Monthly Archives: November 2008

Recap of week 14

The weekend began on Thanksgiving night in Austin, where a Texas fan came dressed in a “burnt orange” Santa outfit, as the Horns made its national title case; a 49-9 victory against A&M, which was the second biggest point differential in the rivalry’s history.  The biggest occurred back in the 19th century: 1898!!  Said Texas coach Mack Brown, “If 56 was needed, instead of 49, then the system is even more screwed up than I thought.”

After three years of frustration, coach, and iconic alum, Dave Wannstedt has the Panthers playing tough, clutch, old style football, as Pitt sits 8-3, with a game against South Florida remaining.  That victory also gave the Big East Title to the Bearcats of Cincinnati, 10-2, which is even more amazing, when one considers that coach Brian Kelly had to use five different quarterbacks.  It is also the second consecutive ten win season for the Bearcats under Kelly, previously in their long football history, Cincinnati had only one ten win season, and that occurred in 1951!!

The faithful are stewing in Baton Rouge.  Coming off a national championship, nobody saw this coming, as LSU’s signature defense disappeared, and the Bayou Bengals (7-5) finished a shocking 3-5 in the SEC Conference play.  The final regular season indignity came Friday, in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the Razorbacks, stormed back with 17 unanswered points to knock off the Tigers 31-30.  The best scenario of this contest was the quarterback situation for 5-7, Arkansas.  Last week, senior starter Casey Dick was told by coach $Bobby Petrino, that Dick’s younger brother Nathan, was going to start against LSU, and that for all intents-and-purposes, the senior’s career at Arkansas was over.  But facing a 16 point deficit, $Petrino inserted Casey, and the quarterback responded with an Obama-like campaign performance, completing 18-29, for 2-touchdowns, with the winning touchdown pass occurring on a fourth-and-one, with 21 seconds remaining on the clock.  Talk about a lifetime memory, it’s just too bad it helped $Petrino get the win. 

This year the Egg Bowl need an adjective; “Rotten,” as Mississippi knocked out its in-state rival Mississippi State 45-0, and ultimately, ended the five year Starkville tenure of Bulldogs coach Sylvester Croom.  On the positive side, Houston Nutt, who was unceremoniously ushered out of Arkansas, has made the Rebels (8-4, with a win over Florida), relevant again, and is a contender for Coach of the Year honors. 

Again on Friday, in Lincoln, Nebraska, Alex Henry, kicked a school record, 57 yard field goal with 1:50 on the clock, to put Nebraska in the lead, 33-31, then the “black shirts” followed with a defensive pick six touchdown, as first year coach Bo Pelini’s Cornhuskers 8-4, kept Colorado home for the holidays.

Maybe it was all the turkey, but in another wild Friday contest, 3-9 Eastern Michigan knocked off 8-4 Western Michigan 56-52, as EMU’s quarterback Andy Schmitt set an NCAA record completing 58 passes, as the QB finished the day 58-80, with 5 touchdowns, and only 1 pick!!  Astounding!!

Boise State completed its third undefeated season in the last five with a 61-10 destruction of once mighty Fresno State.  The game was close, 13-10 at the half, and then the Broncos went on a 48-0 second half tear, reminiscent of the ’85 Superbowl against the Bears. 

In another wild Friday night game, Arizona State, who was held to a total of 122 offensive yards, tied an NCAA record by scoring four defensive touchdowns, in its 34-9 victory over UCLA.  The last time a defensive performance like that occurred; was on November 7, 1987, when the University of Houston did it against Texas. 

Now onto to Saturday.

Last year coach Paul Johnson and his Navy Midshipmen ended a 43 year drought against Notre Dame.  Well, yesterday his new team, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets ended a 7 year drought against in-state rival Georgia, to finish 9-3, as the Jackets rushed for over 400 yards, overcoming a 28-12 half-time deficit, in defeating the Bulldogs 45-42.

Old friend Tom O’Brien won his last four to finish 6-6, making his Wolfpack bowl eligible.  He also found a quarterback, in future star Russell Wilson.

Clemson defeated its in-state rival South Carolina, 31-17, and more than likely earned the permanent job, for interim coach, Dado Swinney. 

At the Heights, a Flutie threw a touchdown pass for the first time in over 20 years, as Billie Flutie, the field goal holder, faked the attempt, then rolled to the right, and threw a touchdown pass, as BC defeated Maryland 28-21. The Eagles will face off against VaTech in next week’s ACC Championship game, a rematch of last year’s contest, as the BC defense remains a beast.  The nation’s interception leaders, had its fourth consecutive pick 6 play.  Congrats to good-guy coach Jags. 

It was ugly in the Iron Bowl as Alabama won the first time in seven years, and embarrassed its hated in-state foe Auburn; 36-0.  It was the largest point differential since 1962.  It sets up next week’s SEC Championship game as a virtual play-in to the national championship game.  The Bama destruction may also have ended, the tenure of Tiger’s coach Tommy Tuberville, who finished 5-7, and a disappointing 2-6 in SEC play.

Was it the last game for Charlie Weis?  Only time will tell, but if it is based on the Irish performance in the Coliseum, a 38-3 stink-bomb, in which the Irish had less than 100 yards of total offense, and 3 first downs, then it’s sayonara, Charlie.

It the wild game of the day, Oklahoma scored seven touchdowns on its last eight possessions, and hung 61 on a very good Oklahoma State team, who scored 41, on the road in Stillwater.  Said coach Bobby Stoops, “I’ll let the score speak for itself.”

Florida and Heisman reigning quarterback Tim Tebow, tuned up well for next week’s showdown with Alabama, as the Gators embarrassed the Seminoles 45-15, winning its fifth in a row against its once mighty rival.

The Roses wilted in Corvallis, as Oregon stormed Oregon State 65-38, and unless UCLA upsets USC next week, it will be 44 years and counting since OSU has been to Pasadena.  The loss also cost the PAC10 millions of dollars, because if Oregon State had gone to the Rose Bowl, USC would have been invited to another BCS game, but the way it stands now, USC will go to the Rose, and that will be it for the PAC10 as far as the BCS is concerned.

WHEW!!!

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with our LAST weekly analysis of the season.  As always-the season goes much too fast.  Until then, Peace.  PK

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Handicapping week 14

In celebration of the season, we bring you one of our favorite long-ago cartoons, with a football theme.

It was from Doonesbury, and it was drawn this way:  The date on the calendar was Friday, November 28, the day after Thanksgiving.   On the edge of a cliff stood a large turkey, just Gobbling!!! And Gobbling!!!  The caption read:  It’s like spiking the ball in the end zone after scoring a touchdown!!   This weekend, let’s see which teams gobble-up the points, and which play like a bunch of turkeys.  To our “Loyal” readers:  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  Oklahoma may be whistling down the Plains, but its stature continues to rise in the national rankings.  In addition to leading the nation in scoring, the Sooners are also number one in sacks and turnover margin.  The entire Norman operation, which has outscored opponents in the first half by the combined eye-popping score of: 397-130, is commanded by the latest Heisman Trophy front-runner, quarterback Sam Bradford, who has thrown a school record 42 touchdown passes, with only six interceptions. 

The QB gets big assists from his tailback tandem of DeMarco Murray, and Chris Brown, who have combined for over 1800 yards and 28 touchdowns.  Bradford has the added luxury of choosing between a trio of big-play wideouts led by Juaquin Iglesias, who combined have 26 touchdown grabs.  The D, behind end Jeremy Beal and backer Travis Lewis, stones runners, but tumble-weeds badly defending against the pass.

These favorite Sons of T. Boone Pickens are anything but a dry-well.  QB Zac Robinson (21 touchdowns – 7 interceptions) directs the nation’s seventh highest scoring attack, with help from the country’s fifth leading rusher in Kendall Hunter (14 touchdowns, questionable) and All-America wideout, Dez Bryant, who has 16 touchdown receptions.  The D, led by backer Orie Lemon is as helpless defending against the pass, as Tom Menino in a public speaking class.  OU has won the last five in this “Bedlam Series,” make it six, as T. Bonne Pickens Boys come up as dry as an overcooked turkey, and OU makes its case for playing for the national title.

No. 19 Oregon at No. 17 Oregon State (Versus, 7 p.m.) The Ducks, the nation’s eleventh best scoring eleven, fly on the legs of the nation’s sixth best rushing attack, featuring dual-threat quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (9 touchdowns- 4 interceptions), and his turf churning tailbacks Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount.  The D, has the ability to be quarterback disruptors, led by a pair of sack master ends in Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu, but overall, can be compromised as easily as; “Take a buck,” Chuck Turner, aka Super-Fly.

A win, and for the first time since the Administration of LBJ, (1965),  the Beavers, who have won six straight, and eight of nine, will have an invitation to a front row seat for the Rose Bowl Parade. Will Rogers was reported to have said: “I never met a man I didn’t like.”  Well, the Beavers’ faithful, feel the same way about its brothers Rodgers;  freshman sensation and record breaking tailback Jacquizz (shoulder), and his talented sibling James.  Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that “Quizz,” the igniter of the OSU offense, and probable conference MVP, will be able to play.  In that is the case, the Corvallis caravan will look to James, and the quarterback combination of: Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao, along with field-stretching talent of wideout Sammie Stroughter, to carry the Beavers flag to its Pasadena destination.  The thirteenth overall ranked D, led by safety Greg Laybourn and backers Keaton Kristick is solid against both the pass and the run.  The 112th edition of the Civil War is truly a toss-up, but with the Roses on the line, we think the boys from Corvallis somehow find a way; and spend New Year’s Day in Pasadena, in a probable rematch from the regular season, against Penn State.

No. 2 Florida at No. 23 Florida State (Regional, Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) Florida scores touchdowns faster than Chuck Turner grabs $100 bills.  These NASCAR infused Gators, are directed by its All-America quarterback, and reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow – whose has hung numbers that read:  22 touchdowns – 2 interceptions – 11 rushing touchdowns – while making a strong push for another chunk of fancy hardware.  The nation’s third highest scoring eleven, who have outscored first half opponents by the combined jaw-dropping score of 276-32, also flies with the tailback committee of; All-America receiver/runner Percy Harvin, and his backfield mates Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps.  When the QB is added into that Daytona mix, this quartet has rushed for over 2000 yards and scored 28 touchdowns.  The starry dart-thrower also has the luxury of focusing on another game-changing wideout in Louis Murphy.  The Country’s third stingiest swarming D, which is third in interceptions and second in turnover margin, is led by All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and is equally ferocious in attacking the run and the pass. 

