Handicapping Week 7

We begin this week with a leg.

Last Friday afternoon, I noticed a large nasty white head pimple protruding at a spot half-way down the right side of my right leg.  I did what all “real” men `have been doing for centuries; I squeezed and popped that sucker.  Mistake.  I performed the same “surgery” on Saturday afternoon.  Bigger Mistake.  Sunday afternoon I paid the price for those procedures – (I knew I should have stayed in a Holiday Inn)- when said leg became red, infected, and blew into Winfrey-esque size.   So after a pair of nights in the hospital hooked up to a total of five IV’s, I’m home and hopefully on the mend.  This weekend, let’s see which teams get a leg up, and which flounder around, like one of their legs is afflicted with some infectious disease. 

No. 20 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas Dallas, Cotton Bowl (Ch.5, Noon) OU is giddy.  Reigning Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Sam Bradford, has returned.  Already saddled with a pair of losses, this is a major test for the starry QB with the cruise missile accuracy.  A bigger concern for the Sooner faithful has been the disappointing performance of tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown.  They were expected to perform at a much higher level.  The best news out of Norman is that its touchdown making wideout Ryan Broyles (shoulder) may be healthy enough to play.    The Sooners D comes whistling down the Plain as the nation’s third stingiest (less than 9 points a game) eleven.  They are led by backers Ryan Reynolds, Travis Lewis and end Jeremy Beal,        but have been less than airtight in defending against the pass. 

Statistic, like lies, – deceive.  On paper the Horns are hooking teams on the hoof as America’s highest scoring (47 pts. a game) team.  But a Sherlock investigation of those numbers reveals that much of that was done against three teams from: Hopeless U.  The offense is directed by another Heisman Trophy contender, All-America quarterback Colt McCoy.  This sharp-shooter is firing at a 73% completion rate, but has surprisingly already tossed 6 interceptions.   In a late breaking development Coach Mack Brown’s Burnt Orange may be without both starting tailbacks, Tre Newton and Vondrell McGee.  If that in fact occurs, highly touted Foswhitt Whittaker will carry the load.  Against the “little boys,” the D behind end Sam Acho and backer Rodderick Muckelroy, is the nation’s best in slowing runners, and in the top twenty in points allowed.  In a game that for us, is very difficult to analyze, we went with a sign.  My Doc the last two days went to UT Med-School – no brainer – Texas. 

 No.4 VaTech at No.19 Georgia Tech (ESPN, 6 p.m.)  VaTech is scary.  This Blacksburg Fright Night is led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor (8 interceptions – 1 interception), the nation’s tenth most efficient passer.  What places him into the Hitchcock-ian category?   This dual threat speedster is finally finding some consistency with his accuracy.  He also has more help than a Hyatt Hotel.  It starts with tailback Ryan “Little Sweetness” Williams (9 touchdowns), who checks in as the nation’s sixth best rusher.  The QB also has a pair of explosive receivers in Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale.  The latter is averaging an eye-popping 26 yards per catch.  Bud Foster’s D, led by end Jason Worilds and backers Barquell Rivers, and Cody Grimm, has shown some early season fissures, particularly in stopping the run, but seems to have those problems corrected.

Navy always believed, and now the rest of the country knows; Coach Paul Johnson’s triple option works very well against the “Big Boys.”  The Rambling Wreck – 277 yards a game – chews more ground than a thresher at an Iowa corn field at harvest.  The chief soil turner is tailback Jonathan Dwyer, with considerable help from its one dimensional quarterback Josh Nesbitt.   The QB directs a great option, but hits a target about as often as John Kerry shies from a television camera.  The D has a pair of disruptors in end Derrick Morgan and backer Brad Jefferson, but overall has been as effective as Diane Wilkerson’s defense for not paying her taxes.  Hokie, Hokie, Hoki, Hi – the jacket fits better on Beamer.

No. 6 USC at No. 25 Notre Dame (Ch.7, 3:30 p.m.)  USC plays a better defense than Oriole legend – and my all-time favorite – Mark Belanger.  The nation’s fourth stingiest D, (surrendering less than 9 points a game) inhales runners, and has Master-locked opponents behind a roster of future Sunday stars, in All-America safety Taylor Mays, end Everson Griffen, and backer Chris Gallippo.  These Men of Troy have allowed a seasonal total of 43 points and a jaw-dropping total of 11 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarter combined.  The offense, like the vacant Downtown Crossing eye-sore, remains very much a work in progress.  True-freshman quarterback Matt Barkley (3 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), is adjusting nicely.  The QB relies on a stable of tailbacks, which features Joe McKnight, and a Linus-blanket receiver in Damien Williams, who has been held to one touchdown reception. 

