We begin this week with a coach, a losing streak, and a life changing accident.
Coach Curtis Flakes knew exactly what he was stepping into when he was hired as the head football coach of New Mexico’s Albuquerque High.
After all, what’s a 39 game losing, which would climb to 43, after you beat cancer!
The 32-year old head man survived a near fatal motorcycle accident in 2011, which ironically saved his life.
During the course of his rehabilitation Flakes constantly complained about chest pains.
That led doctors to discover a grapefruit-sized tumor surrounding his heart. He underwent six months of chemotherapy, and a month of radiation, and is now cancer free, so a little, or in this case, Himalayan sized losing streak was merely a mosquito bite on an elephant.
On September 26, the Bulldogs officially got off the schneid when they routed Highland High; 47-8, and officially buried the longest high school football losing streak in the history of New Mexico.
“For me, they were in the same situation like I was,” said Flakes.
“I was fighting every day to get my body right. I’m blessed, and in remission, that’s what drew me to the job. For me, it was a match made in heaven, definitely a gift.” WOW!!
This weekend, let’s see which “flakey” teams play like they’re on life support, and which play with hearts the size of grapefruits, delivering the gift of another victory to its faithful.
No.13 Ohio State at No.7 Michigan State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) Just like the explorer Christopher, the Boys from Columbus are searching for that “Landmark” victory.
The Sons of “Hopalong” Cassady, the nation’s fourth highest scoring (45) eleven, are directed by its stellar r-shirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett (23 Tds-7 INTs – 64% – 6 rushing), who smoothly down-shifts as the nation’s fourth most efficient passer.
The Buckeyes dual-threat triggerman, who is gimpy on a bad wheel (sprained MCL), is assisted by tailback Ezekiel Elliott, and a trio of field-stretching receivers; featuring Michael Thomas, and Devin Smith, who have combined for 13 TD grabs.
The attacking D, led by All-America end Joey Bosa (14.5 tfls, 10 sacks – fifth in nation), and fellow backers Joshua Perry, and Darron Lee is more disruptive than a concussive, shrapnel-filled airbag from Takata.
In East Lansing, the Sons of Bubba Smith are searching for a victory of similar pizazz.
Coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans, under the command of its maestro QB, the nation’s seventh most efficient passer, Connor Cook (17TDs-5 INTs-60%), has better balance than Nik Wallenda.
Sparty’s starry field-general is assisted by a pair of anvil-pounding tailbacks Jeremy Langford (10 TDs-105 ypg), and his partner Nick Hill (6 tds) who can pierce defensive armor better than a RPG.
When its sharpshooter takes to the Great Lakes State skies, wideout Tony Lippett (21 yards per catch- 9 TDs) is as dangerous as sitting next to a feverish West African on a long plane ride.
The Sons of Duffy Daugherty’s D, led by backers Ed Davis (10 tfls – 6.5 sacks), Taiwan Jones, and All-America end Shilique Calhoun, plays with more high speed aggression than NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski.
The last time the Spartans faced a foe with such Herculean implications was on the Peloponnese Peninsula, and we think history repeats itself for these modern day Spartans from East Lansing.
No.4 Alabama at No.14 LSU (Ch.4, 8 p.m.) Steely Dan sang; “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide…” And in Groucho’s favorite town, Tuscaloosa, they call their coach; St. Nick.
And to call to this classic SEC tussle a “big game” is like calling the Presidency a “big job.” The Tide’s Final-Four playoff aspirations are riding on the outcome.
Saban’s charges are under the direction of the country’s third most efficient passer Blake Sims (15 TDs – 3 INTs- 65%), who gets a “big” assist from his All-America plough horse T.J. Yeldon, and his quality backup; Derrick Henry.
When the triggerman of the Sons of Joe Namath goes aerial, All-America game changer, Heisman candidate, and future Sunday stud, Amari Cooper (over 1100 yds – 9 TDs- 141 ypg), is America’s best target since Osama Bin Laden.
The Sons of Jim Nabors (class ’51) D, the nation’s second stingiest (14), and 4th overall, is led by the All-America pairing; backer Trey DePriest, and safety Landon Collins.
In tribute of its Indy-500 pre-race singer (“Back Home Again in Indiana”) these pulverizers have “Shazamed” opponents with the ferocity of “Gronk” plowing over an end zone protecting defender.
Les Miles’ baby Bayou Bengals have matured faster than boot camp private in his first war zone fire-fight.
Dual-threat QB Anthony Jennings (8 TDs – 5 INTs – 50%) continues on his upward curve.
But the identity of the Sons of Billy Cannon is a ground assault led by tailbacks Leonard Fournette, Kenny Hilliard, and Terrence Mage, who can chew up territory faster than an ISIS convoy.
When the QB locks-on, wideout Dural Travin (25 yards a grab – 7TDs) has the ability to score quicker than a Kardashian.
But as always for a Les Miles squad, the nation’s fourth tightest (15) D, sets the barometer for the Baton Rouge eleven.
Ends Danielle Hunter, and Jermauria Rasco, along with backers Kwon Alexander, and Kendell Beckwith, will rattle more bones than Jacob Marley.
We are fully aware that the “Mad Hatter” is a jaw-dropping 46-3 under the lights in Death Valley.
Nevertheless we think the Tide adds a digit to that loss column, as Bama marches on toward its Armageddon showdown with Auburn.
No.9 Kansas State at No.6 TCU (FOX, 7:30 p.m.) Oscar Hammerstein’s “Ol’ Man River … he just keeps rollin’ along,” from the 1927 classic musical “Show Boat,” aptly describes the remarkable tenure of KState’s septuagenarian (75) Coach; Bill Snyder.
The only person to do more with less was; Tiny Tim.
The feisty Purple Cats are directed by the “Deep Throat” of college football, QB Jake Waters (11TDs-3 INTs-65% – 7 rushing) who is a poor man’s Collin Klein.
The Little Apple (Manhattan, Kansas) showman is assisted by one of the nation’s best, wideout Tyler Lockett, who catches better than a d-CON trap.
And when KState takes to the turf, tailbacks Charles Jones, and DeMarcos Robinson, are a pair of hard charging hombres.
The Cats D, allowing less than 19 points a game, led by backers Jonathan Truman, Dakorey Johnson, and safety Dante Barnett, hits harder, and longer, than Ted Williams smashing a Rip Sewell Ephus pitch.
The last time there was this much excitement in Fort Worth, the Texas-Pacific Railway arrived transforming the sleepy town into cattle trading behemoth.
Coach Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs, the nation’s second highest scoring (48) squad, is directed by Its T-bone QB, Trevone Boykin (22 TDs-4 INTs), with assists from a game changing tailback B.J. Catalon – 10 TDs.
When “Mr. Prime-Cut” takes to the skies, wideouts; Josh Doctson, Deantre Gray, and Kolby Listenbee, will test any defense.
TCU’s pedestrian D, led by backers Paul Dawson (12 tfls), Marcus Mallet, and end John Carraway continues to improve weekly.
This is another very difficult game to get a handle. And without any great conviction, we’ll take the home cooking of the Frogs.
No.8 Notre Dame at No.11 Arizona State (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) How big is this game for the Irish? Touchdown Jesus is saying an extra novena!
The Irish train is driven by its scintillating conductor, dual-threat QB Everett Golson (22 TDs-7 INTs), who slithers out of trouble better than a pole dancer in Times Square.
The ND magic man is assisted by his downhill tailback Tarean Folston, while wideouts Will Fuller (9TDs), and Corey Robinson are capable of stretching a defense.
On D, the Sons of Alan Page, (backer Joe Schmidt for the season), behind backer Jaylon Smith, and tackles Jarron Jones, and Sheldon Day, will not cause any sleepless nights for offensive coordinators, but has shown an ability to make a game changing stop.
ASU Coach Todd “The Texter” Graham has the Sun Devils sitting in an unexpected penthouse position.
QB Taylor Kelley (9 TDs-2 INTs) remains a bit rusty since returning from a foot injury, and relies heavily on trio of downhill runners; Demario Richard, D.J. Foster, and Deantre Lewis.
[Note: If Taylor is banged up backup Mike Bercovici (10 TDs-3 INTs), is a quality replacement.]
When the desert dart thrower takes to the skies, Jaelen Strong (57 catches – 8 TDs) is as dangerous as a jar of left open mayonnaise on a sweltering July afternoon.
As of late, the Sun Devils D, featuring backers Salamo Fiso, and Moeakiola Laiu, which has struggled defending the run, has tightened like the material of a Mariah Carey dress.
Again, this is a game with strong arguments on both sides, but we think the extra novena does the trick for the Irish.
No.10 Baylor at No.16 Oklahoma (FS1, Noon) Kentucky Senator, and Baylor alum, Rand Paul wishes his political organization could accumulate votes as dramatically as the Bears pile up points.
Starry QB Bryce Perry (20 TDs-3 INTs) is the igniter of the nation’s chart toppers (50) who can score faster than a sailor on leave in Bangkok.
The “Waco Kid” (and we don’t mean Gene Wilder) has the luxury of targeting a pair of field-stretchers; KD Cannon, and Corey Coleman, who average 19 yards a catch, combining for 13TDs.
Not to be outdone, the Bears ground attack behind tailbacks Shock Linwood, and Johnny Jefferson is also of high cotton quality.
The once sketchy D, anchored by end Shawn Oakman (12.5 tfls-6 sacks), and backer Bryce Hager, stones runners, and has, to this point, delivered better than a driver for UPS.
The question in Norman hangs like a tumbleweed in the wind; can “Big Game” Bob salvage his reputation?
In the Stoops tenure, when playing in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium, the Sooners have compiled a jaw-dropping 90-6 record.
But with a pair of losses already on this season’s resume, (including one in Norman), the faithful of the Sons of Barry Switzer are once again disappointed.
The nation’s 8th highest (41) scoring eleven is directed by its erratic QB Trevor Knight (12 TDs-8 INTs), with assists from a hard charging tailback Samaje Perine (11TDs), his partner Alex Ross (7yds), and one of the country’s best: All-America wideout Sterling Shepard.
The D led by All-America backer Eric Striker (9.5 tfls-5.5 sacks), and his partner Geneo Grissom, has been as unpredictable as the main character in an Agatha Christie novel.
Against better judgment, we are going to give “Big Game” one more chance, before we officially bury the moniker.
Therefore as Oscar Hammerstein wrote: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes whipping down the plain,” A-YIP-I-O-EE-AY, Oklahoma, OK!”
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 37-13.
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