We begin this week with an honest assessment, (something that is in abstentia in the 2016 presidential campaign), and a coach perched on a seat that is lava-hot, yet isn’t afraid to look at the humorous absurdist side of his predicament.
The Coach in question is Oregon’s Mark Helfrich, who last week saw his Ducks five-game losing streak come to an end, after newly installed freshman QB Justin Herbert tied a school record (Bill Musgrave), by passing for 489 yards, in leading the Green from Eugene to its first victory since September 10.
“It’s just one game. We don’t need to anoint the quarterback. Nobody’s smart again. We’re still all idiots, myself at the top of that list,” said Helfrich. Good for him. We’re tired of the pretentiousness of many of these coaches, who act like they are closing in on the cure for cancer.
This weekend, let’s see which teams give a Mensa worthy performance, that only a coach with a gene of genius could concoct, and which, look as if it needed a remedial course in football 101, before stepping onto the field.
No 1 Alabama at No. 15 LSU (Ch. 4, 8 p.m.) Nick Saban, the Sir Galahad of Groucho’s favorite team, has the Tide rising to heights not achieved since the guy with the houndstooth fedora was prowling the Alabama sideline.
These “Title Town” titans, the nation’s 8th highest (43) scoring eleven, are under the direction of its dual-threat wunderkind; t-freshman QB Jalen Hurts (11 TDs- 5 Ints – 63 % – 9 rushing TDs), who despite his tender years, has performed with the swashbuckling poise of another Bama legend; Kenny “The Snake” Stabler.
The “Cool Hand Luke” of Tuscaloosa is assisted by a pair of turf-chewing tailbacks; Damien Harris (8 yds.) and Josh Jacobs (7 yds.), and supported by a trio of soon-to-be Sunday contributors; Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, and tight end O.J. Howard all of whom have the ability to stress a defense.
But as proficient at its offense has been, the nation’s fourth overall ranked D, has been as dominating as the hedge fund “slithers’” of Goldman Sachs, and more disruptive than a road leading to Mosul.
These “Sons of Butch Hobson,” the nation’s fourth tightest (14 pts) D, attack behind a pair of All-Americas; backer Reuben Foster, and end Jonathan Allen (6.5 tfls-6.5 sacks), who is deserving of some Heisman love, and mixed with a dose of backer Shaun Dion Hamilton.
This imposing anvil-hard eleven, pulverizes runners, surrendering a nation’s best microscopic 70 yards per game, and hits harder than a straight-right from Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns.
In Baton Rouge, if coach O (Ed Orgeron) wants a permanent parking spot at Tiger Stadium, he must win this game.
Otherwise, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, who worked with Nick Saban at LSU when he was its head man, will be on the administration’s speed dial.
The big kahuna, and the tone setter for these “Sons of Billy Cannon” is its all-universe tailback Leonard Fournette (8.4 yds. a carry – 5 TDs), who rumbles like a midnight running Mack Truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and is like Secretariat on the outside, coming down the Heisman stretch.
The revitalized offense is under the authorship of Purdue transfer QB Danny Etling (7 TD – 3 Ints -60%), with assists from another dynamic tailback; Derrius Guice (8 yds. – 7 TDs), and a pair of future professional wideouts: Travis Dural, and Malachi Dupree.
The Death Valley D, the nation’s fifth (15) stingiest, is anchored by backers Kendell Beckwith, backer Arden Key (9 tfls- 8 sacks), and All-America safety Jamal Adams, and is harder to penetrate than the side of Moby Dick.
In a game that will have more hits than a Russian bombing raid over Syria, and one that has potential to be a classic on the scale of “Casablanca,” we think that Sir Galahad continues his unblemished laser-like search for the Holy Grail.
No. 9 Nebraska at No. 6 Ohio State (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) The “Sons of Johnny Carson (Class’49) are intent on delivering a monologue of Emmy proportions against the Boys from Columbus.
The Huskers, who battle harder than Billy Rodgers bounding down the backside of Heartbreak Hill, have had more comebacks than Richard Nixon, outscoring its opponents by the aggregate fourth quarter total of; 108 -13.
Tommy Armstrong (11 TDs – 7 Ints – 53% – 7 – rushing) who does more damage with his legs, is the pinball wizard of the visitors from Lincoln.
The diamond-hard field general, who has a tendency to make a big mistake, is assisted by a pair of turf-churners; Terrel Newby, and Devine Ozigbo (both have ankle issues), and if his GPS is properly adjusted, Stanley Morgan Jr. (no relation), and Jordan Westerkamp, are chain moving targets.
