Monthly Archives: November 2009

The end of Charlie Weis

To paraphrase former President Gerald Ford after the resignation of Richard Nixon; “Notre Dame’s long (last 3 seasons – 16 wins – 21 losses with only 3 victories against opponents that finished with winning records), football nightmare is finally over.”

That is the worst three year record in the history of Notre Dame.  This afternoon the Notre Dame Administration, athletic director Jack Swarbrick and President Rev. John Jenkins did what everyone was anticipating: fired head Coach Charlie Weis.  “Expectations have not been met,” said the A.D.  

It was never the right fit.  Weis came with his “big” Jersey bravado, flashing his three Super-Bowl rings, and spouting that, “Nobody will out scheme us,” yet he lost six games by 26 points or more. If fact, during his five year tenure (35-27) his most impressive coaching performances were a pair of close losses to USC.  OUCH.   

He also never grasped the concept of what it takes to be a head coach.  He loaded up his assistant staff with guys with reputations, but they never developed the “talent” that was recruited.  It was often said under Weis, that when a kid came in as a freshman at Notre Dame, he left with the same ability as a senior, never developing to his full potential.  That was never clearer Saturday night in Palo Alto against Stanford when the Irish defense looked as inept as the SEC investigating Bernie Madoff, in trying to stop Stanford.  It looked that way for the last three years.  In fact in his last coaching decision wearing the ND on his chest, Weis let the Cardinal score, saving time on the clock for one more desperation touchdown that wasn’t to be.  But weep not for Charlie – he is rumored to have a buyout somewhere between $10-18 million, and you can bet that the NFL will be calling – Kansas City Chiefs anyone.  It is imperative that Notre Dame get this choice right.  Love- em or hate-em it’s good for college football when Notre Dame is winning.  We like Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern – he’s young, played the game at the highest level – a two time All-America linebacker – is winning at a place with a higher standard of academics, plus the connection to Ara – who came from Northwestern and turned Notre Dame around.

Today a giant weight has been lifted off the backs of the Irish nation; it’s now up to the administration to make sure it stays that way.

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Recap of week 14

The Thanksgiving weekend had had some trepidation – just ask Texas and Alabama – but in the end, the chalk won out. 

We’ll begin on the Plains of Auburn, where Alabama took a first quarter punch on the chin – down 14-0 – then methodically reeled in the Tigers, eventually winning on a last minute “championship” drive orchestrated by quarterback Greg McElroy.  It was also a game that saw the Heisman hopes of tailback Mark Ingram disappear as quickly as a bowl of stuffing.

On Thanksgiving night, Texas needed every weapon in its arsenal, the biggest being the right arm of quarterback Colt McCoy, as the Horns held off the Aggies of A&M, 49-39, in the highest scoring game in the 116 year history of the rivalry.  It was a game that many feel won the Heisman Trophy for Mr. McCoy.

In Florida, it was embarrassing for 80 year old Bobby Bowden and his once mighty Seminoles of Florida State.  It looked the j.v. against the varsity.  At one point Florida lead 30-0, before calling off the dogs, eventually winning 37-10. It was so bad that at the end of the third quarter, on a fourth and goal at the 2, down 30-0, Bowden opted for a field goal to avoid the embarrassment of a shutout.  Yikes!  All-world quarterback Tim Tebow, threw for three touchdowns and ran for two, as the Gators finished 12-0 for the second time in school history, and improved its winning streak to 22 -0.  It also put Mr. Tebow very much back into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Good for CBS, for not going the PC route.  When the Florida/Florida State half ended 24-0, CBS flashed a promo for next week which read: Alabama vs. Florida for the SEC Championship, Saturday at 3 p.m., knowing, what everyone else in the country knew watching that game, that the outcome had already been determined. 

Last night saw “former” Irish head coach Charlie Weis, who five years ago stormed into South Bend full of bluster and bravado, sneak out of Palo Alto in silence, without speaking to the media, humbled by another embarrassing loss, this time to Stanford.  Notre Dame was once again let down by its defense, which stops an opponent as often as the Pope misses Mass.

In Philadelphia, actually in Athens, Ohio, the Temple University carriage turned into a pumpkin, as the Owls saw its nine game winning streak come to a crashing end, eliminating Temple from the MAC Championship game.

Talk about limping into the ACC Championship game – or the SEC took the ACC to school.  Number seven Georgia Tech was upset at home by the lowly (7-5) Dawgs of Georgia 30-24, as it was Georgia who ran all over the Jackets of Tech.  Then in Columbia, South Carolina, the Ol Ball Coach and his Gamecocks throttled the fifteenth ranked Tigers 34-17, as C.J. Spiller also ran himself out of the Heisman. Now both of these “losers” will face each other for the ACC Championship next week.  Bet that game will be well attended!!

Old friend Tom O’Brien and his NC State Wolfpack upset intra-state rival UNC, winning for their beloved coach, offensive coordinator Dana Bible who is being treated for Leukemia.  One of the nation’s best unknown quarterbacks, NC State’s Russell Wilson was also on full display throwing his 30th touchdown pass.

