We begin this week with a bank, a holiday, and a fierce rivalry.
The Bank of Ann Arbor, the home of the Maize and Blue, decided to remain open on Columbus Day, a federal holiday, because of who the holiday honors.
“We will not be closed for Columbus Day, a federal holiday, because Columbus is in Ohio,” read the sign posted on both the banks website and its front door.
“It has just taken a life of its own, which has been fun,” said the bank’s CEO Tim Marshall.
It also proved to be a stroke of marketing genius for the savings institution, as the mischievous stunt played out all over the twitter and cyber world. Good for them.
This weekend, let’s see which teams appear to be bankrupt, and which are flush and playing so well, that its starters are given a fourth quarter “banker’s holiday,” putting its faithful in a holiday mood.
No.3 Mississippi at No.24 LSU (ESPN, 7:15) The last time the Rebels (7-0) were riding this high, James Meredith was reluctantly granted admittance into the Oxford campus, and a skinny Irish Catholic from Hyannis, Massachusetts, better known as JFK, was chasing starlets around the Oval Office – 1962.
The Sons of Archie Manning, and Charlie Conerly, are directed by QB Bo Wallace (17 TDs-6 INTs-65%) the best Magnolia State trigger man this side of Jesse James.
The maestro, with the demeanor of “Cool Hand Luke,” is assisted by tailbacks; Jaylen Walton, and I’Tavius Mathers, while the wideout trio of; Laquon Treadwell, Vince Sanders, and Cody Core, are worthy of the Elmer’s Hall of Fame.
But the real glue behind this Ole Miss renaissance is a defense not seen in the Grove, since the Sugar Bowl team of Dwight Eisenhower – 1959.
The Rebel eleven, led by tackle Robert Nkemdiche, end Marquis Haynes, and All-America safety Cody Prewitt, is the nation’s tightest (10 pts.), and attacks with the ferocity of a Southern republican toward Obama Care, or a social welfare program whose origins are from the Northeast.
Les Miles’ Bayou Bengals are younger than Robert Kraft’s girlfriend.
Sophomore QB Anthony Jennings (7 TDs-3 INTs-50%) is still an apprentice, while true freshman tailback Leonard Fournette, and his partners Kenny Hilliard, and Terrence Magee, are a formidable road grading trio.
When the QB takes to the Death Valley skies, Trauin Dural is reminiscent of the AFL’s legendary receiver Elbert “Golden Wheels” Dubenion, averaging a jaw-dropping (25 yds. catch), and scoring 7-touchdowns.
The nation’s 8th stingiest (17pts) D, anchored by backers Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith, and end Danielle Hunter, stones runners but has some vulnerability defending against the pass.
Saturday night in Baton Rouge, not to mention the fact that LSU is rapidly maturing on both sides of the ball, makes this a very dangerous test for the Rebels. But ultimately, we think the Ole Miss D is the “glue” that keeps the Rebs perfect season together.
N0.20 USC at No.19 Utah (FS1, 10 p.m.) Coach Steve Sarkisian’s maiden voyage at the helm of the USS Southern Cal has been like “Gilligan’s” S.S. Minnow, “slightly” off course.
The Trojans have, with apologies to Bon Jovi, been “Livin’ On A Prayer.” One week it’s a “Hail Mary” loss at home, the next a victory in the desert courtesy of a missed chip-shot field goal.
These Sons of Pete Beathard are directed by its dart thrower QB Cody Kessler (18 TDs – 1 INT – 69%), who targets a pair of field stretchers: Nelson Agholor (7TDs), and JuJu Smith.
When USC plows the earth, tailback Javorius Allen (over 900 yards, 8 TDs, and 6 yards-a-pop), is one of the nation’s best.
But shockingly for the “Surfer Dudes” from LA, whose D is anchored by All-America Leonard Williams, backer Hayes Pullard, and end J.R. Tavai has performed as if it was a Trojan Horse.
On paper it appears more powerful than Vladimir Putin, but has played more like the Ukrainian Military.
Utah, aka the Sons of HOF Larry Wilson, are continuing its search for a permanent signal caller.
The Escalade-sized (6-foot-7) Travis Wilson (7 TDs -0 INTs, no relation to Larry), and OU transfer Kendal Thompson (2 TDs-2INTs), continue to battle for the starting job. [Note: Wilson is starting Saturday.]
Whomever is under center, when the QB’s go aerial, Kenneth Scott, and Dres Anderson (17 yds. catch) are big play targets.
The Utes D, anchored by end Nate Orchard, who is second in the nation in both tackles for losses and sacks, along with his partner Hunter Dimick, and backer Jared Norris, are more disruptive than the Pumpkin Fest at Keene State.
In fact Utah leads the nation averaging a jaw-dropping 5-plus sacks a game.
In what should be a very close game, we think the Utes find a way to expose the Trojan Horse.
No.22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) The “Mad-Scientist,” Coach Dana Holgersen, has concocted a victory potion of surprising strength in his Morgantown laboratory.
The Sons of Jerry West, aka West Virginia University are commanded by graduate FSU transfer QB Clint Trickett (15 TDs – 5 Ints-68%), who throws more bombs than Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
Tailbacks Rushel Shell, and Wendell Smallwood, provide the ground clutter, but when the Mountaineers take to the skies, Kevin White (69 catches – 1020 yds -7 TDs) no relation to Boston’s “Mayor Deluxe,” leads the nation in ypg -145, second in catches per game 9, and can score quicker than Jerry West.
Instead of the Niagara Falls sized fissures of previous years, WV’s much improved D, featuring backer Nick Kwiatkowski, and safety Karl Joseph, has been the key to the Blue Ridge renaissance.
In 1970 the Four Tops had a huge hit, “Still Waters Run Deep” and in Stillwater, Oklahoma, aka Boone Pickens University, the faithful are going to need the Pokes to reach deep down to keep its season from unraveling.
The Cowboys principle six-shooter is out of ammunition due to injury, and his replacement, QB Daxx Garman (10 TDs-7INTs), isn’t the vintage high-caliber marksman the faithful are used to seeing in a Coach Mike Gundy styled offense.
When Mr. X is on target, David Glidden, and Brandon Sheperd (18 yds. catch), are focal points, while tailbacks Desmone Roland, and jet-fueled Tyreek Hill, can pierce any defense.
OkState’s D, featuring end Emmanuel Ogbah (11.5 tfls -7 sacks), and backer Josh Freeman (9tfls-5 sacks), are solid against the run, but a woeful bottom scrapping (116) defending the pass which is the wrong recipe against Holgersen’s Heroes.
We think the “Mad Scientist” formula works to perfection, and as John Denver sang in “Country Road” “Almost Heaven, West Virginia…” as the Boys from the Mountain State put a smile on the face of “Mr. Clutch,” Jerry West.
No.13 Ohio State at Penn State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) The Sons of Woody Hayes are rolling, and playing themselves back into the playoff picture.
The nation’s fourth highest (46) scoring eleven, is directed by its scintillating r-shirt freshman QB, J.T. Barrett (20 TDs-5INTs-65%), who smoothly operates as the nation’s third most efficient thrower.
The dual-threat sniper is assisted by tailback Ezeckiel Elliott, and a trio of defensive testing receivers: Michael Thomas (5TDs), Donte Wilson, and Devin Smith (5TDs), who averages an eye-popping 29 yards per grab.
The Bucks D, led by end Joey Bosa (9 tfls-5.5 sacks), and backers Joshua Perry, and Darron Lee, ranks 15th overall, and attacks with the same disruptive fury as the police in Hong Kong.
On the other hand, the Penn State offense resembles the scenes from the Marx Brothers movie; “Horse Feathers.”
This Lions club directed by QB Christian Hackenberg (5TDs-7INTs), and featuring tailbacks Bill Belton, Zach Zwinak, along with wideouts Daesean Hamilton and Eugene Lewis, is as efficient as the Massachusetts Lottery Commission; stuck at a mud-sliding 118th in running the ball, and 108th (21) in scoring.
The Nits D has carried the day in Happy Valley.
James Franklin’s feisty bunch, led by end Deion Barnes, backer Mike Hull, (who averages 10 tackles a game), and his partner Nyeem Wartman, are tops stopping the run, 6th overall, and the country’s 6th (15) tightest D.
But we think there is too much fire power on the Scarlet and Grey side, and the Buckeyes fly out of Happy Valley with the Association’s lyrics of “Goodbye Columbus” silently being played in the heads of the 107,000 PSU faithful.
UMass at Toledo (ESPN3, 2 p.m.) This is the first time the following words have been written about the Minutemen since it joined the ranks of “Big Boy” football two plus years ago.
UMass in going for three wins in a row!
The pigskin “Belle of Amherst,” Coach Mark Whipple put it in its proper perspective: “I don’t think there’s a ticker-tape parade in Amherst because we won two in a row. I hope not…”
The Amherst eleven are directed by its sharpshooter QB, Marshall graduate Blake Frohnapfel (18 TDs-6INTs-54%), (who has another year of eligibility), who has tossed for the fifth most passing yards in the nation.
The rangy (6-foot-6) signal caller, is assisted by tailback Shadrach Abronkwah, and a pair of glue fingered receivers; Tajae Sharp (54 catches -4 TDs), and his partner Jean Sifrin – 4 TDs.
Unfortunately the D, led by backers Jovan Santos-Knox, Stanley Andre, and end Daniel Maynes, carries numbers that an AP honor student would covet.
This group is 101st overall, allowing an average of 34 points a game (99th), and stops the run (95th) and the pass (99th) with the same ability as the Iraqi Army against ISIS, or anybody else for that matter.
Unlike its name, the Rockets, who have won three straight, and are the only unblemished team in the MAC Conference, do most of its damage on the ground.
Tailbacks Terry Swanson (7 yds. a pop), and Damion Jones-Moore (5 yds. a carry), are the lead plough horses on a ground assault that is ranks 18th best in America.
Dual-threat QB Logan Woodside (8 TDs-3 INTs) contributes to those numbers, and when he goes aerial, Corey Jones, and Alonzo Russell are inviting targets.
But Toledo’s D is more unbalanced than the Detroit city budget.
This squad featuring backers Trent Voss (9tfls -4 sacks), Junior Sylvestre, and end Ray Bush stones runners, but are dead last defending the pass which is not a good recipe against the Minutemen.
In a game in which points will pile up faster than the number of range rovers pulling into the Milton Academy parking lot, we don’t think Whipple’s crew on the road is ready to jump over the next hurdle.
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 29-11
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap by noon on Sunday. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. Pk