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.


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