We begin this week, the weakest card of the season, with a pair of initials.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the University of South Carolina as to who owns the rights to the initials: “SC.” Thankfully, the highest court in the land, felt it had more important business to adjudicate.
South Carolina wanted to trademark a baseball cap with the “SC” logo, but the Trojans of USC already have the trademark on a version of the letters, and has sold millions of dollars of apparel with the said trademark lettering. Lower courts, on numerous occasions, have rejected South Carolina’s trademark request.
This weekend, let’s see which teams add the initial “L” for loser, and which proudly waves its alma-mater’s hat on high, in celebration of another “V” – victory.
No. 22 South Carolina at No. 24 Florida (ESPN, 7:15 p.m.) “To the victor belong the spoils.” Those words were uttered by New York Senator William Learned Marcy, on the US Senate floor, on January, 25, 1932, hence the coining of the term; “spoils system.”
It is apropos for this game, because the winner punches its ticket into the SEC Championship Game.
The Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, with his Gamecocks in tow, heads back to the “Swamp,” intent on capturing those “spoils” for the first time in the program’s history.
The Cocks offense, which lately has been frozen in reverse (73rd overall), is directed by error prone (14 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) QB Stephen Garcia, with assists from his dynamic freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore (bruised knee), and a pair of chain moving targets: All-America Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley.
The D, featuring ends Devin Taylor, Cliff Matthews, and backer Antonio Allen stones runners, but is as effective as Larry Summers at a NOW conference (109th), defending the pass. [Note: starting Corner C.C. Whitlock most likely out: concussion.]
The Gators are alive.
Despite an earlier three game losing streak, Urban Meyer’s crew has righted the ship.
In his quest for some offense, Meyer has installed a no-huddle shotgun attack, in which he utilizes a pair of QBs, one featuring a Cam Newton clone, Jordan Reed (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) who also gives Florida a serious running threat, the other drop back passer and starter, John Brantley. Both are assisted by tailback Jeffrey Demps (limited – foot), and wideouts; Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore, and prodigal son, Chris Rainey.
The D, led by safety Ahmad Black and ends Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou is seventh overall, hits harder than a spam dinner on the disabled cruise ship, Carnival Splendor, and has been the backbone of the Gators season.
Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again,” as Florida “spoils” its way into the SEC Championship Game.
Georgia at No. 2 Auburn (Ch. 4, 3:30 p.m.) In the 114th meeting of the South’s oldest rivalry, (Georgia leads: 53-52-8) the stakes have never been higher.
In a season that has put Coach Mark Richt’s job on alert; the Boys from Athens (5-5) need a victory in one of its next two games to simply become bowl eligible.
The Dawgs, who, lately have been barking louder, are directed by its maturing freshman QB Aaron Murray (18 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), with assists from All-America wideout A.J. Green, and a committee of tailbacks; Washaun Ealey, Carlton Thomas and Caleb King.
The D, fires behind a trio of backers: Justin Houston (9 sacks), Akeem Dent and Marcus Dowtin, and has been the main beam of the Bulldogs season.
All season, the Cam Newton show has dazzled the faithful on the Plains.
The Tigers Goliathan (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) QB, and overwhelming Heisman Trophy favorite, is; tenth in rushing, second in pass efficiency and has accounted for an eye popping 34 touchdowns.
For Coach Gene Chizik’s Cinderella team, it was all systems go, until a nasty allegation surfaced last week about a $200,000 payment for the quarterback to sign with another SEC school. Auburn, Newton, and his father are vehemently denying the allegations, and hopefully there is nothing there. But the story is spiraling out of control, and as I write this, the game is off the board in Vegas.
“Mr. Everything,” is assisted by a shifty pair of tailbacks; Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer, and two glue fingered receivers; Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery.
The D led by tackle Nick Fairley – who is having an All-America season- backer Josh Bynes and end Antoine Carter stone runners, but are as weak as a Barney Frank smile (95th), defending the pass.
Despite the distractions, the Tigers, (as long as Newton plays) in a close, high scoring affair, earns its ticket to the SEC Championship Game, and moves one step closer to a shot at the national title.
Penn State at No. 8 Ohio State (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) In Columbus, JoePa sets sail for victory number: 401.
