We begin this week with a tiger, a condo, and a reluctance to join the party.
LSU’s iconic, and beloved mascot, Mike the Tiger, has yet to venture out of his palatial estate located across from Tiger Stadium, and into his assigned cage for his parade around the field in front of 90,000 crazed, imbibing, and screaming Bayou Bengal fanatics.
He has missed all of LSU’s home games.
You can’t blame him.
Mike resides in a 15,000-square-foot habitat replete with a waterfall, a pool and an Italianate tower. In addition he is pampered by the professionals at LSU’s Veterinarian School who look after his teeth, paws and claws.
LSU alum, and “Clintonista” James Carville said, “Mike has the best health care in Louisiana.”
The way it’s supposed to work is that Mike stalking in his mobile cage, is driven around the field’s perimeter with the cheerleaders perched atop. It stops in front of the tunnel where the opposing players enter the stadium and lets out a roar of disapproval as they run by. [I’ve been there to see it.]
Maybe because LSU is experiencing a “down” year by its standards, Mike is content watching Alabama, Ohio State, or Oregon, instead of the Boys from Baton Rouge. OUCH!!
On this Thanksgiving weekend, let’s see which teams leave its faithful in a throaty roar of approval, and which, wished it had stayed home, munched on leftovers, or even had a pedicure, instead of being forced to watch another wretched performance by the alma-mater.
No.15 Auburn at No.2 Alabama (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) The Sons of Bo Jackson, aka Auburn University, would relish “stuffing” the playoff ambitions of its loathsome rival.
The gear-shifter of the country’s eighth best rushing attack is the Tigers dual-threat QB, maestro Nick Marshall (15 TDs – 6 INTs- 735 rushing -11 TDs), who is a better sleight-of-hand man than a New York City transit pick pocket.
The slippery one gets a big assist from his blue ribbon stallion; Cameron Artis-Payne (11 TDs-1405 rushing), the SEC’s leading rusher, while wideouts Quan Bray, and Sammie Coates are dangerous field stretchers.
The Tigers D, led by backers Cassanova McKinzy (10 tfls), Kris Frost, and corner Jonathan Ford, has issues defending the pass which is not a prize winning recipe against Alabama.
Groucho’s favorite team, controls its own destiny; win out, and it punches its ticket into the four-team playoff.
St. Nick’s crew is directed by senior QB Blake Sims (20 TDs-4 INts-62%) who has shown the ability to strike with the deadly efficiency of a cobra.
The Tide’s commander selects from a buffet of prime receivers; featuring All-America receiver Amari Cooper (1300 yds-11 TDs-122 yds per game), his partner Christian Jones, and tight end O.J. Howard, all of whom can score faster than Taylor Swift, while tailbacks T.J. Yeldon, and Derrick Henry, are two of the SEC’s best.
But it is the D of the Sons of the “Italian Stallion” Johnny Musso, which gives Alabama its cache.
These disruptors, the nation’s second stingiest (14), are anchored by a pair of All-Americas; backer Trey Depriest, safety Landon Collins, and hit harder than a “Jell-O” shot or beverage served by Bill Cosby.
We think that Titans of Tuscaloosa move onto the SEC Championship, and climb one spot closer to a playoff invite. [Our pal “The Hanman” who picked Bama to win it all before the start of the season is smiling.]
Florida at No.1 Florida State (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.)What a way to go out!
Neither Shakespeare, nor Mike Nichols, could have scripted a better denouement.
In his “Last Hurrah,” as the Gainesville “Head Ball Coach,” Will Muschamp can extinguish the New Year’s plans of the Sons of Bobby Bowden.
During Muschamp’s four year tenure, the Gators offense displayed about as much offensive firepower as the Swiss Army, which ultimately led to his dismissal.
Dual-threat t-freshman QB Treon Harris (6 TDs -1 INT – 54%) who has been handed the keys to this jalopy, is assisted by a pair of quality tailbacks: Kelvin Taylor, and Matt Jones, combining for: 1316 yards, and 12 TDs.
When the peach-fuzzed QB has his GPS in working order, Demarcus Robinson is a comforting target.
But if the Gator offense is in need of Viagra, its D fires with the testosterone of a Derby winner.
This aggressive bunch led by end Dante Fowler (11 tfls – 4.5 sacks), and backers Michael Taylor and Antonio Morrison, smothers both the run and the pass with the disdain of NRA President Jim Porter toward Barak Obama.
Twenty-seven in a row!!
Isn’t it about time that “Crablegs,” gimpy on his balky ankle, got cracked?
Florida State’s reigning Heisman Trophy winner, QB Jameis Winston (19 TDs -13 INTs – 60%), has pulled more rabbits out of a proverbial hat than a vaudevillian magician.
And Coach Jimbo Fisher has extinguished more off-field fires than a Forest Service Hotshot.
“Mr. Clutch’s,” bucket brigade is the All-America pairing; tight end Nick O’Leary, and wideout Rashard Greene, both of whom will be playing on Sunday.
But the Seminoles ground attack (104th) featuring tailbacks Dalvin Cook, and Karlos Williams (over 1100 combined yards and 17 TDs) has remained comatose for most of the season.
And the ‘Noles D, featuring backers Reggie Northrup, Terrance Smith, and end Mario Edwards has about as much resemblance to the “Bump and Run,” glory days as Kenny Rogers has to himself.
We think “Crablegs” has his 27 game winning streak “stolen” by the Gators, drastically changing Florida State’s plans for the New Year.
No.22 Minnesota at No.14 Wisconsin (BTN, 3:30 p.m.) It’s official; the Gophers head man Jerry Kill is the Wizard of Minneapolis.
His boys are ranked (22) for the first time since 2008, and if it should upset Wisconsin, it will punch its ticket into the Big Ten Championship Game. Remarkable!!
The only person to do more with less was Ed McMahon.
Like its namesake, the Sons of Bronko Nagurski, does most of its damage on the ground, led by tailback David Cobb (1430 yards – 12 TDs), who checks in as the nation’s 8th best road-grader.
The director of this “golden renaissance” is its Escalade-sized (247 pounds) dual-threat QB Mitch Leidner (10 TDs-8 INTs -51% – 400 yds rushing -8 TDs), and when UM’s big boy takes to the snowy skies of Minneapolis (4th from the bottom in passing) tight end Maxx Williams (7TDs) is a favorite target.
The D, anchored by backers Damien Wilson (10 tfls -4 sacks), Vondre Campbell, and safety Cedric Thompson isn’t flashy, but reflects the discipline, and tenacity of its head coach.
Wisconsin runs more than an industrial sized washing machine in a Laundromat in Harlem.
The “Road-Runner” of the nation’s second ranked attack (343) is its All-America tailback, and Heisman candidate, Melvin Gordon (2109 yds.-8.3 a pop – 25 TDs) who in Ali-like fashion dominates the nation in rushing.
The prized thoroughbred of the Sons of Alan Ameche is assisted by his stable mate Corey Clement (8 TDs), while the entire Mad-Town operation is under the direction of its leader; QB Joel Stave.
But overlooked in that flash and dash is a defense that is worthy of a Broadway marquee billing.
The Sons of J. J. Watt, the nation’s third tightest (16), are anchored by a quartet of backers: Derek Landisch (13.5 tfls – 7 sacks), Marcus Trotter, Joe Schoberit (9.5 tfls), and Vince Biegel (14.5 tfls -6.5 sacks), who snuff the pass and the run with the enthusiasm of John McCain toward another US foreign war engagement.
The Madison victory formula is easier than a Betty Crocker cake recipe, it will be; Gordon left, Gordon right, Gordon up the middle, as Wiscy punches its ticket into the Big Ten championship game.
No.16 Georgia Tech at No.8 Georgia (SECN, Noon) The Ramblin’ Wreck have motored as smoothly as a luxury sedan assembled in a Stuttgart, Germany factory.
The Sons of Bobby Dodd, the country’s third most prolific rushing attack (327), conjures the spirit of Darrel Royal, and Barry Switzer in its triple option perfection.
QB Justin Thomas (15 TDs-4 INTs – 51%) leads the team in rushing (over 800 yards and 5 TDs) is in control of this gear-box operation, while his partner, tailback Synjyn Days, and wideout DeAndre Smelter (21 yards a pop -7 TDs) are dangerous game breakers.
As the Jackets faithful are well aware, the D led by backer P.J. Davis, Quayshawn Nealy, and corner D. J. White has more exposures, especially against the run, than the background dancers at a Miley Cyrus concert, which is the wrong recipe against Georgia.
The Sons of Herschel Walker, aka the Georgia Bulldogs, have won 12 of the last 13 against its intrastate rival.
These Dawgs run on the legs of its freshman wunderkind; tailback Nick Chubb (1152 yards, 7.2 yds a pop, 9 TDs), who motors with a purposeful execution of a UPS delivery man the week before Christmas. (If I’m allowed to use such a seasonal description!!)
Senior QB Hutson Mason (19 TDs-3 INTs – 68%), the nation’s 8th most efficient passer, has a pair of defense testers: Michael Bennett, and Chris “Hands of Stone” Conley, who despite a serious case of the dropsies, has managed to hang onto 7 TDs.
The much improved D, anchored by the backer trio; All-America Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson and Jordan Jenkins, is seventh best overall allowing 20 points a game.
This is a game that might be close for a half, but ultimately we think Chubb, along with the Spirit of Herschel, propel the Dawgs to victory.
No.4 Mississippi State at No.18 Mississippi (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) This is the 111th meeting of these Magnolia State rivals, and the prize for the Bulldogs is of Everest proportions.
The perception is; that if Sons of Boo Ferris (former Sox pitcher), aka Mississippi State, holds serve, it may punch its ticket into the playoff party.
But there will be a lot of trepidation for the Starkville faithful as it waits for the official final four selections the Sunday after the Conference Championship games.
The nation’s 11th highest scoring (39) eleven, is directed by its Heisman contending QB Dak (23 TDs-10 INTs – 891 rushing yards -12 TDs) Prescott.
The dual-threat cannon ball (235 pounds) is the best thing to happen to Starkville since naming the town after Revolutionary War hero, and New Hampshire native, General John Stark, who fought at Bunker Hill (Breed’s), crossed the Delaware with Washington on Christmas Day 1776, and held off the British in the turning point of the war at Saratoga.
The Heisman candidate is assisted by another powder keg in tailback Josh Robinson (1084 yds.-6.6 a pop – 12 TDs), and when the big man goes aerial, Malcolm Johnson is a comforting target.
The “Cow Bell Clangers” stingy D (18) featuring end Preston Smith (13.5 tfls-8.5 sacks), and backers Benardrick McKinney, and Christian Holmes, stones runners, but struggles (117th) defending the pass which isn’t a winning formula against its arch-rival.
The Sons of William Faulkner are frozen in a writer’s block of epic proportions, losing three of its last four, and erasing what was once a season of Rebel Renaissance.
As the Oxford faithful are fully aware, injuries, along with the resurfacing of the “Bad Bo” persona of QB Bo Wallace (22 TDs-10 INTs-62%) has, like an “over-served” uncle at Thanksgiving, ruined the party
The misfiring Ole Miss gunslinger, has a pair of solid targets in wideouts Evan Engram, and Cody Core, while dependable tailback Jaylen Walton won’t challenge any land speed records.
On the defensive side, the nation’s stingiest (13) eleven, led by All-America safety Cody Prewitt, tackle Issac Gross, and backer Deterian Shackelford is harder to penetrate than posse around Johnny Manziel.
In what has potential to be a SEC classic, we’ll take General Stark’s namesakes to capture the Egg Bowl, and hope for a call from the playoff committee.
Last week: 5-0 Season record: 48-17
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our final regular season full week Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. PK