We begin this week with a bell, a President, an Admiral, a Cardinal, and a vestige of WWII.
On the campus of Fordham University located in the Bronx, the alma-mater of Vince Lombardi and the Seven Blocks of Granite, hangs the Victory Bell.
The bell was taken from the dismantled Japanese aircraft carrier Junyo in 1946, and was presented to the university by Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. It was blessed by Cardinal Francis Spellman as a memorial to those who died in during WWII.
On May, 11, 1946, President Harry Truman was the first to ring the restored bell on the school’s grounds which has become a tradition for the seniors to ring out the sounds of a victory.
It has become a must-see on campus, and with each victory, every senior football player is lifted by at least two underclassmen, sometimes three for the rotund linemen, who rings it with gusto while the fans belt out the Rams fight song.
This season the Rams have clanged it 11 times, but there have been rather lean years, like the one in 2011, in which the Victory Bell only rang out a single time.
This weekend, let’s see which teams capture the winning spirt of Lombardi, and as Bob Dylan wrote: “Ring them bells” in victory, and which need a higher calling, or at least a Cardinal’s blessing, to have any hope of ringing its Victory Bell.
No.6 Ohio State vs. No.11 Wisconsin – Indianapolis (FOX, 8 p.m.) In the spirit of the season, the Buckeyes need a Christmas miracle.
Its record breaking (45 TDs) Heisman contending QB, J.T. Barrett, is out with the most famous fractured ankle since James Caan was “hobbled” by Kathy Bates in “Misery.”
But as the football cliché goes; its next man up.
In this case it’s the Bucks Himalayan-sized (6-6, 250 pounds) long strider, QB Cardale Jones, whose skinny resume consists of a total of 17 passes.
The “grande-caballero” will lean heavily on his 1000 yard tailback, Ezekiel Elliott (6 yds. a pop, 10 TDs), as well as a pair of field-stretching touchdown makers; Michael Thomas, and Devin Smith who have combined for 16 scoreboard lightings.
But it will be up to the D, of the Sons of Archie Griffin, led by its disrupting All-America end Joey Bosa, 4th in sacks (20 tfls -13.5 sacks), and his linebacking partners, Darron Lee, and Joshua Perry to somehow lasso the horses of Wisconsin.
For the rough-riders from Mad-Town the formula is simple; let its thoroughbred, the nation’s leading rusher, and Heisman contender Melvin Gordon (2260 yards, 26 TDs – 8 yds a carry), and his high caliber partner Corey Clement (6 yards a pop -9 TDs) run, run, and run some more.
QB Joel Stave (8 TDs-4 INTs) directs this perfecta, with assists from wideouts Alex Erickson, and Sam Arneson.
But it is the D of the Sons of Don Ameche, the nation’s fourth stingiest (16), anchored by backers: Derek Landisch (14.5 tfls – 5 sacks), Marcus Trotter, and Vince Biegel (15.5 tfls), who have corralled the opposition with the same flawless ease of Keith Lockett and the Pops conducting “Sleigh Ride” by Johnny Mathis.
This will be close, yet we just feel that somehow Urban Meyer’s Boys from Columbus, say “Goodbye” to its neighbors to the North, and hope it has done enough for a playoff invitation.
No.1 Alabama vs. No.14 Missouri – Atlanta – (Ch.4, 4 p.m.) Who knew?!!
In the early weeks of the season, the hinterlands (non-SEC) were grumbling about the fact that a pair of teams from the SEC would be invited to the 4 team playoff dance.
Well, here we are on Championship weekend, and Alabama is the last man standing for the vaunted conference.
Bama’s recipe is simpler than Toll House’s Chocolate Chips; win, and they are in.
The top-rated Tuscaloosa Titans, aka Groucho’s favorite team, are under the command of QB Blake Sims (24 TDs- 7 INTs), who gets a humongous assist from his All-America, and Heisman candidate, receiver Amari Cooper (1573 yards -14TDs), the most well-known Cooper since; Gary, Gordon, or D.B.
In addition, his partners, wideout Christion Jones, and tight end O.J. Howard are quality chain movers.
When the Tide plows the earth, tailbacks T.J. Yeldon, and Derrick Henry (18 TDs-1639 yds.) cover the ground as well as a John Deere in Iowa.
The nation’s 6th stingiest (16) D, anchored by its All-America twins; safety Landon Collins, and backer Trey Depriest, along with fellow linebackers Reggie Ragland, and Xzavier Dickson, hit harder than the Black Friday sunrise crowd at a Best Buy, or an airbag by Takata.
Coach Gary Pinkel’s Missouri Tigers, aka The Little Engine that could,” are the Rodney Dangerfield of college football.
The “Show Me State” eleven have done it again, punched its ticket into the SEC Championship showdown for the second consecutive year, and not even Nostradamus saw that coming.
Mizzou’s offense directed by QB Maty Mauk (22TDs-11 INTs), with assists from the tailback pairing; Russell Hansbrough, and Marcus Murphy, along with wideout Bud Sasser, isn’t Liberace flash, but steadier than a wheat farmer in Nebraska.
The Tigers disruptive D, (19 pts) is anchored by backer Kentrell Brothers, and a pair of menacing ends; Shane Ray (20tfls – 13.5 sacks) and Markus Golden (16 tfls – 8.5 sacks) who delight in dirtying the uniforms of the opposition’s QB.
Pinkel’s Boys will not be intimidated by the Alabama brand, but we think the Tide plants the SEC flag for a playoff spot.
No. 8 Arizona at No.3 Oregon Friday (FOX, 9 p.m.) Hey Ann Arbor, how’s Rich Rod looking now?!
The guy that Michigan couldn’t wait to boot out of town, has the Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship game, and was just named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Meanwhile, the Maize and Blue just pink-slipped his successor Brady Hoke.
To quote Will Hunting, “How’d you like them apples?!!”
The mercury infused Sons of Barry Goldwater are directed by t-freshman QB Anu Solomon (27 TDs-7 INTs), with assists from starry tailback Nick Wilson (1263 yds -15 TDs-6.2 a pop) and a passel of wideouts led by Samajie Grant (will not start – DUI) and his partners Austin Hill, and Cayleb Jones who together, can lull a defense better than a speech by Nancy Pelosi.
The D is anchored by a one man wrecking who is deserving of some Heisman love; backer Scooby Wright (27 tfls -14 sacks), the nation’s leader in tackles for losses.
But the rest of the eleven is as scary as a stationary store owner, especially defending (116th) against the pass, which is not a winning formula against Oregon.
The Ducks All-America QB, Marcus Mariota, has had a better year than the Republicans.
The Heisman front runner (36 TDs-2 INTs-68% – 11 rushing), who directs the nation’s 4th highest scoring (45) squad, has displayed better numbers than Elle McPherson.
The pass-efficiency leader is assisted by t-freshman tailback Royce Freeman (1185 yards – 16 TDs) who slithers like a dancer at a New York City Gentlemen’s Club, while wideouts; Byron Marshall, Dwayne Stanford, and Devon Allen, can score faster than a Times Square pick pocket.
The D led by All-America corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, tackle DeForest Buckner, and backer Derrick Malone has some issues, but overall, is much improved from the beginning of the season.
Arizona has won the last two meetings, and stamped the only blemish on the Ducks resume this season. Trust me, roast Duck will not appear on the Wildcats post-game menu, as Oregon punches its ticket into the playoff shindig.
No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 2 Florida State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) It looks like a good Christmas for Jackets Coach Paul Johnson.
He is involved in serious contract negotiations (2 years remaining) for an extension, and he just beat Georgia for only the second time in nine tries to capture the team’s 10th win.
And if every domino fell just right (all one loss teams lose) Johnson would find himself in the playoff brigade, but that is about as likely as Billy Griffin refusing a beer on the Fourth of July!!
The nation’s third (333) most dynamic rushing attack downshifts behind its option magician QB Justin Thomas (16 TDs-4 INTs – 861 yds. rushing – 5 TDs), with assists from tailbacks Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days.
And when Mr. Option goes aerial, DeAndre Smelter is a glue-gingered field stretcher. [Smelter, smelted his knee and is gone for the season.] Darren Waller is the de-facto primary target.
The Jackets D featuring backers P.J. Davis, Quayshawn Nealy, and safety D.J. White have more holes than the rat traps placed around the perimeter of Castle Island’s Sullivan’s, yet surrender a workable 24 points a game.
Twenty-eight and counting as the ‘Noles continue to confound.
Its reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis “Crablegs” Winston (21 TDs-17 INTs) continues to regress, yet somehow, manages to keep the W’s flowing.
Does it all come to a crashing to a halt on Saturday night? Maybe.
Fortunately for the Tallahassee faithful, the Seminoles moribund running attack has been resuscitated by t-freshman Dalvin Cook, who motors with Daytona speed, taking a lot of pressure off the right arm and somewhat gimpy ankle of “Crablegs.”
When Winston’s GPS is properly wired; his All-America pairing, wideout Rashad Green, and tight end Nick O’Leary can gut any defense.
The D, anchored by backer Reggie Northrup, and ends Mario Edwards, and Demarcus Walker seems to have find a certain “duende” at the most critical of times.
We can make a case for both sides, but as much as I, and everyone who doesn’t reside in Tallahassee is rooting against them, I think FSU finds a way, climbs to 29, and into the playoff.
No.9 Kansas State at No.3 Baylor (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) In the “Little Apple” Manhattan, Kansas, the Sons of Steve Grogan, aka the Purple Cats of Kansas State, operate with the stealthy efficiency of Seal Team Six.
The architect is its septuagenarian (75) head man Bill Snyder, the “Robert Moses” of College Football, who has lorded over the greatest rebuilding project of all time.
This Manhattan Project is under the command of its anvil-hard dual-threat QB Jake Waters, who has the luxury of targeting one of the nation’s best in All-America wideout Tyler Lockett (over 1100 yds.-8 TDs), who along with his partner Curry Sexton, have combined for; 2133 yards and 13 Touchdowns.
When K-State stays on the ground, Charles Jones is a capable plough horse.
The D, featuring backer Jonathan Truman, and end Ryan Mueller, attacks with the same snarling aggression that Donald Trump holds toward Barak Obama.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” show is on campus, making this the biggest day in Waco since the siege and inferno of the Branch Dravidians compound.
The nation’s highest scoring (49) eleven, who are as efficient running and passing as a middle-school librarian, is directed by its starry QB Bryce Perry (25 TDs-5 INTs) [expected to play – mild concussion].
The fast-drawing gunslinger is assisted by a trio of field stretching receivers; KD Cannon, Corey Coleman (10 TDs), and Levi Norwood, while tailback Shock Linwood (over 1100 yds.-15 TDs) can pound through any defense.
The once porous D, led by backer Bryce Hager, and end Shawn Oakman (17.5 tfls – 9 sacks), still has issues defending the pass, but overall has improved as much as a kid graduating from Johnson and Wales and now in his fourth year assisting in the kitchen of Grill 23.
This is a hard game to get a handle. It is always difficult to go against any Snyder coached team, but because it’s in Waco, we’ll take the Sons of Del Shofner to catch the victory, and possibly grab the fourth playoff spot.
Last week: 2-3 Season record: 50-20
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
PS – next week in our season ender – the Army/Navy Game and me and the old man.