TCU finished its season undefeated and punched its ticket into a BCS game for the first time.  The Horned Frogs are a very dangerous team, and for one game can play with anybody.  And with Oklahoma State being throttled by the Oklahoma 27-0, Boise State will also be going BCS bowling.

How about Mississippi State, clobbering Mississippi 41-27, to capture the Egg Bowl, it was the most points scored by MSU against its rival since the Administration of Woodrow Wilson in 1917.

Kentucky lost to Tennessee for the twenty-fourth consecutive time. 

SMU, the only school ever to be stained with the NCAA death penalty, is bowl eligible for the first time since the Regan Administration of 1984, great job by head coach June Jones.

Can’t wait for Saturday’s Armageddon clash between Florida and Alabama – early thoughts – we like the Gators.

Well, that’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 15 Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace.  PK

Handicapping week 13

We begin this Thanksgiving week (and I give thanks for all of you) with the dog days of Georgia.

The Dawgs are in the throes of one of its worst seasons in recent memory, and if they lose to intra-state rival Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs will finish with an unacceptable .500 record.  Things are so bad in Athens, that Georgia’s mascot UGA VII decided he had seen enough, and unexpectedly died last week, less than two years on the job.  The 56 pound white English bulldog was 10-3 last year, but witnessing this season’s disaster must have been too much for his heart.  “We are all in a state of shock,” said breeder Sony Seiler. “We had no warning whatsoever.  We will miss him dearly.”  A memorial wreath will be laid on his doghouse on the field’s sidelines.  This weekend let’s see which teams lose its bite and play like dogs, and which bulldog (or, if you are from Dorchester, Golden Joe) its way to another victory.

Georgia at No.7 Georgia Tech (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)The situation in Athens is in a Fright-Night freefall.  In fact the last time a group form Athens faced this much adversity, the Spartans were knocking at the door.  Georgia lost its long-held exalted place as; the best team in the Peach State and the seat of Coach Mark Richt is in need of asbestos.  The Dawgs mongrel offense, ranked seventy-third overall, is directed by its erratic quarterback Joe Cox (21 touchdowns – 14 interceptions) with assists from All-America receiver A.J. Green and starry tailback Washaun Ealey.  The D performance featuring All-America backer Rennie Curran and ends Justin Houston and DeMarcus Dobbs has been reflective of its record.

The critics said Coach Paul Johnson’s triple option, the nation’s eleventh highest scoring offense, wouldn’t work against the ‘big-boys.”  Wrong.  They also said he wouldn’t be able to recruit kids to run the country’s second best (314 yards a game) rushing attack.  Wrong.  The Jackets are directed by its dual-threat Houdini quarterback Josh Nesbitt (8 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions – 46 percent completions) who has rushed for over 800 yards while scoring 16 TDs.  The QB is assisted by a pair of roadrunners in Jonathan Dwyer (6.5 yards a carry – 11 TDs) and his partner Anthony Allen who is averaging over ten yards a carry.  When Nesbitt does throw – (Tech is fourth from the bottom in passing) – he has a starry target in Demaryius Thomas who is averaging an eye-popping 24 yards a catch. The D, led by All-America end Derrick Morgan (12 sacks), and backers Brad Jefferson and Sedric Griffen, is solid, but struggles defending the pass which could be a problem against the Bulldogs.  Maybe UGA VII did the right thing.  It’s another scary game for Georgia, as Johnson’s Boys out-run the Dawgs.

Temple at Ohio The Owls have hooted to record heights.  Temple, has won a school record 9 straight, is on the cusp of being nationally ranked, earning Coach Al Golden bonus points in the race for National Coach of the Year honors.  What makes this transformation so remarkable is that TU almost dropped football a few years ago, when it was tossed out of the Big East Conference for lack of competence.  It now finds itself a single victory from clinching the MAC East Division crown, which will earn the Owls an invite to the MAC Conference title game.  Temple’s offense revolves around a powerful running attack led by the nation’s tenth leading runner, Bernard Pierce, who has rushed for 1308 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He is assisted by dual threat QB Vaughan Charlton (9 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions), and when the QB does throw, wideout Michael Campbell is the primary target.  The D behind end Adrian Robinson (12 sacks) and backers Jaiquawn and Alex Joseph, stones runners, but struggles defending the pass.

The Bobcats offense has as much firepower as the first and last letters of its home state; Ohio.  QB Theo Scott (16 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions) directs a squad that has more holes than Mass Ave after a January thaw.  This group is ninety-sixth in rushing, eighty-sixth in passing, seventieth in scoring, and one-hundred-third overall.  The D led by backers Noah Keller and Lee Renfro struggles stopping the run, which is not the best recipe against the Owls.  Coach Al Golden’s crew remains golden and cracks into the national rankings. 

No.16 Clemson at South Carolina (ESPN, Noon) In Clemson, the C. J. Spiller show is outdrawing the Twilight Saga: “New Moon.”  The Tigers versatile tailback (3rd overall in the all purpose yardage) is the offensive dynamo on a team that is rolling; winners of six straight and earning a first-ever invite to the ACC Championship Game.  In addition to Spiller’s dazzling Heisman contending moments, quarterback Kyle Parker (16 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) and wideout Jacoby Ford assist in sparking the nation’s nineteenth highest scoring eleven.  Clemson has been anchored all season by its attacking twelfth ranked D, featuring backers Brandon Maye, Kavell Connor and tackle Jarvis Jenkins.  

