Monthly Archives: October 2010

Recap Week 9

Then there were five.

Two pretenders, Michigan State, and Missouri, were exposed and fell by the way side leaving a literal handful of teams standing without a loss entering into November.

We begin in L.A., where the Ducks continued its feeding frenzy, hanging over a half-a-hundred 52-32, on the gritty Trojans, who had the lead in the third quarter, but ultimately were overrun, by Oregon’s offense that fell 1 yard short of 600!  Yikes.

Heisman Trophy contender, tailback LaMichael James, ran over, and around the USC D, gashing them for 239 yards and 3 touchdowns, the second most ever compiled by a visiting tailback.  Overall, it was an offensive show worthy of the Fourth of July.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, the Black Shirt’s played its best defense of the season (6 sacks), and tailback Roy Helu set a Nebraska rushing record 307 yards (1991 Calvin Jones – at one point Helu was 10 carries – 228 yards – 3 TDs), as he Cornhuskers jumped on Missou, scoring 24 in the first quarter, and hanging on for a 31-17 victory.  Missou has now lost 17 consecutive road games to ranked opponents, which dates back to 1997.

In Oxford, Mississippi, Auburn’s Mr. Everything, Heisman Trophy leader, QB Cam Newton, caught a touchdown pass, then threw for two more as the Tigers toyed with the Rebels; 51-31, putting on another pyrotechnic exhibition. 

If Oregon and Auburn should meet for the national championship, the score board operator will need an advanced degree from the Wharton School to keep track of the statistics.

Locally, Coach Spaz and his Boston College Eagles (3-5), ended a five game losing streak, coming from behind to defeat Clemson 16-10, keeping BC’s bowl hopes very much alive.  The Eagles final four games are, at least on paper, are all winnable. 

In the old friend category, Tom O’Brien and his NC State Wolfpack (6-2) upset Florida State, in a last second thriller on Thursday night 28-24, making them bowl eligible, and insuring NC State its first non-losing season since the Phillip Rivers era of 2005.  To show you the magnitude of that victory, the stoic old Marine actually smiled, while displaying some emotion.  Wow!

Our favorite coach, Illinois’ Ron Zook, won another game (5-3) by pounding a hapless Purdue team 44-10.  The three teams to defeat Illinois are a combined 23-3, and there is a very good chance that the Zooker will keep his Champaign gig, which would be great for college football.

Up north, the Renaissance continues, as the Orange (Is there a better school name for Halloween?), crushed Cincinnati; 31-7 to climb to 6-2.  If the victories continue the Cuse Coach, Doug Marrone, will receive serious consideration for Coach of the Year.  Congrats!

It’s ugly in Miami, as the self-proclaimed U, lost again (5-3), this time to Virginia 24-19.  There is simply no consistency to the Miami offense, and the Cavaliers new coach Mike London, got his emotional win.  It remains to be seen if the Hurricanes Coach, Randy Shannon, a disciplinarian, can really coach.

In the category of: we want our diploma back; when the Miami/Virginia game ended, London, overcome with elation, fell to his knees, with his head on the ground, and tears running down his cheeks. Analyst Brian Griese, a Michigan grad, looked over the scene and proclaimed; “There’s coach London, who fell to his knees in exasperation.”  Double yikes, and please turn in that diploma.     

In Happy Valley it was a happy-fest for the (5-3) Nittany Lions.

In a white-out, the old coach, JoePa, captured his 399th victory in a 41-31 slugfest over Michigan. 

But for Ann-Arbor faithful, it’s “Ground-Hog Day,” or  deja-vu all over again (as Yogi once said) for Wolverines Coach $Rich Rod, as Michigan, after a 5-0 start, once again finds itself 5-3, with a lot of losable games left on the schedule.

The Maize and Blue fire department just added a few more fire extinguishes around the office chair of Coach Rodriguez.

In South Bend, after a very difficult week involving the death of a student connected to the football program, Notre Dame (4-5) lost again, I know, that’s redundant, this time to Tulsa, who has one of the worst defenses in college football, 28-27. 

Coach Brian Kelly’s Irish with Utah and USC left on the schedule, will need intervention from Touchdown Jesus to simply finish 6-6.  Where’s Charlie Weis when you need him?  Yikes!!

Meanwhile another of our favorites, the Wildcats of Northwestern, defeated Indiana 20-17 to climb to 6-2, and will be going bowling for the third consecutive season.  Congrats to the smart kids.

One and done.  Or, one win is enough.  Last week, after snapping its 26 game losing streak, Western Kentucky promptly went out and got shellacked at home by a 1-6 North Texas team, 33-6.  Might this be the start of another streak?! 

In Philadelphia, Temple coach Al Golden, the guy on everyone’s wish list, shutout Arkon 30-0 to climb to 7-2.  It was the first time the Owls have had back to back whitewashes since Richard Nixon (1971) occupied the Oval Office. 

If North Carolina is going to pull the plug on Butch Davis at season’s end, Golden will get the first call.  But his dream gig is Penn State.

In Pittsburgh the Mustaches of Dave Wannstedt, aka the Pitt Panthers have won three straight, to take over first place in the Big Least, I mean East, and could run the table to finish 9-3.

In Jacksonville, after climbing out of a 21-7 hole to force overtime, Georgia once again fell to Florida 34-31, it was the 17th time in the last 20 games that the Dwags have lost to the Gators!!  Yikes!

In College Park, Maryland, where this was expected to be Ralph Friedgen’s swan song, the Terps picked to finish last in its Division, have won 4 of 5, and now sit 6-2 with a chance to go bowling.  It puts the Administration is a difficult position.

Finally, Mississippi State is 7-2 defeating a good Kentucky team 24-17, and while the Duke faithful await the start of basketball season; the football team won its second game of the season defeating Navy at Annapolis; 34-31.  Congrats to both.

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

We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 10 Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.

Handicapping Week 9

We begin this week with the dog, of the Dawgs.

Two weeks ago, the University of Georgia introduced it newest mascot; Uga VIII.  The 13 month old, 55 pound white English bulldog, is registered as: “Big Bad Bruce,” in honor of Dr. Bruce Hollett, a faculty member of the veterinary school, who has treated the line of dogs that are raised by the Seiler family of Savannah, Georgia.

University president Michael Adams participated in the ceremony by placing the traditional spiked red collar around the dog’s neck.  While Athletic Director Greg McGarity said, “As our mascot, Uga VIII represents everything we want our student athletes and fans to be; proud, loyal, tenacious, and relentless.”

This weekend, let’s see which teams perform like dogs, and which shows its faithful a championship pedigree by collaring another opponent.

No. 1 Oregon at No. 24 USC (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  With apologies to Mel Brooks and his sci-fi spoof “Spaceballs,” Oregon moves at; “ludicrous speed.”

In fact the only place on game day with more speed than Eugene, Oregon is; Daytona, Florida on race day, or a Meth-factory in Tijuana, Mexico.

The Ducks feeding frenzy, averages nearly a point a minute (55 points a game), and the highest scoring team in the land lights the scoreboard, almost as quickly as a New York hotel general manager calls an exterminator.

The controlled mayhem is directed by its dual-threat freshman waterbug QB Darron Thomas -17 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions.  This down shifter is greatly assisted by Heisman Trophy contender, LaMichael James, the nation’s leading rusher, and a pair off field stretching wideouts: Jeff Mael and D.J. Davis.                     . 

The opportunistic D, featuring backers, Spencer Paysinger, Casey Matthews and end Kenny Rowe, leads the nation in turnover margin (plus 12), and has a baker’s dozen worth of interceptions, but will be tested by the Trojans.

Once the Darlings of L.A., USC has been abandoned by its coach (Mr. Pumped and Jacked, Pete Carroll) and the Glitterati have melted away. 

These Men of Troy, saddled with probation and bowl exclusion, but averaging 37 points a game, are guided by its cannon armed QB, Matt Barkley (20 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) the nation’s sixth most efficient passer.   The rest of the Coliseum caravan moves behind a pair of quality backs; Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler, and the receiving duo: Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods.

The Monte Kiffin coached D, behind All-America tackle Jurrell Casey and backer Devon Kennard, has been shockingly woeful, (8th from the bottom defending the pass), while surrendering a porous 24 points a game, which is not a good recipe against the high flying Ducks.

Despite the Duck’s Bernie Madoff-like numbers, we think Lane “Violation” Kiffin gets his signature win, and for the fourth consecutive weekend, a number 1, goes down on the road.

No. 7 Missouri at No. 14 Nebraska (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) The team from the “Show Me State,” has done just that.

The last time Missouri stood 7-0 (1960), a skinny Irish Catholic guy by the name of: John Kennedy was running for the White House job.

Missou, averaging 34 points a game, is directed by its steady hand, QB Blaine Gabbert (11 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), with assists from tailbacks Henry Josey, DeVion Moore and a pair of chain moving (109 catches) receivers; Michael Egnew and T.J.Moe.

The nation’s fifth stingiest D (13 points a game) featuring backers Andrew Gachkar, Zaviar Gooden, and end Aldon Smith, stones runners, but has some difficulty defending the pass.

In Lincoln, the Huskers freshman magician Taylor “T-Magic” Martinez is the igniter of the nation’s fifth best rushing (290 yards a game) attack.

The QB (8 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) is America’s ninth best rusher (124 yds. a game- 12 TDs) and is assisted by quality haulers; Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, and a pair of receivers that would not qualify for an All-State policy; Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie.

The D, attacks behind All-Americas; tackle Jared Crick, corner Prince Amukamara and backer Lavonte David (11 tackles a game) brilliantly swats away passes, but is less than pedestrian, stopping the run.

We think it’s the Big Red, who puts on the show against Missou.

No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Iowa (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The last time Sparty stood 8-0, (1960) on the last weekend in October; “96 Tears,” by the Mysterians was the number one song in the land.

This East Lansing mystery tour is directed by it senior leader QB Kirk Cousins (14 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) with big assists from his B&B tailback duo: Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell, and a pair of glue fingered receivers; B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell. 

The Michigan State D, led by All-America backer Greg Jones, backer Eric Gordon and safety Marcus Hyde, allows a miniscule 17 points a game, is a plus-9 in turnover margin, but struggles defending against the pass.

The Boys of the Corn would love to pop a hole in the Spartans record.

The Hawks fly on the dart throwing arm of QB Ricky Stanzi (16 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), the nations second most efficient passer.

The Iowa City iceman is assisted by his top 20 hard charging tailback; Adam Robinson, (9 TDs), and a trio of chain moving targets; Marvin McNutt, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and tight end Allen Reisnser.

The country’s 11th stingiest D (15.7 points) which features All-America end Adrian Clayborn, along with tackles Karl Klug and Mike Daniels, swallows runners, but shows some vulnerability defending the pass.

This game takes place on All Hallows Eve, which is the appropriate time for the Spartans’ Carriage to turn into a pumpkin.

No. 3 Auburn at Mississippi (ESPN2, 6 p.m.) In Oxford, Mississippi, the home of iconic novelist William Faulkner, it’s Auburn’s Cam Newton, who is hoping to add another chapter to his gravity defying story.

