Monthly Archives: October 2008

Handicapping week 10

We begin this week with a photo-op.

He may be the clown-prince of ESPN’s College Football GameDay show, but in his day, Lee Corso was a solid, innovative football coach, who never missed an opportunity to have some fun.  That was never more evident in 1976, when his Indiana Hoosiers took on the Ohio State Buckeyes of Woody Hayes.  Early in the first quarter, Corso called an unexpected time-out.  Then the coach brought the entire team onto the field, to pose for a picture underneath the scoreboard, which displayed the score of:  Indiana 7 – Ohio State – 0.  The reason: the Hoosiers had just scored, to take a 7-0 lead, against a team it hadn’t defeated in 25 years.  It would be their last lead, as the Buckeyes went on to score 47 unanswered points.  This weekend, let’s see which teams play a picture perfect game, and which, leave its faithful, looking, like a picture of despair.

No.5 Florida vs.No.8 Georgia at Gator Bowl (Ch.4 3:30 p.m.)  Florida’s mercury infused offense, squeezes a defense, tighter than Tropicana squeezes an orange.  The nation’s seventh highest scoring team, is directed by the reigning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, (12 touchdowns- 2 interceptions- 5 rushing td’s).  The QB is assisted by the dynamic tailback tandem of Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, and the field stretching ability of its All-America wideout Percy Harvin, and fellow receiver Louis Murphy.  The opportunistic D, led by its All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and end Lawrence Marsh is the sixth stingiest eleven in America, and attacks, and disrupts the pass, and run, with equal ferocity. The Gators special teams, who have blocked five kicks, have also played a significant role in Florida’s recent dominant performances.

The Dawgs have found its offensive bite.  

In Athens, the trio of quarterback Matthew Stafford (12 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno, and freshman sensation receiver, A.J. Green, has finally hit its stride, and is piling up points, quicker than Diane Wilkerson stuffs her bra with cash.  (Who knew Wilkerson wore a bra size; 23G? The second show begins at eleven!) The D, which features backers Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble inhales runners, but shows some vulnerability in defending against the pass.

This is a double payback game for Florida.  In last year’s 42-30 victory over Florida, Bulldog coach Mark Richt, sent his entire team onto the field to celebrate Georgia’s first touchdown, in what, in Gainesville, has become known in as; the Gator Stomp.  That perceived gesture of disrespect has festered in the craw of Florida coach Urban Meyer for over a year.   This week, he has instituted a gag order, on all his players regarding the incident.  But, if the opportunity presents itself, rest assured, Meyer will take no prisoners.  In that vein, we think the Gators put a Tropicana squeeze on the Dawgs.

No.1 Texas at No.6 Texas Tech (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  This is a game in which both teams could score more in the first quarter, than Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson score in an entire year.  The Horns are hooking teams behind it’s dual-threat Heisman Trophy front running quarterback Colt McCoy (21 touchdowns – 4 interceptions- 7 rushing touchdowns), who directs the nation’s fifth highest scoring team.  The Austin automatic, is also completing an eye-popping, 81 percent of his throws, and the near flawless QB also has more weapons than a skin-head’s cellar.  He can laser-lock onto a pair of glue fingered, un-coverable 24/7 receivers in Jordan Shipley (10 touchdowns) and Quan Cosby, or lean on an emerging running attack, that features Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya.  The D, led by All-America end Brian Orakpo and backers Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy, stones runners, but has as much trouble defending the pass (9th from the bottom) as Bob Gamere’s attorney will have, in defending his client.

There hasn’t been this much excitement in Lubbock, Texas, since native son Buddy Holly was cranking out 45’s.  In fact, the last time Texas Tech, who is in possession of a ten game winning streak, stood 8-0; Jimmy Carter (1976) was occupying the Oval Office.  The nation’s top ranked aerial show is directed by quarterback Graham Harrell (28 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), who has the luxury of being protected by an elephantine offensive line.  The touchdown tosser focuses on his All-America fly-trap receiver, Michael Crabtree (14 touchdowns), and the pair have become the tastiest Southwest combination, this side of beer, and Texas barbecue.  In addition, the Red Raiders have the ability to change up with a pair of quality backs, in Batch Barron and Shannon (10 touchdowns) Woods.  The D, which features end Brandon Williams, and backer Brian Duncan, is usually considered a dry well in the South Plains, but this year’s group is much more resilient than previous teams.  In a game in which, an MIT mathematician may be needed to keep track of the touchdowns, we think the Horns, have just enough defensive talent, to carry the day.  Or to paraphrase native son Buddy Holly, “That’ll be the day,” when TT takes out Texas.

Northwestern at No. 20 Minnesota (ESPN, Noon) The Purple Cats may have had its season de-clawed by the year ending wrist injury to its star senior tailback, Tyrell Sutton.  But rest assured, coach Pat Sullivan’s squad will continue to scratch with his dual-threat quarterback C.J. Bacher (10 touchdowns – 11 interceptions) (questionable with leg injury, if he can’t go, junior Mike Kafka will start) with assists from seasoned runner Omar Conteh, and a pair of senior receivers in Ross Lane and Eric Peterman.  The D, led by end Covey Wooten and backer Prince Kwatens is overall pedestrian, but is a goal line defending force, and worthy of its ranking, as the twenty-sixth stingiest team in the land.

