We begin this week; “The Game” weekend, with a flash back to the last great presidential candidate of American politics.
The year was 1947, and with the returning WWII soldiers on the GI Bill, the Harvard football team was loaded. But a scrawny 5-foot-10, 155 pound senior end, named Bobby Kennedy, had earned a starting role. “You’d have had to kill him to make him quit,” said his freshman coach Henry Lamar.
In that opening game of ’47, Kennedy, who had already earned a varsity letter as a junior, scored his only collegiate touchdown. Several days later, he broke his leg in practice, virtually ending his football career at Harvard; or, so he thought.
When the Harvard/Yale game rolled around, Kennedy’s leg was still in a cast. But Harvard coach Dick Harlow, who admired Kennedy’s ferocity, sent in the future U.S. Attorney General, and U.S. Senator, cast and all, for the game’s final play. It earned Kennedy, his second varsity letter. “It was one of the high points of my life,” said the man who might have changed the course of American history.
This weekend, let’s see which teams get cast as quitters, and which continue to battle, even if it means; playing on one leg.
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 21 Iowa (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The Bucks remain alive for its sixth consecutive Big Ten Championship.
The country’s sixth highest scoring eleven (41 pts,), is directed by its Hancock-sized (6-foot-6, 240 pound) dual threat QB Terrelle Pryor (22 touchdown passes – 8 interceptions), who also motors as the nation’s fifth most efficient passer.
The starry conductor, who has a bigger offensive arsenal than, “Call To Duty, Black Ops,” is assisted by the quality tailback tandem: Dan Herron (13 TDs), Brandon Saine, and wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey.
The D causes more disruptions than a Nancy Pelosi sighting at a Sarah Palin rally.
These Columbus Colliders, featuring All-America end Cameron Heyward, and backers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan, are the country’s fifth stingiest (13.6 pts. – 17 interceptions), rank second overall, and hit with more ferocity than a can of four loko.
The Hawkeyes have been clipped.
Despite the fact that senior QB Ricky Stanzi (the nation’s third most efficient thrower) is having an All-America season (22 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), Iowa’s offense has unexplainably become as productive as a Midwest cornfield in January.
These Iowa City farm boys, plow behind tailback Adam Robinson, (averaging over 100 yards a game), and a trio of chain moving targets: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Marvin McNutt and tight end Allen Reisner, who display better hands than a TSA airport screener.
The country’s seventh stingiest D (15 pts. a game) is led by a pair of All-Americas; end Adrian Clayborn, safety Tyler Sash, and fellow tackle Mike Daniels. These Hawks stone runners, but despite its 15 interceptions, has moments of sloppiness defending against the pass.
Fully aware of the difficulty of winning in Kinnick Stadium, we think the Buckeyes, who have won 11 of its last 12 against the Sons of Nile Kinnick, and are 17-1 in its last 18 in November under Tressel, continue on its title mission.
No. 6 Wisconsin at Michigan (ESPN, Noon.) All season long the Boys from Mad-Town have punctured opponents with its six legged monster.
It begins with All-America tailback John Clay (sprained knee- possible), followed closely by James White (ankle) and finishes with the equally gifted Monte Ball. These yardage haulers have combined for over 2,100 yards, and an eye popping 33 touchdowns.
The driver of these Road Ragers is senior QB Scott Tolzien (12 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions), who, courtesy of targets Lance Kendricks and Nick Toon, is completing an astounding 72 percent of his passes.
The D, led by backers; Culmer St. Jean, Blake Sorensen, and sack master end, J.J. Watt, surrenders less than 20 points a game, and is equally disruptive against both the run and pass.
In Ann Arbor, it’s been a season-long showing of Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood.
The Wolverines dual-threat magician, QB Denard Robinson (14 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) is third in the nation in rushing (1417 yards – 12 TDs) and averaging a jaw dropping 141 yards a game.
The other neighbors of the nation’s 14th highest scoring eleven (37 pts.) include; tailback Vincent Shaw and a Linus-blanket wideout, Roy Roundtree.
On the other side of the tracks, the Blue and Maize D, coached by another Robison, Greg has been an Ann Arbor aberration.
This colander bunch, “led” by backers Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh, ranks 100th overall, is 93rd in points allowed (32), and has caused the Big House faithful more cringes than Rosie O’Donnell screeching out the National Anthem.
Wiscy still has its sights on the Big Ten title, and utilizes the formula of simply driving through, and around, Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood.
No. 9 Nebraska at No. 18 Texas A@M (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) In Lincoln, the Big Red moves faster than a November turkey staring at a butcher’s knife.
The leader of the nation’s seventh best rushing attack is its mercury-winged freshman QB, Taylor “T-Magic,” Martinez, who is just shy of 1,000 yards, with a dozen TDs, and an pupil-widening average of; nearly 8 yards a carry.
This NASCAR challenger (9 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions) is assisted by a pair of game breaking tailbacks; Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, and a pair of receivers Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie who will never make it as poster boys for All-State Insurance.
The country’s tenth stingiest D (17 pts.), ranks sixth overall, and attacks behind a pair of All-Americas; tackle Jared Crick, corner Prince Amukamara and their partner backer LaVonte David.
A four game winning streak has brought a resurgence of optimism to College Station.
It began, when Coach Mike Sherman switched to QB Ryan Tannehill (10 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 69% completions), and the results have been explosive.
The Kyle Field gunslinger is assisted by tailback Cyrus Gray, and a pair of big play wideouts; Jeff Fuller (11TDs – 15 yards a catch) and Ryan Swope.
Although the D, behind a linebacking trio; All-America Von Miller, Michael Hodges and Garrick Williams, won’t remind anyone of the “Wrecking Crew,” era, it is vastly improved, courtesy of a new set of defensive coordinators.
We think Coach Mike Sherman’s Aggie’s continue on its rejuvenating ride, as A&M gallops toward its Thanksgiving battle with the Horns.
No. 14 Virginia Tech at No. 24 Miami (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) It can be argued that the best coaching job of the season has occurred in Blacksburg, Virginia.
After an 0-2 start, including an inexplicable loss to 1AA James Madison, Coach Frank Beamer’s Hokies have reeled off eight straight, and are in a good position for its seventh consecutive 10 win season.
The catalyst of the Hokies revival and its top twenty scoring attack (35 pts a game) is dual-threat senior QB, Tyrod Taylor (18 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), with strong assists from tailback Darren Evans and a trio of receivers: Jarret Boykin, Dyrell Roberts and Danny Coale, who are as reliable as the Pops at Christmas.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s attack, featuring backers Bruce Taylor, Lyndell Gibson and Steven Friday isn’t Blacksburg frightful, (they struggle against the run), but overall it remains sturdy, surrendering less than 20 points a game.
The winds from Miami still haven’t reached Hurricane force. The Canes have yet to win more than two in a row, and its season, which overall, has been a disappointment, has added some warmth to the coaching seat of Randy Shannon.
The U has also made a QB switch, to freshman Stephen Morris, (in this case due to injury Jacory Harris concussion), and the move has sparked the Sons of George Mira.
The kid is mightily assisted by a pounding ground assault led by tailbacks: Damien Berry and Lamar Miller, as well as the aerial targets; Leonard Hankerson and Travis Benjamin, who average17 yards a catch.
The nation’s fifteenth stingiest D (18 pts.), featuring a pair All-Americas; end Allen Bailey, corner Brandon Harris and swarming backer Sean Spence, swat passes (3rd overall) but struggle mightily against the run (77th) which is not a good recipe against the Hokies.
Beamer Ball continues on its roll, moving one notch closer to win number 10.
No. 7 Stanford at California (FSN, 3:30 p.m.) The last time Stanford stood 9-1, its nickname was the Indians, and Harry Truman (1951) occupied the Oval Office.
With apologies to the late, great, columnist George Frazier, Stanford’s QB, Andrew Luck (22 touchdowns – 7 interceptions) is the duende commander of the nation’s ninth highest (39 pts.) scoring attack.
The Heisman Trophy contender is assisted by the powerful running of tailback Stepfan Taylor (11 TDs), and a pair of Elmer-fingered targets; Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen.
The D led by backers Shayne Skov, Owen Marecic, and ends Chase Thomas and Thomas Keiser are solid in all phases.
Cal has been victorious in seven of the last eight “Big Games” all under the guidance of Bears Coach; Jeff Tedford.
The Boys from Berkeley, who need one more victory to go bowling for the 8th consecutive year, will rely heavily on the clock grinding legs of starry tailback, Shane Vereen, (the nation’s 19th runner, 2 yards shy of 1,000), who averages 5.2 yards a carry.
Freshman QB Brock Mansion will be making just his third start, (starting senior is Kevin Riley is out for the season) which is not a good recipe against the Boys from the Farm.
If the Golden Bears, who are “Monsters of Memorial Stadium,” are to prevail, it will be the tenth rated D, led by backers Mike Mohamed, Mychal Kendricks and end Cameron Jordan, who will lead the charge. These guys protect its goal line, better than Coke protects its secret formula.
In the 113th edition of the Big Game, and fully aware of how dangerous it is to go against the Golden Bears at home, we think Stanford grabs victory number ten, and remains the best one loss team in America.
(Material from other sources was used in compiling this report.)
Last week’s record: 4-1. Season record: 35-20.