Alabama-Auburn clash in Iron Bowl, Ohio State visits Big House to face Michigan, Washington-Washington State meet in the Apple Cup, Notre Dame visits Stanford


ExtendaSuites motel                                         AP photo

We begin this week with an intense rivalry, fanatical fans, a gun and shots fired.
Less than two weeks ago, two men got into an argument over the upcoming Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn and things, shall we say got out of hand, escalating to the point where the Alabama fan standing outside the Extenda Suites Motel pulled out a gun and shot the Auburn fan in the thigh.
The police report read: “The male subject got mad, pulled out a firearm, and struck the victim in the thigh and fled.”
The alleged perpetrator a 28-year old male was arrested three days later and charged with first-degree assault. Only in the South!
On this rivalry weekend, let’s see which teams win it’s bragging rights game in a shoot-out, and which simply run out of bullets, leaving its alums heading to the bar for a shot to take the pain of losing away.  Sounds like a country song to me.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) This is the 82nd edition of the Iron Bowl an intra-state rivalry that is more divisive than the Alabama Senate campaign of Roy Moore.
The first game was played during the Administration of President Grover Cleveland – 1893, a game won by Auburn, but the Tide holds a 45-35-1 edge overall, and has won 7 of the last 9.
It will also be the second time that the SEC West Title is riding on the outcome, and the eighth time that both team come into the contest ranked in the top-10. And for the football crazed state of the “Heart of Dixie” stakes are higher than the results of the 2016 Presidential election.
We’ll begin with the Tide.
Groucho’s favorite team has won the last three of these intra-state “Tong Wars” and a big reason for this season’s blemish-free record is its ability to jump like Killer Kowalski quickly on its opponents, outscoring them by an eye-popping first-half aggregate of: 455-112.
The igniter of these “Sons of Bart Starr,” the nation’s second highest scoring (41) eleven, is its dual-threat sophomore QB Jalen Hurts (14 TDs – 1 Int – 61% – 686 rushing yards – 8 TDs) who is as smooth and nimble as Fred Astaire, but as tough and steely as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.


Alabama stars; receiver Calvin Ridley and QB Jalen Hurts         AP photo

The Tuscaloosan target hunter is assisted by his All-America Linus-blanket wideout Calvin Ridley, who is one of Bama’s all-timers, and a pair of steam-rolling tailbacks; Damien Harris (8.2 yds. a carry – 11 TDs) and his equally destructive partner Bo Scarbrough who has scored 7 TDs.
The identity of St. Nick’s “Title Towners” is its D, the nation’s stingiest (10 ppg.) anchored by its All-America safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, his partner Ronnie Harrison, backer Rashaan Evans (9.5 tfls – 5 sacks), and tackle Raekwon (7 tfls-6.5 sacks) Davis.
This ferocious bunch stones runners (2nd – 87 yds.) and deflate passes (3rd), like Attila the Hun plundering the Byzantine Empire, and are harder to penetrate than Harvard Law School’s records on its decision to hire Elizabeth Warren as a “esteemed” tenured faculty member.
With apologies to Shakespeare: “Will he or won’t he?”
The he, is Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, and the question swirling around the Auburn faithful; “Will the coach be staying on the Plains, or heading off to Fayetteville, where he coached high school football, and become the next headman of Razorbacks of Arkansas?”
It has become a “Hog-sized” distraction and the timing of it is almost as bad as it was for Hillary Clinton when former FBI Director James Comey reopened the e-mail investigation, especially when the stakes riding on the outcome, are like the 2016 Presidential election, Himalayan high.
The offense of the “Sons of Shug Jordan,” (Captain Jordan landed, and was wounded on Omaha Beach on D-Day June 6, 1944) got a major jolt of stability and a welcomed spark when Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham (16 TDs – 4 Ints – 67%) signed on to take the controls on the Plains.


QB Jarrett Stidham and Kerryon Johnson                    AP photo

The starry signal caller is assisted by one of the SEC’s best, tailback Kerryon Johnson (1172-yards – 16TDs) who runs like Shalane Flanagan sniffing the NYC Marathon finish line, as well as a quartet of receivers led by his All-State (good hands) chain mover, Ryan Davis, who is two catches (58) away from setting the Tigers record.
The nation’s eighth stingiest (16) D, and tenth overall, is anchored by backers Jeff Holland (12 tfls – 9 sacks) Dehsaun Davis, and tackle Derrick Brown (8 tfls) and swarms like a flies on a fresh-killed deer, while hitting with the ferocity of a Sonny Liston right before he met a kid named Cassius Clay.
In what may be a classic, we can make a case for both sides, but Groucho’s Boys have a distinct advantage in its coaching box. Hence, we’re siding with the “Sons of Bear” to move onto Atlanta with a great shot to capture another SEC Championship.
No. 8 Ohio State at Michigan (FOX, Noon) For me personally; Harvard/Yale, and Army/Navy, still holds sway, but I can’t argue with the many who feel that the most compelling rivalry in all of college football today is taking place on Saturday at noon in Ann Arbor, when the Scarlet and Grey and the Maize and Blue clash for the 111th time with the “Sons of Bo” holding a: 58-48-6 edge.
The first meeting of this “Border War” took place during the McKinley Administration in 1897, but the Buckeyes who have won the last five of these grudge matches, and have only lost twice (’03, ’11) to Blue since the Space Odyssey year of; 2001.
Urban’s Boys may be on a respirator as for its chances of earning another playoff invite, but alive they are. This is the scenario that must play out if the Bucks are to earn that coveted spot; Alabama wins the SEC, Oklahoma takes Big 12, Miami grabs the ACC, then Ohio State takes care of business against Wisconsin in a dominant fashion.
Doable I suppose, but the jury remains out on that one. The other is if Clemson beats Miami, and the Bucks win their game, then it comes down to strength of schedule between the two (Miami and Ohio State) with the edge to the Buckeyes. But first things first.


QB J.T. Barrett hands off to tailback J.K. Dobbins           AP photo

These “Sons of Woody” have recently returned to its roots focusing on a ground attack led by its 1000-yard turbo-charged slasher J. K. Dobbins (7.3 yds. a pop – 6 TDs), and his talented partner Mike Webber (6.8 yds. a carry – 9 TDs), who are better table setters than the waiters at Boston’s best restaurant; Grill 23.
The maestro directing the nation’s third highest (44) scoring eleven, which has outscored its opponents in the first-half by the combined aggregate; 295-100; is QB J.T. Barrett (32 TDs – 7 Ints – 66%) who is 4-0 in his career against the Wolverines, while displaying better leadership abilities than all the residents of Capitol Hill. He also has a pair of wideouts in K.J. Hill, and Parris Campbell, who have the ability to strike at any time like cobras.
The Bucks D, ranked eighth overall, and led by backers Chris Worley, Tuf Borland, Jerome Baker, and safety Damon Webb attacks with the same intensity as Donald Trump tweeting at LaVar Ball.


Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh                           AP photo

In Ann Arbor the sheen has worn off the Harbaugh mystique. [Although there is a rumor that Michigan is working on a lifetime contract for the coach.]
Since his heralded arrival three years ago as the savior of Blue football, “Mighty Michigan” is a woeful 1-6 versus top-10 teams, 1-4 against its two rivals, but more importantly, 0-2 against the Buckeyes, with 0-3 staring right back in the “Big House.’
But the question looming for the “Sons of Tom Harmon” is this; who is going to be under center? Will it be Brandon Peters (concussion protocol), John O’Korn, or the Wilton Speight who is rehabbing from an injury? Stay tuned.
Whoever gets the call, he’ll rely heavily on the Wolverines signature rushing attack led by tailbacks Karan Higdon, and Chris Evans, who have combined for; 1468-yards and 16 TDs.
If any of its QB’s can get them the ball, tight ends Zach Gentry, and Sean McKeon, are bigger targets than a Roy Moore for Senate house sign in Harvard Square.
The nation’s third rated D, under the direction of “Dr. Blitz,” coordinator Don Brown, the former headman of Northeastern and UMass has stitched together another stellar and feisty squad led by a trio of backers; Devin Bush (9.5 tfls-5 sacks), Chase Winovich (15.5 tfls – 7 sacks), and Mike McCray (10 tfls – 5 sacks) who operate as the country’s eleventh (17) stingiest eleven, and attack as relentlessly as Jerry Jones fires barbs toward Roger Goodell.
In a fight that will be nastier than Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reelection campaign, we think the Buckeyes, respirator and all, move on to Indy and a showdown with the Badgers of Wisconsin, while Harbaugh falls to 1-7 against the top-10.
No. 14 Washington State at No. 15 Washington (Fox, 8 p.m.) Wazzu Coach Mike Leach, the father of the “Air-raid” offense, has done a better job than Marty Walsh’s reelection campaign manager.
And if the Cougars, who can also play defense, capture the 110th edition of the Apple Cup, it clinches the Pac-12 North title earning an invite to meet USC for conference supremacy.


Washington State QB Luke Falk                   AP photo

The igniter on the Palouse is its gunslinger QB Luke Falk (29 TDs – 10 Ints – 66%) the director of the nation’s third most dynamic passing attack. The Cougs dart-thrower who hits his target better than a US Airforce fighter pilot, is assisted by a passel of receivers beginning with his two tailbacks; Jamal Morrow, and James Williams who have slipped out of the backfield combining for; 105-grabs and 8 TDs.
He also lasers on a quartet of receivers; Tavares Martin, Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Kyle Sweet, and Renard Bell, who have combined for an astounding; 201-catches and 19 TDs.
But the biggest eye-opener for Leach’s troops has been its 11th ranked D led by its All-America end Hercules Mata’afa (21.5 tfls -3rd in nation, 9.5 sacks), and assisted by backers Frank Luvu (10.5 tfls – 6.5 sacks), Jahad Woods (10.5 tfls), and safety Jalen Thompson, who swarm to the ball with the same intensity as the plethora of “suckers,” I mean cities, attempting to lure Amazon’s to come and build its second headquarters.
In Seattle, Chris Petersen’s Huskies would love nothing better than to play the role of spoiler and force the Cougars faithful to cancel its championship game travel plans to Santa Clara.