To paraphrase a bad movie introduction: Minnesota (7-1) is the feel good story of the year.  Last season Coach Tim Brewster’s Golden Gophers didn’t win a conference game, and finished the year 1-11, the worst record in school history.  Now, the school with the longest Rose Bowl drought (47 years), is riding a three game conference winning streak, and has an outside chance of going to Pasadena.  The Gophers are directed by its exciting sophomore quarterback Adam Weber (10 touchdowns -3 interceptions), who gets help from a dominant wideout, in Eric Decker, and a steady tailback in DeLeon Eskridge.  The opportunistic D, the Gophers lead the nation in turnover margin, is led by ends Willie Van Desteeg and Lee Campbell, and just like its opponent, it gumbies (bends) but doesn’t break, and ranks as the twentieth toughest eleven to score on.  The feel good story has at least, one more chapter, as Minnesota gets a step closer to smelling the Roses.

No.16 Florida State at Georgia Tech (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  It’s been awhile since the Seminoles have sniffed such a lofty ranking entering the month of November, which coincidently, is the month that coach Bobby Bowden turns a young 79.  The backbone of Bowden’s team, as always, is its swarming third ranked defense, which features sack master end, Everette Brown, backer Derek Nicholson, and safety Myron Rolle.  This punishing trio leads a group that has been destructive in defending both the run, and the pass.  The other ingredient in the Tallahassee resurgence, has been the play of first year starter, dual-threat red-shirt sophomore Christian Ponder (9 touchdowns – 6 interceptions).  The QB, along with tailback Antone Smith (ribs) and wideouts Taiwan Easterling and Greg Carr are the catalysts of the nation’s twentieth highest scoring team. 

Yellow Jackets coach, Paul Johnson, has shifted his running philosophy from Annapolis to Atlanta, and, so far, the faithful heartily approve.  Running quarterback Josh Nesbitt, and tailback Jonathan Dwyer are the anchors on America’s ninth best rushing offense.  The D, behind end Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett and backer Kyle Jackson, defend all angles, and are the seventh toughest to score upon.  In a huge ACC match-up, the speed of the Seminoles delivers an early birthday present to its coach.

Pitt at Notre Dame (Ch.7, 2:30 p.m.) The Dave Wannstedt era at Pitt (21-21), has yet to fulfill expectations.  In his four-plus seasons, the Panthers continue to exhibit an erratic tendency of defeating a highly ranked opponent one week, only to lose to a much inferior one the next.  The Pitt offense is a throwback to the Tony Dorsett era, focusing on the ground attack, which is spearheaded by the nation’s eleventh rated rusher, LeSean McCoy, who has scored 14 touchdowns.  QB Bob Stull (4 touchdowns- 5 interceptions) (concussion, questionable) is simply asked to manage the game.  The D, led by its All-America tackling machine Scott McKillop, dominates in only one phase; it is third in the nation in sacks.

How weak is the Irish schedule?  Well, Notre Dame is 5-2, and has yet to be ranked.  Here’s another disturbing stat for the Irish faithful, in its last 14 games against opponents with at least a .500 record, ND is a Syracuse-like 1-13.  The leader of the one dimensional offense, is its starry sophomore quarterback, Jimmy Clausen (15 touchdowns- 9 interceptions), who is helped by a pair of quality targets, in Golden Tate and freshman Michael Floyd.  Unfortunately, for Charlie Weis, it is easier to find campus atheist, than a quality Irish running back, as the ND rush attack sits a bottom feeding ninety-first.  The Domers D, led by backer Maurice Crum is much improved, but remains vulnerable defending the pass.  We think, come late Saturday afternoon, the Irish, for the first time since 2006, officially get ranked.

Last week’s record: 3-2.                          Season record: 30-15.


Recap of week 9

The tone for the weekend was set, not on the football field, but by CBS Sports.  The network announced that it has renewed its contract to televise the Army/Navy game through the 2018 season, with the added caveat of moving it to the second Saturday in December.  By changing the date, the game will stand alone, where it rightly belongs, as the focus game of the weekend.  Otherwise, it got swallowed up by the contrived, money grubbing conference championship games.  Good move by CBS.

The weekend once again began on Thursday night, when Auburn, who led 17-3 at the half, surrendered 31 unanswered points to West Virginia, and suffered another shocking loss, 34-17 to West Virginia.  It dropped the once mighty Tigers to 4-4, and put the Tommy Tuberville era in grave jeopardy.

We’ll begin with a pair of huge Saturday surprises. 

Last season the Minnesota Gophers were 1-11, with the nation’s worst rated defense.  They now find themselves in a better turnaround than the Tampa Bay Rays, sitting pretty with a 7-1 record, after its 17-6 victory over Purdue, and looking at a nine or ten win season.  Tim Brewster has to be one of the strong candidates for Coach of the Year.

The other award winning performance is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The web site has been dismantled, as Virginia coach Al Groh has put together the best reconstruction project seen in Virginia since the Civil War.  The Cavs upset No.18 Georgia Tech ( score? ) and have now won 4 in a row.  Virginia started the season being outscored 128-20 in its first three Division I games, and now sit 5-3, while occupying the top spot in the ACC’s Coastal Division.  Amazing!!

On the negative side, Purdue’s coach Joe Tiller, who is retiring after this season, stayed one year to long, as the Boilers, have lost five in a row, and are now 2-6, with virtually no chance of going bowling.

In another Big Ten disappointment, Illinois, once considered a conference threat, finds itself 4-4, and with its challenging remaining schedule, is in danger of having a losing season.

Poor Vanderbilt.  The Commodores started the season 5-0, needing one more win in order to become bowl eligible for the first time in over 25 years.  Since then Vandy had lost three straight, including Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Duke, and will be an underdog in its four remaining games, putting its bowl hopes in grave danger.

On the other hand Duke finds itself 4-3, in a great coaching job by David Cutcliff, and if Tennessee pulls the plug on Phil Fulmer, the Volunteers could do a lot worse than its old offensive coordinator.

In Oklahoma’s 58-35 destruction of Kansas State, OU scored the old speed limit (55) in the first half.

