Handicapping week 4

We begin this week with a mascot, and an example of how too much of a certain spirit, can curtail school spirit.

Penn State student Clint Gyory, the Nittany Lions mascot, received a month long suspension from his duties of; wiggling into his Lions costume.  The reason; in early August, Gyory was cited for public drunkenness and criminal misconduct, and the Penn State Athletic Department determined a certain punishment was warranted.   Here’s a hint Clint, next time, keep the head, on your head.  This weekend let’s see which teams play like it’s wearing a costume, and which, send the spirits of its spirit-filled faithful soaring, by imbibing in the celebration of another victory.

No. 1 Alabama at No.10 Arkansas (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)  The Tide, which hasn’t lost an SEC regular season game in two years, flows into Fayetteville, intent on partaking on some bacon.

Alabama is directed by its undefeated, Montana-cool, and Rhodes Scholar candidate quarterback, Greg McElroy (an eye-popping 17-0 as the starter in Tuscaloosa), with huge assists from the best tailback tandem in America; Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, and his partner Trent Richardson.  The QB also has the luxury of targeting one of the nation’s best big-play wideouts, All-America Julio Jones.  The D, although young, particularly in the secondary, has earned Aretha Franklin respect, firing behind a trio of All-Americas; end Marcell Dareus, backer Dont’a Hightower, and safety Mark Barron. 

If the Hogs are to butcher Alabama, it will be on the slicing right arm of its All-America quarterback Ryan Mallett.  The Prudential sized (6-foot-7, 238 pounds) QB is helped by a threesome of quality targets; All-America tight end D.J. Williams, and a pair of squirrel –quick wideouts; Joe Adams, and Greg Childs.  Unfortunately, the Hogs running attack is lamb soft.  The D, featuring backers Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson,                                   is fast and much improved.  In Fayetteville, which hasn’t hosted a meeting between top ten teams since the last year of the Carter Administration (1979), the Tide continues to rise, as Alabama dines on a menu of BLT’s. 

No.24 Oregon State at No.3 Boise State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  Welcome to Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.  OSU’s senior band of brothers, All-America tailback Jacquizz, and wideout James, are the catalyst behind the Beavers offense.  It’s a good thing these guys operate in Cadillac quality, because sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz is still in his apprentice stage, operating more like a used Yugo.  The D, led by tackle Stephen Paea, backer Dwight Roberson and a pair of lanky safeties, is mistake prone, and has allowed the opposition a decided difference in time of possession.  In a preparation note; the Beavers painted one of its practice fields blue.  Hey, whatever works!

Sweet 16, that’s the streak the Boys from Idaho are presently peeling.  These blue turf monsters, who are 63-2 at home since 2000, and riding a streak of 26 straight, are led by its peppermint-patty cool, All-America quarterback Kellen Moore.  The starry QB is assisted by a pair of touchdown making wideouts; Austin Pettis, and his partner Titus Young.  When the Broncos do run, they buck behind a quality tailback; Jeremy Avery.  The D, anchored by All-America safety Jeron Johnson and end Shea McClellin,                          is equally dynamic, and hit like broncos.  In Boise, the streak climbs to 17, as the Broncos dam the Beavers, and lays a legitimate claim as one of the best in the nation.

No.12 South Carolina at no.17 Auburn (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.)  The Gamecocks are crowing, and the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, has a new spring to his step.  The Cocks are directed by its gristle-tough, dual-threat junior quarterback, Stephen Garcia, with assists from his sensational true-freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore, (who runs like the late Willie Galimore of the Bears) and a foursome of sky-scrapper receivers; featuring Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley.  The D, led by tackle Travian Robertson, and end Devin Taylor, is jet-fueled, punishing, and meaner than a Monday morning hangover. 

The Auburn offense has disappeared faster than the oil in the Gulf.  The question on the Plains remains; can its goliath (6-foot-6, 247 pounds) newly installed, dual–threat quarterback, Cameron Newton, who leads the team in rushing, become a consistent passer?  The QB, who reminds one of Nuke Larouche, (Bull Durham) is assisted by tailbacks; Onterio McCalebb, freshman sensation Michael Dyer, and receivers Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery.  The D, which punishes with backer Josh Bynes, tackle Nick Fairley and end Antoine Carter are equal-opportunity disruptors.  Fully aware that Spurrier is 8-15 against ranked opponents since taking over at USC, we still think the Cocks, who have lost five consecutive SEC road games, continue to crow, as South Carolina becomes a serious SEC threat.

No.22 West Virginia at No.15 LSU (ESPN, 9 p.m.)  If Coach Bill Stewart’s Mountaineers are to continue to climb the rankings, it will need to be guided by its offensive triumvirate; dart-throwing QB Geno Smith (7 touchdown passes – 0 interceptions, 70% completions), mercury-fueled tailback Noel Devine, and receiver Javon Austin.  These amigos can light a scoreboard, faster than Bernie Madoff swindled a dollar, or Paris Hilton cops a plea.  The D stones runners, behind its own dynamic threesome; backers Anthony Leonard, Bruce Irvin, and end Scooter Berry.

 LSU has a secret weapon; a night game at Death Valley.  Under the lights, during the Les Miles era, the Bayou Bengals are a dominating 25-1, and since 1960 the Tigers are an astounding 216-60-4 after sunset.  In addition, the last time a non-conference team to win at Tiger Stadium, traces all the way back to the last months of the Clinton Administration, September of 2000. LSU roars with a concussive defense, featuring a pair of All-Americas; corner Patrick Peterson and backer Kelvin Shepard, along with tackle Drake Nevis.  It’s the offensive production that causes the nausea amongst the Baton Rouge faithful, and often looks as weak as the Administration of New York Governor David Patterson.  This group is directed by its erratic two-way QB, Russell Shepard, and employs a running game that looks like it’s stuck in some Gulf oil. We think, LSU at night is too high of an obstacle for the Mountaineers to climb, as the Tigers win a close one.

NC State at Georgia Tech (ESPN, Noon) Although it has taken him longer than he expected, old friend, Coach Tom O’Brien has the Wolfpack howling, with its first 3-0 start since 2002.  The leader of this resurgence is a cannon armed junior quarterback Russell Wilson (8 touchdown passes – 0 interceptions), with assists from tailbacks Mustafa Greene, Dean Haynes, wideout Jarvis Williams and tight end George Bryan.  The snarling D, which has yet to surrender a point in the third quarter, is angrier than Jimmy Carter, and attacks behind backers Terrell Manning, Audie Cole and end Michael Lemon.

Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, Coach Paul Johnson has the Jackets on the run.  Tech’s “flexbone” option ranks third in the nation, averaging over 340 yards a game, while the passing “attack,” sits one spot from the bottom.  The ringmaster of this circus is its senior dual-threat quarterback Josh Nesbitt (36% completions) with assists from chain moving runner Anthony Allen.  The D, behind backers Steve Sylvester, Brad Jefferson, and end Izaan Cross is solid, and will keep GTech in every game.  In a very close game, Tech has won seven consecutive ACC games; we think the jacket is a better fit on Tom O’Brien. 

Last week:  1-4                                        Season record: 10-5

(Material from other sources was used in this report.)

Make sure to read our recap, which will be up and running Sunday by noon.

Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.

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