Tennessee visits A&M, Alabama takes on Arkansas, Fla.State plays the Hurricanes

Sparty sheds a tear over the loss of 350 year old white oak tree


We begin this week with an ancient oak, an ode to Joyce Kilmer, and the East Lansing campus of the Michigan State Spartans.
Joyce Kilmer wrote these words in 1913 in her iconic poem: Trees; “I think that I shall never see A poem as lovely as a tree.”
And that is how the alumni of MSU felt, when the news spread that its great white oak, estimated to be nearly 350-years old, was felled by a July 8th storm.
“Every person to ever visit the campus could have walked by it,” said Frank Telewski, a plant biology professor at MSU, who counted 347 rings on the beloved tree. “It could have first sprouted before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.”
The remaining wood will be turned over to the school’s Shadows program, which turns upended trees into wood products such as cutting boards, and furniture, with half the proceeds going toward replanting trees across campus.
This weekend let’s see which teams come out of the shadows and stand Spartan tall by carving a W into the opposition, and which fall silently in defeat, like a hollowed out oak.
No. 9 Tennessee at No. 8 Texas A&M (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) If Tennessee’s head man Butch Jones is indeed in possession of nine lives, he’s used five of them so far this season guiding his cardiac “Tin Men” to its 5-0 start.

Dorothy lubricates the Tin Man

We feel the “Wizard of OZ” reference meshes perfectly, because in four of those five game games, the Vols were down by double-digits, and looked creakier than the “Tin Man” before Dorothy came to the rescue with her can of WD-40.
Once properly lubricated, Tennessee transforms like “Curley” from the Stooges episode; “Punch Drunk”; where Larry plays “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his violin, magically inspiring Curley to a last second knockout victory.
These “Sons of Howard Baker” [“What did the President know, and when did he know it,”] are directed by its resilient QB Josh Dobbs (13 TDs-6 Nits – 57%, 5 rushing) who is cooler than the bottom of the Carlsbad Caverns.
The “quiet one” is assisted by tailback Jalen Hurd, and a trio of receivers; Josh Malone (20 yds.), his “Hail Mary” partner Jajuan Jennings (17 yds.), and Alvin Kamara, who like the newspaper guy in a snowstorm, delivers in the clutch.
The D, anchored by its All-America end Derek Barnett (8.5 TFLS – 4 sacks), safety Todd Kelly, and backer Colton Jumper, isn’t dominant, but has made all the crucial stops to keep its perfect season alive.
In College Station, the funeral plans for Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin have been cancelled.
This is also the first time the “Sons of John David Crow” have started 5-0 for three consecutive seasons since FDR (1939-41) was jauntily puffing on a cigarette and making war invasion plans.
Oklahoma graduate transfer QB Trevor Knight (7 TDs-3 Ints. – 54%, 6 rushing- 7.8 a carry) is the director of the nation’s thirteenth rated offense, and is handsomely assisted by tailback slasher Trayvon Williams (9 yds. a carry), and a trio of game breaking receivers; Josh Reynolds (20 yds a catch), Christian Kirk, and Ricky Seals-Jones (17.5 yds.).
The D anchored by its All-America disruptor, end Myles Garrett, his partner Dayshon Hall, and backer Shan Washington is as ferocious as Donald Trump to a former Miss Universe, and surrenders points (15) as often as Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek allows a correction.
We think the 12th man drains the oil from the “Tin Men” as Sumlin’s Aggies keep climbing the polls.
No. 1 Alabama at No.16 Arkansas (ESPN, 7 p.m.) As it sets sail on its quest for a second consecutive national championship, a quote from Christopher Columbus perfectly captures the odyssey of Groucho’s favorite team.

Christopher Columbus

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination,” said the discoverer of the “New World.”
And if the Tide reaches the top of that Himalayan peak, it would be the fifth title in eight years in “Title Town,” and would tie St. Nick with the King of Tuscaloosa; Bear Bryant, as each would possess six extra shiny trophies.
These “Sons of Joe Namath,” who average a Henry Aaron 44-points a game, motor under the guidance of its duel-threat t-freshman QB, Jalen Hurts (7 TDs-1 Int -62% – 2nd in rushing) the first such youngster to start in Tuscaloosa since the Orwellian year of 1984.