Our home town heroes, Boston College, suffered a defensive meltdown surrendering 45 points in its loss to North Carolina.  UNC coach Butch Davis at 6-2, is another strong candidate for Coach of the Year. 

Texas, a 28-24 winner over Oklahoma State was severely tested, but answered, not with it prolific offense, but with its defense, and has survived the first three, of its four step, mine field.  It makes next weeks game in Lubbock a potential classic.  It also probably all but guarantees, that D-coordinator Will Muschamp, will be someone’s head coach next year.

Mighty Meechigan and coach $Rod are 2-6, and will not be going bowling for the first time in 33 years.

The Georgia offense has reawakened, just in time for next week’s showdown with Florida.

LSU has surrendered 102 points in two losses – any chance the Tigers can get it former D-coordinator Bo Pellini, now coaching Nebraska, to come back?

The Big East has morphed into the Big Least.  USF was upset by Louisville, while Pittsburgh and Dave Wannstedt did what they always do, cough one up that they are expected to win.  Witness Saturday’s 54-24 destruction by SUNJ (formerly known as Rutgers), it was only the third win by the Scarlet Knights, but severely impacted the feel-good season in Pittsburgh.

David Letterman’s alma-mater Ball State is 8-0.

Strange stat of the day:  Navy 5-3, a 34-7 winner over SMU, became the first Division I team in eleven years not to attempt a pass.  Instead the Midshipmen ran it 77 times, with third string quarterback Ricky Dobbs carrying it 42 times for 224 yards and 4 td’s.

Phil Fulmer is another dead man walking as Tennessee is 3-5, and 1-4 in the conference, was held to a total of 173 yards in its loss to Alabama.

Penn State, a 13-6 winner in Columbus for the first time in 30 years, committed no penalties, (the one they committed was refused by Ohio State) and no turnovers, and did it with old fashioned smash mouth football.  Baring a stumble against Iowa or Michigan State, the Nits, under 81 year old JoePa, should play in the National championship game.  Amazing!!!!

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with the analysis of week 10, which will be the first Saturday in November.  Slow down the season!!!! Until then Peace.  PK

Handicapping week 9

We begin this week with a finger salute.

No, not the one that is recognized globally, this one involves a pinkie finger.  It is, or was, attacked to the right hand of Trevor Wirke, a 280 pound senior right guard, for Division II Mesa State College.  Wirke shattered the finger on the jersey of a teammate, leaving a shard of bone, where, there was once a finger. 

The orthopedic surgeon, wanted to insert some pins, which meant a six-month recovery, and the end of the senior’s football career.  “Cut it off,” was Wirke’s response.  And cut it off they did, allowing guard to return to the football team.  It also brought about a slew of new nicknames from his teammates.  Gems like: give me a high four, you ought to have 10 percent fewer holding calls, stubs, and fantastic-four.  This weekend, let’s see which teams point the way, and play with surgical precision, and which, when you cut to the bone, are given the bone, by its disgruntled faithful.

No.7 Oklahoma State at No. 1 Texas (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  The Cowboys are riding into Austin, with the intent of riding out, with the title of: “the new sheriff in town.”  The Pokes, who gallop on the nation’s fourth highest scoring offense, are directed by the country’s third most efficient passer in quarterback Zac (14 touchdowns – 4 interceptions) Robinson.  The QB earns his spurs, on the hands of one of the best wideouts on the Plains, Dez White, who has corralled eleven touchdown passes, and is second in the nation in receiving yards.  The QB also has the luxury of changing up, with the running of the one of the nation’s best, in tailback Kendall Hunter.  The D, led by backers Andre Sexton, Orie Lemon, and tackle Jeremiah Price, struggle at times defending the pass, but overall have a deceiving ability to rise up for the big play.

The eyes of the nation are now upon Texas, and the Horns have no intention of surrendering its hard earned badge.  The chief sharpshooter of the country’s second highest scoring team, is its Heisman Trophy leading quarterback Colt McCoy (19 touchdowns – 3 interceptions), who is completing a Wyatt Earp-ian eighty-one percent of his passes.  The QB has attained his lofty reputation, courtesy of his seven-eleven (open all the time) glue fingered wideouts, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, who have combined for twelve touchdowns.  McCoy still leads the team in rushing, but senior power back Chris Ogbonnaya, is emerging as a force.  The D, led by end Brian Orakpo, who is performing at an All-America level, along with linebacker Sergio Kindle and tackle Roy Miller, is fourth in sacks, stones runners, but like Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign, is eighth from the bottom in defending the pass.  They’ll be no, new, swearing in ceremony in Austin, as the Longhorns lasso another opponent, and tell OK State, “We don’t need no stinking badges.”

No. 3 Penn State at No.10 Ohio State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  The only thing that is creaking on the Happy Valley band wagon is the arthritic hip of its 81 year old coach, Joe Paterno. Senior quarterback Daryl Clark (11 touchdowns – 2 interceptions) directs the nation’s seventh highest scoring team, with help from its game breaking tailback Evan Royster, and its Musketeer trio of wideouts in Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams.  One of the keys to the Penn State success has been its efficiency in converting (8th) third down conversions.  The nation’s sixth stingiest eleven, led by end Aaron Maybin (10 sacks), and backers Navarro Bowman and Tyrell Sales, are quarterback disruptors, and defend the pass and the run with equal fervor.

In Columbus the last time the faithful saw a better one man show, other than its freshman dual-threat sensation, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, someone by the name of; Elvis, was in his prime. 

