We begin this over-extended BCS week with a: hire-fire scenario.
A Kansas fan has created a: fireturnergill.com website on the news that Turner Gill, the former Nebraska star, will be taking over the reins of the Jayhawks program. In part a website e-mail reads: “Typically, when a program fires a two-time Coach of the Year, a big hire can be expected…, with all the great names out there Lew(ser) Perkins, (the KU athletic director) …. You can’t predict failure, but anyone can see this train-wreck coming.” During this BCS week, let’s see which teams run off the rails, and which google-up to stay on track for a big victory.
No.1 Alabama vs. No.2 Texas –Rose Bowl – National Championship (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) A couple of historical notes: Alabama is 0-7-1 in its meetings with Texas, and the last time these traditional powers met; the 1981 Cotton Bowl – it was a 14-12 Horns victory. “Saint Nick,” Bama Coach Nick Saban, is attempting to become the first coach of the modern era to win national championships at two different (LSU) schools.
Alabama softens opponents with a ground assault worthy of General Patton. The Tide attacks behind its ramming tailback tandem; Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and his speedier partner Trent Richardson, the leaders of the nation’s twelfth best rushing squad. QB Greg McElroy (16 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions – who is 29-0 as a starting quarterback: 16-0 in high school – 13-0 at Alabama) has emerged as a team leader after his last minute winning drive against Auburn. Mr. Undefeated can also focus on a pair of game-changing receivers in wideout Julio Jones and tight end Colin Peek. The offense also turns the ball over (tied for second fewest 10 in the country) about as often as Madonna attends a Reconciliation service. But it’s the Tide’s D, second overall that is the true titans of Tuscaloosa. The nation’s stingiest (11 points a game) eleven, disrupts and suffocates the opposition behind a trio of All-Americas; corner Javier Arenas, nose Terrance Cody, and backer Rolando McClain.
It was a good $Christmas for Texas Coach Mack Brown, who saw his annual salary zoom to $5 million, the largest on the college landscape. It is also the largest in the Lone Star State, higher than Coach Wade Phillips of the Cowboys. America’s third most prolific scoring team is led by its All-America quarterback Colt McCoy, (27 touchdown passes – 12 interceptions, 70 percent completions), whose other moniker is: winningest QB in college football history. The Horns triggerman focuses on his Linus–blanket roomie, wideout Jordan Shipley (106 catches – 11 touchdowns), with an assist from another emerging threat; James Kirkendoll. Unfortunately for the Burnt Orange faithful, the Horns running game, featuring tailback Tre Newton has been Chrysler-like all season. The D, behind a pair of All-Americas; safety Earl Thomas (8 ints.),and backer Sergio Kindle and end Sam Acho, leads the nation in interceptions with 24, and tops the field in spearing runners, while ranking third overall. Despite the fact that Texas is angry over its lack of respect, and that the team with a Heisman Trophy winner usually loses, we think the Boys from Tuscaloosa end the Texas two-step, as “Saint Nick” wins his second national championship and gets an audience with the Pope.
No.5 Florida vs. No.4 Cincinnati – Sugar Bowl New Orleans (FOX, 8:30 p.m.) This should be called the; “Disappointment Bowl.” Defending champion Florida expected to be playing in its second consecutive national championship game, while a group of Bearcat players feel betrayed by Coach Brian Kelley’s decision to leave for the higher calling of Notre Dame.
The Gators are commanded by its All-World QB Tim Tebow (18 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions- over 1000 yards rushing – 13 TDs) the nation’s eighth most efficient passer. The country’s tenth best rushing team scampers behind its mercury-infused tailback tandem; Chris Rainey, and Jeffrey Demps. When Tebow takes to the air, he has a pair of primary targets in All-America tight end Aaron Hernandez and wideout Riley Cooper. The Gators like to jump on teams early and hold a 273-88 point differential in the first half of its games. The nation’s third stingiest (11.5 points a game) D, and fourth overall, is anchored by a pair of All-Americas; backer Brandon (Pokey) Spikes, corner Joe Haden and imposing end; Carlos Dunlap.
The Bearcats are growling. Quarterback Tony Pike (26 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) the country’s sixth most efficient passer, directs the sixth (39 points) highest scoring squad. This dart thrower has a trio of field stretching targets led by All-America Mardy Gilyard (80 catches – 11TDs, over 1000 yards), who can also return a kick in a flash. The ground game is often ignored, but when the Bearcats do run, Isaiah Pead and Jacob Ramsey can cause damage. The D, featuring backers Andre Revels, J.K. Schaffer and tackle Alex Daniels is as dynamic as Governor Deval Patrick, and almost as soft as his poll numbers, which is not a good election strategy against the Gators. Cincinnati’s anger is blindsided by talent, as the Bearcats become Gator bait.