In Columbia, South Carolina the “Anti-Spurrier” has possessed the Old Ball Coach.  The guy who loved to say, “We hung a half-a-hundred on them,” is now an offensive bottom feeder – sitting ninety-seventh in rushing, seventy-fifth overall, and a jaw-dropping one-hundred-one in scoring, averaging a Western Kentucky-like; 20 points a game.  QB Steven Garcia (14 touchdown passes – 8 interceptions) directs this points challenged group with assists from tailback Kenny Miles, and a pair of quality receivers in Alshon Jeffrey and Moe Brown.  The patience of Gamecock faithful is beginning to wane, as USC has once-again fallen into its annual late season (losers of 4 of 5) swoon.  The punishing D led by All-America backer Eric Norwood, end Cliff Matthews, and fellow backer Shaq Wilson has been the glue keeping Cocks in every game.  Last week Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was able to exercise the $1 million salary clause for reaching the championship game, this week in a tight game, he gets his ninth win. 

Florida State at No.1 Florida (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) Nobody expects Florida to lose, after all this is Tim Tebow’s last home game.  But the other significance of this game is on the visitor’s side, as Bobby Bowden makes his final visit to the Swamp.  Even though the 80 year old icon is intent on coaching next season, the game next year will be played in Tallahassee.  It’s been another swampy season of disappointment for the barely (6-5) bowl eligible Seminoles.  The biggest shock in this dismal year has been the woeful play of its once proud and loud defense, which has more holes than a ballot box in an Afghan election year.  It displays numbers: one-hundred-six in total D, one-hundred-fifth in stopping the run, ninety-second defending the pass and ninety-fifth in points surrendered (30 a game), that makes a Bernie Madoff client sheet look prosperous.  That D, combined with the loss of its aerial wizard, quarterback Christian Ponder (shoulder surgery), makes FSU look like the team it was 34 years ago before the arrival of Bowden.

On the other side, the Boys from Gainesville continue to strut (21 in a row), and find themselves three wins away from a second consecutive national championship.  The Gators core is its All-World leader Tim Tebow, (14 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions – 11 rushing TDs – 865 yards) with assists from tailbacks Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps. There are three cogs in the country’s ninth best rushing attack.  The nation’s tenth highest scoring eleven also moves through the air courtesy of All-America tight end Aaron Hernandez, and wideout Riley Cooper.  The Florida D which is America’s stingiest (9 points a game), has more vitality than a Cialis factory.  Led by a quartet of All-Americas; backer Brandon (Pokey) Spikes, corner Joe Haden, safety Ahmad Black and end Carlos Dunlap; these guys are first in defending the pass, second overall, and seventh against the run.  It won’t be a pleasant visit for the grand old man from Tallahassee – as Florida next prepares for its showdown with Alabama. 

No.2 Alabama at Auburn (Friday, Ch.4, 2:30 p.m.)  Is there any danger on the Plains?  Possibly.  The Tide’s offensive catalyst is its Heisman Trophy frontrunner tailback Mark Ingram – the nation’s fifth leading rusher (12 TDs) who is averaging 6.8 yards a carry.  After a mid-season correction, quarterback Greg McElroy (14 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) seems to have settled in, while focusing on a pair of starry targets in Julio Jones and Marquis Maze.  The Alabama D is stronger than Tabasco on breakfast grits.  This group, ranked numero-uno overall, punishes and disrupts for sixty minutes behind a trio of All-Americas; nose Terrance (Mount) Cody, corner Javier Arenas, and backer Rolando McClain, who is deserving of Heisman votes.  These Tuscaloosa Titans are also second in stopping the run (2.4 yds. a carry), fifth in defending the pass, and the second stingiest (9.9 points) eleven in America. 

Auburn has been one of the bigger surprises of the season.  Newly minted coach Gene Chizik has instilled a surge of energy into the Plains.  The nation’s fifteenth highest scoring team is directed by triggerman Chris Todd (19 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) with help from the nation’s nineteenth best rusher Ben Tate, and a pair of field stretching wideouts Darvin Adams and Mario Fanin.  The problem lies with a defense that is weaker than the field of the Massachusetts Senate race.  War Eagle’s D, led by end Antonio Coleman, and backers Josh Bynes and Craig Stevens allows 27 points a game, and is eighty-eight in stopping the run – which is the wrong Thanksgiving ingredients against Alabama.  This may be close for a while, but what becomes eminently clear on the Plain; the election winner is: Alabama.  

 

Last week’s record: 2-3                                                        Season record: 39-20. 

Be sure to check out our weekly recap on Sunday afternoon.  

Recap week 12

Whew!!!  This weekend’s games had endings worthy of any Hitchcock-ian thriller.

We’ll begin in New Haven, where in the 126 edition of The Game a bunch of Yale Bulldogs were dominating Harvard and leading 10-7 with less than three minutes to play.  Unfortunately, that’s when Yale Coach Tom Williams channeled Bill Belichick or maybe Les Miles and called – possibly the most befuddling play in the game’s storied history – when he decided to fake a punt on a fourth and 22, on his own 25 yard line. Yale only picked up 15, and three plays later – Harvard 14 – Yale 10 – and you think Charlie Weis is a bad coach.  Bring back Carm Cozza.