But the real pop of the “Boys of the Corn” is the nation’s 15th stingiest (18) D, anchored by backer Josh Banderas, safety Nate Gerry (7 tfls), and end Ross Dzuris (8 tfls -4.5 sacks) who are as relentless as the Brown bears snatching salmon at Alaska’s Katami National Park.
In Columbus, this version of the Buckeyes could easily stump the panel on the classic game show; “To Tell the Truth.”
The show’s signature phrasing; “Will the real “Sons of Woody Hayes” please stand up summarizes the enigma the Scarlet and Grey. Is it the team who toyed with the Sooners of Oklahoma earlier this season? Or the one of the last few weeks, who have sputtered more than the Russian economy.
The Buckeyes need to quickly find the remedy, because if it wins out, (no easy task) it earns another invite to the four-game playoff.
The Horseshoe quality control manager, and the director of the nation’s tenth highest (42) scoring eleven, is dual-threat QB J.T. Barrett (17 TDs -4 Ints – 63% – 6 rushing), who along with tailbacks Mike Weber, and receiver/runner Curtis Samuel (8 yds. a pop), have combined for; 1859 yards, and 17 TDs.
But as we mentioned, the conductivity between the QB and his receivers; Samuel, Dontre Wilson, and Noah Brown especially on the deep ball, has been as erratic as a Keolis Commuter train.
The Bucks marquee-worthy sixth ranked D, anchored by backers Chris Worley, Raekwon McMillan, and safety Malik Hooker, is tougher to crack than the books of the Clinton Foundation, and the glue for Urban Meyer’s master plan of another championship season.
Even though Ohio State is on the tender side, (the nation of South Sudan is like a wizened grey beard in comparison), we still think its faithful will be directing the lyrics “Goodbye Columbus” at the tiny contingent of Big Red Huskers that manage to shoehorn themselves into the Shoe.
Air Force at Army (CBSS, Noon) It’s not often that we get an opportunity to write about Service Academy football, but with both teams one win from bowl eligibility, and with the Commander-in-Chief Trophy still up for grabs, we thought we’d give the guys who make it possible to binge on college football every Saturday, some much deserved love.
This will be the 51st meeting between these military institutions, (Air Force holds a 35-14-1 advantage), and if the “Sons of Chad Hennings” (’88, a pilot, and 3-Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys – too bad he wasted his life) defeat the Cadets, it will not only be going bowling during the Christmas season, but will stroll out of West Point having secured the CIC Trophy outright and earning a post-season invite with the POTUS.
Coach Troy Calhoun’s Falcons, under the stealthy command of its senior QB and captain Nate Romine (10 TDs- 4 Ints – 41% -ankle questionable), does most of its damage on the ground, rumbling as the nation’s sixth best (295 yds.) road-graders. If the captain can’t go, backup Arion Worthman is capable of handling any, and all, g-force disturbances.
The football contingent from Colorado Springs also rolls out more runners than Kenya’s Rift Valley, and features the high cotton quartet: Jacobi Owens, D.J. Johnson, Tim McVey, and fullback Shayne Davern.
When the Falcons do take to the skies, its record breaking wideout Jalen Robinette, who despite a mere 24-catches, is averaging an eye-popping 25-yards a grab, which has drawn the attention of NFL scouts far and wide.
The D, led by safety Weston Steelhammer, backer D.J. Dunn, and backer Claude Alexander, has as much difficulty defending the pass, as Bernie Sanders not chocking over the name of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but that shouldn’t be an issue against Army, which sits dead last (128th) heaving the football.
At West Point, it’s been a long haul for the “Long Grey Line.”
But a victory over the Falcons, makes the Black Knights of the Hudson bowl eligible for the first time since Donald Trump was just a reality TV star – 2010 (ah those were the days!), and will add some spice to its season ending rivalry game against Navy.
These “Sons of Doc Blanchard,” are the second (342) best caisson-rolling marching band, directed by its QB tandem: Ahmad Bradshaw (2 TDs -6 Ints – 45 %), and Chris Carter (2 TDs – 1 Ints – 50%), with assists from Andy Davidson, and Darnell Woolfolk, who have the ability to pierce through any defensive line.
When the spirit moves, Army’s twenty-first century ‘lonesome end’; Edgar Poe, despite his microscopic total of 9-catches, averages a prolific 22-yards a reception, providing a dangerous explosive weapon.
But the identity of these Cadets is a defense that is America’s ninth (16) stingiest. It has held six of its eight opponents under 15-points, and features the backing threesome: Andrew King (7.5 tfls – 4 – sacks), Jeremy Timpf, and Alex Aukerman – (10 tfls -5 sacks), who are tougher than a Southie fighter on a Garden undercard.
As much as we’d like to see the Corps of Cadets march off with the victory, we think the “Force” is with the Falcons.
No. 8 Wisconsin at Northwestern (Ch. 5, Noon) The winner of this game will be the early clubhouse leader in the Big Ten West Division clubhouse.
But, as that fraud Jesse Jackson is wont to say; “There is an issue.”
Wisconsin hasn’t won in Evanston since “Prince” wanted to party – 1999.
These “Sons of Al Toon” are directed by the QB partnership of starter Alex Hornibrook (6 TDS – 7 Ints – 57%), and his relief-man Bart Houston (3 TDs – 3 Ints -61%) who in their own inimitable way, have sparked the Badgers offense, which overall has been as limited as the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick.
Wiscy’s aerial twins are assisted by tailbacks Corey Clement (699 yds.- 6 TDs), who, like “Stella,” is beginning to find his groove, and his partner Dare Ogunbowale, while tight end Troy Fumagali, and receivers Jazz Peavy, and Robert Wheelwright have the ability to consistently move the chains.
But the true imprimatur of these Mad-Town marauders is a defense filled with blue-ribbon disruptors.
The nation’s third stingiest (14 pts.) eleven, featuring backer T.J. Watt (9.5 tfls -7.5 sacks – shoulder, questionable), backer T. J. Edwards, and safety Leo Musso displays more animosity than Huma Abidin holds toward her estranged hubby Anthony Weiner (talk about disrupting), and will keep Wisconsin in every game.
Outside of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, the only person to have done more, with less, is Sarah Palin.
The Purple Cats (4-4, 3-2), are 104th in rushing, eighty-ninth in scoring (25), and yet have managed to scratch its way to a solid season.
These “Sons of Otto Graham” are under the command of sophomore QB Clayton Thorson (15 TDs – 6 Ints -57%) with assists from his steely tailback Justin Jackson (868 yds.-6 TDs), and an explosive receiver; Austin Carr – 9 TDs.
The D, featuring backers Anthony Walker, Jaylen Prater, and safety Godwin Igwebuike, struggles defending the pass, which may be, as Jesse likes to say, an “issue” against the Badgers two-headed tossers.
With a potential ticket to the conference championship on the line, we’ll take the men from cheese country to mold the victory.
Iowa at No. 20 Penn State (BTN, 7:30 p.m.) The Hawkeyes are riding the nation’s second longest (9-games) road winning streak, but a victory in Happy Valley, against a revitalized bunch of Lions, might be tougher than Donna Brazile getting rehired by CNN. (The newest moniker: Cheating News Network.)
In Iowa City, these “Sons of Gene Wilder” (class ’55) are hamstrung by a pop-gun offense (113th) that is duller than Ed Markey, or as ineffective as Congressman Richard Neal (Who? Precisely.)
Senior QB C.J. Beathard (11 TDs – 4 Ints – 58%) directs the (Captain Pierces’) aka the Hawkeyes, with assists from a pair of tailbacks; Akeum Wadley, and LeShun Daniels, who have combined for 1260 yards and 14 TDs.
But Iowa’s passing game a bottom feeding – 107th – and featuring returning tight end George Kittle, and Riley McCarron, has been as landlocked as Iowa City.
In the Valley of Happy, the “Sons of Lenny Moore” have discovered an esprit de corps not seen since the halcyon but controversially stained days of; Joe Paterno.
The seat of coach James Franklin is now ice-berg cold, courtesy of the play from his QB Trace McSorley (12 TDs – 3 Ints – 55%) and a huge assist from the Big Ten’s rushing leader; Saquon Barkley (888 yds.-10 TDs), who plows forward with the efficiency of the MBTA’s “snowzilla,” a recently purchased snow jet plow.
When McSorley takes to the Western Pennsylvania skies, Chris Godwin, and tight end Mike Gesicki, are comforting targets.
The sack (23-sacks) mastering D, anchored by backer Jason Cabinda, safety Marcus Allen, and end Garret Sickels (8 tfls-5 sacks), has struggled stopping the run which isn’t a good recipe against the Hawkeyes.
Ultimately, we think the faithful of the surprisingly resurgent Lions, remain as happy as Donald Trump over the reopened investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Last week; 3-2 Season record; 27-18.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap on Sunday by one. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. PK