In the Horseshoe, the offensive formula could be a campaign slogan, so goes Pryor, so go the Buckeyes. Teams must respect his tone setting Fred Astir elegance, which allows starry breakaway tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells, and the receiving ability of the two Brians, receivers Hartline, and Robiskie, to find the open spaces.  But as always with Tressel-led teams, the backbone of the 2008 OSU eleven is its defense, led by its threesome of linebackers in All-America James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman and Ross Homan.  This group, is fourth in takeaways, has captured twelve interceptions, and is America’s twelfth toughest team to score upon.  Since joining the Big Ten, a visit to Columbus, for JoePa and his Nittany Lions, has been like a visit to the dentist for a root canal, his seven visits, all losses, have been painful.  But, if in fact, this is the Lion of Happy Valley’s last hurrah, creaky hip and all, Joe says, “Goodbye Columbus” with a victory, and likely punches his ticket to the national title game.

No.8 Texas Tech at No.19 Kansas (Noon, ESPN)  Coach Mike Leach’s Red Raiders light the sky with the most dynamic aerial show this side of the Flying Wallendas.  The nation’s top-rated passing attack is commanded by quarterback Graham Harrell (23 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), whose Linus blanket target, All-America wideout Michael Crabtree, has twelve touchdown receptions, and conjures up images of Jerry Rice.  In addition to this McCain-Palin combination, Tech occasionally changes-up with a pair of solid tailbacks, in Baron Batch, and Shannon Woods.  The D, behind backers Brian Duncan and Marlon Williams, stones runners, but is as weak (103rd) as the excuses to re-elect Diane Wilkerson, in defending the pass.

Kansas, who has won 13 consecutive home games, plays as big as the waist size of its 400 – plus pound coach, Mark Mangino.  The Jayhawks are led by quarterback Todd Reesing, (17 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), who runs the nation’s sixth best passing attack.  The QB has the luxury of choosing between a pair of field stretching wideouts, in former quarterback Kerry Meier, and Dezmon Briscoe.  When KU does run, the bulk of the work is handled by tailback Jake Sharp.  The D, behind backer James Holt, and end Jake Laptad, dines on runners, but is erratic as an Al Davis press conference, in defending the pass.  Unlike that famous Kansan Dorothy, we think TT will finally realize that, they are indeed, in Kansas – Lawrence to be exact.

No.9 Georgia at No.11 LSU (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.)   It can be debated that the boys from Athens, Georgia, have as much talent as Zeus’ fabled ancient counterparts, who hailed from the Mount called Olympus.  Yet for some reason, the Dawgs continue to sputter.  The leader of this highly acclaimed bunch is quarterback Matt Stafford (10 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), who leans heavily on his All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno (11 touchdowns), and a flashy freshman sensation in wideout, A.J. Green.  The D, led by backers Rennie Curran and Daryl Gamble chomp runners, but is still under double digits (8) in turnovers recovered.

The Tigers engine purrs on the legs of its tailback tandem, Charles Scott and Keiland Williams.  In addition, coach Les Miles has done a David Copperfield type of job, in rotating his two inexperienced quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee (8 touchdowns – 6 interceptions) and his counterpart, the running QB Andrew Hatch.  When Lee is on, he has a pair of quality targets in, Brandon “Drops” Lafell, and Demetrious Byrd.  The D, led by end Tyson Jackson, and backers Perry Riley, and the recently returned stud, Darry Beckwith, crushes runners, but overall, with only seven recovered turnovers, hasn’t been up to recent Tiger quality.  In a classic SEC battle, (Is there any other kind?), with huge national implications, and fully aware that Georgia is 25-4 on the road under the tenure of coach Mark Richt, it’s the Tigers, who bite the Dawgs.

Kentucky at No. 5 Florida   In less time than it takes to age fine aged Kentucky bourbon, coach Rich Brooks has made football in Lexington, relevant again.  The Cats, who are one win away from bowl eligibility, have scratched opponents, utilizing the nation’s seventh stingiest defense, which features a pair of attacking sack masters in Braxton Kelley and Micha Johnson (ankle).  With all its injuries, the Kentucky offense is as hobbled as a broken down still and in the last two weeks, quarterback Mike Hartline (8 touchdowns – 6 interceptions) has seen his two main benefactors, tailback Derrick Locke, and wideout Dicky Lyons, lost for the season, putting even more pressure on the Kentucky defense.

Unlike Ponce DeLeon and his fruitless search, the Gators have finally found a running game in Gainesville.  The jet-fueled duo of Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps, has given the Florida offense a youthful spark.  In addition, when tailback/wideout Percy Harvin and wideout Louis Murphy are added to the Gatorade mix, the only place in the Sunshine State with more speed is, Daytona.  It is also easier to find a friendly bus driver, than it is scoring on the Gators D, led by its All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and his partner Joe Haden.  In “The Swamp” on Saturday, the only bourbon to be savored will be swirling in the glasses, of the orange cladded faithful, of Florida.

Last week’s record: 4-1                                             Season record: 27-13.


Recap of week 8

This was the week in which order was restored in the upper echelon of the college hierarchy.

We’ll begin where things have unraveled.

Wisconsin, once a top ten threat, has fallen on drastic times, as the Badgers have now lost four in a row, and even though it’s still October, the Mad-Town faithful, are looking toward the hockey and basketball seasons for some solace.

SUNJ formerly known as Rutgers, defeated UConn by the scintillating score of 12-10, UConn missed three field goals, the last one hitting the right upright with less than 2 minutes in the game) and now find themselves 2-5, which averages one win for each $50 million toward the $100 million stadium renovation project!!

Syracuse, our good friends from the north didn’t disappoint, as the ‘Cuse was crushed 45-13 by South Florida.  That leaves coach Greg Robinson, five more chances to win two games, in order to reach a double digit win total in his four years at the helm.  Yikes!!  Or as it has become to be known nationally, that’s “Syracuse bad.” 

