Handicapping Week 9

We begin this week with a pair of missing glasses.

Last January, thieves absconded with the iconic bronze Coke-bottle thick glasses that adorned the seven foot bronze likeness of Penn State’s legendary coach Joe Paterno.  The statue sits outside the entrance to Beaver Stadium.  Unable to recover the stolen booty, PSU simply recast and reattached a new pair of spectacles to its newest artwork.  This weekend, let’s “see” which teams squint around the field looking as if its play book is drawn from the Bronze Age, and which “Lasik” its way to another victory.

No. 4 USC at No. 10 Oregon (Ch.5, 8p.m.) When the USC carnival rolls into town the hoopla created is best described by a line attributed to the legendary Boston mayor, James Michael Curley.  “When you’re a Great Dane, you’re always going to have a poodle nipping at your heels.”  The Trojans’ ring master is its mint-cool, true-freshman quarterback Matt Barkley (7 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions), who is also in the top twenty in passing efficiency.  The QB is richly supported by the lightning-thunder tailback tandem of Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford, along with All-America wideout Damien Williams and tight end in Anthony McCoy (ankle), who has shown All-America ability.  The nation’s sixteenth stingiest D, attacks with All-America safety Taylor Mays, ends Everson Griffen, Nick Perry and backer Chris Galippo.  This group of future Sunday stars, stones runners, but has shown some susceptibility defending the pass.

Since its season opening debacle in Boise, the Ducks have been flying.  Oregon Coach Chip Kelly has been Picasso-like, in holding his team together, as OU has run off six in a row.  Unlike previous seasons, this version of the Eugene Express has motored on the legs of tailback LaMichael James (nearly 7 yards a carry), the driver behind the nation’s fourteenth best rushing attack.  The spiritual leader of the country’s sixteenth highest scoring offense is dual threat QB Jeremiah Masoli (5 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions) with assists from tight end Ed Dickson and wideout Jeffrey Maehl.  The nineteenth stingiest D, led by backers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger has been pedestrian against the run, which is not a good recipe against USC.  In what should be wild affair with at least a Rose Bowl bid riding on the outcome, we’re tempted to take the Green from Eugene, but Pete Carroll’s Boys have already suffered its seasonal loss, we’ll take the Men of Troy.

No.1 Florida vs. Georgia – Jacksonville (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.)  The Swamp is once again, prime real estate.  After a one week hiatus, Florida, albeit with some sputtering, is back on the top of the college football heap.  All-World quarterback Tim Tebow (8 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), despite his frustration over the lack of Gator firepower, is intent on holding that position.  The nation’s ninth highest scoring eleven specializes on a ground assault (258 yards a game) featuring the tailback tandem of Jeffrey Demps (neck) and Chris Rainey, that would bring a smile to the face of General William Tecumseh Sherman.  Unfortunately, for the Gainesville faithful, the signature passing attack, featuring tight end Aaron Hernandez and wideout Riley Cooper has remained in a seasonal long state of neutral.  UF’s All-American dotted D, has been stronger than a shot of Jack Daniels on a Sunday Morning, and is responsible for keeping the Gators on its lofty perch.  The nation’s second (tied) stingiest eleven (10 points a game) features backers Brandon Spikes (groin), corner Joe Haden, safety Ahmad Black, and end Carlos Dunlap. 

The Bulldogs are no longer “Best in Show” in the Peach Tree State.  That honor now belongs to its rival Georgia Tech.  The Dawgs offense featuring quarterback Joe Cox (13 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) with assists from All-America receiver A.J. Green, and tailback Richard Samuel, sits seventeenth from the bottom in rushing, ninetieth overall, and has been as effective as our Chief Executive; Deval Patrick.  The Georgia D featuring All-America backer Rennie Curran has been as shaky as a heroin addict at seven a.m., allowing 27 points a game.  The Florida Swamp increases in value, as the Dawgs become another notch in the Gator’s belt. 