Washington QB Jake Browning         AP photo

The Huskies, who aren’t nearly as dynamic as last season, are led by its starry junior rifleman, QB Jake Browning (18 TDs – 5 Ints – 69%), who fires with more accuracy than Wyatt Earp.
The program’s all-time positional scoring leader is assisted by his nuclear-fused speedster tailback, Myles Gaskins (1090-yards – 15 TDs), and the nation’s most dynamic punt-returner (20-yds. a return) and receiver, Dante Pettis (60-catches – 7 TDs), forming an offensive threesome as bold as the Three Musketeers, while creating a nightmare for defensive coordinators.
On D, these “Sons of Lawyer Milloy” are as dynamic as Sinatra and Martin trading riffs on stage at the Sands.
The nation’s anvil-hardened and fourth stingiest (14) eleven, and fourth overall, led by safety Taylor Rapp, and a pair of smashing backers Ben Burr-Kirven, and Tevis Bartlett (11 tfls), are harder to penetrate than the secret pizza recipe at Regina’s of the North End.
In what will be a classic Apple Cup, we think it will be Leach’s Cougs who take the biggest bite of the apple, and move on with its date with USC.
No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 20 Stanford (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly, who last week became the fifth coach (Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, and Lou Holtz) in Irish history to roam its storied sideline for at least 100-games, is attempting to win 10-games for the second time in three years. It is a task made all the taller by the fact that ND hasn’t won in Palo Alto since the third-year of Barak Obama’s first term; 2007.


ND stars; tailback Josh Adams and QB Brandon Wimbush           AP photo

These “Sons of Paul Hornung” have evolved into roadrunners extraordinaire, churning as the nation’s sixth (290 ypg.) best rushing attack behind its Heisman contending tailback Josh Adams (1137-yds – 7.8 a carry-9 TDs) and its dual-threat QB Brandon Wimbush (14 TDs – 4 Ints -51% – 704-rushing – 14 TDs) who plow the earth better than a fleet of John Deere’s at corn harvest time in Iowa.
[Note: Notre Dame is tied with Arizona for the most runs of 60-yards or more with nine.]
But as its faithful are well aware, the Domers offense (108th in passing) is as unbalanced as a three-legged stool or the current occupant of the Oval Office with receivers Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion may play), Chase Claypool, and tight end Durham Smythe filing the lonely “Maytag” role.
On D, these “Sons of Nick Buoniconti” led by the backing trio; Te’von Coney (11 tfls – 3 sacks), Nyles Morgan, and Drue Tranquill, is solid, if unspectacular, but has an uncanny ability to stiffen in the red-zone keeping this season which has even widened the eyes of “Touchdown Jesus” on track for bigger things.
In a similar mode, last week on The Farm, Stanford Coach David Shaw became the school’s all-time winningest (72-victories) coach surpassing the iconic legend Pop Warner.


Stanford All-America, and Heisman contender Bryce Love             AP photo

And like the visitors, and with apologies to the “Beatles,” the heart of the Cardinal offense is its Heisman contending tailback Bryce “All you need is…” Love, the nation’s second leading (1723-yards-8.8 a pop – 16TDs) and offensive tone setter. And when he needs a blow (balky ankle) Cameron Scarlett is a quality replacement.
These “Sons of Jim Plunkett” have settled on QB K.J. Costello (5 TDs -2 Ints -60%) to direct the offense with assists coming from a trio of receivers; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Trenton Irwin, and tight end Kaden Smith.
The Cardinal’s pedestrian D, featuring tackle Harrison Phillips (13 tfls – 5 sacks), safety Justin Reid (team leading 42 tackles), and backer Bobby Okereke, has issues slowing the run which is not the best holiday recipe against the Irish.
This is a tough game to get a handle, a case can be made on either side, and Mr. Love scares us, so we’ve decided to make our decision based on the following symmetry; the Irish haven’t won a major bowl since Bill Clinton’s first year – 1993, and that was in the Cotton Bowl when Notre Dame led by Lou Holtz stung R.C. Slocum’s undefeated Aggies of Texas A@M, the then No. 4 team in the country; 28-3.
So my Fighting Irish sycophants here’s the scoop; if the Golden Domers knock off Stanford on Saturday night, they’ll have secured a spot it that very same Cotton Bowl! Hence, we think we’re in “high cotton” with our pick of Notre Dame.
No. 4 Clemson at South Carolina (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) In his tenth year in Death Valley Coach Dabo Swinney owns a national championship, has played in the last two national title games, and compiled a jaw-dropping; 62-16 .820 record in ACC play.


Clemson QB Kelly Bryant                                AP photo

On offense, these Tigers led by its dual-threat QB Kelly Bryant (10 TDs-5 Ints -66% – 10 TDs rushing), and assisted by a pair of electric tailbacks; Travis Etienne (11 TDs), his partner Tavien Feaster (5 TDs), and a trio of glue-fingered receivers; Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow, and Ray-Ray McCloud (who have combined for 129-catches) isn’t as dynamic as the previous two squads, but is just as resilient.
On D, the nation’s third (13 pts.) stingiest, and seventh ranked overall, is anchored by backer Dorian O’Daniel (9.5 tfls-5 sacks), and book-ends Clelin Ferrell (14 tfls -7.5 sacks), and Austin Bryant (14.5 tfls-7.5 sacks), who have shut down opposing offenses more often than Charlie Rose exposed himself.
In Columbia, these “Sons of Dan Reeves” despite the fact that they find the end zone (88th in scoring) about as often as a Sears Store shows a profit, have miraculously managed to scratch out eight victories.


Gamecocks Coach Will Muschamp salutes his team                   AP photo

Coach Will Muschamp’s Cocks are directed by its talented sophomore QB Jake Bentley (15 TDs-9 Ints -63%) who gets some assistance from a pair of pedestrian tailbacks; A.J. Turner, and Ty’Son Williams, but when he takes to the Palmetto State skies, Bryan Edwards (53 –catches), his partner OrTre Smith, and tight end Hayden Hurst are solid chain movers.
The Gamecocks punishing D, led by backer Skai Moore, end D.J. Wonnum (13 tfls-6 sacks), and corner Chris Lammons has some issues defending the pass, but one thing is certain, at games end, there will be some calling card bruises left on its opponent.
In a game that is always dangerous, SEC versus ACC, we think that it might be close for three-quarters but with a playoff invite on the line for Dabo’s Boys, we think the Tigers eventually get the job done and start preparing for its Gibraltar-sized ACC Title game matchup with Miami, and a chance to defend its national title.
Last week: 5-0
Season record: 43-17.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap of week 13 Sunday afternoon. Until then, Peace, Happy Thanksgiving, and as always, listen to the music. pk


BC becomes bowl eligible, Yale defeats Harvard in “The Game,” Heisman front-runner Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield caught in embarrassing sideline display

The results of Saturday’s “Cupcake Weekend” in college football were exactly like the first-round tennis matches of the US Open; a plethora of three set, love game, yawning blowouts.
A perfect forehand example came from the big three of; Clemson, Alabama, and Auburn, each of whom are striving for a coveted playoff spot, who put on its helmets and toyed with its “opponent” shellacking them by the combined aggregate score of: 159-17! Really??!!
Totally uninteresting, and in our view totally unacceptable, especially when two of the three; Clemson, and Alabama cashed out against non-FBS teams by the combined score of: 117-3! What a joke!!
That said there was some good news in many other places, especially on the home front, as the Eagles of Boston College, left for dead six weeks ago (6-5) when Coach Addazio delivered what many felt was a “Captain Queegesque” “Caine Mutiny” soliloquy, then went out in a 180 degree turnaround, and won for the four of its next five games.
The seamless steaming makes the Eagles bowl eligible something few envisioned back then, as it pounded out a 39-16 rain-soaked victory at Fenway Park against a woeful (3-8) bunch of UConn Huskies.


BC’s bruising tailback A.J. Dillon                      (associated press)


Once again its true-freshman tailback A.J. Dillon, who runs and punishes like Earl Campbell provided the offensive spark, garnering 200-yards on 24 carries, as the “Sons of Mike Holovak” carved up the Fenway turf for 330-rushing yards.
And with next week’s game at Syracuse against a slumping bunch of Orangemen (4-7), losers of four in-a-row the Eagles have a great opportunity of finishing an eye-popping 7-5. Not even a tarot-card reading gypsy could have foreseen that turnaround.


BC Coach Steve Addazio (associated press)

If BC captures that W, Coach A, certainly not one of our favorites is deserving of some serious ACC Coach of the Year votes. Good for the Eagles.
As for the Silver Lake Regional High teammates, Saturday mixed as a day of mixed emotions, as Dartmouth’s Buddy Teevens saw his Big Green score 34-points in the fourth quarter to pull out a wild 54-44 victory against its rival Princeton finishing 8-2 overall, and 6-2 in the Ivy League.
The 98-combined points were the most scored in a Dartmouth game in over a century, 133-years to be precise.
The record occurred during the administration of Chester A. Arthur 1884, when the Eilis of Yale crushed the Big Green; 113-0. WOW!!
But there is an explanation: it was only the sixth football game ever played by the Hanover Green, yet despite that beating, they managed to keep on trucking.
In “The Game” in New Haven it was another desultory offensive performance by the “Boys of Veritas” as Harvard (5-5) fell to Yale for the second consecutive season, this time; 24-3.


Harvard Coach Tim Murphy        (associated press)

It was the first five loss season for Timmy Murphy, since Bill Clinton was leaving the White House with the silver ware in 2000, and its first losing league record (3-4) since 1999.
It was also the first time that the Crimson failed to score a TD in consecutive games since Ronald Reagan was reminiscing about playing George Gipp – 1986, and ended Murphy’s 16-year streak of winning at least 7-games.
Meanwhile the Elis finished 9-1, 6-1 and in doing so captured its first outright Ivy League title since the final days of Jimmy Carter – 1980. Good for the Bulldogs!


UMass Coach Mark Whipple

Staying on the local scene, break up the “Belles of Amherst” as the “Fighting Whipple’s” who for the first time since it joined the big-boys AKA the FBS have won four games (4-7), knocking off the Cougars of BYU 16-10. Good for the Minutemen and our friend Coach Mark Whipple.
Our other coaching pal, the future HOF-er Al Bagnoli, in only his third year at the helm of the Lions of Columbia, knocked off the Bears of Brown; 24-6 to finish its season with a truly remarkable (8-2, 5-2) Ivy record.
It was only the third time since WWII (1945) that Columbia, who once went 44-games without a victory, has finished a season with 8 wins. WOW!
Good for class guy Coach Bags, and more importantly great for Columbia football and its football future.
Hail the “Smart Kids” as Northwestern, in the wind and rain in Evanston, won its sixth game in a row, a 39-0 destruction over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.


Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald (associated press)

The Purple Cats in the midst of its longest winning streak since Billy C was visiting with Monica – 1996, are now 8-3, and staring at a very winnable game next week against its rival Illinois.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald, one of our favorites, and one of the best and most underrated coaches in the nation, described the win, and his play of his squad team simply; “Blue collar Chicago football.”
And as for the way his team embraced Saturday’s weather, which was better suited for the British Open he succinctly summarized; “The guys were embracing the suck.”
Well said Coach, who, when the next opening occurs in South Bend, should be the first call Notre Dame makes.
In addition to BC, we’d like to acknowledge a couple of other teams that reached bowl eligibility on Saturday, the Longhorns of Texas with its surprising 28-14 victory over West Virginia, will be going bowling for the first time in three years.
Yes Virginia, we said three-years. That is how far the fortunes of Texas football has fallen.


KState coach Bill Snyder (associated press)


And in “The Little Apple” AKA Manhattan, Kansas, KState Coach Bill Snyder, the 78-year old patriarch of the Wildcats upset the “Boys from Boone Pickens U” AKA Oklahoma State; 45-40 becoming bowl eligible for the eighth consecutive season, and 19th time during the coaching tenure of “Mr. Turnaround” Snyder.
And if in fact this is his swansong season, he is battling throat cancer, it’s a great way to celebrate and embrace his HOF career.
In Madison, our pal Tucker from Dorchester was in the stands to watch Wisconsin handle the visiting Wolverines of Michigan 24-10, dropping Blue’s “Golden Boy” coach Jim Harbaugh, into the Brady Hoke and John Cooper levels, as the Wolverines are now an unsatisfactory and native restless 1-6 against top-10 teams, and more importantly 0-2 against its despised rival: Ohio State. OUCH!!


Wisconsin Coach Paul Chryst (associated press)

Staying on the Mad-Town side of town; Wiscy, the “Rodney Dangerfield of College Football” is a perfect 11-0 for the first time in program history, while another of our favorites Coach Paul Chryst, another underrated headman, has his team is two victories away from winning a spot in the four-team playoff.
The Badgers have outscored its opponents by 195-55 in the second half, and have yet to trail in the fourth quarter, as its Heisman contending freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor continues to impress.
Speaking of the Heisman, it was a disgraceful sideline performance by the current frontrunner, Oklahoma’s QB Baker Mayfield, who was caught on camera grabbing his crotch (not a smart move at any time, but certainly not in today’s highly charged climate) while screaming out f-bombs toward the Kansas sideline.


Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and Heisman front-runner sideline tirade


As Mr. Rogers might ask on Sesame Street; “Can you say; “MORON.”
Or as we like to say; “What a DOPE!” And as far as we are concerned, he isn’t worthy of being on the top spot of anyone’s Heisman ballot.
In Coral Gables, Coach Mark Richt’s Hurricanes overcame a pair of 14-point deficits, before taking charge and knocking off a game visiting bunch of Cavaliers from Virginia: 44-28.
It was the Hurricanes nation’s best 15-victory in a row, as it continues on its Armageddon path toward the ACC Championship title game and a date with the Tigers of Clemson to determine which team will earn its playoff invite.


KU former coach Charlie Weis (associated press)

Finally, as always, we close with our bloviating gas-bag pal Charlie Weis and the woeful (I know, that’s redundant) Jayhawks of Kansas (1-10), who were easily handled by the aforementioned Sooners of Oklahoma 41-3. OUCH!! Sorry Charlie.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 13 Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk

Michigan travels to Madison take on undefeated Wisconsin, Harvard plays Yale in “The Game,” BC versus UConn at Fenway


Dale Earnhardt’s pit crew                       (associated press photo)

We begin the weekend before our national Thanksgiving celebration with a bunch of former college football players, a pit crew, and a NASCAR retiring superstar.

It turns out that Hendrick Motorsports employs some fourteen former college football players to work as members of the pit crews for its various drivers including Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

One of those guys is Earnhardt’s pit crew “quarterback” or rear tire changer, Rowdy Harrrell who won three national championships as a walk-on linebacker with Nick Saban 2009, ’11, and ’12 at Alabama.

Another is “jack man” Nick Covey, an oft-injured backer at Nebraska, who said, “Now we’ve all been given something all athletes dream of, right?  A second chance to compete for championships.”

This weekend, let’s see which teams drive its alums batty with another flat-tire performance, and which zoom over and around its opponent, leaving them in the distant rear view mirror.

No. 19 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin (FOX, Noon) If one can envision the Michigan football team as a tube of toothpaste, then Coach Jim Harbaugh has successfully squeezed about as much out of his young Wolverines as is humanely possible.


Jim and brother John Harbaugh                   (associated press photo)

But that doesn’t make the task of journeying to Camp Randall for the first time since 2009, and facing the undefeated and defensive dominate Badgers of Wisconsin, any less Herculean.  Especially when one factors in the fact that Michigan hasn’t defeated a ranked team away from the Big House since midway through W’s second term-2006, or beaten a team with a winning record this season.

As the Ann Arbor faithful are well aware, its beloved Blue has been hamstrung by a “Jurassic-like” offense (ranked 94th) which only recently has displayed some third-rail like sparks with the insertion of sophomore QB Brandon Peters (4 TDs – 0 picks – 60%) under center.

The newbie relies heavily on the pounding of its tailback tandem; Karan Higdon (ankle), and his partner Chris Evans, who have combined for 1423-yards and 16 TDs.  And when he takes to the skies over the Big House, a pair of goliath-sized tight ends; Sean McKeon (6-foot-5, 248 pounds), and his partner Zach Gentry (6-foot-7, 250), have morphed into comforting chain-moving targets.

But if its offense more closely resembles an inedible $10 steak, its D is a 5-star 100-day dry aged cut of prime.

The nation’s ninth stingiest (16 pts.) eleven, and third ranked overall, directed by its defensive maestro coordinator Don Brown, the former headman at Northeastern and UMass, features tackle Maurice Hurst (12.5 tfls – 4.5 sacks), end Chase Winovich (14 tfls – 7 sacks), and backer Devin Bush, and is harder to penetrate than the off-shore accounts of Robert Kraft or Apple Inc.

In Madison, Wisconsin sits an Elle McPherson perfect “10” (10-0), for the first time in the history of the program.


Wisconsin Heisman contender tailback Jonathan Taylor      (associated press)

The Camp Randall offensive igniter and tone setter, is its freshman All-America caliber, and Heisman contending tailback Jonathan Taylor (1525-yards – 7 yds. a pop – 12 TDs) who slithers through a line better than Mick Jagger sliding past a velvet rope of a VIP room, while rumbling as the country’s third most effective earth mover.

The commander of the entire operation is QB Alex Hornibrook (17 TDs – 12 Ints – 64%) who as the faithful are well aware has become a one man turnover machine, but thanks to Wiscy’s steel curtain D, that turnover barrage hasn’t been as damaging as it would likely be for most teams.

And because of a rash of injuries, his principles in the receiving corps are tight end Troy Fumagalli, and wideout Danny Davis.

And that elite defensive eleven, directed by its former star All-Big Ten safety Jim Leonhard, displays numbers that would make a “Tiger Mom’s” drool.

These “Sons of J.J. Watt,” the nation’s third stingiest (13), and anchored by the linebacking trio; Garrett Dooley (9.5 tfls-6.5 sacks), T.J. Edwards, and Leon Jacobs, rank No. 1 overall, are tops in stoning runners (81 yds. a game), seventh deflating passes, in a dominating fashion not seen since the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.

In Mad-Town, we think the Wolverines road-warrior woes continue, as the Badgers, with our pal “Tucker” from Dorchester looking on from the stands, continues on in its tour of perfection.

Harvard at Yale – “The Game” (CNBC, 12:30 p.m.) This is the 134th renewal of “The Game” between these POTUS producing universities, and one time football powers, making it the third longest continuously played rivalry in America.


Harvard Coach Tim Murphy                  (associated press photo)

This has been an uncharacteristically unbalanced  season (5-4) for the “Veritas Boys” of the Cambridge gridiron, especially on the offensive side, and it will end Coach Tim Murphy’s remarkable 16-year streak (which includes 3-undefeated teams) of notching at least seven victories a season.

One of the primary factors has been the Crimson’s inconsistent performance by its QB’s, which under Coach Murph, is usually as solid and steady as Belichick and Brady, or Marty Walsh and Charlie Baker.

Neither freshman QB Jake Smith, who has thrown 4 more interceptions than touchdowns (5TDs -9 Ints – 56%), nor senior Joe Viviano (3 TDs -1 Int -55%), has been consistent enough to firmly grab-ahold onto the job.

On the ground, the Crimson churn the turf behind its relentless fireplug (5-foot-9, 200 pounds) tailback Charlie Booker (733 –rushing yards – 6 TDs), and when either signal caller is able to make a connection; wideout Justice Shelton-Mosley, and Henry Taylor have developed into quality chain movers.

On D, the “Sons of Endicott Peabody” anchored by backer Luke Hutton, safety Tanner Lee, and corner Raishaun McGhee has some issues defending against the pass, which isn’t the best recipe versus the Blue from New Haven.

The Elis (8-1) already possess a share of the Ivy League Title ending the longest title drought (11-years) in school history.

And if the Yalies, who have won five in a row, are able to defeat its “River Charles” rival, it will own the title outright, as well as a two-game winning streak against “The Johns.”


Yale QB Kurt Rawlings (associated press photo)


The Bulldogs high flying (6th overall) offense, is under the command of QB Kurt Rawlings (18 TDs – 5 Ints –     67%), who hits his target almost as as well as David Swensen, Yale’s highly regarded chief endowment money manager brings home the cash.

The New Haven dart thrower is assisted by his bell-cow 1000-yard tailback Zane Dudek (14 TDs), and lasers onto a pair of field-stretching receivers; Jaeden Graham, and Christopher Williams Lopez.

On D, these “Sons of Gary Fencik,” the nation’s ninth stingiest (17), anchored by its captain corner Spencer Rymiszewski, safety Hayden Carlson, and backer Matthew Oplinger (12.5 tfls-9.5 sacks) inhale runners, but have some fissures (88th) defending the pass, which shouldn’t hurt that much against Harvard.

With the outright Ivy title resting on the outcome, and with “The Game” being showcased in the iconic Yale Bowl, we think it’s “Boola, Boola” time for the home team, as the Bulldogs march off with the trophy to the strains of; Bulldog, bulldog, bow-wow-wow, Eli Yale!

UCLA at No. 12 USC (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) In the 87th meeting between these cross-town rivals, the pitchforks are out, as the UCLA Westwood natives are restless.

Last week a plane was hired to fly over the Rose Bowl dragging a banner which read: “No Mora” in reference to Jim Mora’s recent record as the headman of the Bruins, who at 5-5 need to scratch out one more victory for bowl eligibility.

The formula of success for the “Sons of Gary Beban,” (averaging 8-penalties and 2-turnovers a game), is simpler than the square root of 9; so goes its future Sunday showman, QB Josh Rosen (21 TDs -9 Ints – 62%), so go the Bruins of UCLA.


UCLA QB Josh Rosen                     (associated press photo)

The leather-tough gunslinger has the luxury of choosing from a committee of targets led by Darren Andrews (10-TDs), and Jordan Lasley, but has been hampered by a ground assault (105th), that only marginally flashes to life behind tailbacks Bolu Olorunfunmi, and Soso Jamabo.

The Bruins muck-raking (123rd) D, has been the albatross, or as former Mayor Tom Menino used to say the “Alcatraz,” that has kept UCLA locked in the basement of the Bates Motel.  Its overall performance has been so debasing it almost makes Steve Bannon seem like a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  ALMOST!

These “tackling matadors” featuring backer Kenny Young, corner Krys Barnes, and safety Adarin Pickett surrender a jaw-dropping average of 38-points a game, and display more gaping holes than the recently liberated city of Al-Qaim, the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq.

USC has already captured Pac 12 South earning a spot in the conference championship game, but these Men of Troy have another mission in mind, it wants to have its first 10-win regular season since the Lane Kiffin year of 2011.


USC QB Sam Darnold (associated press photo)

The Trojans tone setter is its gunslinging blond bomber, QB Sam Darnold (24 TDs- 11 Ints – 63%), and despite his numerous turnovers has for the most part managed to keep USC on track.

He also gets a huge assist from his All-America caliber, and turbo-charged tailback Ronald Jones (1224-yards – 6.7 yds. a carry – 14 TDs) who deserves some Heisman love, and when he goes aerial chooses from a quartet of targets; led by Deontay Burnett (9 TDs), and Michael Pittman.

The D featuring backer Cameron Smith (8 tfls), end Rasheen Green (10.5 tfls – 8 sacks), and tackle Christian Rector (11.5 tfls-7.5 sacks) isn’t as weak as the candidacy of Alabama’s Roy Moore, but has enough holes (71st overall – 80 defending the pass) to keep USC’s offense on constant high alert mode.

I know it’s a cliché, but in a rivalry of this intensity, records should be shredded like Russia WikiLeaks correspondence during the Trump campaign.

Bottom line, USC has the better fight-song, the better cheerleaders, and ultimately the better team as its faithful are serenaded with the strains of: “Fight On, for ol’ SC!”  as the Men of Troy capture that precious regular season ten-spot of victories.

Navy at No. 9 Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30 p.m.) In the 91st renewal of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in America, these triple-option mavens, AKA the Midshipmen of Navy, have won 32 of its last 43, and will be bowling for its sixth consecutive season, and fourteenth time in its last fifteen campaigns.


Navy Coach ken Niumataldo (associated press photo)

Coach Ken Niumataldo has done an “admiral-worthy” job, but as the Middies, who lead the nation in rushing (averaging 369 – yards a game), get ready to set sail for South Bend they find themselves faced with a quarterback dilemma.

After last week’s near record performance by QB Malcolm Perry, who was inserted from his slot-back position to replace injured starter Zach Abey (1202-rushing yards, 13 TDs), it seemed Navy was in a good spot until the word came down that Perry is out with a severe ankle sprain.

The Navy headman must now decide between the talented Abey, who is nursing a sore shoulder, or the less dynamic, but healthy backup Garret Lewis.  The Navy coach intimated that a decision may not be made until the Middies take the field on Saturday afternoon.

On D, the Blue and Gold behind backers D.J. Palmore (10.5 tfls -2.5 sacks), Micah Thomas, and safety Sean Williams (out first half-targeting penalty) is leakier (78th – allowing 30-points a game) than the rust-bucket USS Caine, the fabled Pacific minesweeper from the movie classic; “The Caine Mutiny.”

In “Domer-land” Touchdown Jesus and its faithful are hoping that last week’s impersonating performance of the “Frightful Irish” – (courtesy S. Price) was something as rare as the sighting of a Melania Trump smile.

And for its sake, it had better be, or the entire Irish season will be for “knot.” (Navy theme.)


Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams (associated press)

These “Sons of Terry Hanratty” roll as the nation’s sixth best earth movers (303-yds a game) directed by its QB Brandon Wimbush (12 TDs-4 Ints – 51% – 663 rushing – 13 TDs), and assisted by his All-America caliber tailback Josh Adams (1231-yards, 8 yds. a pop – 9 TDs) who form one of the best duos since Sonny and Cher.

When ND’s signal caller is able to hone in; wideouts Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, and tight end Dunbar Smythe are quality field-stretchers.

On D, these “Sons of Alan Page” anchored by backers Te’Von Coney (11 tfls – 3 sacks), Nyles Morgan, and Drue Tranquill are in the pedestrian category, and won’t cause any sleepless nights for the opposition’s offensive coordinators.

It’s never easy facing a team that specializes in the triple-option, but eventually ND pulls away, ultimately buries the “Frightful Irish” moniker, and raises its sails cruising out of South Bend with its ninth victory of the season in tow.

Boston College vs UConn (Fenway Park, 7 p.m.) This week’s college football schedule hits its annual pre-rivalry breather as the heavyweights (Alabama is playing Mercer, Auburn vs La. Monroe, and Clemson vs Citadel) are simply taking the week off.


BC Coach Steve Addazio (associated press)

So in that spirit, we thought we’d shine a spotlight on the “Fighting Addazio’s” of Chestnut Hill AKA the Eagles of Boston College, who are a skinny victory away from earning that much sought after status of “bowl eligibility” with the added “eggnog” attraction of suiting up in Fenway Park a treat for the kids on both teams.

After losing its starting QB Anthony Brown (knee) for the remainder of the season, these “Sons of Mike Holovak” who are 103rd in scoring (23-points), will roll the bones behind its junior lefty Darius Wade, who at times has thrown the ball like Michelangelo’s masterpiece; Venus de Milo.

Luckily, he can lean on one of the ACC’s best, in t-freshman tailback A.J Dillion (1039-yards – 8 TDs) whose running style more closely resembles one of the bulls storming through the streets of Pamplona.

If Wade’s GPS is in working order, an occurrence that doesn’t happen all that often, wideouts Kobay White, Tommy Sweeney, and Jeff Smith, are solid, if not dynamic targets.

On D, these “Sons of Jimmy Cotter” anchored by backer Ty Schawb (7 tfls-4 sacks), end Zach Allen (10 tfls-4 sacks), and corner Will Harris (All-America end Harold Landry ankle remains questionable), has issues slowing he run (112th), but has  managed to stiffen in the red zone keeping the gritty Eagles in almost every game.


UConn Coach Randy Edsall (associated press)

The poet was wrong; “You can go home again,” as Huskies coach Randy Edsall has proven by his return to the sidelines in Storrs, although with the Huskies resting at 3-7, you might want to ask the question; Why?

UConn also has injury issues at the quarterback, and David Pindell has been given the job for the remainder of the season, piloting an offense that sits 93rd in scoring averaging a miniscule 24 points a game.

Tailbacks Kevin Mensah, and Nate Hopkins are the principles of a muck filled (93rd) ground attack, while wideouts Quayvon Skanes, Traiq Beals, and Aaron Mclean are quality and dangerous targets.

On D of these “Sons of Booth Lusteg” featuring backers Junior Joseph, Vontae Diggs, and corner Tyler Coyle are a Harvey Weinstein embarrassing 128 overall, allowing an eye-popping average of 39-points a game.  Yikes!

As Mr. Rodgers might ask on “Sesame Street,” Can you say pathetic?”

But as the Eagle faithful are well aware, in games that BC is expected to win comfortably, it has a disturbing tendency to almost always end up in a dog-fight.

We don’t think that happens this time, as the Eagles notch that sixth win, and punches its ticket for a holiday afternoon of bowling.

Last week: 3-2

Season record: 38-17.

That’s it from cyber-space.  We’ll be up and running with our recap Sunday afternoon.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  pk

Auburn dismantles Georgia, Miami shellacked Notre Dame, Oklahoma toys with TCU in shakeup Saturday

It was the college football version of “Shock and Awe” as Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ohio State stomped, throttled, annihilated, overwhelmed, dismantled, and took no prisoners in outcomes that dramatically altered the landscape of the playoff rankings.
We’ll begin in the Plains where, in a job-saving performance, Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers, before a frenzied Jordan-Hare Stadium, brushed aside an early 7-0 deficit, then proceeded to barbecue the visiting Bulldogs of Georgia, the number one ranked team in the land, smoking them 40-17 in a performance worthy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.



Auburn’s starry tailback Kerryon Jackson                                    AP photo

The D of the “Sons of Bo Jackson” squeezed tighter than Albert DeSalvo, holding the Dawgs vaunted ground attack to a measly 46-yards, an eye-popping 233-yards below its average, while the Tigers offense ran all over and pass at will against what was considered one of the best defenses in the country.
It was simply a breathtaking performance, as Auburn has played itself into the playoff conversation.
If the Tigers, in two weeks are able to defeat Alabama (a legitimate possibility) in the Iron Bowl it would win the SEC West and play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
A victory there gives the Auburn a playoff worthy resume, and a possible giant migraine for the committee.
Could a two-loss team, with two separate victories over No. 1 teams, as well as being crowned the SEC Champion be denied a playoff spot? Stay tuned.
In South Bend, even “Touchdown Jesus” is in shock.
The U can also put to rest the question; is Miami real or Memorex as the Hurricanes deconstructed the Irish; 41-8 totally dominating both sides of the ball. At one point the Irish had 5-pass completions and three interceptions!


Miami cornerback Trajan Bandy wearing turnover chain for a pick 6      AP photo

Miami’s speed and power was Secretariat-esque, and its victory propels Mark Richt’s undefeated thoroughbreds into a top-4 playoff position, as well as a date in the ACC Championship game. Amazing.
We’ll slide over to Norman, where, with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein; “OOOOOOKLAAAHOOMA! Where the “wins” come sweepin’ down the plain” as the Sooners in an offensive display worthy of a Kim Jong-Un missile launch toyed with the Horned Frogs of TCU; 38-20.


Oklahoma QB and Heisman front-runner Baker Mayfield              AP photo

OU scored all 38 of its points in the first half as Baker Mayfield, the Heisman prohibitive frontrunner, did his thing throwing three more TD passes, then using his legs to pick up key first downs on the ground in the second half.
But for the OU faithful, the most encouraging aspect of the lopsided win was the Sooner’s D, which in a big spot, played its best and most complete game of the year as, Oklahoma stated its case for a playoff invite. In our eyeball test, OU is the best team in the country.


