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.

                                                                       END

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