The Seminoles would love to scalp its in-state rival’s chance at a national championship.  In Tallahassee, defense is king, and sack connoisseur end Everette Brown is the leader of FSU’s seventh overall bunch of attackers.  This group also blitzes more that the Germans in WWII, and shoots down a pass with better accuracy than, Eddie Rickenbacker.  The offense directed by dual-threat sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder (12 touchdowns – 11 interceptions) with assists from power back Anton Smith (14 touchdowns) and wideout Greg Carr, is much improved, but remains a along way from your father’s Florida State.  The Gators chomp, as Urban Meyer championship express rolls into Atlanta, for an SEC showdown, and probable national title play-in game, with the Crimson Tide. 

Maryland at No. 20 Boston College (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  The Terps would never find its way into Cormac McCarthy’s best selling book; The Road.  When it comes to playing away from the cozy confines of College Park, Maryland at 1-4, is in need of an M.D.  The Terrapins offense, behind quarterback Chris Turner (9 touchdowns – 8 interceptions), the tailback tandem of Da’Rel Scott, Davin Meggett, plus wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey, has been about as effective (100th in nation) as Deval Patrick, in lowering the state’s property taxes.  The D, featuring a pair of active backers in Dave Phillistin and Alex Wujciak, gets pushed around between the twenties, but stiffens when it comes to defending its goal. 

Coach Jags (Jeff Jagodzinski) has kept the Eagles soaring with its defense.  Future Sunday studs, tackle B.J. Raji and backers Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin lead a group that is; fifth in total D, leads the country in interceptions, stones runners, is the nation’s fifteenth stingiest, and overall, has bailed out the B.C. season, better the U.S. government has bailed out the nation’s banks.  The offense, now under the leadership of red-shirt freshman quarterback Dominique Davis, with assists from a pair of quality fellow freshman tailbacks, Montel Harris and Josh Haden, is mistake prone, and has had more ups and downs than a bride’s pajama’s on her wedding night.  Historically, this is the type of game in which BC has coughed up a fur ball – not this year – as the Eagles fly into next week’s, ACC title game.

No. 18 Georgia Tech at No. 13 Georgia (Ch.4, noon) The Jackets have fit perfectly into first year coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option option attack.  The nation’s fourth best running team motors behind the ACC’s leading tailback Jonathan Dwyer, while being directed by its Houdini-like quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who passes (a seasonal total of 93) about as often as a republican is elected, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The country’s twelfth stingiest D, featuring end Michael Jackson, and backers Kyle Jackson and Sedric Griffin is equally effective against the pass and the run. 

The Bulldogs have been a disappointment.  It’s starry backfield of All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno, (the nation’s 13th leading rusher) quarterback Matthew Stafford (17 touchdowns -8 interceptions) and freshman sensation receiver A.J. Green (7 td’s) haven’t produced the dazzle that the Athens faithful were expecting.  The D, behind backers Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble struggles defending the pass, and has surrendered far too many points to be considered an elite team. In the 103rd meeting of these Peach State rivals, Georgia has rung up the second longest winning streak of the series at 7, it won’t get to 8, as the Jackets finally slip on a winning suit.

Last week’s record: 5-0.                      Season’s record: 41-24.

Recap week 13

We’ll begin with the shocker in South Bend.

It was Notre Dame’s first loss to an 8 loss school in history, and this was as a 19-and a ½ point favorite.  YIKES!!   If you made every ND alumni take a lie detector test, not a one would say; that Charlie Weis is the right guy, or that he should stay, but his $20 plus million buy out, “probably” prevents such a move.  The Irish now sit 6-5, with a certain “blowout” loss next week in Los Angeles against USC, which will drop Mr. Offensive Guru, to 6-6, and leave ND with a two year record of 9-15, the worst two year record in the history of Notre Dame football.  There was also a delicious irony to the fact that the ND students were firing snowballs at Irish team.  Unfortunately, kids being kids, their ire was misdirected – it should have been directed the man who has turned Notre Dame football back to the Terry Brennan era!!!  Double Yikes!!!!  In fact ND’s current record of 9-14, is already the school’s worst two year run.  The Irish ineptitude is even more stunning, when one considers, that the Domers have one win (Navy), against a team with a winning record in two years.  Weis is the wrong guy, but money changes everything.  But one this is perfectly clear, Notre Dame is going in the wrong direction.

Stunning performance number two, was the conquest in Norman, as Oklahoma took a 42-7 lead over Texas Tech in the first half, then went on to a big time 65-21 whipping, over what, WAS, the number 2 team in the nation.  It also ended the Heisman Trophy chances of quarterback Graham Harrell, and wideout Michael Crabtree.  OU coach Bob Stoops is now, 60-2 in games played at Norman.  WOW!!!

