Handicapping Week 2

We begin this week with the significance of a cowbell.

Late last fall, Mississippi State football player, 20 year old Nick Bell, passed away from his battle with a rare from of cancer.

The Bulldogs rabid faithful have a tradition, which traces back to the late 30’s, of clanging cowbells as way of disrupting the opponent’s offense. 

It also helped his mother say a final goodbye at her son’s funeral.  Just as the casket was about to close, Mrs. Bell stood over the casket, and rang a cowbell.

“When his mom stands at his funeral, over his coffin, and rings a cowbell, you have a new perspective of what it means,” said a moved coach Dan Mullen.

 “I understand the tradition of the thing.  Traditions are what make college football different from every other sport out there.”

This weekend, let’s see which teams “ring them bells,” signaling another victory for the home team, and which clang around, looking, as if it lost, its clapper.

No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) Where’s Joe Willie when you need him?

Despite the uncertainty at quarterback (A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims) St. Nick’s Tuscaloosan Titans are of national championship caliber.

While waiting for a starting signal caller to emerge, the Tide will roll on the legs of its All-America tailback, and Heisman Trophy candidate, Trent Richardson.  This show-pony gallops behind a dominating offensive line that features All-America guard Barrett Jones, while wide receiver Marquis Maze will move the chains.

The Kryptonite D, which returns ten starters, operates with more aggression than the paparazzi darting after Angelina Jolie.

It stones runners and disrupts QB’s will the efficiency of a Navy seal, led by a trio of backers; Courtney Upshaw, Don’t’a Hightower, and Nico Johnson, while being backstopped by All-America safety Mark Barron.

After JoePa’s Happy Valley warriors gorged on a dessert sweeter than anything sold at Mike’s Pastry, the Nits will now try to digest a main course.

And the last time the Lions defeated a top 5 team, Bill Clinton (1999) was in the last year of his presidency, and the 84 year old coach was a spry 72.

Like its Deep-South counterpart, Penn State’s quarterback position (Rob Bolden, Matt McGloin) remains on a time share plan.

Until it is settled, tailbacks Silas Redd and Stepfhon Green will serve as offensive igniters, and if the QB’s can get him the ball, wideout Derek Moye is a big-play threat.

As one would expect at Linebacker U, a trio of backers, Nate Stupar, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, will backbone the D.

We think the Sons of Bear Bryant will be too dominant on defense, and the “white-out” wearing crowd at Happy Valley will be going home feeling blue.

Notre Dame at Michigan (ESPN, 8 p.m.) The Irish, like its coach Brain Kelly, seem more tightly wound, than that stock pushing, charlatan screamer, Jim Cramer.

The Dayne Crist experiment lasted all of one half, and the QB reins have been handed to Tommy Rees.  The running game displays down hill power behind tailbacks, Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray, while wideout Michael Floyd is of All-America caliber.

The D, featuring backers Manti Te’o, Carlo Calabrese and Darius Fleming, appear,            and we emphasize the word appear, to have solidified into a solid cohesive unit.

“In Hoke we trust,” is the phrase that is reverberating throughout Wolverine Nation, as a “Michigan Man,” Brady Hoke, is once again leading the Ram Helmet Brigade.

The newly installed pro-set offense is directed by one of the nation’s most dynamic signal callers; Denard Robinson, who won’t be as magical with his legs as last season.

The dual-threat commander has a trio of chain-moving receivers, Roy Roundtree, Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway, while tailbacks Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw are solid contributors.

It’s the Blue and Maize D, featuring nose Mike Martin, end Craig Roh, and backer Kenny Demens, which can cause the faithful more agita, than a grand jury investigation.

Newly minted coordinator Greg Mattison has been charged with the unenviable task of trying to resurrect a group, which ranked overall, tenth from the bottom last year.  It might be easier to fix the Big Dig tunnels.

In the 39th meeting, in what will be a spectacular scene, the first game ever be played under the lights, at Ann Arbor, we think the ‘good ship’ Kelly squeaks out the win, and keeps the Domer Nation from driving to the Tobin.

BYU at No. 24 Texas (ESPN2, 7 p.m.) BYU wins the prize.

As a newly christened independent, the Cougars get to travel to Oxford, and Austin, to open its season.  That torturous schedule is analogous to driving across country with Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid as your passengers.

The Cougs offense is directed by its starry sophomore QB Jake Heaps, with assists from freshman receiver Ross Apo, and a pair of quality backs, dual-threat J. J. DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya.

The D’s strength is in its linebacking threesome, featuring: Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Pendleton and Uona Kaveinga.

The Lone Star State has been experiencing record heat, and now wild fires, but nowhere is it any hotter, or smokier, than Darrel Royal Memorial Stadium.  Last season the Horns were all hat and no cattle, as Texas did the two-step backwards, forcing Coach Mack Brown to make wholesale staff changes.

And of all the five-star recruits signed, the best signing may have been defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who ventured over from Mississippi State.

The Burnt Orange is led by quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who is on a very short leash, with Case McCoy (Colt’s brother) waiting in the wings.  His primary target is wideout Mike Davis.

On the good news front, Texas may have found it’s tailback of the future, in freshman Malcolm Brown, while his counterparts, Fuzzy Whittaker and D.J, Monroe can be dangerous.  

The D is anchored by backer Emmanuel Acho, corner Carrington Byndom, and tackle Keeston Randall, is much improved, and can be disruptive.

We think the metaphorical ride with McConnell and Reid proves to be too much for BYU as Texas starts its season with a pair of victories.

No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia (ESPN, 4:30 p.m.) All preseason the Ol’ Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, has been tossing out one liners faster than Henny Youngman.  Translation: that chirpiness means the former Heisman winner thinks his Gamecocks are pretty good.

The Cocks are led by its prodigal son (5 suspensions during his tenure), QB Stephen Garcia, whose leadership and grittiness are unquestioned.

The signal caller, who is tougher than a longshoreman, is assisted by a trio of All Americas; offensive tackle Rokevious Watkins, Heisman Trophy candidate, tailback Marcus Lattimore, and a Store 24 (open all the time) receiver in Alshon Jeffrey.

The D, featuring All-America tackle Travian Robertson, corner Stephon Gilmore, backer Antonio Allen, and freshman sensation Jadeveon Clowney, hits from all angles with the power of a Joe Frazier left hook. 

The Mark Richt era is shakier than a Bank of America mortgage loan.  His coaching chair is now hotter than a street paving crew in Dallas, and a 0-2 start to the season, might prompt some stealth for sale sign to appear on his front lawn.

The Bulldogs attack is led by its starry QB Aaron Murray, with assists from promising tailback Isaiah Crowell, tight end Orson Charles and wideout Malcolm Mitchell.

The D, led by its Herculean nose Kwame Geathers (6-6, 350), his partner John Jenkins, and backers Jarvis Jones and Christian Robinson swallow runners, and is solid in all phases.

We think Mr. Richt needs to make an appointment with Century 21, as the Ball Coach and his Gamecocks, continues to carve out a large presence in the SEC.

No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn (ESPN3, 12:20 p.m.) In Starkville, these are bright days for the Bulldog faithful.

Coach Dan Mullen has resurrected this once moribund program into a top 25 agitator.

QB Chris Relf is the offensive leader, with big assists from his underrated, speedster tailback, Vick Ballard, and a pair of chain moving receivers, Chad Bumphis and Jameon Lewis.

The D, behind backer Deontae Skinner, and tackles Forlando Bohanna and Trevor Stigers, can be ferocious, but shows some susceptibility in the secondary.

The nation’s longest winning streak (16) needs a defibrillator.

Coaches say that a team makes its biggest improvement jump between week 1 and 2.  Gene Chizik’s Tigers need a jump of Bob Beamon proportions, to have any chance against the visitors from Starkville.

The offense is directed by talented junior QB Barrett Trotter, with assists from a pair of big-play backs; Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, along with wideout Travante Stallworth.

The D, behind backer Jake Holland and tackle Ken Carter might have more holes than a levee designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which is not a good recipe against Mississippi State.

In what will be a very close game, we think it will be the Boys from Starkville, who make the leap and in Jordan-Hare, snuff out the nation’s longest winning streak.


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

Don’t forget to read our weekend wrap up which is up and running by noon on Sunday.   PK


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