We begin the kickoff to the 2015 college football season with ice cream, a truck, and a girls’ volleyball team.
When newly minted Colorado State coach Mike Bobo heard that his team was planning a barbeque, he decided that he would surprise his troops by providing the dessert by way of an ice cream truck.
The coach found a truck in Fort Collins (home of CSU) then outlined his plans to its owner. The owner initially balked and only wanted Bobo to scoop the ice cream, but the coach insisted on driving and he reluctantly acquiesced.
When the truck pulled up Bobo popped his head out of the window and proclaimed; “It’s Friday. The Big Worm is here!” to the bonding delight of his players.
Unfortunately, on the next field, the CSU sponsored girls’ volleyball camp at the next field thought the truck was for them, which kept the coach in the window scooping a little longer.
This weekend let’s see which teams get an early scoop on the competition by “sprinkling” touchdowns all over the field, and which seemingly melt like a large vanilla cone on the Fourth of July.
No.3 Alabama vs. No.20 Wisconsin (Arlington, Texas Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) The Titans of Tuscaloosa, aka Groucho’s favorite town – (“Elephant hunting in Africa the tusks were embedded so firmly we couldn’t remove them, of course in Alabama; the Tuscaloosa…” from “Captain Spalding”) under the dictatorial direction of its maestro St. Nick (91-17 – three national titles) are once again ensconced with a penthouse view.
But amazingly, there is some grumbling amongst the Crimson zealots that the Tide is beginning to ebb. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry IV, “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.”
The faithful of the Sons of the late Kenny Stabler are well aware, that Bama’s QB situation remains as mysterious as David Miscavige the leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige, or the quixotic presidential ambitions of Lincoln Chafee.
Untested senior QB Jacob Coker (Florida State transfer), Cooper Bateman, and Alec Morris all remain in the mix to start against Va Tech, and Saban may indeed use all three.
Whomever is under center he will be comforted by a passel of quality receivers: Robert Foster, ArDarius Stewart, and a sky-topping tight end O.J. Howard.
But it will be a pair of anvil-pounding tailbacks: All-America Derrick Henry (6-2, 242), and his turbo-charged partner Kenyan Drake, who will be the lynchpins of o-coordinator Lane Kiffin’s multidimensional attack, which is breaking-in nine (albeit of the five star caliber) new starters.
But if another championship is to be notched into the Title Town ledger, it will be by a D, whose front seven is scarier than Bernie Madoff with your investment portfolio, or dentist Walter Palmer on a lion “hunt.”
This ornery Fort Knoxian eleven has more speed than a West Virginia meth-lab, attacking behind a pair of All-Americas; backer Reggie Ragland and nose A’Shawn Robinson, with large assists from ends Jarran Reed and Jonathan Allen.
This group is stout enough to allow Bama to bludgeon its way to a playoff invitation.
Wisconsin embarks on its 2015 campaign employing its third coach in the last four years.
But the faithful of the Sons of Alan Ameche feel that in Coach Paul Chryst, it has, to paraphrase Bo Schembelcher; “A Wisconsin man coaching Wisconsin.”
The newest Wiscy head-man, is a former Mad-Town quarterback, and was the Badgers Svengali record-setting (2005-11) offensive coordinator.
But some skepticism does lingers over his hiring after his mediocre three-year stint (19-20) as a first-time head man of the Panthers of Pitt.
That aside, Chryst’s run oriented pro-set attack melds like ham and cheese at Camp Randall.
The only place with a better history of quality runners is Kenya’s Rift Valley. (That is the ones who aren’t juicing!!)
This year’s “BMOC” (Big Man on Campus) will be Corey Clement, who is expected to be the next great tailback to don the red W.
Despite some maddening inconsistency, QB Joel Stave (a stellar 21-7 as a starter) drives the, (with apologies to Arlo Guthrie), “The Group W” bus with assists from a trio of wideouts; Alex Erickson, Jordan Frederick, and Rob Wheelwright. [For you young’uns; Group W is a line from Guthrie’s classic; “Alice’s Restaurant.”]
The strength of Wiscy’s attacking D is a punishing secondary featuring safety Michael Caputo, a pair of future Sunday playing corners; Sojourn Shelton, and Darrius Hillary, and a dose of backers Vince Biegel and Joe Scould.
As JFK once said, “A rising tide raises all boats.” But in this game, against the “big-boys,” Chryst’s USS Wisconsin, remains stuck in the mud.
