We begin this week, a shake-up Saturday, with long suffering Army Football, a victorious locker room prayer, and the issue of the separation of church in state.
Two weeks ago after its upset victory over Temple, the Cadets of West Point, who find themselves 2-0 for the first time since Bill Clinton was hanging out with Monica – 1996, took a knee as a team, while one of its assistant coaches led the squad in a locker room prayer. It was videoed, and then placed on the Army website for all to see.
After receiving some complaints, Army’s Athletic Director Boo Corrigan directed that the video be taken down, because of its offensive nature. Really??!!!
Lt. General Robert L. Caslen, the Superintendent at West Point agreed with the decision.
“Maybe 90-percent of the people who are out there supported the prayer, but when you look at it from a legal basis, and from a legal standpoint, and you look at it from a leadership standpoint, there were some concerns, and I think they’re valid concerns,” said Caslen.
WOW!! It must be my age, but I wonder if the Army has any objections if any of its “Long Grey Line,” who, along with the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard Academies, represent the best and the brightest our country has to offer, says a prayer from a foxhole, or some other godforsaken outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan while in a combat zone defending our freedom!!
This weekend let’s see which teams supported by its faithful, pray for an upset victory, and which, in honor of the Army AD Boo Corrigan, are “booed” off the field for playing like a bunch of paper-pushing bureaucratic lawyers.
No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville (Noon, Ch.5) This is another huge test for the “Sons of Burt Reynolds” which many experts have penciled in as one of the four playoff invitees.
The director of the Seminoles “Tomahawk Express” is its dual-threat r-shirt freshman, QB Deondre Francois, who in these early stages of the season, has played with a seasoned esprit de corps of a Heisman candidate.
The wunderkind is assisted by All-America tailback Dalvin Cook, who can “smoke” any defense, while receivers Travis Rudolph, Jesus Wilson, and tight end Ryan Izzo, are better targets than an ISIS controlled safe house.
But if FSU is to climb to those anticipated Prudential heights, it will be from a D, led by All-America safety Derwin James, end DeMarcus Walker, and backer Matthew Thomas, that is harder to crack than the security code of that “wild and crazy” guy, North Korean President; “Mr. Nukes” himself: Kim Jong-un.
In Louisville, the Cardinals are soaring in some rarified air (after lifting its season opening curtain by gorging on a pair of cupcakes by the combined score of: 132-42) thanks to an offense that has been more explosive than a SpaceX rocket.
But now the fun and games are over, and the Sons of “Johnny U” need to show the country that they are more than simply an Oz like wizard. Translation; Coach Bobby Petrino’s crew must win this game.
The engineer piloting the Cardinals high-octane bullet train, is its dual-threat sophomore QB, Lamar Jackson, who is more electric than a Chevy Volt, and moves like a Porsche 911.
The starry QB is assisted by tailback Brandon Radcliff, and a pair of game breaking wideouts: Jamari Staples, and James Quick.
The Cardinals D, anchored by backer Keith Kelsey, safety Chucky Williams, and corner Zykiesis Cannon has more speed than an Ozark’s meth-lab, and can hit with the more intensity than a Vladimir Putin stare down.
This is a Playoff game for the both, and with a scheduled noon kick, on the road, before a juiced crowd of Louisville faithful, Jimbo’s Boys better be ready to go.
If not, the Cardinals, like the theme song for “The Jeffersons” will be moving on up into the playoff conversation.
We don’t think Louisville is quite ready for prime time, as the kid with the French surname gets the scalp (French and Indian War) for the Seminoles.
No.3 Ohio State at No.14 Oklahoma (FOX, 7:30 p.m.) This is the third meeting all-time for these two football colossi. (I knew BC High Latin would come in handy someday.)
The most famous of which took place in Columbus in 1977, when the third ranked Sooners of Oklahoma, led by its eccentric coach Barry Switzer, defeated Woody Hayes’ fourth-ranked Buckeyes: 29-28 on a last second field goal.
But it was the antics of the Sooners kicker; Uwe von Schamann (he must be a von Trapp cousin) that made the game even more memorable.
OU mounted its furious comeback by recovering a pair of late onside kicks, and lined up for a 41-yard field goal to win the game. In anticipation Ohio Stadium chanted in unison: “Block that kick! Block that kick!”
Just before the attempt, Woody called his final time out hoping to ice the OU kicker.
But von Schamann was having none of that. Aggravated about having to wait, he took off his helmet, (you could do that in those days of innocence) then sauntered over toward the Buckeye crowd.
With the crowd in its full-throated roar, raised his index fingers and made the flowing baton motion of a maestro conducting Wagner’s: “Ride of the Valkyries,” as he joined in on the fun.
When play resumed, von Schamann calmly lined up, and nailed the game winner. It instantly transformed Ohio Stadium into a funeral-like silence.
Years later one of the OU players’ colorfully described the stadium silence; “It was as quiet as a rat pissing on a bale of cotton.”
Ah, Woody and Barry, now those were the days!!
Now back to the reality$$$$ of 2016.
Since taking up residency in Columbus some four-plus years ago, coach Urban Meyer has said “Goodbye Columbus” to almost all-comers, compiling an astounding 52-4 record. Those numbers also reflect a national title, making him the only coach to win a national championship in two different conferences. (SEC, Big Ten.)
And this visit to Norman will give the Buckeye faithful a true measure of the capabilities of its beloved Scarlet and Grey.
These “Sons of Archie Griffin” are commanded by its dual-threat, Heisman candidate, QB J.T. Barrett, who despite having only three returning starters, can carve a defense better than the best New York butcher.
The Bucks knife sharpener is assisted by freshman tailback Mike Weber, his h-back Curtis Samuel, who is also a deep threat (17 yds. a catch), as well as receivers Noah Brown, and Dontre Wilson.
The D has more seasoning than its offensive brethren, and marinates behind its All-America backer Raekwon McMillan, end Sam Hubbard, and backer Chris Worley.
In Norman, the “Big Game” moniker of its coach Bob Stoops (who finds himself as the longest tenured coach in Div. 1 – 18 years) has been buried in the back of the closet for some time.
But if the Sooners are to keep its flickering playoff hopes alive, it has to run the table.
The Norman Invaders are under the stellar command of its All-America caliber QB Baker Mayfield, who in addition to his Houdini-like escapability, hits his target better than a barrel bomb dropped by the Syrian Government in its Civil War.
The Sooners dynamic pigskin twirler is assisted by one of the nation’s most talented tailback tandems: Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, while wideouts Dede Westbrook, and Penn State transfer Geno Lewis, provide quality field stretching targets.
The D of the “Sons of Lee Roy Selmon,” is anchored by its All-America tackle Charles Walker, and assisted by end Neville Gallimore, and backer Jordan Evans. But this group has struggled mightily defending the pass which is not the best formula to beat the Buckeyes.
Fully aware that my “Buckeye discount” at Ohio State grad Keith Mills’ wine emporium; Esprit du Vin in Milton could be in big jeopardy, we think a desperate bunch of Sooners creates a bigger earth quaking than the oil industry’s fracking, as OU fnds a way to scratch out the W. (Sorry Keith!!)
No.1 Alabama at No. 19 Mississippi (Ch. 4, 3:30 p.m.) If Nick Saban was the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, then Ole Miss has been his albatross from the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
Saban (107-18 in Tuscaloosa) has lost consecutive games to the same team on three occasions: against the Spurrier led Florida Gators, when he was leading LSU, to those same LSU Tigers after he matriculated to Alabama, and the current two game losing streak to the school that claims Pulitzer Prize winning novelist William Faulkner as its most renown alum: namely, the Rebels of Mississippi.
Saban has apparently settled on true-freshman QB Jalen Hurts to direct Bama’s championship defense, making him the first freshman to start for Groucho’s favorite team, since the Orwellian year of 1984 or five years before the fall of the Berlin wall.
The early part of the season in Tuscaloosa has been about as smooth as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and the testy Saban has displayed some uncharacteristic explosive sideline tirades.
Despite all that, the baby-faced assassin of the “Sons of Joe Namath” is assisted by a trio of tailbacks: Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, and freshman B.J. Emmons, while All-America wideout Calvin Ridley, his partner ArDarius Stewart, and tight end O.J. Howard can change the momentum of a game quicker than the Clintons’ shade the truth.
The D, anchored by All-America end Jonathan Allen, and a pair of marrow crushing backers; Ryan Anderson, and Reuben Foster, has more speed than the straightaway at Daytona, and is harder to penetrate than the secret gold account of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef.
In Oxford, QB Chad Kelly, the nephew of Buffalo HOF QB Jim Kelly, is the director of the “Sons of Archie Manning” and swashbuckling pigskin maestro fires more bullets, with more accuracy, than a Saturday night summer cookout on Chicago’s South Side.
The ‘Ole Miss gunslinger is assisted by a trio of game-breaking targets: Evan Engram, Demare’ea Stringfellow, and Quincy Adeboyejo, and when the Rebs hit the ground, Akeem Judd, and Eugene Brazley, are solid road graders.
The D, featuring backers Terry Caldwell, DeMarquis Gates, and graduate Oregon State transfer Rommel Mageo, has more questions than a BFD civil service exam.
Even though the Tide has yet to reach its high water mark, we think Saban slays his personal albatross (or as the late former Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino used to mangle: Alcatraz) leaving Hugh Freeze’s Rebs mumbling the poem’s classic line: “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame (Ch.7, 7:30 p.m.) We still don’t know much about the Boys from East Lansing. [The reason; a quirk in its schedule.]