Meechigan’s coach $Rod, lost for the ninth time (a 129 year old school record), 42-7 to hated rival Ohio State, which was the most lopsided score in 40 years.  It was also the fifth consecutive time eh Bucks have taken the Wolverines.  It was also the worst point differential loss by Michigan against OSU since 1968, and OSU coach Jim Tressel is now 7-1 against the Maize and Blue.  It seems like lost and coach $Rod are synonymous in Ann Arbor.   

In the “Rotten” Apple Cup, it took two overtimes, but Washington State was able to keep intra-state rival Washington, the only winless team in Division One, and send Huskies coach Ty Willingham out the door as a perfect loser. 

Thumbs up to local heroes Boston College and coach Jags, as BC, who lost starting quarterback Chris Crane to a collarbone injury, won a last minute victory over Wake Forest to keep its ACC Championship game hopes alive.  

Who says an extra point isn’t important?  Cal Poly, a Division 1AA team missed three extra points, and lost a chance for a monumental upset in its 36-35 overtime loss to Division 1 Wisconsin. 

The Boilermakers sent Coach Joe Tiller into retirement with a 62-10 destruction of arch-rival Indiana.  Tiller, who turned Purdue into a perennial winner, but went out with a disappointing record of 4-8, will be missed. 

Rutgers continues its impressive run, winning its fifth in a row to run its bowl eligible record to 6-5, with a game remaining against Louisville on December 4.

Northwestern won its ninth game 27-10 over the Illini, and Illinois has officially gone from the Rose Bowl, to the No. Bowl, in one losing season.

The LSU defense is suddenly as shaky as a 3 a.m. Las Vegas wedding, as the Bayou Bengals were embarrassed by Mississippi, 31-13, and are 3-4 in the SEC, Yikes!!

JoePa’s Nittany Lions destroyed arch-rival Michigan State 49-18, to earn the octogenarian coach his first Rose Bowl bid since 1995.  It was also Paterno’s 14th, 11-game winning season.

Oregon Sate missed a late fourth quarter extra-point and trailed 16-17, with just over three minutes left, and it looked as if its Rose Bowl dreams were about to turn into a pumpkin.  But the Beavers delivered on a last minute drive, and kicked the winning field goal, to beat Arizona 19-17.  If the Beavers can defeat Oregon next week, OSU will punch its ticket to Pasadena, for the first time since 1965.

Utah, 12-0, punched its ticket to the BCS party, as the Utes destroyed BYU 48-24 in the so called, “Holy War.” 

West Virginia, 7-3, a 35-21 winner over Louisville, as quarterback Pat White became the all-time NCAA career leading rusher by a quarterback.

If Cincinnati defeats the Cuse next week at home, it will punch its ticket into the BCS, specifically, the Orange Bowl, as the Big East Champions.  The only question that remains in the Queen City is whether coach Brian Kelly will still be leading the Bearcats, or whether, he will be the new man in Knoxville, at the University of Tennessee.

With two weeks remaining my Heisman ballot looks like this:

  • 1. Sam Bradford Oklahoma
  • 2. Colt McCoy Texas
  • 3. Tim Tebow Florida

Finally a job, well done to Florida State premier safety Myron Rolle, who was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship yesterday.  With all the recent problems at FSU, this is a big deal. 

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with, dare I say, the handicap of week 14.  Until then, Peace.  PK.

Handicapping week 13

In honor of the 125th playing of: “The Game,” we begin this week with musings from a Harvard grad.

Former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy, who holds a Masters in History from the venerable institution, has the ability to turn a thought provoking phrase. 

“There was only one must win game, and that was WWII, and it was an away game.

What it takes to win is simple, it’s not easy. 

What you do, should speak so loudly, that on one will hear what you say. 

A failure becomes just one at time at bat, if you refuse to let it defeat you. 

This weekend, let’s see which teams find the veritas in victory, and which talk loudly, but ultimately, end up going hitless.

No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  Will it be a Norman conquest or a conquest in Norman?  In the latest installment of: The Game of the Century, the Red Raiders ride into Norman, “Guns – Up,” with a potential Heisman Trophy winner, as well as a national championship, resting on the outcome.

These Sons of Buddy Holly are directed by quarterback Graham Harrell (36 touchdowns – 5 interceptions), the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, and the nation’s leader in total offense.  If the QB leads the band, then his lead guitarist is another Heisman contender, wideout Michael Crabtree, who has 18 touchdown grabs.  The rest of the nation’s third highest scoring team moves the ball on the ground, behind a quality pair of tailbacks, in Batch Baron and teammate Shannon Wood, who has 11 touchdowns.  The entire package is protected by its Gibraltar-esque offensive line, who allows a sack, about as often, as it rains on the dusty plains of west Texas.  The D led by sack mastering end Brandon Williams, and backer Brian Duncan, can handle the run, but despite its number nine ranking in interceptions, defending the pass remains a weakness, and against Oklahoma that is a recipe for a beat-down.

In addition to death and taxes, there are two other givens in life: there will be some type government bailout of the US auto industry, and Oklahoma will win at home.  Under the ten year reign of coach Bob Stoops, OU is an astounding 59-2, in games played at Memorial Stadium.  The leader of the Boomer Sooner hit-parade, is quarterback Sam Bradford (38 touchdowns – 6 interceptions), who is another Heisman candidate.  The nation’s highest scoring eleven, behind tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown (combining for: 23 touchdowns, nearly 1600 yards) and the field stretching ability of wideout Juaquin Iglesias, hit an opponent, like a Joe Frazier left hook.  In fact, OU is averaging 35 points in the first half of its games, outscoring first-half opponents by the eye-popping number of: 355-123.  The problem has been the D, which has given a lot of Pepto-Bismol moments to the Norman faithful.  When the Sooners lost middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds for the season, they lost its rudder, and have been adrift ever since.  In what should truly be a classic, in a game in which there could be more points accumulated, than the amount of dough Diane Wilkerson stuffed into her bra, we’ll go with a Norman conquest, as OU crushes the title hopes of the boys in the band.

No. 16 BYU at No.8 Utah   The prayers of the entire Mormon nation, combined with Mitt Romney’s money, might not be enough to guarantee BYU success in this difficult “Mission.”  The nation’s top-twenty scoring team, is led by its starry quarterback Max Hall (34 touchdowns – 8 interceptions) with assists from his plow-horse tailback Harvey Unga and a pair of dangerous receivers in tight end Dennis Pitta, and wideout Austin Collie (15 touchdowns – 1300 yards), who is riding a streak of nine consecutive 100 yard-plus receiving games.  The D, featuring backers Matt Bauman and David Nixon struggles statistically, but is stout when it comes to its red-zone stinginess. 

The unblemished Utes are directed by its steady leader, quarterback Brian Johnson (20 touchdowns – 9 interceptions).  The QB is helped by a pair of tailbacks in Matt Asiata (10 touchdowns) and Darrel Mack, along with senior receivers Freddie Brown and Brent Casteel.  The eleventh overall ranked D, behind backers Mike Wright and Stevenson Sylvester, is the nation’s thirteenth stingiest to score upon.  We don’t think the power of prayer, or money, will carry the day, as Utah punches its ticket into the BCS party.

No. 17 Michigan State at No. 7 Penn State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) Sparty would love to ring out its season be crushing Penn State’s Rose Bowl aspirations.  Just like its namesake, the Spartans have marched to victory on the legs of the nation’s third leading rusher, its All-America tailback, and Heisman Trophy candidate, Javon Ringer, who has scored twenty touchdowns.  His surrounding cast of quarterback Brian Hoyer (9 touchdowns – 6 interceptions), and a trio of wideouts, led by Mark Dell, isn’t stellar, but plays in a style that is reflective of the tough demeanor of its coach, Mark Dantonio.  The strength of the pedestrian D is in its line backing corps, featuring Greg Jones, and even though it is has shown tendencies to be pushed around, it remains the twenty-fifth toughest to score upon.

JoePa has pocketed his twentieth 10 win season, and his Nits can smell the Roses.  Twelve’s are also wild, as the country’s twelfth highest scoring team is led by tailback Evan Royster, the nation’s twelfth leading rusher, who has run for over 1100 yards.  Quarterback Darryl Clark (13 touchdowns – 4 interceptions) has been a revelation, and has the luxury of focusing on a senior three-pack of big-play receivers in Deon Butler, Jordon Norwood, and Derrick Williams.  The fourth overall ranked defense, led by its All-America sack master (12) in end Aaron Maybin, and fellow backers Navorro Bowman and Josh Hull, is the fifth stingiest eleven in America, and suffocates the run, and the pass, with equal fury.  Reports out of Happy Valley say that 81 year old JoePa is in need of a hip replacement – for now- he’s settle for a delivery of Roses. 

No. 20 Pittsburgh at No.19 Cincinnati (ESPN, 7 p.m.) It may have taken longer than the faithful anticipated, but in his fourth year, iconic alum, coach Dave Wannstedt, finally has the Panthers bowl eligible.  Pittsburgh has also become a road-warrior, having won five in a row away from home, including a pair of wins against top-ten teams.   The lynch-pin of the Pitt attack is the running ability of its All-America sophomore tailback (16 td’s) LeSean McCoy.  His success allows Pitt to counter with an effective passing game, featuring quarterback Bill Stull, and a pair of quality wideouts in Jonathan Baldwin and Derek Kinder.  The D, which has had some struggles, is anchored by its All-America tackling machine, middle-backer Scott McKillop. 

The Bearcats playing style emulates the personality of their “hot” coach, Brian Kelly – tough and smart.  QB Tony Pike (12 touchdowns – 4 interceptions), went out late last week and remains questionable.  If he can’t go, early season starter Dustin Grutza, who suffered an early season broken leg, may get the call.  Either way, the QB’s have a pair of dangerous targets in Dominick Goodman and Marshawn Gilyard, but the running game remains as lame, as an Andy Rooney commentary.  The D, despite the presence of its Al-America corner Mike Mickens, struggles defending against the pass.  The winner stays in control of the Big East conference, and we’ll take the Bearcats, as Brian Kelly’s name stays in play for almost every job opening in the country. 