The Nits have settled on a new leader, former walk-on sophomore QB Matt McGloin (7 touchdown passes – 1 interception), who has earned the starting role, after coming off the bench to deliver three consecutive victories. The Happy Valley gunslinger, who has dramatically sparked the Lions offensive output, is assisted by tailbacks Evan Royster, Silas Redd, and wideouts; Derek Moye and Brett Brackett.
The D, featuring backers Chris Colasanti, Michael Manti and tackle Devon Still, struggles stopping the run, and overall hasn’t performed to vintage Paterno standards.
When the November leaves are off the trees, the Boys from Columbus, under the guidance of Coach Jim Tressel, are; 26-4 overall, and 15-1 since 2007.
The leader of this year’s “Goodbye Columbus,” November victory drive, is its dual-threat Heisman Trophy contender, QB Terelle Pryor.
The commander of the nation’s seventh highest scoring (42 points a game) eleven, has thrown 20 TD passes, and is assisted by tailback Dan Herron, and the receiving tandem of; Dane Sanzendacher and DeVier Posey, who have combined for 13 touchdown receptions.
The D, which leads the nation in turnover margin, has been vintage Scarlet and Grey.
These Horseshoe hitters, the country’s third stingiest (13.3 points a game), and third overall with 15 interceptions, attack behind backers; Brian Rolle, Ross Homan (expected back), and All-America end Cameron Heyward.
Number 401 will have to wait another day, as the Sons of Hopalong Cassady bid a heartfelt “Goodbye Columbus,” to JoePa, possibly for the final time.
No. 17 Mississippi State at No. 11 Alabama (ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.) In Starkville, Mississippi, Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs, winners of 6 straight, and bowl eligible (are you listening Texas, and Georgia?), are no longer an automatic victory pelt for the trophy case.
MSU, which averages 218 rushing yards, is led by its hulking (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) dual-threat QB Chris Relf (7 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) with assists from a pounding tailback, Vick Balard (12 TDs) and favorite target Chad Bumphis.
The attacking D, featuring backers Chris White and K.J. Wright, struggles defending the pass, but holds strong in the red zone, operating as the ninth stingiest (17 points a game) team in the land.
Nick Saban is angry. Of course, Nick Saban is always angry.
But this time he has good reason; his chances for a second consecutive SEC title, as well as to repeat as national champions are officially over.
The Tuscaloosan Titans are directed by dart-throwing QB, Greg McElroy (13 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions, 69% completions) with assists from reigning Heisman Trophy winner, tailback Mark Ingram and his partner Trent Richardson (leg). The nation’s fourteenth most efficient passer also has a pair of game-changing targets; All-America Julio Jones and Marquis Maze.
The country’s fifth stingiest (13.7 points a game) D, assaults with a pair of All-Americas; safety Mark Barron and backer Dont’a Hightower, with help from fellow backer C.J. Mosley.
In what should be another close anvil smashing game, we think Saban’s anger channels onto the field, and another victory pelt for the Tide.
No. 1 Oregon at California (Versus, 7:30 p.m.) The Ducks feeding frenzy is flying south; destination: Berkeley, California.
The Green from Eugene can light a scoreboard (54 points a game) faster than Meg Whitman spent campaign ($140 million) cash.
The top rated, Ferrari-quick, offense, which averages over 300 yards rushing, motors on the legs of Heisman Trophy contender, tailback LaMichael James (17 TDs), who leads the country in rushing with over 1300 yards.
The down-shifter of this exquisite machine is sophomore QB Darron Thomas (22 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) who has a pair of engine protecting targets; Jeff Maehl and Lavasier Tuinei.
The swarming D, the nation’s 13th stingiest (17.6 points a game), led by backers, Spencer Paysinger, Casey Matthews and end Kenny Rowe, does have some fissures in the secondary.
There will be no protest in Berkeley this season. Instead of the faithful’s annual disappointment, the Golden Bears have lived up to it expectations: pure mediocrity.
Cal’s offense, ranked 73rd overall, is directed by QB Kevin Riley (13 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions) with assists from tailback Shane Vereen (12TDs) and wideout Marvin Jones.
The Bears D, ranked 12th overall, has been a Berkeley beast, featuring end Cameron Jordan and backer Mychal Kendricks.
In realistic terms, a republican has a better chance of winning a Berkeley election, than the Bears have, of slowing down the Ducks.
(Material from other sources was used in compiling this report.)
Last week’s record: 3-2. Season’s record: 31-19.
Make sure to read our weekend recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday.