

No.18 Mississippi vs. Boise State (ESPN, 7p.m.) – Thursday Atlanta The Rebels haven’t been this excited since General Robert E. Lee’s victory at Fredericksburg.

The Sons of Archie Manning are directed by QB Bo Wallace, the Grove’s most dynamic gunslinger, since another Manning, with the given name of Eli, was illuminating the skies over Oxford.

This dual-threat marksman is assisted by a pair of talented tailbacks L’Tavius Mathers, and Jaylen Walton, while the receiving corps; Laquon Treadwell, and Vince Sanders will test any defense.

The D returns nine starters, led by All-America safety Cody Prewitt, along with backers Sederius Bryant, and Denzel Nkemdiche, but must end its proclivity of surrendering the big play.

There’s a new sheriff in Boise.

Iconic legend Chris Petersen left for the $$greener pasture$ of the University of Washington, and the Broncos reins have been handed to its new man; Coach Bryan Harsin.

Senior QB Grant Hedrick will be Blue-Fielders show pony, with big assists from starry tailback Jay Ajayi, and a pair of touchdown making wideouts; Matt Miller, and Shane Williams-Tehodes.

The D, anchored by a quartet of backers; Ben Weaver, Tyler Gray, Tanner Vallejo, and Blake Renaud, will attack from all angles.

Eighteen (18) is the official speed limit on the Ole Miss Campus, in honor Archie’s retired number, and unfortunately for Boise, 18 may just be the size of the Rebels margin of victory.

[As a wizened coach once said, “Remember you can’t coach speed,” and this is SEC speed.]

Boston College at University of Massachusetts (ESPN3, 3 p.m.) Gillette Stadium

Billed as the “Battle of the Bay State,” (must everything be saddled with a cliché name?) this is a scary game for the Eagles, who are in transition, or as Tom Menino once said, “Transmission.”

And unlike General Motors, BC hopes there won’t be an endless list of recalls on its new and untested parts.

QB Tyler Murphy, a Florida transfer, will direct the Eagles, with assists from tailback Myles Willis, but outside of wideout Bobby Swigert, the receiving corps remains as weak as the campaign of Don Berwick.

The D’s strength is a pack of backers featuring Mike Strizak, Tim Joy, Sean Duggan, and Steven Daniels, along with highly touted true-freshman Harold Landry.

This is the first time the blog has written about the State’s flagship university.

The Minutemen faithful are ecstatic over the return of Coach Mark Whipple, its football version of the “Belle of Amherst.”

The offensive guru, who should have been named the Eagles coach four years ago when Frank Spaziani was hired, is the right man to try and save the program, and just may spring the upset.

He has scrapped the spread attack, and returned to a pro-style set, which will be directed by a talented QB transfer from Marshall; Blake Frohnapfel.

Tailback Lorenzo Woodley will be the tailback du-jour, while receivers Tajae Sharpe, and Alex Kenney combine to comprise a quality receiving duo.

Last season’s sieve-like D, led by nose Daniel Maynes, backers Stanley Andre, Javon Santos-Knox, and corner Randall Jette must improve dramatically if the Minutemen are to be competitive.

We know this is a long shot, UMass could get run over, but the Amherst underdogs have the better coach, and we’ve got a feeling that if Rockwell were he alive, he would be painting a cover of Whipple.

That’s it from cyber-space. Make sure to read our recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music     PK

saturday football number 1

kj  – testing

Saturday Football

Based on the color edict issued by Buckeye Coach Urban Meyer, Joni Mitchell the iconic folk-rock goddess of the sixties would not be a welcomed presence at the Horseshoe of Ohio State.

The title and cover color of her classic album “Blue” would be an anathema to Meyer’s senses.

The reason, the coach instituted a policy that brims with paranoia, he doesn’t allow “ANYONE” wearing the color blue, the colors of the “School up North” as the faithful of Ohio State refer to its arch-rival Michigan, to grace the OSU football complex.  (UM by the way, is a superior academic school.)

The rule applies to fans, media members, and even scouts from the NFL.  It must bring nodding approval from the Chinese government.

Earlier this year, a pair of unsuspecting NFL scouts had the temerity to walk into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center wearing the offending sartorial hue.  As soon as they were spotted they were hooted upon by the Buckeye players, and staff members were instructed to give the scouts Ohio State shirts to cover the offending attire.