No. 21 Oregon State at Arizona (Versus, 7p.m.) If the Beavers win out, they’ll punch its ticket to Pasadena for the first time (1965) since LBJ’s Administration.  OSU’s five game winning streak, comes courtesy of the Rodger’s brothers, wideout James, and record setting freshman tailback Jaquizz,  The last time a Rodgers was this fast – Boston Billy was capturing marathon crowns.  QB Lyle Moevao (14 touchdowns – 9 interceptions) is the director of this Corvallis caravan, with assists from a three-some of glue fingered wideouts, led by Sammy Stroughter, who have combined for 141 receptions, and 16 touchdowns.  The fifteenth overall ranked D, led by safety Greg Laybourn and backer Keaton Kristick, handles the run, and the pass, with equal disruption.

After wandering aimlessly in the desert for the last four years, Arizona coach Bob Stoops finds himself in survival mode, needing to win his last two games to survive.  Despite a drought of scoring, the Wildcats do possess some offensive talent in quarterback Willie Tuitama (18 touchdowns- 7 interceptions) and tailbacks Nicholas Grigsby (11 touchdowns) and tight end Rob Gronkowski.  The D isn’t desert dry, but has struggled against the run, which isn’t a good recipe against OSU.  We think the Beavers get closer to its first trip to Pasadena, in almost a half-a-century.

Last week’s record: 3-2.                   Season record: 36-24.

Recap of week 12

The week was billed as pedestrian, and for the most part it followed the script.

The biggest angst occurred in Baton Rouge, when little Troy, played like the Troy from L.A., and took a stunning 31-3 lead over LSU, only to have the Bayou Bengals storm back with 28 fourth quarter points, and hold on to a 40-31 victory.  The winning touchdown came in front of a stadium crowd, that was two-thirds empty, as most of the faithful left in disgust.

To quote the late Tim Russet: Florida, Florida, Florida.  South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was 81-8 as a player, and coach, at Florida Field aka: The Swamp.  Well, he’s now 81-9, as Florida, who is probably the best team in the nation, gave the ‘Ol Ball Coach the worst defeat of his career: 56-6.  How hot are the Gators?  Try six straight SEC victories by at least 28 points, they also had its biggest rushing day, 346 yards, since 1989.  Tailback Percy Harvin compiled 167 of those yards on just eight carries.  It was a breath-taking performance, by a team, who is taking no prisoners.

Mighty Meechigan and coach $Rod, fell to 3-8, which is the most losses in a season, in the proud 129 years of Michigan Football.  As we said before: $3 million a year, doesn’t buy what it used to, especially in this economic environment. 

Thumbs up to the smart kids: Northwestern won its eighth game, and Vanderbilt, after starting 5-0, finally won its sixth game, to become bowl eligible.  The Commodores will be going bowling for the first time in 26 years. Historically, Vandy was 0-17, when trying to win that qualifying game, until yesterday.   Nice Job. 

Illinois dropped to 5-6, and unless it defeats its rival Northwestern next week, will be the first Big Ten team since 1965 to go from a Rose Bowl, to nowhere the following year.

The dead man walking watch is on in Auburn, as coach Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers fell to 5-6, 2-5 in conference.   Unless he upsets Alabama in two weeks, Tommy could be out of a job.

Kudos, to Mississippi coach Houston Nutt, who has his Rebels bowl eligible in his first year taking over the Rebel program.

SUNJ will now be officially referred back to its respected name of: Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights have won four in a row, climbing to 5-5, with a good chance to go bowling.

It been another late season collapse for South Florida who after starting 5-0, have now lost four out of five, with its only win coming at the hands of our friends from the north – Syracuse.

Speaking of the Orangemen, unless the ‘Cuse can upset either Notre Dame or Cincinnati in its two remaining games, The Greg Robinson legacy will read: 8 wins in four years!!!  YIKES!!

Old friend Tom O’Brien of NC State knocked of ranked Wake Forest to climb to 4-6, keeping their slim bowl hopes alive.

Poor Joe Tiller of Purdue, who announced this, would be his last season at West Lafayette.  He stayed one year too long, as the Boiler Makers sit 3-8, losers of:  7 of its last 8. 

Mighty Tulsa is no more.  The No. 25 ranked Golden Hurricane, who once stood 8-0, have now lost two in a row, and were embarrassed by Houston, Saturday, 70-30. Ouch!!

Nice win for hometown heroes BC, who, if they can win out, will play in the ACC Championship game. 

Texas won a tenth game for the eighth consecutive year.

That’s it from cyber space – we’ll be up and running with the analysis of week 13, Rivalry Week, Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace.  pk

Handicapping week 12

We begin this week with the definition of teamwork. 

Coach Lou Holtz, now employed by ESPN, does a weekly college football segment called: Dr. Lou.  A few weeks ago Kyle Whittingham, the head man of undefeated Utah, called the program, and asked for advice, on how to keep his team focused for the final stretch of the season.  Holtz responded with the following:

A man drove his car into a ditch and was unable to drive out.  He noticed that a farm house on a hill had a horse, in a small corral.  He went up, and knocked on the farmhouse door, and asked the farmer, if he would hook the horse up to the car, and try to tow it out of the ditch. 

