We begin this week with a 10-month old little girl, the Clemson Tiger, a pep band, a man from Pennsylvania, and a fatal disease.
Jonathan and Stephanie Bolt’s daughter Addison Grace has been diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare and fatal illness for which there is no cure.
It attacks the nervous system, and most kids don’t live beyond their second birthday.
Even with the diagnosis, her parents had hoped to bring Addie, as she is known, to a Clemson game this season, but because she has taken a turn for the worse, unable to breathe, eat, or hold her head up on her own, those plans were canceled.
But that’s when John Neal of Pennsylvania, who lost a daughter to the Krabbe, and has become an advocate, raising money and awareness for a cure, heard about the Bolt’s wishes and put a plan into action.
He contacted Clemson Band Director Dr. Mark Spede, and they agreed, if Addie couldn’t go to the game, they would take the game, so-to-speak, to Addie.
On a Sunday afternoon, unbeknown to her parents, the Clemson Pep Band, its cheerleaders, and Clemson Tiger mascot came marching down the Bolt’s street stopping in front of their house and serenading Addie, who was cradled in her mother’s arms, with “Clemson, All Hail!
“It just filled my heart,” said the teary-eyed mother.
This weekend, let’s temporarily put the games aside, and hope the teams, alums, and fans take a moment to reflect and appreciate what is really important in life.
Princeton at Harvard (Noon, 94.5 FM) Every season there is one “Mr. Softie,” a week when the “big boys” are either on a bye, or fattening up on cupcakes, and this fourth Saturday in October fits the bill.
So in that spirit, we decided to dip into the Ivy League and feature our home town heroes; the mighty Crimson of Harvard, or as we like to refer to them: “The Green Bay Packers on the Charles,” who just might be the best football team in New England.
The Sons of JFK have won a eye-popping 19-in a row, (its last loss coming at the hands of Princeton six games into the 2013 season), 13 straight on the road, and are pulverizing teams, like, well, like the Packers of old.
Its future Hall of Fame Coach, Tim Murphy, (who should be patrolling the sideline at BC, but that’s a story for another day), said it simply; “We’re a good football team.”
We’ll begin, with what the engineers of the Big Dig Tunnels can only aspire, the Crimson’s “watertight” D.
The FCS’s second stingiest (8 pts.) eleven anchored by a threesome of backers; Jacob Lindsey, Matt Koran, and Eric Medes, has written a better chapter than its Pulitzer winning alum David Halberstram, and is harder to penetrate than the hideout of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman.
On the offensive side, Harvard can score almost as quickly as another of its “luminaries”, Alan Dershowitz files a law suit.
The nation’s fourth highest scoring squad (44) is directed by sharpshooter (is that word allowed in Cambridge?) QB Scott Hoch (10 TDs –1 INT-58%) who is assisted by his tailback slasher Paul Stanton (99 yds. a game, 7 TDs) and a high caliber freshman; Noah Reimers.
When “Mr. Veritas” takes to the Cambridge skies, tight end Ben Braunecker (4 TDs), along with wideouts Seitu Smith, and Justice (great Harvard name) Shelton-Mosley, are dependable chain moving targets.
On the visitor’s side, the Sons of James Madison, the Father of the US Constitution, are as dangerous as walking down the street in Tel Aviv.
The balanced descendants of Dick Kazmaier (Heisman ’51) downshift behind QB Chad Kanoff (4 TDs-3 INTs -57%), with assists from tailback Joe Rhattigan, and a trio of wideouts; John Lovett, Isaiah Barnes, and Trevor Osborne.
But as the Tigers faithful are well aware, its tattered and battered D, (103 rd against the pass) featuring corner Dorian Williams, backer Rohan Hylton, and safety John Hill, is leakier than the soon to be shuttered Pilgrim Nuclear Power plant in Plymouth
In a game that may present some challenges for the “Packers of the Ivy” we ultimately think the streak climbs to 20, with the long shadow of Dartmouth coming to town for a classic showdown next Friday night.
