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.



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