The Spartans opened its season with a victory against the “mighty” Paladins of Furman (MSU struggled), then mysteriously had a bye. So when its straps on its helmets to take on the Irish, Michigan State will have gone 15 long days between games.
But make no mistake, even if there is some “Tin Man” rust, Mark Dantonio coached teams are going to be physical, and it truly relishes its role as an underdog.
These “Sons of Duffy Daugherty” are directed by senior QB Tyler O’Connor, who has better leadership skills than any member of Congress. He also demonstrated great patience and class in waiting for his playing opportunity.
The signature and identity of any MSU attack is its pro-style ground game, and this team features a trio of quality turf churners: LJ Scott, Madre London, and Gerald Homes.
And when the Spartans take to the East Lansing skies, tight end Josiah Price, along with wideout R.J. Shelton, are the principle targets.
The D anchored by its All-America tackle Malik McDowell, with assists from a trio of quality backers: Riley Bullough, Chris Frey, and Ed Davis is as relentless as an IRS investigator, and will lay more hits than a Beatles catalogue.
The “Sons of Lou Holtz” have won three straight against its Michigan State rival.
And before we dive into our analysis: we want to highlight one of our favorite quotes from the HOF championship winning coach: “Never tell your problems to anyone. Twenty percent don’t care, and the other eighty percent are glad you have them.” Absolutely beautiful!!
The Golden Domers have found its Ralph Kramden (bus driver), in dual-threat junior QB DeShone Kizer, who is equally dangerous, whether on the run, or firing a dart that is as accurate as; “Big Ben.”
In addition to its sharpshooter, the descendants of Ara Parseghian have been tearing up the turf behind tailbacks Josh Adams (7 yds. a carry), and his partner Tarean Folston, while wideouts Equanimeous St. Brown, C.J. Sander, and Tori Hunter (concussion, will play) provide glue fingered targets.
The D led by backers Nyles Moran, James Onwualu, and end Issac Rochell is solid up front, but the secondary has displayed more problems than a voting machine in Miami-Dade County.
Despite those issues, we think Brian Kelly’s (228-80-2 into his 26th year) “Touchdown Jesus” darlings adds another notch to the streak.
No.22 Oregon at Nebraska (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) This game is almost like a pregnancy test; whoever ends up on the positive side of the ledger is in for a fruitful season.
And once again, the “Green from Eugene” is soaring on the arm of a transfer QB from a school from the FCS Big Sky Conference.
Dakota Prukop, a graduate from Montana State, has been given the keys to Oregon’s aka “Phil Knight University” swoosh caddy.
The slender marksman has the good fortune of targeting a plethora of “Road Runner” receivers; led by Devon Allen, Darren Carrington, and Pharaoh Brown, all of whom could give Usain Bolt a run for his money. [Note: Allen was a member of this year’s US Olympic Team, finishing fifth in the 110m hurdles final.]
And when the Ducks go foraging, its Heisman caliber tailback Royce Freeman (9-yds. a carry) motors like a Rolls, while his relief replacement, Tony Brooks-James is also of high-cotton caliber.
The “Sons of Steve Prefontaine” have hired a new defensive sheriff, former Michigan head man Brady Hoke, who has been charged with the unenviable task of improving a D that was pulverized like the city of Aleppo.
In Lincoln the forlorn faithful are still pining for those glorious championship days of; Tom Osbourne.
In fact the last time the “Boys of the Corn” knocked off a ranked, non-conference opponent during the regular season (Notre Dame), W was pardoning the White House turkeys – 2001.
Coach Mike Riley, beginning his second year as head man of “The Big Red,” has witnessed the supersonic Ducks machine up close and personal, during his days in Corvallis, as the coach of Oregon State.
And as the Lincoln faithful are well aware: the key for these “Sons of Tommie Frazier” is the play of its QB, Tommy Armstrong. The question is always lingering in Husker-land: will they get the “good Tommy,” the one that is on target, and scrambling for key first downs, or the “bad Tommy,” the one who couldn’t hit a piñata even without a blindfold.
The Husker’s red-cladded zealots, desperate for a conference championship run, are hoping for the former.
The senior leader has stars all over the field led by wideouts Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore, and a pair of downhill driving tailbacks; Terrell Newby, and Devine Ozigbo.
The famed black-shirt D, anchored by safety Kieron Williams, end Ross Dzuris, and backers Josh Banderas, and Dedrick Young will have to be as stout as Falstaff to slow the Ducks pinball attack.
On Saturday in Lincoln there are only two items on the menu: Duck soup, or Husked corn on the grill. We think it’s the corn gets grilled, as the Ducks fly home with the W.
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 7-3.
That’s it from cyber space. We’ll be up and running with our recap on Sunday by noon. Until then, peace, and listen to the music. pk