We begin championship week with an Academy Award nominee, a classic movie, a walk-on, and a Hollywood style presentation of a full football scholarship.
Before the start of each season Western Michigan Coach P.J. Fleck, whose Broncos are one of only two undefeated teams, likes to award a scholarship to one walk-on every season.
This season’s winner is sophomore linebacker Kasey Carson of Battle Creek, which is about 25-miles from the WMU campus.
But it was the way the scholarship was awarded which makes it a Hallmark memory.
After practice Fleck gathered his team, and instructed them to watch the video board at Waldo Stadium. Suddenly, bigger than life, there he stood “Rocky” aka Sylvester Stallone, who, in the true Rocky spirit of the underdog, announced to the team, that Carson the walk-on would be receiving a full football scholarship.
Afterwards, his jubilant teammates paraded him around on their shoulders. Now that’s a good day.
On this final full weekend of the college football season, let’s see which gritty underdogs spring the upset, and which teams act like Hollywood big shots forgetting all the hard work it took to get them to this position, and end up trudging home stung by a bitter loss.
No. 4 Washington at No. 9 Colorado Pac-12 Championship (Fox, 9 p.m. – Friday)
This is the reason Coach Chris Petersen changed his address from Boise to Seattle; the opportunity to play for a national title.
The Huskies, who have better balance than Philippe Petit, and more weapons than an ISIS safe house, just may pull it off.
The “Sons of Sonny Sixkiller ’73, (the UW QB legend is a full-blooded Cherokee, unlike our senior Senator Liz Warren, and was a cast member in the 1974 classic; “The Longest Yard”) the nation’s third (44) highest scoring eleven are under the steady command of its Heisman contending QB Jake Browning (40 TDs – 7 Ints – 65%) Browning, whose arm is as deadly as the rifle.
The nation’s fourth most efficient passer assisted by a pair of dynamic touchdown makers, the jet-fueled John Ross, and his partner Dante Pettis (121 catches – 30 TDs) and hits his targets with the same deadly efficiency as a Russian pilot targeting a Syrian hospital.
And when UW plows the earth, tailbacks Myles Gaskins (10 TDs), and Lavon Coleman, are dangerous turf slashers.
The nation’s tenth (17) stingiest D, anchored by All-America safety Budda Baker (9tfls), and backers Psalm Wooching, and Keishawn Bierria causes more havoc than Jill Stein spouting the “Joys of American Democracy” to a gym full of Trump supporters.
In Boulder, Colorado has had a better turnaround than Donald Trump.
Entering this season, the Buffs were a Kansas-like 5-40, in its five years since becoming a member of the Pac-12 Conference.
But as it preens from its 10-win perch, those woeful days are simply a rearview memory.
These “Sons of Hale Irwin” are guided by the steady tiller of its Coach of the Year candidate Mike MacIntyre, and amazingly will be suiting up to play for the conference championship.
The central figure in this Trumpian turnaround is its senior QB Sefo Liufau (11 TDs – 3 Ints – 64%) who is tougher than the water-cannoned Standing Rock Sioux Nation protesting against the North Dakota pipeline.
The Buff’s leader is assisted by his starry tailback Phillip Lindsay, (also dangerous catching out of the backfield), while wideouts Devon Ross, and Shay Fields (115 receptions – 14 TDs) will stretch any defense.
On D, the country’s thirteenth (13) tightest, led by backers; Kenneth Olugbode, Jimmy Gilbert (9.5 sacks), and Rick Gamboa, are equally adept defending the run and the pass, and will hit more often than Pete Rose.
In a game that might be closer than the presidential result in New Hampshire, we think the Huskies mush its way into a playoff invite.
No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 8 Penn State – The Big Ten Championship (FOX, 8 p.m.)
It’s been a season of wonderment for the Mad-Town eleven, who in addition to riding a 6-game winning streak, notched victories against a trio top-10 ranked opponents for the first time in school history.
But despite its ranking, overall Wisconsin is as unbalanced as MSNBC.
Its vanilla offense (91st) makes our junior Senator, Ed Markey, seem like the reincarnation of Johnny Carson, while the defense has been as mesmerizing as Dick Cavett interviewing Henry Kissinger at the height of the Viet Nam War.
These “Sons of Pat Richter” are directed by the QB duo; Alex Hornibrook (head, and arm questionable) and his partner Bart Houston, who have accounted for; 13-TDs and 10 Ints.
In recent weeks, the Badgers offense has been somewhat rejuvenated by the performance of its starry tailback Corey Clement (1140 yds -13 TDs), and if its field generals have their GPS’s in proper working order, Jazz Peavy, Troy Fumagalli, and Robert Wheelwright: 110 catches – 7 TDs, are capable chain movers.