The farmer said, “I don’t think it will work, because that horse is blind, but let’s give it a try.”  The farmer hitched the horse and cracked his whip, “Pull Bessie.” The horse didn’t move.  He cracked the whip again, “Pull Danny.”  The horse didn’t move.  Cracking the whip once again, “Pull Tommy,” again, the horse stood rock still.  The farmer tried again, “Pull Dusty,” and Dusty pulled the car out of the ditch.  The man was thrilled, but asked the farmer, “Why didn’t you call Dusty first?”  The farmer replied, “Mister, that horse is blind, and if he thought he had to pull that car all by himself, he would never have moved.”  “So, said Holtz, “In order to get where you want to go, you have to stress, that it’s not about any one individual, it’s all about teamwork.”  This weekend, let’s see which teams pull its own weight to another victory, and which look, as if it’s blinded, by the sight of; the big stage.

No.24 South Carolina at No.3 Florida (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.)  Once again coach Steve Spurrier is returning to the scene of his greatest triumphs.  The 2008 defensive edition of his Gamecocks, which features safety Emmanuel Cook, and backers Eric Norwood, and Marvin Sapp, would win the old-school approval of Woody Hayes.  This blue-chip bunch is the tenth stingiest eleven in America, and carries a resume that reads: third in total D, eleventh in stopping the run, and fourth in defending the pass, On the opposite side, the Cocks offense is as shaky as a 3 a.m. Las Vegas wedding.  Dual threat quarterback Stephen Garcia (6 touchdowns – 4 interceptions) has a bright future, and the QB has a pair of quality targets in tight end Jared Cook and wideout Kenny McKinley, but Spurrier’s boys are seventieth in scoring, and run the ball, about as well, as, a Fung-Wah bus. 

Florida has more speed than the neighborhood meth-clinic.  Reigning double-threat Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow (17 touchdowns – 2 interceptions- 10 rushing touchdowns) has more weapons at his disposal, than a Congo guerilla fighter.  Tailbacks Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey along with wideouts Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, can light a scoreboard faster than a pyromaniac, and all share leading roles on the nation’s fourth highest scoring team, The D, led by its All-America backer Brandon Spikes and his partner Joe Haden is equally ferocious as it offensive counterparts, and is the country’s fourth toughest team to score upon.  A wise man once said, “You can’t coach speed,” so it’s the Gator chomp, in the Swamp, for what may be, the best team in America.

No.16 BYU at Air Force   The Provo pigskin players, are on a “mission” for its third consecutive eleven win season.  The high-scoring Cougars are directed by starry quarterback Max Hall (32 touchdowns – 7 interceptions), the nation’s sixth rated pass efficiency leader.  The QB is assisted by a hard charging tailback in Harvey Unga, and a pair of field stretching targets in tight end Dennis Pitta (6 touchdowns) and wideout Austin Collie (13 touchdowns) and eight consecutive 100 yard receiving games. The Cougs D attacks behind a trio of backers in Matt Bauman, Coleby Clawson and David Nixon, and ranks in the top twenty, in fewest points allowed.

Air Force has flown under the radar all season.  The Falcons also utilize the pass, third from the bottom, about as often as Tom Menino utters a coherent phrase.  Instead, Air Force takes the army route, and earns its rank, as the nation’s fourth best rushing team, (nearly 300 yards a game) on the legs of running quarterback Asher Clark, and tailbacks Todd Newell and Kyle Lumpkin.  The opportunistic D which is seventh in turnover margin, shoots down the pass, and is the nation’s seventeenth stingiest team.  In this case, we think the force, is with the Cougars.

No.17 North Carolina at Maryland (Regional TV)   Despite the economic recession, Heels coach Butch Davis, has the Carolina Blue faithful, heavily invested in the quality product, being produced in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Even though the UNC offensive production (92nd) is about as weak as the sales of the Big 3 auto manufacturers, they remain (who isn’t?) in the ACC title hunt.  This low production group is directed by backup quarterback Cameron Sexton (8 touchdowns – 3 interceptions) with assists from running back Shaun Draughan and starry wideout (8 touchdowns) Hakeem Nicks.  The D featuring backers Quan Sturdivant and Mark Paschal have earned their scholarships as opportunistic savants; tied for the national lead in interceptions (18), and fourth overall in turnover margin. 

The Terrapins have played like chameleons, and are as unpredictable as the price of home heating oil.  Coach Ralph Friedgen’s boys are also production-starved, as its ranking of 84th in scoring, accurately portrays.  When the Terps do move the ball, it is on the arm of quarterback Chris Turner (9 touchdowns – 6 interceptions) with assists from tailback Da’Rel Scott and wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey.  The D led by backers Alex Wujciak and Dave Philistin, plays in only one color; vanilla. We’re buying Tar Heel blue, as the basketball season in Chapel Hill gets pushed back one more week, by the surprising Heels. 

Boston College at No. 20 Florida State (Ch.5, 8:00 p.m.)  The Eagles have soared with its defense, and the only thing in Greater Boston that might be harder for an opponent to decode, is a true Boston accent.  BC, who is tied nationally, for the lead in interceptions with 18, attacks with a pair of marauding linebackers in Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin.  Overall this group is ninth in total D, stones the run and the pass with equal disdain, and is the nation’s fourteenth tightest in surrendering points.  On the other side of the ball, the BC offense is in need of some Divine Jesuit intervention.  Quarterback Chris Crane, (3 more interceptions than touchdowns) directs a passing attack (98th), which is as undisciplined, as a pit bull, in a junk yard.  The running game, which features a pair of learning-curve freshmen, in Montel Harris and Josh Haden, won’t soon be conjuring up any memories of the famed; SMU Pony Express. 