Awakening the echos of Bo Jackson, the Tigers Gibraltar-sized Heisman Trophy leading QB (13 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) is sixth overall in rushing – (an eye-popping 1077 yards) – and third in pass efficiency.  Mr. Everything is assisted by tailbacks Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and his favorite target, wideout Darvin Adams.

The attacking D, led by tackle Nick Fairley, backer Josh Bynes and end Antoine Carter, crushes runners, but defends a pass (19th from the bottom) about as well as NPR tolerates free speech.

Mississippi’s D, which is 19th from the bottom in, points (32) allowed, has the Rebels in retreat mode.  The “strength” of this colander eleven is its corps of backers; Jonathan Cornwell, Allen Walker and D.T. Shackelfort, who defend the pass as well as John Hood, defended Atlanta, against William T. Sherman.

Oregon’s dual threat transfer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (10 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions – 56% completions) directs a pedestrian offense (40th in scoring), with assists from tailback Brandon Bolden and wideout Markeith Summers. 

Newton writes another chapter in his season long best seller, as Auburn continues its remarkable march.

No. 8 Utah at Air Force (CBS College Sports, 7:30 p.m.) The Utes are once again stealthy flying disguised as one of the nation’s best.

Utah, the third highest (47 points a game) scoring team in the country, is better balanced than the Wallenda family.  These scoreboard assaulters are directed by the steady hand of QB Jordan Wynn (12 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) with assists from tailbacks; Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, and a pair of quality wideouts; Jereme Brooks and DeVonte Christopher. 

The nation’s fourth stingiest D, (12.8 points), attacks behind corner Lamar Chapman, backers; Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez, and defends the pass and the run with equal ferocity.

The Falcons fly on the legs (I know; mixed metaphor) of the nation’s top ranked rushing attack, which is averaging 326 yards a game. [Note: one of its talented charges, tailback Jared Tew is out with a broken leg.]

These Colorado Springs fliers soar under the direction of option QB Tim Jefferson, with an assist from tailback Asher Clark, who will have to carry the load for his fallen teammate.

The D, backboned by backers Jordan Waiwaiole and Brady Amack shoots down the pass, but is 10th from the bottom stopping the run, which is not a good recipe against Utah.

The Force might have the F-16, but Utah continues to fly on its “stealthy” undefeated way.

 

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

Last week’s record: 2-3                                                Season record: 24-16.

Make sure to read our weekend recap, which will be up and running in our blog on Sunday by noon,

Recap week 8

With apologies to Howard Cosell, “Down goes Oklahoma!”

For the third consecutive Saturday on the road, an anointed number one went down to defeat.  The latest lamb was a mistake prone Oklahoma, a shocking 36-27 loser to Missouri.

Missou finds itself 7-0 for the first time since a Catholic kid by the name of John Kennedy was running for the White House (1960), which ironically, is the last time number one has fallen on three consecutive weekends.  Boise State is looking better and better.

Moving on, our favorite conference, the Big Ten, had a pair of heart stoppers.

In Evanston, Northwestern stormed the Bastille jumping out to a 17-0 lead over undefeated Michigan State, before Sparty finally woke up and clawed its way to a 35-27 victory.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who was on the sidelines for the first time since suffering a mild heart attack, must be fine, because it took a strong heart to overcome the Wildcats.

The key play for the Spartans, who are 8-0 for the first time since 1966, was the execution of a faked punt, by punter, and co-captain Aaron Bates, (the same kid that threw the winning faked field goal against Notre Dame), who completed a wobbly 21 yard pass for the first down.  MSU scored on the next play cutting the lead to 24-21, giving the Spartans all the momentum.  It was a true heart stopper, as the Spartans magical ride continues.

In Iowa City, in a game in which each team had the lead four different times, Wisconsin scored with just over a minute left, on a 15 play 80 yard drive that was also keyed by a fake punt, in defeating Iowa 31-30.  The difference was a blocked extra-point.  The victory gave Wisconsin consecutive wins over ranked teams for the first time since 2004.  Amazing!

If the voting ended today, Auburn’s Prudential sized QB Cam Newton (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) would be the overwhelming Heisman Trophy Winner, as Auburn defeated LSU 24-17.  The Tigers ran (440 yards) through LSU’s vaunted D, with Newton accounting for 217, breaking the SEC’ season rushing mark for quarterbacks, with four game still to be played.  Yikes!

In Austin there was a Cyclone sighting, as Iowa State shocked the “mighty” Longhorns 28-21, giving Texas consecutive home losses for the first time since 1997, the year before the arrival of Coach Mack Brown.  What makes it even more remarkable is that ISU had surrendered 120 points in losing its last two games, and the Cyclones victory was its first over a ranked road opponent since a Texan George H.W. Bush (1990) occupied the White House.  WOW!

On the home front, the Heights have fallen to new lows as the Boston College eleven has lost five straight for the first time since 1998, losing to Maryland 24-21, a team that had lost ten straight on the road.  Double Yikes!!

Hail to the Midshipmen.  Navy, who had lost a record 43 in a row to Notre Dame, came out in the New Meadowlands and dominated Notre Dame 35-17, giving the Middies its third victory in four games against the Irish.  Where’s Ara when you need him?!

In a nod to our neighbors to the north:  Buddy Teevens (Silver Lake Regional High School) and his Dartmouth Big Green Are 4-2, winning its first conference road game in four years defeating Columbia 24-21, while Syracuse finds itself 5-2, after knocking off fraudulently 20th ranked West Virginia 19-14.  Congrats to both. 

Also kudos to: the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, who snapped the nation’s longest losing streak 26 games, in a big way, by pounding Louisiana Lafayette 54-21.  The same salutation to Coach Al Golden, who has his Temple Owls (6-2) bowl eligible for the second consecutive season, and to the Baylor Bears, who will be going bowling for the first time since 1994. 

In the surprise category, one of our favorites, Illinois Coach Ron Zook has the Illini sitting at 4-3, and a fighting chance to save his job.  Go you Zookers.

Finally in the depressed job market of Arizona, there may soon be an opening at Arizona State as Coach Dennis Erickson’s Sun Devils have lost 4 of its last 5, and were pounded by Cal 50-17.

 

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

That’s it from cyber space, we’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 9 Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace and listen to the music.

Handicapping week 8

We begin this week with a fickle finger of fate.

Two weeks ago, in the first half of the game against Central Michigan, VaTech left guard Greg Nosal caught his left pinkie between a pair of helmets severing the tip completely off.

After a brief search, the coaches found the severed piece inside his glove, and the 6-6, 293 pound junior was given an option.  It could be reattached immediately, but his day would be over, or, it could be put on ice and sewn back later.  The tough guy opted for the latter.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, with the Hokies winning 45-21 and the pain medication wearing thin, Nosal came out and had the tip stitched back on.  “I guess it’s a big deal if your pinky got ripped off,” said the guard.  Ya, think!

This weekend, let’s see which teams are flashed a different finger by its disgruntled faithful, and which hand it to its coaches, for stitching together, another victorious game plan.

No. 6 LSU at No. 5 Auburn (Ch. 4, 3:30 p.m.)  Living on the edge, best summarizes the Bayou Bengals season, as the “Mad Hatter,” Coach Les Miles, brings his magic show to the Plains of Auburn.

The Tigers third ranked D, led by its All-America duo; backer Kelvin Sheppard, corner Patrick Peterson, and sack master Drake Nevis, is the nation’s 11th stingiest, and hits harder than a Joe Frazier left hook.

It’s the offense that causes the faithful a large case of agita.

This sputtering bunch behind its QB rotation; Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, (7th last in passing) a hard charging of tailback, Stevan Ridley, and a trio of receivers which features Terrance Toliver, is 70th in scoring, and crosses the goal line as often as that curmudgeon Barney Frank cracks a smile.

Auburn’s Newton has been gravity defying.

The Tigers Redwood quarterback Cam Newton (13 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) and Heisman Trophy leader, sits second in passing efficiency, and eleventh in rushing, averaging an eye popping 122 yards per game.

The commander of the sixth highest scoring (40 points) eleven is assisted by tailbacks Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and a pair of field stretching targets Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery.

The D, stones runners behind tackle Nick Fairley, end Antoine Carter and backer Josh Bynes, but is weaker than Tim Cahill’s gubernatorial chances – 8th from the bottom – in defending the pass.

We think, in a very close game, there’s still some potion in the “Mad Hatter’s” hat, as LSU continues brewing its magical run.

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.)  These are not your father’s dazzling explosive Sooners.

This version of the Sons of Bud Wilkerson attacks behind an offensive hydra: QB Landry Jones, the nation’s third ranked passer (14 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions 67% completions), his All-America, “Store 24” – (always open) – receiver, Ryan Broyles, who leads the country in receptions (10 per game), and his Mr. Everything tailback, DeMarco Murray, the Sooners all-time touchdown maker (58) and the engine oil of the Oklahoma offense.

America’s 17th highest scoring team won’t dazzle, but methodically grinds down a defense the way the grinder does for A&P’s Eight O’Clock Coffee.

The D which ranks a un-Stoop like 71st, swarms behind a pair of All-Americas; end Jeremy Beal, backer Travis Lewis, and their partner Frank Alexander, and has had season long trouble closing out games.

The Boys from the “Show-Me-State,” have done just that.

Coach Gary Pinkel’s Columbia caravan is directed by the nation’s eighth best passer, QB Blaine Gabbert – 10 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 66% completions.  The Missou triggerman is assisted by tailback Henry Josey and a pair of chain moving targets: T.J. Moe, and Michael Egney, who have combined for 99 catches and 6 TDs.

The Memorial Stadium faithful are well aware, that the nation’s second stingiest sack happy D (10.8 points), led by backers Zaviar Gooden, Andrew Gachkar and tackle Brad Madison, is the backbone to Missouri’s surprising season.

In another very close game, we think Stoops Boys have a bit more athleticism, and leave Columbia with its national title hopes still intact. [Note: Stoops is 7-0 against the Tigers, with an average winning margin of 24.7 points.] Ouch.

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 13 Iowa (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.)  Wiscy is hoping there is no hangover.

The Badgers attack on the pile driving legs of its relentless tailbacks; All-America John Clay and his partner James White.  These Eveready punishers have combined for a jaw-dropping 1356 yards and 20 TDs.

The maestro of these Madison marauders, the nation’s sixth highest scoring eleven, is its steady senior quarterback, Scott Tolzien (7 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 70% completions) with assists from tight end Lance Kendricks and wideout Nick Toon.

The ferocious, angle attacking D is solid in all phases, and features end J.J. Watt, and backers Culmer St. Jean and Blake Sorensen.

The Hawkeyes continue to soar.

These Boys of the Corn are nurtured by the nation’s third most efficient passer, senior Ricky Stanzi (13 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions – 68 % completions) with a big assist from tailback Adam Robinson (20th in rushing) and a trio of game breaking receivers: tight end Allen Reisner, and wideouts Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson.

The country’s sixth stingiest D (less than 14 points a game), has yet to surrender a point in the third quarter.  It fires behind All America end Adrian Clayborn, tackle Karl Klug and backer Jeremiah Hunter, and is harder to penetrate than a barren corn field in January.

We think, Kirk Ferentz’s Boys continue onward, toward next week’s Big Ten showdown with Michigan State.

No. 14 Nebraska at No. 17 Oklahoma State (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m. regional) Bo Pelini’s troops are angry, and the Cornhuskers are looking to pop someone.

Taylor “T-Magic,” Martinez, Nebraska’s mercury- winged freshman quarterback, (10th in rushing, 12 TDs) is the igniter, at least for now, of the nation’s fourth (302 yards per game) best rushing attack.

The kid with the Maserati wheels is nicely assisted by a gear shifting tailback duo: Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead.  But as the Big Red faithful are painfully aware, the QB’s primary targets; Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie have more drops than the Smith Brothers.

The country’s ninth stingiest D, attacks with a pair of All-Americas; tackle Jared Crick, corner Prince Amukamara and tackling linebacker machine Lavonte David (11 a game).  It also swats passes (No. 1) better than King Kong swatted planes, but is less than pedestrian in stopping the run, which might prove to be a combustible mixture against OK State.

After frosting a lot of cupcakes, this is a deep well test for Boone Pickens University, otherwise known as; Oklahoma State. 

The Stillwater eleven, the nation’s second highest scoring team (49 points) roars on its three piston engine: QB Brandon Weeden (19 touchdown passes – 8 interceptions – 68% completions), wideout Justin Blackman, the country’s second leading receiver, then downshifts with the nation’s tenth ranked rusher, Kendall Hunter, who averages 138 yards a game.

It’s the D, which is weaker than the Feds case against Chuck Turner that causes the Cowboy faithful to come up parched.  Backer Orie Lemon is the leader of a bunch of lemons, who are sixth from the bottom defending the pass, 73rd in points allowed (27 per game), and rank a near bottom-feeding 92nd overall.

We think Chuck walks, and once again, it’s another dry well, in another big game, in Stillwater.

No. 8 Michigan State at Northwestern (ESPN, Noon.)  The last time Sparty stood this tall (7-0), LBJ (1966) occupied the Oval Office, and a lovable coach by the name of; Duffy Daugherty was roaming the East Lansing sideline.

Michigan State’s offense, which has better balance than Nadia Comaneci,  is commanded by its steady leader, QB Kirk Cousins (11 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions – 66% completions), the nation’s eleventh most efficient passer. 

The steady dart thrower is assisted by an explosive tailback tandem: Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell. These B and B boys average over 6 yards a carry, and has combined for; 1268 yards, and 14 TDs. 

When Captain Kirk goes to the air, he has a trio of game changing targets; tight end B.J. Cunningham, and wideouts; Keshawn Martin and Mark Dell.

The opportunistic D, which is third in the nation with 12 interceptions, is equally charismatic, surrendering less than 17 points a game, and features All-America backer Greg Jones, his partner Eric Gordon and safety Marcus Hyde. [Note: starting corner Chris Rucker is suspended indefinitely – DWI.]

In Evanston, the kids with the big SAT numbers have continued to put up winning numbers on Saturday afternoons.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats are directed by its dual-threat, dart throwing QB Dan Persa (10 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), who is completing an eye-popping 78 percent of its passes.  The country’s fourth most efficient passer is assisted by tailbacks Jacob Schmidt and Mike Trumpy and a pair of dependable targets: Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore.

The pedestrian bending D featuring end Vince Browne, and backer Nate Williams, struggles defending the pass, but somehow surrenders less than 19 points a game.

Once again, in another close battle, (that Persa kid is scary), we think the spirit of Duffy continues to carry this magical Sparty season.

 

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

 

Last week’s record: 3-2                                                Season record: 22-13. 

Be sure and read our weekend recap, which will be up and running by noon on Sunday.

Recap week 7

There were signature wins all over the landscape.

Let’s start in Madison, where Coach Bert Bielema and his Wisconsin Badgers got their badge, by dominating the No. 1 team in the land, Ohio State; 31-18.

 It was Wiscy’s first victory over a No. 1 since Ronald Regan (1981) was sitting in the Oval Office.  It also snapped the Buckeyes streak of 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100 yard rusher, while ending the Heisman hopes of OSU’s quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, where on game day sold out Memorial Stadium makes Lincoln the third largest city in the state; the red clad faithful were out for blood. 

Unfortunately, Texas, 9-1 in its last ten meetings against the Huskers, were not in a giving mood, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, and crushing the Nebraska’s title hopes; 20-13.  The Nebraska receivers, who had more drops than the Smith Brothers, coughed up three sure touchdowns, and were not ready for prime time.

In Lexington, Kentucky, the Wildcats and new coach Joker Phillips were no joke, as KU knocked off South Carolina for the first time in eleven tries; 31-28, shutting out the Gamecocks in the second half. 

It was the first time Spurrier has ever lost to Kentucky.  The Cocks, who defeated No. 1 Alabama the week before, had a chance to tie the game with a short field goal, but Spurrier opted for one final play before attempting the kick, which was picked off in the end zone.  Game over, South Carolina’s dream season – over.  And the Joke is on the Head Ball Coach.

In the Swamp, where’s Ron Zook when you need him.  The “Mighty” Gators lost its third in a row, (2-3 in SEC) its second straight in the Swamp, as Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen – former offensive coordinator for Florida – proved you can go home again, as his Bulldogs stunned the Gators 10-7. 

That’s right, Florida was held to seven points!  MSU’s snapped its 16 game losing streak against Florida, as the Bulldogs 5-2, 2-2 in SEC, are one victory from being bowl eligible!  Amazing!

In the back on track category we have a pair of entries:  Lane “Violation” Kiffen and his USC Trojans stormed the invaders from Berkeley, trouncing Cal: 48-14.  While down in Athens, Georgia, the Bulldogs welcomed its new mascot UGA VIII, then went out and crushed lowly Vanderbilt 43-0. 

In the old friend department:  Buddy Teevens (Silver Lake Regional High School) and his Big Green of Dartmouth came from behind to defeat Holy Cross 27-19 for his third (3-2) win of the season. 

While in Greenville, North Carolina Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack (5-2) fell behind 21-0, to East Carolina, before howling back to take a 27-24 lead, then finally losing in overtime 33-27.  The irony here: the starry quarterback for the Pirates is former BC quarterback Dominique Davis. 

In other ACC news VaTech (5-2), is once again rolling after its early season shocking loss to James Madison, crushing Wake Forest 52-21 for its fifth consecutive victory, and sits atop the Coastal Division 3-0.

It’s official: there is an employment opportunity in Minneapolis.  The Gophers Athletic Director informed head coach Tim Brewster he will not be welcomed back next season.  If Minnesota is smart, they will be on the phone today with Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell.

In Ann Arbor it’s the like “Ground Hog Day.”  The Maize and Blue, who lost to Iowa 38-28, can score with anybody, and with either quarterback; Denard Robinson (shoulder) or backup Tate Forcier, but the other Robinson defensive coordinator Greg – plays defense like the Bruins, pre – Bobby Orr.

In other Big Ten news: Michigan State finds itself 7-0, for the first time since the heady days of Duffy Daugherty, the year of the legendary 10-10 tie with Notre Dame.  The Spartans are one of the stories of the year.  Good for Coach Mark Dantonio. 

In the outlandish department: Auburn 65 – Arkansas 43 and we’re not talking basketball! To once again paraphrase Casey Stengel, “Can anyone here play defense?” 

Apparently not, as both teams combined for over 1000 yard of offense.  It was also the most points ever scored in an SEC regular season contest – not involving overtime.  Analyst Gary Danielson said it best, “Boise State is watching, saying we couldn’t do this?”

One thing is clear: Auburn’s quarterback Cam Newton is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, as the goliath QB now has four games with over 170 yards of rushing, for his 7-0 Tigers.   

In College Station, the Mike Sherman era may be coming to a merciful end, as undefeated Missouri embarrassed the Aggies at home 30-9.  Yikes!! 

The once proud A&M program has lost three in a row, and is a woeful 13-18 under the Sherman regime.  Where’s R.C. Slocum when you need him!

Finally, in the congratulations department: Eastern Michigan ended its 18 game losing streak, with a 41-38 overtime victory over David Letterman’s alma-mater Ball State, thumbs-up to the “fighting” Eagles.

We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 8 Wednesday night.  Until then, Peace and listen to the music.

Handicapping week 7

We begin this week with another example of; the power of reading.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, 42, was comfortably ensconced in a successful law practice, when he came across a passage from a book written by General Colin Powell.

Powell said he had met presidents, diplomats, and government officials, but that the time he cherished most, was with the troops in the field.

Dooley put the book down and realized what was missing. 

“I’d been out of football for five years, but I realized that something was wrong.  I missed the preparation for games, the playing of games, the winning, the losing, the celebrating and the hurting.”

Maybe he should have read Patton because it’s been a lot of losing and hurting in Knoxville this season.  This weekend let’s see which teams display the best generalship, and which look like they desperately need a remedial course on reading the play book.

No. 1 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin (ESPN, 7 p.m.) The Buckeyes are sitting comfortably at the head of the banquet table.  These Sons of Hopalong Cassady might also be the best team from Ohio, and that includes the Bengals and the Browns. 

Dual-threat QB extraordinaire, and Heisman Trophy contender, Terrelle Pryor (15 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) is sixth in the nation in passing efficiency, while directing the sixth highest scoring eleven (43 points a game) in the land.

 The driver of this Columbus Caravan is assisted by quality tailbacks; Dan Herron and true freshman Carlos Hyde, and a pair of field stretching wideouts; Dan Sanzenbacher (7 TDs) and DeVier Ploey.

The country’s sixth stingiest D (less than 14 points), who hit harder than alum, and Columbus native Jack Nicklaus smashed a golf ball, swarms behind All-America end

Cameron Heyward, and backers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle.  The Buckeyes are also riding a string of 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100 yard runner, which will be severely tested Saturday night.

It will be a madhouse in Mad-Town.  The Madison eleven have won 25 of its last 28 at night, and are an eye-popping 40-4 at Camp Randall Stadium since 2004.

These Badgers burrow behind its dual-sledgehammer ground assault; All-America John Clay and his partner James White, who have combined for a jaw-dropping 1177 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The offensive CEO is its unflappable senior quarterback Scott Tolzien (7 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), the nation’s 16th most efficient thrower.  When the QB takes to the air, he has a pair of glue fingered receivers; tight end Lance Kendericks and wideout Jared Abbrederis.

The D, behind end J.J. Watt, and backers Culmer St. Jean and Blake Sorensen, stones runners, but shows some fissures defending the pass.

It what will be a close and concrete smashing contest, we think that ultimately the Buckeyes, who are 19-1 in its last 20 Big Ten road games, maintains its place of honor at the table.

No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn (Ch. 4, 3:30 p.m.)  The Hogs would love to slice some bacon from the Tigers hide.

The igniter of Coach Bobby Petrino’s offense, whose playbook is larger than a Manhattan phone book, is its Prudential-sized All-America quarterback (13 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions – 69% completions) Ryan Mallett.  The director of the nation’s third best passing offense (354 yards a game) is assisted by a three-pack of receivers; All-America tight end D.J. Williams, Greg Childs and Joe Adams. 

As the faithful are well aware, when Razorbacks do run (96th overall) tailbacks Knile Davis and Broderick Green haven’t kept pace.

The much improved D, behind backers Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson, has been a key in the Fayetteville renaissance.

In Vegas, Wayne is the headliner, but on the Plains of Auburn, Cam Newton is the show.

The Gibraltar sized (6-foot -6, 250 pounds) dual threat QB, is second in pass efficiency (12 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions) and ranks seventeenth overall in rushing.

“In my shoes, I feel comfortable going to battle,” he said.  The Tiger faithful are also comfortable, as the big man is assisted by tailback Michael Dyer, and wideouts Darvin Adams and Terell Zachery.                         .

The D, behind sack master tackle Nick Fairley, end Antoine Carter, and backer Josh Bynes, swallows runners but is a sieve-like 91st defending against the pass.

Get your tickets early, Cam Newton at Jordan-Hare Stadium always sells out, and the Tigers remain one of the best stories of the season.

 Texas at No. 5 Nebraska (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.)  Shockingly the Bevo Boys find themselves outside the rankings for the first time since (2000), when another Texan; “W” occupied the Oval Office.

The Horns are also attempting to avoid its first three game losing streak since the Austin arrival of Coach Mack Brown in 1998.  These Sons of Darrell Royal, 71st overall offense and 80th in scoring, remain on its seemingly endless quest for some offensive identity.

 The Burnt Orange eleven is directed by its underachieving QB Garrett Gilbert, who has tossed one more interception than touchdown pass.  That sputtering performance is partly the result of a committee of also-ran tailbacks, and a cast of wideouts who get open as often as the wallet of Senator John Kerry. 

The Texas D which attacks behind a pair of All-Americas; end Sam Acho and corner Curtis Brown, ranks sixth overall and has kept the UT season off life support.

The Lincoln faithful have been eyeballing this payback game almost as intently as Mayor Menino eyes developer Donald Chiofaro, or Rahm Emanuel eyes the mayor’s chair in Chicago.

The Big Red offensive revival, (the Huskers rank ninth in scoring), is driven by its Porsche-quick freshman QB, Taylor “T-Magic,” Martinez.  This Memorial Stadium Mesmerizer is fourth in rushing; averaging an eye-popping 10 yards a carry, and has more speed than a neighborhood Meth-factory.   

The offensive Houdini directs a group that ranks second in rushing (337 yards a game),     with assists from a Park Avenue cast; tailbacks Roy Helu, Rex Burkhead,  and a pair of dependable wideouts; Brandon Kinnie and Niles Paul.                                              

The Black Shirt D, the nation’s fourth stingiest (12.8 points), is harder to penetrate than the head of a well poured Guinness.  It pounds and disrupts with a pair of All-Americas; tackle Jared Crick, corner Prince Amukamara, plus backer Lavonte David, and tackle Baker Steinkuler, who hit like David against Goliath.

Fully aware that Mack Brown is 7-1 against the Huskers and 12-0 after the Oklahoma game, we think Big Red gets its payback, as Nebraska puts another L in the Texas ledger.

No. 15 Iowa at Michigan (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m. regional) These Sons of Nile Kinnick have softened teams better than A-1 tenderizes a $10 steak.

The country’s stingiest D, (10.2 points a game) has yet to surrender a point in the third quarter or a rushing touchdown in 21 straight quarters.  It attacks on all fronts featuring; All-America end Adrian Clayborn, and a pair of anvil-hard tackles Karl Klug and Mike Daniels.

On the other side of the ball, Iowa’s high caliber offense is commanded by senior QB Ricky Stanzi (10 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions) the nation’s third most efficient passer.  He is assisted by tailback Adam Robinson and a trio of chain moving targets; tight end Allen Reisner and wideouts Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

In Ann Arbor, it’s been a tale of two Robinson’s.

“Shoelace,” aka QB Denard Robinson is second in the nation in rushing (165 yards a game) while operating (8 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) as the twelfth most efficient passer.  The Heisman Trophy contender is assisted by tailbacks Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw and primary target Roy Roundtree.

It’s the other Robinson, defensive coordinator Greg, who causes the Maize and Blue faithful to reach for the Pepto.  These matadors, led by backers Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh and end Mike Martin, sit one from the bottom in defending the pass, and eighth worst in total defense, surrendering an average of 26 points a game. 

The pressure once again begins to build on Coach $Rich Rod, as Michigan loses two in a row.

Illinois at No. 13 Michigan State (BTN, noon)  The Illini faithful aren’t about to start popping Champaign corks in Champaign, but the fighting Zookers have been displaying some signs of life.

Illinois motors on the legs of its option QB Nathan Scheelhaase, with a big assist from his primary tailback, the nation’s 11th ranked runner, Mikel Leshoure. When he takes to the air, Mr. Option (4 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) has a pair of primary targets; wideouts A.J. Jenkins and Jarred Fayson.

The attacking D, under first year coordinator Vic Koenning, fires behind backers Martez Wilson and Ian Thomas, and has held opponents to a winnable seventeen points a game.  It may be what ultimately keeps Coach Zook employed.

Sparty is rolling.  Michigan State has scored at least 30 points in each of its first six games, for the first time in its 100-plus year history.

