Michigan travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State, Notre Dame hosts USC in the 86th renewal of their intrasectional classic, Surprising Columbia visits Dartmouth for Ivy League supremecy

 

Yale’s newest bulldog mascot Handsome Dan XVIII                        AP photo

We begin this week with the nation’s third most common mascot, in this case an Old English bulldog who answers to the name Handsome Dan XVIII, and resides at one of the nation’s most prestigious schools.

The rankings of the most popular college mascots falls the following way: the eagle leads with 74, followed by the tiger at 46, then the beloved bulldog comes in at 39.

Dan, who just celebrated his first birthday, calls New Haven, Connecticut home, and his address is Yale University.

His duties are to attend every Yale team’s games, make hospital visits, and of course make an appearance at the all-important fund-raisers.

Dan also led the 2017 commencement parade strutting alongside the Eli President Peter Salovey.

His recently deceased predecessor was photographed with presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, as well as Paul McCartney and Dan the XVIII can only hope to have such a successful run.

This weekend, let’s see which teams have gone to the dogs, and which, like Yale’s young mascot, struts off the field bone tired, but with enough bite to fight another day.

No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State (Ch. 5, 7:30 p.m.) If Michigan is to spring the upset, its Gandalf-esque defensive coordinator, and Massachusetts native Don Brown, the former headman of Northeastern and UMass, will need to concoct a brew as strong as the VX nerve agent that Kim Jong-Un brewed to eliminate his half-brother.

 

Michigan d-coordinator and Spencer,Mass native Don Brown       AP photo

These top ranked defensive “Sons of Gerald Ford” anchored by backers Devin Bush (5.5 tfls – 4.5 sacks) Mike McCray (5.5 tfls – 2 sacks), and end Chase Winovich (7.5 tfls – 5.5 sacks) are as disruptive as a Harvey Weinstein sighting at the next Democratic National convention, yet perform in Mozart perfection allowing a miniscule 14-points a game.

But as magnificently as its D has shined, Blue’s offense (79th scoring – 27 pts.) has been as invisible as Patrick McGoohan in the television series; “Secret Agent” which ran from 1964-67.

The reason for that scoring drought lays at the arms of its QBs, now under the direction of John O’Korn, as the Michigan offense has been as dreadful (109th) as a Sunday homily that rehashes word-for-word the gospel reading.

It has forced Coach Jim Harbaugh to return to his roots, and the Wolverines identity; its ground and pound running attack (UM’s last 1000-yards rusher was 2011) led by the quality earth-moving tandem: Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac.

These guys must operate like the Surgeon General, if “Mighty Michigan” is to remain a top-25 player.

In Happy Valley, its “Happy days are here again” as the undefeated Nittany Lions are carrying its highest ranking (No. 2) since Prince was partying like it’s; 1999.

 

Penn State’s Heisman contender Saquon Barkley           AP photo

The resurgence can be traced to its offensive duopoly of its Heisman contending “Mr. Everything” tailback, Saquon Barkley, and QB Trace (13 TDs -4 Ints -67%) McSorley.

This duo has been as destructive as the US backed Syrian Democratic Forces liberating Raqqa, Syria.

But all is not “peaches and cream” in River City, as he ‘Nits offensive line has more holes than the DUI convictions based on the Massachusetts breathalyzer.

But when its cucumber cool swashbuckler QB is given the time, wideouts Juwan Johnson, DaeSean Hamilton, and tight end Mike Gesicki are dangerous game changing targets.

But the surprise has been the D of these “Sons of Jack Ham.”

The country’s stingiest (9) eleven, led by backers Jason Cabinda, Manny Bowen, and safety Marcus Allen is as ornery as the relationship between Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson, and stones runners and deflates passes with the same proficiency as the keeper stripers feasting on mackerel schools in the Cape Cod Canal.

This game will severely test Mr. Brown’s wizardry, and as much as we’d like to side with our native son, we think it will be the Lions who do indeed party like it’s 1999 with another cornerstone added into its playoff resume.

No. 11 USC at No. 13 Notre Dame (Ch. 10, 7:30 p.m.) For the 86th edition of this classic intersectional rivalry (ND holds a 44-36-5 edge), the Irish are honoring its 1977 national championship team in which 80 members are expected to be on hand.

But that is of no concern to these Men of Troy commanded by its starry QB Sam Darnold (15 TDs – 9 Ints – 62%) who despite his plethora of turnovers is no Trojan Horse as his 15-2 record as a starter indicates.

 

USC QB Sam Darnold                                         AP photo

The unflappable blond bomber, who seems to do his best work when under duress, is assisted by a turbo-charged tailback Ronald Jones II (8 TDs – 6.3 a carry), and a quartet of chain-moving targets; Deontay Burnett (6 TDs), Tyler Vaughns, Steven Mitchell, and tight end Tyler Petite.

Unfortunately, the D of these “Sons of Ronnie Lott” featuring end Christian Rector (6.5 sacks), backer Cameron Smith (6.5 tfls), and safety Marvell Tell isn’t vintage USC (90th pass defense), but manages to brace nicely in the red zone allowing a respectable 23-points a game.

Amazingly, ND Coach Brian Kelly has yet to defeat a top-10 ranked team at home, and that will hold true this weekend.

 

Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush                                 AP photo

The catalyst of this “Touchdown Jesus” eleven is its slithery, dual-threat QB, Brandon Wimbush (6 TDs – 2 Ints – 52% – 8-rushing) who has ignited the Irish student body almost as well as the candles at the campus Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes.

The Domers have scorched the earth behind the nation’s 5th best rushing offense (308 yds.), with its bell cow Josh Adams, who averages 9 yards a touch, and 129 yards a game, leading the committee of tailbacks.

When ND takes to the Rockne skies, wideouts Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypool, and tight end Alize Mack are dangerous defense stressors.

The D, anchored by backers Nyles Morgan, Greer Martini, and Te’von Coney only yields 16-points a game, but struggles (78th) defending the pass, which is not a winning formula against USC.

In this high-stakes contest, it’s easier to pick the winner of the next Kenyan election, but we think the visitors from the City of Angels, finally string together four strong quarters, leaving “Touchdown Jesus” with a tear stain flowing down his cheek and without an invite to the playoff dance.

Columbia at Dartmouth (ELEV, 12:30 p.m.)  This may well be the most compelling game of the day.  And Columbia in one of the best stories in all of college football.

This is a first place showdown between a pair of undefeated elevens – yes, buckaroos, Columbia is 5-0, and certainly deserving of some recognition.

 

Columbia Coach Al Bagnoli                                  AP photo

Since taking over the Lions in 2015, after spending 23-years prowling the sidelines of Penn where he captured nine Ivy League titles (3 of which were perfect seasons), Coach Al Bagnoli, a future HOF, and nicknamed the CEO, has transformed the culture of the Columbia football program.

It had fallen into an abyss even lower than anything Edgar Allen Poe might conjure, as the Lions were a mud-sucking 45-134 between 1997 and 2014 before Bagnoli’s arrival.

But seemingly miraculously, these “Sons of Sid Luckman” stand tall at 5-0 for the first time since Bill Clinton was in the middle of a re-election campaign 1996, and have the opportunity to take over first place if it captures the W in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Columbia’s offensive igniter is its senior conductor, QB Anders Hill (13 TDs – 2 Ints -63%), who has the luxury of focusing on a trio of talented chain movers; Josh Wainwright (6 TDs), Ronald Smith III (4 TDs), and Emerson Kabus, all of whom average 15-yards a grab.

But as well as its passing game has operated, Columbia’s ground attack (76th) featuring Tanner Thomas, and Chris Schruer runs about as well as the MBTA’s Red Line in a Nor’easter.

The D, once as creaky and rusty as that bucket of bolts AKA the Tobin Bridge, featuring backer Michael Murphy (6 tfls), and safeties Ryan Gilbert, and Landon Baty, has been reinforced with steely feistiness and allowing a very respectable average of; 20-points a game.

In Hanover, they’ve taken to calling Dartmouth’s Big Green “the cardiac kids” for its season long dramatics in come-from-behind late game heroics.

 

Dartmouth QB Jack Heneghan                                                     AP photo

These “Sons of Buddy Teevens” are under the guidance of QB Jack Heneghan (11 TDs – 2 Ints – 64%) who gets a huge assist from his all-purpose tailback Ryder Stone, mixed with a pair of sure-handed receivers; Emory Thompson, and Drew Hunnicutt.

D’s D, led by backers Jack Traynon, Eric Meile, and safety Kyran McKinney-Crudden hits harder and with more precision than a blacksmith working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In a game filled with great intrigue, with the top spot in the Ivy riding on its outcome, we’ll stay with Columbia, as the Lions and its remarkable season continues to roar throughout the land.

No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas (Ch.5, Noon) The Pokes of Boone Pickens University, AKA Oklahoma State continues to put up pinball numbers.

 

OKState’s Heisman contending QB Mason Rudolph                            AP photo

It sits second in the nation in scoring (48 pts. a game) courtesy of its surgical dissector, and Heisman contending QB Mason Rudolph (19 TDs -4 Ints – 66%), who hits his target with the same consistency as Ted Williams during the 1941 season.

The nation’s third most efficient sharpshooter, luxuriates in locking onto his Linus-blanket All-World wideout James Washington (6 TDs), who averages an otherworldly 25-yards a catch, while his partners Marcell Ateman (4 TDs), and Jalen McCleskey (5 TDs), carry the same game breaking ability and comprise the top ranked passing game in America.

When “Coach Mullet” Mike Gundy takes a reprieve from his rockets-red glare air-attack, tailbacks Justice Hill (6 yds -5 TDs), and JD King (6 yds) are quality road graders and must be respected.

The Cowboys D, as with most of its Big 12 brethren (TCU is the exception) led by backers Chad Whitener, Justin Phillips, and safety Tre Flowers is pedestrian in every way, and against a high-powered offense may well cost the Cowboys a shot at a conference title game invite.

In Austin, the Horns, after a Diogenes like search, have finally found a QB in its dual-threat, t-freshman Sam Ehlinger (6 TDs-3 Ints 54%), who is tougher than a Jane Fonda’s stare at that ratings disaster host Megyn Kelly.

 

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger                                                              AP photo

The kid plays with an élan and cockiness that even John “You can bunk with me, kid” Wayne would approve.

The baby face assassin is assisted by a trio of receivers; Reggie Hemphil, Amant Foreman, and Collin Johnson, but the Horns running attack, led by Chris Warren III is as mellow as the personality of Ed Markey.

The ‘Burnt Orange D, anchored by backers Malik Jefferson (6 tfls), Anthony Wheeler, and safety Brandon Jones struggles mightily (108th) defending against the pass, which is a losing formula against the Cowboys.

Texas has shown great improvement since its opening game debacle against Maryland, but bottom line, we simply don’t trust its secondary to hold up against the Ok State aerial assault, as the Pokes lasso he Horns for the victory.

Indiana at No. 18 Michigan State (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) Maybe the Hoosiers should coax Jim Nabors (age 87) out of retirement for one more stirring rendition of; “Back home again in Indiana” in celebration of these “Sons of Anthony Thompson,” who under its first year coach Tim Allen have become a spunky, dangerous and entertaining eleven.

IU has also found its leader in dual-threat r-s freshman QB Peyton Ramsey (7 TDs-4 Ints – 62%) who despite a Zen-like coolness, is tougher than winter surfer at Nantasket.

 

Indiana QB Peyton Ramsey                                                               AP photo

In fact, after last’s week’s heart-rending overtime loss to Michigan, Jim Harbaugh sought the kid out complimenting him on that toughness then telling him, “I’m going to enjoy watching you play.”  Wow!

With a running game (92nd) that is as feeble as the on-time record of the T’s commuter rail, its left to the Hoosiers QB, and his trio or receivers; Simmie Cobbs, Luke Timian, and tight end Ian Thomas to carry the offensive load.

The D, anchored by a pair of senior backers; the ubiquitous Tegray Scales (6.5 tfls -3.5 sacks), his partner Chris Covington, and corner Chase Dutra are like the Israeli missile defense system defending the pass, but is as porous (72nd) as dolomite stopping the run which is the wrong material against Michigan State.

In East Lansing, in celebration of the revival of these “Sons of Duffy Dougherty” (MSU was 3-9 last season) Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” should be blaring through the Spartan Stadium speakers.

 

Spartans QB Brian Lewerke                                                        AP photo

Coach Mark Dantonio’s all-business eleven directed by its dual-threat QB Brian Lewerke (9 TDs – 3 Ints – 60%), (second in team rushing) is as resilient as Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential victory, or John McCain’s return to the Senate.

The Spartans consistent grinding running attack motors behind its steady tailbacks LJ Scott and Madre London, but receivers Felton Davis, and Darrell Stewart won’t cause any sleepless nights for opposing d-coordinators.

But as with all Dantonio coached teams, its identity revolves around its anvil-hardened defense, and this year’s “Bubba Smith” edition anchored by backers Joe Bachie (5 tfls-2 sacks), Andrew Dowell and safety Khari Willis is no exception, ranking 5th in the nation overall, and equally disruptive against the run and the pass, while surrendering a miniscule 18-points a game fitting perfectly into the Spartan mold.

This will not be a walk over for “Green of East Lansing” as John Houseman used to say; “They’ll have to earn-it,” but we ultimately think the Spartan’s D will carry the day, as Michigan State’s “Brother Love” revival continues rising in the Big Ten as well as the national standings.

Last week: 2-3                                                           Season record: 23-12

That’s it from cyber-space.  We’ll be up and running with our recap Sunday afternoon.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  pk

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BC stuns Louisville, Clemson, Wazzu, Washington, and Auburn upset, Columbia remains undefeated

To paraphrase Howard Cosell, “Down goes Clemson! Down goes Washington! Down goes Washington State! Down goes Auburn!”
In what was expected to be a sleepy week seven on the college football schedule dramatically shifted in into the chaos of a Donald Trump press conference as the No.’s; 2, 5, 8, and 10 ranked teams in the country all lost to unranked opponents.
Simply amazing! As we say all the time, there are no bad weeks in college football.
Despite those dramatics , we’ll begin on Chestnut Hill where in a coach saving victory, the Eagles of Boston College, a 19-point underdog, ventured down to Louisville and Papa Johns’ Stadium where not only did “The Sons of Mike Holovak” dig out of a 14-0 hole, but ultimately delivered a stunning last second field goal 45-42 victory. WOW!

 

BC Tailback AJ Dillon                             AP photo

BC also found its next “Big Thing” in t-freshman tailback AJ Dillon, who rumbled through the porous Cardinals D like Earl Campbell, compiling 272-yards on 39 carries, and scoring 4-touchdowns. The performance places him third all-time in the BC record book for single game rushing total.
And to think, it was just a week ago that Eagles Coach Steve Addazio in a “Captain Queeg-esque” soliloquy told the assembled masses that his team will turn it around and “it will be beautiful.”
Well maybe, just maybe, this is the early blossoming of a Heights football revival.
But one thing that is certain, it found its future stud in tailback AJ Dillon, and if BC can squeeze out two more wins, it looks like we’ll have Mr. Addazio to paraphrase Richard Nixon, to kick around a little longer. Good for the Eagles.
And before we delve into the national scene, we’re going to stay local, as the teammates; (Silver Lake Regional High) Tim Murphy of the “Veritas Boys” AKA Harvard, and Buddy Teevens of the Big Green of Dartmouth, both celebrated victories.
And Dartmouth’s cardiac eleven found themselves down 12-points in the second half, only to rally once again, extending its winning streak to 10 against non-conference opponents.
The last time that occurred, Dwight D. Eisenhower was practicing his putting stroke in the Oval Office.

 

Columbia Coach Al Bagnoli and his undefeated Lions                              AP Photo

But the bigger story brewing in the Ivy League is taking place in upper Manhattan on the football field of Columbia University, where our pal, the future HOF Coach Al Bagnoli and his “Fighting Bagnoli’s” find themselves 5-0, (2-0 in the Ivy) for the first time since Bill Clinton was “feeling your pain” (1996).
The Lions overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit before winning in overtime 34-31 against the Quakers of Penn which was once a sideline long-patrolled by Coach Bagnoli.
The student body, and alums are also buying in, filling the stands in a full throaty volume, then storming the field as these “Sons of Sid Luckman” celebrated its first victory over the Quakers in twenty-one years. “It was a signature win for our program,” said Bagnoli succinctly.
It also sets up next Saturday’s first place showdown on the road against Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. Who knew?
But as we get closer to Halloween, beware, the Lions are roaring.
Back to the national scene.
Maybe we should have known something might have been in the air, when a pair of top-ten teams were kicking off on Friday the 13th.
We’ll start in Syracuse where the Orangemen, who were a 20-point underdog, knocked off the mighty Tigers of Clemson who shockingly were never in the lead: 27-24.

 

Syracuse Coach Dino Babers                                   AP photo

Another eye-opener was that these “Sons of Jim Brown” were the more physical team against the defending national champions, knocking its starry QB out of the game with a concussion, then holding on for a stunning poll shifting victory, and signature win for its well liked Coach, Dino Babers.
The other “paraskevidekateiaphobia” (fear of Friday 13th) game took place in Berkeley, California where in an eerie Hitchcockian scene, as the smoke from the deadly wine-county fires drifted through Cal’s Memorial Stadium saw the Bears throttle, and dominate the Air-Raid (maybe it was the smoke) of the high flying Cougars of Washington State: 37-3.
These “Sons of Jackie Jensen” picked off five passes from the now former Heisman candidate QB Luke Falk, and sacked him eight times in a performance for the ages, which leaves the Pac-12 in a more unbalanced state than the POTUS.
It was only the Golden Bears second victory over a top-ten since 2003, and improves its record against an opponent of that caliber to an eye-popping: 2-52-1. OUCH!
In Knoxville; “it’s all over but the shouting” as Coach Butch Jones and his Tennessee Volunteers went a second consecutive game without scoring a touchdown, falling to the Gamecocks of South Carolina who made a goal line stand at game’s end to preserve the victory; 15-9.
The moving vans are all warmed up for Butch, who will definitely not be patrolling the UT sideline next season.

 

Darrel Langham catch                               AP photo

In the Memorex category, we still don’t know if the Canes of Miami, who pulled off another “miracle” with its closing minute fourth and 10 conversion on a 28-yard tipped pass and grab by wideout Darrell Langham (who made a similar grab the week before) then wining on a 24-yard field with four seconds remaining to defeat a game bunch of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: 25-24 are you for real?
It is a Zen-like question that we still can’t answer.
But one thing we do know, Miami has extended its winning streak to 10-games, its longest such streak in over a decade.
Hail the academies, as both Air Force, and Army won.
On the Cadets side, it was Army’s third game this season, in which they didn’t complete a pass (2-1 in those games) as the “Sons of Ulysses S. Grant” knocked off Eastern Michigan; 28-27.
But it took a game saving goal line tackle by linebacker James Gibson on Ian Erikson’s two point conversion attempt leaving him inches from the goal line to preserve scintillating victory.
Good for the Long Grey line, who now stand a very healthy 5-2, leaving them one win away from bowl eligibility.
Two weeks ago in Baton Rouge, the pitchfork zealots were out in full force, calling for both the head of its Athletic Director, but especially its Louisianan native head coach; Ed Orgeron.

