Handicapping Week 3

We begin this week with a button, a speed limit, and a quarterback, who, like the famous Boston television show, everybody knows his name. 

Archie Manning, the father of the greatest quarterback dynasty in the history of the sport – Super Bowl winning sons, Peyton and Eli, clearly certify that claim – established his reputation on the Oxford, Mississippi campus of ‘Ol Miss, some 40 years ago.  It is the same school that produced (while he was a student) consecutive Miss Americas, or as Manning once said, “We were red-shirting Miss Americas.”  Manning became a national name on New Year’s Day in 1970, when his rebels upset the University of Arkansas to win the Sugar Bowl.  That victory inspired the student body to create red and blue buttons which read:  ARCHIE or ARCHIE’S ARMY.  The next season the fans of Tennessee created their own version, which read:  ARCHIE WHO?   Well “them” was fighting words to the Rebel Nation.  Mississippi went out and demolished UT 38-0, which in turn led to another button:  YOU KNOW DAMN WELL WHO.  But the true measurement that one is a member of the elite; is when the campus speed limit is officially listed as; 18 miles per hour – in honor of the number on the back of Manning’s jersey.  Now that’s ‘Big Time.’  This weekend let’s see which teams hit a speed bump, and which adds to its legend, with another button down victory, worthy of a Miss America!

Tennessee at No. 1 Florida (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) Since his arrival in Knoxville last winter, UT coach Lane Kiffin has seemingly taken great delight in tweaking his neighbors to the South, coach Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.  He said that he “Looked forward to singing ‘Rocky Top’ all night, after the Volunteers defeated Florida.”  Well, now Kiffin and the Vols get the “opportunity” to deliver, more than just empty words, to an ornery bunch of Gators in the Swamp.  “I don’t like anyone talking about coach Meyer,” bristled All-America quarterback Tim Tebow.

The triggerman for the Tennessee offense is senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who has been sloppy protecting the ball, already tossing five interceptions.  If he continues down that path against Florida, the victory margin will go up exponentially.  Luckily, the QB can rely on the hard charging of tailback Montario Hardesty, and the receiving ability of Quinton Hancock and Marsalis Teague.  The D, which is the foundation of this Tennessee team, is as tough as a $2 steak, coached by a legend in Monte (his Dad) Kiffin, and is led by its All-America safety Eric Berry, with help from backer Nick Reveiz and end Chris Walker.

Meyer’s predecessor, the legendary Steve Spurrier, often summed up his team’s performance by saying simply; “We hung a half-a-hundred on them.”  Well, although he’d never admit it, that’s exactly what the coach of these Gators would like to do to the Volunteers.  As always, the Florida parade, currently riding a school tying record of twelve consecutive wins, is directed by its All-World quarterback Tim Tebow, who has yet to throw an interception.  The dual threat QB is blessed with a stable of runners in Jeffrey Demps, Chris Rainey, and Emmanuel Moody; each of whom has the ability to score at anytime.  The former Heisman Trophy winner also has a pair of Linus blanket receivers, in Riley Cooper and his counterpart, All-America tight end Aaron Hernandez.  The bone crushing D, suffocates opponents behind a quartet of All-Americas in: team leader and backer Brandon Spikes, with assists from corner Joe Haden, Safety Ahmad Black, and end Carlos Dunlap.  On Saturday, Kiffin’s words ring hollow in the Swamp, as the Volunteers visit is anything, but delightful.  It will be the Gators who leave the field singing, except the words will be those of Cole Porter, “It’s De-Lovely, It’s De-Lightful …” after they rout the Vols.

No. 19 Nebraska at No. 13 Virginia Tech (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  There is high anticipation in Lincoln that these Huskers are going to reap a bumper crop of victories this season.  Coach Bo Pelini’s Big Red is directed by junior quarterback Zac Lee (6-touchdowns – 1-interception), with assists from tailback Roy Helu jr. (7 yards a carry), and wideouts Menelik Holt, tight end Mike McNeill, and playmaker Curenski Gilleylen.  The D, behind All-America tackle Ndamukung Suh and safety Larry Asante has surrendered a microscopic total of a dozen points, but has yet to be tested, fattening up on a pair of sugar frosted opponents.

If it’s Abbot it must be Costello.  Well, if it’s Blacksburg, it must be defense.  As always with the Hokies, the soul of VaTech is Bud Foster’s swarming, punishing, defensive eleven, led by All-America corner Stephan Virgil with assists from backers Jake Johnson and Barquell Rivers.  The offense remains, almost as questionable, as the decision by Christy Mihos to once again, run for governor.  QB Tyrod Taylor leads this bunch with help from tailback Ryan Williams (8 yards a carry), freshman David Wilson, and the wideout tandem of Danny Coale and Jarret Bykin.  In an intriguing game, we think that the crop from Lincoln falls fallow in the cool air of Blacksburg, as Nebraska gets husked by the Hokies.