Texas at No.11 Notre Dame (Ch.7, 7:30 p.m.) – In the “old days” this game, which features the 2nd and 3rd all-time winningest programs would have carried the same panache as a Sinatra two week run at the Sands.
But unfortunately, as the UT faithful are well aware, the Horns have fallen harder than Jeb Bush, and are simply attempting to hook back to respectability.
And the last time the ‘Burnt Orange strutted with even a semblance of chest puffing, Lance Armstrong was still an icon in Austin.
To paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel: “Where have you gone Colt McCoy, a Longhorn Nation lifts it’s lonely eyes to you….”
There is also a historical connection between these legendary elevens.
When Notre Dame ended its “better than everyone” self-imposed 45-year bowl abstinence, its first such appearance since the ’24 Rose Bowl (which featured the famed “Four Horsemen,”) was the ’69 Cotton Bowl; a 21-17 loss to national champion Texas.
This year the Sons of Darrell Royal under the direction of second year coach Charlie Strong are ditching the pro-style approach for the college football soup-du jour, the up-tempo spread.
With the goal of injecting an offensive spark into the Horns grinding moribund attack, which can be as dull the Fourth of July Esplanade Concert.
QB’s Tyrone Swoopes has been given the keys to the “Burnt Orange Cadillac, while senior speedster tailback Johnathan Gray will be the Horns orange-ribbon bell cow.
If the UT signal caller finds a consistent rhythm, wide out Marcus Johnson, Daje Johnson and a herd of young receivers will provide plenty of quality targets.
The Texas D, which improved dramatically last season under Strong is led by tackle Hassan Ridgeway, end Nation Hughes, safety Dylan Haines, and five-star freshman backer Malik Jefferson.
Even “Touchdown Jesus” is excited!
Around the South Bend campus whispers of playoff are as prevalent as the candles flickering at the Grotto.
QB Malik Zaire (courtesy of the transfer QB Everett “turnover” Goshen – Florida State’s starter) is the newest Golden Dome director.
The dangerous dual-threat leader dovetails perfectly into Coach Kelly’s offensive scheme.
He is also being protected by one of the nation’s top offensive lines anchored by its All-America left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who may be the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
The Irish triggerman has a touchdown making target in Will Fuller (15 TDs last year), and diversifies utilizing a trio of tailbacks; Taren Folkston, Greg Bryant, and C.J. Promise.
The D returns 10 starters led by All-America backer Jaylon Smith, tackle Sheldon Day, and corner KeiVarae Russell, who missed all of last season due to an academic suspension.
Texas is 102-17-3 all-time in openers, winning its last 15, but Saturday night Irish eyes, at least in the opener, are smiling, as the Sons of Ara hook the Horns.
No. 15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (ESPN, 7 p.m. Houston) We always root against ASU.
The reason; simple, its coach “Mr. Profiles in Courage” Todd “The Texter” Graham.
When he was hired at Pitt (2011), Graham told the Pittsburgh faithful that it was the place he wanted to be. That is, until the Sun Devils came a calling$$$ at season’s end.
And while Graham was being wined and dined in a booster’s jet zooming him to the greener$$$$ pastures of Tempe, he texted “his” Pitt players letting them know that he was abandoning ship.
What a guy!!!
But give the “Texter” his cred, he can coach.
The Sons of Jake “The Snake” Plummer, have posted consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since the Nixon Administration (1973), and the chances for a 10-spot three-peat are as strong as a Kardashian appearing on the cover of a gossip magazine.
Graham’s “crackers” are under the command of rocket-armed QB Mike Bercovic, who zips a football with Koufaxian precision.
He targets a gaggle of quality receivers led by D.J. Foster, and UCLA transfer Devin Lucien, while tailbacks DeMario Richard, and Kalen Ballage run with the urgency of a dust storm.
On D, this sack-happy eleven which returns nine starters attacks from all angles led by backer Viliami Moekiola, corner Lloyd Carrington, and safety Jordan Simons.
In College Station the best 2015 signing by Coach Kevin Sumlin wasn’t another blue chip stud, but his new d-coordinator; John Chavis.
The Aggies were able to pry$$$ the defensive Gandalf away from LSU with the goal of transforming the Sons of John David Crow into a much more physically aggressive group.
Outside of his alma-mater (Yale); 41’s (G.H. W. Bush) favorite eleven are under the direction of QB Kyle Allen, with assists from tailbacks James White, and Tra Carson, while touchdown maker Josh Reynolds (13 TDs) is one of the nation’s leading receivers.
The Chavis energized D anchored by backers A.J. Hilliard, and Josh Walker are opposition punishers.
This is a tough game to get a handle but we think the “Texter’s” boys ultimately prevail.
No.6 Auburn vs. Louisville (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) Defense! Defense!
That is the mantra for the faithful of the Sons of Bo Jackson, and it didn’t take a Diogenes-like search to find its next defensive savant.
The Tigers quickly $$cooped up fired Gators head man Will Muschamp and charged him with the duty of closing last season’s defensive gaps that were almost as large as Deval Patrick’s final deficit-racked budget.
On the Plains, War Eagle’s expectations are soaring, inspired by the promise of its scintillating dual-threat QB Jeremy Johnson, who has better moves James “Take it to the bridge” Brown in his prime.
Coach Gus Malzahn’s road grade attack plows behind the tailback sampler: Javon Robinson, Roc Thomas, and Peyton Barber.
When JJ takes to the skies D’haquille Williams, and Richardo Louis are field-stretching touchdown creating targets.
The reconditioned D, is anchored by end/backer Carl Lawson (lost all last season knee), with assists from tackle Montravius Adams, DeVonte Lambert, and backer Cassanova McKinzy.
At the “Home of Thoroughbreds” Louisville is under the steady guidance of its motorcycle riding coach Bobby “Zoom-Zoom” Petrino.
The Cardinals redux-coach is not the most honorable guy (Who is? Right Penn State!) but he can bring home the W’$$$ which is where all sport has descended. (Which is why we love Army/Navy!)
This L’ville bus is being driven by sophomore QB Reggie Bonnafon, with assists from tailbacks Brandon Radcliff, and L.J. Scott.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals receiving corps which sits tall in the saddle with the trio: Jamari Staples, Alphonso Carter, and Ja’Quay averaging a high-cotton; 6-3, and 205 pounds lacks its usual experience.
During the early part of its schedule it will be up to the Cardinals D, led by end Sheldon Rankins, and fellow backers James Burgess, and Keith Kelsey to carry the Sons of Johnny U.
In horse country, War Eagle strides and glides while Louisville gets left at the starting gate.
Washington at No.23 Boise State (Friday, ESPN, 10:15 p.m.) For the team from the home of Starbucks, this game brews more themes than an Updike novel.
One is: “Welcome to the big time.” Another: “The Prodigal Son returns.”
Unfortunately Huskies second-year coach Chris Petersen, a jaw-dropping 92-12 during his outer-worldly 7-year run in Boise, lost half as many games last year as his did during his entire time as the “Blue Fielders” head man.
And this season the UW cupboard is as empty as the coffers of presidential candidate George Pataki. Who? Precisely. (For the record Pataki is the former Governor of the State of New York.)
The Sons of Warren Moon enter the 2015 season with more questions than a precocious third-grader.
QB Jeff Lindquist has a tenuous hold on the director’s position, but Petersen will not reveal the starter until the Boys from Seattle take the field. But whomever is under center he’ll be hamstrung by an inexperienced offensive line.
Tailback Dwayne Washington is a star in the making, but receivers Jaydon Mickens, Dante Pettis, and Marvin Hall are as unreliable as the Iraqi Army.
Added to that uncertainty is the quality of the D featuring nose Elijah Qualls, backer Travis Feeney, and starry safety Buda Baker, which is stuck in the same rebuilding mode as the MBTA.
The snow comes early in Idaho.
And for its faithful a “blue-field” victory over its beloved, and now rival coach, would be like Christmas on Labor Day.
With the support of an offensive line that protects better than Bibi Netanyahu ‘s secret police, Boise triggerman Ryan Finley has the luxury of targeting a quartet of field-stretchers: Thomas Sperback, Shane Williams-Rhodes, Chaz Anderson, and tight end Jake Roh, while its main road-grader is tailback Jeremy McNichol’s (hernia surgery this spring).
The D has more weapons than an Iranian nuclear facility, and is anchored by starry end and sack-master Kamalei Correa, tackles Armand Nance, and backer Tanner Vallejo.
Christmas does indeed arrive early in Boise, as the Prodigal Son heads back to coffee country with the taste from a bitter brew.
That’s it from cyber-space. Be sure to read our recap which will be up and running by noon on Sunday. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. Pk