Wisconsin’s All-America tailback Jonathan Taylor                           AP photo 

Over to Madison, where the “Rodney Dangerfield’s” of college football AKA the Badgers of Wisconsin, in another dominating defensive (Iowa was held to a total of 66-offensive yards) performance, with a big assist from its Heisman caliber tailback Jonathan Taylor; 157-yards, toyed with the Hawkeyes of Iowa; 38-14.

The victory takes the “fighting Paul Chryst’s” to 10-0 “Elle-like” perfection for the first time in school history, as the “Sons of Elroy Crazylegs Hirsh” continue to lay out an Alan Dershowitz tight case for playoff inclusion.


Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer                  AP photo

It must have been awfully cranky around the football offices of Columbus after its concussive debacle the week before in Iowa City, because the Buckeyes stormed out of the Columbus gates and never looked back dissecting the visitors from East Lansing, the Spartans of Michigan State; 48-3.
It was Ohio State’s third largest victory over a ranked team in school history, and kept the Buckeyes slim playoffs chances alive, albeit in with the help of a respirator.
The Boys from “Cowbell Country” AKA Mississippi State gave a fright to the visitors from “Title Town” AKA the Crimson Tide, before Alabama scored the winning TD with a mere 25-seconds left in regulation saving its championship aspirations by knocking off Dan Mullen’s feisty bunch: 31-24.


Alabama’s cool QB Jalen Hurts                     AP photo

Two things stood out; the Tide’s QB Jalen Hurts is cooler than Steve McQueen, and because of all its defensive injuries, for the first time this season a team was able to run through, what had previously been an impregnable Alabama defensive wall, giving its faithful pause as it approaches its Armageddon clash against Auburn on the road in two weeks. Can’t wait.
Hail the Academies; as both Army and Navy won yesterday.


Army Coach Jeff Monken celebrating win against Duke       AP photo

The Cadets, who have won six in a row, sit an impressive 8-2, and finished with a perfect 6-0 home record for the first time since the “Bill and Monica” Days – 1996, as its coach, Jeff Monken, is deserving of Coach of the Year accolades. Good for the “Long Grey Line.”
In Annapolis, after enduring a three-game losing streak, Navy’s last second 43-40 field-goal victory over SMU made the Middies bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive year, and the 14th time in its last 15th seasons.
After losing both QB’s to injuries, Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to insert his speedy slotback Malcolm Perry under center, and the move played as brilliantly as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, as the newbie rushed for 282-yards, including a 92-yard TD run which was the second longest in school history. WOW!
“We got tough kids. We’re going to fight to the freakin’ end,” said the coach in poetic military Veteran’s Day elegance.
On the local front; the Silver Lake Regional High teammates had a mixed weekend.
Buddy Teevens and the Big Green of Dartmouth who were making its first Fenway Park appearance since the war year of FDR – 1944, easily handled the Bears of Brown 33-10, keeping its hopes for a share of the Ivy League title alive.
While the Veritas Boys of Harvard (5-4) fell to Penn; 23-6 and in doing so are out of the Ivy League race. That happens about as often as someone with the demeanor of Donald J. Trump is elected President of the United States.


Columbia Coach Al Bagnoli                                      AP photo

In New York, our other pal, Coach Al Bagnoli and his “Fighting Bagnoli’s” AKA the Lions of Columbia, knocked off the “Big Red” of Cornell 18-8, and in doing improved its record to a remarkable Lazarus-like 7-2, setting up the following scenario for next weekend.
If Harvard defeats Yale in “The Game,” and the Lions take care of business against its rival Brown, Columbia will share in a piece the Ivy League Championship, an achievement not even Nostradamus could have foreseen.
It also may well be the first time in his long distinguished career that the future HOF Coach will be rooting for success for the gridiron eleven from Cambridge. Whatever happens, Coach Bags has done a remarkable job, and more importantly put Columbia football back on the map!
In Florida, the former Sunshine State football goliaths; Florida State, and Florida, are a combined; 6-12, which is the Gators worst start since Jimmy Carter’s last year in office- 1979. YIKES!!
In Clemson, the “Fighting Dabo’s” had a scare, but prevailed over Florida State: 31-14 setting up an ACC Championship playoff showdown with Miami. Again, can’t wait.
And on the “Dead Man Walking” watch; Bret Bielema and his Arkansas Razorbacks were butchered by LSU 33-10, while Tennessee mercifully decided to pull the plug on its coach Butch Jones, after his Volunteers, who are winless in the SEC, were crushed 50-17 by a mediocre bunch of Missouri Tigers. The moving vans are warmed up and ready to go.
Hail the ‘smart kids” as Northwestern won its fifth in a row; a 23-13 victory over Purdue as the Cats have clawed its way to 7-3 record, proving once again that Pat Fitzgerald is one of the nation’s best.


Former KU Coach Charlie Weis                                             AP photo

Finally, as always, we close with our bloviating gas-bag pal Charlie Weis and the woeful Jayhawks of Kansas (1-9), who lost to Texas 42-27, and in the process set an FBS record for ineptitude, losing its 45 consecutive game on the road. AMAZING!!
As Mr. Rogers might say on Sesame Street; “Can you say, irrelevant?” Yikes, sorry Charlie!
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 12 Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk

Notre Dame visits Miami, Georgia travels to Auburn, and TCU takes on Oklahoma in showdown Saturday


Iowa fans wave to kids in IU hospital                                     AP photo

We begin this week with a simple idea, a social media springboard, and a new tradition that, with apologies to the Eagles and its song “James Dean,”; “Is just too cool for school.”
In May, Krista Young, an Iowa fan from the tiny town of Anita posted a message to the Facebook page Hawkeye Heaven.
“I think with the new U of I hospital addition open, Kinnick (Stadium) should hold a ‘wave’ to the kids minute during every game. It would send them a little extra inspiration.
At the first game Young expected that there might be several small groups who would take part in the ceremonial wave.
But when all 68,000 –plus rose as one, and for a long sustained moment waved to the kids looking out the glass windows of the 12th floor, which is the highest structure in the county, it was a spine tingling moment, and the newest, and arguably best, of all college traditions was born.
Good for Krista Young, maybe she should run for office!
This weekend let’s see which fans derisively wave goodbye to its conquered visitors, and which, in the tradition of sportsmanship shake hands in appreciation of a battle endured and well fought on the gridiron.
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) Like Donald Trump, very few expected to see Notre Dame occupying such a lofty position.
These “Sons of Frank Leahy,” who maneuver (5th in nation – 324-rushing yds. per game) through traffic better than Dale Earnhardt at Daytona, and run more often than Althea Garrison, the Harold Stassen of Boston politics, are commanded by its dynamic dual-threat (11 TDs – 2 Ints – 51%, 13 rushing touchdowns-639 yards) QB Brandon Wimbush.


Irish QB Brandon Wimbush                                          AP photo

Another key to ND’s success this season is its ability to jump out to early leads.
These “Sons of Paul Hornung” have gotten out of the starting blocks quicker than drag-racing queen Shirley Muldowney, outscoring its first-half opponents by an eye-popping aggregate of: 224- 82.
In addition to its signal caller, the seventh highest scoring (41) eleven, rolls behind one of the nation’s best, Heisman contending tailback Josh Adams (1191-yards – 8.7 yp-carry – 9 TDs) and his partner Deon McIntosh, and with his improving accuracy the Domer’s QB is able to lock onto a trio of quality wideouts; Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Alize Brown.
On D these “Sons of Mike Stonebreaker” anchored by backers Te’von Coney, Nyles Morgan, and Dave Tranquill, has serious fissures defending the opposition passing (90th) game, but has managed to be as stout as Falstaff in the red zone, surrendering a miniscule 18-points a game.
In Coral Gables, Coach Mark Richt’s Canes, like St. Nick shimmering down the chimney, have quietly strung together the nation’s best winning streak which has now climbed to a baker’s dozen.





Miami QB Malik Rosier                                AP photo

QB Malik Rosier (19 TDs-7 Ints-56%) directs the U’s pedestrian attack (44th scoring -31 pts) with assists from his shifty tailback Travis Homer (6 TDs) and a trio of glue fingered receivers; Braxton Berrios (7 TDs), Christopher Herndon, and Ahmmon Richards.

This group won’t cause any sleepless night for defensive coordinators, but has a Superman-like ability to swoop-in at just in the right time and keep these “Sons of Ted Hendricks” with a Sophia Loren blemish free record.

The Cane’s twelfth stingiest (17) D, featuring backers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pickney, and end Joe Jackson (7.5 tfls-3.5 sacks) hits harder than an Earnie Shavers right hand, and will ultimately determine if a playoff invite is delivered to the U’s football offices.
In a game of great intrigue, that holds stakes that are Himalayan high, we think the followers of “Touchdown Jesus” leave the Sunshine State “cheer cheer –ing” over a gigundous victory by its beloved Irish and march one step closer to the playoff.
No. 2 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn (Ch. 4, 3:30 p.m.) In the 121st renewal of the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” (Georgia holds a slight edge: 57-55-8, and has won 9 of the last 11) it is the first time since W’s reelection year (2004), and only the fourth time in the game’s history, that both squads will square off as members of top-10.
The last time Coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs reached this 9-0 perfection pinnacle, “The Gipper” AKA Ronald Reagan was occupying the Oval Office – 1982.
Utilizing a defense that is harder to penetrate than the inner circle of Robert Mueller’s investigating team these anvil-hardened “Sons of Jake Scott,” the nation’s third (11-ppg.) stingiest, anchored by backers Lorenzo Carter (5.5 tfls – 4 –sacks), Roquan Smith, and end Jonathan Ledbetter, are faster than Shalane Flanagan, and more disruptive than a Marciano uppercut to the solar plexus.


Georgia tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb                              AP photo

The Dawgs  ground attack eighth best (270 yards), features Nick Chubb (9 TDS) and Sony Michel (9 TDs) who comprise one of the best running combos since Bogie and Bacall, or Jimmy Brown and Leroy Kelly.

Georgia’s true freshman QB Jake Fromm (15 TDs- 4 Ints – 63%) has played beyond his years, and when the young-un takes to the skies over Athens, wideouts Terry Godwin, and Javon Wims, are game changing targets.

On the Plains the view is more myopic.
Some feel that Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, who is 0-6 against rivals Georgia and Alabama, must pass at least one of these two final exams, if his employment with the “Sons of Shug Jordan” is going to continue. Especially with a fan base whose patience is thinner than a driver inching along on the Southeast Expressway trying to catch a 5 p.m. flight out of Logan.


Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham                        AP Photo

On offense, War Eagle has shown better offensive balance than Sir Edmund Hillary, led by Baylor transfer, QB Jarrett Stidham (11 TDs – 3 Ints – 66%) who gets a huge assist from a pair of pile driving tailbacks Kerryon Johnson (15 TDs), and Kim Martin, along with two glue-fingered receivers; Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton.
The nation’s ninth stingiest (16) D, featuring the backer trio; Deshaun Davis, Darrell Williams, and Jefferson Holland (11 tfls -8 sacks), are as ferocious as former DNC Chair Donna Brazile defending her right to write her own book about the disastrous 2016 Presidential Democrat campaign.
In a game that could rock the playoff and national rankings, as well as kill the dream of having a pair of SEC teams invited to the playoff, we think the Dawgs, in a tight battle, continues its Armageddon march toward the SEC Championship in a state of perfection.
No. 8 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma (FOX, 8 p.m.) In Fort Worth, Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are just like its mascot’s name sake, ornery and willing to battle regardless of the size of its predator.


TCU QB Kenny Hill                                                   AP photo

These “Sons of Johnny Vaught” are commanded by its dual-threat Texas A&M transfer QB Kenny Hill (15 TDs -5 Ints -68%), who in a second opportunity has performed with the coolness of Bogart in the closing scene of “Casablanca,” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” but with the tenacity and toughness of a high-steel iron worker.
The Purple Frogs marksman is assisted by a chain moving committee of receivers; Desmon White, KaVontae Turpin, John Diarse, and Jalen Reagor, while tailbacks Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua are simply adequate movers of the earth.
As always, the strength of most Patterson coached teams is its D, and this edition of the “Sons of Jerry Hughes,” the nation’s sixth (13) stingiest, anchored by ends Ben Banogu (12.5 tfls – 6.5 sacks) and Matt Boesen, [note; safety Nick Orr is out] sits on top stoning runners, allowing a microscopic 69-yds per game, but has shown some cracks defending against the pass which is not a winning formula to employ against OU.
In Norman, with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein “OOOOKlaaahoooma! Where the wins keep sweepin’ down the plain” these “Sons of Barry Switzer” have put on a better offensive show than George Patton busting through the German lines at Bastogne.
The Sooners possess Elle MacPherson numbers; third in the country in scoring (45), tops in total offense, and like Marty Walsh’s reelection numbers, top the ticket in passing averaging an astounding eye-popping 395-yards a game.


OU Heisman leading contender QB Baker Mayfield            AP photo

The chief bombardier of this offensive assault is the leading Heisman contender, QB Baker Mayfield (28 TDs-5 Ints -71%), who is 13-0 in his career on the road, and has better accuracy than Wyatt Earp at the shootout at the O.K. Corral.
The OU sharpshooter has the luxury of choosing from a quartet of dry aged, filet-quality receivers: Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Jeff Badet, and tight end Mark Andrews, all of whom are capable of slicing a defense, while the running game continues to improve on the capable legs of Trey Sermon.
But as Jesse Jackson is prone to say; “the issue” for the Sooners and its faithful has been its “ole style” defense (87th), which would be better served in bullring of Madrid’s iconic Plaza de Toros Las Ventas.
These Swiss cheese devotees led by backers; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (14 tfls-8 sacks), Emmanuel Beal, and Kenneth Murray, sinks to 75th in points (28) allowed, a near bottom-feeding 110th in defending the pass, and has more holes than the tainted cases at the State’s drug lab.
Despite all of that incompetency, we still think the Sooners, especially in Norman manage to keep its playoff candle in bright Ben Franklin glow, as “Ooooklahooooma” sweeps to another committee worthy victory.
No. 13 Michigan State at No. 11 Ohio State (FOX, Noon) With first place in the Big Ten East, and an opportunity to likely play in the conference championship game riding on its outcome, this game will have more hits than a Motown convention. [Note; since 2008 the visiting team has won the last seven meetings.]
Despite the fact that the Spartans offense sputters (96th in scoring – 24 pts. a game) more than a speech delivered by Ed Markey, it’s starting QB, sophomore Brian Lewerke (16 TDs-5 Ints -61%) is a star in the making and has given its faithful renewed optimism.
Their talented commander is assisted by a solid earth mover in tailback L.J. Scott, while a trio of wideouts led by touchdown making Felton Davis (8 TDs) are comforting targets.
And as with every Mark Dantonio coached team, Sparty’s D remains the leader of the hit parade.


Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie                AP photo

These “Sons of Duffy Daugherty” ranked twelfth overall are anchored by backers Joe Bachie, Andrew Dowell, and end Kenny Willekes (10 tfls – 4 sacks) and hits with the same constant force of Hurricane Irma rolling through Puerto Rico, making them a challenging curtain of iron for the Bucks to try and penetrate.
After last week’s stunning stumbling and bumbling debacle in Iowa City, the entire membership of Buckeye nation remains in concussion protocol.
The Scarlet and Grey faithful watched in horror as its hopes for a playoff invite disappeared faster than the Administration’s Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci.
The shocking beat-down left Urban Meyer in the unusual, and totally unexpected position of having to rally the troops to focus on, for OSU, a much smaller prize; capturing the Big Ten East Division, which could lead to a Big Ten Championship title consolation prize.


Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett                                    AP photo

But the question once again hanging in the air over Columbus, especially when the magnitude of the game is Prudential-sized, will its leader QB J.T. Barrett be ready for prime time?
The former Heisman contending QB (28 TDs-5 Ints-67%) has shown the ability to hit his target with more precision than a US Air Force fighter pilot, but has been as erratic and mercurial as the man presently occupying the Oval Office when the pile of chips in the pot grows exponentially.
This commander of the nation’s fifth highest scoring (43) squad, is assisted by his All-America caliber tailback J. K. Dobbins (914 rushing yards – 7 yds. a pop), and a trio of receivers Trey McClaurin, K.J. Hill, and Parris Campbell, each of whom has the ability to instantly change a game.
On D, these “Sons of Antoine Winfield” anchored by end Nick Bosa (10.5 tfls-4 sacks), his partner Sam Hubbard, and backer Jerome Baker attack the opposition’s QB with the same intensity as the Catalonians storming Madrid’s Palacio de las Cortes.
In a game that will rattle more bones than the interconnecting chains locked around Marley’s ghost in Dickens “Christmas Carol,” we think Meyer’s Boys find a way to bounce back, and take control of the East Division of the Big Ten.
No. 25 IOWA at No. 6 Wisconsin (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) The Hawkeyes are like everyone’s single, stoic, square-jawed, clear-eyed, brown-suit attired uncle, who visits once a year to share in Thanksgiving dinner.
He might not be flashy, but in a pinch he’s more dependable than the “Eveready Bunny.”


Iowa tailback Akrum Wadley                                    AP photo

A pair of Hawkeyes epitomize that description, Coach Kirk Ferentz, and his tone-setting, bruising tailback Akrum Wadley, who pounds opponents with the relentless punishing force reminiscent of Earl Campbell.
The director of Iowa’s Jurassic (102nd) offense is its talented sophomore QB Nate Stanley (22 TDs – 4 Ints – 58%) who in addition to Wadley, has a trio of chain-moving targets; Nick Easley, Noah Fant (7 TDs) and tight end Matt Vandeberg on which to focus.
On D, the “Sons of Alex Karras” led by linebacker Josey Jewell (9.5 tfls), an All-America tackling machine, with partners Bo Bower, Ben Niemann, and end Parker Hess, might not be as dominating as Vladimir Putin commanding a Moscow stage, but makes its opponents pay a price for every yard it earns.
In Mad-Town, Coach Paul Chryst’s undefeated Badgers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the college football world.
Wiscy may be a perfect 9-0, but in the eyes of its critics, and more importantly the playoff committee, it carries, at least for now, as much credibility as Lance Armstrong or Bernie Madoff as a true playoff contender. (We shall see, we’re not buying.)


Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor                             AP photo



Wisconsin’s Camp Randall signature ground assault revolves around its All-America contending tailback Jonathan Taylor (1368 yards, 7.2 yds., 12 TDs), the nation’s third ranked rusher, who is also deserving of some Heisman love.
But the Badgers bottom feeding (92nd) passing attack directed by its turnover machine QB Alex Hornibrook (15 TDs -9 Ints-64%) is further compromised with the loss of its top receiver; Quintez Cephus.
The nation’s fourth (13) stingiest D, led by safety D’Cota Dixon (leg-questionable), and backers Ryan Connelly, and T.J. Edwards stones runners (87 yds. a game) snuffs the pass, and is harder to penetrate than the internal financial statements of the Clinton Foundation.
This will be another “Hagler versus Hearns” black and blue Big Ten slugfest, (they all are in November) and we think the Wisconsin Dangerfield’s come away with the victory, earning a tad more national, and more importantly, committee respect.
Last week: 4-1
Season record: 35-15.
That’s it from cyber-space. We’ll be up and running with our recap Sunday afternoon. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk

Iowa stuns Ohio State, Michigan State stifles Penn State, Wisconsin, Miami remain undefeated

Saturday’s surprising results are best captured by the classic lyrics of Marvin Gaye; “Tell me what’s going on?” as it was another Temptation’s “Ball of Confusion” weekend in the national and playoff rankings.

There is only one place to start, and that is Iowa City and the Hawkeyes of Iowa, who in stunning fashion demolished the Buckeyes of Ohio State; 55-24.  DOUBLE YIKES!!


Iowa fans storm field after upsetting Ohio State                     AP photo

It was the most points surrendered by the Bucks in the Urban Meyer era, and the clobbering not only ended Ohio State’s dream of being invited to the playoff dance, it also snuffed any hopes that its QB J.T. Barrett may have entertained (4-picks – which is the most by an OSU QB since G.H.W. Bush was saying “Read my lips …” – 1990) of winning the Heisman.

Maybe it was the karma of the newest tradition at Kinnick Stadium which was indirectly started by Hawkeye fan Krista Young from a simple message on Facebook.

Last spring she posted; “With the new U of I hospital addition, Kinnick should hold a ‘wave to the kids’ minute during every game.”



Iowa fans waving to hospital kids                                    AP photo

The idea caught the imagination of the Hawkeye fans and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

During the first game of the year at the end of the first quarter, all 70,000-plus rose as one and for a long sustained moment waved to the kids looking out the floor to ceiling windows of the 12th floor that panoramically overlook the stadium, and the “wave” is now a permanent part of the Iowa football experience.

“The coolest thing about it, is that it’s such a grass-roots thing,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.  Someone had the idea, and the thing just took off.”