Florida State at No.7 BYU (Versus, 7 p.m.) In the past, these were the games that put the unknown state school from Tallahassee on the college football map.  Ironically, a win Saturday in Provo, by the unranked Seminoles, puts them back once again, if not on the map, at least back into the conversation.  FSU operates behind the arm of its efficient dual threat junior quarterback Christian Ponder, with assists from tailback Ty Jones, and the receiving ability of tight end Caz Piurowski, and Richard Goodman.  The inexperienced D, featuring backer Dekoda Watson, tackle Jacobbi McDaniel and safeties Nick Moody and Jamie Robinson, scampers with fueled with mercury trademark.

BYU is on a mission; a mission to gain an admission ticket to a BCS game.  Bronco Mendenhall’s high octane Cougars, are directed by its dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Max Hall.  The QB spreads the ball around better than Land-O-Lakes spreads butter, with O’Neil Chambers, McKay Jacobson (over 20 yds. a catch), Bryan Kariya, and All-America tight end Dennis Pitta as high profile targets.  The running game does have some pop, if tailback Harry Unga is over his ankle injury.  The D, behind end Ian Jorgensen, safety Brando Bradley and backer Terrance Hooks, has been most impressive stoning teams and allowing a total of 16 points.  Before he steps off the stage, Bobby Bowden is hoping to restore the glory back to the Tomahawk Chop, unfortunately, it won’t happen on Saturday, as we said, BYU is on a mission.

Michigan State at Notre Dame (Ch.7, 3:30 p.m.) Last week both teams endured last second, heart rendering losses, but if Charlie “Big Game” Weis and his Blue and Gold charges should lose this game, its entire season could be lobotomized.  

Sparty, at least for now, utilizes a pair of sophomore quarterbacks, in Kirk Cousins, and Keith Nichol.  These directors will rely heavily on the legs of tailbacks Carlton Ray and Larry Caper, along with the field stretching ability of wideouts Blair White and B.J. Cunningham.  The D inhales runners behind backer Greg Jones and tackle Jerel Worthy. 

There is huge pressure in South Bend.  An ND loss will send Irish Nation into an apoplectic state, and possibly seal the fate of Weis, who must win an absolute minimum of nine games.  Notre Dame’s offense has been singing like Sinatra in his prime, as junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen has shown perfect pitch with his receivers; Golden “Drops” Tate, Mike Floyd – 15 stitches in his leg, and tight end Kyle Rudolph.  And even though it may be as rare as an atheist on campus, the Irish have finally established a very good running attack; led by junior Armando Allen, propelled by a senior laden offensive line.  The play of the D, behind safety Kyle McCarthy, and the Smith Boys, backers Scott, Brian, and Toryan, continues to cause Pepto churning moments among the Irish faithful.  Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Michigan State at home since a guy named Holtz was coaching in 1993, but in a must win scenario, instead of Sinatra, Notre Dame leaves the field to the sounds of ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling,’ as Charlie gets a temporary reprieve.

Texas Tech at No.2 Texas (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) It has been well documented that Red Raiders coach Mike Leach has an appreciation for the history of pirates therefore he’d like nothing better than to hijack the Longhorns projected march to Pasadena.  This swashbuckling group can carve a defense, on the arm of newly installed quarterback Taylor Potts, (9 touchdowns – 3 interceptions) with assists from a pair of dynamic receivers in Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong, as well as the running of tailback Baron Batch.  If their history is any indicator, the TT D, led by backers Marlon Williams, Bront Bird and end Daniel Howard makes a stop about as often as Mayor Menino utters a coherent sentence.

This is a major payback game, and the Horns, who would like nothing better than to hook it to their pesky intra-state rivals.  Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Colt McCoy is the Austin Assassin, whose favorite target, All-America Jordan Shipley, also happens to be his roommate.  UT can also grind it on the ground behind Vondrell McGee and Tre Newton.  The defense which features All-America end Sergio Kindle, backers Roddrick Muckelroy, and tackle Lamarr Houston, are talented, fast, and mean, but has yet to be tested.  Unfortunately, for Tech, there will be no hijacking in Austin, as the Horns out duel the Red Raiders.  En garde!

  Last week’s record: 3-2.                               Season record: 6-4.

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