Amazingly the scouts didn’t give Meyer the big “How do you do,” but acquiesced by donning the shirts.

Others in attendance who witnessed the event, said it was truly embarrassing.

This weekend, let’s see which teams wear their shirts proudly, exhibiting a performance “As constant as a northern star,” and which perform like another Joni lyric, “Help me I think I’m falling…,” leaving its alums truly blue, or as Joni again sang, “I’ll be in the bar.”

No. 6 South Carolina at No. Georgia (ESPN, 4:30 p.m.)  It’s very early, but a Gamecock victory and the “Head Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier, just might punch his ticket into the SEC Championship game.

The heart of the Cocks attack is its dual-threat senior QB Connor Shaw, who is as rugged and determined as Diana Nyad, while his throwing partner Dylan Thompson provides a nice classic QB combo for the coach.

South Carolina’s ground attack is energized by its powerful tailbacks Mike Davis, and Brandon Wilds, who pinball through a defense, while wideouts Shaq Roland, and Bruce Ellington, provide field-stretching targets.

The tensile strength of the Cocks is its D, anchored by All-World end Jadeveon Clowney, his bookend Chaz Sutton, and supported by safety T.J. Gurley.  They will ultimately determine the destination of the South Carolina season.

In Athens there is already a sense of desperation, and despite losing its leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell to a season ending touchdown celebration, there remains plenty of firepower in the Bulldogs attack.

The Dawgs are directed by its highly touted QB Aaron Murray, with a huge assist from the tailback pairing; All-America Todd Gurley, and Keith Marshall.  When the senior gunslinger takes to the air, receivers Michael Bennett and Chris Conley are inviting targets, and must make up for the loss of Mitchell.

The D which has issues with tackling, is bed rocked by its starry backer Amarlo Herrera and his partner Ramik Wilson.

In many ways this is the super-bowl for both teams, and even though the game is being played between the Hedges, we think the Cocks crow on Sunday morning sitting in the pole position of the SEC East.

No.14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan (ESPN, 8 p.m.)  So much for tradition.  Despite meeting for the 41st time Brian Kelly (200-68-2), the newly extended head coach of the Irish doesn’t view the Michigan game as an historic rival of Notre Dame. 

Really! 

To any college football fan, the game is always much watch television.  It is a hard fought, riveting game that often carries high drama.  Maybe the 23-16-1 Wolverine advantage has something to do with it?  Nah, couldn’t, right?  Instead let’s bring on Temple, who 2-76 in its last 78 against is ranked opponents, everyone wants to watch that.

The Golden Domers are led by its classy senior QB Tommy Rees, with assists from tailback Amir Carlisle, George Atkinson III, and Cam McDaniel.

When the quiet leader goes aerial, TJ Jones, and DaVaris Daniels are comforting targets.

A pair of All-Americas and future Sunday performers, nose Louis Nix III, and end Stephon Tuitt, backbone the Iron Curtain D, that will be tested in Ann Arbor.

As much fun as it was watching Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood, (QB Denard Robinson), Meeechigan Coach Brady Hoke finally has his guy at the controls in Devin Gardner.

The talented senior captain is assisted by tailbacks Fitzgerald Toussaint, Derrick Green, field stretching wideout Jeremy Gallon, and monstrous tight end (6-5, 228) Devin Funchess.

The D led by backers Desmond Morgan, and Camer Gordon, will attack from all angles.

If this in fact is the end of, despite what Kelly says, of a great rivalry, Meeechigan hangs another W against the Irish in South Bend.

No. 12 Florida at Miami (ESPN, Noon) There remains a great deal of skepticism (Black Hand) regarding the validity of this Gator team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

The greatest doubt falls on the arm of QB Jeff Driskel and his ability to consistently deliver in a pressure situation.

But make no mistake, despite the long gone days of the Fun-n-Gun, the Gators do have talent.

Tailbacks Mack Brown and Matt Jones are a daunting duo, while wideouts Trey Burton, Quinton Dunbar, and Valdez Shivers can send shivers, and stretch the chains.

But the strength of the Gainesville eleven remains its swarming D, featuring tackles Dominique Easley, Leon Orr, and backer Michael Taylor.

Is this finally the year the Canes break through and win the ACC, and the year the NCAA finally finishes its investigation into violations by the Hurricanes?

Coach Al Golden’s Hurricanes are directed by its talented QB Stephen Harris, with a huge assist from his explosive tailback Duke Johnson, as well as a trio of receivers; Allen Hurns, Phillip Dorsett and tight end Clive Walford.

The D led by backer Denzel Perryman, Alex Figueron, and Jimmy Gaines, remains the biggest enigma since Crockett and Tubbs were solving crimes on the set of Miami Vice.  But if they do jell, it could be a special season for the team from the Gold Coast.

In a highly anticipated, and significant game, we’ll take SEC speed as the Gators reduce the Hurricanes to small craft warnings.

No.15 Texas at BYU (ESPN2, 7 p.m.) Texas is journeying into Provo for only the second time in its history.

It is also hoping that the second time since 1988, the Horns won’t experience a similar car wreck when they were throttled 47-6.

This indeed will be a stern measuring stick for the “revitalized” Sons of Darrell Royal.

Dual-threat QB Davis Ash has been given the keys to the Austin machine, and he will be greatly assisted by a Wildebeest sized herd of tailbacks, led by Jalen Overstreet, and Joe Bergeron.

When the oft-erratic signal caller takes to the skies, wideouts Jaxon Shipley and John Harris provide comfy targets.

The much maligned D, is propelled by ends Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed, and backer Jordan Hicks who hope to shed last season’s Spanish “ole” tackling.

In his seven years as the head man in Provo, Coach Bronco Mendenhall (74-29) has never started a season 0-2.

The Cougs commander is QB Tayson Hill, who does more damage with his legs than his arm.  He is assisted by his starry tailback Jamaal Williams, and wideouts JD Falslev, Ross Apo, and Skyler Ridley are inviting                targets.

The swarming and hard hitting D, behind nose Eathyn Manumaleuna, backer Uani Unga, and its All-America backer Kyle Van Noy will keep BYU in every game.

We are still in a sell mode on Mr. Ash and the Horns, so we’ll take the Boys from the Latter Day Saints to claw out the victory.

No.2 Oregon at Virginia (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The Ducks have more speed than a meth-lab in Appalachia.

QB Marcus Mariota orchestrates the Eugene offense with the precision of a Swiss timepiece.

The supersonic signal caller chooses from a smorgasbord of weapons featuring lightening receiver\ tailback De’Anthony Thomas, receiver Josh Huff, and tight end Colt Lyerla.

The Ducks D, behind backer Taylor Hart, end Tony Washington, and tackle Ricky Havill-Heimuli                                  is often overshadowed by the fly boys on offense, but is deserving of its own all-star billing.

In an effort to bolster his Jeffersonian offense, Virginia Coach Mike London hired three former head men to install some wattage, including old friend Tom O’Brien.

The Cavs are directed QB David Watford, with assists from tailback Kevin Parks and wideout Darius Jennings.

Virginia’s best hire might be D-coordinator Jon Tenuta, who will utilize safety Anthony Harris, backer Henry Coley, and end Eli Harold in very innovative and disruptive ways.

This is the highest ranked team to visit Charlottesville since USC came calling in 2008, (52-7) and unfortunately for the Cavalier faithful, it should be equally ugly in Scott Stadium Saturday afternoon.

 

Last week’s record    4-1                                                         Season record:  4-1

 

That’s it from cyberspace.  We’ll be back with our weekend recap on Sunday by noon.

Until then, Peace, and listen to the music!   PK

Saturday Football – Handicapping Week 1

We begin this week, the season opener with our bon-voyage to former Ohio State President Gordon Gee.
Gee, a college football advocate, was politely shown the door on July 1, after suffering from a recurring case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. He was apparently afflicted with an incurable strain.
Although the following bon-mots won’t make the Tommy Menino Hall of Fame (that is after all, a very special category) they are nonetheless amazingly insensitive for a person in his position.
The first occurred during the height of the Coach Jim Tressell controversy when Gee was asked if Ohio State considered firing its coach.
A smiling Gee said, “No. Are you kidding? Let me just be very clear, I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.” Two months later Tressell was forced to resign.
GG then had this to say about Notre Dame. “Those damn Catholics. The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they raise holy hell the rest of the week.” Of course once his words were made public he was forced to issue an apology.
Here are a couple of other faux pas from his apology tour.
He disparaged the football scheduling of Boise State and TCU saying that Ohio State did not play “The Little Sisters of the Poor.” The Pres apologized and The Ohio State University gave a sizable cash donation to the Sisters – good for them.
Finally, he likened the difficulty in running a large university to the “coordinating of the Polish Army.” Ouch! Something tells me Gee wasn’t serving Kielbasa at his weekly tailgate.
Therefore on this opening Labor Day weekend, let’s see which coordinated teams raise holy hell on the field, and which perform so ineptly, they couldn’t defeat the Little Sisters of the Poor, leaving a shade of crimson on the face of its university president.

No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech – Atlanta (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.) St. Nick’s (one earns the right to that moniker after winning 4 national championships, and compiling a 68-13 resume in six seasons prowling the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium), Tuscaloosan Titans, have more diverse offensive weapons than the murderous regime of President Assad, or the Egyptian military.
The Tide’s triggerman is its “duende-dripping” Heisman candidate QB, AJ McCarron, the nation’s most efficient passer, who sported a 10-1 TD/interception ratio last season, while squiring an All-America statuesque lady friend.
The marksman of the two-time defending national champions is assisted by a pair of All-Americas; tailback T.J. Yeldon and wideout Amari Cooper, creating arguably, the most dynamic offensive trio in America.
If the faithful have an offensive concern, it is an untested o-line that will have three new faces, albeit, with five-star pedigree.
The strength of the Tide’s D, which has 7 returning starters, is its linebacking corps featuring All-America C.J. Mosley, and his three compadres; Trey DePriest, Xzavier Dickson, and Adrian Hubbard.
Last season in Blacksburg, the faithful witnessed a serious puncture to the “Beamer-Ball” Express.
In order to plug that leaky rubber, Coach Frank Beamer hired Auburn’s Scott Loeffler as his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach with the mandate of modernizing the fossilized offense.
The biggest beneficiary, will be the biggest Hokie, its goliath (6-6, 257) QB Logan Thomas. Once touted as a first round pick, the dual-threat Logan resembled, and played like a plane stuck on the tarmac at Logan, completing just a shade over fifty percent of his throws, while often appearing clueless on the field.
The rest of the VaTech attack will feature tailback J.C. Coleman (high ankle sprain), and a passel of fleet footed, but untested receivers.
As it has done for countless seasons, the success of the Blacksburg eleven will depend on the performance of Bud Foster’s D, and with nine returning starters, led by end James Gayle, and tackle Luther Maddy, big things are expected.
Unfortunately, the Hokies could have Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson in the backfield and still not be able to beat Alabama, as Saban begins his trek for an unprecedented (in the modern era) third consecutive national championship, and fourth in five years. If he is successful, he’ll be one step closer to his “Holy Grail” quest of passing the Bear’s record of six. (The last team to win three consecutive titles was the great Army teams of the WWII era 1944-46.
No.5 Georgia at No.8 Clemson (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) Kudos to both schools for not munching on a season opening cupcake, but scheduling a prime season opening entree with huge national implications.
In Athens, the Dawgs offense is stronger than the Fed’s case against Whitey Bulger, or the Commonwealth’s case against Jared Remy.
The Bulldogs are directed by its senior All-America caliber QB Aaron Murray, who barring injury, upon graduation, will hold every major passing record in Georgia football history.
The starry signal caller is assisted by possibly the best tailback tandem in the nation; Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, better known as “Gurshall” in a cap tipping acknowledgement to Georgia’s iconic Heisman winner Hershel Walker.
The QB also has a pair of field stretching receivers; Michael Bennett and Chris Conley.
The D featuring end Garrison Smith, and backer Amario Herrera, remains a Sanford Stadium enigma, but needs only to be average for it to be a truly special season in Athens.
With apologies to Jim Morrison, is this the year that the Tigers “Break on through to the other side?”
The Death Valley faithful are giddy over consecutive 10-win seasons (21-5) for the first time since 41– GHW Bush – the good one – occupied the White House in 1989-90.
Clemson is led by its dual-threat All-America caliber QB Tajh Boyd, who is comforted by his Linus-blanket All-America receiver Sammy Watkns. While a deep and seasoned offensive line will road grade wide opportunities for newly minted tailback Rod McDowell.
Second year defensive coordinator Brent Venables has solidified the D, which features nose Grady Jarrett, tackles Josh White and Deshawn Williams, while Spencer Shuey anchors the backers.
In a game in which the scoreboard operator should be an arithmetician, Clemson keeps its national title aspirations full steam ahead.
No.12 LSU vs. No.20 TCU – Arlington (ESPN, 9 p.m.) The Bengal Tigers best recruit signing wasn’t a player, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron – (formerly of the Baltimore Ravens – and more importantly a close friend of Les Miles) – whose sole mission is to insert a spark into the Tigers moribund offense.
The Coach’s arrival will be a huge boost for the Tigers overly scrutinized senior QB Zach Mettenbeger. The Prudential-sized signal caller (6-5, 230) is supported by a pair of talented backs Alfred Blue and Kenny Hillard, while wideout Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are game breaking targets.
LSU’s D is as usual, the Death Valley calling card, and despite having lost a ton to graduation, the faithful will be comforted by a pair of All-Americas, tackle Anthony Johnson and safety Craig Loston, with an assist from backer Lamin Barrow.
In his dozen years at the Fort Worth campus, head man Gary Patterson, one of the nation’s most underrated coaches, has compiled a Mount Rushmore-esque record of; 116-36.
And this at a school where in the late 90’s its student body chanted at games, “Two, four, six, eight, score before we graduate.”
The Horned Frogs will also have the services of its Prodigal Son QB Casey Pachall, who returns after spending time in a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse. In addition, tailback Waymon James returns after missing 11 games with a knee injury, and he’ll blend nicely with Nebraska transfer Aaron Green.
The Purple Frogs D will set the tone for the season, as nine returning starters led by a pair of All-Americas; end Devonte Fields (dressed may not play) and corner Jason Verrett has the faithful dreaming of the championship days of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh.
There is a strong pull to take the Sons of Bob Lilly, but LSU has the better lineage, and the “Mad Hatter” somehow finds a way pull another W out of his chapeau.
No.19 Boise State at Washington (FSN 1, 10 p.m.) Coach Chris Petersen Blue Turfers are a jaw-dropping 84-8 in his seven seasons as the head man in Boise. (I know Sooner man, who have they played.)
Senior QB Joe Southwick is the established leader, who will have the luxury of utilizing an intentionally stripped down playbook. His steady hand will target a host of receivers featuring Matt Miller, while talented tailback in Jay Ajayi will handle the ground attack.
The D which has a lot of new faces, is anchored by ends Demarcus Lawrence, Sam Ukwauchu, and tackle Tjung-A-Tjoe, but will spend the early part of the season on the learning curve.
After three consecutive 7-6 season, the Seattle faithful are beginning to lose patience with Coach Steve Sarkisian.
The key to the Huskies season will be the rebound of its senor QB Keith Price, who dramatically regressed last season, as well as how quickly he adapts to the newly installed no-huddle up-tempo attack. Four returning offensive linemen should provide plenty of protection and provide plenty of open space for its starry tailback Bishop Sankey.
Wideout Kasen Williams provides a welcoming target, but it Gibraltar-sized (6-6, 266) All-America tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out with a broken pinkie finger.
The improving D features a trio of backers Shaq Thompson, Travis Feeney and John Timu.
The temptation is to take the Huskies at home, but it is never a good idea to go against Bosie in an opener, so we’ll take the Broncos to ride home with the W.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt Expectations in Oxford, the home of William Faulkner, haven’t been this high since Archie and Eli were leading the Rebels.
In fact you know you’re football royalty when your former jersey number 18 – Archie’s – is the official speed limit on the campus of your alma-mater.
Ole Miss’s newest gunslinger, and hopeful heir the Manning legacy, is dual-threat QB Bo Wallace, who has the luxury of being protected by a grizzled offensive line.
The dynamic leader has a quartet of skyscraper receivers led by starry field stretcher Donte Moncrief, and when the Rebels take to the ground, tailback Jeff Scott is a very capable runner.
The improving D returns seven starters led by backer Donzel Nkemdiche and end C.J. Johnson.
Coach James Franklin has dramatically altered the culture of losing in Nashville. Last season the Commodores won nine games (although none were against teams with a better than .500 record) for the first time since Woodrow Wilson – 1915 – occupied the White House.
It will now fall to newly installed starter Austyn Carta-Samuels to continue that upward trend.
The QB had a pair of stellar targets; All-America Jordan Matthews, but his partner Chris Boyd was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in an ugly rape case involving five members of the football team. It has left a terrible stench around the Vandy campus. When the Dores run Wesley Tate will get the bulk of the carries.
Vanderbilt’s stingy D is led backers Chase Garnham, Karl Butler, and safety Kenny Ladler.
In a game that is evenly matched, but with distractions aplenty for Vandy, we’ll take the Rebels and the spirit of Archie and Eli to carry the day.
That’s it from cyber space, we’ll be back with week 2 next Wednesday evening, and be sure to read our weekend recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday.
Until then, Peace. And listen to the music. PK
END

Army/Navy Game Analysis

We begin the 113th Army/Navy Week, the last pure amateur sporting event left in America; with our version of: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The Jimmy Stewart-Donna Reed classic, is a must watch during the Christmas season, and the following story; of taking my old man to the game, will be the annual lead into our analysis.

Here it is:

On December 7, 1963, at the age of 11, some two weeks after the assassination of President Kennedy, I watched my first college football game.

It was the Army/Navy game, which featured Navy’s Heisman Trophy winner, QB Roger Staubach.

I watched with my dad, in the living room on the top floor of our Dorchester three-decker.

We watched on a black and white Philco television, and even though the “old man,” was World War II Army, I was rooting for Navy.

It was a spine-tingling and controversial ending, with the Midshipmen hanging on for the 21-15 victory, as time ran out with Army perched on the Navy one yard line.

It began a life long love affair with the game of college football, in which, I remain involved, by writing an on-line newspaper column, and as a Heisman Trophy voter.

But for me, the significance of the Army/Navy Game has much deeper roots.

My dad passed away a shade over 11 years ago, and four years before his demise, in the spring of 1998, he experienced a “mini” stroke, which made me realize that this 75 year old guy wouldn’t be around forever.

It was that realization, which put my plan into action.

I would surprise my dad, by taking him to witness the classic first hand, sort of a “full-circle” journey.

It was to be a one day whirlwind excursion.

I made the airline reservations, but now I needed some tickets.

Not just any seats, but something good, especially for a guy in his mid-seventies.

I called my pal, Bill Brett, the former great photographer of the Boston Globe.

I asked Bill, if he would ask the late sports columnist Will McDonough, if he would ask his son Sean, who at the time was working at CBS Sports, and calling the game, for help securing some tickets.

They all came through, and I picked up the tickets at the will-call window in an envelope marked; CBS Sports. 

The kid at the window proclaimed, “You must be important!” 

Little did he know!

We ventured to our seats, lower level at the old Vet Stadium in Philadelphia, 8 rows up from the rail, 45 yard line; Perfect!

Here we are, sitting around various Naval brass, when after a few minutes, my father, a former Army corporal looks at me and says, “Are you sure we are in the right seats?”

Translation: How could a nitwit like you, pull off seats like these!

We had a great day watching, what was, at the time, (since surpassed) the highest scoring contest in the rivalry; a 34-30 Army victory.

On the plane ride home, just as we were about to take off, the old man leaned in again and said, “In case I forget, I want to thank you.”

For a WW II father, that simple statement is like War and Peace.  He passed away three years later.

That’s why the game is my version of a Christmas story.

Army vs. Navy (Ch.4, 3 p.m. – Philadelphia) This is the first time since the Administration of W (2005) that the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy will be awarded to the winner.

In the last decade, it has been rough seas for the Cadets, as the Midshipmen have sailed to a record; 10 consecutive victories.

The triple-option is the operative choice for both teams, and there will be more sleight of hand, than a Houdini show, or a New York pickpocket in Macys, on the last shopping weekend before Christmas.

The Sons of Roger Staubach averaging 285 yards rushing are commanded by freshman QB Keenan Reynolds, with assists from tailbacks: Gee Gee Green, and Noah Copeland.

When the Middies take to the air, a rarity, (Navy is 3rd from the bottom in passing) wideout Brandon Turner is an effective chain mover.

The D, featuring backers; Keegan Wetzel (13.5 tfls – 6 sacks), and Matt Warrick, isn’t stellar, but ranks a respectable 36th in points allowed; surrendering 23 a game.

[Note: Navy’s team has a Middie, with what may be the best name to have ever matriculated through the Academy: Wave Ryder, a safety, who is from, where else; Hawaii!]

