We begin this week with a mortgage write off, and a secular saint.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Groucho’s favorite town, St. Nick, otherwise known as the Crimson Tide’s head man Nick Saban, (who by the way is paid close to $7 million), had the mortgage on his 8,759 square foot, $3.1 million home paid off by the Crimson Tide Foundation.
“It’s not all that unusual in the world for universities to provide housing,” said assistant secretary for the foundation Scott Phelps.
The foundation also pays Saban’s property tax bill. Wow!!
The foundation’s mission statement reads: “Raising private funds to provide the necessary resources to achieve success.” What a country!!
This weekend, let’s see which teams play so poorly its taxed faithful sentences them to the dog house, and which gives another penthouse performance without mortgaging any of its future.
No.4 Auburn at No.7 Mississippi (ESPN, 7 p.m.) Auburn, the nation’s 9th best rushing attack, runs with the intensity of the Kenyans storming down Boylston Street on Patriot’s Day.
The Sons of Bo Jackson are directed by its dual-threat magician QB Nick Marshall (11TDs-3 INTs- 580 yds. rushing -7TDs) the best sleight-of-hand man since Harry Houdini, or any pickpocket riding the NY City Transit.
This Plains master is assisted by tailback Cameron Artis-Payne (118 ypg), and his mercury fueled partner Ricardo Louis, and when the Tigers take to the skies, D’haquille Williams, and Quan Bray are quality targets.
The D of the Sons of Tucker Frederickson, led by backers Cassonova McKinzy, Kris Frost, and tackle Montravius Adams, is stout stopping the run, but like water through sandstone defending the pass which is not the best formula against Mississippi.
If Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace (18 TDS-7INTs) was a contestant on Gary Moore’s show “To Tell the Truth” the panel would be stumped.
Will it be the “Bad Bo” who resurfaced last week for the first time since the opener, or the “Good Bo,” who has sheparded the Rebels to its Olympus heights, be the one wearing number 14 Saturday in Oxford?
It is a question that has he Rebs faithful edgier than a traffic cop in Times Square.
In addition to its gunslinger, the Sons of Charley Conerly, sow the earth behind its sturdy tailback tandem; Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers, while the receiving trio: L’aquon Treadwell, Vince Sanders and Cody Core, have combined for 13TDs, averaging 15 yards a grab.
The country’s stingiest (10 pts.) D, led by All-America Safety Cody Prewitt, tackle Robert Nkemdiche, and backer Deterrian Shackleford, has more bruises than a Muhammad Ali sparring partner, but has the disruptive ability to keep Ole Miss in every game.
This is the first time a pair of top-ten teams have squared off in Oxford, and we think the Mississippi carriage turns into a pumpkin “Grove,” as its Cinderella ride ends in the home of William Faulkner.
No.10 TCU at No.20 West Virginia (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) There hasn’t been this much excitement in Fort Worth since Mary Porter’s house of ill repute opened on the Chisholm Trail stop.
Amazingly for a program, whose defensive reputation is the envy of the Pentagon, the Sons of ‘Slinging Sammy Baugh, and Davey O’Brien, aka Texas Christian University, are the nation’s highest (50) scoring eleven.
The director of Coach Gary Patterson’s high leaping Horned Frogs is its stellar dual-threat QB, Trevone Boykin (21 TDs -3 INTs – 2nd in team rushing), who has played his way into the Heisman conversation.
The Rommel-esque field general is assisted by a quintet of receivers which features Josh Doctson, and Deantre’ Gray, who have combined for 13 TD receptions.
When the Purple Frogs scuff the turf, tailback B.J. Catalon (8TDs) has the ability to gash any defense.
The D anchored by backers Paul Dawson, Marcus Mallet, and end Mike Tuaua, has some issues defending the pass, but who doesn’t in the Big 12 “Air Raid” Conference.
Before the start of the season, the coaching seat of West Virginia’s “Mad Scientist,” Dana Holgorsen, was hotter than the Hawaiian Volcano at Kilauea.
Now the Morgantown faithful feel “their” coach is cooler than Sinatra holding a microphone.
“Holgorsen’s heroes” are directed by the ‘Errs latest gunslinger, QB Clint Trickett (17 Tds-5 INTs-68%), who, in wideout Kevin White (3rd in ypg.-130, and catches (9) per game) has the best receiver this side of Dolby. [Note: the only guy better plays in Tuscaloosa.]
The Mountaineers have another dangerous outside weapon in Mario Alford, while tailback Wendell Smallwood is a quality change of pace.
On D, the Sons of Sam Huff, led by the linebacking trio; Nick Kwiatkowski, Wes Tonkey, and Branson Golson, in comparison to last season’s BP Oil disaster, have played like the Steel Curtain as evidenced by the fact that WVU has already earned bowl eligibility.
This is a very difficult game to get a handle. Both teams are playing at their heights. But somehow we think there’s a better experiment occurring in the football laboratory in Morgantown.
No.18 Utah at No.15 Arizona State (FS1, 8 p.m.) The Utes are finally adjusting to its new Pac 12 neighborhood, and are bowl eligible for the first time in three years.
The Sons of Bob Trumpy have settled on its Prudential-sized (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) QB Travis Wilson (8 TDs-0 INTs), to direct the renaissance in Salt Lake City.
Utah’s starry tailback Devontae Booker (844 yards-8TDs), is the lead plough horse of this one dimensional offense, but when its Himalayan QB makes a desert sky connection, Kenneth Scott is a comforting target. [Note: Utah’s best receiver Dres Anderson out for season – knee.)
The Utes defensive front seven, anchored by end Nate Orchard, and his partner Hunter Dimmick, (18 combined sacks, and 22 tfls), is more disruptive than Jameis Winston in the seafood aisle.
Coach Todd “The Texter” Graham’s Sun Devils are hotter than a ticket to the Allman Brothers Band last ever show at New York’s iconic Beacon Theatre.
[Note: We refer to Graham as the “Texter” because when he was hired to be the head man at Pitt several years ago, he told the Administration, its fans, and players that this is where he was meant, and wanted, to be. Less than a year later, he texted “his” players from the plane that was flying him to his new gig$$$ in Tempe. The newest place where he was meant$$ to be. Talk about character building!! He belongs in the Lance Armstrong HOF. So for us, he can’t lose enough.]
The Sons of Jake ‘The Snake” Plummer are led by another swashbuckling QB Taylor Kelly (8 TDs-1 INT), who returned last week after missing several games with a foot injury.
[Note: Kelly has been cleared to play – concussion last week, but if he can’t go, Mike Bercovici (10 TDs – 2 INTs) is a quality replacement.]
Whomever is under center, wideout Jaelen Strong (52 catches) will test any defense, while tailback D.J. Foster is dangerous as both a runner and a pass catcher.
The ASU D, featuring backers Laiu Moeakiola, and Salamo Fiso, has issues especially against the run, but in the last couple of weeks has tightened like a Mylie Cyrus dress.
We think the “Texter” and his Sun Devils have a bit more firepower, and “twerks” its way to a close a hard hitting victory.
Stanford at No. Oregon (FOX, 7:30 p.m.) Can the Sons of Jim Plunkett make it three straight over the Ducks?
Coach David Shaw has simplified the Cardinal offense which has been colder than the head of Ted Williams.
QB Kevin Hogan (13 TDs-6 INTs), who is the director of this “ice bucket” brigade (88th in scoring), is assisted by tailbacks Remound Wright, and true freshman Christian McCaffrey.
When the mistake prone signal caller makes the proper GPS adjustment, wideout Ty Montgomery is a Linus-blanket target.
But if the Farm’s offense has muddled along in state of suspended animation, the D is hotter than the HD lights that shine upon the mugs of Robert and Jonathan Kraft as they lord over the stadium in their pretentious Foxboro high chairs.
The nation’s second stingiest D (12), anchored by Kevin and Henry Anderson, and their ubiquitous backer Blake Martinez, slows the run, and the pass, with the proficiency of a lunch-time downtown meter maid sniffing out a parking violation.
These are not your father’s Ducks.
The Sons of Norm Van Brocklin are directed by the Heisman front-runner, QB Marcus Mariotta (24 TDs-1 INT, 68%, 5 TDs rushing), who also leads the nation in pass efficiency.
The leader of the nation’s fifth (45) highest scoring squad is assisted by tailback Royce Freeman (13TDs), while wideouts Byron Marshall, Devon Allen, are solid glue-fingered receivers.
But it’s the D of Phil Knight University, which causes the acid turning Alka-Seltzer moments for the playoff thirsty faithful.
This card carrying group of matadors featuring All-America corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, backer Derrick Malone, and tackle DeForest Buckner ranks a creaky 76th stopping the run, 114th defending the pass and triple digits – 106th in total defense. Simply, not the stuff of champions.
Yet, despite those defensive liabilities, we don’t think the Cardinal flies out of Autzen Stadium with the W, as the Ducks remain, somewhat precariously, on a playoff track.
No.20 Harvard at Dartmouth (CSN New England, 3:30 p.m.) We decided to dip into the Ancient Eight, and what better place than Hanover, New Hampshire where the Crimson of Harvard (6-0, 3-0) will meet the Big Green of Dartmouth (5-1, 3-0) for the 118th time, with first place on the line.
It is also another meeting between best friends, and former Silver Lake High teammates, Tim Murphy of Harvard, and Buddy Teevens of Dartmouth.
Amazingly, the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, occupied the Oval Office, the first time these rivals strapped on its chinstraps in; 1882, Harvard’s second oldest rival.
It has also been a total domination by the Crimson, as the Sons of Chub Peabody have won 10 in a row, and an eye-popping 16 of the last 17.
And to say that Coach Tim Murphy (who gave us a great blurb for the Cotter book!) has done a good job during his 21 year Crimson coaching tenure (143-62), is like saying Michelangelo did a nice paint job on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The return (back injury) of dual-threat senior QB Conner Hempel adds another dangerous option to the always evolving Harvard offense. The Starry QB is assisted by tailbacks Andrew Casten, and Connor Sheehan, while wideout Andrew Fischer grabs a football with the same ease that alum Alan Dershowitz handles a tort case.
But overall, the D, led by backers Jacob Lindley, Eric Mendes, and end Zack Hodges (Harvard’s all-time sack leader) has played with, to quote another legendary alum George Frazier, a certain “Duende,” operating as the main beam of its unblemished season.
Since his return for a second (2005) stint as the head man for the Sons of Bob Blackmon, Coach Buddy Teevens has slowly returned a degree of the Big Green’s long missing football tradition.
The Dartmouth offense, led by QB Dalyn Williams (10 TDs-2 INTs- 5 rushing), with assists from tailback Kyle Bramble, and receivers Ryan McManus, and Victor Williams, won’t cause any sleepless nights for a D-coordinator, but is a reflection of its coach, relentlessly attacking and often overachieving.
The Big Green’s D, featuring backers Will McNamara, and Zach Slafsky, is solid stopping the run, but a bottom-feeding 112th defending against the pass which is the wrong recipe against Harvard.
In the biggest game played in Hanover in over two-decades, it will be a joyous bus ride back to Cambridge for a bunch of Crimson players filled with “Duende.”
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 33-12.
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