QB Kirk Cousins (10 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions, 72 % completions) directs a group that has more balance than Philippe Petit of: “Man on Wire” fame.  The East Lansing eleven plows (225 yards a game) behind its bulldozing tailbacks; Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell, and flies through the air utilizing a trio of targets; Keshawn Martin, B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell.

The swarming D, led by All-America backer Greg Jones, and his partner Eric Gordon, show some vulnerability defending the pass, but are surrendering only 18 points a game.  (Note: starting corner Chris Rucker is suspended DWI, and may be facing jail time.)

The Champaign stays on ice, as Sparty’s high-wire act continues climbing the polls.

 

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

Last week’s record:  2-3                                              Season record:  19-11.

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

Recap week 6

The Cock crowed in Columbia, South Carolina!

The Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, (who gave himself a game ball) orchestrated the biggest win in South Carolina history, as the Gamecocks knocked off the number one team in the land, mighty Alabama, by the astounding score of; 35-21. 

It was a complete domination, as the Cocks shredded the nation’s stingiest defense, and held the country’s best tailback tandem; Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, to a combined total of 64 yards, a number they usually compile in the first quarter.  The Tide’s quarterback Greg McElroy also suffered his first loss as a starter since the eighth grade, ending Alabama’s 19 game winning streak.  South Carolina is a real player in the SEC race.

Maybe a 6-0 record, and 4-0 in the conference, will quiet the Baton Rouge faithful.  Coach Les Miles, aka “The Mad Hatter,” stunned the Gators in the Swamp with another heart pounding, Houdini, last second victory.  It wasn’t as dramatic as last week, but it was close.

Trailing 29-26, with 35 seconds left, LSU lined up for a 52 yard field goal attempt.  It was a fake.  Holder Drew Alleman, threw a no-look pitch over his head, the ball bounced (it wasn’t supposed to), but it bounced on grass no less, right into the arms of kicker Josh Johns (no relation to the painter), who scooped it up and ran for the first down. 

It then took over four minutes for the replay booth to determine that it was a legal pitch, not a forward pass.  The Tigers then completed a 28 yard pass to the 3 yard line, and with 6 seconds left, quarterback Jarrett Lee completed a touchdown pass to wideout Terrence Toliver for another off the charts 33-29 LSU victory.  The “Mad Hatter,” lives!!  And LSU, with that world class defense, and an offensive awakening, is now in the national title conversation.

On fraud alert:  The “U” otherwise known as the University of Miami was steamrolled at home by the “new” Florida State, 45-17, as Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles look very much the hunter in the ACC.

In Happy Valley, JoePa, 83, looks old, as his Nittany Lions were embarrassed at homecoming by Illinois 33-13.  Amazingly, Penn State cannot run the ball, and now rest at 3-3, and 0-2 in the conference, while sitting 8th from the bottom in scoring.  Yikes!  Could this finally be Joe’s swan-song? 

While Illini Coach Ron Zook, 3-2, might save his gig with a lot of winnable games left on a soft remaining schedule.  I hope so, we like the Zooker.

The nation’s new numero-uno, Ohio State, who has won 12 straight, had little trouble against Indiana, as QB Terrelle Pryor, who threw for a career best 324 yards and 3 TDs, while continuing his Heisman march.  It was also Coach Jim “The Vest,” Tressell’s 100 victory as the Buckeyes head man.

In the Big House, “Shoelace,” was laced.  “Little brother,” Michigan State, 6-0, 2-0 in conference, came in and shut down the Wolverines magician, quarterback Denard Robinson, holding him to 84 yards rushing, nothing longer than 16 yards, while picking off three passes in its 34-17 destruction of the Maize and Blue.  It’s setting up to be a special season in East Lansing. 

In Lexington, Kentucky, Auburn 6-0, 3-0 in SEC, hung on to defeat Kentucky with a last second field goal 37-34, as Tigers quarterback Cam Newton – 198 yards rushing, 4TDs, continues his climb in the Heisman race. 

In the old friend category: NC State Coach Tom O’Brien, in his fourth try, obliterated his former team Boston College 44-17.  To paraphrase Casey Stengel, when he coached the woeful Mets, can anybody at the Heights play quarterback?!!!!!!!  I guess not, as the Eagle “gunslingers,” combined for: 11-32, 3 interceptions!  Double Yikes!

Sings of life up north; as the Cuse (4-1, 1-0 in Big East), is off to its best start since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office – 1999, as Syracuse defeated South Florida, in Tampa; 13-9.  Congrats to Coach Doug Marrone.

In another signs of life department:  Mississippi State crushed Houston on the road 47-24, making Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs 4-2. 

Hail the Academies, as Army, Navy, and Air Force were all victorious.  Air Force is nationally ranked, while the Cadets of West Point sit 4-2, and are two wins from being bowl eligible for the first time since 1996.

Coach Lane “Violation,” Kiffen and his USC Trojans lost for the second consecutive week, this time to Stanford 35-34 on a last second field goal.  It dropped the once high and mighty Trojans into the also-ran category.  I wonder where Snoop Dog, and all those other front running frauds, have gone?!

Arizona, who was living on the edge for the last couple of weeks, finally fell, losing to Oregon State 29-27. 

The Irish and Coach Brian Kelley have won 2 straight climbing back to 3-3, with a bunch of winnable games in its future.

Finally in the “Toilet Bowl,” game, or somebody had to win.  New Mexico faced off against New Mexico State, both teams were winless, a combined 0-9, and New Mexico defeated New Mexico State 19-16.

We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with our analysis of week 7.  Until then Peace, and listen to the music.