Speaking of Weis – “little” UConn, supposedly a “patsy” a “cupcake” on the Irish schedule, came into South Bend and ran through, and over, the “mighty” Irish winning in overtime and finally, and mercifully, sending Charlie Weis and his arrogant ample profile out the door. (Even overcoming a pair of TD’s called back.)  In his five year tenure – Notre Dame never defeated a team that ended the season with less than four losses.  Now that’s genius!!!  But worry not for Charlie – the buyout is rumored to be in the $18 million range!!

But what summed up the Weis era occurred at the end of the game when NBC (Notre Dame Broadcast Company) who pays ND millions to televise its home games, interviewed Charlie as he waddled toward the locker room.  When the reporter asked a second question Mr. Hubris said, “That’s enough.” – which perfectly summed what the Irish administration is going to say to Charlie. 

Our choice to replace Charlie is Northwestern head man Pat Fitzgerald – who not only played the game a high level – a two time All-America linebacker at NU – but has produced winning teams (8-3 this season) at a school with higher academic standards than Notre Dame.  He is young, energetic (both of which was lacking with Weis) and coaching at Northwestern brings in the Ara connection, who came from the Evanston campus. 

In Oxford, Mississippi there was another head scratchier as LSU’s head man, Les Miles, sent clock management back to the sun-dial era.  LSU was trailing by 2, and on a third down, QB Jordan Jefferson tossed a short pass that was stuffed on about the fifty – with 36 seconds left on the clock.  Amazingly, LSU watched the clock run all the way to 9 before some sideline genius decided to call for a timeout, its last.  On fourth down the Tigers hit its “Hail Mary” pass down to the six yard line of Mississippi – with the clock stopping at one second.  Confusion reigned – and LSU never even attempted to get its field goal unit on the field, and then spiked the ball as the clock ran out.  If time had been called with even 20 seconds left – LSU would easily have won the game.  AMAZING!!! 

Break up the Temple Owls, as coach Al Golden’s boys have now won 9 in a row!!

What is going on in Norman?  The Sons of Bobby Stoops need a season ending victory against its in-state rival Oklahoma State to avoid a 6-6 season.   DOUBLE YIKES!!!

Even though it was filled with fluff – 82 year old JoePa had another 10 win season and has a chance at a BCS bowl bid. 

The “Civil War,” between Oregon and Oregon State on Thursday, December 3, will be anything but, as winner is going to the Rose Bowl. 

Army needs to beat Navy – a tall order – in order to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1996.  It should make for a very entertaining Army/Navy game on December 12th

Imagine the length of time it took to play the game between Division 2 playoff teams West Liberty and Edinboro – the final score West Liberty 84 – Edinboro 63, with 1394 yards of offense.  It must have looked like Notre Dame was playing defense for both teams.

Speaking of defense – or lack thereof – Stanford’s let them down again in the 112th playing of; “The Big Game.” 

Good for Clemson and good for Coach Dabo Swinney, as the Tigers who have won 6 in a row, and punched its first ticket into the ACC title game.  Its last ACC crown came during the George H.W. Bush Administration of 1991. 

Fraud team alert:  SUNJ – State University of New Jersey also known as Rutgers, waited all season to claw its way back into the top 25 only to see it come to a dispiriting crash in Syracuse, as the Orangemen crushed SUNJ  – 31-13 for its 4th victory of the season.

Coach $Rod and mighty Meechigan – lost again – losers of 7-8, finishing last in the conference – and enduring consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the Kennedy Administration of 1962-63.  Coach $Rod has one more year in Ann Arbor to get it fixed.  The Wolverines have also lost to the Buckeyes 6 consecutive times.

After losing 9 in a row Rice won its second straight.  

No wonder Georgia’s mascot UGA VII died unexpectedly – it couldn’t take the pain of another Bulldog loss.  The Dawgs lost to Kentucky for the first time in 32 years and dropped to 6-5 with a game next week against the best team from the Peach State – Georgia Tech.  Yikes.  Great year for KU’s Rich Brooks who has the Wildcats 7-4, with a home game remaining against Tennessee. 

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with week 13 Wednesday night.  Enjoy Thanksgiving.  Until then, Peace.  PK

Handicapping week 12

We begin this week with some – not so friendly – skies.

When Idaho athletic director Rob Spear booked his fundraising flight to Boise, he never expected to encounter this visual turbulence.  It turned out that the airline he was scheduled to fly, Horizon Air, had earlier this month unveiled a plane which was painted in the colors of Idaho’s arch-rival Boise State.  In true Beach Boys, “Be True to Your School,” Spear booked another flight, driving 90 miles to fly from Spokane, Washington.  The plane changing had zero effect, as that same weekend the Vandals were throttled by the Broncos; 63-35.  This weekend let’s see which teams clearly see the horizon, and fly home coloring the victory column, and which get stuck in the turbulence of another plain, unsightly, loss. 

No.11 Oregon at Arizona (Ch.5, 8p.m.) The Ducks get that rarest of gifts, a second chance to control its Rose Bowl destiny.  The nation’s ninth highest scoring eleven (37 points a game) quacks on legs of the country’s ninth leading rusher LaMichael James (7 yds. a carry – 11 TDs) who along with dual threat QB Jeremiah Masoli (11 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) comprise the sixth best rushing team (237 yards a game) in the land.  When Masoli takes to the air he has a pair of talented receivers in tight end Ed Dickson and wideout Jeff Maehl.  The D led by backers Kenny Rowe, Spencer Paysinger and corner Lewis Javes has Buick dependability, but purrs like a Lexus defending the pass. 

Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, Arizona has nomadically wandered the desert as the only conference team never to have experienced the pageantry of Pasadena.  The compass setting is simple: if Mike Stoops Boys win out – the Rose Bowl invite will be in the mail.  The Cats are also experiencing a Tuscon toot, winning 12 of its last 14 in Arizona Stadium.  The AU offense directed by QB Nick Foles (13 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) with assists from tailbacks Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and wideouts Terell Turner and David Roberts, is reflective of its coach – steady but never flashy.  The D behind end Ricky Elmore, and backers Xavier Kelley and Cam Nelson ranks eighteenth overall, and does its best work stopping the run.  Arizona is calling for a red-out on Saturday night, but we think the Green from Eugene rain on Arizona’s Rose Bowl parade.

California at No.14 Stanford (VERSUS, 7:30 p.m.)  How disappointing has the Golden Bears season been?  For the Berkeley faithful, it’s akin to having nothing but republican candidates listed on their election ballot.  Cal has also recently been hamstrung by the loss of its steam-engine, All-America tailback (concussion) Jahvid Best.  The rest of its rather pedestrian offense is directed by junior quarterback Kevin Riley (15 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) with assists by a quality sophomore runner Shane Vereen, and wideouts Marvin Jones and Verran Tucker.  The D, led by ends Tyson Alualu, Cameron Jordan and backer Mike Mohamed stones runners, but is vulnerable defending the pass, which is not a good recipe against Stanford.

The Cardinal, under Coach Jim Harbaugh has flown to new heights.  The Boys on the Farm have also claimed consecutive victories over top ten teams.  The Stanford offensive juggernaut alternates between the nation’s third leading rusher, and rapidly rising Heisman Trophy candidate, Toby Gerhart (19 TDs) and its dual threat freshman QB Andrew Luck (son of Oliver, 13 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), who is second on the team in rushing, while operating as the country’s eleventh most efficient passer.  It’s the D that causes the Cardinal faithful more headaches than an honors bio-class.  The group led by end Thomas Keiser, backer Clinton Snyder and safety Bo McNally is eighty-first overall, ninety-third defending the pass, and allows an average of 24 points a game.  Despite all that, in this classic rivalry, our elections returns shows the Cardinal continues to climb the polls.

No.13 Penn State at Michigan State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  The Nits schedule has been softer than the SEC’s early investigations of Bernie Madoff.  Yet, despite that fluff, PSU still failed miserably, losing its only pair of noteworthy games in Happy Valley.  Quarterback Darryl Clark (19 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions) directs this sloppy, Van Winkle offense, with assists from tailback Evan Royster and wideouts Derek Moye and Graham Zug.  The D which has compiled Fifth Ave numbers is led by a trio of backers; Josh Hull, Navorro Bowman, and Sean Lee.  This group ranks eighth best in stopping the run, seventeenth in defending the pass, and is ninth overall, while allowing a microscopic 11 points a game.  But it doesn’t take Columbo to figure out, that these gaudy numbers were artificially sweetened by the aforementioned schedule of cupcakes. 

After its inauspicious start (1-3), Michigan State has clawed its way into bowl eligibility.  Sparty would like nothing better than to sweeten its season by knocking off its more “prestigious” rival.  The Spartan’s operation is under the direction of its unheralded QB Kirk Cousins (17 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) with help from tailback Larry Caper and wideouts Blair White and B.J. Cunningham.  The D, behind backers Greg James, Eric Gordon and tackle Jerel Worthy handles runners, but defends the pass as well as Diane Wilkerson defends her missing tax returns.  In East Lansing we think its dessert for everyone, as Sparty dines on the Nits.  

No.10 LSU at Mississippi (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) The LSU offense makes the US dollar look like the British pound.  These devalued and deficit riddled spenders are seventeenth from the bottom in passing, seventy-third in scoring, seventy-fifth in rushing, and overall ranked thirteenth worst.  The toothless Tigers are directed by QB Jordan Jefferson (ankle) (12 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) with assists from tailback Keiland Williams and touchdown (9) making wideout Brandon LaFell.  The nation’s tenth stingiest D, who pound behind the backer threesome of; Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard, and Harry Coleman, has maintained the roar in Death Valley.

Couch Houston Nutt has never been a good front-runner, and the Rebels season has been a disappointment.  The biggest culprit has been QB Jevan Snead (17 touchdown passes – 14 interceptions – 52 percent completions) who at one time was touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate.  The Ole Miss rushing attack is on solid ground with starry tailback Dexter McCluster (7 yards a carry) and when Snead can get him the ball; Shay Hodge is a primary target.  The country’s twelfth stingiest D, led by backers Patrick Trahan and end Lockett Kentrell is “rebel yell” solid.  This is a tough game to figure, McCluster could go off, but bottom line: we don’t think Snead can handle the LSU pressure. 