But the real cheddar of this Wisconsin wheel, is the nation’s third (13) stingiest D, led by backers T.J. Watt (13 tfls-9.5 sacks), his partner T.J. Edwards (8.5 tfls-3 sacks), and safety Leo Musso.
This group pulverizes runners (allowing a total of 100 yards a game), and protects the skies (the country’s best; 21 interceptions – 11 in its last three games) better than the Israeli Army’s Iron Dome.
In Happy Valley nobody saw this coming.
In fact, Penn State’s Coach James Franklin, whose seat, at the beginning of the season was on the extremely warm side, has the Lions roaring behind an 8-game winning streak, making him the other strong contender for Coach of the Year honors.
These “Sons of Franco Harris” are directed by t-sophomore QB Trace McSorley (21 TDs-5 Ints – 56% – 6 rushing) with assists from his starry bell-cow, Saquon McSorley (1219 yards-15 TDs), and a pair of receivers; Chris Godwin and Mike Gesicki (91 catches – 12 TDs combined) who are as dependable as the collection basket being passed at a Catholic Mass.
On defense the Nits led by end Garret Sickels (12.5 tfls – 6 sacks), and a pair of safeties Malik Golden, and Marcus Allen, won’t cause any sleepless nights for offensive coordinators, but do play an aggressive brand of good solid football.
On Saturday night, we think the fine aged cheddar is joyously shared amongst the Madison faithful, as Wisconsin returns home with the highly decorated title of: The Champions of The Big Ten.
No. 11 Oklahoma State at No. 7 Oklahoma Bedlam Game (FOX, 12:30 p.m.)
The winner, in addition to being crowned the Big-12 champs, also punches its ticket into the Sugar Bowl.
In Stillwater, Boone Pickens University, aka Oklahoma State, is attempting to become only the second Cowboy team to win consecutive Bedlam Games in Norman, a feat last accomplished during the early Monica days of Bill Clinton – 1995, 97.
The Pokes, who have won 7 in a row, have been lassoing opponents on the arm of its dart-tossing QB Mason Rudolph (25 TDs-4 Ints -64%), who misses his target about as often as a Kardashian turns down a product endorsement.
The Stillwater rifleman is assisted by a quartet of TD makers; James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Jhajuan Seales, and Chris Lacy who have combined for 23 touchdowns, while t-freshman tailback Justin Hill (943 yards -5 TDs) has been a road-running revelation.
When it comes to defense, an oxymoron in the Big-12, the mantra is; with apologies to Mel Brooks from “Blazing Saddles”: “We don’t need no stinking defense.”
And these colander friendly Cowboys, featuring safety Jordan Sterns, backer Devante Daverette (10 tfls), and corner Ramon Richards, gladly oblige surrendering an average of 27 points a game.
Once again in Norman, “Big Game Bob,” whose team is riding an 8-game winning streak, has a chance to resurrect his battered nickname.
The Sooners, who are second (45) in the nation in scoring, are under the command of the country’s most efficient passer, its Heisman contending QB Baker Mayfield (35 TDs -8 Ints -71% – 6 rushing), who can light a scoreboard faster than another $5000 suit struts into the Trump Tower elevator.
The starry gunslinger gets a gigundous boost from the nation’s most dynamic receiver in Dede Westbrook (70 catches – 1351 yards – 15 TDs), who is fourth receiving yards averaging 123 yards per contest, and is beginning to garner some serious Heisman love.
And when the Sooners rotor-till the soil, tailbacks Joe Mixon, and Samaje Perine (1819 yards -17 TDs) are as talented a duo as; “Big and Rich” or Tittle to Shofner.
But like its counterpart, OU’s D featuring backers: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (8.5 tfls-7 sacks), Jorda Evans, and Emmanuel Beal sinks to 91st overall, and at times has been as weak as Bill Weld’s decision to sign on with the Libertarian Party.
As our “loyal” readers know, every time we side with “Big Game” we end up swirling around the drain.
That being said, we’ll risk getting caught in the vortex once again, but hope for a Rogers and Hammerstein revival of “OKKKKLAHOOOOOOMAAAA OK” from the Norman faithful, as he Sooners capture Bedlam, and punch its ticket into the Sugar Bowl.
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 19 Virginia Tech– ACC Championship Game (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)
Deuces are wild in Clemson.
The “Sons of Refrigerator Perry,” who have won 25 of its last 27, are not only hoping to capture its second consecutive ACC Title, but also earn a spot in its second consecutive spot in the college football playoff.
Clemson’s chief engineer is its Heisman contending QB Deshaun Watson (34 TDs -14 Ints – 67% – 4 rushing), who jolts the opposition, and lights the faithful, with more electricity than the third rail of the Red Line.
The Houdini-esque field-general, who moves like Fred Astaire, is assisted by a trio of receivers: Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, and tight end Jordan Leggett (who have combined for an eye-popping 117 catches and 20 TDs), and are seemingly open more than Store 24.
But as the faithful are painfully aware, Clemson’s highly touted running attack led by tailback Wayne Gallman (14 TDs), was grounded more often than a Chicago flight during a string of late July thunderstorms.
The Death Valley piece de resistance has been Clemson’s D, the nation’s eighth stingiest (17), anchored by tackle Carlos Watkins (9 tfls-7.5 sacks), and backers Ben Boulware (9 tfls -4 sacks), and Kendall Joseph (9 tfls -3.5 sacks), and has been the firewall behind the Tigers second consecutive title chasing season.
In Blacksburg, the Hokies first year head man Justin Fuente was just named the ACC Coach of the Year, and he has VaTech back in the title game for the first time, since the third year of the first term of Barak Obama -2011.
These “Sons of Don Strock” are under the command of its underrated dual-threat junior QB Jerod Evans (26 TDs -5 Ints -63% – 713 rushing yards – 8 TDs), who has the luxury of focusing on a trio field stretchers; Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, and tight end Bucky Hodges, who have combined for a scintillating; 169 catches and 18 TDs.
Bud Foster’s “lunch pail” D, led by backers Tremaine Edmunds (17 tfls-4.5 sacks), Andrew Motuapuaka, and safety Chuck Clark, has surrendered a league’s best of only 21 passes of over 40 yards, and are capable of causing more agita than the photos of Mitt Romney dining with the President – elect Trump.
In a game in which we give Virginia Tech more than a puncher’s chance, we’ll stay with Dabo’s Boys, especially Watson, to elementary find a way to the victory.
No. 1 Alabama vs No. 15 Florida SEC Championship Game (Ch.4, 4 p.m.)
In Tuscaloosa, “Groucho’s” favorite team is channeling Keifer Sutherland’s favorite number; 24.
The Title Town eleven are not only 24-point favorites against Florida, but the “Sons of Steve Sloan” are also riding a streak of twenty – four consecutive victories.
[Note: if Florida loses, and not even the mothers of the players expect a victory, every team in the SEC will have four losses. The only exception being the unblemished and incomparable Crimson Tide.]
We’ll start with the Alabama’s D, the nation’s stingiest (11), which has been as flawless as Raquel Welsh’s poster for the movie; “One Million Year’s B.C.”
This turbo-charged group of agitators anchored by a pair of All-Americas; backer Reuben Foster (9.5 tfls), and end Jonathan Allen (11.5 tfls-7 sacks) mixed with a dose of backer Shaun Dion Hamilton attack with more aggression than the Chinese protecting the building of their islands in the South Pacific.
Alabama is tops in pulverizing runners, allowing a miniscule 68-yards of rushing per game, and haven’t allowed a touchdown in the last-17 quarters (6 field goals) locking down opposing offenses better than the master switch at Leavenworth Prison, and may be the finest to ever take up residence in Tuscaloosa.
On offense, the “Sons of John Hannah” are directed by its wunderkind, t-freshman QB Jalen Hurts (20 TDs – 9 Ints -65% – 840 rushing yards – 12 TDs) who is as smooth, and cool, as Robert Redford playing the “Sundance Kid.”
The Tide’s table setter is assisted by tailbacks Josh Jacobs (6 yds. a pop), his partner Damien Harris (7 yds), and a trio of Sunday field-stretchers; ArDarius Stewart, Calvin Ridley, and All-America tight end O.J. Howard, who have combined for: 145 catches and 16 touchdowns.
In Gainesville, Florida looks more like a Mash Unit in rebel-infused Syria.
Coach Jim McElwain, who has lost at least nine starters, has done a masterful job maneuvering his hobbled Gators into its second consecutive SEC Championship Game, but as for beating the Tide?
Florida has about as much of a chance as Hillary Clinton has of changing the election by recount.
These “Sons of Steve Spurrier” who are currently under the direction of back-up QB Austin Appleby (6 TDs- 2 Ints -60%) are the antithesis of the Gators former “Ball Coach.”
Florida has sunk to the depths sitting 114th overall, and 104th in scoring, (scratching out a measly 24-points a game -there that number again) numbers never before seen in “The Swamp.”
In fact, Florida has scored a single measly touchdown in its last ten quarters of play.
The Gators D, the nation’s fifth stingiest (14) D, and sixth overall, led by safety Marcell Harris, backers David Reese, and Kylan Johnson, has carried these gritty Gators as far as possible.
As we mentioned, Florida has as much of a chance of beating Alabama, as Anita Bryant has of returning as the spokesperson for the Florida Orange Juice industry. Roll Tide right into the college playoff.
Last week: 5-0 Season record: 41-24.
We’ll be back with our recap of the final four recap when the committee makes its selection on Sunday afternoon. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. Pk