Handicapping Week 9

We begin this week with a sports broadcaster from Piscataway, New Jersey.

Last October, Rutgers football player, defensive end Eric LeGrand, suffered a spinal cord injury, while making a tackle on a kickoff return against Army. 

The collision initially left him paralyzed from the neck down, but since, LeGrand has regained movement in his shoulders and his arms, and has some sensation throughout his body.

But it’s his spirit, in the face of that devastating adversity, that has inspired everyone in, and around, the Rutgers family. 

Scarlet Knights coach, Greg Schiano announced, before the start of the season, that his former player, who did some spring game broadcasting, will be a contributing part of the Rutgers radio broadcast team.

“I think it’s really cool,” said the Rutgers coach. 

But LeGrand, who will lead the team onto the field at Saturday’s game, has bigger plans.

“I expect to get back on my feet, run on the beach, and climb Mount Everest,” said the determined football player.  Don’t bet against him.

This weekend, let see which teams overcome some on-field adversity, and march off with a victory, and which, despite a loss, keeps the game in its proper perspective.

No. 11 Oklahoma at No. 10 Kansas State (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.)Nobody expected this.

But cruel fates befall, when a “superior” team, in a place, Norman, where it never loses, succumbs to a 29 point underdog.

OU, sputtering since the Texas game, should still have plenty of incentive. 

It can still capture the Big Twelve Championship, and the BCS invite that accompanies that title. 

It can also plunge a dagger, by ruining the national championship plans of its despised rival; Oklahoma State, in its season ending; “Bedlam Game.”

The lynchpin of Oklahoma’s attack, is its All-America, and fifth ranked passer, QB Landry Jones (21 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions).

The starry QB is comforted by targeting one of the nation’s best receiving tandems; All-America Ryan Broyles (9.5 catches a game), and his partner Kenny Stills, who have grabbed 16 of his TD throws.

When the Sooners run, Dominique Whaley and Roy Finch are investment worthy ploughshares.

The D lethargic of late, surrenders 19 points a game, and is anchored by its All-America caliber end, Frank Alexander (7.5 sacks – 4th in the nation – 11.5 TFLs), his bookend Ronnell Lewis, and backer Travis Lewis.

The old man has the Cats on the prowl.

In his Little Apple redux, Bill Snyder’s Wildcats of Manhattan, Kansas are; 7-0, for the first time, since the last days of the Clinton Administration; 1999.

KState’s one dimensional approach, is commanded by its Hancock sized (6-5, 226 pound) QB, Collin Klein, who leads the team in rushing (14 TDs), while passing for an additional eight.

The hardened QB, is assisted by tailback John Hubert, and when the Purple takes to the air, (10th from the bottom in passing), Chris Harper is a primary target.

The D which fires with sack master end Meshak Williams, and backer Arthur Brown, stones runners, but has trouble defending the pass, which is the wrong recipe against a bunch of angry, and motivated, Sooners.

We think the Norman invaders refocus, and restore some normalcy back into the Big 12 championship race.

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 13 Nebraska (ESPN, Noon) The Spartans, winners of 17 of its last 20, have been warriors.

Its identity is the nation’s second overall ranked defense, which is harder to penetrate than an underground Iranian nuclear power plant.

Sparty’s disruptors, allow a miniscule 13 points a game, and continuously swarm behind backer Max Bullough, end William Gholston, and tackle Jerel Worthy.

The measured offense is directed by its James Dean smooth, senior QB, Kirk Cousins (11 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), with assists from wideouts B.J.Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and tailbacks Edwin Baker, and LeVeon Bell.

These guys aren’t Hendrix electric, but play steady, mistake free, winning football.

These are; your father’s Cornhuskers.

In today’s world of spread, and pistol formations, the Huskers operate with the Woody Hayes philosophy; “When you throw a pass, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.”

Nebraska’s igniter is its dual-threat QB, Taylor Martinez (7 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), who is second on the team in rushing with 9 TDs, while receiving a huge assist from his top-twenty tailback, Rex (10 TDs) Burkhead.

When the erratic signal caller can get them the ball, Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell are quality targets.

The once vaunted Black Shirt D, led by All-America backer, Lavonte David and backer Cameron Meredith, is allowing over 4 yards a carry, and 25 points a game, and has at times looked as vulnerable, as a senior citizen, looking at her winter oil heating bill.

Fully aware of the difficulty in winning in Lincoln, we still think it’s the Spartans, who catch a break with the 11 a.m. kickoff, drive away with the victory.

No. 4 Stanford at No. 20 USC (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) The school better known for Nobel laureates, owns the longest (15) winning streak in college football.

The studious Boys on the Farm have flown to its best seasonal start since; Harry “The Buck Stops Here,” Truman, was sitting in the Oval Office.

The well balanced Cardinal, the second highest scoring (48) eleven in the land, is directed by the country’s football laureate, quarterback, and Heisman Trophy leader, Andrew Luck.

The All-America gunslinger (20 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 70% completions) is assisted by a pair of quality threesomes: tailbacks Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, and Anthony Wilkerson, and wideouts, Chris Owusu, Griff Whalen, and tight end Coby Fleener.

The D is Ph.D caliber, surrendering less than 13 points a game, and anchored by backers Chase Thomas (10 TFLs – 5.5 sacks), and Jarek Lancaster.

Barred from bowl participation, USC has made its mission; to treat every game as if it was a bowl.

The Men of Troy are commanded by its All-America caliber QB, Matt Barkley (19 touchdowns – 4 interceptions), with an assist from one of the country’s most dynamic wideouts, Robert Woods (8 TDs), who averages ten catches a game.

The pedestrian running game is carried principally by tailback Marc Tyler.

The improving D, featuring end Nick Perry, and backer Dion Bailey, stones runners, but defends a pass about as often as Lindsay Lohan stays out of jail.

We think Stanford remains award winning, and leaves the Coliseum with the victory, moving one step closer to its showdown with the Ducks of Oregon.

Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.)On Saturday in Stillwater, IBM’s Watson maybe needed, to keep track of points racked up in Stillwater.

The magician, leading the country’s sixth highest scoring (44) team, is the Bears Heisman Trophy contending QB, Robert Griffin, aka RGIII (22 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions – 78% completions), the nation’s pass efficiency leader.

This dual-threat pea-shooter, is assisted by tailback Terrance Ganaway, and a posse of big play targets; Kendall Wright, Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams, who have combined for 99 catches and 16 TDs.

The bottom feeding D, behind backer Elliot Coffey and Ahmad Dixon surrenders a jaw-dropping 32 points a game, and stops the opposition, about as often as Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis, rejects an additional account fee.

For OK State, 7-0 for only the third time in school history, the path is clear: win out, and its invite to the national championship game, is in the mail.

The Cowboys, are directed by its 28 year old, grey beard QB, Brandon Weeden (19 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions) with a huge assist from his All-America, and arguably the nation’s best wideout; Justin (8TDs) Blackmon. (Note: concussion-like symptoms, expected to play).

When the Cowboys gallop, tailbacks Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith break from the gate like a thoroughbred.

As the Boone Pickens faithful are painfully aware, it’s the opportunistic, yet porous D, led by end Jamie Blatnick, backer Shaun Lewis and All-America safety Markelle Martin, which causes more cattle country anxiety, than foot and mouth disease.

In a close game, no matter how high the number goes, we think the Cowboys will score at least one more.

No. 6 Clemson at Georgia Tech (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) Historically, at the most unexpected moments, Clemson has broken more Palmetto State hearts than; Valentino.

But so far, in its magical season, Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have striped all comers.

The maestro of this Death Valley juggernaut, is its sophomore sensation, QB Tajh Boyd, (24 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions) whose dazzling performance is deserving of some Heisman Trophy conversation.

The dart thrower is assisted by an even younger sensation; true freshman wideout Sammy Watkins (9 TDs), along with his partner DeAndre Hopkins, and their down hill plough horse Andre (7TDs) Ellington, contributors all on the country’s 12 highest (40) scoring team. (ankle- expected to play.)

The opportunistic D (10 ints. – plus-17 turnover margin), fires behind end Andre Branch (12 TFLs- 8 sacks), and backer Jonathan Willard, but still causes many a Pepto moment, and may ultimately be the Valentino heart breaker for the Clemson faithful.

Lately, the Rambling Wreck has simply been a wreck.

Tech’s once prolific scoring machine, has morphed into a, write off, charity deduction jalopy.

But Paul Johnson’s triple option has the ability to revert to a Porsche, quicker, than John Boehner says no, to an Obama spending plan.

GT’s fifth ranked (321 rushing yds. a game) option express, is directed by QB Tevin Washington (9TDs), with assists from tailbacks; Orwin Smith and David Sims.

The D, behind backers Jeremiah Attaochu, and Julian Burnett, displays sieve-like cracks worthy of Big Dig Tunnel acknowledge.

In a very dangerous game, we think Dabo adds another stripe, as the Tigers continue on its amazing ride.

 

Last week’s record: 3-2                                           Season record: 28-12.

Be sure to read our recap off week 9, which will be up and running by noon Sunday.

Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.                pk

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