Monthly Archives: December 2015

Michigan State and Rodney Dangerfield are a perfect match!

rodney

One of these guys can’t get no respect.

We begin this New Year’s Eve playoff with the misidentification of one of the country’s best college football coaches, an iconic sports magazine, and an apology.

Last week in its “special” newsstand only College Football Playoff preview, Sports Illustrated mistakenly identified Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio as Mike.

Once the error, which drew the ire of the Spartan faithful was brought to the magazine’s attention, it made the embarrassing correction and apologized immediately.

But the faux-pas plays perfectly into the Spartans “Little Engine That Could” mentality.  It fuels the Michigan State program which relishes in proving to its legion of dismissive pundits that they were wrong once again.

On the eve of the New Year, let’s see which teams, with apologies to “Prince,” send its alums partying like it’s 2016, by ringing its coach’s name throughout the land, and which slowly trudge away, dragging from the weight of their fully corked celebratory magnums of champagne.

No.3 Michigan State vs No.2 Alabama – Cotton Bowl (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio would never admit it, but he loves his role as the Rodney Dangerfield of the college football world.

Despite the fact that the Spartans have won at least eleven games in five of its last six seasons, 38 of its last 42, tied the Big Ten record with four consecutive bowl victories, and captured seven of its last eight against Top-10 teams, the “Green and White” remain an afterthought in the hierarchy of college football royalty.

But weep not for coach, because his Sons of Duffy Daugherty, who attack with so many chips on its shoulder, that they could be a spokesman for; “Keebler” thrive on that perception.

The descendants of Earl Morrall are directed by its cocky senior QB Connor Cook (24 TDs-5 INTs-56%) who, in addition to being the winningest gunslinger (34-4) in MSU history, also possesses better leadership qualities than the entire field of presidential candidates.

The tested and wizened field general is assisted by a trio of solid tailbacks, L.J. Scott (11 TDs), Gerald Holmes, and Madre London, who have combined for 1714 yards and 22 TDs, while wideouts Aaron Burbridge, and Macgarrett Kings are comforting chain stretchers.

But unlike its offensive counterparts, who generate the excitement level of Keith Lockhart; Sparty’s D crescendos with the verve and passion of Leonard Bernstein.  {Bernstein’s classic “On the Town” opened on Broadway 71-years ago almost to the day.}

These Sons of Bubba Smith led by starry All-America end Shilique Calhoun (14.5 TFLs-10.5 sacks), and backers Riley Bullough (95 tackles -42 solo), and Darien Harris, stone runners with the ferocity of a Smithy’s hammer, but have shown some worrisome Iraqi Army like susceptibility defending against the pass.

[Note; if not for that miraculous “Punt 6” time expiring 38-yard touchdown run victory over Michigan, the Spartans are on the outside looking in!!  Amazing!].

In Tuscaloosa, the Sons of Joe Namath, a.k.a. Groucho’s favorite team, are like the Swallows returning to Capistrano, back again enjoying the view from its penthouse perch.

And St. Nick (104-8 in his tenure at Alabama) is on the cusp of national championship number five which would place him one behind the Tide’s other exalted icon; Bear Bryant.  [Note: Bear got all of his at Alabama, Saban owns one from his time at LSU.]

The “Title Town” offense is fueled by its newly minted Heisman locomotive, tailback Derrick Henry, (the nation’s rushing leader: 1986 -23 TDs), who plows through a defense with the same propulsion as a runaway Red Line train, or Putin’s troops rolling through Ukraine.

The conductor of the descendants of Bart Starr is the unassuming QB Jake Coker (17 TDs-8 INTs-65%) with assists from a breakout freshman wideout Calvin Ridley, and his partners Ardarius Stewart, and Richard Mullaney.

But the tensile strength of the Tide’s Tiffany encrusted run is a second ranked diamond hard D, which is harder to penetrate than the inner security circle of; Donald J. Trump.

This group, which is scarier than the Olympic event waters of Rio’s Guanabara Bay, rotates eleven different players in its front seven, and is anchored by its All-World backer Reggie Ragland, his partner Reuben Foster, and corner Geno Matias-Smith.

These disruptors surrender a jaw-dropping squeegee-like 74-rushing yards per game, while allowing a championship worthy; 14-points per contest.

Dantonio will not be intimidated, but these are the types of games that Saban relishes.

It’s strength versus strength; an “old school” 60-minutes of; line ‘em up and knock ‘em down may the best man win.

All of which means there will be no New Year’s Eve celebration for the Dangerfield’s of East Lansing as St. Nick climbs one rung closer in his “Ahab” obsession to topple the Bear.

No.4 Oklahoma at No.1 Clemson – Orange Bowl (ESPN, 4 p.m.) It’s official, “Big Game” Bob and the “Air-Raid” offense are alive and well in Norman, and with apologies to “Rodgers and Hammerstein,” in Oklahoma the wind continues to; “Come whistling down the plain.”

The Sooner awakening began during the offseason when OU’s head man changed much of his staff, but his best move was the hiring of 32-year old East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who was assigned a mission of singular purpose; revitalize the Sooner-Boomer passing attack.

Fortunately, that mandate coincided with the emergence of a charismatic “Clark Kent-esque” walk-on; QB Baker Mayfield (35 TDs-5 INTs-68%), who not only is the nation’s second most efficient passer, but performed at a Heisman contending level.

The wily dual-threat sharpshooter, who directs the nation’s third highest (45) scoring eleven, has the luxury of lasering onto a trio of glue-fingered receivers, the stellar Sterling Shepard (11 TDs), and his partners Dede Westbrook, and Durron Neal.

But the tone setters for the Sons of Steve Owens, the ones who enable that aerial show to sparkle, are a pair of “John Deere” earth movers: Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.

The tandem diesels, who average more than 6-yards a carry, (combining for 2014-yards and 22 TDs), are the best pair of table setters this side of the White House butlers.

On D, the vastly improved descendants of Bud Wilkerson, anchored by its All-America backer Erik Striker (16 TFLs -7.5 sacks), his partner Dominique Alexander (leads the team (91) in tackles), and end Charles Tapper (10 TFLS-7 sacks) are seventh (37) in sacks, and swarm to the ball as intensely as last summer’s locusts plague in Russia.

In Death Valley, “Clemsoning” (a.k.a. “the Tigers collapsing again”) has been officially expunged from the school’s vocabulary, and “Dabo’s Boys,” who are riding the nation’s longest (16) winning streak, are intent on bringing home Clemson’s second national championship.

Its only previous title came during the first year of the Reagan Administration (1981), when the number one song in America was “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John and the Tigers defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day; 1982.

The maestro guiding these unblemished Sons of Dwight Clark is its Heisman finalist QB, Deshaun Watson (30 TDs-11 INTs-69% – 887 yards rushing – 11 TDs), who performs like Toscanini with a football in his hand.

The impresario, who glides with the grace of Fred Astaire while displaying a Houdini-like sleight of hand, is assisted by a rumbling 18-wheeler tailback Wayne Gallman (1332 yards -10 TDs), and the receiving quartet; Artavis Scott, Charone Peake, Deon Cain, and Jordan Leggett have combined for 22 TD receptions.

And just like Glen Fry and Don Henley of the “Eagles,” the Tigers seventh ranked D, led by the All-America pairing; corner Mackensie Alexander, end Shaq Lawson (22 TFLs-9.5 sacks), along with backer B. J. Goodson (14.5 TFLs-95 tackles -46 solo), is deserving of a marquee of equal billing.

A strong case can be made for either team.  But we think “Big Game” leaves the Clemson faithful with the recurring lyric from the Eagles “Heartache Tonight;” “Somebody’s gonna come undone” as the invaders from Norman snuff the championship dreams of the Sons of  Charlie Waters, and punches its ticket into the title game.

That’s it from cyber-space, we’ll be back with our analysis of the championship game next Wednesday night.  Until then, a safe and healthy New Year to all, watch the Rose Bowl, and as always; Peace, and listen to the music.  PK

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Army-Navy, the “Old Man” and Me

paul-and-dad

“Age wrinkles the body.  Quitting wrinkles the soul.”  Douglas MacArthur.

“Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.”  George Patton.

We begin this week, in the spirit of the season, with our annual piece about taking my “old man” to the last pure amateur sporting event left in America, in this case, it was the 1998 Army/Navy Football Game.

It is our version of; “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

On December 7, 1963, at the age of eleven, and some two weeks after the assassination of President Kennedy, I watched my first college football game.

It was Army versus Navy, and featured the Middies Heisman Trophy winner; Roger Staubach.

I viewed the game with my dad sharing the couch in the living room on the top floor of our Dorchester – “Wattendorf owned” – three-decker.

We watched on a black and white Philco television, accompanied by the mandatory rabbit ears, and even though the “old man” was WWII Army, I was rooting for Navy.

The game ended on a time expiring controversial no call, with the Cadets perched on the Middies one, as the Sons of Joe Bellino hung on for the; 21-15 victory.

It began a lifelong love affair with the game of college football, one in which I remain intimately involved by writing a seasonal on-line column for the Patriot Ledger, and as a participating voter in selecting the winner of the Heisman Trophy.

But now, a shade over a half-century later, this game for me has much deeper roots.

My father, Ed, passed fourteen-years ago, and four years before his demise, in the spring of ’98 he experienced a “mini” stroke.

After that episode, in which he came through without any incapacitation, I realized that the 75-year old former soldier wouldn’t be around forever, and that revelation inspired me to put a plan into action.

I would surprise my “old man” by taking him to witness the classic first hand, a “full-circle” father-son football and life journey.

It would be a one day whirlwind excursion.

The airline reservations were a snap, remember this was pre 9/11, but now I needed some game tickets, and not just any seats, but something decent, especially for a guy in his mid-seventies.

I called my pal Bill Brett the now retired “great, prize winning” photographer of the Boston Globe.

I asked Billy, if he would ask, the since deceased sports columnist Will McDonough, to ask his son Sean, who at the time was working for CBS Sports and calling the game, for assistance in securing a pair of nice seats.

They all came through.

I picked up the tickets at the stadium’s “Will Call” window which were in a large manila envelope marked: CBS Sports.

The kid working the window glanced at the CBS logo and duly impressed, looked up and proclaimed; “You must be important!”

Little did he know!!

We ventured to our seats; lower level at Philly’s Old Vet Stadium, eight rows up from the rail at the 45-yard line.  Absolutely, perfect!

Here we are sitting around various Naval brass, and after a few minutes of silence, the “old man” a former Army corporal, who walked in and out of France and Germany, looks at me and says; “Are you sure we are in the right seats?”

Translation: “How could a nitwit like you, pull off seats like these?!”

Even though it was the fifth of December, the weather was balmy, and we were treated to a great game, watching what was at the time (since surpassed); the highest scoring game in the series: a 34-30 Army victory.

Sitting in the plane and just before we were about to take off, the “old man” leaned in and said, “In case I forget, I want to thank you.”

For a WWII father that simple statement was like; “War and Peace.”

My dad died three years later, but to paraphrase what Bogie said to Bergman in “Casablanca;” “We’ll always have Army/Navy!”

“So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Now to the game: Army vs No.21 Navy (Ch.4, 3:00 p.m.) – Philadelphia

In the 116th renewal of this classic, the Midshipmen have torpedoed its rival for a “baker’s dozen” of consecutive victories, outscoring Army by the jaw-dropping aggregate; 417-142, and now lead the series; 59-49-7.

To put that run into perspective, the longest previous streak by either team was five games, and the Cadet’s last victory over Navy occurred a couple of months post 9/11 in 2001.

For the Sons of Robert E. Lee, West Point football has been drier than the Mojave, and wins on the Hudson are rarer than the sighting of a large school of N.E. cod.

In fact the last time the Black Knights simply enjoyed a winning season; Bill Clinton was in the “Monica Years” of his second term – 1997.

Unfortunately, the QB situation for the Sons of Dwight Eisenhower remains as muddled as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but it appears as if t-freshman Chris Carter, who got his first start two weeks ago in the loss to Rutgers, is the lead dog for the starting call.

Yet still very much in the mix is senior QB A.J. Shorr (7TDs), as well as sophomore signal caller Ahmad Bradshaw (5 TDs) who started seven games, but is working back from ankle and shoulder injuries.

Whoever is under center, tailback Aaron Kemper (506 yards – 3 TDs – 5.4 yds. a pop) is the principal Army bell cow which caissons along as the nation’s eighth best (254) rushing attack, despite an offense that ranks a bottom feeding 106th in scoring; averaging a miniscule 22-points a game.

And on those rarest of occasions when the Cadets, who have 27 freshman and sophomores contributors, take to the skies, wideouts Edgar Poe (nickname has to be Allen!), and John Trainor, are the main targets.

On D, the descendants of Pete Dawkins (’58 Heisman) anchored by backers Andrew King (15.5 TFLs – 4.5 sacks), Jeffrey Timpf, and corner Rhyan England, attack as relentlessly as the annual “weaponized” pillow fight that was officially banned this year by the USMA brass due to multiple concussions, broken noses, and jaws.  Oh those Army boys.

In Annapolis, the Middies, are going bowling for twelfth time in thirteen years, and this Navy eleven may be its best since Heisman winner Roger Staubach was lobbing jump pass touchdowns.

The nation’s second ranked (330) triple-option rushing attack is under the command of its Heisman caliber QB Keenan Reynolds (1093 yards-19TDs), who slashes a defense better than a knife made by Bowie.

The starry magician, who is college football’s all-time touchdown rushing leader, is assisted by tailback Chris Swain, and on Navy’s infrequent aerial sightings, Jamir Tillman (great seaman’s name) is the prime target.

On D, the descendants of John Paul Jones (“I have not yet begun to fight”) anchored by backer Micah Thomas, end Will Anthony (10.5 TFLs-6.5 sacks), and a corner with one of the all-time patriotic names, Quincy Adams, are capable of swamping any offense.

With all the unsettledness floating around the country, and the world, this year’s game carries an even deeper connection showcasing the best our nation has to offer.

And on Saturday night in the early evening darkness, in one of the great traditions of college football, we think it will be the Cadets who will be standing behind its Midshipmen brethren as its faithful serenade with; “Navy Blue and Gold” for the fourteenth consecutive time.

Last week: 5-0                            Season record: 45-25

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be back on Tuesday of Christmas week for our analysis of the two New Year’s Eve semi-finals.  Until then, Merry Christmas, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK

It’s; Alabama vs Michigan State, Clemson vs Oklahoma in the Final Four

A season of surprises has been whittled down to four.

The last men standing: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Michigan State have earned a New Year’s Eve invitation with the added caveat of an opportunity to play for the national championship.

And the Committee has decided that; Alabama will face Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, while Clemson and Oklahoma hook up in the Orange Bowl.

But the path to those venues wasn’t without drama.

For the Spartans it took a game clinching nine-plus minute, 22-play fourth-quarter drive which was capped by a third-and-goal touchdown lunge by L.J. Scott with 27 seconds left on the clock, to dash the Cinderella dreams of perfection for the Iowa Hawkeyes; 16-13.

The Sons of Duff Daugherty earned its invitation by way of its mid-season miraculous “Punt-6” play against Michigan, when all the Wolverines had to do was basically get the kick in the air to win the game, otherwise, Ohio State is filling that slot.  Amazing!!

But don’t rest on Sparty’s Coach Mark Dantonio; the unassuming assassin is one of the nation’s best.

Does anyone in college football have more fun than Clemson coach Dabo Swinney?

He decided he would celebrate his special season as the nation’s only undefeated eleven, by throwing a win or lose Sunday morning pizza-party in Death Valley Stadium.

Over 20,000 orange and purple zealots showed up digging into 2500 pizzas, sliced into 8 pieces, all courtesy of Papa Johns.

It took four different towns to deliver the order, and there is no doubt that pizza never tasted better for the Tigers faithful, who are chasing it first national championship since the second year of the Reagan Administration – 1981.

To earn that invite Clemson was given a reprieve when North Carolina, who had closed to within 8-points 45-37, with 1:13 left on the clock, recovered its onside kick, only to be penalized by a “phantom” off side call.

It tried a second time, but it was recovered by the Tigers who ran out the clock.  WOW!!

Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said simply, “The play was good.”  And it was.

It took a while for the Tide to rise, but ultimately Derrick Henry, Alabama’s Heisman contending tailback took over as Alabama grinded out a punishing 29-15 victory over Florida.

Putting St. Nick and his boys in the playoff for a second consecutive time, as Saban chases after title number five.

But unlike Clemson, there was no celebrating in Grocho’s favorite town, as Saban told his players, “Act like you have been there before.”  Which is exactly what Jim Brown said many years ago, when someone scores a touchdown.

Classic, old school.  And we need that more than ever.

In Norman, “Big Game” Bob, who Big 12 Conference doesn’t have a championship game, simply relaxed sat back and watched, while waiting to see where the Committee slotted his Sooners, who may well be the most balanced team in America.

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with our analysis of the last pure amateur sporting event left in America, the Army/Navy Game – featuring our annual “Army/Navy the old man and me piece.

Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK

In Ann Arbor, Slippery Rock always brings the cheers!

We begin this week with the winningest program in college football history, the “Big House,” and a Division II team with a name, as the Eagles sang in “James Dean,” that is; “just too cool for school.”

We refer to the Michigan Wolverines and Slippery Rock, whose nickname is what else; “The Rock.”

It’s connection to the Maize and Blue traces back to the last year of the Eisenhower Administration -1959, when then public address announcer Steve Filipiak (1959-71) began reporting the Slippery Rock scores alongside the results of other Big Ten games.

Their score always came across the (pre-internet) wire, and the PA announcer simply thought the name was interesting.  It quickly became a UM tradition, and the home crowd cheers wildly whenever the Rock’s winning score is announced.

The name originated around the time of the French and Indian War when the colonial soldiers wearing heavy boots were able to cross a creek, and the Seneca Indians in their moccasins could not.  The creek was named Wechachochaponka, which translates slippery rock, and that is where the name originated.

The relationship between the two schools took on a more formal role in 1979, when former athletic director Don Canham arranged for The Rock to play its rival Shippensburg at the “Big House” which attracted a Division II record crowd of 61,143 fans which still stands.

This weekend, let’s see which teams, with apologies to Ashford and Simpson are; “Solid as a Rock,” and which, slip and slide to another loss, leaving its alums with the feeling of being up a creek without a paddle.

No.4 Iowa vs. No.5 Michigan State – (FOX, 8:00 p.m.) Big Ten Championship     

We don’t want to refer to Kirk Ferentz as simply a magician, but David Copperfield could learn a few tricks from the coach of the Hawkeyes.

The “Boys of the Corn” have popped a perfect regular season, and the winner of this game earns a spot in the New Year’s Eve playoff.

The Sons of Alex Karras are directed by QB C.J. Beathard (14 TDs-3 INTs-60%), who is steadier than Sheriff Will Kane (Gary Cooper) in “High Noon,” and gets a big assist from a pair of anvil smashing tailbacks; Jordan Canzeri, and LeShun Daniels, who have combined for: 1556 yards and 20 TDs.

When the Iowa City Sheriff takes to the air, wideout Matt VandeBerg, and tight end Henry Krieger-Coble are solid glue-fingered chain movers.

On D, the descendants of Ed Podolak, led by backer Josey Jewell, end Nate Meier (10.5 TFLs-6.5 sacks), and backer Cole Fisher, have allowed a miniscule 18 points a game, but show some vulnerability defending the pass, which is not a good recipe against the Boys from East Lansing.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio is more underrated than Eric Burden of the “Animals.”

His Sons of Duffy Daugherty have quietly won a jaw-dropping eleven games in five of its last six seasons.

The director of the Spartans is senior QB, Connor Cook (24 TDs-4 INTs-57 %) who has better leadership skills than the entire presidential field of candidates.

The quiet assassin is assisted by a trio of tailbacks; L.J. Scott, Madre London, and Gerald Holmes, who have combined for; 21 TDs-and 1568 yards and a threesome of quality targets; Aaron Burbridge, R.J. Shelton, and Macgarrett Kings, who have combined for; 147 receptions and 16 TDs.

On D, the descendants of Herb Adderley anchored by backer Riley Bullough, end Shalique Calhoun (11.5 TFls-8.5 sacks), and tackle Malik McDowell (11.5 TFLs-4.5 sacks), have finally found a stride that is more disruptive than the; “Kars for Kids” radio advertisement.

In a Big Ten championship for the ages, we think the “Boys of the Corn” have its stalks stripped clean as the mean green of Spartan land earns its way into the playoff. [Note: without that botched miracle punt against Michigan, the Spartans are on the outside looking in – amazing.]

No.2 Alabama vs. No.18 Florida (Ch.4, 4 p.m.) – SEC Championship Once again the Tide, a.k.a. Groucho’s favorite team, is sitting comfortably on its perch of football royalty, and is on the cusp of another national championship.

The diesel propelling these Sons of John Hannah, is its Heisman frontrunner, tailback Derrick Henry, who leads the country in both rushing (1797) and touchdowns (22), while running better than the “Fugitive” averaging the nation’s third best; 149-yards a game.

The manager of this “Title Town” machine is QB Jake Coker (15 TDs-8 INTs-65%), who is as error free as Mark Belanger, while receivers; Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, and tight end O.J. Howard provide Linus blanket comfort combining for: 147 catches and 12 TDs.

The D of the descendants of Lee Roy Jordan, the nation’s third stingiest (14), swarms behind backers Reggie Ragland, Rueben Foster, and safety Geno Matias-Smith, and is harder to penetrate than the security around an Iranian nuclear power plant.

The only person to do more, with less, than Florida coach Jim McElwain is; “actor” George Hamilton.

Overall the Gator’s offense is weaker (104th) than the stressed condition of the Sunshine State’s citrus crop, whose production output is the lowest in more than a half-century.

QB Treon Harris (8 TDs-4 INTs-53%) directs the sputtering “Boys from the Swamp” with assists from tailback Kelvin Taylor, and wideouts Demarcus Robinson, and tight end Jake McGee, who are averaging  Lusitania-like bottom feeding 25 points-a-game.

But if the offense of the descendants of Emmitt Smith is weaker than the poll numbers of George Pataki, the D, the nation’s fifth stingiest (15) and anchored by backers Antonio Morrison, Jarrad Davis, and end Jonathan Bullard (15.5 TFLs -5.5 sacks) soars like the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders at a campus rally.

It would be an upset for the ages if somehow the Gators kept the Sons of Kenny Stabler from punching its ticket into the playoff tourney.  Even though it’s the Christmas (hope I can write that word) season, the miracle won’t occur, as St. Nick continues stalking championship number five.

No.8 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Clemson (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) ACC Championship Yes Virginia, they play another sport on the Chapel Hill campus.

The last time the Sons of Lawrence Taylor won the ACC Championship, Jimmy Carter was in the last days of his Administration (1980), and the number one song in America was; “Lady” by Kenny Rogers.

But these “hip-hop” Tar Heels have “kicked up” its eleven game winning streak on the strength of a prolific offense (41), which features its dual-threat torpedo, QB Marquise Williams (18 TDs-8 INTs-64% -10 rushing), who is as dangerous as “Pretty Boy” Floyd on the run.

The Carolina “big man” is assisted by an earth-moving tailback Elijah Wood (1280 yards-16 TDs), and a pair of quality receivers; Ryan Switzer, and Quinshad Davis.

Coach Larry Fedora’s best offseason signing was the hiring of D-coordinator Gene Chizic, who changed the culture of the UNC eleven from a bunch of cape waving matadors, into, with apologies to John Candy in “Stripes;” “a lean mean fighting machine.”  (Which is something the Iraqi will never be!)

The descendants of Julius Peppers, behind safety Donnie Mills, and backers Shakell Rashad, and Jeff Schoettmer, surrender a very respectable, and hard challenged 20-points a game, but remain leakier than the Tip O’Neil Tunnel stopping the run (105th) which is the wrong recipe against the Orange and Purple.

These are not your father’s Tigers.

In previous editions, the “C” words; Clemson and consistency, mixed as well as; Dennis Rodman and Madonna.

But “Dabo’s Boys” are now the proud owners of the nation’s longest winning streak (15), and victorious in 20 of its last 21, making that “C” coupling as perfect as; Bogie and Bacall.

These Sons of “Refrigerator” Perry are under the leadership of its dual-threat, Heisman contending QB Deshaun Watson (27 TDs-10-INTs-70%-9 rushing), who dances with the same fluidity as Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain.”

The indispensable driver of the playoff bound bus, is assisted by a bulldozing tailback Wayne Galman (over 1100 yards -9 TDS), as well as a quartet of receivers: Artavis Scott, Charone Peake, Deon Cain, and tight end Jordan Leggett, who have combined for; 176 catches and 20 TDs.

The marquee worthy Death Valley D, anchored by backers B.J. Goodson (14.5 TFLs-5.5 sacks), Ben Bouleware, and end Kevin Dodd (13.5 TFLs-7 sacks) swarms with the stealthy precision of a Navy Seal team.

This is a very dangerous test for the top rated Tigers of Clemson, which has lost the turnover margin in six games this season, but ultimately, we believe the firepower of Clemson carries the day, as the Tigers earn the right for a chance to play for the national championship.

No. 7 Stanford vs No. 24 USC (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) – Pac-12 Championship

A win, and the Cardinal, who need several miracles to make it into the playoff, will realistically be flying to Pasadena for its third Rose Bowl Game in the last four years.

These Sons of Jim Plunkett are under the Rommel-like command of QB Kevin Hogan (23 TDs-7 INTs-68%), a dart-thrower who conjures up images of old number 16.

The Palo Alto sharpshooter, the nation’s fifth most efficient passer, who plays with a combination of James Dean cool, mixed with a dash of James Bond sophistication gets a gigundous assist from his “Swiss Knife” Heisman candidate; tailback/kick returner/receiver Christian McCaffrey, the nation’s sixth best rusher (1640 yards – 7TDs), who leads the team in receptions, while topping the country averaging a jaw-dropping 252 all-purpose yards per game.

When Cardinal QB takes to the skies, he chooses from a plethora play-making receivers; McCaffrey, Michael Rector, David Cajuste, and tight end Austin Hooper, who have combined for; 121 grabs and 17 TDs.

On D, the descendants of William Rehnquist featuring backers Blake Martinez, Peter Kalambayi, and Kodi Whitfield, struggle mightily defending the pass (74th), which could tip the scales towards Southern Cal.

With apologies to the “WHO” from its classic; “Won’t Get Fooled Again,”  it’s “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” as A.D. Pat Haden has ripped the interim tag off coach Clay Helton (5-2) anointing him the man to bring stability to the USS Trojan which has been adrift in rough seas for the past several years.

At his opening presser the newly minted Man of Troy said, “I apologize for not being glitzy, but I believe that blue-collar toughness is what wins championships.”

Time will tell, and the clock starts running this weekend.

A USC victory, and the Sons of Anthony Davis are slotted into the Rose Bowl for the first time since the second year of Barak Obama’s first term– 2009.

Starry QB Cody Kessler (27 TDs-6 INTs-68%), the tone setter for the surfers from L.A., has the luxury of lasering onto one of the country’s best in wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster (74 catches-1302 yds-17 yds a pop-10 TDs) whose hands are sticker than a box of filling pulling “Jujubes.”

The 2015 version of Tailback U doesn’t roll with a single bell cow, but a trio of road-runners; Ronald Jones, Justin Davis, and Tre Madden, who have combined for an impressive; 2139 yards and 17 TDs.

The Trojans D, led by its All-America caliber backer Su’a Cravens (13.5 TFLs-5.5 sacks), his partner Cameron Smith, and tackle Delvin Simmons (8.5 TFLs-4 sacks), defends against the pass (104th) about as well as Deval Patrick balanced the state budget which is a losing hand against the Cardinal.

In a game of great intrigue, with a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line, we’ll take the spirit of Plunkett, in a very close game, to carry the day.

No.20 Temple at No.17 Houston (Ch.5, Noon) American Athletic Conference Championship   During its long history of wandering in the “desert of ineptitude” the jokes about Temple football went like this: How do you keep Temple Owls out of your yard?  Answer: put up goal posts.

Well, these are not your father’s Owls.

The Sons of Joe Klecko finds itself ranked for the first time since Jimmy Carter was dealing with the Iranian hostage crisis – 1979 – and its coach Matt Rhule, is now a highly sought after commodity.

The offense of the Boys from Philly commanded of QB P.J. Walker (18 TDs-6 INTs-56%), and his bulldozing tailback Jahad Thomas (17TDs), isn’t a July 4th spectacular (95th overall), but has the ability to slowly grind out victories.

But if the offense is a greasy Philly cheese steak, the D is a five-star, six-hour, roasted pork shoulder.

The nation’s sixteenth stingiest (18) eleven, attacks behind its dynamic backer Tyler Matakevich (118 tackles -71 solo-14 TFLs), with assists from Jarred Alwan, and tackle Haason Reddick.

With apologies to Apollo 13 captain Jack Swigert; “Houston we have no problem here.”

The rocket soaring Cougars, the country’s eighth highest (42) scoring squad, are under the command of its dynamic dual-threat QB Greg Ward (16 TDs-5 INTs-69% – 893 yards rushing -17 TDs) who has better moves than Tina Turner.

The sleight of hand maestro is assisted by tailback Kenneth Farrow (12 TDs), and a pair of field-stretching receivers; Demarcus Ayers, and Chance Allen.

On D, the descendants of Robert Newhouse led by backers Elandon Roberts (127 tackles -84 solo-17 TFLs), Steven Taylor (15 TFLs-8 sacks), and safety Trevon Stewart (9.5 TFLs-6.5 sacks), stone runners but is a muck raking (and we don’t mean Lincoln Steffens) 107th defending the pass, which might be a “problem” against Temple.

With the looming shadow of the Johnson Space Center, we think Houston has a soft landing, and deserves to go bowling on New Year’s Day.

Last week; 3-2                     Season record; 40-25

This is the last full week of the year.  It flew by for me, and I can’t imagine how quickly it must have gone for all my “faithful” readers.

We’ll be back next week with our annual; “Army-Navy; the old man and me” piece, and the last pure amateur event left in America; The Army-Navy game.

Be sure to read our recap which will be up and running by noon Sunday.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK