We begin this Halloween weekend with a costume, a plan to double dip, and a spooky coach.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, a man who “lives on the edge,” offered these bon-mots of advice for the urchins who will be trick or treating on Saturday night.
“I’d advise them to get two costumes. To be go getters,” said the Maize and Blue head man.
“You can hit the neighborhood in one costume, and run from one house to the other and get more candy than anybody else. Then come home, make a quick change into a second costume, and go hit the same houses again,” he said.
“It’s constant hustle, hustling at all times,” said the coach.
With Michigan’s great start to the season, I bet there will be a lot of kids in Ann Arbor wearing Khakis and blue M sweatshirts.
This weekend let’s see which teams hustle all over the field, gorging itself on the sweet taste of victory, and which try to slink out of the stadium hoping to disguise its identity.
No.9 Notre Dame at No.21 Temple (Ch. 5. 8 p.m.) When the Notre Dame scheduled was announced, the Irish faithful automatically chiseled a W next to the Temple game.
Well, with apologies to Stephen Sondheim, “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.”
Temple is far from “Charmin” soft.
The Owls have screeched into the rankings for the first time since the last days of Jimmy Carter – 1979 – and sit 7-0 for the first time in its history.
In South Bend, the Sons of George Gipp, under the steady guidance of Brian Kelly, have strung together a nice season.
Its peppermint cool sophomore QB DeShone Kizer (10 TDs-4 INTs – 65%) directs the top-twenty scoring eleven (38), with assists from his ironsides tailback C.J. Prosise (922 yds.-7 yds. a pop-11TDs), and a game breaking wideout Will Fuller – 21 yards a catch and 8 TDs.
On D, the Domers, led by All-America backer Jaylon Smith, his partner Joe Schmidt, and corner KeiVarae, struggles like a Hungarian border guard (83rd) in slowing the rush.
In Philadelphia, maybe only an Owl could have seen this coming.
For the moment, cherry and white has become the new black in the City of Brotherly Love, and Temple’s head man, Matt Rhule is a leading candidate for Coach of the Year honors.
The Sons of Pop Warner have reached those heights with a defense modeled after the Israeli Army.
The nation’s eighth stingiest eleven (14), stones runners behind a pair of backers Tyler Matakevich (7 TFLs-4 sacks), his partner Jarred Alwan, and tackle Matt Ioannidis (7.5 TFLs-3.5 sacks) and together have been more opportunistic than the employees of a brothel in Sweden.
Despite possessing Volkswagen-esque offensive numbers (108th), the descendants of Hall and Oates (‘69, ’70) are directed by its hit making QB P. J. Walker (9 Tds-3 INTs- 59%) with assists from receivers Robby Anderson, and Ventell Bryant.
On the ground, the Boys from Philly’s chief road grader is tailback tailback Jahad Thomas (12 TDs) who is also a receiving threat coming out of the backfield.
It’s been a “hoot” of a run for the Owls, but on Halloween night, Temple’s golden carriage morphs into a pumpkin of nightmarish proportions, as the Irish paint the town green.
No.8 Stanford at Washington State (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.) Stanford has better balance than Philippe Petit.
Since its season opening defeat, the Cardinal has simply colored over its opponents.
The Sons of Jim Plunkett are directed by one of the nation’s best; QB Kevin Hogan (14 TDs-4 INTs-66%) who hits a target with the deadly accuracy of a Donald Trump barb.
“Handsome Boy,” which is how my wife Carol refers to the Palo Alto gunslinger, is boosted by his All-World tailback/receiver/kick returner Christian McCaffrey, who is making a hard run toward the Heisman.
The son of former alum and NFL star Ed, leads the team in rushing (136 a game), and receiving (21-yards a catch), and tops the nation in all-purpose yards; averaging a jaw-dropping 259 per game.
The Farm’s dart thrower can also rely on a stable of targets; led by tight end Austin Hooper, and receivers Devon Cajuste, and Michael Rector.
The aggressive turbo-charged defensive descendants of John Brodie are led by backers Blake Martinez, Peter Kalambayi, and safety Kodi Whitfield, and are solid in all phases.
In Pullman, Coach Mike Leach, the “Mad Scientist” of the Palouse, has created a winning formula.
And unlike the visitors from the south, the Cougars offense is as unbalanced as Charlie Manson.
It sinks to third from the bottom in rushing (125th), but soars to third in passing, riding the arm of QB Luke Falk (26 TDs-4 INTs-72%) who plays in the same obscurity as; Gummo Marx.
The “Gumby” armed signal caller also has the luxury of focusing on a trio of prime targets: Gabe Marks, Dom Williams, and River CraCraft; who have combined for 139 receptions and 19 TDs.
When the Cougs go off script tailbacks Gerald Wicks, and Keith Harrington, provide adequate ground support.
But as the Cougar faithful are well aware, it’s “scientist” has yet to discover the antidote for a defense led by backers Peyton Pelluer and Jeremiah Allison, which has more holes than the Yawkey Way “swindle” between the Boston BRA and the Boston Red Sox.
We think that the Sons of Herbert Hoover, who once famously said, “A good many things go around in the dark besides Santa Claus,” continues its Bela Lugosi coffin climb toward a possible playoff invite.
Georgia vs. No.11 Florida – Jacksonville, Fla. (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) The fizz is lacking for this year’s “Biggest cocktail party in the world,” as the Bulldogs, have once again disappointed its uber-impatient zealots.
And the Dawgs bite seemed to disappear, when it lost its All-America, and Heisman candidate Nick Chubb (knee) for the season.
The Sons of Mike Bobo directed by Virginia transfer QB Greyson Lambert (9TDs-2 INTS-64%) has been as inconsistent at Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
When the QB’s GPS is in working order, Malcolm Mitchell and Terry Goodwin are quality targets, while the tailback committee; Brendan Douglas, Sony Michel, and Keith Marshall can motor with anyone.
The Dawgs D led by the linebacking trio; Jordan Jenkins, Jake Ganus, and Tim Kimbrough is high quality “Milk-Bone.”
In Gainesville, there hasn’t been this much excitement since Anita Bryant was squeezing oranges for Minute Maid.
And the boffo debut by Coach Jim McElwain has reenergized the Swamp faithful.
QB Treon Harris (4 TDs-0 INTs-61%) (Because of the suspension for a calendar year of starter Will Grier) has been handed the keys to the wagon, and the newest “Swamp Fox” has delivered better than Domino’s.
The Gators mundane ground attack is led by tailback Kelvin Taylor (less 4 yds. a carry), but Florida’s three-pack of receivers; Demarcus Robinson, Brandon Powell, and tight end Jake McGee are capable game changers.
But the backbone of the Sons of Jack Youngblood is a defense that that brings the faithful’s “blood” to a boil.
These stout thoroughbred disruptors featuring backers Antonio Morrison (7 TFLs), his partner Jarred Davis (7 TFLs), end Jonathan Bullard (10 TFLs), and All-America corner Vernon Hargreaves, possess enough speed to chase down Secretariat.
Late Saturday afternoon, we think the Gators celebrate victory with fresh-squeezed screwdrivers all around.
No. 12 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) T. Boone Pickens U, aka Oklahoma State, is attempting to start 8-0 for the third time in school history.
[Note: Pickens has contributed $235 million to his alma mater including the magnificent football stadium named for its benefactor.]
With apologies to Bob Seeger, these “Cowboys ride, with the wind.”
The Sons of Jerry Adair (Impossible Dream season – 1967), the nation’s eleventh highest scoring eleven (40), flies on the arm of QB Mason Rudolph (10 TDS-7 INTs -64%), and his dart tossing backup J.W. Walsh, who has thrown for a mind boggling 7-touchdowns on just 14-completions.
(Note: Playing against Kansas helps.)
The Pokes gunslingers select from a sampler of wideouts: David Glidden, James Washington, and Marcell Ateman, who have combined for 82 grabs and 8 TDs.
When the bombardiers grow arm weary, tailbacks Rennie Childs, and Chris Carson provide quality changeups.
In years past, a defensive sighting in Stillwater was rarer than a Boone Pickens dry-well, but that has completely changed this season.
These intimidators behind ends Jimmy Bean (10.5 TFLs-5.5 sacks), and Emmanuel Ogbah (11.5 TFLs-8 sacks), have combined for the most sacks by any duo in America, and are equally lethal defending the run or the pass.
In Lubbock, the hometown of Buddy Holly, and with apologies to Don McClean, not only did the music die, so did any semblance of defense on the Texas Tech gridiron.
The Red Raiders are so leaky, (think Depends convention), it has increasingly warmed the coaching chair of Kliff Kingsbury.
The Sons of E.J. Holub led by backers Micah Awe, and Dakota Allen, have Plainridge Park Casino numbers and sit next to last in total D, while allowing a jaw dropping 562 yards per game.
These matador- poster boys are third from the bottom in stopping the run, while surrendering an average of 40 points per game. YIKES!!
On the offensive side, TT’s offense scores quicker than drug dealer on the Common.
The nation’s fifth highest scoring powerhouse (46), ignites under the direction of QB Patrick Mahomes (21 TDs-10 INTs-64%), with assists from a pair of chain moving receivers; Jakeem Grant, and Reginald Davis, who have combined for 82 catches and 10 TDs.
When the Mask Riders decide to road grade, tailback DeAndre Washington (6.7 yds. a carry – 8 TDs) is a dangerous yardage churner.
On Saturday in Lubbock there will be no victory music for the home side, as the Boone Pickens visitors remain perfect.
No.3 Clemson at North Carolina State (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.) Who Knew??!!
If the Tigers win out, it punches its ticket into the playoff.
And unlike “Dabo” teams of Clemson past, these Sons of Jeff Bostic have done it with a defense that even O.J. would appreciate.
The nation’s seventh stingiest (14), and fourth overall, is led by its provocateurs; end Shaq Lawson (12.5 TFLs-5.5 sacks), his partner Kevin Dodd (9TFLs-4.5 sacks), and backer Ben Boulware, who gobble the pass and the run with the same voracity as Pac-Man.
The offense is directed by its dual-threat magic-man, QB Deshaun Watson (15 TDs-7 INTs-69% and second in rushing), who dances like the second coming of Fred Astaire.
The “Bambi” strider is assisted by his downhill tailback Wayne Gallman, and a trio of quality targets; Artavis Scott, Ray-Ray McCloud, and a touchdown (6) making tight end; Jordan Legett.
The Wolfpack have also thrived with a defense that leaves its faithful in a full throated howl.
These Sons of Bill Cowher, the nation’s eleventh tightest (16) attack from all angles behind tackle BJ Hill, backer Airius Moore, and safety Josh Jones.
QB Jacoby Brissett (10 TDs-1 INT -67%), a Florida transfer, is the commander of the Raleigh eleven, with assists from a pair of multi-talented tailbacks; Matt Dayes (12 TDs), and Jayles Samuels, who are equally dangerous running and catching.
Clemson is like an Irish curse.
There is always a sense of dread when the Tigers are expected to carry the day. But on Saturday we think the mission driven descendants of Refrigerator Perry carry the day.
We forgot to report our record from two weeks ago: 4-1.
Last week 4-1. Season record: 24-16.
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