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Although they seemed to play with a little more spunk under interim coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson, a 21-17 loser to Georgia Tech, and once a preseason top ten, has lost three straight and now finds itself staring at a 3-4 record, and a good chance of finishing the season with a losing record!!

Coach Paul Johnson has taken his magic from Navy, and brought it over to Atlanta, as Georgia Tech now sits 6-1, albeit with a pair of wins against Division II opponents.

Pitt is showing signs of real life as coach Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers have won five in a row, and at 5-1, may be the class of the Big East, and invited to the BCS dance.

The Buckeyes showed the country, that they are far from dead with its 45-7 dismantling of Michigan State, and now get ready for its showdown with Penn State in Columbus. 

Northwestern, under the leadership Pat Fitzgerald, the nation’s youngest head coach, is 6-1, bowl eligible, with a chance to win at least nine games.  Good for the boys with the high SAT’s.

Schizophrenic Maryland, who were shut out in its last game 31-0, shut out a very good Wake Forest team 26-0, to climb to a surprising 5-2.  It was the first time Wake had been white washed since 1998.

How about Al Groh’s Virginia Cavaliers, after being humiliated in its first three Division I games by the ungodly combined scores of 128-20, have ripped off three straight, including yesterday’s overtime victory (16-13) over a ranked North Carolina team.

Nick Saban has his Crimson Tide 7-0, which in itself is amazing, but even more so is the fact that it’s the first time in his coaching career, that Saban has won his first seven games.

Mighty “Meechigan” and coach $-Rod, now find themselves 2-5, and will be home for the holidays for the first time in 34 years. 

In the OU/Kansas slugfest, both teams combined for 1165 offensive yards, as the Sooners held on for a hard fought 45-31 victory over Kansas.

USC defeated Washington State, aka, the Little Sisters of the Poor 69-0.  It was the biggest point differential win for USC since the Hoover Administration in 1931, when the Trojans defeated Montana, and a Division I record fourth time that Washington has surrendered over 60 in a game.

Texas showed the nation, that it is indeed the number one team in the land with its 56-31     spanking of Missouri, (it was 35-0 at the half) as Mr. Colt McCoy an eye-popping 29 for 32, solidified his position as the number one leader in the Heisman Trophy chase.

Kudos to Boston College, who spotted Virginia a 10-0 lead, than stormed back to take out the Hokies 28-23, and establish themselves a legitimate ACC threat.

If I took a bow for my selection of Vandy over Auburn, I take full responsibility for my stinker-ooo of; Michigan State over Ohio State – a 45-7 butt-kicking!!! 

One last thing any team looking for a coach, better have Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp on speed dial, and Mark Whipple would look awfully good coaching the Orange.

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with our week 9 analysis.  As always, slow down the season.  Until then, Peace.   PK.

Handicapping week 8

We begin this week in need of another sign.

Several weeks ago, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage reversed his earlier decision banning signs, banners, and flags at Cavalier football games, that were critical of coach Al Groh and the football team.  The reversal came after students threatened to wear blue to the Maryland game.  The change seemed to be a magic elixir as Virginia went out and shocked the Terrapins 31-0, and have now won two in a row.  What would university founder Thomas Jefferson, the man of Enlightenment, have thought about the freedom of speech issue on his own campus? 

This weekend let’s see which teams display another sign of success, and which perform so poorly, instead of signs, maybe the entire team should be banned. 

No.11 Missouri at No. 1 Texas (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  The Boys from the “Show Me State,” have to regroup, and show the nation that they do indeed belong with the elite – this time, in Austin, Texas.  If Missouri, can knock off the newly crowned Horns, its long shot road to the national championship game, will get a little smoother.  The undisputed leader of the nation’s third highest scoring team, is its Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback (16 touchdowns – 4 interceptions) Chase Daniel.  This craftsman with the surgical precision touch completes seventy-five percent of his passes, thanks in large part, to his All-America targets Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman.  Missou can also throw in a wrinkle with is starry tailback Derrick (11 touchdowns) Washington.  The D, behind its All-America backer Sean Weatherspoon, handles the run, but folds like Lehman Brothers (6th from the bottom) in defending against the pass. 

The Horns have “shot” to the top on the deadly marksmanship (79 percent completions) of its Heisman Trophy front running candidate, quarterback Colt (17 touchdowns- 3 interceptions) McCoy.  The director of the nation’s fifth highest scoring offense is greatly assisted by a pair of glue-fingered, big play receivers in Quan Cosby and Jordan, “touchdown (8) maker,” Shipley.  The QB remains the team’s leading rusher, but senior tailback Chris Ogbonnaya has begun to emerge.  The D behind backer Sergio Kindle and end Brian Orakpo is second in the land in sacks, but a Chrysler-like tenth from the bottom in defending the pass.  In another huge test, BEVO and the Longhorns, hook another victory, as the Sons of Daryl Royal solidify its reputation, as the best beef, in the land.

No. 16 Kansas at No. 4 Oklahoma (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m. regional)  The fighting Mangino’s, who have won 20 of its last 23, have munched through its schedule on the arm of quarterback Todd (15 touchdowns – 3 interceptions) Reesing, the nation’s twelfth ranked passing efficiency leader. The KU dart thrower focuses on a pair of circled targets in former quarterback Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, who have combined for 84 receptions and nine touchdowns.  Unfortunately, the running attack featuring tailback Jake Sharp, is about as effective as Tom Brokaw, in moderating a national debate.  The D led by end Jake Laptad, backer James Holt and corner Chris Harris attacks from all angles. 