 

LSU’s victorious Coach Ed Orgeron                               AP photo

But fourteen days later, after a win at Florida, and then Saturday’s improbable victory against the Tigers of Auburn, the 10th ranked team in America, in which LSU rallied from 20-points down to win 27-23:
Coach O could run for governor.
And to think that the biggest cheer before the comeback was reserved for its former head coach Les Miles (fired in favor of Orgeron), who was back in Tiger Stadium to celebrate the 2007 national championship team.
When Auburn ran off to its 20-0 lead, it was the biggest deficit in Tiger Stadium since Harry Truman was giving them hell in the Oval Office – 1949. Amazing!!
It also puts the heat back on Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, who still has games remaining against Alabama, and Georgia. OUCH!
And the capper for the horrendous weekend of the Evergreen State, AKA Washington, which in addition to watching Wazzu going down on Friday night, saw last year’s playoff team, the potent Huskies of Washington who were a 17 point favorite were stunned by Arizona State not in a shootout, (the Sun Devils rank 120th in total D, and have surrendered 30-points or more in 11-consecutive games) but in a 13-7 embarrassment. YIKES!!!

 

Arizona State Coach Todd “The Texter” Graham                                      AP photo

Unfortunately, it was a potential job saving win for one of our least favorite coaches; Todd “The Texter” Graham, whose Sun Devils defeated a top-5 team for the first time since Bill Clinton was attending the Army Navy game – 1996.
Finally, as always, we close with Charlie Weis, our bloviating, gas-bag pal and the Jayhawks of Kansas, the last team Charlie “fixed,” who were blown out by the Cyclones of Iowa State: 45-0.

Former KU Coach “Sorry Charlie” Weis                                          AP photo

KU’s anemic offensive total of 106-yards, was the fewest yards surrendered an ISU D in more than a half-century. Yikes! Sorry Charlie!
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 8 on Wednesday evening.
Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. Pk

Auburn travels to Death Valley, Texas meets Oklahoma in the 112th Red River Rivalry, Georgia Tech visits Miami

We begin this week with a championship coach, anger fired toward the media, and the metaphor of rat poison.

 

Nick Saban and his tirade against his positive press             AP photo

Last week in his post-game presser, after Alabama dispatched Texas A&M 27-19, in a game that was much closer than the experts predicted, Nick Saban excoriated the media for, if you can believe it, all the positive press his team has received.

Wow, that is a Donald Trump dream.  No wonder Saban and Bill Belichick are pals.

“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me, instead of you guys,” said an exasperated Saban, scolding to the assembled media.

“All that stuff about how good we are.  All that stuff they have on ESPN, it’s like poison, like rat poison.”

Wow, whatever you say coach.  I’d hate to hear what “Mr. Happy” would say if the Tide loses a game.

This weekend, let’s see which team leave its alums with something to write home about, and which, after another desultory performance, should probably hire a food taster before it indulges in the post-game meal.

No. 10 Auburn at LSU (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) For the first time since the days of Ronald Reagan sitting in the Oval Office reminiscing about his time as the host of “Death Valley Days” sponsored by 20-Mule Team Borax – 1987, Auburn has run off three consecutive conference victories of 20-points of more.

Its next challenge comes Saturday in Death Valley, a place where the Tigers haven’t won since the Bill and Monica impeachment days of 1999.  Boy in hindsight, those were the days!

If Auburn leaves Baton Rouge victorious, it will solidify its position as a legitimate challenger to the conference supremacy of its rival Alabama.

The principle violin of this “Renaissance on the Plains” is Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham (7 TDs -2 Ints -71%) who after a learning curve adjustment to the ways of the SEC, is blossoming into the gunslinger War Eagle expected making the Tigers offense nearly as dangerous as a ride in an old Fung Wah bus.

 

Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham                                                               AP photo

The golden-armed director is assisted by a stable of tailbacks that features Kerryon Johnson who is averaging 126-yards a game, and has scored an astounding dozen TDs.

The Baylor expat also chooses from a quartet of tasty targets; Ryan Davis, Will Hastings, Eli Stove, and Nate Craig-Myers, all of whom have the ability to stress any defense.

But the Tigers identity remains its punishing D, anchored by backers Jeff Holland (6 tfls-4 sacks), Deshaun Davis, and Tre’ Williams who as a group are harder to penetrate than the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.  Its performance and will ultimately decide, if these “Sons of Kevin Greene” will be worthy of receiving a playoff invite.

In Baton Rouge there is a pitchfork mob mentality that is seemingly ready to storm the LSU football offices at a moment’s notice.

The target of that ire is directed at the Bayou Bengals beleaguered Coach Ed Orgeron.

LSU Coach Ed Orgeron celebrates win over Florida                    AP photo

One of the reasons for that anger is its anemic offense, which despite the promise of a new dawn, especially with the expensive$$ hiring of 0-coordinator Matt Canada, has fallen flatter than a speech from Ed Markey.

Purdue transfer QB Danny Etling (6 TDs – 1 Int. -60%) in his second year, remains the manager and nothing more, as the LSU offense (89th scoring – 25 pts.) remains as booged down as the US infantry in the highlands of the North during the Vietnam War.

But even more shocking, is the shifting identity of these “Sons of Billy Cannon,” whose once feared anvil-pounding ground attack, featuring Derrius Guice, Russell Gage, and Darrel Williams has become as threatening as Tito Jackson’s Mayoral campaign against Marty Walsh.

Yet when the Tigers signal caller is able to lock on, wideouts D.J. Clark, Derrick Dillion, and tight end Foster Moreau are dangerous targets.

The other LSU staple, its pulverizing D, led by backer Devin White, end Christian LaCouture, and safety John Battle has shown some fissures stopping the run, which has the Bayou Bengal faithful on edge and that weakness is not the best formula against Auburn.

This is game that will rattle more bones than the windy dark cemetery at Sleepy Hollow, but it does give LSU an opportunity to howl at the doubters, by screaming and paraphrasing Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks’ classic “Young Frankenstein, “We’re alive!”

But unfortunately for the Death Valley faithful, the far better team are the visitors from the Plains, who leave Baton Rouge with the victory and plant its marker as a serious challenger to the Tide of Alabama.

Texas vs. No.12 Oklahoma – The Red River Showdown – Cotton Bowl (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) There have been years when the outcome of the 112th renewal of this border war would send a clarion call throughout the college football landscape.

And although this particular game doesn’t fit that category, it is of particularly importance for setting the seasonal direction for both teams.

The Horns highly coveted new man Tom Herman, has been charged with the mission of rebuilding the Texas brand that was, upon his arrival, in more disrepair than Sunset Boulevard’s Bates Hotel.

But a victory over an arch-rival in a game that carries as much animosity as Rex Tillerson flashes toward Donald Trump, would show the ‘Burnt Orange faithful that the “Sons of Darrel Royal” are indeed pointing in the right direction.

 

Texas t-freshman QB Sam Ehlinger                                    AP photo

UT also seems to have finally found a future star, in t-freshman QB Sam Ehlinger (5 TDs -3 Ints -56%) who plays with the élan of Gene Kelly dancing in the rain, with a demeanor that is as fearless as one of the Wallendas.

Unfortunately, the kid is saddled by a pair of pedestrian tailbacks; Chris Warren and Kyle Porter, while wideouts Collin Johnson, Reggie Hemphill, and Amant Foreman are reliable, if unspectacular targets.

The D, anchored by backers Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler, and safety Brandon Jones has shown significant signs of improvement, but still, as Jesse Jackson would say, “has issues” defending the pass (97th) which isn’t the best recipe against the high flying Sooners attack.

In Norman, with apologies to Britney Spears; “Oops, Oklahoma did it again.”

For the seventh consecutive season, the Sooners have lost a game to a team that was a double-digit underdog.

The nation’s number one ranked offense who scores (averaging 44) points faster than “Popeye Doyle” drove under the New York “El” in the “French Connection,” is directed by its gunslinging Heisman contender, QB Baker Mayfield (15 TDs -0 Ints – 74%), who hits his target better than Rodney Dangerfield hit our collective funny bones.

 

Oklahoma QB and Heisman contender Baker Mayfield              AP photo

The rocket-launcher is assisted by tailbacks Trey Sermon, and Abdul Adams who can cover ground faster than the Fenway grounds-crew, while receivers; Mark Andrews, CeeDee Lamb, along with fullback Dimitri Flowers out of the backfield, are consistent chain movers, averaging over 16-yards a reception.

But as its faithful are well aware, the D of these “Sons of Barry Switzer,” anchored by the backing trio: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (9 tfls-5 sacks), Emmanuel Beal, and Kenneth Murray employs a secondary that is shakier than the results of a Kenyan Presidential election.

Even though our trust in OU’s D-coordinator Mike Stoops is lower than “The Donald’s” poll numbers in Cambridge, we’re taking, with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein; “Oklahoma, where the wins come sweepin’ down the plains” simply because of the Sooners firepower. (Courtesy of Mark B.)

Georgia Tech at No. 11 Miami (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The only place with more wishbones than the Georgia Tech football offices is Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith, New Hampshire which has been serving and slicing up the bird since the first term of Dwight Eisenhower – 1954.

 

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson                            AP photo

Coach Paul Johnson’s ground attack hums along as the nation’s second (averaging 396-yards a game) best, continuously and relentlessly rolling through a defense like the stormy winter waves at Nantasket Beach.

QB TaQuon Marshall (523 yards rushing-9 TDs) is the conductor of this ground-patrol symphony with a large assist from his first-violin; tailback KirVonte Benson.

And on those rarest of occasions when the Yellow Jackets take to the Atlanta skies, (Tech has only attempted a total of 33-passes), wideout Ricky Jeune, with 10-catches and 3-TDs is the principle target.

Unlike previous years, the D of the “Sons of Bobby Dodd” ranked 6th overall, and anchored by backers Brant Mitchell, Victor Alexander, and safety Lawrence Austin, is stout defending both the run and the pass while surrendering a highly-respectable 19-points a game.