UConn at Notre Dame (Ch.7, 2:30 p.m.)  How good of a coach is Randy Edsall?  Well, if the Huskies head man was prowling the sidelines for the Blue and Gold, the eyes of the Irish Nation would be smiling, instead of searching for its next head coach.  Saddled with injuries Connecticut is starting backup QB Zach Frazier (formerly of Notre Dame), who has thrown three more interceptions than touchdowns.  The QB is supported by the tailback tandem of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon, and a pair of field stretching receivers in Brad Kanuch and Marcus Early, who is averaging a jaw-dropping 21 yards a catch.  The D behind end Lindsey Witten and backers Lawrence Wilson and Greg Lloyd has great difficulty defending the pass, which is not a good recipe against Notre Dame.

In our opinion Irish Coach Charlie Weis in on a “death watch,” but unlike the movies, there will be no clemency call from the Governor, or in this case, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.  Not even Touchdown Jesus condones his lousy record.  The Domers’ catalyst is the nation’s fifth rated passer QB Jimmy Clausen (21 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) who gets a huge lift from the country’s best wideout pairing; All-America Golden Tate (11 TDs) and his partner Michael Floyd.  Unfortunately, the Irish D featuring Kyle McCarthy, and backers Manti TE’O, and Darius Fleming stops the opposition as often as the Pope skips Mass.  There may be more talent on the ND sideline, but the better coach works for the Huskies – UConn KO’s Charlie. 

Last week’s record: 3-2                                             Season record:  37-18.

Recap Week 11

We’ll begin in South Bend. 

It has become the Charlie Weis Death–March.  It is all but official – there will be no last minute clemency call from the Governor, or in this case Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.  The Irish now sit a dismal 6-4, in a schedule that was “set-up” for a 10-2 season and a BCS bowl bid.  Charlie’s Boys lost another game to a ranked opponent (16-19 in its last 35), and look dispirited in doing it, almost as if they were mailing it in.  So, with two eminently losable games remaining; Connecticut, and on the road two days after Thanksgiving against a very hot Stanford team, the Weis era will/should mercifully come to an end.  Sorry Charlie – but look at it this way – you became a very wealthy man.

 Our pick to click for the ND job is Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.  It has the Ara Parseghian/Northwestern connection; Fitzgerald played the game at a very high level – as a two-time All-America linebacker for NU.  The school has better academics than ND – and he has provided a winning program – in addition he’s a young enthusiastic guy, who presents and relates to the kids very well.  In other words; he’s the 180 degree opposite of Mr. Weis. 

Now for some great coaching jobs: Al Golden and his Temple Owls have won 8 in a row, and will be going bowling for the first time since the end of the Carter Administration – 1979.  In Atlanta, Paul Johnson’s unstoppable triple option Yellow Jackets have won 8 in a row (10-1), established itself as the best team in Georgia, and will play in the ACC Championship team.  In Cincinnati, Brian Kelley has his Bearcats 10-0, for the first time in school history.  Rich Brooks has his Kentucky Wildcats bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season – something that has never been done on the Lexington campus.  In Pittsburgh, “The Stache” Coach Dave Wannstedt, has his Panthers 9-1, winners of 6 in a row, and in a solid position to win the Big East Title. 

Despite it loss this week to Cincinnati, the faithful of West Virginia are heartened by the fact that its “traitor” coach once again lost a game coaching the Ann-Arbor “Annies” – otherwise known as; the Michigan Wolverines.  The wheels have completely come off the bus for coach $Rod and “Mighty” Meechigan as the Maize and Blue have lost six of seven, with the lone victory against a Division 1AA opponent.  They are also 1-6 in Big Ten Conference play, with next week’s game against Ohio State a virtual lock in the loss column.  In its last four losses – Michigan has surrounded an ungodly 156 points.  Yikes!!   What in the world of Bo Schembechher is going on?!!!   As the Mountaineer fans will attest, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy – I guess the grass is not always; $$$$$$$$. 

What a difference a week makes – last week Oklahoma didn’t score an offensive touchdown for the first time in 11 years, as its QB Landry Jones tossed five interceptions.  Well, yesterday, OU hung a 65 spot on a bunch of hapless Aggies of Texas A&M, and that same Landry threw for five touchdowns. 

How bad are thing in Louisville?  The once mighty Cardinals hung on 10-9; for its fourth win of the season over Syracuse.  The Coach Steve Kragthorpe era in Louisville is virtually over. 

The Ralph Friedgen era in Maryland is also in the virtually over column, as the Terps lost for the seventh time in its last eight tries.  We think this would be a great landing spot for our old friend former UMass head man Mark Whipple, now running the offense at Miami.  In fact his former D-coordinator is the current coordinator in MD. 

In Boulder it’s also getting ugly as Coach Don Hawkins – promised a ten win season – well after yesterday’s loss has the Buffaloes 3-7. You do the math.   OUCH!!!

