We begin this week with a sophomore safety, and a safety net for a Leukemia patient.
Each spring the football team of the University of Pennsylvania organizes a “Be the Match” Donor registration drive to help build a nationwide donor base for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).
One of those volunteers is UPenn sophomore safety Sam Philippi, who it turns out is a perfect match for a 30-year old Leukemia patient.
And on the first week of December, the Red and Blue Quaker will undergo a procedure to donate his marrow to that patient, in what may be a lifesaving gesture.
“Our program is all about family, and helping our student-athletes understand that sometimes family extends beyond the people you grew up with, and beyond the wall of our locker room,” said Penn coach Ray Priore.
This weekend, let’s see which teams celebrate another victory with immediate family and friends, and which, even with a safety net, has no shot of winning.
USC at No. 4 Washington (FOX, 7:30 p.m.) Coach Clay Helton’s Men of Troy are surfing on its first five-game winning streak since “President-Elect” Donald Trump was hosting; “The Apprentice,” – 2013.
The darlings of the City of Angels began its turnaround when the keys to the LA caddy were handed r-shirt freshman QB Sam (20 TDs – 4 Ints – 67%) Darnold.
The “groovy” signal caller, who plays with the élan of a motorcycle riding Steve McQueen, is assisted by tailback Ronald Jones (6.8 yds. – 7 TDs), a future Sunday performer in wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster (8 – TDs), and his partner Darreus Rogers.
The D, which earlier in the year could have been the spokesmen for Colander, featuring backer Cameron Smith, end Porter Gustin, and corner Adoree’ Jackson, and has become harder to penetrate than he inner circle of Trump Tower kitchen cabinet.
In Seattle, the Huskies, who have won twelve-in-a row, find themselves 9-0 for the first time since George Herbert Walker Bush was promising: “Read my lips, no new taxes,” – 1991.
The seeds of the UDub revival were planted with the hiring of Coach Chris Petersen, who has infused the “Sons of Warren Moon,” with the same magical potion he brewed often at Boise State.
The nation’s second highest (48) scoring eleven, is under the command of its Heisman contending QB, Jake Browning (34 TDs-3 Ints -67%), the country’s pass efficiency leader, who possesses more weapons than the cache of an ISIS safe house.
The Seattle musher is assisted by a pair of high-voltage game-changing receivers: John Ross, and Dante Pettis, who have more speed than an Appalachian meth-lab, combining for an eye-popping: 81-catches, and 25 touchdowns.
And when these “Sons of Don Coryell” rotor-till the turf, tailbacks Myles Gaskins (leg), and Lavon Coleman, (1552 yards, and 11 TDs), cause more havoc than an IED on the road to Mosul.
The Huskies D, the nation’s eleventh stingiest (17), is tied for tops in turnover margin, and anchored by backer Azeem Victor, All-America safety Budda Baker, and backer/end Joe Mathis (7.5 tfls – 5 sacks) is more disruptive than a holiday family dinner with North Korean dictator; Kim Jong-un.
This will be the Huskies second real test. If it passes, and we think it will, to paraphrase Bill Belichick; “We’re on to the Apple Cup against rival Washington State.
No. 19 LSU at Arkansas (ESPN, 7 p.m.) The LSU faithful are hoping that the “Alabama hangover” is like Virginia Senator Tim Kaine: over and done.
In the last two seasons, the week after its physically draining slugfest against the Tide, the Bayou Bengals have been manhandled by the Razorbacks of Arkansas.
If it happens again, Coach O’s (Ed Orgeron) Baton Rouge parking spot loses any hope of permanency, and the “Sons of Bert Jones” will also fade out of the top – 25.
But since the coaching change took root, the stripes of these Tigers have been showing a different design.
LSU’s table-setter is its All-America tailback Leonard Fournette (7 yds. a carry), who steamrolls a defense with the same intensity of Paul Bunyan swinging his axe.
The Louisiana diesel gets an occasional blow from his talented partner Derrius Guice, while QB Danny Etling (7 TDs-4 Ints – 58%), along with wideouts Malachi Dupre, and Travin Dural have infused some turbo thrust into the previously moribund Death Valley offense.