No.7 Oregon vs. No.8 Ohio State – Rose Bowl (Ch.5, 4:30 p.m.) Bill Clinton was residing in the White House (1995) the last time the fragrance of Pasadena roses enveloped the senses of the Eugene faithful. The Ducks high-flying offense – seventh best 37 points a game – is fed by the running of sensational All-America redshirt-freshman LaMichael James (8th in the country, nearly 1500 yards-14 TDs) and his feisty dual-threat QB (15 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) Jeremiah Masoli. When the erratic signal caller is dialing, he rings a pair of primary targets; wideout Jeff Maehl and tight end Ed Dickson. Unfortunately for the Eugene Green, the D, featuring backer Kenny Rowe and corner Javes Lewis is environmentally challenged allowing 23 points a game.
Coach Jim “Senator” Tressel’s Bucks are anchored by a defense that hits harder than a congressman hits an open bar. The nation’s fifth stingiest group (12 points a game) crushes runners, and deflates passes behind a trio of intimidators; end Thaddeus Gibson, backer Ross Homan, and tackle Cameron Heyward. These dynamos are tied for second overall with 23 interceptions, third in turnovers gained, and ranked fifth overall. OSU’s points-challenged offense is directed by dual-threat QB Terrelle Pryor (16 touchdowns – 10 interceptions – 55 percent completions), who leads the Buckeyes in rushing, but commands a bottom feeding (106th) passing attack. Instead, Ohio State grinds behind the running tandem of Brandon Saine and Dan Herron. In what should be a classic chess match – we think the Buckeyes say, “Goodbye Columbus,” to the Boys from Phil Knight University.
No.3 TCU vs. No.6 Boise State Fiesta Bowl (FOX-8 p.m.) This pairing must have been made by the same Svengali who concocted Connie Chung/Dan Rather and Greg Norman/Chris Everett mergers. It’s analogous to when the Irish in Boston won City Hall and the Yankees said, “Let them have it, we’ll run everything else.” Everybody wanted to see these unbeatens get a crack at the “big-boys.” How would the slate of TCU/Florida – Boise State/Cincinnati look? Pretty damn interesting.
In fact some feel that the Horned Frogs is the best football team in the Lone Star State. These Sons of Davey O’Brien are commanded by its dual-threat QB Andy Dalton (22 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) who operates as America’s fourth most efficient passer. This Petraeus skilled leader is assisted by the nation’s fifth best ground assault, featuring Joseph Turner and Matthew Tucker – who have combined for 1400 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Fort Worth aerial show focuses on a trio of targets: Jeremy Kerley, Bart Johnson, and Jimmy Young. The Frogs D has better numbers than Goldman Sachs. Coach Gary Patterson’s iron curtain, led by its All-America sack-master end Jerry Hughes, and backers Daryl Washington and Tank Carder, is number one overall, and surrenders less than 13 points a game.
There are no half-baked spuds on the roster of the Boys from Boise, Idaho. The Broncos have ridden roughshod over teams on the bionic-arm of quarterback Kellen Moore (39 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), who leads the nation in passing efficiency. In fact Boise State has outscored it opponents by the ungodly first half totals of: 334-92. The QB is supported by his running duo; Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin, who have rushed for over 1800 yards while scoring 20 touchdowns, while his receiving tandem has rung up pinball numbers: 133 catches and 24 TDs. The D, behind end Ryan Winterswyk, tackle Billy Winn, and safety Jevon Johnson has been peeled at times, particularly in defending the run which is the wrong type of fries against TCU. We think the Horned Frogs jump to a performance worthy of a national consideration, not to mention, Davey O’Brien.
No. 10 Iowa vs. No.9 Georgia Tech – Orange Bowl (FOX, 8 p.m.) The Iowa offense is as brittle as a cornfield in late January. The Boys of the Corn, directed by its erratic QB Ricky Stanzi (15 touchdown passes – 14 interceptions) have plowed a seasonal-long fallow harvest. The Hawkeyes rank 103rd running the ball, 93rd overall, and 86th in scoring. The bounty lies with the nation’s tenth (15.5 points a game) stingiest D. These attacking augers led by All-Americas; backer Pat Angerer (who plays that way), and safety Tyler Sash, along with ends Adrian Clayborn, Broderick Binns are tied for fifth in interceptions (20) and ninth in turnovers gained.
Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option runs better than Eveready. The nation’s second best (307 yards a game) running game is led by tailback Jonathan Dwyer (14 touchdowns), who along with his Copperfield ball-handler dual-threat quarterback Josh Nesbitt (10 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) have combined for over 2300 yards and 32 touchdowns. When the QB takes to the air, he has an All-America target in Demaryius Thomas, who is averaging an eye-popping 25 yards per reception. The D has quality in All-America end Derrick Morgan (18 tfls – 12.5 sacks) and backers Brad Jefferson and Sedric Griffin, but the rest of the body is as bland as a Chevy. The Iowa D is vastly underrated, but we think the Jackets speed and deception will make corn chowder, out of Iowa.
Last week’s record: 1-0. Season record: 46-25.
Well this is our last blog for ’09 – thanks to all our “loyal” readers – stay well – see you in late August. Until then, Peace – PK
And don’t forget to purchase your copy of A True Man For Others – The Coach Jim Cotter Story.