Handicapping week 15

We begin this week by paying homage to a college football coaching legend.

Bobby Bowden, the second winningiest coach of all time- who compiled a never to be duplicated 34 year legacy of: 315-97-4 record at FSU – retired earlier this week at the prime age of 80 years old.  We thought we’d share some, of what have become known as; “Bowdenisms.”

On coaching linebacker Reggie Herring 1978-1980:  “He doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear.’  In fact, I saw his grades, and he doesn’t know the meaning of a lot of words.’

On being criticized for having his sons as assistants:  “They call it nepotism, but half of them don’t know how to spell it, and the other half doesn’t know what it means.”

On coming to FSU: “When I was at Alabama, all I heard was, ‘Beat Auburn.’  When I was at West Virginia, all I heard was, ‘Beat Pittsburgh.’  When I got to Florida State, their bumper stickers read, ‘Beat Anybody.’

On Michigan coach Bo Schembecher:  “It’s kind of a mutual friendship.  I like him, and he can’t wait to play me.”  This weekend let’s see which teams look like a joke, and which intimidate, and imitate the Bowden teams of a younger era. 

No.2 Alabama vs. No 1 Florida SEC Championship – Atlanta, (Ch.4, 4p.m.)  Armageddon II has arrived.  For the second consecutive year, the nation’s top two teams will play in the de-facto national title elimination game; otherwise know as the SEC Championship.  It will also be a game with more hits than the annual “Hemp Festival” on the Boston Common.

It’s been said, “A rising tide raises all boats,” but this Tide’s D, has sunk many a team.

The Crimson Tide’s All-America backer Rolando McClain, who is deserving of Heisman Trophy attention, is the commander of the country’s second stingiest (10 points) defensive squad.  The rest of the Bama disruptors, fellow All-Americas; corner Javier Arenas and nose Terrance Cody, rank third overall, and are as immovable as a rock named; Gibraltar.  The offense is directed by maturing quarterback Greg McElroy (16 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), who along with Heisman contending tailback Mark Ingram, fellow runner Trent Richardson and wideout Julio Jones, won’t dazzle, but slowly grind down an opponent.

The Gators, have won 22 in a row, and are graduating a senior class that is 46-6, with a pair of national championships in its resume.  Florida is directed by its dual-threat Churchillian leader, Tim Tebow, (17 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions – 796 yards rushing and 13 TDs), who is as forceful and unstoppable as a lava flow down a mountain.  The nation’s tenth highest scoring team also flows with tailback Jeffrey Demps, and Chris Rainey, who comprise the nation’s sixth best rushing attack.  When Tebow takes to the air, All-America tight end Anthony Hernandez and wideout Riley Cooper (17 yards catch- 8 TDs) provide Linus-blanket comfort.  The Gators D has more number ones than Dick Clark’s juke-box.  Florida’s quartet of All-America’s; corner Joe Haden, backer Brandon (pokey) Spikes, end Carlos Dunlap[But a huge distraction has descended upon Gainesville, when Florida’s All-America defensive end Mr. Dunlap or Dope, was indefinitely suspended for an early morning DUI.  It remains to be seen if that will have a big impact in the game, or  more importantly in the Gator’s locker room.], and safety Ahmad Black, is number one defending the pass, in total D, and the nation’s stingiest allowing 9.8 points a game.  We like Tebow and the Gators, or to paraphrase Churchill, “Never has someone, done so much, for so many.” 

No. 3 Texas vs. No. 22 Nebraska – Big 12 Championship – Dallas (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  A Texas victory and Coach Mack Brown’s undefeated Horns will be playing for its second national championship during his tenure.  The nation’s third highest scoring team (43 points a game) is commanded by triggerman Colt McCoy (27 touchdowns- 9 interceptions -71 percent completions) with an immeasurable assist (99 catches – 11 TDs) from his “Store-24” All-America roommate receiver, Jordan Shipley.  Unfortunately, as the Burnt Orange faithful are well aware, the Horns run by committee approach is still trying to find its legs.  The UT glue has been the nation’s ninth stingiest D, led by All-America safety Earl Thomas (8 interceptions), end Sergio Kindle, his partner Sam Acho and backer Roddrick Muckelroy.  These guys are fifth overall, and the country’s best at stoning runners – allowing less than 2 yards a carry.

The question lingers in Lincoln; can Nebraska, riding a five game winning streak compete with the elite?  The Huskers offense, led by QB Zac Lee (ankle) (12 touchdowns – 7 interceptions), along with tailback Roy Helu and wideout Niles Paul ranks ninety-second overall, seventy-second in scoring, and is about as productive as a Nebraskan wheat field in late January. It’s the nation’s third stingiest D, (11 points a game) led by All-America Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick that percolates the hope in the Big Red faithful.  We think the answer to the question is; no, as the “Eyes of Texas,” have it, and UT moves on to the championship round.