It’s safe to say: Mr. November is no more.  What has happened to USC?  Up until yesterday’s 55-21 annihilation by Stanford – Pete Carroll was 28-0 in the month of Thanksgiving.  How ugly has it become.  It two of the last three weeks USC and its vaunted D has surrendered a combined 102 points.  Yesterday’s shellacking was the most points allowed in Trojan history, and was the biggest point differential home loss since Lyndon Johnson was sitting in the Oval office – 1966.  DOUBLE YIKES!!!!  It also marked the end of seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances, seven consecutive PAC-10 titles, and seven consecutive 11 win seasons. 

Congrats to little Rice University for getting off the snide, and winning its first game of the season against Tulane.  And also to Texas QB Colt McCoy for tying Georgia quarterback David Greene for the most victories in Division 1A with 42. 

It’s too bad Weis’s Boys didn’t have the same grit as undermanned Iowa – who went into the Horseshoe – starting an untested true freshman quarterback – and took Ohio State into overtime before bowing 27-24.  It was a game that epitomized everything that good about college football coaching. 

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 12, Wednesday night.  Next week officially ends the Big Ten season – which is always the first conference to end its season – it also always makes us a little melancholy.  After all, when the college football season comes to a close, what am I supposed to do – watch Tampa Bay versus Cleveland?  YUCK!!!!  Until then- peace.  PK

Handicapping week 11

We begin this week with the play of the year – maybe the play of all-time.

It occurred a couple of weeks ago during the Mississippi State-Auburn game, when Auburn safety Zac Etheridge collided headfirst with teammate Antonio Coleman, as they tackled MSU’s tailback Rodney Scott.

After the collision, Etheridge fell unconscious on top of Scott.  Somehow Scott sensed that the player lying on top of him was seriously hurt and didn’t move.  “I just had a sense that something was seriously wrong, and that if I moved he could have been paralyzed,” said Scott.  Auburn Coach Gene Chizik said, “I don’t know how he knew, but he (Scott) sat as still as the night right underneath him.  It was one of the most phenomenal things I’ve witnessed.”  Etheridge’s doctors said that despite cracking the fifth vertebra and tearing neck ligaments, he could in fact play again.  “I’ve got to take my hat off to Rodney Scott,” said Etheridge.  “It was a blessing that he didn’t move.”  This weekend let’s see which teams best tackle adversity, and which is up to its neck in losses. 

No. 16 Utah at No.4 TCU (CBS college sports, 7:30 p.m.) A Utah victory not only crushes TCU’s dream of a BCS invite, it vaults the mighty Utes to the top of the Mountain West heap.  The Men of Salt Lake are directed by the steady hand of quarterback Terrance Cain (11 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions), with assists from tailback Eddie Wide and wideouts David Reed and Jereme Brooks.  These guys are solid, but won’t cause any sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.  The pizzazz and anchor of the team’s success, is the nation’s fifteenth stingiest D.  This group led by bookend ends Koa Musi, Derrick Shelby, and backer Mike Wright attacks from all angles, but is vulnerable against the pass, which is not a good recipe against the Boys from Fort Worth.

Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs have jumped to new heights.  Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Andy Dalton (16 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) is the commander of the nation’s sixth highest scoring (37 points) offense.  The country’s fourth most efficient passer gets a big boost from the tailback tandem of Joseph Turner (9TDs), and Ed Wesley, who comprise America’s sixth best (242 yards a game) rushing attack.  The QB also has the luxury of choosing between a pair of starry wideouts; Jeremy Kerley and Bart Johnson.  The D, the nation’s fifth (11 points) toughest team to score upon, is deserving of equal marquee billing.   The third best total defense in the land, is led by its All-America end, sack master Jerry Hughes, fellow end Wayne Daniels, and backer Daryl Washington, who are equally efficient suffocating both the run and the pass.   The BCS invite is in the mail, and stamped TCU as the Frogs jump over the Boys from Salt Lake City.   

No.15 Iowa at No. 10 Ohio State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) Last week Iowa’s rose colored carriage reverted back into a pumpkin, as the Hawkeye faithful saw its undefeated season disappear on the ankle injury of its starting quarterback, Ricky Stanzi.  Now, if the “I” is to receive its first Rose Bowl invite in 19 years, it will be with little tested backup QB James Vandenberg.  The QB is saddled with the daunting task of going into Columbus to face a nasty bunch of revitalized Buckeyes.  “November is for contenders,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.  Unfortunately, the offense of the Boys of the Corn is more identifiable with a desolate mid-January stalk of corn – lifeless and brittle.  This group led by tailback Brandon Wegher and wideouts Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, is more point challenged than the credit rating of a homeowner teetering on bankruptcy.  They rank 94th in rushing and 86th in scoring, which is not a good recipe against a bunch of hungry Buckeyes.  The fertile soil is on the opportunistic defensive side.  The nation’s thirteenth stingiest D, led by backer Pat Angerer, and ends Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns attacks in waves, and is tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions (19) and second in turnovers gained. 