In Miami, the Canes are a bigger enigma than Melania Trump.

We still don’t have an answer to the question: Is Miami, with it gaudy ranking the real-deal, or simply Memorex?

But one thing we do know, it offensive attack will suffer from the loss of its starry tailback Mark Walton, who is lost for the season with a broken ankle.

 

Hurricanes QB Malik Rosier                                                          AP photo

It will now be up to Miami’s talented dual-threat QB Malik Rosier (11 TDs -3 Ints -58%), and his pair of glue-fingered dynamos; Braxton Berrios, and Christopher Hemdon, mixed with backup tailback Travis Homer, to carry the load for the Canes.

The D, led by backers Shaquille Quarterman, end Trent Harris, and safety Jaquan Johnson has struggled mightily defending the pass, which fortunately won’t be an Achilles heel against the Yellow Jackets who run more than the Kenyans.

This is a difficult game to get a handle, but we’re going with the waves of Nantasket AKA the wishbone of Georgia Tech to split apart Miami’s 10-game winning streak.

No. 25 Navy at Memphis (ESPNU, 3:45 p.m.) In Annapolis its “Anchors Aweigh” as Coach Ken Niumataldo’s undefeated Midshipmen have expertly sailed, or more succinctly, triple-optioned its way into the 25th spot in the AP rankings.

America’s most effective “Eveready Energizers” (414-yards a game), who plow the earth with more efficiency than a John Deere, are commanded by its sleight of hand Houdini-protégé, QB Zach Abey, who grinds for 6-yards on every touch while scoring 9-touchdowns.

 

Navy QB Zach Abey                                                   AP photo

The “Blue and Gold” magician is assisted by a pair of ground-hog partners Chris High, and Malcolm Perry, and the Navy threesome has combined for nearly 1600-yards.

And in those “blue-moon” moments when the Midshipmen take to the skies, (Abey has only attempted a total of 40-passes, and the Mids rank third from the bottom; 127th in passing), wideout Tyler Carmona is deadlier than a Taliban drone strike in the mountains of Pakistan, averaging an astounding 40-yards per catch, and scoring 3 TDs on a total of only five grabs.

As its faithful are well aware, Navy’s D, led by backers; D.J. Palmore, Micah Thomas, and safety Sean Williams, hasn’t performed to Pentagon standards struggling against slowing both the run and the pass, but despite those deficiencies, its showing is still better than the Admirals who were in charge of the 7th Fleet.

 

Memphis QB Riley Ferguson                              AP photo

With apologies to Bob Dylan, Memphis “Isn’t stuck inside of Mobile” or for that matter singing the blues, at least on offense, as this explosive group directed by QB Riley Ferguson (16 TDs – 5 Ints -59%) has looked “Forever Young” averaging 40-points a game.

The Tigers lead guitarist is assisted by tailback Darrell Henderson (8 yds. a carry), and a trio of dynamic field-stretchers; Anthony Miller (7 TDs), Joey Magnifico, and Phil Mayhue.

Unfortunately it’s bottom feeding (122nd overall) D, featuring safeties Austin Hall, Terrell Carter, and corner Jonathan Cook surrenders an average of 35-points a game, and makes the leaky walls of the Big Dig Tunnels look like the Hoover Dam.

This is a very dangerous game for the Midshipmen, but ultimately, we think Navy’s discipline, combined with its ability to slice through a good defense, let alone one that is better suited for a cheese factory in Switzerland, will allow Navy to lift anchor and sail away from Beale Street on the USS Undefeated.

No. 24 Texas Tech at West Virginia (ESPN, Noon) In Lubbock, the Texas Tech football fortunes have climbed the charts in the home town of musical icon; Buddy Holly.

The Red Raiders are not quite be ready, like its native son, to be chart-toppers;  “That Would Be the Day,” but it has displayed a much stouter D, courtesy of the wizened hand of coordinator David Gibbs, which has helped to propel TT out of the shadows of irrelevancy.

Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack (he’s a protégée of Mike Leach) directed by senior QB Nic Shimonek (14 TDs -3 Ints – 71%) is second (46 pts. a game) in the nation in scoring, and lights the scoreboard almost as often as another player on the Red Sox is thrown out at home plate.

 

Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek                                                    AP photo

The Texas Tech sharpshooter, the nation’s 7th most efficient passer, has a trio of high-cotton targets; Keke Coutee (knee – questionable), Cameron Batson, and Dylan Cantwell, while tailbacks; Justin Stockton (6.8 yds. a carry -4 TDs), Desmond Nisby (5.6 yds. a carry – 6 TDs), and Tre King (6.1) are quality road grinders and give the Red Raiders some long sought after balance.

The aforementioned D, which leads the league in turnover margin at a plus-9, is anchored by backers Jordyn Brooks, Dakota Allen, and safety Jah’Shawn Johnson, and is surrendering on average; 21-fewer points than last season, giving the Lubbock faithful a fuzzy feeling toward what the future may hold.

In Morgantown, John Denver’s favorite team (“Country Roads”) is once again putting up pinball numbers, (averaging 43-points a game), and that’s despite having played two teams; VaTech, and TCU (both losses), that know something about playing defense.

West Virginia QB Will Grier           AP photo

These Mountaineers are under the command of its slithery, dual-threat dart-thrower, Florida-transfer QB Will Grier (16 TDs -4 Ints -62%), who is fourth in the nation in overall offense averaging an eye-popping 376 yards a game.

This commander of these “Sons of Don Knotts” – (Class ’48) hits his target better than the Three Stooges in their “Pie the Pie” skit, (YouTube), and has the luxury of focusing on a trio of game-changing receivers: David Sills (15 yds. a catch – 9 TDs), Karaun White (15 yds. – 3 TDs) and Gary Jennings each of whom has the ability to demoralize a defense.

When the ‘Neers go off-roading, its turbo-charged tailback Justin Crawford (7 yds. – 6 TDs) motors quietly as one of the nation’s best.

Unfortunately WV’s D (105th overall, and 109th stopping the run) led by safeties Dravon Askew-Henry, Kyzir White, and backer Al-Rasheed Benton (7 tfls) is as fraudulent as (now-former) Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy.

Yet despite those defensive flaws, the Mountaineers are more battle-tested, and walk off Mountaineer Field with the strands of “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” serenading its victorious eleven.

 

Last week:   3 -2                                            Season record: 21-9

That’s it from cyber-space.  We’ll be up and running with our recap of week 7 Sunday afternoon.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  pk

Oklahoma stunned by Iowa State, Michigan falls to Michigan State, Wazzu stays undefeated, BC and Harvard lose,

Saturday’s results perfectly captured the beauty of college football.

It was supposed to be a ho-hum stroll in the park weekend, a lazy car-wash day after indulging on a hearty omelet breakfast and a perusal of daily newspapers.

But by mid-afternoon, that peaceful Norman Rockwell scene, was flipped on his head morphing into a game of “Mortal Kombat” as a pair of top-10 teams lost at home to unranked opponents, and various other members of the “elite” hung on for precious wins.

We’ll begin in Norman, where the No. 3 ranked Sooners could have used “William the Conqueror” as Oklahoma shockingly blew a 14-point lead, had its 14-game winning streak ripped to shreds, stunned by the 30.5 point underdog Iowa State Cyclones: 38-31.  WOW!

 

Oklahoma players trudge off filed after surrendering TD –                AP photo

It was Iowa State’s first win over Oklahoma since GHW Bush was telling the country, “Read my lips, no new taxes” – 1990, a dry spell that had climbed to 18-games.

In addition to placing OU’s playoff chances on life-support, it exposed its real weakness, a pass defense that is as ineffective as the pumping drainage system in New Orleans.

The Sooners were torched by senior walk-on QB Kyle Kempt, who had attempted a total of 2-passes in his career, but went out and carved OU’s secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey, throwing for 343-yards and 3-touchdowns.  Amazing!

In the understatement of the year, Oklahoma’s D-coordinator Mike Stoops said; “We should have been better than that today.”   YEAAH!

We move from Norman to the soggy Big House where the mantra from the Ann Arbor faithful remains; “My country for a QB and some offense!”

 

Michigan D-coordinator Don Brown                                              AP photo

Once again Michigan’s maestro d-coordinator Don Brown, the former headman at both Northeastern and UMass brewed up aother stifling potion as the Wolverines D held Michigan State scoreless in the second half, but 5-turnovers (3-picks – 2 lost fumbles) kept Michigan to an underachieving 10-points, as the previously undefeated “Sons of Tom Harmon” fell to a rejuvenated bunch now ranked Spartans; 14-10.

The offense resembled the Red Sox anemic attack in Houston, and Harbaugh, who was hailed like “Caesar crossing the Rubicon” in his return to his alma-mater, now finds himself with the stark reality of being 1-4 against both Michigan State, and Ohio State. Double Yikes!

On the local front, it was a mixed day for the teammates from Silver Lake Regional High.

Coach Tim Murphy found himself in an unfamiliar position as his “Veritas Boys” were stunned by Cornell; 17-14, as Big Red rallied from a 14-0 deficit ending the Big Red’s 11-year drought versus the Cantabridgians of Harvard.

Dartmouth Coach Buddy Teevens                                           AP photo

But it was a different scene up at Hanover, New Hampshire as Buddy Teevens and his Big Green cardiac kids pulled out what is being hailed as the biggest comeback in the 136-year history of Dartmouth football. The “Sons of Bob Blackman” battled back from a 24-7 halftime deficit, and remain undefeated knocking off Yale: 28-27 scoring the winning touchdown with 34-seconds remaining.

“I’ll take as many of these as I can get,” said the coach who added this gem from his half-time speech; “The first thing we’ve got to beat is frustration.”  Well done Buddy!