No.5 Cincinnati at No.15 Pittsburgh (Ch.5, Noon) A Cincinnati victory wins the trifecta.  The best team in the state of Ohio; finishes undefeated, wins its second consecutive Big East crown, and earns its second consecutive BCS bowl invite.  It also puts Bearcats coach Brian Kelly, who may be on his way to Notre Dame, on the very short list for national Coach of the Year honors.  The nation’s sixth highest scoring offense (39 points a game) is powered by the right arm of quarterback Tony Pike (23 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) accomplished in just seven games due to an arm injury.  The country’s sixth best passing attack (322 yds. a game) smoothly flies courtesy of a trio of glue fingered wideouts; All-America Mardy Gilyard, Armon Binns, and D.J. Woods.  When Cincinnati does run, tailback Isaiah Pead provides some spark.  The nation’s nineteenth stingiest D, led by backers Andre Revels, and J.K. Schaffer, has displayed lapses where it is as effective as a broom in a blizzard, and that could be a problem against Pitt. 

It has taken longer than expected (5 years), but this is the place where the faithful expected the “Stache,” Coach Dave Wannestedt, to take the Panthers.  Pitt’s balanced attack is led by senior quarterback Bill Stull (19 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) with big assists from the nation’s most exciting freshman tailback Dion Lewis (fourth in rushing-13 TDs) along with wideout Jonathan Baldwin (20 yards a catch) and tight end Dorin Dickerson (10 TDs).  The country’s fifteenth stingiest D, which leads the nation in sacks, fires behind disrupting end Greg Romeus and backer Adam Gunn.  This group crunches runners but shows some vulnerability defending the pass which is not a good recipe against Cincinnati.  We think the better coach wears a red C, as the Bearcats win its trifecta.

Clemson vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech ACC Championship – Tampa (ESPN, 8p.m.)  Talk about limping in!  Last week, in embarrassing fashion, both teams had its winning streaks crushed by its SEC rivals.  The winner in addition to securing the ACC title, and a BCS bowl invite, has pride and redemption also in play.

It will also be the last opportunity for Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller (4th in all-purpose yardage) to showcase his fading Heisman Trophy contending talents.  The rest of the Tigers bagel-bland offense (ranked 74th) is directed by QB Kyle Parker (18 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) with an assist from wideout Jacoby Ford.  The fourteenth ranked D, featuring backer Brandon Maye, end Rick Sapp and tackle Jarvis Jenkins struggles defending the run, which could be disastrous against Tech.

To bad Chrysler doesn’t run like this.  The Jackets have been a perfect fit for Coach Paul Johnson.  His triple-option attack is directed by it Houdini quarterback Josh Nesbit (9 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions 46percent completions – 888 yards rushing 17 TDs), with assists from starry tailback Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen.  These road-runners are second in the nation running the ball, averaging a jaw-dropping, 305 yards a game.  When the Jackets take to the air, (fifth from the bottom in passing) they have a field stretching target in wideout Demaryius Thomas, who averages 24 yards a catch.   Overall, the D, with the exception of All-America end Derrick Morgan and backers Sedric Griffin and Brad Jefferson is as effective as the Fed’s stimulus package is easing unemployment.  Despite the economy, we’re buying Tech – as Paul Johnson’s Jackets fit perfectly.

No.18 Houston at East Carolina – CUSA Championship (ESPN2, Noon)               Houston puts on a better aerial show than its NASA neighbors.  Quarterback Case Keenum (38 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) the nation’s top ranked passer, is the high flying trapeze artist of America’s highest (44.9 points a game) scoring eleven.  These pin-ball numbers come courtesy of a trio of wideouts; James Cleveland, Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards, who have better hands than Doc Holliday, and have combined for 231 catches and 22 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, for the Cougs faithful, its: “Houston, we have a problem,” when it comes to the Cougar’s D.  This group, led by backers Tyrell Graham and Marcus McGraw, never leaves the launch pad, and drops to tenth from the bottom as an overall performer, surrendering 28 points a game. 

For the Pirates – it’s like father like son, or in this case a Skip of the old block.  Coach Skip Holtz, yes the son of Lou, has East Carolina swashbuckling toward a second consecutive CUSA crown.  QB Patrick Pinkey (13 touchdowns – 10 interceptions) along with receivers Dwayne Harris, Darryl Freeney and tailback Dominique Lindsay propels an offense (ranked 70th) that often seems in need of a service upgrade.  The D, led by tackle C.J. Wilson and backer Jeremy Chambliss struggles like Tiger’s driving, in defending the pass, which is the wrong recipe against Houston.  Despite that, we’re buying the Holtz brand, as the Pirates win its second straight crown. 

Last week’s record: 2-3.                                        Season record: 41-22.


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