The Buckeyes have new life.  It’s almost as if they got a clemency call from the Governor.  The Scarlet and Grey controls its destiny, and with a victory, the Bucks should cruise to its fifth consecutive Big Ten Championship.  Dual threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor (15 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions), who has more critics than Sarah Palin, leads the team in rushing and is the Buckeye’s offensive director. The QB is assisted by a pair of hard charging tailbacks in Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, along with receivers DeVier Posey (7TDs) and Dane Sanzenbacher (6TDs), who is averaging an eye-popping 20 yards a catch.  The D is Columbus vintage.  The nation’s fourth stingiest eleven led by end Thaddeus Gibson, tackle Cameron Heyward, and backer Ross Homan is sixth overall, third in interceptions (16) and equally destructive defending the pass and the run.  The Iowan Pasadena express is permanently derailed, as Columbus says goodbye and sends the Boys from Iowa City back to the pumpkin patch.    

Notre Dame at No.8 Pittsburgh (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  The BCS payday is gone, and ND coach $Charlie Weis could be the next to go.  The Irish catalyst is quarterback Jimmy Clausen (20 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) who, with surgical precision, operates as the nation’s third most efficient passer.  The QB gets a huge assist from one of the country’s most dynamic receiving tandems in All-America Golden Tate, and Michael Floyd, as well as the solid running of tailback Armando Allen.  Unfortunately, as the Domer faithful are well aware, the “defense” ranked 79th overall, is as weak as the latest US employment figures.  This group led by safety Kyle McCarthy, and backers Manti TE’O, and Darius Fleming, defends the pass (88th) the same way Congress defends American consumers from the predatory practices of the credit card companies. 

The last time Pitt (who has won 18 of 23) stood 8-1, Ronald Regan was counting jelly beans in the Oval office, and a guy named Dan Marino was under center for the Panthers.  The Sons of the “Stache,” Coach Dave Wannstedt, attack behind the two-headed monster of quarterback Bill Stull (17 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions, 67 percent completions) and his running partner, true freshman Dion Lewis, (12 touchdowns) the nation’s seventh leading rusher.  The sixteenth highest scoring team is also assisted by its play-making tight end Dorin Dickerson (10 TDs) and wideout Jonathan Baldwin.  The country’s 19th stingiest D, led by end Greg Romeus, tackle Myles Caragein and backer Adam Gunn leads the nation in sacks, but shows some vulnerability defending the run.  The noose gets tighter for Weis, as Pitt moves a step closer toward its season ending showdown against Cincinnati. 

No.12 Miami at North Carolina (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  The Hurricanes are once again beginning to storm.  The Canes Sinatra-cool QB Jacory Harris (18 touchdown passes – 12 interceptions) has blossomed under the guidance of old friend, former UMass head man, Mark Whipple.  The quarterback with the reptilian heart beat is assisted by a trio of targets; Leonard Hawkerson, Byrd LaRon and Travis Benjamin, as well as a pair of “keep-em honest” tailbacks, Graig Cooper and James Javarris.  The D behind backers Colin McCarthy, and Darryl Sharpton, and lineman Allen Bailey is pedestrian, and at times, can be as placid as Biscayne Bay at sunrise. 

If the Carolina tobacco crop was as anemic as the Tar Heels offense – smoking in America would disappear overnight.  The last time an offense was this bad, it was called: Syracuse University.  This frozen in neutral eleven is directed by quarterback T.J. Yates, who has thrown one more interception than touchdown.  These tar-pitters are 93rd in scoring, seventh from the bottom in total offense, and eleventh from last in passing.  It’s the D, the specialty of Coach Butch Davis, which has carried the Carolina Blue banner.  This smoking crew led by end Robert Quinn, and backer Quan Sturdivant is the nation’s eleventh stingiest (15 points), stones runners, swats passes, and is fifth best overall.  In what should be a very tight game, we think the smoking light goes out for Carolina.

No. 25 Stanford at No.11 USC (FSN, 3:30 p.m.) Outside of Nobel Prize winners, the last time the Farm has such a dynamic duo, Jim Plunkett was throwing touchdown passes to Randy Vataha.  The 2009 version consists of the nation’s second ranked rusher Toby Gerhart (16 TDs) and the country’s ninth most efficient passer in Andrew (11 touchdowns- 3 interceptions) Luck.  This Batman-Robin combo is assisted by field stretching wideouts Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu. Unfortunately, for the Cardinal faithful, the D is in need of a serious tutorial.   End Thomas Keiser and backer Clinton Snyder lead a bunch that is 82nd overall and eighteenth from the bottom in defending the pass. 

USC lives!  The critics panned the season of the Men of Troy, but the Trojans remain very much alive in its quest for its eight consecutive PAC-10 title.  But make no mistake; these are not your father’s Trojans.  True freshman quarterback Matt Barkley (10 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions) is experiencing some growing pains, and the running game behind tailbacks Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford has been erratic, as USC ranking as the fifty-third best scoring team in the land would attest.  Even its much vaunted D, behind All-America safety Taylor Mays, ends Everson Griffin, Nick Perry and Chris Galippo, has shown some shockingly unexpected fissures.  Despite all that, we think a wounded, but recovering Southern Cal, will be too much for the Cardinal to fly over. 

 

Last week’s record: 2-3                                       Season record: 34-16.   

Remember to check in on our weekend recap – Sunday afternoon.