Handicapping Week 4

We begin this week, with the Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes classic; “If I Had A Hammer.”

Last spring, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy hired carpenter Brent Loveland, and his crew, to perform some remodeling work at his home, a seemingly uneventful task.

Loveland and his assistants were unloading their equipment, when the coach flew into a rage after spotting, what he determined was, Loveland’s “offensive” t-shirt.  It read in red block letters; “Oklahoma Baseball.”  Oh the humanity!

To Gundy, it was like waving a red cape in front of a bull, or cash in front of Sal DiMasi.

“How dare you come into my home and offend my wife,” he bellowed at the crew, in a profanity laced tirade. “You’re a stupid idiot for wearing that tee shirt on OSU soil.”  It is now in court.

It’s good to know that while the world seems ready to fall into the abyss, and millions of Americans remain unemployed, Gundy, a football coach, who is paid millions, has in priorities in proper order.  Hence; go A&M!

This weekend, let’s see which teams lay the lumber, and put the hammer down, and which appear to be in need of a major rebuilding project. 

No.2 LSU at No.16 West Virginia (Ch.5, 8:00 p.m.) On Saturday night, the Big Dog comes strutting into the wilds of Morgantown.

Les Miles’ Tigers are more intimidating than a Mother Superior handing out grammar school report cards. 

Its Kryptonite D, led by tackles Bennie Logan, Michael Brockers, and backstopped by All-America corner Morris Claiborne, attacks with the speed, and ferocity, of an MMA champion.

The offense, directed by senior QB Jarrett Lee, with assists from the tailback tandem; Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, wideouts Rueben Randle, and freshman Odell Beckham, won’t overwhelm, but can strike with cobra speed, and more importantly, plays mistake free.

Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers continue to search for a consistent identity.

It was expected that the new coach’s high-flying, no-huddle attack, under the command of Heisman Trophy candidate, QB Geno Smith, would light the Mountaineer sky, faster than one of its students sets fire to a couch, but so far it’s been as consistent as Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.

The starry signal caller has plenty of arrows in his quiver; tailbacks Vernard Roberts, Andrew Buie, and a trio of chain moving wideouts; Tavon Austin, Ivan McCarthy, and Stedman Bailey, can all be difference makers.

The D, anchored by All-America end Bruce Irvin, and assisted by backers Najee Goode, and Terence Garvin, shows some susceptibility defending the pass.

On Saturday night, we think it will be the Sons of Billy Cannon, who leave Mountaineer Field with the Best in Show award, and edge another step closer to its November showdown with Alabama.

No.7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) In what has potential to be a Usain Bolt style track meet, the operator of the College Station scoreboard may need the assistance of a NASA rocket scientist, to keep track of the score.

The Cowboys, (to paraphrase Steve Spurrier), who are laying a half-a-hundred on its opponents (52 a game), sling it behind one of the nation’s best sharp-shooters, senior QB Brandon Weeden. 

The QB has the luxury of targeting last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, All-America Justin Blackmon, while the running attack, propelled by an experienced offensive line, is shared by Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith.

The D, featuring end Jamie Blatnick, backer Shaun Lewis, and All-America end Markelle Martin, shows vulnerability against the run, which is not a good recipe against the Aggies.

A&M attacks with the aerial assault of its All-America caliber QB, Ryan Tannehill, and a pair of field stretching wideouts; Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope.  While the running game marches on the legs of its All-America tailback Cyrus Gray.

 It is an impressive display of firepower, even for a school with a large ROTC Program.

The D, behind backer Sean Porter, end Tony Jerod-Eddie, and nose Eddie Brown, stones runners, and disrupts the pass, with equal dexterity.

In what should be a very close affair, with points as prevalent as sausages at a tailgate, we think the Aggies “Twelfth Man” will propel Mike Sherman’s future SEC program, to a signature victory.

No.14 Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) The Hogs slop into Tuscaloosa intent on slicing into the Tide’s bacon.

QB Tyler Wilson (nearly 70% completions) directs Bobby Petrino’s talented group, with help from tailback Ronnie Wingo, and a threesome of big-play wideouts; All-America Joe Adams, Cobi Hamilton and Jarius Wright, who may be the best trio in America.

The D, anchored by backers Jerry Franklin, and Alonzo Highsmith, won’t overwhelm, but is vastly improved, much quicker, and is solid in all phases.

Once again, Saint Nick (Saban) has a title contender.  And once again, Alabama’s calling card is it’s his ferocious D.

Arguably, the nation’s best unit, swat opponents like a bear snatching a salmon, and attacks behind its All-America safety Mark Barron, and backers Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw.

The offense is much more pedestrian.  But it does incorporate a ground attack, featuring All-America tailback Trent Richardson, and fellow runner Eddie Lacy, which would bring a smile to The Syrian Butcher, President Bashar al-Assad.

The field general duties are under the steady command of QB A. J. McCarron, who has the luxury of targeting starry wideout Marquis Maze, and tight end Brad Smelly.

In a game of contrasting styles, we’ll go with Saint Nick’s D to deliver one more “Roll-Tide,” gift to the Tuscaloosa faithful, who after last summer’s tornado, is deserving of all the feel-good moments it can handle.

No.11 Florida State at No.21 Clemson (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) Jimbo Fisher’s Noles may indeed be back.

Its D, which can squeeze the life out of an offense better than Albert DeSalvo, is anchored by a pair of disruptive All-Americas; end Brandon Jenkins and backer Nigel Brade.

The offense will be altered if dual-threat QB E.J. Manuel (shoulder – doubtful) can’t go, but talented freshman Clint Trickett, is a capable, yet inexperienced replacement.

 Both signal callers are nicely supported by the running of James Wilder, and due to injuries, what was a trio of standout wideouts; Kenny Shaw, Rodney Smith, and Jarred Haggins, has been reduced to Smith.

It’s a similar scenario in Clemson.  The Tigers, after years of performances as underwhelming as a Barry Manilow concert, may have finally found its stride, and none too soon for coach Dabo Swinney.

These Death Valley intimidators are directed by its starry QB Tajh Boyd (10 touchdown passes – 1 interception, 67% completions), with big assists from tailback Andre Ellington, and a trio of receivers; Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and tight end Dwayne Allen.

The D fires behind end Andre Branch, and nose Brandon Thompson, but shows some vulnerability stopping the run.

Despite the injuries, and fully aware that after last week, the Noles, my suffer a emotional letdown, and also fully aware that FSU has not won on Clemson soil since the first year of W’s Administration (2001), we think the Titans from Tallahassee show the country, and the ACC, that they are, indeed, back.

Missouri at No. 1 Oklahoma (FX, 8 p.m.) The “Show Me State,” will really show the country, if it can pull the upset.

Dual-threat QB James Franklin, protected by an experienced offensive line, leads Gary Pinkel’s attack, with assists from tailback Henry Josey and receivers T.J. Moe, Wes Kemp and All-America tight end Michael Egnew.

The D, featuring backers Andrew Wilson, Luke Lambert and end Brad Madison isn’t dynamic, but is solid in all phases.

Oklahoma is waving the No. 1 banner for a record 101st time, in its storied history.

OU’s weaponry is the envy of the Pentagon, and the depth and breadth of the Sooners on both sides of the ball, is wider than the backside of Oprah Winfrey.

The offensive commander is its All-America, Heisman Trophy contending QB, Landry Jones, with assists from the tailback tandem; Dominique Whaley (a walk-on) and Brennan Clay.  The dynamic leader also has a pair of premier targets; All-America Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, who are open more often, than the wallet of a Washington lobbyist.

The D, featuring ends Ronnell Lewis, and Frank Alexander, plays with a seething disdain, that would certainly win the approval of that ever-inept, former Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

In Norman, the Sooners have won 37 straight, and for his career, coach Bob Stoops is a jaw-dropping 73-2 at Memorial Stadium.  Case closed; Oklahoma.

 

Last week’s record: 4-1.                                        Season record: 10-5.

 

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

Until then, Peace.  PK

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