Handicapping week 14

We begin this week with the classic cliché, “The grass is always greener ….”

Several weeks ago, LSU head man, Les Miles, also known as the “Mad Hatter,” was caught on national television, pulling a few blades of grass from the field, popping them into his mouth, and then chewing like a cow. 

When asked about this oddity, Miles responded, like Miles; “I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man.  That lets me know that I’m still part of the field and part of the game.”

I can tell you one thing; the grass in Tiger Stadium is the best.”  Sounds like he may have also smoked some!

This weekend, let’s see which teams are forced to chew on another loss, and which has its faithful “spark” one up, in victory celebration.

No. 1 Oregon at Oregon State (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The Ducks flight plan is clear.

A win in the 114th edition of the Civil War, and the Green from Eugene, will punch its ticket into the national championship game.

Oregon, the nation’s highest scoring eleven (50 pts. a game), can score faster, than North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, can fire a missile.

This offensive juggernaut, commanded by QB Darron Thomas (26 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions) motors on the legs of the nation’s leading rusher, and Heisman Trophy contender, LaMichael James (19Tds, 154 yds. a game), with a large assist from his Linus-blanket wideout, Jeff Maehl – 12 touchdown receptions.

The nation’s 15th stingiest D (18 pts. – plus 11 turnover margin) attacks behind backers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger, and despite hauling in 16 interceptions, shows some vulnerability defending the pass.

The Beavers have been chewed by injuries.

OSU’s brightest star; tailback Jacquizz Rodgers (1097 yards, 14TDs), who runs like Bill, will be the catalyst, if the Beavers are to pull the upset.  

The rest of the pedestrian cast, QB Ryan Katz (16 touchdown passes – 8 interceptions) and receiver Markus Wheaton led a group who feeds close to the bottom, ranking; 96th in rushing, 80th in scoring (24 pts. a game) and a dismal 95th  overall, which is not enough powder to take on Oregon’s fire power.

The D, featuring tackle Stephen Paea, end Gabe Miller and backer Keith Pankey                    struggles mightily defending both the pass and the run, a ranks 84th overall surrendering a colander average of; 25 points a game, which is the wrong recipe against might Oregon.

We think the Duck feed continues, and Chip Kelly, who less than five years ago was the offensive coordinator at UNH, will now be playing for the national championship!

UConn at South Florida (ESPN2, 8 p.m.) The Connecticut eleven has had a better ride than Neil Armstrong.

If Coach Randy Edsall’s Huskies (who didn’t begin playing Division 1A football until the year 2000, as an Independent.), are victorious Saturday night, UConn is Big East Champs and more importantly, BCS bound.  It is truly a remarkable story.

The engine of these offensively challenged (91st) Sons of Sam Rutigliano, is its All-America tailback, Jordan Todman, the nation’s second leading rusher (14 TDs), who is averaging a shade less than 150 yards a game.

When the Boys from Storrs take to the air, (7th from the bottom in passing), QB Zach Frazier (5 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 53% completion rate) is the steady director, with assists from wideouts Michael Smith and Kashif Moore.

The D, which has garnered 16 interceptions, and ranks 10th in turnover margin, attacks behind backers; Lawrence Wilson, Sio Moore, Scott Lutrus, and end Jessee Joseph, back boning the Huskies season.

Coach Skip Holtz’s Bulls are intent on trampling on the UConn parade.

Like its counterpart, the South Florida D, featuring the linebacking trio: Jacquain Williams, Sam Barrington, and Devekeyan Lattimore, surrenders less than 20 points a game, and has been the pegs that have held the Bulls season together.

On the other side of the ball, the bottom feeding offense (103rd overall) commanded by dual-threat QB B.J. Daniels (- 9 touchdown passes – 12 interceptions – questionable thigh), [if he can’t go Bobby Eveld will start] with assists from tailbacks; Moise Plancher, Demetrius Murray and wideouts; Dontavia Bogan and Evan Landi.

In a defensive battle, that will have more hits than a Sinatra retrospective, we think the Boys from the Nutmeg State hit the Bulls-eye and capture the big prize.

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 18 South Carolina – SEC Championship Game – Atlanta, Georgia (Ch. 4, 4 p.m.)

This is the final challenge for Cam Newton’s season long, gravity defying, show.

Auburn’s colossal-sized (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) dart thrower, ranks second in pass efficiency, and has been as magical as David Copperfield in leading the Tigers, (who have trailed in eight of its games, and in four by more than 13 points), to its unblemished record.

“Mr. Everything,” the overwhelming Heisman Trophy leader, (24 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), and the nation’s 11th ranked rusher (18 TDs, while averaging over 110 yards a game), is assisted by tailbacks; Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and wideouts; Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery, and Kodi Burns.

The D, led by All-America tackle Nick Fairley, backer Josh Bynes, and end Antoine Carter crushes runners, but is as shaky (106th) as the Irish economy or a US diplomat working in Moscow, defending an aerial attack.

This is the biggest football game in the century plus history of South Carolina football.

It’s also the reason the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, decided to come to Columbia.

Spurrier’s charges, who for only the third time in Gamecock history, have won at least 9 games, are directed by QB Stephen Garcia (18 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions) with assists from its sensational freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore (17 TDs – averaging over 100 yards a game), and his All-America, field stretching wideout (10TDs), Alshon Jeffery.

The D, behind end Devin Taylor and corner Stephon Gilmore stones runners, but is more skittish, than a South Korean military border guard, in defending (99th) against the pass.

As much as we are tempted to take the “Mad Scientist,” who has his Cocks playing at a high level, we think more magic remains in the arm and legs of Auburn’s; “Mr. Heisman.”

No. 13 Nebraska vs. No. 10 Oklahoma Big 12 Championship – Arlington, Texas        (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.)

For one final time, before Nebraska bolts for the Big Ten, these ancient rivals revive the golden days of the Big Eight.

 In fact, in those glory days, from 1971-1995, Nebraska won ten outright titles, Oklahoma eight, and three additional were shared.  Included in one of those meetings, is the 1971 clash, (The Johnny Rodgers run), considered by many to be the greatest game of the 20th century.

With apologies to the Who, meet the new Huskers, same as the old Huskers.

Nebraska motors as the nation’s eighth best rushing attack (269 yds. a game) on the legs of its starry tailback combo; Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, who have combined for 2094 yards and 22 touchdowns.

The QB duties are expected to be shared between its mercury-fueled freshman Taylor Martinez (ankle), and sophomore Cody Green, who may indeed start, with an assist from wideout Brandon Kinnie.

The anvil hard Blackshirt D, the country’s eighth stingiest (16 pts. a game), and fifth overall, fires behind All-America tackle Jared Crick, backer Lavonte David and end Cameron Meredith.

The air raid Sooners are led by its gunslinging QB, Landry Jones (34 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions), with assists from All-America wideout Ryan Broyles (13 TDs – leads the nation in receptions per game 9.5), fellow receiver Kenny Stills, and good-hands tailback, Demarco Murray (14TDs, knee).

But as the Norman faithful are well aware, the D has been drier than a Sunday morning in Salt Lake City. 

These imposters have some talent, featuring All-America end Jeremy Beal and backer Travis Lewis, but overall, defend the run and the pass about as well as Barney Frank hides his disdain for the “unwashed” electorate.

Despite those deficiencies, we think the Norman invaders have too much firepower for the Boys from Lincoln, and end this once classic rivalry, with a; Sooner-Boomer victory.

No. 20 Florida State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech – ACC Championship Game – Charlotte, North Carolina (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.)

Last year Florida State told its legendary and beloved coach, Bobby Bowden, it was time.  In his place, coach in waiting, Jimbo Fisher, has led the Noles into the ACC Championship game.

The Seminoles are directed by its starry dual-threat QB, Christian Ponder (20 touchdown passes – 8 interceptions), with assists from tailbacks; Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas, and wideouts Bert Reed and Taiwan Eastering.

The nation’s 11th stingiest D (17.8 pts. a game), led by ends Brandon Jenkins (12 sacks), Markus White and backer Nigel Bradham is solid against the run but shows some vulnerability defending against the pass.

If this was Vegas, Coach Frank Beamer would be leaving with wheel barrel of chips.

After losing its first two games, including an embarrassing loss to Division 1AA James Madison, the Hokies coach drew an inside straight, reeling off ten in a row, for Beamer’s seventh consecutive season with at least 10 victories, the longest such streak in Division 1A.

VaTech is also the first team to have an unblemished ACC record, since Florida State did it, under Bobby Bowden, in 1999.

These Blacksburg Bombers are commanded by its dual threat QB Tyrod Taylor (20 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), with assists from tailbacks; Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and a pair of glue fingered receivers; Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale.

On D, Beamer Ball, featuring spine crunching backers; Bruce Taylor, Lyndell Gibson, and end Steven Friday, is also in full bloom. The Hokies lead the nation in turnover margin – (plus 16) – while hauling in 20 interceptions, and have allowed a total of; 6 fourth quarter touchdowns.

After its two missteps, VaTech has proven it is one of the nation’s best, and easily handles the Boys from Tallahassee.

 

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

Last week’s record: 2-3                                                Season record: 42-23.

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

Until then, Peace and listen to the music.

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