Staying in the Ivies; the Lions of Columbia roared once again, this time smacking the overmatched Red Foxes of Marist: 41-17.

Columbia now finds itself 4-0 for the first time since Bill Clinton was biting his lower lip while spouting in his Arkansan drawl; “I feel your pain,” – 1996 setting up a huge first-place league showdown next week in Hanover.  Who knew??

Up at the Heights on Chestnut Hill, it was, with apologies to Aerosmith, (a band in whose music we have zero interest) “It was the same old song and dance” as Eagles of Boston College (2-4), once again missed a ton of opportunities with an offensive display that is creakier than the Tobin Bridge, as the “Sons of Mike Holovak” once again fell to a ACC opponent, this time the Hokies of Virginia Tech: 23-10.

          BC Coach Steve Addazio                                                          AP photo

But it was the “Caine Mutiny” “Captain Queeg” post-game monologue by Coach Steve Addazio that caught everyone’s attention; “It’ll come together, and it’ll be beautiful.  You can write that one down, okay.

I don’t have the time clock on it right here, but it’ll come, and it’ll be beautiful, all right.  And the investment is worth it.”  WHEW!!

All that was missing was a cup of strawberries, and some ball-bearings.  DOUBLE YIKES!!

Staying in the hot-seats department: Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, and LSU’s Ed Orgeron, at least temporarily quieted the pitchforked mobs, as both teams showed well yesterday although the Aggies did it in a losing cause.

Sumlin’s “12th Man” (a 26.5 point underdog to the mighty “Sons of Bear Bryant”) gave the nation’s top ranked eleven everything it could handle before falling to the Tide: 27-19.  But the more importantly especially as regards to Coach Sumlin’s future employment, it showed that indeed there is some quality talent in College Station.

 

LSU Coach Ed Orgeron AP phhoto

While in Gainesville, the Tigers of LSU (4-2, 1-1), in a “keep hope alive” game for its beleaguered “Coach O” as well as its faithful, ventured into the Swamp (where the Gators were 13-1 under Coach Jim McElwain), and roared out with an improbable; 17-16 victory.

The difference being a missed extra-point by kicker Eddy Pineiro, who had previously made 45-in a row.

But that miss is greatly appreciated gift for the LSU coach and fans and temporarily at least steadies the listing ship known as the; USS Baton Rouge.

Staying in the Sunshine State, the Canes of Miami, after a drought of 7-consecutive losses to its intra-state rival Florida State, needed every second to hold off Seminoles, as Mark Richt’s Boys scored the winning touchdown on a pass from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham, with a 6-skinny seconds left on the clock gloriously walking off the field finally defeating the “Sons of Bobby Bowden;” 24-20.

We still don’t know if the Hurricanes are real or Memorex, but one thing we do know; FSU is 1-3 for the first time since the Bicentennial Year when the Tall Ships came to Castle Island: 1976.  WOW!!

In Athens, the Dawgs of Georgia continue to bite, destroying Vandy in a workman like performance 45-14, remaining on its undefeated flight path, and potential showdown with Alabama in the SEC title game with a playoff invitation possibly resting on its outcome.

In Fort Worth, beware of the Horned Frogs, as Coach Garry Patterson’s crew took care of business with a hard fought 31-24 victory over West Virginia.

 

TCU Coach Gary Patterson                                         AP photo

 

And with Oklahoma going down the Purple Frogs controls its destiny in the Big 12.  We say it often, but Patterson is one of the best coaches in America that nobody knows.

In South Bend, the Irish of Notre Dame may be undervalued.

After its early season one-point loss at home to Georgia, the Domers have, like a Taliban assassin, efficiently taking care of business (5-1) slowly earning some grudging respect from the AP voters.

In one of the season’s surprise teams, it was another top-shelf performance from Wazzu, and its mad-scientist coach Mike Leach, as the Cougars went on the road for the first time this year, and easily handled the Ducks of Oregon; 33-10.

The performance also once again showed that the Boys from the Palouse, who shut-out the Ducks in the second-half, know a little bit about playing defense which makes them very dangerous.

 

Stanford’s Heisman contender tailback Bryce Love

In Salt Lake it was the Bryce Love show (20-carries -152-yards) once again, as Stanford’s Heisman contending tailback led the Cardinal to an impressive 23-20 win over the previously undefeated Utes.

While in Madison, Paul Chryst’s Wisconsin’s Badgers continue to go about its business, taking apart Nebraska 38-17, in the same way the button-downed Oscar winner Jack Lemon went about his in the Academy Award winning movie “The Apartment” quietly moving along as a top-ten contender as it took apart Nebraska: 38-17.

Hail the Academies; as both Army and Navy won its games, and the Middies find themselves 5-0 and have climbed into the 25th spot in the national polls.

And take a peek at Kentucky football (5-1) as Mark Stoops has done a remarkable job, and if it continues will be getting a lot of calls at season’s end.

Former KU Coach Charlie Weis AP – photo

Finally, we leave you with our bloviating gas-bag pal Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks off Kansas (1-4), the last team that Charlie fixed, who once again were blown out, this time the Red Raiders of Texas Tech; 65-19.  Sorry Charlie!

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 7 Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace and listen to the music.  pk

Michigan takes on Michigan State, Washington State travels to Oregon, Miami renews rivalry with Florida State

 

Harvard’s Ben Abercrombie                AP photo

We begin this week with two proud football traditions that share the same color, two tremendous coaches, one of whom is the best headman in college football, who may just have chipped a bit of ice off is his perceived reputation as a curmudgeon.

On September 16, at the University of Rhode Island, Hoover, Alabama native, and Harvard Crimson freshman cornerback Ben Abercrombie made a tackle, then immediately crumpled to the ground.

He suffered a severe cervical injury that required immediate emergency surgery, and although he is showing some improvement and experiencing some feeling he remains for now paralyzed.

 

Alabama head Coach Nick Saban                                          AP photo

Last week Nick Saban, the head man of the Crimson Tide, there’s that color again, placed a call to the Abercrombie family offering encouragement, and letting their family know that everyone back in Alabama is thinking of them and ready to assist in Ben’s recovery.

It was a very classy move by the man who never cracks a smile but just wins championships.

In this turbulent time in America, the games don’t seem all that important.  Let’s say a prayer for both Ben, and the victims of that terrible carnage that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night.  It will be helpful to all.

No. 7 Michigan at Michigan State (Ch. 5. 7:30 p.m.) Bo Schembechler who once said; “The upset is in the mind of the favorite,” would love the identity of this Wolverine edition, especially with the way his former QB, and current head coach Jim Harbaugh, has these “Sons of Charles Woodson” playing defense.

 

Michigan D-coordinator and Spencer, Mass native Don Brown           AP photo

But in fairness, a great deal of that credit belongs to D-coordinator Don Brown, who as a native son of Spencer, Mass, and the former head man at both Northeastern, and UMass, has achieved the rarified status as the “I.M. Pei” builder of the most complex of defensive schemes.

The engineers from MIT should consider his brilliance and expertise for a case study.

Big Blue’s snarling bunch, who are more disruptive than the sound waves attacking the US Diplomats in Cuba, fire behind backers Devin Bush (5.5 tfls-4.5 sacks), Mike McCray, and end Chase (7.5 tfls – 5.5 sacks) Winovich.

They rank tops overall, have rung-up 18-sacks, surrender a miniscule 13.5 points a game, and hit harder than the Spanish Guardia Civil and National police busting up a Catalan separatist election protest.

But on the other side of the ball, the Michigan offense is as bland as a Rafa Nadal early round US Open match, or any Barry Manilow concert.

Houston transfer QB John O’Korn (Wilton Speight injured) is the new Wolverine director, with assists from a tailback committee; Ty Isaac, Chris Evans, and Karan Higdon, while wideouts Grant Perry, and a pair of Himalayan- sized tight ends; Sean McKeon (another son of Massachusetts – Dudley), and Zach Gentry provide a comforting safety net.

As Springsteen sang; “C’mon up for the rising…” and so far that’s what’s been occurring in East Lansing for the “Sons of Duffy Daugherty” who last year, after making the playoff the year before, fell off a cliff finishing a woeful and dispirited; 3-9.

 

Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke                                       AP photo

A great deal of credit for this renaissance belongs to sophomore QB Brian Lewerke (8 TDs – 2 Ints – 63%), who in addition to leading the team in rushing, has instilled some much needed leadership into Mark Dantonio’s squad.

Unfortunately, Sparty’s trio of tailbacks; L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes, and Madre London who average 3-yards a carry, are as dynamic as Senator Ed Markey pontificating on any subject.

Fortunately, the Spartans wideouts; Fleton Davis, Darrell Stewart, and Trishton Jackson have evolved into solid reliable chain movers and have rejuvenated the offense.

MSU’s grizzled D, anchored by backers Joe Bachie, Chris Perry, and safety Khari Willis, ranks fifth overall, and hits with the intensity of an Elizabeth Warren stare-down toward any banker employed within a ten-mile radius of Wall Street.

In a game that will be a measuring stick of Grand Teton-esque proportions for both, we believe, just like millions of customers that depend on UPS, that Brown, is this case Don and his Michigan D will deliver on time once again, as the Wolverines earn a hard-fought victory over its bitter rival.

No. 23 West Virginia at No. 8 TCU (FS1, 3:30 p.m.) John Denver’s favorite team; “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” from “Country Roads” has been putting up pinball numbers worthy of the wizard “Tommy.”

These “Sons of Don Nehlen” are averaging nearly 50-points a game (48), and the catalyst behind that scoring tsunami is its U of Florida transfer QB, Will Grier (13 TDs – 3 Ints – 65%), the nation’s ninth most efficient passer, who is equally dangerous when on the run.

 

West Virginia QB Will Grier               AP photo

The ‘Neers director is assisted by his dynamic tailback Justin Crawford (6 TDs) who chews the turf at 7-yards a pop, all nicely partnered with a pair of field-stretching targets: Gary Jennings, and David Sills.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineer faithful, its D, led by backer Al-Rasheed Benton, and safeties Kyzir White, and Dravon Askew-Henry, remains, as former Boston Mayor Tom Menino once said; “An Alcatraz around their necks,” and will ultimately prevent these “Sons of Sam Huff” from continuing its climb up the polls or staying in the Big 12 conference race.

In Fort Worth, the faithful have zero interest in having a wandering princess stop by and kiss it beloved Frogs.  They are perfectly content in their current state of perfection.

Coach Gary Patterson’s (another great coach that nobody knows) crew is under the steady command of Texas A&M transfer QB Kenny Hill (9 TDs -3 Ints – 72%), whose leadership abilities are the envy of the Democratic Party.

 

TCU QB Kenny Hill                                          AP photo

The Purple Frogs sharpshooter has the luxury of leaning on a committee of tailbacks; Darius Anderson (6 TDs), and his partners Sewo Olonilu, and Kyle Hicks, while receivers Desmon White, KeVontae Turpin, and LSU transfer John Diarse have the ability to stress any defense.

Patterson prides himself on having an attacking suffocating defense, and this year’s group behind backer Travin Howard, safety Nick Orr, and end Ben Banogu is a bullseye smasher.

As “The Donald” is wont to say; “bottom line folks,” if West Virginia were a stock we’d be selling, especially with a D that handles the run about as well as Megan Kelly handled her debut on the Today Show.   Horned Frogs win, and “leap” ahead in the polls.

No. 11 Washington State at Oregon (FOX, 8 p.m.) After five consecutive weeks of fattening on the home cooking of Pullman, Coach Mike Leach and his Cougars are taking its high-flying aerial show on the road, with the first stop Eugene and a meeting with the Oregon Ducks.

The eccentric pirate admiring, and part-time Key West resident, might be the creator of the Air Raid offense, but his Heisman contending QB Luke Falk (16 TDs – 2 Ints – 74%) who displays the same accuracy as William Tell, is the maestro currently orchestrating it to perfection.

 

Wazzu Coach Mike Leach and his starry QB Luke Falk               AP photo

This Wazzu gunslinger luxuriates in targeting his pair of high-cotton receivers; Tavares Martin (7 TDs), and Isaiah Johnson-Mack, then on those rarest of occasions when the Cougs call for a changeup, its turbo-infused tailback Jamal Morrow (8 yds. a carry) is a dangerous breakaway threat, while his partner James Williams isn’t as proactive, but has 40-catches coming out of the backfield.

And Yes, Virginia, unlike years past, they can play defense in Cougar-land evidenced by the nation’s eleventh ranked unit, which is led by a pair of hammering ends Hercules Mata’afa (10 tfls -4.5 sacks), Nnamdi Oguayo, and mixed with its tackling machine safety Jalen Thompson.

Unfortunately for Phil Knight U and the Ducks faithful, a 911-call was placed to “Hawkeye Pierce” as the Green’s injury report could double as a MASH Unit.

After losing his top two QB, Ducks first year head man Willie Taggart was left with no alternative but to burn the red-shirt on his freshman field-general Braxton Burmeister.

But an even bigger impact is the loss of its All-America caliber tailback Royce Freeman (shoulder), who as the faithful knows rolls like a Rolls, but will be in absentia for an extended period of time.

 

Oregon tailback Kani Benoit                                             AP photo

Luckily these “Sons of Mel Renfro” have a flock of quality runners; Kani Benoit (8.5 yds a carry – 8 TDs), Tony Brooks-James, and t-freshman Darrian Felix (who also saw his first action last week), to carry the load, and all will help take the pressure off its untested freshman QB.

On D of the “Sons of Cliff Harris” anchored by ends Henry Mondeaux, Justin Hollins, and backer Troy Dye have dramatically distanced themselves from last season’s sorry lot, but it still has issues defending the pass, which is not the best recipe against the Air Raid blitzkrieg of the Cougs.

That said, we think Pirate Leach, and his merry band of Cougars, ultimately makes the Ducks waddle the plank.

Stanford at No. 20 Utah (FS1, 10:15 pm) The Stanford faithful are hoping that the Beatles classic; “All you need is love,” will be the melody to carry the Cardinal to victory.

 

Stanford’s Heisman contending tailback Bryce Love                             AP photo

Their fuel-injected dominator, tailback Bryce Love, who in addition to leading the nation in rushing 1088-yards, is averaging 217-yards a game, and a mind-blowing 11-yards every time he touches the ball, while galloping his way into the Heisman conversation.

But unlike the perfectly balanced Cardinal elevens of recent vintage, this Stanford passing game, under the direction of QB K.J. Costello (3 TDs-0 Ints – 63%), has been as ineffective (ranked 99th) as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson trying to conduct the country’s business of diplomacy, while his boss, the POTUS, continually undermines him.

When this “Son of Jim Plunkett” is able to locate his target, wideouts Trenton Irwin, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and tight end Dalton Shultz, have the ability to give the defenses that load the box attempting to slow Mr. Love something to contemplate.

And the other Silicon Valley eye-opener is The Farm’s porous defense (105th overall) featuring tackle Harrison Phillips, safety Justin Reid, and backer Bobby Okereke.  This group could be the poster boys for; “Mr. Softee.”

In Salt Lake, the Utes Coach Kyle Whittingham (108-50) is another Big Top master that no one knows.

 

UTAH Coach Kyle Whittingham                                                   AP photo

On offense, backup QB Troy Williams will once again be called upon to start for the ailing Tyler (shoulder) Huntley, but whoever is under center he’ll have the luxury of focusing on a pair of explosive receivers; Darren Carrington, and Siausi Wilson, both of whom are averaging over 16-yards a catch.

And when these “Sons of Larry Wilson” do some road-tilling, tailback Zack Moss is someone that grabs your attention.

The analysis of this game within this game is quite simple; the nation’s tenth best rush defense, anchored by backers Kavika Luafatasaga, his partner Sunia Tauteoli, and corner Marquise Blair, versus Mr. “All you need is” Love.

At games end we think the UTES will be changing record on the turntable from the Beatles, to something from its beloved Beehive State natives; Donny and Marie.

No. 13 Miami at Florida State (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) Despite the Seminoles woes, this game should tell us if the “Sons of George Mira” are indeed real or simply Memorex.

 

Miami QB Malik Rosier                                                                 AP photo

Mark Richt’s confident crew is directed by its bazooka-armed junior QB Malik Rosier (8 TDs -2 Ints – 65%) who gets a Mount Rainer-esque boost from his slithery tailback Mark Walton (second in nation – 9.2 yards a carry) who accrues yardage (134 yds. a game) faster than the Catholic church deposits its Easter Sunday collection.

And when Walton needs a shake, Travis Homer (8-yds. a carry) is a substitute of the high order sort of like Leroy Kelly substituting for Jim Brown.

When the U’s dart-thrower takes to the muggy Miami skies he has chooses from a top-shelf trio of wideouts; Ahmmon Richards, Braxton Berrios (19 yds. a catch -3 TDs), and tight end Christopher Herndon all of whom have game-break ability.

The D of the “Sons of Ted Hendricks” anchored by backers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and corner Dee Delaney isn’t classic Miami vintage, (it has some issues defending against the pass), but manages to stiffen in the red zone allowing a miniscule 16-points a game.

What in the name of Sam Ervin (I’m just a country lawyer from North Carolina), or to paraphrase Slim Pickens said in “Blazing Saddles” “What in the name of Sam Hill is going on in Tallahassee?!”

 

Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher                             AP photo

Shockingly Coach Jimbo Fisher’s once feared Seminoles, can’t block anyone, can’t run (121st) the ball, can’t locate the endzone (115th in scoring), and employs a D that has been out of position more often that the Patriot’s corner Stephon Gilmore.  Overall they have looked like as lethargic as “Randle McMurphy” after his lobotomy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

With the loss of its starter Deondre Francois, freshman QB James Blackmon (2 TDs-0 Ints -55%) has been installed as the manager for the Noles.

The kid is assisted by tailbacks Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers, while a pair of “too-tall” receivers; Tate Auden, and Gavin Keith, are, if Blackmon can get them the ball, game changers.

The aforementioned D, anchored by backer Thomas Matthew, tackle Nnadi Derrick, and safety James Derwin is shakier than an empty 18-wheeler rumbling over the rusted and battered Rutherford Avenue Bridge.

We believe that the Canes are indeed for real, as the Seminole season once filled with championship dreams falls into a deeper Dantean Circle.

Last week; 5-0                                                      Season record: 18-7

That’s it from cyberspace.  We’ll be up and running with our recap of week 6 Sunday afternoon.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  pk

Clemson, Alabama remain top contenders, Wazzu knocks off USC, BC, Harvard, Dartmouth win, UMass remains winless

 

Clemson runs by Virginia Tech                                                   AP photo

Based on their dominant performances in the first month of the college football merry-go-around, the panelists on the classic CBS game show “What’s my line?” (1950 – 1967) would have no trouble establishing the identities of: Alabama and Clemson.
The defending national champion Tigers, who now strut with the same well-earned cache as the Tide, rolled into frenzied Blacksburg and Lane Stadium to take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech, and strolled out with a commanding 34-17 victory, once again establishing themselves on a much anticipated collision course for a championship rubber- match against “Bear Bryant’s sons.”
It was “Dabo’s Boys” eighth consecutive win over a ranked team, tenth in a row overall, and its third victory over a top-15 AP team in the month of September, which is a first in the polling history of the Associated Press.
The Tiger’s signature is its bone-shattering D, but after getting a two year tutorial at the knee of Deshaun Watson, junior QB Kelly Bryant, who is equally effective running and throwing, has played like, well it’s elementary; like Watson, and now Clemson is equally dangerous on both sides of the ball.
In Tuscaloosa Saban’s Tide, who seem to be playing with a slow and seething rage, hung a rout-66 number on the visitors from Oxford, shellacking the Rebels of Ole Miss; 66-3.

