We begin this week with that classic American summer treat: the Popsicle.
When Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez arrived in Tucson this year, one of the first things he did was to change the type of Popsicle that his players were receiving after practice.
He felt it was another way of changing the losing culture of Arizona football.
“I don’t want to give out average Popsicles,” Rodriguez animatedly said. “We give out them bomb Popsicles. You know, the ones as a kid you love to have.”
“These things are the mac-daddy of Popsicles. We’re giving out BCS-level playoff-bound rocket Popsicles. And if they come out with a better one, we’re going to get a better Popsicle,” said the head man. Hey, whatever works!
This weekend, let’s see which teams, by its touchdown explosion, are worthy of a rocket, and which, simply melt away, from the heat of the opposition.
No.12 Texas at Oklahoma State (FOX, 7:50 p.m.) Texas Coach Mack Brown is rejuvenated, and so apparently, are the “Burnt Orange” from Austin.
These Sons of Darrell Royal, who have been searching for a QB since the graduation of Colt McCoy (2009), have finally settled on David Ash.
The dual threat sophomore, (7 touchdown passes – 0 interceptions, 76% completions), rides herd on the nation’s seventh highest scorning eleven (49 points a game), with assists from its top twenty, ground, and pound, rushing attack, featuring; Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
When the Horns air it out, the gunslinger focuses on a pair of chain moving targets; Mike Davis and Johnathan Gray.
The attacking D, behind ends; Jackson Jeffcoat, and Alex Okafor, has surrendered some big plays, but overall is considered elite, and may carry Mack’s Men to a special season.
In Stillwater, Oklahoma State, also known as Boone Pickens University, is attempting to defend its Big 12 Title.
Once again, Coach Mike Gundy, is the maestro of the Cowboys aerial circus, which leads the nation in scoring (62 points a game), as well as in total offense.
(Those numbers are as deceiving as a desert mirage; or Sarah Palin reading War and Peace; as OkState opened its season with an 84-0 cupcake skewing payday, against Savannah State.)
The new foreman of this drilling operation is; QB J.W. Walsh (6 touchdown passes – 1 interception), who is filling in admirably for another freshman signal caller; (injured-knee) Wes Hunt.
The nation’s second rated passing attack relies on the receiving trio; Josh Stewart, Blake Jackson, and Tracy Moore.
The Cowboys balanced attack is boosted by the nation’s fifteenth best runner; Joseph Randle, who scoots at a sizzling clip of 6 yards a carry.
The pedestrian D, led by backers; Alex Elkins and Caleb Lavey, is surrendering 27 points a game, and Mr. Ash, may leave them, in ashes.
In a very close game, we’re not entirely sold on the UT D; but we do think the Horns, its running game and ultimately its D, lasso the Cowboys in Stillwater.
No.25 Baylor at No.9 West Virginia (FX, Noon) This game should have more scoring than the Grotto at Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.
The Bears claw into Morgantown, with the nation’s fifth most proficient scoring attack, averaging over a half a hundred (51) points per contest.
The conductor of this Waco point-a-thon is Baylor’s unflappable, and unheralded, senior QB, Nick (11 touchdowns – 4 interceptions – 64%) Florence.
The QB’s trio of field-stretching targets; Lanear Sampson, Terrance Williams and Kevin Reese, have combined for a high cotton 9 touchdowns.
And when the Bears grind it, tailback Jarred Salubi is the principle carrier, cocooned by a veteran offensive line.
But as the Baylor faithful are painfully aware, the D, featuring backer Bryce Hager, and end Terrance Lloyd, is drier than a Texas cornfield, with more holes than a moth munched sweater.
These Swiss cheese protégées sit 87th stopping the run, and 7th from the bottom defending the pass, while allowing 29 points a game.
These are finger licking numbers for West Virginia’s rocket fueled attack.
If the Mountaineers, the nation’s tenth highest scoring eleven (47 pts. a game), are to climb to the summit, they will be guided by its Heisman Trophy candidate, QB Geno Smith, who possesses better numbers than Elle McPherson.
The Mountain State dart thrower is the nation’s second most efficient passer. He has yet to throw a pick, against a dozen touchdown passes, and is completing a jaw-dropping; 81% of his passes.
The gifted dual-threat leader also has more targets, than a Syrian sniper. In fact his two principle wideouts; Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey, rank first, and second, in receptions per game.
When the Boys from Morgantown hit the ground, tailbacks Shawne Alston, and Andre Bui, provide a nice change of pace.
The D, led by backers; Terence Garvin, and Josh Francis is solid against the run, but 17th from the bottom defending the pass, which is the wrong recipe against the Bears from Baylor.
In a very close game, which should have more offensive fireworks than a Chinese New Year celebration, we think the Mountaineers, at home, christen its inaugural Big Twelve game, with the W.
Tennessee at No. 5 Georgia (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) This is the first of a four game cauldron for the Volunteers.
It is also the only home game, which Vince Dooley, the legendary former Bulldog Coach, will not attend.
It is out of respect for his son Derek; in a blood is thicker than water scenario, who is patrolling the UT sideline as its head man.
The Vols leader, is its laser armed, junior QB, Tyler Bray (12 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), who has the luxury of being protected by a seasoned offensive line.
The Rocky Top rifle-man, who directs the country’s eighth best passing attack, has a pair of touchdown making targets; Justin Hunter, and Cordarrelle Paterson, while Rajion Neal leads a pedestrian ground attack.
The D, led by backers A.J. Johnson, and Curt Maggitt, isn’t stellar, and lists in the bottom third of the rankings in both defending the run, and the pass, which is a concern facing Georgia’s firepower.
Coach Mark Richt, and his Georgia Bulldogs, reminds one of a stealth assassin from a Frederick Forsyth novel.
Despite its elite ranking, the Dawgs, who have scored over 40 points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history, are always overlooked, but are very deadly.
The national focus slithers to the newest kid on the block, but once that fatuation fades, all off a sudden, the Athletes from Athens, are in national title contention.
The chief sniper, is its All-America caliber QB, and Heisman candidate; Aaron (10 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions – 66%) Murray.
The starry gunslinger is assisted by a trio of receivers; Michael Bennett, Marlon Brown and Tavarres King, while freshmen tailback sensations; Todd Gurley (9.2 yards a carry) and Keith Marshall, had been road chewing marvels.
The D hasn’t been vintage Bulldog, but the expected return from suspension of; backer Alec Ogletree, and All-America safety Bacarri Rambo, should infuse iron and vitality into any deficiencies.
It’s a good thing that Daddy Vince stayed at home, as the Dawgs easily handles his kid’s team.
No.18 Oregon State at Arizona (Pac12 network, 10 p.m.) The Beavers are intent on damming its third consecutive dangerous opponent, as it surprisingly continues to flood into the national rankings.
Coach Mike Riley’s Corvallis crew is directed by the nation’s eleventh most efficient passer, QB Sean Mannion, who operates the 12th best passing attack with the precision of a brain surgeon.
The Beavers dam builder, has a pair of glue fingered targets; Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, while its bottom feeding (10th worst) ground attack, utilizes the legs of Storm Woods.
The D, which surrenders less than 19 points a game, is led by backer Michael Doctor, and end Scott Crichton.
This eleven stones runners (less than 3 yds. a carry) but shows some vulnerability defending the pass,
Coach Rich$$$ Rod’s Tucson Titans, are facing its second consecutive team from the state of Oregon.
Dual-threat senior QB, Matt Scott (7 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), directs the Cat’s balanced attack, with assists from tailback Ka’Deem Carey, and wideouts; Dan Buckner and Austin Hill.
The D, led by backer Jake Fischer, and safety, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, struggles stopping the run, but is elite defending the pass.
In a game that could determine the Pac12 direction for both teams, we think the Rich$$ Rod’s Cats at home, somehow claws its way to victory.
No. 14 Ohio State at No. 20 Michigan State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) In Columbus, the Urban renewal project has laid a solid foundation.
Urban Meyer, who has lost a total of 23 games in eleven-plus season, has also found his prototype, spread attack QB, in sophomore Braxton Miller (7 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions).
This dual-threat, 210 pound speedster, is sixteenth in the nation in rushing, and rolls at a defense, with the same smashing intent, as a ball, speeding down a waxed ten-pin alley.
This Columbus colossus is assisted by the tailback tandem; Carlos Hyde (back after injury) and Jordan Hall. And when the QB does air it out (the Bucks are 96th in passing), Devin Smith, and Corey Brown are solid targets.
The Bucks D, featuring backers Ryan Shazier, and Etienne Sabino, is solid against the run, but sixteenth from the bottom defending the pass, which fortunately for the Buckeyes, shouldn’t be a huge problem against the MSU passing attack.
The East Lansing faithful, who have already witnessed its national championship hopes dashed against the Irish, are now ringing the bell for a Rose Bowl invitation.
Those hopes rest on the legs of its battering ram, junior tailback Le’Veon Bell (6-2, 238 pounds), who ranks third in rushing, averaging a Heisman-like 152 yards a game.
Unfortunately, the Spartan offense has been hamstrung by its first time starter, QB Andrew Maxwell (3 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), who has yet to prove that he is ready for prime time.
Which leaves Sparty’s one dimensional attack, a Davy Jones like 102nd in scoring; as it averages a Charlie Weis Kansas-like; 21 points a game.
If those New Year’s Pasadena reservations are indeed going to be booked, it will be the Spartans sixth stingiest (11 pts. a game) D, led by backer Max Bullough, and the All-America pairing; corner Johnny Adams, and end William Gholston, which will provide the strong arm muscle.
In a very close, and classic, Big Ten game, in our mind a case can be made for each side, we think the Le’Veon Bell and Sparty’s D ring in the victory, and say “Good-bye Columbus” to its visitor from Columbus.
Last week’s record: 4-1 Season record: 14-6
Our weekend recap will be up and running by noon on Sunday. Until then Peace, and listen to the music! PK