But the signature of the “Descendants of Pete Maravich” is the nation’s sixth stingiest (14) D, anchored by backers Kendell Beckwith, Arden Key (9.5 tfls-8 sacks), and All-America safety Jamal Adams, who continuously hit with the force of a Russian bombing mission on an aid convey heading toward Aleppo.
In Fayetteville, just when the Hogs appear to be tied and ready to be shipped to slaughter, Arkansas manages to spring to life.
These “Sons of Lance Alworth” are led by its diamond-hardened QB Austin Allen (19 TDs – 8 Ints – 61%) who can take a punch better than Vinny Pazienza, and, if given time, will butcher a defense with the skill of cutlery master.
The Razorback marksman is assisted by his road-grinding tailback Rawleigh Williams (955 yds.-7 Tds), and a quartet of field stretchers: Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher, Jared Cornelius, and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle.
But the Hogs are hamstrung by its kryptonite defense (91st stopping the run), led by backer Brooks Ellis, end Deatrich Wise, and tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter, which is the wrong recipe against LSU.
We think the Alabama hangover disappears into the “Pepto” rear-view distance, as the spring-fresh Tigers, slice the Hogs with its demonizing ground attack.
No. 11 West Virginia at Texas (FS1, Noon) With apologies to John Denver, this game will determine as to which “Country Roads” these Mountaineers will be traveling.
These “Sons of Sam Huff” are directed by QB Skyler Howard (16 TDs -6 Ints – 65%) who can execute a play faster than an FBI computer washes hundreds of thousands of e-mails.
The field general is assisted by a threesome of field-stretchers; Daikiel Shorts, Shelton Gibson (20-yds. a catch), and Ka’raun White, who have combined for an eye-popping: 113-grabs and 12 TDs.
On the ground, tailbacks Justin Crawford, and Rushel Shell, provide a better change-up than the Indians Corey Kluber, combining for 1090-yards, and 9-touchdowns.
The ‘Neers D, which is as uninspiring as a flock of Cape Cod gulls, features backers Justin Arndt, Al-Rasheed Benton, and safety Jarrod Harper, and has been as stout as a finely poured Guinness in defending the red-zone, surrendering a mere 20-points a game.
In Austin, the moving vans approaching the abode of Coach Charlie Strong have been, at least temporally, dispatched to another location.
If the Horns embattled coach manages to win out, finishing 8-4, it’ll be just like our presidential election: a lot of people will be unhappy, but the show must go on.
These “revitalized” Longhorns have branded its W’s on the legs of its Burnt Orange bruiser; D’ Onta Foreman, (second in rushing 1146 yds. – 7 yds a carry – 13 TDs), who at (238 pounds) crushes a tackler the way Suffolk Construction’s John Fish stiffs another small contractor.
And finally, after a Diogenes-like search, these “Sons of Tommy Nobis” have located a QB; Shane Buechele (19 TDs-6 Ints -61%), who luxuriates by focusing on a pair of chain movers; Armanti Foreman, and Jake Oliver.
But Strong’s Waterloo remains a defense that belongs in the Cheese Society of the Swiss Hall of Fame.
This group, led by backer Malik Jefferson (6.5 tfls – 4.5 sacks), end/lb Breckyn Hager, and safety Jason Hall, ranks 113th overall, 86th in stopping the run, 108th defending the pass, and allows an eye-popping average of; 33 points a game.
This is a very difficult game on which to get a handle, but we’ll go with the desperados from Austin, to find a way to win one more for Charlie.
Tulsa at Navy (CBSSN, Noon) Not even “Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein” (“Casino”) could have predicted that this would be the showdown for the top-spot in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference.
In just his second year at the helm, Coach Phil Montgomery has the Golden Hurricanes swirling on a meteorological path toward a championship.
These “Sons of Steve Largent,” the nation’s eleventh highest scoring (42) eleven, are under the command of QB Dane Evans (18 TDs -8 Ints – 58%) who shoots with the same uncanny accuracy as Dale.
The Oklahoman dart-thrower is assisted by a pair of barnstorming tailbacks; D’Angelo Browner, and James Flanders, who have combined for a jaw-dropping; 2063-yards, and 19-TDs.