Although it still lacks the aura of invincibility from its glory days, the 2008 version of the Seminoles is much improved.  The pair of igniters on the nation’s eighteenth highest scoring team, is sophomore red-shirt dual threat quarterback, Christian Ponder (11 touchdowns – 8 interceptions) dovetailed with the long awaited emergence, of senior tailback Anton (13 touchdowns) Smith.  The D, featuring sack-master backers Everette Brown, Derek Nicholson and Myron Rolle, ranks fifth overall, and as always, in Tallahassee, has more speed than a Saturday night back-road Drag meet.  In full disclosure, we never pick the right side, in a game involving BC, but, in this case, we think that speed, out-trumps, Divine Intervention. 

California at No. 23 Oregon State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.-regional)   Hopefully the Boys from Berkeley, aren’t experiencing any presidential election hangover.  The bite in the Golden Bears offense is its ground attack, which features the quality pair of; Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen.  Quarterback Kevin Riley (10 touchdowns – 4 interceptions – concussion) will return as the starter, and he has the luxury of focusing on two solid receivers in Nyan Boateng and tight end Cameron Morrah.  The D, led by the starry backer pair of; Zack Follett and Michael Mohamed, is third in the nation, with 17 interceptions, and overall, is efficient in all phases.

If Mike Riley’s Beavers can chew through its three remaining games, they’ll punch a ticket to Pasadena.  OSU has done it with the answer to every quiz in the Pac 10, its freshman sensation, and record breaking tailback, Jacquizz Rodgers.  The nation’s twenty-fifth highest scoring team is directed by quarterback Lyle Moevao (shoulder), likely starter will be Sean Canfield, who is helped by a trio of field stretching wideouts in; Sammy Stroughter, James Rodgers, and Shane Morales who have combined for 131 receptions, and 16 touchdowns.  The D led by safety Greg Laybourn and backer Keaton Kristick is seventeenth overall, and will make a team earn, every yard.  Fully aware that the visitor has won the last five meetings, but with a Rose Bowl bid on the line, in what should be a very close game, we’ll leave it to the Beavers.

Last week’s record: 2-3                    Season record: 33-22.

                                                                            END

Recap of week 11

WOW!  College football on a November Saturday is as unpredictable, as the stock market.

Penn State perfection is no more.  Iowa defeated a top 5 team for the first time since 1990, when the Hawkeyes kicked a 31 yard field goal with a single second left on the clock, and ended 81 year old JoPa’s dream of a third national championship, with its 24-23 victory.  The Nittany Lions quarterback Darryl Clark, played like he was still affected by the concussion he suffered two weeks ago, completing just 9 of 23 passes for 86 yards, including a crucial late fourth quarter interception, his third of the season.

In Baton Rouge, Alabama barely escaped with its national title dreams still intact.  In a sloppily played game by both teams, the Tide had it last second game winning 29 yard field goal blocked, but was saved in the overtime, when Rashad Johnson intercepted his  third pass of the game, in the zone, and the Tide scored on its possession, to escape with the 27-21 overtime win.  Alabama looked like anything but, a number one team.  In winning, Alabama clinched the SEC west, and a spot in the SEC Championship game, for the first time since 1999.

The only person having a worse stretch than Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer; is state senator Diane Wilkerson.  On Homecoming, the Vols, a 26 point favorite, lost to Wyoming, the nation’s worst scoring offense, 13-7.  It was also Tennessee’s third consecutive game in which it was held to single digits in scoring, the worst stretch in Knoxville,  since the Beatles were in their prime; 1964. 

Coach $Rod of Meechigan (3-7), ended the Maize and Blue’s five game losing streak, defeating Minnesota 29-6, who all of a sudden, is beginning to look like Cinderella after midnight. 

Another Big Ten disappointment: There will be no Champaign corks popping in Champaign, Illinois.  Illinois 23-17 losers to Western Michigan, have fallen to 5-5, and in one year, could go from Rose Bowl to no bowl.  YIKES!

Pete Carroll doesn’t fear November: since taking over, USC is 25-0 in the month of November.  Amazing.

Old friend Greg Robinson is down to his last three games, to try and get two wins, to finish his stellar four-year Syracuse tenure with a total of 10 wins.  Doubly Amazing!!

Don’t look now, but the Spartans of Michigan State are 8-2, with a date, in two weeks, in Happy Valley, with a Rose Bowl and a share of the Big Ten title on the line.

Talk about overvalued.  Notre Dame, 5-4, hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record in two years, and if you pencil in wins against Syracuse and Navy, and a season ending loss to USC, the last two years under the genius of Weis, the Irish are a combined: 10-14.

I guess in these recessionary times, $3 million a year, doesn’t buy what it use to.  Double Yikes!!!
Texas Tech quarterback continues to lead in the Heisman race after his stellar: 40-50, 456 yards, 6 touchdown performance, against the number nine ranked team in the nation Oklahoma State.  My Heisman slate: 1. Harrell, 2. Texas QB Colt McCoy, 3. Tech wideout, Michael Crabtree, with Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford closing fast. 

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with, dare I say, week 12! Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace.  PK