The kid is assisted another t-freshman, tailback, Joshua Jacobs, and his talented partner Damien Harris (ankle) might also be able to go.
But the QB’s real Linus-blanket is All-America wideout, and future Sunday performer, Calvin Ridley (31-catches-3 TDs), who is a touchdown maker in the image of Alabama’s iconic receiver; Ray Perkins.
Bama’s D, anchored by All-America backer Reuben Foster, his sideman Shaun-dion Hamilton, and end Jonathan Allen (4-sacks, 17 for team), surrenders 13-points a game, pulverizes runners (68-yards a game), while moving with the speed of Bill Rodgers, and hitting with the force of a Ken Norton right to the jaw of Muhammed Ali.
In Fayetteville, the “Sons of Lance Alworth” continue to bring home the bacon.
Coach Bret Bielema’s Hogs are commanded by its steely junior QB Austin Allen (12 TDs-2 Ints-67%) (He backed up his brother for three years) with assists from starry tailback Rawleigh Williams (11th in nation), Devwah Whaley, and a trio of receiving chain-movers: Drew Morgan, Jeremy Sprinkle, and Keon Hatcher.
The D, led by backers Dre Greenlaw, Brooks Ellis, and end Deatrich Wise has struggled (73rd) like Jackie Gleason with a glass of whiskey at Toot Shor’s in stopping the run, which is the wrong cocktail shaker against Alabama.
It won’t be a stroll for the St. Nick’s Boys who have won nine straight against the Razorbacks, but ultimately the Tide, just like Columbus, sails off with a boat loaded with the spoils.
No. 23 Florida State at No. 10 Miami (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) Florida State’s D has been as inept as Inspector Cloussou or the Italian Royal Army during WW II. {Note: Hurricane Matthew may play havoc with this game.}
The shocking display of matador tackling by the “Sons of Bobby Bowden” – 125th surrendering nearly 7 yards per play – and 35 points per game – are numbers usually associated with the Jayhawks of Lawrence, Kansas.
In addition to needing a victory, Coach Jumbo Fisher’s other mission is to ensure that a rift between the offense and defense doesn’t envelop his locker room and tear his team apart.
The FSU’s offensive engine has zoomed along like the Orient Express (41-pts. a game) fueled by its All-America diesel, tailback Dalvin Cook (5th in the nation – 127 yds. a game – 7 TDs), who moves with the dashing disruptive speed of Maury Wills. (The great Dodger shortstop just celebrated his 84th birthday.)
The Seminoles “bell-cow” is assisted by talented r-s-freshman QB Deondre Francois (7 Tds-2 Ints.-62%) who is comforted by a trio of field-stretchers: Jesus Wilton, Travis Rudolph, and tight end Ryan Izzy.
But as we mentioned the stunning ineptitude of the D, featuring end DeMarcus Walker (7.5 TFLs-6.5 sacks), backer Matthew Thomas, and corner Trey Marshall, (92nd in stopping the run, 83rd defending the pass), is weaker than John Kerry’s short-lived negotiated Syrian cease-fire with Vladimir Putin regarding Aleppo.
It might be an omen, but Hurricane Matthew is scheduled to pay a close visit tomorrow to the “Sons of George Mira.”
The U’s new head man, Miami native Coach Mark Richt has, like the Zika mosquito, comfortably settled into his Gold Coast surroundings.

Miami's new head coach Mark Richt

His Canes have also lit the scoreboard (47) better than Edison, or David Mugar on the Fourth of July. Miami is also one of only two teams (Boise State), who has yet to play from behind.
The Hurricanes salsa under the leadership of its dart-throwing QB, Brad Kaya (8 TDs-3 Ints-66%), who hits more bullseyes than the Goetze’s Candy Company. (They produce bullseyes.)
The starry QB is assisted by a pair of earth movers Mark Walton (7.1 yds. – 8 TDs), his partner Joseph Yearby (7.3 yds.-5 TDs), while wideouts Stacy Coley, and freshman Ahmmon Richards, are defense stressers.
And if Seminoles D is sponsored by Colander, the opposite holds true for the Canes.
The nation’s second stingiest (11 pts.) eleven, anchored by backers Michael Pickney, Shaquille Quarterman, and end Demetrius Jackson, are fourth in sacks, and tops in TFLs, and should be in serious negotiations to represent a Fort called Knox.
Miami has lost six-straight to its intra-state rival, but we think the ‘new’ U will be the ones who raise the small craft warning flags over the visitors from Tallahassee.
No. 25 Virginia Tech at No. 17 North Carolina (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.) With apologies to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hokies are baaack.
After wandering in the wilderness of irrelevancy for the last 35-weeks, Virginia Tech has edged its way back into the land of the living, checking in with an AP ranking of 25.
The “Sons of Frank Beamer” also have a new sheriff in Blacksburg, Coach Justin Fuente, who has installed a much more up-tempo offensive attack.
The director of that system is JC transfer QB Jerod Evans (13 TDs-1 Int-67%), who percolates as the nation’s fourth most efficient passer, and plays with an élan not seen on campus since the glory days of Michael Vick.
The Texas native is assisted by a trio of field-stretchers; Isaiah Ford (4 TDs, his partner Cam Phillips, and his monstrous tight end (6-7, 245) Bucky Hodges (who is almost as big as the tax write off of Donald Trump), while tailbacks Mashawn Williams and Travon McMillan are solid turf slicers.
[Note: Butterfingers Candy might be interested in signing on as a Hokies sponsor, as VaTech leads the nation with nine lost fumbles.]
In Chapel Hill, basketball season is once again happily on hold, as the Heels football team is making some noise.
UNC has dazzled with its junior QB Mitch Trubisky (13 TDs-0 Ints-76%), the nation’s sixth most efficient passer, who hits a target better than the Pink Panther Jewel Thieves from Europe.
The Carolina diamond cutter is assisted by a quartet of game changers: Ryan Switzer (who has better hands than a sloth) and his partners Austin Proel, Bug Howard, and Mack Hollis, who have combined for: 97 catches – 10 TDs. On the ground UNC aerates the turf behind tailbacks: Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan.
But like a lot of places on the college football landscape, the UNC mantra remains: “My country for some defense.”
The “Sons of Andy Griffith” led by safety Donnie Miles, and backers Andre Smith, and Cole Holcomb are a bottom feeding 105th overall surrendering over 30 points a game.
This is a very difficult game to get a handle, but we’ll go with the home Boys from Tobacco Road, who, like Red Auerbach, fire up a rolled cigar to celebrate the victory.
Texas vs. No. 20 Oklahoma (FS1, Noon, – The Cotton Bowl) The traditional name for this classic is: “The Red River Rivalry.”
But with the sincerest apologies to “Dead Heads” everywhere (Bill Weld, our former Governor, and VP candidate of the Libertarian ticket, is an avowed member) it should be called; “The Charlie Strong ‘Fare Thee Well’ game.
We don’t want to say that the seat of the Texas coach is warm, but his new theme song is; “The Heat is On,” recorded by Glen Fry.

Embattled Texas Coach Charlie Strong

Last season it was an offensive drought that mired the fortunes of the Longhorns. This season it’s a D that is so porous D (38 points a game), it makes the evidence room of the Braintree Police Department look like the security detail of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
This moldy bunch, featuring backers Anthony Wheeler, Breckyn Hager, and Malik Jefferson is a muckraking 105th defending the pass, 87th overall, and has more holes than a rat-infested slope on the Southeast Expressway, and may ultimately be the downfall of Strong.
But the offense of the “Sons of Darrell Royal” has been as the groovy as Warren Beatty in; “Shampoo.”
The Horns output of 41-points a game, is initiated by freshman QB Shane Buechele (son of former major league third baseman Steve) with assists from tailbacks D’onta Freeman and Tyrone Swoops.
When the Austin gunslinger goes aerial, John Burt and Jacorey Warrick are dependable targets.
Last season OU’s only regular season blemish was to the upset to the Horns, and “Big Game” Bob Stoops has zero interest in a Deja-vu flashback.
These “Sons of Billy Sims” fly on an aerial display that rivals the Blue Angels.
OU’s All-America caliber QB, Baker Mayfield (9 TDs-2 Ints -67%, 355 yds. a game) hits a target better than a barrel bomb dropped from a Syrian copter, with assists from wideout Dede Westbrook, tight end Mark Andrews.
But mysteriously, the Sooners vaunted road assault, featuring tailbacks Joe Mixon (7.7 yds.), and Samaje Perine, has been grounded like a Fung Wah Bus.
And like it counterparts from Austin, Oklahoma’s D (98th), led by backers Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (5.5 TFLs, 4 sacks), Jordan Evans, and Emmanuel Beal has been as brittle as a Massachusetts corn field.
Deja-vu isn’t happening for the Sooners, and the moving van is starting to rev up as it makes its way to the driveway of Texas Coach Charlie Strong. As the slogan went in the StarKist tuna commercial; “Sorry, Charlie.”
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 13-12.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap by noon on Sunday. Until then, Peach, and listen to the music. pk


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