And when the senior QB goes aerial, wideouts Josh Atkinson, Keenan Lucas, and Justin Hobbs are defense stressors, combining for: 150-catches and 17 TDs.
But if the offense is a Category – 4, the D (85th overall) led by backers: Matt Linscott (7-tfls-3 sacks), Trent Martin, and Craig Suits allowing an average of 30-points a game, and isn’t worthy of a small craft warning flag.
In Annapolis, Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo is deserving of an Admiral’s badge, but he would never accept the pay-grade, it doesn’t match up!
These “Sons of Roger Staubach” are enjoying a glorious renaissance winning 23 of its last 28, (with three of those losses coming against ranked opponents), and over the last five years, when Navy wins the turnover battle, the Middies are a mind-blowing; 24-1.
The country’s fourth best rushing eleven (299) is under the command of its triple-option magician: QB Will Worth (15 rushing TDs), with assists from fullback Chris High, and wideout Jamir Tillman (is there a better name for a Midshipman?), who despite his lowly total of 27-catches, averages nearly 15-yards a grab.
The Pentagon can’t be thrilled by a Navy’s defense, (86th overall), anchored by backers Micah Thomas, D.J. Palmore (8-tfls-5 sacks), and safety Alohi Gilman, that has more holes than the southeast expressway in after an unseasonably warm day in March.
On “Senior Day,” with a tip of the cap to “Sam Rothstein,” we think the Navy “Blue and Gold” in a shootout torpedoes Tulsa for the W.
No.24 Harvard at Penn (Friday NBCSN, 8 p.m.) If Harvard, who has won an Ivy League record 13-consecutive conference road games, prevails in the 87th meeting (48-36-2 Crimson) between these perennial powers, the “Boys of Veritas” will capture at least a share, of its fourth consecutive Ivy title.
“The Lombardi of the Charles,” aka Coach Tim Murphy, in his 23rd year as Harvard’s head man, has won at least 7-games for 16-consecutive seasons, and his 115 Ivy League victories, are second only to Yale’s Carm Cozza’s, who leads with a very reachable total of; 135.
(Wouldn’t Coach “Murph,” who has captured 9-Ivy League titles look good wearing maroon and gold while prowling the sideline of Boston College? But that’s a story for another time.).
These “Sons of John Dockery” are directed by its first time starter, senior QB Joe Viviano (13 TDs-5 Ints-62%- 5 rushing TDs), with assists from tailback Semar Smith (7 TDs), and a pair of glue-fingered wideouts; Justice Shelton-Mosley, and Anthony Firkser, who has 7-touchdown grabs.
But if the offense remains as muddled as Harvard Square one hour before the kickoff of “The Game,” the defense, led by backers Luke Hutton, Jordan Hill, and end D.J. Bailey, stones runners, surrendering 20-points a game, and is as finely tuned as; Yo-Yo (class ’76) Ma’s Cello.
In Philadelphia, when it comes to football, the Quakers are anything but pacifists.
And if the “Sons of Chuck Bednarik” are able to knock off the Crimson, Penn will be in position to capture at least a share of its second consecutive Ivy League crown.
The Boys from Philly are directed by its scintillating marksman, QB Alex Torgersen (14 TDs – 3 Ints -65%), who is assisted by tailback Tre Solomon (7 TDs), and a pair of game-changing receivers; Justin Watson, and Christian Pearson, who have combined for; 98 catches, and 12 TDs.
The D, featuring backers Colton Moskal, Nick Miller, and safety Sam Philippi, isn’t of the pedigree of Bednarik, but does have the ability to cause almost as much disruption as a tow truck operator on Newbury Street.
Since 2003, Harvard is an astounding 94-4 when leading at the half, the last time that equation failed to pass muster occurred last year, when the Quakers shockingly snared the Crimson, to earn a piece of the Ivy crown. It won’t happen twice in-a-row, as Harvard clinches at least a tie for the title.
Last week: 5-0 Season record; 32-18.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap by one on Sunday. Until then, Peace and listen to the music. Pk