Handicapping Week 1

We begin the opening week of another college football season, with a rock ‘n roll classic.

It comes from the catalogue of the late, great, Warren Zevon, and we feel that the lyrics aptly capture the sorry and scandalous condition to which the game has fallen.

It is entitled: “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” and the lyrics read:

“I went home with a waitress,

Like I always do,

How was I to know, she was with the Russians too?

I was gambling in Havana,

I took a little risk, send lawyers, guns and money,

Dad, get me out of this.”  It’s up to the school presidents to get us out of this.

In this opening week, with a seasonal change in the air, let’s see which teams reward its gambling faithful with a point spread victory, and which, need high-powered representation, for impersonating a football team.

No. 4 LSU vs. No. 3 Oregon (Ch.5, 8 p.m. – Jerry World – Cowboy Stadium, Arlington Texas)

Unlike most of its “Cupcake-U” munching brethren, kudos are directed toward the “Mad Hatter,” LSU Coach Les Miles, and his counterpart Oregon Coach Chip Kelly, for opening its season with a test that is tougher than a Molecular Engineering final.

Now that Miles is fortified with a new seven year contract, the expectations in Baton Rouge, for the 2011 version of the Sons of Billy Cannon, are higher than a Columbian safe house.

 

Entering the season the biggest concern for the Baton Rouge faithful was the play of “Mr. Erratic,” (7 touchdowns – 10 interceptions) QB Jordan Jefferson, but as the late Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character, Emily Litella, used to say, “Never Mind!”

On the last Friday of August, Jefferson, a team “leader” and another teammate was arrested, and charged with a second degree felony, for his participation in a bar brawl.  Miles has suspended both indefinitely.

We really do need Warren Zevon, but all is not lost, as LSU will turn the reins over to its other experienced senior QB, Jarrett Lee.

The rest of the Tigers fit together better than a bathing suit on Pamela Anderson. 

The legs of tailback Spencer Ware are expected to fill the traditional role of Death Valley battering ram, while wideout Rueben Randle, along with tight end Deangelo Peterson, present enticing big-play targets. (Starry receiver Russell Shepard will miss at least the opener with eligibility issues)

 The Tigers D, led by All-America corner Morris Claiborne, tackle Josh Davis, and backer Kevin Minter, are ferocious and can gum up an offense better than BP can gum up a pristine Gulf shoreline.

Despite a swirling recruiting controversy, the Green from Eugene, led by its Zen-like coach, Chip Kelly, are still expected to fly in the newly configured, and christened, Pac 12 Conference.

Oregon, aka Phil Knight University, is directed by a pair of Texas bred Heisman Trophy contenders; dual-threat QB Darron Thomas, and “Mr. Everything,” All-America tailback LaMichael James.

This Batman-Robin duo is assisted by a trio of sure handed receivers; tight end David Paulson, and wideouts Lavasier Tuinei, and Josh Huff.

The D which has more questions that an IRS agent, is anchored by end Terrelle Turner, and tackle Ricky Heimuli, but All-America corner Cliff Harris, cited for speeding over 100 miles an hour, is suspended for at least this game.

In a very close game, and despite the suspensions and distractions, we think it will be the “Mad Hatter,” who has won 17 straight in September, tucks another victory under his white chapeau, and embarks, on what may well be a magical journey for the Bayou Bengals and its faithful.

No. 19 Georgia vs. No. 5 Boise State (ESPN, 8 p.m. – Georgia Dome, Atlanta) The coaching seat of Mark Richt is hotter than a Phoenix sidewalk, on the Fourth of July.  And if the Dawgs should stumble in this very tough opener, Hades will feel like an artic blast.

Even one of its own, legendary alum, and Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton is disgruntled, calling the program; “God-awful.”

But fear not, these Sons of Vince Dooley do have talent.  It begins with starry sophomore QB Aaron Murray, with hopeful assists from true-freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell (groin), fellow tailback Richard Samuel, and All-America tight end Orson Charles.  The key will be how quickly its thin o-line can jell into a unit.

The D anchored by its Himalayan nose-tackle Kwame Geathers, and assisted by end DeAngelo Tyson, and corner Brandon Boykin, is solid in all phases.

Since taking over five years ago, Chris Peterson’s Boise State Broncos are a jaw-dropping 61-5, a number almost as impressive as a Goldman Sachs Christmas bonus.

And equally flush, is the triggerman behind this Bronco rough riding assault, All-America, and Heisman Trophy candidate, QB Kellen Moore, (79 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions – three seasons) who gets a big assist from one of the nation’s best tailbacks; Doug Martin (over 6 yds. a carry), entirely cocooned by one of the country’s best offensive lines.

The D is also of thoroughbred breeding; featuring All-America tackle Billy Winn, end Shea McClellin, and a trio of aggressive, run swallowing backers, in J.C. Perry, Byron Hout, and Aaron Tevis.

It’s always difficult to go against an SEC team, especially in what will be essential a home game for the Dawgs, but we’ll take the “bonus-babies” as new Mountain West member Boise State, once again, makes another deposit into the national power conversation.

South Florida at No.16 Notre Dame (Ch.7, 3:30 p.m.)  To quote Yogi, “It’s Deja-vu all over again,” as a Holtz will be coaching on a South Bend sideline.  Unfortunately, for Blue and Gold zealots, this Holtz isn’t Lou, but son Skip, and the team he is leading will be occupying the visitor’s sideline.

The South Florida eleven, led by dual-threat QB B.J. Daniels, and assisted by tailbacks Darrell Scott, and Demetris Murray, won’t dazzle, but operates with the quiet efficiency of a cat burglar.

The D, featuring end Ryne Giddins, and tackles Cory Grisson and Keith McCaskill, stone runners, but show some susceptibility defending the pass. 

In Domer-land, expectations are about as high as the anticipation of the latest i-Phone roll-out.

If Coach Brian Kelly’s beefed up D, behind backer Manti Te’o, his sidekick Carlo Calabrese, and end Kapron Lewis-Moore perform to expectations, the Irish echoes may indeed awaken. (Kelly’s stated goal is a BCS invite for the Irish in 2011.)

The offense, infused by the head man’s innovative and attacking play-calling, will be explosive. The Sons of Rockne are directed by QB Dayne Crist (who will be on a very short leash, with Tommy Rees lurking) with help from starry tailback Cierre Wood and All-America wideout Michael Floyd, who, “shockingly,” was reinstated to start the season.

In a very close game, we think Touchdown Jesus smiles at the outcome, as Holtz-lite goes home a loser, and ND begins to garner some legitimate national attention.

Tulsa at No.1 Oklahoma (FX Sports, 8 p.m.) In the parlance of Tom Rush, for the Golden Hurricane to take down the mighty Sooners, they will indeed need a “Mighty Storm.”

Tulsa is riding a seven game winning streak, and although these Sons of Howard Twilley have a new coach, they are fortified with 18 returning starters.

The no-huddle offense is an 8-cyclinder high-octane blend commanded by QB G.J. Kine, but his game breaking target, Damaris Johnson, is suspended, and allegedly involved with his girl friend in an embezzlement case.

Unfortunately, the D, behind a trio of backers; Shawn Jackson, Cornelius Arnick and DeAndre, has been as effective as the US Congress, and ranked ninth from the bottom last season, which is a losing recipe against the Sooners.

The expectations in Norman remain the same: National Championship or bust, and the Sooners are angling to play for its fifth national championship in 12 years.

The maestro of the OU juggernaught is head man Bob Stoops, the fastest in history to reach 100 victories, compiling a stellar 129-31 overall record, and an chart-topping 72-2 Memorial Stadium home record.

Oklahoma has more stars than the Milky Way, and can burn a defense faster than a Fung Wah Bus. 

It begins with All-America star-gazer, QB Landry Jones, and shines with All-America wideout Ryan Broyles, and committee of tailbacks, led by electrifying water-bug Roy Finch, with the entire package surrounded by a solid offensive line.

The D is equally impressive, and disrupts behind All-America backer Corey Nelson, (unfortunately his counterpart, captain Travis Lewis, OU’s leading tackler is out – knee) sandwiched by a pair of angry ends; Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis.

It may be close for awhile, but in Norman, Tulsa will eventually feel as if it has checked into the; Bates Motel.

BYU at Mississippi (ESPN, 4:45 p.m.) On the presidential campaign stump, fellow Mormons Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, who are duller than a Barry Manilow concert, would love the infusion of charisma that now buzzes around Provo, and the BYU Cougars newly minted independent status.

The Bronco Mendenhall Cougs go-go attack revolves around a score board lighting trio; QB Jake Heaps, dual-threat tailback J.J. DiLuigi, and wideout Cody Hoffman.

The D, featuring backers Nona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree and end Eathyn Manumaleuna, isn’t spectacular, but is solid in all phases.

In Oxford, the home of William Faulkner, Houston Nutt era began with consecutive nine win seasons, something not seen on the Ole Miss campus since a Boston Irishman named, John Fitzgerald Kennedy occupied the White House. 

But last year that optimism crashed harder than the economy of Greece, as the Rebels won a total of four games, which in SEC country doesn’t bode well for long-term employment.

Nutt is counting on dual-threat, and first time starter, sophomore Barry Brunetti, to lead a renaissance, with a big assist from tailback Brandon Bolden.

The D behind tackles Justin Smith, and Corey Gaines stifles the run, but has some susceptibility against the pass, which is not a winning formula against the Cougars.

It’s tempting to go with the BYU’s high powered offense, but on the road, and historically, Houston Nutt is always at his best when expectations are lowered, we’ll take the Sons of Archie Manning.

 

That’s it from cyber space – we’ll be up and running with week 2 on Wednesday night, and don’t forget to read our weekend recap which be up by Sunday at noon. 

Until then; Peace, and listen to the music.    PK

                                                                     END

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