Handicapping Week 14

We begin our last full slate of Saturday Football, with a subject near, and dear, to the hearts of our “faithful” readers: Alcohol.

Jere Longman, a sports reporter for the New York Times, and alum of LSU, recalled a childhood memory from a game at Death Valley.

“When I was in elementary school, I remember a friend, and I, were drinking soda from a thermos,” he said.

“It was the same kind of thermos from which our fathers were drinking bourbon.

A fan, who had obviously been sipping from his for quite some time said, ‘You shouldn’t be giving alcohol to kids.’

“My father looked at us, dressed in coats, ties, and hats with brims, and said, ‘These are not kids, these are midgets.’  He then proceeded to lecture the man, who never caught on, about the ills of discrimination.”

This weekend let’s see which teams are deserving of a toast, and which seem stunted, and in need of more development, while stumbling around after another loss.

No 11 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Wisconsin (Fox, 8 p.m.) For the first time in school history, Coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans, are celebrating consecutive 10 win seasons.

Sparty’s identity is a defense, which vacuums opponents better than Hoover.

The nation’s third ranked overall unit (16-interceptions), featuring backers; Max Bullough, Denicos Allen (13 tfls – 7 sacks), tackle Jerel Worthy, and end William Gholston, allows 15 points a game, and plays with the anger of a Japanese Parliament member, or Barney Frank on his victorious election night.

MSU’s steady and measured offense, is commanded by QB Kirk Cousins (21 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), with assists from tailbacks; Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker, and wideouts; B.J. Cunningham (9 TDs), and Keshawn Martin.

Wiscy has secured its third consecutive double digit victory season, and possesses more stars than the Milky Way.

The Badgers also run like they have Kenyan bloodlines.

The nation’s tenth best rushing attack (235 yds. a game), features Heisman contending tailback, Montee Ball (34 TDs; the nation’s second leading rusher) and his backfield mate James White, who have combined for a jaw dropping: 2305 yards, and 35 touchdowns.

The conductor of this Camp Randall exhibition; dual-threat, Heisman worthy QB, Russell Wilson (28 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions- the pass efficiency leader), is assisted by a pair of chain moving receivers: Nick Toon, and Jared Abbrederis.

The D is led by a pair of swarming backers; Chris Borland (16.5 tfls.), and Mike Taylor, allows a miniscule 15 points a game, and plays with a Sinatra like swagger.

In the high stakes rematch, with the Big Ten Championship, and a Rose Bowl birth to the winner, we think the peaking Badgers, have too much firepower.

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 12 Georgia (Ch.4, 4 p.m.) Win or lose, because of its Oxford worthy credentials, these Sons of Billy Cannon, will likely play in the national championship game.

The Bayou Bengals grinding, downhill tailback trio; Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, and Alfred Blue, who have combined for 1853 yards and 21 TDs, are the Death Valley tone setters.

From his director’s chair, Coach Les Miles has reinstated his Prodigal Son, dual-threat QB Jordan Jefferson as starter, and the speedy field general has the luxury of targeting a pair of big play receivers: Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham.

The Tigers D, featuring end Sam Montgomery, and corner Tyrann Mathieu, is Pentagon worthy; second overall, second stingiest (10 pts.), and leads the country with a plus 19 turnover margin.

What a difference a few months make.

After starting 0-2, there was a long list of volunteers ready to drive the Mark Richt moving van out of Athens. 

But with Dawgs having gnawed off ten in a row, that same crowd can’t wait to buy the coach a drink.

The Bulldogs are directed by its starry QB, Aaron Murray (32 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions), with assists from freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell (ankle), and a twosome of quality receivers; tight end Orson Charles, and wideout Tavarres King.

The D, led by All-America backer Jarvis Jones (19.5 tfls. – 13.5 sacks) and his partner Michael Gilliard, is equally disruptive against the run and pass, and has been the season savior for the Boys from Athens.

It may be close for awhile, but LSU remains perfect, as the Tigers slowly grind down the Dawgs, the same way UGA IX, grinds down a bone.

No.5 Virginia Tech vs. No. 21 Clemson (ESPN, 8 p.m.) In addition to death, taxes, and a lousy Jennifer Aniston movie review, one of the constants in life remains: a double digit victory season (8th) for VaTech.

The Boys from Blacksburg are directed by its dual-threat, Himalayan sized (6-6, 245 pounds) QB, Logan Thomas (18 touchdown passes – 7 interceptions – 10 rushing), whose learning curve looks like the upward graph of the women accusing Herman Cain of a sexual indiscretion.

The Hokies field general leans heavily on his offensive catalyst; All-America tailback David Wilson (3rd in nation in rushing yards – 10 100+ games), and a pair of glue fingered targets; Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale.

Tech’s core as always, is Bud Foster’s defense, led by a pair of enveloping ends; J.R. Collins and James Gayle, who have combined for 20 Tfls, and 13 sacks.

Clemson is deserving of the lead role in the remake of: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

The “furball” Tigers, who at one time stood a gaudy 8-0, have lost three of four, and come limping into Charlotte, attempting to capture its first ACC Title, since the G.H.W. Bush Administration in 1991.

Unfortunately, Clemson’s high flying aerial circus is as deflated as a Macy’s Day Parade balloon, the day after Thanksgiving.

QB Tajh Boyd (28 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions), is the Tigers tamer, with assists from tailback Andre Ellington, and a pair of game breaker wideouts: freshman sensation Sammy Watkins, and DeAndre Hopkins.

But the D, led by end Andre Branch (16 Tfls – 10.5 sacks) and tackle Brandon Thompson, stops the run about as often as the national media mentions Rick Santorum, which is not the best recipe against Tech.

Clemson is always dangerous, but we think: Hokie, Hokie, Hoki, Hi, Rae, Ri, old V.P.I., as VaTech punches its ticket to the Orange Bowl.

No. 13 Oklahoma at No.3 Oklahoma State (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.)   

Bedlam!  The word perfectly captures the intensity of this rivalry.

If OkState is to have any case for an entry ticket into the national championship game; it must blow out its hated rival.

The commander of the high scoring (43 pts) Norman invaders, is QB Landry Jones (28 touchdown passes – 12 interceptions), with assists from tailback Roy Finch, and a pair of future Sunday receivers: Kenny Stills, and Jaz Reynolds.

OU’s pedestrian D, led by ends; Ronnell Lewis, Frank Alexander, and backer Travis Lewis, has been as shaky as, a Sooner State earthquake, especially defending the pass.

The Cowboys, the nation’s second highest scoring eleven (49), have more offensive weapons than the basement of an American Jihadist.

The Sons of Boone Pickens are led by its gunslinging QB, Brandon Weeden (34 touchdown passes – 12 interceptions – 73% completions) and the aerial maestro targets, arguably, the country’s best wideout; All-America Justin Blackmon, who has posted better numbers (103 catches – 1200 yards – 15 TDs), than Cheryl Tiegs in her prime.

When the Pokes want to gallop, 1000 yard tailback Joe Randle, and his 21 touchdowns, lead the way.

The D, featuring end Jamie Blatnick (10.5 Tfls – 7 sacks), has caused more agita in Stillwater than a dry oil well, but has been saved by its 21 interceptions, and a second best; plus 16 turnover margin.

We think the Pokes, at home, have too much fire power, and send “Big Game,” Bob (Stoops) back to Norman, with his third loss of the season.

No. 24 Southern Miss at No. 7 Houston (Ch.5, Noon) Southern Miss has better balance than Nadia Comaneci.

The nation’s 15th best scoring attack (36 pts.) has soared on the arm of QB Austin Davis (24 touchdown passes – 10 interceptions), with assists from tailback Desmond Johnson, and receivers; Kelvin Bolden and Ryan Balentine.

The high caliber D, led by backer Jamie Collins (17.5 tfls – 5.5 sacks) and end Cordarro Law (15 tfls – 6.5 sacks) stones runners, while surrendering a manageable average of; 20 points a game.

This is a final Heisman Trophy curtain call for QB Case Keenum (43 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 73% completions), the NCAA’s leader, in every major passing category.

The Cougs chartbuster is assisted by a trio of pass catchers: Tyron Carrier, Patrick Edwards (18 TDs), and Justin Johnson, who have combined for a jaw dropping: 220 receptions and 32 touchdowns.

When the top scoring Cougs (52) do run, tailbacks Chris Sims, and Michael Hays, are more than capable of gashing a defense.

The D, led by backers; Sammy Brown (26 Tfls – 12.5 sacks), and Marcus McGraw, will never dominate, but has shown great improvement as the season has unfolded.

Once again, Case Keenum states his case, as Houston has no problem in punching its way into a BCS invitation.


Last week: 5-0.                                                  Season record: 44-21.


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


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