Bama D crushes Ole Miss                                AP photo

It was the most points put up by Alabama in the Saban era, and the most by a Crimson Tide team since Jimmy Carter was attempting to rescue the Iranian Hostages – 1979.
In its last two contests Alabama has scorched its opponents by the combined eye-popping aggregate of: 125-3. Can you say Uncle?!
But here’s the most mind-blowing, and defining stat of the “Process” that St. Nick preaches in “Title-Town.”
It was the eighth consecutive game that Alabama has played without a turnover. No other team in the country shares that claim. It’s just another example of the excellence being played by Groucho’s favorite team.
We’ll stay in the SEC, where a pair of coaches find themselves sitting on seats that are hotter than a Times Square sidewalk on the Fourth of July.
In Knoxville Coach Butch Jones is like Sean Penn in “Dead Man Walking,” as the pitchforks are out for the UT coach.

 

Tennessee Coach Butch Jones                                           AP  photo

Yesterday in Neyland Stadium the Bulldogs of Georgia put a historic beat-down on the Volunteers thrashing them by the whitewashing score of; 41-0.
It was the worst home loss since the “Rough Rider” himself, Teddy Roosevelt was pontificating from the presidential “Bully Pulpit” – 1905, and the first time the Vols were held scoreless since Florida laid it on Tennessee 31-0 in 1994. Double Yikes!
The feeling in Knoxville has shifted from maybe, on the continued employment of coach Butch Jones (14-20 in SEC play) to simply when they make a change. It may in fact happen this week.
The other angst-inducing debacle is taking place in Baton Rouge, where LSU (3-2) wrote out a check for nearly a million dollars, $985,000 to be precise, for what was perceived to be a cupcake W only to see the Trojans of Troy, a 21-point underdog, push-around and shockingly knock off the inept Tigers 24-21.
It was the first LSU home loss to a non-conference opponent since 2000 – a streak that had climbed to 49 games. WOW!

 

LSU’s beleaguered Head man Ed Orgeron                                   AP photo

Word on the street is that Coach Ed Orgeron’s  once feared, smash-mouth, and hard charging bone rattling “Sons of Billy Cannon” have become softer than Charmin – and that won’t sit well with the zealots of Baton Rouge who are already asking for a do-over regarding its new head man.
On the home front; it was a winning weekend for the teammates, as Tim Murphy of Harvard, and Buddy Teevens of Dartmouth, who played football together at Silver Lake Regional High, celebrated impressive victories. Good for them – both are classy and good guys.
Up at the Heights the bleeding was stanched at least temporarily, as the “mighty” Eagles of BC knocked off Central Michigan 28-8 to “improve” its record to 2-3.
But with an angry Virginia Tech bunch looming on the horizon (Saturday night), that victorious feeling, in our opinion, will be very short-lived.
Back to the Ivies, another of our pals, Coach Al Bagnoli of the Columbia sent a message to the rest of the league, that the Lions might be ready to roar as witnessed by its impressive 28-24 victory over the defending league champion, the Tigers of Princeton.
Columbia, who captured its first Ivy opener since 2010, now finds itself 3-0 for the first time since Bill Clinton was leering at Monica Lewinsky – 1996, and has won four in a row for the first time since that same year.
Good for the future HOF coach Bagnoli, and good for the community of Columbia football. Well done!
On Friday night on the Palouse, the Cougars of Washington State under the direction of its “mad-genius” Coach Mike Leach, ended the 13-game winning streak of the Men of Troy defeating USC; 30-27.
But it was the quote after the game by its pirate-loving, Key West property owning coach that grabbed our attention.
When the 33,000 plus fans stormed the field, Leach took in the scene then said;

 

Washington State Coach Mike Leach                                          AP photo

“There’s a lot of people. It looks like Woodstock, except everybody is wearing clothes.” Brilliantly summarized!
Kudos to the “Fighting Terps” of Maryland who behind its third string QB Max Bortenschlager, (Maryland’s starter, and backup QB’s were lost for the season with torn ACL’s), went into Minnesota against the undefeated Golden Gophers and came home with a very surprising 31-24 victory.
Going into the game the Gophers were the number one rushing defense in the country, but were gashed by the Terps ground attack to the tune of 262-yards. Yikes!
Maryland now finds itself 3-1, and maybe on the way back to the days when signs would read: “Fear the Turtle.” Good for them.
The Heisman front runner Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley once again did his thing, (although he was held to less than 100-yards rushing), combining for 221-total yards as the ‘Nits took care of business pounding out a 45-14 victory over the Hoosiers of Indiana.
On the subject of tailbacks; charging hard from the outside in the early Heisman race is Stanford’s prime road-runner Bryce Love, who set a Cardinal record rushing for 301-yards in only 25-carries in Stanford’s 34-24 victory over Arizona State.
The starry Love has accumulated 1088-yards, in only a mind-blowing 98 carries, which figures out to be an average of 11-yards a touch. Amazing!!
Hail the Academies – as both Army and Navy won.
While Air Force fell to good-guy Bob Davie, and his (3-2) New Mexico Lobos; 56-38.
But there was a hint of controversy on the Lobos sidelines.
Because of a weather delay, the anthem wasn’t played before the start of the game, so at the half the New Mexico band hustled to the endzone, then played the Star Spangled banner. That was when five of Davie’s players took a knee, while the Cadets of Air Force stood in rigid attention.
“I kind of got shocked by that,” said Davie, who also said he would take it up with his team after the game.
In Amherst it another desultory performance by the “Sons of Emily Dickinson” as Mark Whipple’s team dropped to 0-6 losing to Ohio; 58-50. YIKES!!
The loss basically guarantees another losing season for one of the worst programs in the nation, and it remains to be seen how much more the UMass administration is willing to endure.

UMass Coach Mark Whipple                                                        AP photo

Coach Whip ever the optimist, sees the beer-glass half full, often sounding like “Bagdad Bob”; “We’re right there, and our guys are fighting. We just need a game changing play.” That, and a lot more W’s!
Finally, we close with our bloviating gas-bag pal Charlie Weis, whose fighting Jayhawks, the last team Charlie “fixed,” didn’t lose yesterday, simply because it was on its bye-week. Sorry Charlie!
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 6 Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk

Clemson battles VaTech in ACC Showdown, USC travels to Pullman to face Washington State, and Northwestern takes on Wisconsin

UAB will be wearing the names of patients from Children's Harbor Hospital on its jerseys on October 7th UAB Blazers football team

We begin this week with a coach, a children’s hospital, and the jerseys of a football team that carries with it a unique name twist.
In its October 7th game against Louisiana Tech UAB, the University of Alabama Birmingham football team will be wearing jerseys with the names, not of its players, but of a 100-patients from the local “Children’s Harbor Hospital.”
After the game the jerseys will be presented to the patients and their families as a way of spreading some joy to these kids who are fighting serious diseases.
Children’s Harbor CEO Myrle Grate said that UAB coach Bill Clark “provides a joy and enthusiasm the he and his players bring to the families that is palatable. It brings a level of healing that’s truly beyond our abilities alone.” Do you hear that Rick “Sargent Shultz” Pitino!
This weekend let’s see which team bring more joy to its proud alums by adding another notch to its win column, and which would like slink out of the stadium in total anonymity.
No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Virginia Tech (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) The Clemson Tigers have achieved that rare elusive status that only the elites of any profession have tasted.
When the defending national champions strut out of the visitors tunnel a Stones-like electricity resonates through the crowd, almost as if they are watching Mick preening and prancing on stage belting out; “Symphony for the Devil.”
The commander of Dabo’s eleven is its dual-threat, peppermint cool QB, Kelly (3 TDs – 2 Ints 67%, 7 rushing touchdowns) Bryant, who has been as deadly as a sniper on a Raqqa rooftop, while exuding the same quiet confidence as John Wayne in; “Rio Bravo.”

 

Clemson’s “Peppermint Cool” QB Kelly Bryant                               AP photo

The Tiger’s field-general is assisted by a passel of turbo-charged tailbacks; Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster, Adam Choice, and C.J. Fuller who rumble as smoothly as a Tesla.
And when Clemson takes to the Death Valley skies, wideouts Ray-Ray McCloud, Deon Cain, and Hunter Renfrow, (whose hands could be in an advertisement for “Gorilla Glue”) constantly move the chains.
But it’s the nation’s third stingiest (9 pts.) D, anchored by backers Dorian O’Daniel, Kendall Joseph, safety Tanner Muse, and end Austin Bryant, who are harder to penetrate than Steve Bannon’s wall safe that will ultimately determine if Clemson is to make a return trip to the playoff.
The last time Blacksburg faithful witnessed a game of this magnitude, Barak Obama was in the final year of his first term 2007, which in today’s unsettled environment seems like a millennia ago.
The VaTech fan base is also giddy over its second year Coach Justin Fuente who has produced victories not seen since the glory days of its iconic coach; Frank “Beamer Ball” Beamer.
And if the “Sons of Carroll Dale” should pull the upset, the national rankings, as well as the national playoff picture will experience a tectonic plate shifting, not seen in Lane Stadium since a guy named Michael Vick was leading the Hokies to glory.
The Men of Blacksburg are piloted on the arm of the nation’s eighth most efficient passer, its gun slinging dual-threat QB Josh Jackson (11- TDs-1 Int – 65%, 172 rushing yards), who hits his target better than Michael Jackson hit a high falsetto note.

VA Tech QB Josh Jackson                                                     AP photo

The maestro with the perfect pitch is assisted by tailbacks Travon McMillian, and Deshawn Clease, while wideouts; Cam Phillips (5-TDs), and his partners Sean Savoy, and C.J. Carroll have the ability to stress any defense.
And just like the swallows return annually to Capistrano, VaTech has another outstanding swarming D
under the tutelage of its long-time defensive guru, coordinator Bud Foster.
This group, led by backers Tremaine Edmunds, Andrew Motuapuaka, and nickel-back Mook Reynolds surrenders a miniscule 10-points a game, and attacks with the ferocity of a great white shark against a seal herd on the beaches of Orleans.
In a game that will have more hits than a Beatles convention, we think that it will be the Clemson
D that stifles the Hokies the same way Archie did to Edith on “All on the Family – Boy the way Glen Miller played … those were the days.”
No. 5 USC at No. 16 Washington State (Friday, ESPN, 10:30 p.m.) The winning streak for the Men of Troy has stretched to a baker’s dozen, a number not seen since old friend Pete Carroll was “jacked and pumped” and chest-bumping Snoop Dog on the Coliseum sidelines.
The “Sons of Lynn Swann” are piloted by its “Cool Hand Luke” QB Sam Darnold (9 TDs-7 Ints. – 67%), whose plethora of interceptions has slightly dimmed his Heisman chances, but certainly hasn’t hamstrung him from continuing to perform in a dramatic gunslinging flair.

USC QB Sam Darnold                                                                      AP Photo

The rocket-armed blond-bomber is assisted by a pair of slippery tailbacks Ronald Jones (leg) and freshman Stephen Carr, and when he takes to the Southern California skies, wideouts Deonay Burnett, and Steven Mitchell always seem to make the clutch grab.
On D, the “Sons of Ronnie Lott” led by backers Cameron Smith, Uchenna Nwosu, and Porter Gustin have shown some fissures stopping the run, while surrendering an average of 24-points a game.
In Pullman, with apologies to Mary Shelly, and Mel Brooks, the real mad-scientist resides in the football offices of the Palouse, disguised as the head coach of the Washington State Cougars.
Coach Mike Leach, the maven of the Air Raid offense, has his Cougs off to its best start since “W” was cutting brush on his 1600-acre Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas – 2001.

Washington State QB Luke Falk                                                      AP photo

The conductor of those high-octane offensive schemes is its starry QB Luke Falk (14 TDs-1 Int – 76%), the third all-time passer in the history of the Pac -12, who hits his target with the same accuracy as Kim Jong Un targets a blood relative.
The Wazzu rifleman relies on a trio of glue-fingered receivers; Tavares Martin, Isaiah Johnson-Mack, and Kyle Sweet, and when the Leach changes up, and calls for a run, which happens about as often as “The Donald” doesn’t use the pronoun I, (WSU is 126th in rushing), tailbacks Jamal Morrow, and James Williams, are solid contributors.
It’s never easy to go against USC, especially one riding a 13-game winning streak, but on the Palouse, we think the Cougars show the entire country that quality football is being played in Pullman, Washington.

No. 14 Miami at Duke (Friday – ESPN, 7 p.m.) Two weeks ago when Hurricane Irma came roaring into Florida, the football playing Hurricanes had its schedule (2-games rescheduled) blown off kilter.
And because of that thin resume, it leaves us as clueless as Sarah Palin was to the intricacies of “Land of Putin;” “I can see Russia from my house,” as to whether its ranking is deserving.

Miami QB Malik Rosier                                                     AP photo

QB Malik Rosier, comforted by a seasoned offensive line, is the newly installed director of these “Sons of George Mira.”
The kid has the luxury of calling on a pair of Jean Claude Killy-like downhill runners in Mark Walter and Travis Homer, and when Rosier takes to the clammy Miami skies; wideouts Braxton Berrios, Mike Harley, and tight end Christopher Herndon are comforting chain-moving targets.
The D of the “Sons of Vince Wilfork” led by corner Malek Young, tackle Joe Jackson, and backer Shaquille Quarterman, once as shaky as the Puerto Rican dam holding back Lake Guajataca, has been nicely shored courtesy of the hiring of defensive assistant wizards; Manny Diaz, and Craig Kuligowski.

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe                                    AP Photo

In Durham, the only organization that has done a better job than Duke’s headman David Cutcliffe, (who is attempting to get the Blue Devils off to a 5-0 start for the first time since Bill Clinton was chasing Barbara Streisand around a White House piano – 1994) is the Office of FEMA.
[Note: Ole Miss has never been the same since it badly blundered by firing Cutcliffe in 2004.]
And unlike “Little Ricky” Pitino, Coach Cut is always looking out for the disfranchised.
He called out the contractual television obligation that his conference has with ESPN, which showcases an ACC team every Friday night. “I apologize to all of the high school programs. If we are going to do it (televise Friday night games) we need to do it right.” Well said coach.
These “Sons of Steve Spurrier – Duke head coach 1987 -89 won ACC title in ’89- the school’s last) are commanded by the steady hand of its dual-threat QB Daniel Jones (5 TDs – 2 Ints. – 61%) who leans heavily on a pair of tailbacks; Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown.
And when the Dukies take to the air, wideouts T.J. Rahming, and Johnathan Lloyd are steady sure handed route runners.
On D, the “Sons of Mike Curtis,” second in the nation in stoning runners (less than 2.5 yds a carry), and sitting 11th overall, attack behind backers Joe Giles-Harris, Ben Humphries, and safety Alonzo Saxton,
and overall have been harder to penetrate than the Supreme Court’s inner-sanctum.
In a game of great intrigue, we’d dearly love to see the “smart kids” pull this off, but we think there is too much talent on Mark Richt’s Hurricanes, who “storm” back to Florida with a hard won W.
Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin (Noon, Ch. 5) If Notre Dame and Brian Kelly should ever tear up their dance card, Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald, who has built a program worthy of Frank Lloyd Wright, should be its first call.
Fitzy may never want to leave his alma-mater, but if he ever said yes, it would be a South Bend fit as perfect Raquel Welsh.

Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson                                                  AP photo

His scrappy Cats are directed by its slithering dual-threat QB Clayton Thorson (4 TDs-3 Ints -63%) who isn’t flashy, but possesses better leadership qualities than any of the Admirals of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
The elusive, leather-toughened junior calls on his bell-cow tailback Justin Jackson, almost as often as “The Donald” tweets, while a pair of Space Needle-sized receivers; Garrett Dickerson and Bennett Skowronek are targets of high caliber.
On D, the “Sons of Fred Williamson” anchored by backers Paddy Fisher, Nate Hall, and safety Godwin Igwebuike have struggled against both the run and pass which is not a good recipe when venturing into Camp Randall.
In Madison, Paul Chryst’s Badgers who have better overall balance than the Wallendas, and have, as Sinatra sang in JFK’s 1960 presidential campaign “High Hopes” for a playoff invite.

 

Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook Ap Photo

The pyrotechnics igniter for the “Sons of Russell Wilson” is the nation’s fourth most efficient passer, QB Alex Hornibrook (8 TDs – 1 Int -70%), who along with receivers Troy Fumagalli, and Quintez Cephus, has
the ability to light-up the Mad-Town scoreboard better than an US Air Force napalm drop lighting the hills surrounding Khe Sanh.
But with apologies to the “Talking Heads” the Badgers identity remains; “The same as it ever was” featuring a ground and pound patrol that averages a high-cotton 275-yards a game.
The leader of that ground force is its t-freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor (8.3 yds. a pop – 5 TDs) who has been covering acreage almost as quickly as the Kenyan national marathon team.

America’s forth stingiest D (10 pts.), led by backers Chris Orr, Leon Jacobs, and safety D’Cota Dixon hits with the ferocity of an Amtrak laborer pounding in a repair spike on an overtime shift.
As we said, we think Wiscy is a legitimate playoff contender, and ultimately prevails over the Evanston visitors.
No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 13 Auburn (ESPN, 6 p.m.) This is a bounce back, identity, and potentially season shifting game for the Bulldogs, who for the second consecutive week find themselves visitors in an environment with more hostility than a corporate banker testifying in front of Elizabeth Warren.
These “Sons of D. D. Lewis” directed by its dual-threat QB Nick Fitzgerald (7 TDs – 3 Ints – 57% – 5-rushing), earns its money as road grinders averaging a robust 267-rushing yards per game led by tailbacks Aeris Williams, and Kylin Hill.
And when the Bulldogs go aerial a trio of All State receivers; Donald Gray, Keith Mixon, and Deddrick Thomas keeps the offense moving.
On D (14.8 pts.) MSU shoots down the pass (5th) better than the Pentagon’s anti-missile system, and causes constant disruption behind backer Dezmond Harris, safety Mark McLaurin, and tackle Jeffrey Simmons.
Up till now the offense residing on the Plains for the “Sons of Shug Jordan” has been better suited for “Sleepy Hollow.”
Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham (3 TDs-2 Ints – 70%), who was expected to be War Eagle’s missing link remains relatively low on the learning curve as to the defensive ways of the SEC.
But it’s on defense where the Tigers expect to play a winning hand.

Auburn’s suffocating D                                                   AP photo

 

Auburn’s suffocating front seven, the nation’s 7th stingiest (11), anchored by backers Tre’ Williams, Darrell Williams, and end Jeff Holland puts up a better wall than anything President Trump could possibly hope to build.
The faithful are also hopeful that the offense, which thawed somewhat against a woeful Missouri team, and is led by its Baffert-esque stable of tailbacks Kamryn Pettway, Kam Martin (9 yds. a touch) and Kerryon Johnson will finally be able to find some consistency.
This magnitude of this game is so big that it may ultimately decide the future employ of Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, and we think the Tigers, with its anvil-pounding D, carries the day.
Last week: 3-2 Season record: 13-7

That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap on Sunday afternoon. Until then as always Peace, and listen to the music. pk