The Sooners are wounded and angry, which for Kansas is an incendiary combination.  OU is directed by the nation’s second most efficient passer in quarterback Sam Bradford (23 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), with assists from a trio of receivers, who have combined for 18 touchdowns in All-America tight end Jermaine Gresham, and wideouts Juaquin Inglesias and Manuel Johnson.  The ground attack carried on the legs of DeMarco Murray, and Chris Brown, can also be defensive disruptors.  The soul of the D, senior backer Ryan Reynolds is out for the season, but the remaining aggressive group, led by backer Travis Lewis and tackle Gerald McCoy, will stay on the attack.  On Saturday in Norman, KU will realize, it’s not in Kansas anymore.

No. 12 Ohio St. at No. 20 Michigan State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m. regional) Diogenes might find his honest man before the Bucks find any offense.  The Columbus eleven have hung up numbers so offensive, they would even bring a cringe to a Wall Street broker.  Despite the quality performance from freshman sensation quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his All-America tailback Chris Wells, OU sits eleventh from the bottom in passing, seventieth in scoring, and ninety-fourth in total offense.  It’s the nation’s thirteenth stingiest defense, led by its All-America backer James Laurinaitis and his partner Marcus Freeman, who have carried the hopes of the somewhat disgruntled and spoiled Buckeye faithful.

The Spartan season has a nice ring to it.  Sparty has “rung” out opponents behind its All-America, and Heisman Trophy candidate Javon Ringer (14 touchdowns), the nation’s second leading rusher.  In addition to its plow horse tailback, quarterback Brian Hoyer and wideouts Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham have the ability to spring the big play.  The D, behind backer Greg Jones and safety Dan Fortener has difficulty against the pass, but remains an opportunistic aggressive bunch.  It’s never easy to go against the Bucks, especially with the BIG TEN title, and a Rose Bowl birth still in play, but we think Mark Dantonio’s Spartans finally break through, and grab a hard fought victory in East Lansing.

No.13 LSU at South Carolina (ESPN, 8p.m.)  The Tigers are another wounded, embarrassed, and hungry football team.  The quarterback rotation in Baton Rouge, between Jarrett Lee (8 touchdowns – 5 interceptions) and runner Andrew Hatch (1 touchdown -1 interception) remains as muddled as a Zimbabwe election.  One thing on the LSU offense that is clear is the ground attack, led by Charles Scott, the nation’s fourteenth best rusher, and someone who has the ability to carry a team on his legs.  The D, featuring backer Perry Riley, and safety Harry Coleman, flies and punishes, but so far, isn’t of vintage Tiger mayhem.

Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks have won four in a row, but like John Kerry’s attraction to a microphone, the search for quarterback perfection in Columbia remains a never ending quest.  The head ball coach alternates between Chris Smelley (10 touchdowns – 9 interceptions) and red-shirt freshman Steve Garcia as often as a NASCAR pit crew changes tires.  The rest of South Carolina offense is just as muddled.  The SC ground attack behind tailback Mike Davis, sits fifteenth from the bottom, and overall, the offense ranks an anti-Spurrier-like, seventy-ninth.  On defense the Cocks do indeed have the walk.  The nation’s sixteenth stingiest D, featuring backer Marvin Sapp and safety Emmanuel Cook, are impossible to pass on, play the run with equal vigor, and are the third ranked total defense in the country.  In a must win for LSU, we think that the talent level will carry the Boys from the Bayou in a close, defensive struggle in Columbia.

No. 22 Vanderbilt at No. 10 Georgia The Boys from Nashville with the stellar SAT’s, have, so far, passed their exams on turnovers.  Vandy is third in the nation with eleven interceptions, and sits seventh in quarterback sacks.  Coach Bobby Johnson has decided to sit senior quarterback Chris Nickson and start junior sparkplug Mackenzi Adams.  Despite its bottom feeding offensive numbers; third worst in both passing and total offense, the Dores have been able to scratch out enough offense to earn a top-25 ranking.  While, the aforementioned opportunistic D, led by backers Patrick Benoist, Chris Marve, and safety Ryan Hamilton, has been goal line defending demons.

After all the preseason hype, then its humiliating destruction by Alabama, the Bulldogs have been running as silently as Red October.  The offensive attack remains on high alert under the command of quarterback Matthew Stafford (8 touchdowns – 3 interceptions) with assists from its All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno, and sensational true freshman wideout A.J. Green.  The D, featuring backer Rennie Curran and tackle Corvey Irvin stones runners, but shows some vulnerability in defending the pass.  In the Athens Homecoming, the Dawgs blow the Commodores off course, and out of the national rankings.

Last week’s record: 3-2.                             Season record: 23-12.

Recap of week 7

Here’s the lesson for the 2008 college football season: stay out of the top 5 spots.

In was another week of upsets, and classics, as the No. 1, 3, and 4 teams in the land went down to defeat, to once again shake up the landscape, in the best of all regular seasons: the college football season.  LSU was the last unbeaten AP preseason top 10 team to lose, outlasting Missouri, who was upset a half-an-hour earlier.  So much for preseason picks.

As always the week began on Thursday night, when the Tommy Bowden era in Clemson, unofficially ended in Winston Salem, as Wake Forest defeated the Tigers 12-7.  Clemson once touted as a preseason number 9, now sits unranked 3-3, with a quarterback change and all but ending the Bowden/Clemson coaching run.

East Carolina the early season darlings have died on the vine from an early frost as the Pirates dropped its third straight, a 35-20 loss to Virginia, and now head coach Skip Holtz has returned back to his original title of:  the son of Lou Holtz.  As an aside, since rescinding its ban on signs and banners, the Cavaliers, 3-3, have won two in a row.  Somewhere Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Enlightenment is smiling.

Where have you gone Mr. Robinson?  Unfortunately, for the Orange faithful, coach Greg Robinson still resides in Syracuse.  But it won’t be long as Simon and Garfunkle once sang, before he joins Mrs. Robinson, as the ‘Cuse (1-5) record remains stuck on 8 wins, six games into the coach’s fourth, and ultimately, last season.

West Virginia, a 17-6 winner over Syracuse, remains stuck in neutral on offense.

Holy Toledo!! Meechigan, 2-4, had never lost to a MAC team, compiling a 24-0 record against conference foes, until its 13-10 loss Saturday.  Toledo came into the game with the 110th easiest defense to score on, and the “offensive guru,” coach “Rod” could only muster a single touchdown.  DOUBLE YIKES!!!!  Where’s Lloyd Carr when you need him?  Winning Toledo coach Tom Amstutz, who came into the Big House with a 1-4 record, said, “I wasn’t in a hurry to get off the field.  I lingered a little bit … great feeling.”  Michigan has its worst 6 game record since the Summer of Love in 1967, which was two years before a guy with the first name of Bo showed up in Ann Arbor.  After 33 consecutive years of going bowling, it looks like the only bowling the Wolverines will be doing after the season will be in the campus alleys.  Things are so bad with coach Rod’s Maize and Blue, that it missed a 26 yard chip shot tying field goal at the end of the game.  By the way, the winning 48 yard field goal by Toledo hit the cross bar and bounced over.  Oh well, I guess money can’t buy everything.

Texas is good – very good.  In a classic in the Cotton Bowl, a 45-35 Longhorn victory, Texas is no longer under the radar, as UT defeated a Number One Sooner team for the first time since 1963, and now, the Horns are playing for much bigger stakes.  Quarterback Colt McCoy has also moved into the number one slot, and is the early leader in the clubhouse, for the Heisman Trophy.  This was also the third time, this season that a Number One has gone down in defeat. 

Some more ugliness in College Station, as Texas A&M falls to 2-4, and 0-3 in the conference.  Where’s R.C. Slocum when you need him?

SUNJ – formerly known as Rutgers is 1-5 after its 13-10 loss to Cincinnati and all of this with a controversial 100 million dollar stadium renovation project under way.  YIKES!!

Vandy saw its dream season turn into a nightmare as a 1-4 Mississippi State team defeated the undefeated Commodores 17-14, as Cinderella’s coach turned back into a pumpkin.

Notre Dame a 29-24 loser to North Carolina proved one thing, quarterback Jimmy Clausen is indeed the real deal, as are his receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.  But ND still can’t stop turning it over at critical times.

The day’s other shocker:  Arkansas, who had surrendered 139 points in its last three games, defeated Auburn 25-22.  Where’s Tony Franklin when you need him?  Or for that matter, where’s Al Borges?  Oh yeah, coach Tommy Tuberville fired both.

We now think that Penn State will play for the National Championship.

Oklahoma State is 6-0 for only the second time since the end of World War II – 1945.

Tennessee falls to 2-4, and 0-3 in the conference as it appears as if the Phil Fulmer era in Knoxville may be coming to an end. 

Ohio State, a 16-3 winner over Purdue, is still searching for some consistent offense.

Finally, it was like old times in The Swamp, as Florida displaying its blazing speed, hung a half-a-hundred on LSU for the first time since 1996, back when the head ball coach, Steve Spurrier, was throwing his visor and prowling the Gators sideline.

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with the analysis off week 8.  The season is going way too fast.    Until then, Peace.  PK

Handicapping Week 7

We begin this week with a fashion statement.

It’s almost become a cliché in college football.  Whenever there’s a big game on campus, the student body and its fans are asked to come to the game wearing one color.  It’s viewed as way of displaying school spirit and solidarity with the alma-mater. The genesis of the movement, according to former LSU coach Gerry DiNardo, started in 1996, and was orchestrated by his was his wife Terri.  LSU had received a waiver from the SEC that allowed it to wear home whites, as long as the visiting team was in agreement.  That year, visiting Vanderbilt, angry that DiNardo had left them for the $greener pastures of Baton Rouge, refused, forcing the Tigers to wear its gold shirts.  As a counter protest, the coach’s wife decided that if LSU couldn’t wear white, then the fans and the student body would unite in white, and thus was born, the first white out, and the start of the games of color.  By the way, LSU won 35-0.  This weekend let’s see which teams color the scoreboard with touchdowns, and which give an effort, that pales, in comparison. 

No.1 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Texas in Dallas Texas, Cotton Bowl, (Ch.5, Noon)    OU has amassed numbers that could rival the stats of Marilyn Monroe.  In fact the Boys from Norman, who have yet to trail in a game, jump on teams with deadly efficiency, outscoring opponents 103-3 in the first quarter, and a whopping 168-30 in the first half.  The offensive onslaught, of the nation’s fourth highest scoring eleven, begins with its Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Sam Bradford (18 touchdowns – 3 interceptions), who is the nation’s second most efficient passer, completing 72 percent of his passes.  The QB is supported by an All-America infused offensive line with assists from the receiver tandem of Juaquin Iglesias, and Manuel Johnson, who have combined for fourteen touchdowns.  He also has an added bonus in All-America tight end Jemaine Gresham.  The Sooners tailbacks, DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, are also of high quality, and together have scored eleven touchdowns.  The D, led by backers Ryan Reynolds, Travis Lewis, and Keenan Clayton, is the nation’s eleventh stingiest, and plays the run and the pass with equal ferocity.

Amazingly, the Horns, who have had its best offensive five-game stretch, since 1915, and who currently run the country’s fifth highest scoring team, have been hooking teams under the radar.  Like its border rival, Texas is directed by its Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Colt McCoy (16-3), who completes an eye-popping 79 percent of his passes.  The QB has a pair of quality senior receivers in Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, who have combined for ten touchdowns, but the running game is pedestrian, as Bradford leads the team in rushing.  The nation’s fourth stingiest D, behind backers Sergio Kindle and end Brian Orakpo stones runners, leads the nation in sacks, but, with apologies to Dennis Lehane, melts like butter on the fourth of July in defending the pass, not a good recipe against Bradford.