No.3 Texas at No.13 Oklahoma State (ESPN2, 8p.m.)  If the Horns can tact around the Stillwater shoals it should be clear sailing all the way to Pasadena.  UT’s Heisman Trophy contending, but statistically sliding quarterback Colt McCoy (14 touchdowns – 8 interceptions), is the offensive director of the nation’s highest scoring (41 points) company.  The senior QB gets a big assist from his roommate, who also happens to be All-America receiver – Jordan Shipley – along with wideout Marquise Goodwin and emerging tailback Foswhitt Whittaker.  The real hit makers in Austin have been the Burnt Orange defense.   D-coordinator Will Muschamp’s Texas two-step attacks behind ends Sam Acho, Sergi Kindle, and backer Rodderick Muckelroy.  These stars of the Lone Star are best in lassoing runners, second in overall D, and surrender less than 14 points a game. 

How big are the stakes in Stillwater?  Well, for Boone Pickens University, also known as Oklahoma State, a victory over Texas “MIGHT” be worth a dry oil well.  The Cowboys are led by dual threat quarterback Zac Robinson (12 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions),

who quick draws as the country’s seventh most efficient passer.  Operating the nation’s sixth highest scoring offense, the QB focuses on wideout Hubert Anyiam, and a solid tailback in Keith Toston, who can also catch out of the backfield.  The D, behind backers Donald Booker and Patrick Lavine handles the run but is fourteenth from the bottom in defending the pass, which is the wrong recipe against Texas.  The scenario is always the same in the West, a Colt shoots down the Cowboys.

No. 21 South Carolina at Tennessee (ESPN, 7:45) Seeing offensive guru Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks saddled in the ninety-third spot is as mind-boggling as a President of the United States being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize eleven days into his Administration.  This scoreboard challenged group is directed by quarterback Stephen Garcia (11 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) with assists from tailback Kenny Miles and a trio of skilled wideouts; Alshon Jeffrey, Moe Brown and Tori Gurley.  The D led by backer Eric Norwood, Shaq Wilson and end Cliff Matthews is one of the best defending the pass, but very susceptible to a running attack, which is exactly what UT intends to do.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s best recruit was bringing in his dad, Monte to run the Vols defense.  These man-handlers rank tenth overall, and attack with backer Rico McCoy, tackle Dan Williams, and All-America safety Eric Berry. The offensive catalyst is the nation’s twentieth ranked rusher Mario Hardesty.  Tennessee’s hard charging ground attack opens the passing game for quarterback Jonathan Crompton (14 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions) and his receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore. Rocky Top comes out on top as Spurrier’s “offense” remains Nobel worthy.

Kansas State at No. 22 Oklahoma (FSN, 7p.m.) Who says you can’t go home again?  In 2005, after 17 seasons in Manhattan, Kansas, legendary KState coach Bill Snyder hung up his whistle.  During that three year absence the once proud program drifted toward bowl-less oblivion.  To the rescue, Snyder, in MacArthur fashion, has returned intent on restoring the Kansas State luster.  The Wildcats offensive attack is based on a ground assault led by tailback Daniel Thomas (9TDs) and dual threat QB Carson Coffman, who has thrown 2 more interceptions than touchdowns.  When the Cats do complete a pass, starry wideout Brandon Banks is the primary target.  The D, which was always the identity and foundation of a Snyder coached team, is led by tackle Jeff Fitzgerald and backer John Houlk.  These Manhattan maulers slay runners, but are susceptible defending the pass. 

Sam – we hardly knew ye.  Defending Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford’s season and career in Norman has come to an inglorious end.  The new king is QB Landry Jones (13 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), who is named after the legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys; Tom Landry.  The freshman dart thrower can also utilize plenty of weapons in the tailback tandem; Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, and wideouts Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney.  The Sooners D has stockpiled more weapons than a cave in the Kashmir.  The nation’s second stingiest (tied) intimidators (10 points a game) and sixth overall, snuffs opponents behind end Auston English, and the backer tandem of Travis Lewis and Ryan Reynolds.  In Norman – you can’t go home again – unless you are wearing Sooner Red. 


Last week’s record:  5-0                             Season record: 28-12

Make sure to check out our weekend recap Sunday afternoon. 


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