We begin this week with a hazardous seat location.
Two weeks ago, 57 year old Patty Beljarano, of Las Cruces, New Mexico attended her first, and possibly last, college football game.
It was played at Aggie Memorial Stadium, on the campus of New Mexico State University.
She was sitting in the general admission section, munching on some candy, and enjoying the atmosphere, when she felt a sudden sting on her leg.
Reaching down, she touched her jeans, saw blood, and realized that she had been shot.
She was taken to the hospital, and released the next day.
Police theorize, that the bullet was probably fired outside the stadium, possibly in celebration of a touchdown, which in recent seasons, has become a rarity
“It’s ridiculous,” said Patty. “You can’t even go out anywhere, anymore.”
This weekend, let’s see which teams, employing the shotgun, win in a shootout, and which play so poorly, it leaves their coach in the position of being fired.
No. 5 Georgia at No. 6 South Carolina (ESPN, 7 p.m.) It took awhile, due to suspensions imposed by Coach Mark Richt, but finally, the Bulldogs have all its starting pieces lined up between the hedges.
The Dawgs chief walker is its All-American caliber QB, Aaron Murray (12 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 68 % completions) who operates as the nation’s third most efficient passer.
The country’s eleventh best rush attack (250 yds. a game), and eighth highest scoring team (48), motors with a Butch and Sundance, pair of freshmen sensations; tailbacks Todd Gurley, and Keith Marshall.
In Athens, this shoot-em-up duo, which averages, an eye-popping 8 yards a carry, has scored a combined; 14 touchdowns, and is affectionately known as; Gurshall, in honor of Georgia’s legendary tailback, Herschel Walker.
When the QB takes to the air, wideouts Michael Bennett (out season- knee), Marlon Brown, and Tavarres King, are field stretching targets.
The D, anchored by its All-America backer Jarvis Jones, and fellow backer Jordan Jenkins, isn’t of Bulldog, or SEC vintage, allowing an average of 22 points a game.
This may be the biggest game in the history of South Carolina football, which has been fielding teams since; 1892.
The cock of the walk, for Coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, is dual-threat QB, Connor Shaw (5 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions – 78% completions) Shaw.
The Gamecocks dart thrower, directs a grinding, glacial attack, by leaning heavily on his All-America tailback Marcus Lattimore (8 tds), and a trio of receivers; Ace Sanders, Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd.
But it’s the South Carolina D, led by end Jadeveon Clowney, tackle Kelcy Quarles, and backer Shaq Wilson, stones runners and allows a miniscule 11 points a game.
It will determine the heights that South Carolina will climb.
Hail Columbia indeed, as Spurrier’s Cocks bite the Dawgs, crowing its way toward an SEC East showdown against Florida.
No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) One of the lines from the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic; “Born on the Bayou,” reads; “Wishin’ I were a fast freight train, Just chooglin’ down to New Orleans.”
It is that sense of intensity that, so far, seems to be missing from this year’s version of the Bayou Bengals.
And if this was a word association game; as Afghan President, Hamid Karzai is to corruption; LSU is to a ground attack.
Coach Les Miles’ signature top-twenty ground and pound assault, fires behind a trio of battering rams; Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, and Spencer Ware.
But as the Purple and Gold faithful are well aware, the Tigers aerial show is lacking serious pyrotechnics.
First time starter, QB Zach Mettenberger (6 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions) has been as effective, as Congressman John Tierney ludicrous “Casablanca” assertion, that he knew nothing, about his wife’s $7 million checking account.
Once again, the ultimate success of the Tigers rests with its fourth rated D, who locks up an offense better than Master.
This eleven, featuring All-America end Sam Montgomery, and backer Kevin Minter, surrenders a dozen points a game, and plays with a ferocity, that is only matched by the enmity Senator Scott Brown holds, toward his challenger, Professor Elizabeth Warren.
The Boys from the Swamp are on the rise.
But these are not your father’s “Fun and Gun” Gators of Steve Spurrier.
In fact the Florida passing attack, commanded by its dual-threat QB Jeff Driskel (4 touchdown passes – 1 interception), and assisted by wideouts Frankie Hammond and Trey Burton, ranks a swamp mucking 13th from the bottom.
In lieu of an aerial show, Florida’s top-twenty running game, led by its All-America caliber tailback Mike Gillislee, along with the improvisation of Driskel, has lifted the return to glory dreams of the Gainesville faithful.
The nation’s tenth stingiest D (12 points a game), featuring backer Jonathan Bostic, and tackle Omar Hunter, are the chief architects of this somewhat tenuous Swamp revival.
We think that the UF revival needs an infusion of citrus, as the boys “Born on the Bayou,” leave Gainesville with the W.
No. 8 West Virginia at No. 11 Texas (FOX, 7 p.m.) Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, there are no country roads, mountain mamas, or John Denver recordings, appearing in Austin.
Dana Holgorson, its “Mad Scientist,” coach, brings his high climbing Mountaineers, rolling into cattle country, as the third highest (53 pts. a game) scoring team in the land.
Heisman candidate, QB Geno Smith, the Morgantown rifleman (20 touchdown passes – 0 interceptions – 83% completions), leads the nation in pass efficiency, and can hit a target more accuracy than a Taliban rooftop sniper.
And what targets his has.
The marksman, has a trio glue fingered receivers; Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and J.D. Woods, who have already combined for 19 touchdowns.
But the defense remains a mirage.
There is a rumor that the 2012 West Virginia eleven, 94th in points allowed (32), and second from the bottom in defending the pass, has a cheese maker in Switzerland, interested in becoming a major sponsor.
In Austin, the Horns newly minted starting QB, David Ash (10 touchdown passes – 1 interception, 78% completions), the country’s second most efficient spiral specialist, is quite capable of leaving that suspect WV secondary in ashes.
The Texas gunslinger has a pair of quality, Velcro fingered targets; Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis.
But if the Longhorn resurgence proves not to be Memorex, it will be done on the strength of his running attack which features the powerful tailback threesome; Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray.
The Horns 63rd ranked D, once thought to be elite, and anchored by ends Jackson Jeffcoat, and All-America Alex Okafor, has sprung some serious, and troublesome fissures, particularly in stopping the run.
It has already surrendered five TDs of 44 yards or longer, while missing more tackles, than the Kardashians endorse products.
In a game in which the entire UT Math Department may be called upon to keep track of the scoring, we believe that Sons of Bevo play a bit more D, rattle Smith, and squeeze out the victory.
No. 9 Notre Dame vs. Miami (Ch.7, 7:30 p.m.) Soldiers Field, Chicago For the Irish, this is indeed rarified air.
The last time the Sons of Knute Rockne were ranked in the AP Top-10 (2006), Barak Obama was an unknown Senator from Illinois, George H. W. Bush occupied the Oval Office, the American economy was full steam ahead, and Osama Bin Laden was alive.
And unlike Notre Dame Squads of recent vintage, this group is built around its Kryptonite defense, which is surrendering a flimsy Alabama-like; 9 points a game.
Its backbone is its ubiquitous, All-America backer, Manti TE’O, the leader of the nation’s fifteenth overall D.
But on the other side of the ball, the lifeless offense (76th scoring), is in dire need of some extra novenas, and a blessing from Touchdown Jesus.
Starting QB, Everett Golson (3 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions – 56% completions), remains, much like the hole in Downtown Crossing, very much a work in progress.
But if things are especially rough, Coach Brian Kelly has shown that he won’t hesitate to bring in his relief pitcher, junior quarterback, Tommy Rees. (This brings a marrow chill to the spine of Tommy “Black Hand,” Price.)
Theo Riddick leads a ground game, which once showed promise, but now runs (84th) like a glue-factory nag at Suffolk Downs.
And when the Irish take to the air (85th), they wobble passes at receivers; TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels.
The U has done it with mirrors.
It has all been on the arm, and heroics, of the nation’s 16th ranked passer, QB Stephen Morris (9 touchdown passes – 4 interceptions), whose principal targets are Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott.
The Miami ground attack, led by the promising freshman Duke Johnson, and senior Mike James, remains at a meandering sea level-like; 84th overall.
But it’s the Hurricanes’ D which sends Category 2 worries to its “bandwagon jumping” faithful.
This group led by end Anthony Chickillo, and backer Eddie Johnson, has produced numbers; (8th from the bottom stopping the run, 91 in defending the pass, 98th in scoring, allowing a colander 33 points a game, and ranks 6th from the bottom overall), that not even a mother, could defend.
This is a game of great intrigue.
A victory is a huge step in the progress of both programs, but in Chicago at prime time, we think that the bars will be toasting the Irish victory into the weeest of Sunday morning hours.
No. 21 Nebraska at No. 12 Ohio State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) In Lincoln, the question continues to echo; will the once vaunted, and feared, “Black Shirt” D, ever resurface in Memorial Stadium?
If not, if will be another long, barren, winter, for the Big Red faithful.
The Huskers sturdy stalk, remains its dual-threat impresario, QB Taylor Martinez (11 touchdown passes – 1 interception – 67 % completions), whose legs, at least to Nebraska Nation, are just as dynamic as those of Faith Hill.
The starry road runner, who operates the nation’s fifth best rushing attack (305 yds. a game), is greatly assisted by a pair of road plowing tailbacks; Taylor Burkhead and Amer Abdullah.
And when the “Magic Man,” who has greatly improved his throwing mechanics, chucks it around, wideouts Kenny Bell, and Quincy Enunwa, are complimentary targets.
The aforementioned D, led by backer Will Compton, and tackle Baker Steinkuhler, has been gashed by the opposition’s tailbacks, more often, than the face of former heavyweight contender, “The Bayonne Bleeder,” Chuck Wepner.
In Columbus, the Urban Renewal project is ahead of schedule.
The Buckeyes principle architect is its bulldozing (6-2, 210 pounds) sophomore QB, Braxton Miller (8 touchdown passes – 3 interceptions), who scoots as the nation’s 13th best runner, averaging; 115 yards a game.
Woody would love the Bucks approach.
Ohio State is 98th in passing, but averages over 200 yards on the ground with a big assist from tailback; Carlos Hyde.
The D, led by backers Ryan Shazier, Ettenne Sabino, and end John Simon, stones runners but is a flood gate 94th in defending the pass, leaving Urban Meyer well aware, that his team remains a work in progress.
In what will be a classic fall scene, Big Ten football, at night in the “Horseshoe,” we think it’s the Buckeyes, who add another building block to its foundation.
Last week: 3-2 Season total: 17-8.
Be sure to read our recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday. Until then Peace, and listen to the music. pk