This is the tenth time since 1950, that both teams find themselves ranked in the top five.  But the recent history of the Red River rivalry shows that the favorite has won nine in a row.  No reason to think that changes this year, as it will be a Sooner Red party, at the Texas State Fair.

No. 4 LSU at No. 11 Florida (Ch.4, 8 p.m.)  The Bayou Bengals will be tested in The Swamp.  LSU’s offensive igniter is the nation’s seventh leading rusher, Charles Scott, who is averaging over seven yards a carry.  Sophomore quarterback Jarrett Lee manages well, with help from a pair of speedy receivers in Demetrius Byrd and Brandon LaFell.  The backbone of the Tigers is its bone-crushing D, led by backers Perry Riley and safety Harry Coleman.  This group inhales runners, but shows some susceptibility in defending against the pass.

The Gators offense has been as inconsistent, as a New England weather forecast.  Reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Tim Tebow (8 touchdowns – 1 interception) hasn’t played as dynamically as his 2007 season, while the ground attack in Gainesville remains as weak as the Florida real-estate market.  The QB’s targets, featuring All-America receiver Percy Harvin (ankle) and Louis Murphy have remained recession proof.  The nation’s fourth stingiest D, behind All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and end Jermaine Cunningham is the glue of the Gator’s team.  It’s never easy to go against LSU, especially with the Tigers coming off a bye week, but we don’t think, that Urban Meyer’s Gators lose two consecutive in The Swamp. 

No. 17 Oklahoma State at No. 3 Missouri (ESPN2, 8p.m.)  The Cowboys of Okie State have been riding rough-shod through everybody.  The country’s third highest scoring team revolves around a pair of rodeo aces.  Quarterback Zac Robinson (10 touchdowns – 3 interceptions), the nation’s third most efficient passer, is the head cowpoke.  He is greatly assisted by tailback Kendall Hunter, America’s fourth ranked rusher, (8 td’s – 7 yards a carry) and the leader of an assault group that averages more than 300 yards a game. In addition to these horses, the QB has a big-play target in wideout Dez Bryant, (9 td’s) who averages 20 yards a catch.  The D, behind backers Andre Sexton and Orie Lemon, doesn’t ride in the same corral with its explosive counterparts.

The Boys from the “Show Me State,” have indeed put on a show.  Heisman Trophy frontrunner, quarterback Chase Daniel (15 touchdowns – 1 interception, 76 percent completions) leads a squad that averages over half-a-hundred points per game.  His weaponry includes a pair of All-America targets in receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman, along with a dangerous change of pace tailback in Derrick (10 touchdowns- 7 yards a carry) Washington.  The D, featuring All-America backer Sean Weatherspoon and his partner Brock Christopher swallows runners, but has a pass defense, (fifth from the bottom) that has more flaws than the post-surgical face of Priscilla Presley.  In another tough game, we’ll take the Boys from Missou to put on another show.

No. 6 Penn St. at Wisconsin (ESPN, 8 p.m.)  Joe Pa, who is 6-0 for the thirteenth time in his storied career, has the Nits rolling.   Quarterback Darryl Clark (9 touchdowns – 1 interception) is the commander of the nation’s ninth highest scoring team.  The QB get big assists from the tailback tandem of Evan Royster (8 touchdowns – over 7 yards a carry) and Stephfon Green, and chooses from the best wideout trio in the conference in Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, and Derrick Williams.  The country’s ninth stingiest D, behind ends Aaron Maybin, Josh Gaines and backer Navorro Bowman, defends the pass and the run with equal fervor.

Wiscy is trying to avoid its third consecutive slip-up, and second straight in Madison.  The offensive tone-setter for the Mad-Town eleven is its All-America tailback P.J. Hill, along with a dash of his backfield mate John Clay.  The Badgers set everything up around the pounding ground attack, and simply ask quarterback Allan Evridge (5 touchdowns – 4 interceptions) to manage the game.  When he’s on this tough senior competitor has a Linus blanket target in All-America tight end Travis Beckum.  Solid, is the best description for the Wisconsin D, which is led by backers DeAndre Levy and O’Brien Schofield.  It’s difficult to win any time at Camp-Randall, and will be even more so against a wounded Badger team, but we just think, in his 81st year, the old coach finds a way to get it done.

Notre Dame at No.22 UNC (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  Are the Irish a mirage, or the real deal?  This game will give the faithful, and the nation, a better answer.  Under the sometimes harsh glare of Touchdown Jesus, Irish sophomore quarterback Jimmy (12 touchdowns – 6 interceptions) Clausen is beginning to garner national attention.  The QB has a pair of quality wideouts in true freshman Michael Floyd and Golden Tate, but the running attack, led by Armando Allen is one of the nation’s (14th worst) bottom feeders.  The D, which often appears a step slow, defends the pass about as well as O.J.’s lawyers defended him.

Despite the Recession, or if you prefer, the Depression, the Chapel Hill tobacco stocks being cultivated by coach Butch Davis are way up, as Carolina finds itself nationally ranked for the first time since 2001, which was its last winning season.  Carolina Blue is led by backup quarterback Cameron Sexton (3 touchdowns – 1 interception) along with tailback, Greg Little, and Mr. Everything, senior wideout Brandon Tate.  This group doesn’t do anything dramatic it just scratches out a way to win.  The D, behind backers Mark Paschal, Quan Sturdivant, and corner Kendric Burney are turnover producing (12 – interceptions) machines.  We’re buying long term on tobacco, as the Heels smoke out the Irish.

Last week’s record: 5-0                           Record for the season: 20-10.