Touchdown Jesus must be paying Charlie Weis’s salary.  The magician behind the cardiac Irish is its Houdini-like quarterback Jimmy Clausen, (12 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), who leads the nation in passing efficiency.  If he leads ND to the victory, something they haven’t done in their last seven tries, he’ll shoot into the top five in the Heisman ranks.  This dart thrower has access to more weapons than the Taliban.  He has a field stretching receiver, Golden Tate, who is 4th in the nation in receiving yards, and a Prudential-sized tight end in Kyle Rudolph, and a powerful runner in Armando Allen.    The D remains the butt-ache for the Domer faithful.  It has allowed opponents to fatten into Weis-type profiles.  This sorry bunch behind safety Kyle McCarthy and backer Darius Fleming is tenth from the bottom is pass defense, and triple digits (100) in overall “defense.”  This is a statement game for the Irish, and more importantly, it could determine Weis’s employment.  We see a pink slip in the abrasive one’s future – Sorry Charlie. 

No. 24 South Carolina at No. 2 Alabama (ESPN, 7:45) The Head Ball Coach just might have something “big” brewing in South Carolina.  Since his arrival four-plus years ago, Spurrier’s Cocks have lived with mediocrity.  They have risen above the seven win total only once.  Hired for his offensive wizardly, the east coast USC has done it with a ferocious defense.  This top 15 rated group is led by its All-America caliber backer Eric Norwood with help from end Cliff Matthews.  The offense is directed by the improving quarterback Steven Garcia (9 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) with assists from tailbacks Kerry Miles, and the wideout tandem of Moe Brown and Teri Gurley.  This group is about as exciting as peas and carrots, and has caused a lot of anxiety ridden, visor tossing, moments for the coach. 

In Tuscaloosa, (Where Groucho always preferred to elephant hunt – because; “The tusks are looser.” – I know I use this every year) Coach Nick Saban’s Tide has a defense that is Pentagon worthy – the post Don Rumsfeld Pentagon.  The nation’s eighth stingiest eleven intimidates behind a three-some of All-Americas; nose Terrance (mount) Cody, backer Roland McClain and corner Javier Arenas.  This group is second overall, suffocates the run, and shoots down a pass better than Dick Chaney shoots a friend.  First year starter, quarterback Greg McElroy (9 touchdown passes – 1 interception) has handled all challenges, but the Tide’s offensive engine runs on the legs of tailback Mark Ingram, who continues to climb the Heisman Trophy standings.  In a game that will have more hits than a Beatles Convention – the tide goes out on Spurrier’s Cocks.

Arkansas at No. 1 Florida (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.)  Coach Bobby $Petrino’s Hogs are snorting.  The reason for this hog –heaven euphoria is the play of its rifle armed, skyscraper (6-7 -248 pounds) QB Ryan Mallett (13 touchdowns – 3 interceptions) who is performing as the nation’s tenth most efficient passer.  The Michigan transfer directs the country’s eleventh highest scoring offense.  He is assisted by the field stretching receiving corps of Greg Childs and Jariuus Wright and the running of Michael Smith.  The Razorback faithful are well aware; the issue in Fayetteville is on the defensive side of the ball.  These guys haven’t been able to bring home the bacon.  How bad has it been?  Well John Edwards has a better chance of getting elected President, than Arkansas has of stopping the Florida running assault. 

In Gainesville it’s:  “Happy Days Are Here Again.”   Tim Tebow is back – on the cover of SI – and Florida remains on track in its quest for a second consecutive national championship.  The nation’s third most efficient passer (7 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions – 5 rushing td’s) directs the seventh highest scoring eleven.  The All World QB is assisted by tailbacks Chris Rainey and Jeremy Demps, who along with Mr.Tebow, comprise the nation’s second best rushing attack – 284 yards a game.  TT also has a pair of starry targets in All-America tight end Aaron Hernandez and wideout Riley Cooper.  On D, the Gators have more star-power than the O.J. team, and have also garnered more number ones than Hertz.  Its Goldman Sachs resume finds the Gators first in fewest points allowed (less 7 a game), first in pass defense, and first in overall D.  They cover territory, as Mel Brooks once wrote: with ludicrous speed, and punish behind an All-America quartet of backer Brandon Spikes, end Carlos Dunlap, corner Joe Haden and safety Ahmad Black.  Now that Tebow is in control, and Urban Meyer is piloting, there will be no let-up in the Swamp, as its ludicrous speed ahead toward that second national championship.

Last week’s record:  5-0                                   Seasonal record:  19-11.

Don’t forget to read our weekend recap Sunday at Noon.  Peace Out.  PK

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