No.6 Clemson at Miami (Ch.5, Noon) These are not our father’s Clemson Tigers.
The Sons of James Dickey (“Deliverance” –attended 1-year) who in past years, have sported a defense softer than a stick of butter on the Fourth of July, have completely reformed its culture.
Now Dabo’s disruptors led by end Shaq Lawson (10 TFLs-3.5 sacks) and a pair of equally aggressive backers; Ben Boulware, and B.J. Goodson, punish people behind a top-ten rated D, that surrenders a miniscule 16-points a game.
On the offensive side, QB Deshaun (14 TDs-7 INTS-68%) Watson showcases better moves than Tina Turner.
The Tigers maestro is assisted by his bell-cow tailback Wayne Gillman, while a committee of receivers; Artanis Scott, Ray-Ray McCloud, Deon Cain, and Jordan Leggett, gives its “Private Dancer” more choices than the meat aisle at Wegmans.
In Miami, these have not been golden days for the U’s Al Golden.
The offense of the Sons of George Mira displays about as much diversity as the library at the University of Dublin.
It can light the high fashion Miami skies with its sophomore sensation, QB Brad Kaaya (10 TDs-1 INT-61%) and a pair of chain moving targets; Rashwan Scott and Herb Waters, but not even John Deere himself could rescue the Canes moribund rushing (102) attack. Where’s former Hurricane Chuck Foreman when u need him?!
Miami’s D, featuring backer Jermaine Grace, and end Trent Harris, is a small craft warning compared to the Hurricane flag raisers of glory days gone past.
Simply stated, Clemson “storms” out of Sun Life Stadium with the W inching closer to a playoff invitation.
No.3 Utah at USC (FOX, 7:30 p.m.) With apologies to Jimmy Reed; do the bright lights and big city go to the Utes head?
For the Boys from Salt Lake City the stage and stakes (playoff) are higher than the fed’s inquiry into FanDuel and DraftKings, or Hilary’s testimony about Benghazi.
Again, with a tip of the hat to Aerosmith, the Sons of Bob Trumpy have been “living on the edge,” but remain the last man standing in the Pac-12 Conference.
QB Travis Wilson (7 TDs-3 INTs-67%) is the Utes dual-threat gunslinger, but the offensive igniter is tailback Devontae Booker, who punishes the opposition the same way the shoe pounding Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev punished the UN podium, while shouting; “We will bury you,” in October of 1961. Ah, the good old days!
When Utah takes to the skies, Britain Covey, Kenneth Scott, [note: tight end Siale Fakailoatonga out for season] are his rather pedestrian targets.
Here’s the hat-hanger for the USC faithful.
The last seven Trojan coaches have won their Coliseum debut, and interim coach Clay Helton is intent on increasing that number to eight.
On paper, the Sons of Anthony Davis have as much talent as the runway of a Victoria Secret fashion show, yet have been as inconsistent as the foreign policy of the United States.
QB Cody Kessler (17 TDs-5 INTs-68%), the nation’s ninth most efficient passer, is one of those Men of Troy game changers, with assists from a passel of tailbacks, Ronald Jones, Tre Madden, and Justin Davis who average over 6-yards a pop.
The Trojan signal caller also has a Linus-blanket target in and one of the country’s best; All-America JuJu Smith-Schuster – 20-yards a grab, and 7 TDs.
But in addition to USC’s nightmarish coaching carousel, its Trojan Horse has been a D anchored by backer Su’a Cravens, backer Cameron Smith and tackle Delvon Simmons that has been as disappointing as the campaign of Jeb Bush.
We think the noise, traffic, and “brown LA haze” as Jimmy Buffet once wrote, prove too much for the Salt Lake visitors, as Coach Helton grabs an eye-catching victory.
Texas Tech at No.17 Oklahoma (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.) The gridiron descendants of Buddy Holly (Lubbock, Texas) score faster than a client visiting the Bunny Ranch.
The Red Raiders, the nation’s third highest scoring eleven (49), are directed by its dart tossing dual-threat impresario, QB Pat Mahomes (20 TDs-6 INTs-63%), who averages a jaw-dropping 374 yards through the air.
The high cotton (Lubbock is the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world) maestro is assisted by a pair of field-stretchers; Jakeem Grant (49 catches-4 TDs), and his partner Devin Lauderdale – 17 yards a grab.
And when the TT director calls in the ground troops, tailback DeAndre Washington (7 yds carry -7 TDs) is a quality road grader.
But as the faithful of the Sons of Donny Anderson are painfully aware, Tech’s defense has more holes than a rumpled suit on Barney Frank.
This bottom-feeding eleven, featuring end Pete Robertson (8.5 TFLs, 2 sacks), backers Dakota Allen, and Micah Awe, have numbers worse than Volkswagen; resting 5th from the bottom in total and rushing D, 114th in passing defense, while allowing 36 points a game which is 14th spots above dead last.
The wind hasn’t even begun to start “whipping down the plain,” yet the Sons of Bud Wilkerson have, more-than-likely, played itself out of the national championship conversation.
The invaders from Norman, the 13th highest scoring band in the land (40), are commanded by TT transfer Baker Mayfield (19 TDs-3 INTs-67%), the nation’s fourth most efficient passer.
The former walk-on is assisted by tailbacks; Samaje Perine, and Joe Mixon, while wideout Sterling Shepard is open more than a Store 24, making grabs with hands that should be modeling for Elmers.
Its once porous D has significantly tightened thanks to its All-America backer Eric Striker (10 TFLs-4.5 sacks) and his partners Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans.
How things change. There once was a time when a Sooners loss in Norman was rarer than a Loch Ness sighting. Nevertheless on Saturday, we believe the descendants of Chuck Fairbanks stroll out of Memorial Stadium on Saturday with a hard earned W.
Washington State at Arizona (Pac-12 network, 4 p.m.) The resurrection in Pullman has taken longer than expected, as “The Mad-Scientist” coach Mike Leach continues to experiment for just the right mixture of antidote.
But the Sons of Drew Bledsoe have certainly found its heir in QB Luke Falk (21 TDs-4 INTs-72%), who directs of the nation’s fourth best passing attack.
The bombardier is assisted by a trio of tasty targets; Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and River Cracraft who have combined for 118 catches and 15 TDs, and when the aerial artist rests his wing, tailback Gerard Wicks has the ability to scratch out some quality yards.
But seemingly inbred into the Palouse is a D, featuring backers Peyton Pelluser, Jeremiah Allison, and safety Shalom Luani that remains leakier (85th) than the pre-Katerina levees of New Orleans.
In Tempe, Coach Rich$ Rod’s name continues to surface regarding some of the openings, and expected openings around the country – USC, South Carolina, and possibly VaTech to name three.
The high-flying Cats, eighth in total offense (542 yards), and ninth in scoring (41), have done much of its damage on the ground, as tailbacks; Nick Wilson (foot), Jared Baker, and Orlando Bradford, are sixth best overall rambling for; 297 yards a game.
QB Anu Solomon (13 TDs-0 INTs) is the leader of the desert eleven, and selects from a sampler of wideouts; Cayleb Jones, Nate Phillips, David Richards, and Johnny Jackson who have combined for; 98 catches and 11 TDs.
But like its visitors, and with apologies to Mel Brooks in “Blazing Saddles;” “We don’t need to stinking defense!!”
The Cats D behind safeties Will Parks, Jamar Allah, and backer Jake Matthews, sit 92nd overall, 90th in points allowed (30), and has more holes than a Palestinian home in the West Bank.
In a game in which points should pile up quicker than the “scoring” at a Louisville basketball fraternity party, we think Rich Rod’$ Cats have a bit more firepower.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our week-8 recap on Sunday by Noon. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. PK