The good news for the Black Knights of the Hudson, who are last in passing, is that they lead the nation in rushing: grinding out 369 yards a game.

Unfortunately for the Cadets, its D is a bottom feeding second worst in attempting to stop the opposition’s runners.

Army marches behind its stellar QB, Trent Steelman (16 rushing TDs – over 1100 yards), who along with tailbacks; Raymond Maples, and Larry Dixon, have combined for a shade under 3000 yards.

The Army albatross is a colander defense, which would make George Patton apoplectic. These goldbrickers featuring backer Nate Combs (12 tfls – 6 sacks), and tackle Robert Kough, allow an abandon ship total of; 37 points a game.

In what we believe will be a very competitive game, the Commander-In-Chief Trophy returns to Annapolis, as Navy, Anchors Aweigh with its eleventh consecutive victory.

 

Last week:  4-1                                                          Season record:  51-19.

Well another season in the books!  Thanks to all for reading – it was fun!!  Stay well, Merry Christmas, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK

Recap Week 14

On January 7, Alabama plays Notre Dame for the National Championship.

Let the breathless hype begin.

 This game will be dissected more closely than O.J.’s bloody glove, or Elizabeth Warren’s heritage.

The glamour pairing carries the same heft as; DiMaggio and Monroe, Bogart and Bacall, Mick and Keith, or Ara and the Bear.

In fact, greatest game I ever watched: ’73 Sugar Bowl, New Year’s Eve; 24-23 ND over Bama, Ara vs. Bear, for National Championship.

Unfortunately, for the Irish faithful, this particular dream could turn into a horror show.

The ground force of Alabama’s firepower was on roaring display in the second half of the SEC Championship Game.

The Tide rolled for 350 punishing rushing yards in its 32-28 comeback victory over Georgia.

In fact over the last five years of its run, when Alabama, under Saban, rushes for at least 150 yards, its record is an eye-popping: 48-0.

That will be the test for Notre Dame.

Can the Irish front seven, led by its Heisman candidate, linebacker Manti Teo, penetrate the seemingly impenetrable and All-America laden, Bama offensive line?

St. Nick’s Tuscaloosan Titans, are also trying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since the Nebraska teams of Tommy Frazier in 1994,’95.

Speaking of Nebraska, yikes, it’s time for the Administration to take a serious look at Coach Bo Pelini.

His Cornhusker team was shredded by the Badgers of Wisconsin, allowing more than a point a minute, in its 70-31 drubbing.  Double Yikes!

And no, this wasn’t a basketball game; it was for a spot in the Rose Bowl.

Wiscy ran for a Jaw-dropping 539 rushing yards, as the once revered “Black-Shirts” D, was reduced to a bunch of slow footed players, sporting, not eye black, but black eyes.

The Lincoln nightmare occurred against a team with 5 losses, and one whose offense ranked a less than mediocre; 84th in the nation.  Mind boggling!

It has been 13 years and counting, since Nebraska football last captured a Conference Championship, and with Ohio State coming off probation, the future is grim.

As for Husker Coach Bo Pelini, who once again “apologized” for his team’s no-show, he may be on the clock next year.

But in all honesty, this wasn’t just a no-show, it was an AWOL by the coaching staff.

In contrast, congrats to QB Tino Sunseri, and tailback Ray Graham of the Pitt Panthers for punching its ticket into a bowl game after its; 27-3 victory over South Florida.

After its first two games, Pitt was 0-2, including a loss to a Division 1AA team, and looked like one of the worst teams in the nation.

Under the tutelage of first year head man; Paul Chryst, the Panthers bounced backed impressively, allowing its two classy seniors the opportunity to wear the Pitt uniform one more time.

Good for them!

Finally it was once again: “Sorry Charlie,” for old friend, and KU coach, Charlie Weis as his sorry Jayhawks (1-11) were eviscerated by West Virginia; 59-10.

Kansas has now lost 20 consecutive conference games and 20 in a row to Division 1 opponents.  YIKES!!

That’s a record of ineptitude that could challenge Mass drug lab chemist; Annie Dookhan.

Here’s hoping that BC will do the right thing and look across the river at Harvard’s Timmy Murphy for its next football coach.

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with the last regular game of the season, our favorite: Army/Navy on Wednesday night, as well as the results of my Heisman ballot.

Until Then, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK