We begin this week with a winless team, a dive bar, and free beer.
Central Florida (0-11) is one game away from a season of perfection in reverse. And while most alma-mater supporters would be bummed having to endure such ineptitude, the students
of CFU would love to see the Knights lose another dozen games.
The reason; a college student’s nirvana; free beer.
The idea originated at “The Basement Orlando,” a self-described dive restaurant and gathering place for Central Florida fans in the city of Disney.
The joint started it gratis offering when the Knights fell to 0-4, as a way to insure that its normally robust Saturday fan base continued to flow through its door.
The Basement said it goes through between seven to ten “grey ladies” a.k.a. free kegs of Coors Light of per game.
And when Central Florida falls behind by three or four touchdowns, the cheers get louder as chants of: “Free beer, free beer, free beer!” roll throughout the restaurant.
This weekend, let’s see which alums raise a frosted mug in celebration of another victory, and which, while crying in its beer, should charge its alma-mater a fee for impersonating a football team.
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 12 Michigan (Ch.5, Noon) In arguably the best rivalry in college football, the Sons of Woody Hayes, who will not be receiving a playoff invite, are looking to spark a new streak against “the team from the north.”
But with apologies to Robert Preston, “Is there trouble in River City?”
Last week some of the Buckeyes openly questioned Urban Meyer’s game plan against the Spartans.
This is the same coach whose team won 23 in-a-row, is the defending national champ, and captured 30 consecutive regular season games against Big Ten opponents. Really??!!
One of those inquisitors is tailback Ezekiel Elliott (1458 yds -16 TDs) the nation’s seventh leading rusher, who saw his Heisman chances dashed, but remains the main beam of an Ohio State offensive attack which has mysteriously operated in a Jeb Bush funk.
The most disappointing aspect of the Sons of Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (’55 Heisman) has been its stuttering (100th) aerial assault, which is as threatening as Althea Garrison in a Boston Election.
QB J.T. Barrett (9 TDs-3 INTs-64%) has been anointed the Scarlet and Grey director, with assists from wideouts Michael Thomas (8 TDs), and Jalin Marshall.
But the sizzle behind the “Boys from Columbus” is the nation’s second stingiest (14) D, anchored by ends Joey Bosa (15 TFLs), his partner Tyquan Lewis, (12.5 TFLs, 6 sacks), and backer Raekwon McMillan, which is harder to penetrate than the security detail of Vladimir Putin.
As far as the Ann Arbor faithful is concerned, Diogenes can rest his light, as Michigan has found its man.
Jim Harbaugh, the khaki wearing, spit-fire head man who comfortably lives on the edge, has delivered the goods, and the alums are certain (based on his paycheck), that he is the right man to restore Michigan to its perch of football royalty.
The Sons of Gerald Ford are led by its steady manager, QB Jake Rudock (16 TDs – 9 INTs-64%) with assists from a trio of receivers; Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and the talented tight end Jake Butt. [Note: as we have said before; has there ever been a better name for a tight end?]
UM’s running attack featuring De’Veon Smith is as unassuming as a suit from Miltons.
But if the Meeechigaaan offense is as lackluster as the Christmas (hope I can write that word) lights on the Common, the Maize and Blue D is as festive and snazzy as Rockefeller Center on the first shopping weekend in December.
The nation’s second ranked eleven, and sixth stingiest (14), attacks with a bevy of disruptors led by backers Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan, and safety Jabrill Peppers, who are equally efficient in snuffing the run and the pass.
In a game with major national implications, we think Bo incarnate gets his first notch against the visitors from Columbus, as the Harbaugh/Meyer rivalry gets underway.
No.5 Oklahoma at No.9 Oklahoma State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) The “Bedlam Game” doesn’t get any more chaotic.
It will determine prestigious New Year’s Day bowl assignments, not to mention the champion of the Big 12.
And for the Sons of Barry Switzer, with apologies to Charles Dickens, the game is a tale of two quarterbacks.
If OU’s Heisman caliber QB Baker Mayfield (33 TDS-5 INTs-68%) who directs the nation’s third highest scoring eleven (44) is cleared to play (concussion), then it’s; “OOOOOKLahooma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.”
But if OU is forced to revert to plan B, namely its backup Trevor Knight, the Norman invaders will stumble on its shield. That’s how significant the Sooners leather-tough gun slinger is to its offensive machinations.
Assuming the “Air-Raid” bombardier is cleared to play (and all indications are that he will) he gets a huge assist from his ram-bam tailback pairing; Samaje Perine (ankle), and Joe Mixon, who have combined for; 1795 yards, and 18 TDs.
The Sooners’ maestro also has the added luxury of lasering onto a trio of sticky fingered targets: the dynamic Sterling Shepard, and his partners Dede Westbrook, and Neal Durron, who have combined for 151 receptions, 2267 yards, and 17 TDs.
On defense, the mercury-infused descendants of Lee Roy Selmon are anchored by its All-America backer Eric Striker (15.5 TFLs-7.5 sacks), along with linebacker Dominique Alexander, and end Charles Tapper (10 TFLs-7 sacks), and has been the backbone to the OU resurgence.
The stakes for the OkState Cowboys are higher than a Boone Pickens oil derrick.
The Pokes gallop as the nation’s seventh (42) highest scoring eleven, led by its two-headed QB dissector, starter Mason Rudolph (21 TDs-8 INTs-63%), and his comrade J.W. Walsh (11 TDs-0 INTs-79% – on a total of 29 throws, plus 11 rushing), making him the best backup since Truman was second fiddle to FDR.
The Cowboys running attack, featuring tailback Chris Carson, is a mucking 110th, and surfaces in Stillwater about as often as “Nessie” of Lock Ness.
But its receiving corps featuring James Washington, David Glidden, and Marcell Ateman, (133 grabs and 17 TDs) is as ubiquitous as a Saturday night T-bone in a Stillwater chop house.
And as the faithful are well aware money, and that includes the “magical” dough of Mr. Pickens, can’t shore up a colander D.
This group led by backer Jordan Burdon (7.5 TFLs), and end Emmanuel (16.5 TFLs-12 sacks) Ogbah, sinks to eighty-sixth overall.
If Mr. Mayfield is under center, (not to mention the Dorchester Street connection): “It’s Oklahoma, O.K.! As Big Game Bob states the Sooners case for a playoff invite.
No.4 Notre Dame at No. 13 Stanford (Fox, 7:30 p.m.) Even “Touchdown Jesus” is worried.
A victory doesn’t guarantee the Irish a playoff invite, but it does place them deep into the committee’s late night discussions.
The Sons of Paul Horning directed by r-shirt freshman QB SeShone Kizer (18 Tds-9 INTs-64%) with assists from turbo-charged tailback Josh Adams (7 yds-a-pop), and touchdown creating receiver Will Fuller (20 yards a catch-12 TDs), won’t make a marquee on Broadway, but is as steady as a heavyweight eight grinding on the Charles.
The Domers D, led by backers Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt, and end Isaac Rochell is solid, but has shown some fissures slowing the run, which in not a winning recipe against Stanford.
The Sons of John Elway roar behind “Mr. Veg-O-Matic;” its Heisman contending tailback/receiver/kick returner Christian McCaffrey, who is second in the country in rushing (1545 yards), leads the team in receptions, and tops the nation in all-purpose yards, averaging a jaw-dropping 255 per game.
His pedigree can be traced to his father Stanford alum Ed, a former NFL standout receiver, who is soon to be known as; the dad of Christian.
Senior QB Kevin Hogan (19 TDs-7 INTs-67%) is the Cardinal conductor, with assists from wideout Michael Rector, and tight end Austin Hooper.
The Boys on the Farm’s D, featuring backers Blake Martinez, Peter Kalambayi, and safety Kodi Whitfield displays some shakiness defending the pass which is something the Irish hope to exploit.
Late Saturday night, we think an exuberant Thanksgiving in South Bend turns sullen, as “Touchdown Jesus” lowers his arms just a wee bit.
No.23 Mississippi at No.19 Mississippi State (ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.) The Descendants of William Faulkner are hoping to write a new chapter in the 112th renewal of the Egg Bowl.
The Sons of Archie Manning, the nation’s twelfth (40) highest scoring squad, are under the direction of QB Chad Kelley (25 TDs-12 INTs-64%-9 rushing), whose leadership can be traced to his HOF uncle Jim, who thrived in the K-Gun for the Buffalo Bills.
The kid, who is tougher than a sleep deprived Black Friday shopper, is assisted by a quartet of receivers; Laquon Treadwell, Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore’ea Stringfellow, and Cody Core, who have combined for; 168 catches and 21 TDs.
And when the Rebels attempt to churn some ground, tailback Jaylen Walton is the principle road runner.
On D, the descendants of Jimmy Patton, featuring backer DeMarquis Gates, end Marquis Haynes (13 TFLS-8.5 sacks), and safety Mike Hilton, struggle mightily (99th) defending the pass, which is often a losing hand against Mississippi State.
In building a winning program in Starkville, coach Dan Mullin has performed a magic act not seen since Harry Houdini.
The Bulldogs formula for success is as simple as ham and cheese.
So goes its starry QB Dak Prescott (23 TDs-3 INTs-66%- 8 rushing), so go the Sons of D.D. Lewis.
The All-America caliber gunslinger simply brushes aside his anemic ground attack (100th), while luxuriating with a trio of chain movers; Fred Ross, De’Runny Wilson, and Fred Brown, who have combined for; 144 grabs and 16 TDs.
The D, featuring the Brown Boys; linebackers Richie (9.5 TFls-5.5 sacks), Beniquez (8.5 TFLs) along with end A.J. Jefferson (13.5 TFLs-5 sacks), won’t cause offensive coordinators many sleepless nights.
In a game that is hard to get a handle, we’ll stay with the Sons of Faulkner to write the latest winning chapter in Oxford.
No.22 UCLA at USC (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.) The seasons for the LA crosstown rivals began with the same heightened aspirations as the supporters of Jeb Bush.
But with seven losses between them, a season of promise has ended almost as drearily as another bombastic speech by Secretary of State John Kerry.
And yet despite those disappointments, there remains a large enchilada for the winner of the 85th rendition of this underrated rivalry, namely a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.
The Sons of Bob Waterfield who have won the City of Angels bragging rights three consecutive years, are gunning for four, behind its wunderchild t-freshman QB Josh Rosen (19 TDs-7 INTs-60%), who operates with the seasoned maturity of Robert E. Lee.
But the Bruins table setter is its All-America caliber tailback Paul Perkins (1180 yards-11 TDs), who pile drives a defense with the unrelenting intensity of; Cashman Dredging and Marine.
When UCLA takes to the smog filled skies, the rifle armed sharpshooter focuses on a pair of dynamic field stretchers Jordan Payton, and Thomas Duarte, who have combined for; 117 catches and 13 TDs.
But as the faithful are well aware, the D of the descendants of John Williams, led by backers Kenny Young, Jaylon Brown and end Kenny Clark (9 TFLs-5 sacks) has been as porous (83rd stopping the run) as the Greek border.
At USC, the Sons of Mike Garrett have had more job openings than Monster.
One need only look at the Trojan’s high cotton director, senior QB Cody Kessler (25 TDs-6 INTs-69%) who is playing for his fourth different head coach.
Despite the instability, there remains a puzzling inexplicable disconnect for the abundantly talented LA surfers.
Tailback U doesn’t roll behind a single prize winning bell cow, but incorporates a trio of versatile roadrunners; Ronald Jones, Justin Davis, and Tre Madden, who have combined for; 1914 yards, and 17 TDs.
The Men of Troy’s game breaker is its All-America wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster (10 TDs), who sits sixth in the nation averaging 110 yards per game.
On D, the descendants of Ron Howard led by backer Su’a Cravens (13.5 TFLs-5.5 sacks), corner Iman Marshall, and safety Chris Hawkins, have more holes defending the pass than a New York City bagel factory, which could get one “toasted’ against UCLA.
In a game in which a case can be made for both sides, we’ll take the kid from UCLA to add to his emerging legacy.
Last week: 3-2 Season record; 37-23
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap by noon Sunday. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. PK