Just like his Hawkeyes, who thanks to its Saturday’s performance nudged its way into a 25th spot in the AP rankings.  Good for Iowa, but way better for the kids on the 12th floor.

From corn country, we move to the grittiness of East Lansing, where the “Little engine that could”   AKA Michigan State (3-9 last season) scarred the visitors from Penn State, after a 3-hour and 23-minute weather delay, with its second consecutive loss courtesy of  Matt Coghlin’s game ending 34-yard winning field goal; 27-24.



Michigan State players celebrate victory over Penn State                  AP photo

The Spartans victory also ended any plans the Nittany Lions may have had for a playoff invite, and Mark Dantonio is deserving of some Coach of the Year votes.

Staying in the Big Ten, the “smart kids” AKA Northwestern University set an FBS record by winning its third consecutive overtime game, this time taking out the Cornhuskers of Nebraska in Lincoln; 31-24.

The Cats, who have now run four in-a-row, are bowl eligible for the 14th time in program history.  Good for them, and its Coach Pat Fitzgerald quietly one of the best in the nation.

Staying locally, it was another good day for the former Silver Lake Regional teammates; as both Harvard’s Tim Murphy, and Dartmouth’s Buddy Teevens enjoyed a victorious sunny Saturday afternoon.


Irish QB Brandon Wimbush                               AP photo

Shifting to South Bend, the Irish, who moved into the 3rd spot in the AP rankings, were one of the teams that held serve, running and winning its seventh straight defeating the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in a shootout; 48-37.

It now seems a safe bet, that if (and there are a couple of substantial landmines including this coming Saturday) the Irish win out, it will be receiving a coveted invite into the playoff tournament.

Coach Brian Kelly is another top candidate for Coach of the Year.

In Stillwater, at “Boone Pickens U,” AKA Oklahoma State, a tag-rush game broke out at what was supposed to be a football game, as the visiting Sooners of Oklahoma hung on for an absurd “points-a-palooza” 62-52 victory in the Bedlam Game.

It was obvious that both teams, which combined for 1446-total yards, lived by the ole mantra; “We don’t need no stinking defense.”


Oklahoma’s Heisman contending QB Baker Mayfield                AP photo

In this game, both Heisman contending QB’s; the Sooners Baker Mayfield, and the Pokes Mason Rudolph, threw 5- touchdown apiece, while Baker set a program record of 598- passing yards.

Rumor has it the stadium’s scoreboard electrician had replaced the bulbs displaying the score three times!!

The Sooners, who are now 15-1 in Bedlam when both teams are ranked, remain very much in the playoff conversation.

In Coral Gables, it was the impressive performance by the Canes defense which shut down the visitors from Blacksburg 28-10.

The victory was also Miami’s nation’s best 13th in a row, which sets up next week’s showdown with Notre Dame.  Good for good guy Coach Mark Richt whose team has a more than a punchers chance of earning a playoff spot.

The undefeated Badgers of Wisconsin, the last best hope for the Big Ten in sending a team to the playoff sits 9-0 for the first time since the last year of W’s first term – 2004.

But with this weekend’s losses by Ohio State, and Penn State, the Big Ten’s foundation as a top conference was seriously weakened, which means there is no guarantee that an undefeated Wiscy will earn a coveted playoff invite.

The other fly-in-the-ointment team laying in the weeds is the Tigers of Auburn 42-27 winners over Texas A&M.


Auburn knocks off Texas A@M                                               AP photo

If the “Sons of Bo” win out, it will have beaten, Georgia, Alabama, and Georgia again in the SEC Championship game, and will have a resume almost as stellar as presidential contender Bobby Kennedy to be a playoff invitee.  We don’t expect that to happen, but based on the results of the last two week’s anything is possible.

In Raleigh, Clemson, the defending national champs, hung on for a hard fought 38-31 victory over NC State keeping the Tigers on a path to the playoff.  It also appears that its igniter QB Kelly Bryant is fully recovered from a balky ankle sprain.

In Athens, the Bulldogs, in a very ironworker like performance, simply took care of business defeating the visitors from Columbia, the Gamecocks of South Carolina; 24-10.

The victory cemented the SEC East title for the “Sons of Hershel Walker” its first since the days when Ronald Reagan was reminiscing about his time as host of “Death Valley Days” sponsored by “Twenty Mule Team Borax” in the Oval Office – 1982.  WOW!

Hail the Cadets of Army, who in dominating fashion whitewashed the Falcons of the Air Force Academy 20-0 (ending Air Force’s 306-game scoring streak which stretches all the way back to 1992) in a game in which the “Sons of Doc Blanchard” never attempted a pass.


Army moves to 7-2 and shuts out Air Force                                AP photo

The Cadets who are now a spectacular 7-2, have a legitimate chance of capturing the Commander and Chief Trophy when its faces Navy in early December.

Hats off to the West Pointers Coach Jeff Monken, who is also deserving of some serious Coach of the Year consideration.  Good for the Long Grey Line.

And finally, we close as always with our gas-bag bloviating pal Charlie Weis, and the woeful Jayhawks of Kansas (1-8), arguably the worst program in the FBS, who in a season low, and there have been a lot of lows, lost once again, this time to previously winless Baylor; 30-3.



Former Kansas Coach Charlie Weis AP photo

It was the first time in at least 16-years that a team that came into a game winless (0-8), and listed as a favorite on the road.

KU, under the tenure of Coach David Beaty, is now a pitiful 3-30, losers of 8 in-a-row, while the “Sons of Mark Mangino” are a putrid fish-rotting 1-29 against non FCS foes.  It’s only FBS victory somehow coming last year against Texas.

To add to the Dantean misery, it was the Jayhawks third consecutive game without scoring a touchdown, as Kansas has now lost 60 of its last 72.

As Mr. Rogers might ask; “Can you say hopeless?  Sorry Charlie!

That’s it from cyber-space.  We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 11 Wednesday evening.  Until then, Peace, and listen to the music.  PK

Oklahoma visits Ok State in elimination game, VaTech travels to Miami, LSU plays Alabama



Broken Harvard Stadium coach’s booth window                   AP photo

We begin this week with a coach, a punch, a broken window, a glass shower, and a police escort.

Last week at Harvard Stadium, Dartmouth’s defense quality control coach Dion King took out his frustrations on the booth window after the Crimson’s recovery of the Big Green’s fumbled punt.

That can happen when your team blows a chance to end what is now a 14-game losing streak against Harvard.

The glass showered down on some of the fans, cutting one on the neck, and leaving everyone sitting under the window covered in shards of glass.  Security was called to escort Mr. King out of stadium.

Classy Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens apologized for the incident saying; “We failed to conduct ourselves appropriately, and I apologize wholeheartedly,” said the coach.

This weekend, let’s see which teams appear as fragile as broken glass, and which need of a police escort to safely escape the wrath of its rival’s fans, after another convincing victory.

No. 19 LSU at No. 1 Alabama (Ch. 4, 8 p.m.) The first meeting between these bone rattling SEC rivals occurred during the Administration of Grover Cleveland – 1935.  And in the 82nd renewal, Alabama which holds a 50-25-5 advantage, has captured the last half-dozen in a row.



LSU Coach Ed Orgeron                                      AP photo

In Baton Rouge, the pitch-fork brigade that was demanding the head of its newly minted Coach Ed Orgeron has retreated into the Jambalaya underground (at least for the moment), as the Tigers have spun off a three-game winning streak, and grabbed a spot inside the top-20.

A key factor in that LSU mini-resurgence is the return to its roots, namely a ground and pound running attack anchored by its All-America caliber tailback Derrius Guice, who runs with the same evil intent that Donald Trump carries toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller or his “lying” former campaign “volunteer” George Papadopoulos. [Bumper sticker: elect a clown, expect a circus.]

But as its faithful are well aware, the Tigers passing attack, under the direction of its senior QB Danny Etling (9 TDs – 1 Int-60%), is weaker than the US aide response to Puerto Rico.

But when the Bayou signal-caller’s GPS is in working order, wideout D.J. Chark, who averages a jaw-dropping 24-yards a grab, is as welcoming a target as a FEMA agent opening an office in a flooded Houston neighborhood, and is potential game changer.

On D, these “Sons of Booger McFarland” led by backer Devin White (7.5 tfls – 2.5 sacks), end Christian LaCouture (6 tfls -4.5 sacks), and tackle Greg Gilmore (5 tfls -4.5 sacks), is stellar (13th) deflating the pass, but is as is mired in Ed Markey mediocrity (47th) slowing the run, which is the wrong recipe against Alabama.

In Tuscaloosa, Groucho’s Boys have seemingly occupied the top spot in the rankings longer than Johnny Carson was the king of late night television.


Alabama’s All-America safety Minkah Fitzpatrick               AP photo

We’ll begin with the “Title-Towner’s” D, the nation’s stingiest (9.8 ppg.) ranked first overall, and harder to penetrate than the records of all Trump Corporation loans negotiated from the oligarchs of Russia.

This Fort Knoxian eleven, anchored by All-America safety Minkah Fitzpatirck, his partner Ronnie Harrison, and backer Shaun Dion Hamilton, stones runners (a nation topping 66-ypg.) and deflates (10th) passes, while hitting with more authority than the Sister Ester Marie’s angered pointer over a silly misplaced comma in the middle of a chalked three panel blackboard solving a quadratic equation.

Bama often overlooked offense, fifth (43) in scoring, is under the steady command of its dual-threat Omar “Honest Mechanic” Bradley-esque QB, Jalen Hurts (9 TDs-1 Int – 62% – 6 rushing), with huge assists from a pair of All-Americas; tailback Damien Harris (8.6 yds. a carry – 10 TDs), and defense stressing wideout Calvin Ridley.

The Baton Rouge Pitchfork Association will remain silent, after all, LSU is a 21-point dog, but that doesn’t mean the Tide will take prisoners.  As Steely Dan wrote: “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide.”  Roll Tide!

No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 9 Miami (Ch. 5, 8 p.m.) Both of these squads would be great contestants on the classic television game show: “To Tell the Truth.”

The reason; despite their glowing records, we still don’t know who’s real or Memorex, but by late Saturday night we should have a good answer.

Coach Justin Fuente’s Hokies are under the command of its superb r-shirt freshman QB Josh Jackson (17 TDs -4 Ints – 62%) who steers the VTech’s offense with the same steely verve as the “Flying Scot” Sir Jackie Stewart downshifting at the Grand Prix of Monaco.


VaTech QB Josh Jackson                              AP photo

The Blacksburg marksman is assisted by his starry wideout Cam Phillips (6 TDs), mixed with a pair of pedestrian tailbacks Travon McMillan, and Deshawn McClease, both of whom average 5-yards a carry.

On D, these “Sons of Bruce Smith,” the nation’s second (11.5) stingiest, and anchored by backers Tremaine Edmunds (6.5 tfls), Andrew Motuapuaka (7 tfls), and corner Mook Reynolds (8 tfls), swarm to the ball with the same high-energy intensity of the media storming the US District Court of the District of Columbia to catch a glimpse of Paul Manafort and his attorney pleading not guilty to the conspiracy, and money laundering charges.

In Coral Gables, Coach Mark Richt’s Hurricanes have been storming up the rankings, remaining one of only four Power-5 schools still carrying a Cover Girl (blemish-free) record.

A key ingredient in that success has been Miami’s opportunistic D, which sits second in the ACC with 16-turnovers, and features backers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pickney, and safety Jaquan Johnson.

Those game shifting recoveries have been critical in hiding the deficiencies of a defense that struggles mightily (82nd) stopping the run.  It has so far helped the Canes to avoid all the hidden landmines.

These “Cardiac” “Sons of George Mira” are directed by its talented junior QB (shoulder) Malik Rosier (17 TDs – 4 Ints -56%) who has been as cool and collected as Paul Newman in the “Sting.”


Miami QB Malik Rosier                                    AP photo

The escape artist is assisted by a pair of field stretchers; wideout Braxton Berrios (6 TDs), and tight end Christopher Herndon, while backup, now starting tailback Travis Homer (6-yds. a pop) has shown breakaway ability.

We think the Hurricane warning flags are lowered, as the Blacksburg visitors dance out of Hard Rock Stadium to the tune of; “Hokie, Hokie, Hoki, HI!” as VaTech  continues to make noise in the ACC.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 20 North Carolina State (Ch.5, 3:30p.m.) This isn’t your grandfather’s Clemson.

The high-flying pyrotechnics and video game scoring of the last two years have been replaced by a squad (219 yards rushing – 226 passing) that has better balance than Nadia Comaneci’s perfect-10 gold-medal balance beam performance in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.



Clemson QB Kelly Bryant                                 AP photo

The new director of the defending national champions is dual-threat QB Kelly Bryant (6 TDs -4 Ints – 67% – 7 rushing) whose leadership is something that has been sorely lacking in the Oval Office.

The Death Valley commander is assisted by a quartet of tailbacks featuring his rocket-propelled freshman tailback Travis Etienne (8.4-yds. a pop – 7 TDs), who is a consistent break-away threat every time he touches the ball, and when he takes a blow Tavien Feaster is his equally effective partner.

When the Tigers go aerial, Bryant has the luxury of focusing on a trio of receivers: Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain, and Ray-Ray McCloud all of whom have better hands than All-State.

The nation’s sixth (13) stingiest D, led by backers Dorien O’Daniel (8.5 tfls – 5 –sacks), Kendall Joseph, J.D. Davis, and end Austin Bryant (13.5 tfls (tied 8th) – 6.5 sacks) stone runners and deflate passers with more disruption than Kate Upton sauntering up the aisle to her World Series seat, and its performance will ultimately decide the season-ending landing spot for the Tigers.

In Raleigh, with Halloween still in the rear view mirror, it appears as if the once sparkling NC State carriage is morphing into a moldy pumpkin.


NC State QB Ryan Finley                                                        AP photo

The surprising Wolfpack is piloted by its starry dart-thrower, QB Ryan Finley (12-TDs – 1 Int – 66%), who hits his target with more precision of a laser eye surgeon.

The Tobacco Road tosser is assisted by a pair of solid tailbacks; Nyheim Hines (6 TDs), and Reggie Gallaspy, while receivers Jaylen Samuels, Kelvin Harmon, and Jakobi Meyers are quality chain-movers.

On D, these “Sons of Ray Agnew” led by its All-America disruptor end Bradley Chubb (17 tfls (2nd)- 7.5 sacks), along with backer Jerod Fernandez, and  safety Jarius Morehead, are stout in stopping the run, but a bottom feeding 108th defending against the pass which leaves one with an unsavory taste in facing Clemson.

The Tigers leave tobacco country with victory cigars alighted, and move another rung closer to a playoff invite.

No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State (FS1, 4 p.m.) This year’s 112th edition of the “Bedlam Game” is a virtual playoff elimination game, with the loser falling by the wayside, while the winner lives to fight another day.

The analysis of this game is simple: with both teams employing defenses that are better suited for a Spanish matador in Seville’s iconic Maestranza bull ring, the last team possessing the ball is the likely winner.

It may also be a Heisman elimination game, although it wouldn’t surprise, if both QB’s throw for over 400-yards and 4 TDs.

With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein, “O000klahomaaaa where the ‘wins’ come sweeping down the plain,’ is in control of its own destiny; if it wins out, it punches its playoff ticket courtesy of its decisive victory over Ohio State in Columbus in week two.


Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield                              AP photo

These Norman invaders, the nation’s sixth highest (42) scoring eleven, are ignited by its All-America Heisman contending QB Baker Mayfield (23 TDs- 3 Ints -72%), who drops more precision placed bombs than General Curtis LeMay.

The OU sharpshooter, who also causes havoc with his legs, is assisted by a quartet of receivers; Mark Andrews, CeeDee Lamb, Jeff Badet, and Marquise Brown, all of whom average over 16-yards a catch, and are capable of gashing any defense especially one as limestone-porous as Ok State.

When the Sooners call a changeup and plow the earth, tailbacks Trey Selmon, Abdul Adams, and Rodney Anderson have quietly combined for; 1364-yds and 7 TDs.

On D, these “Sons of Lee Roy Selmon” behind backers Emmanuel Beal, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (13 tfls-7 sacks), and Kenneth Murray are as weak (88th) defending against the pass, as the Democrats trying to establish a coherent and resonating party message, which is not a winning recipe against the Pokes.

The Cowboys headman Mike Gundy (who would be a great choice at Tennessee) perfectly captured the intensity of this rivalry when he said; “Without a pro football team in the state, everyone goes to work this week, wearing either orange or red.”

Well the faithful, especially Boone “Mr. Oklahoma State” Pickens are hoping they won’t be seeing red at games end.


OkState QB Mason Rudolph                                    AP photo

The country’s fourth (44) highest scoring squad is led by its dynamic Heisman contending QB Mason Rudolph (22 TDs -5 Ints – 65%), who hits his target with more accuracy than the finger of WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointing at a sitting reporter.

The leather-tough signal caller is assisted by a pair of slithering tailbacks Justice Hill, and J.D. King, while All-World wideout James Washington (22 yds a catch), and his partners Marcell Ateman, and Jalen McCleskey, are as dangerous as a Taliban attack on an Iraqi Army outpost.

These “Sons of Jerry Sherk” featuring backer Justin Phillips (7 tfls), safety Tre Flowers, and backer Chad Whitener have tightened, but still struggle (79th) defending against the pass which is usually a losing formula against OU.

In a game in which points should pile up quicker than Jeff Bezos’ bank account, we think the visitors from Norman hold on for the win, and like the lyrics from the song’s classic song continues “sweeping” toward a potential playoff invite.

No. 23 Arizona at No. 17 USC (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) Nobody saw this coming, and that includes Nostradamus.

Coach Rich “RichRod” Rodriguez’s Desert Storm were picked by the experts to finish in the cellar of the Pac-12 South, but a funny thing happened on the way to mushroom irrelevancy; a wunderkind QB named Khalil Tate swooped in like Superman, rescued the Cats from oblivion, and in the process also saved the job of his coach.


Arizona QB Khalil Tate                                                 AP photo

When Arizona lost its top two signal callers to injury, it forced Rodriguez to turn to his then 18-year old sophomore QB, who in a series of Mozart-like performances, has become one of the best stories in college football.

He also became the first player to win the “Pac-12 player of the week” award for four consecutive weeks, and in his first game, set the FBS rushing record for quarterbacks churning out an eye-popping; 372-yards.

It’s almost as if the kid, who directs the nation’s third (45) highest scoring eleven made a Joe Boyd “Damn Yankees,” pact with the devil.

But whatever the scenario, in those four starts, the turbo-charged QB has in Norman Bates fashion slashed through opposing defenses for; 840-yards, and 8 TDs, averaging 14-yards a carry, and leading Arizona, the nation’s fifth best (333 ypg.) rushing attack, to four consecutive victories, and more importantly bowl eligibility.

The AU game-changer is assisted by tailbacks J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Dawkins, while receivers Tony Ellison, Shaun Brown, and tight end Bryce Brown have played strong supporting roles in this Tempe resurgence.

But as the faithful are well aware, Arizona’s bottom feeding (108th) D, led by backer Tony Fields, corner Lorenzo Burns, and end Kylan Wilborn (8 tfls – 6 sacks) is weaker than Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s hold on the office, sitting an embarrassing 127th defending against the pass, which is not a winning formula against Southern Cal.

Last week in L.A. USC was muddled in a deep funk after being smacked around by Notre Dame and in desperate need of a booster shot as its season was seemingly slipping off the precipice.

The boost came by way of an impromptu meeting between Captain Chris Hawkins and his head coach Clay Helton.


USC head man Clay Helton                             AP photo

The safety told his coach that the team was tight, and beginning to split apart into a bunch of individuals and overall losing its identity as a team.

The USC’s headman, who keeps an open door policy, listened intently, and responded at the next day’s practice with music blaring, then instead of a Friday walk-through had his players watch clips of former USC legends pointing out their smiles and how much they seemed to be and enjoying themselves on the football field.

It relaxed the entire team, as USC went out and played its best game of the season.

Despite being a one man turnover machine, QB Sam Darnold (20 TDs -10 ints- 62%) remains the undisputed leader of the Men of Troy.

The future Sunday performer is assisted by his speedy road burner tailback Ronald Jones (6.7 yds a carry – 10 TDs), while receivers Deontay Burnett (8 TDs), Tyler Vaughns and tight end Tyler Petite are better targets than a white supremacist at a black lives matter rally.

The D of these “Sons of Ronnie Lott” led by backers Porter Gustin, Cameron Smith, and safety MarVell Tell has as Jesse Jackson might say, “issues” against both the run and the pass, and overall has been almost as compromised as a Massachusetts drug crime lab.

We are looking forward to seeing the “Tempe Tasmanian” for the first time, but ultimately, we think the newly relaxed Surfers from L.A. hang-ten, and curl its way to the victory.

Last Week; 4-1

Season record: 31-14.

That’s it from cyber-space.  We’ll be up and running with our recap Sunday afternoon.  Until then, Peace, pray for New York, and listen to the music.  pk