Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Sunday Afternoon Tailback: Nuggets from Week 4

The Yogi Berra “It ain’t over until it’s over Award” goes to….It's a tie.  TCU and Florida.  TCU wins on the road against the Red Raiders with a tipped-for-a-TD pass and staved off a last-play Cal-Stanford-esque pass, catch and lateral by the Red Raiders.  Florida came from behind late in the 4thQtr. to win against Tennessee.  Gators QB Will Grier was 5 for 5 on 4th downs including a 4th down TD pass with 1:39 to go. The Vols got two last second chances for field goals (after FL coach Jim McElwain called a timeout just before the snap on the first one), missing both to the right.

 The 2nd place Yogi Berra “It ain’t over until it’s over Award” goes to…Adams St.  They won over Western St., 52-51, in OT.  It was close in total yards, too: Western St.: 622; Adams St.: 619. 

The Warner Wolf Award goes to…Southern VA.  If you had the Knights and 83, you lost!  Salisbury (VA) 91, Southern VA 7.

 You took the “Over,” right???  At the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, surrounded by the State Fair of Texas, Grambling 70, Prairie View A&M 54.  Vendors from the fried food stands outside the stadium may have applied some grease to the turf as the two teams also glided up and down the field for 1,136 yards of combined offense.

Hello?  Waldorf-Astoria???”   Yes, I need to book some rooms for the weekend of December 12th.  Oh, the name???  Better make it two names, Fournette and Miles.  LSU running back Leonard Fournette continued his Heisman quest by carrying 26 times for 244 and two TDs.  It’s the first time a Tiger running back has run for 200 yards in two consecutive games.  BTW---The Tigers have not turned over the ball in 12 consecutive quarters this season.

 “Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for “Bo.”  Jim Harbaugh’s yesteryear I-formation offense ran for 250, passed for 194 using a tailback, a fullback and a tight end.  Looking down from heaven, Bo Schembechler would also be proud of the Wolverines’ D that shutout the Cougars’ 30-points-per-game offense and held it to only 105 yards.

Looking ahead to next weekend…

Key games:   #6 Notre Dame @ #12 Clemson;  #13 Bama @ #8 Georgia;  #21 Miss. St. @ #14 Texas A&M *(Arlington, JerryWorld) and #3 Ole Miss @ #25 Florida.

For your CFB TV watching pleasure, the quintessential, easy-to-read guide:

And…the links no fan should be without:  Holly Anderson on Grantland… and her Twitter feed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

College football projections, Week 4: An homage to Yogi

“Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.”  #3 TCU @ Texas Tech (which should be ranked, but isn’t). The Ft. Worth Purple Lizards travel to the Panhandle this week to dosey-doe with the Red Raiders. Last year, the Frogs put 82 on Tech, winning by 55.  It was only the 7th time in the last 14 years a FBS team has scored 80+ in a game. It’s doubtful that Kliff Kingsbury and the Lubbock faithful have forgotten that.  The Raiders and the Frogs are both undefeated.  After last week’s win against Arkansas, Kingsbury talked about Brett Bielema and the Hogs “getting their asses beat,” a reference to a previous Bielema remark disparaging offenses that don’t use tight ends and fullbacks.  Revenge is a very powerful motivator.  Projected winner: Texas Tech.

 “It gets late early out here.”  #9 UCLA @ #16 Arizona.  Just about the time EDT and CDT fans begin to settle in for the back third of Saturday’s CFB games, things are just heating up out West.  The kids from Westwood head to Tucson with an intent on staying undefeated and getting their 1st PAC-12 win of the year.  The Bruins have won the previous three meetings with the Wildcats.  But, this year, the boys from Tinsel Town will find Rich Rod and the ‘Cats with a more powerful running game and a defense that’s taken the ball away from opponents six times leading to 42 points.  Projected winner: Arizona.

 “No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.  #18 Utah @ #13 Oregon.”  Long gone are the days when there were empty and cheap seats at Autzen Stadium.  $66.67 will get you a ticket 47 rows up in the corner for Saturday’s Utes-Beavers tussle.  The Utes are undefeated. The Ducks have one blemish—the loss to Sparty.  Two questions remain about the game: 1. What uniform configuration will the Ducks display?, and, 2. By how much will they win?  Projected winner:  Oregon.

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”  #8 LSU @ Syracuse.  Gus Malzahn said post-game in Baton Rouge late last Saturday afternoon, when asked about the Tigers’ Leonard Fournette, “He’s pretty good.”   To this point, that may qualify as the understatement of the season.  Unless the Tigers’ team buses take a wrong pre-game turn and end up in Rochester, and barring any injuries, Yogi’s axiom will hold true again this week, as Leonard dazzles once again. Projected winner:  LSU.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”   Is Auburn really that bad?  What about Texas?  Both are at home after tough losses.  Here are two teams that really need to answer the bell this weekend as they face a pair of states, Mississippi and Oklahoma, respectively.  But, I doubt they will.  Projected winners:  Mississippi State and Oklahoma State.

Now, some quick headlines…

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”  Both Bama and Ohio State each committed five turnovers last Saturday.  The Buckeyes got away with it, the Tide didn’t.  Both bounce back this weekend…but, against much lesser opponents.  Projected winners:  Bama over La-Monroe; Ohio St. over Western Michigan.

“Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.”   Rice @ #5 Baylor.  Note to Owls fans: There is no need to pack an overnight bag so you can stay over and party in Waco after Saturday’s game.  And, spending money on new luggage is a waste.  Projected winner:  Baylor.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.  Tennessee @ Florida. A buckskin clad Volunteer and his trusty dog Smokey travel to Gainesville this week to try to bag a Florida water lizard.  The Gators are quietly undefeated and unranked.  The Vols have only an OT loss to the Sooners. The only attention the teams are getting is from Verne, Gary and Allie.  Gators boss Jim McElwain will keep his cool on the sidelines long enough to send Vol fans heading to  the exits early.  Projected winner: Florida.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Sunday Afternoon Tailback

The latest AP Top 25 is out. OSU remains #1.  Mich. St. moves to 2nd.  Ole Miss, courtesy of the Mississippi Miracle in T-Town, rockets to 3rd, dropping Bama to 12th.  See the link for the others:

Reflections on Week 3:

 The Saturday night rock festival starring the North Mississippi All Stars and the Alabama Shakes.  Oh, pity those who let the on-screen programming guide set the record time on their DVRs for last night's Bama-Ole Miss affair in T-Town.  The official game length was 4:05.  If you saw it, then you know.  If not...well, you either had to be there or watch it on TV to see the craziness, the swings in MO, the big plays, the mistakes (by Bama), the Mississippi Miracle of a deflected no-way-the-ball-shoulda-been-thrown pass that turned into a spectacular TD for UM and the comebacks that weren't that made up what has now turned into a must-see game every year.

The Sabes is always saying you have to put yourself in a situation to have an opportunity for success.  The Tide didn't.  From the outset.  The Rebs did, from start to finish.  My last college roommate used to say, "If 'ifs' and 'buts' were candies and nuts, then we'd all have a Merry Christmas."   There was very little merry for the Tide and its fans last night.  Meanwhile, Ole Miss makes it two in a row against the Tide, ending a 27-year winning drought at Bryant-Denny, and has sent the team and its fans into delirium once again.

The Katrina Kid.  The next Bo Hershel-Marcus, apparently, really is LSU's Leonard Fournette.  After his first play 70-yard run, two other OMG TD runs and going 19 for 228--not playing the 4th Qtr., mind you---the young man who survived living with his family on a bridge for several days after Katrina slammed his hometown of New Orleans made it look like running the ball down Auburn's throat was no big deal.

The Macbethian Principle.  After Saturday afternoon's shellacking of the Auburn Tigers by LSU's Panthera Tigris species, Coach Gus said post-game that every position will be under evaluation. Adding to the beat-down, Aub's performance against Jax St. last week, as Bill Shakespeare wrote, t'wer well it were done quickly.  Next up: Miss. St. at Jordan-Hare.

OH!-io State of uncertainty.  Just when it looked like the Buckeyes depth at QB and the Heismanesque running of Zeke Elliott would squash the MAC rebellion of upsets, the Buckeyes commit five turnovers and let N. Ill. stick around way too long (late 3rd Qtr.) before getting an INT for a TD and ultimately putting this one in the "W" column.  AND--after Cardale throws two picks, he's replaced by J.T. Barrett, who throws one of his own.  This one should light up the phones on the radio sports shows in Ohio this week.

Now, some quick headlines...

Coach Jim Bob went 6-3 this week, picking OSU, LSU, ND, UCLA, GA and Texas Tech.  Losers were: Bama, USC and Texas. 

Games to watch next Saturday:  It is not--NOT-- a great lineup, but, for the sake of seeing who's improved or worsened,  Coach Jim Bob recommends, LSU @ Syracuse; Western Michigan @ OSU; The Vols @ The Gators; OK ST @ Texas; TCU @ Tx Tech; Vandy @ Ole Miss; Miss. St. @ Auburn; UCLA @ AZ and USC @ AZ ST.  The best, simplest CFB TV guide that Coach Jim Bob has used for years:

Next Saturday's picks:  They'll be posted late Thursday night.

Winners and Losers in Week 3 of the CFB season….

Coach Jim Bob Sez…

Winners and Losers in Week 3 of the CFB season….



      1.       Callin’ Baton Rouge.  They play this Garth Brooks song on the PA system in Tiger Stadium for LSU home games.  The crowd loves it.  The lyrics to the second verse begin with, “A replay of last night's events roll through my mind.”  When they replay the highlights of Saturday afternoon’s LSU-Auburn game on TV Saturday night and Sunday morning---guess who’ll have won???  The Tigers.  The ones in purple and gold.  Why???  Because zen master Les will make sure running back Leonard Fournette gets the balls about 32 times.  Winner: LSU.


2.       Give Ireland back to the Irish.  It’s a McCartney song.  In South Bend on Saturday, the “Sherman, set the Way-Back Machine for 1971” Ga Tech Yellerjackets bring their 20th Century Wishbone-esque offense to town.  They’ll try to disrupt the luck of the Irish who are now sans QB Malik Zaire and running back Tarean Foster.  As the Coach would say, not so fast.  The Irish defense prevails.  Winner: Notre Dame.


3.       Do you want fries with that Big Mac?  The Holy S#@! wins by MAC teams of the last two weeks will end Saturday in Columbus when the Buckeyes relegate N. Ill. and MAC fans from the McD’s dining room to the drive-thru.  After the shock-and-awe that Cardale and Zeke hand out, the Huskies will choose to settle for post-game items off the “dollar menu,” not the much higher priced big board.  ‘Cause  they ain’t gonna have much of an appetite after the beatdown.  Winner: OSU.


4.       I’m down with my…..  The Ole Miss traveling Grove-on-the-road party brings its Hoddy-Toddiness to T-Town Satiddy night. The Rebel fans should bring along lots of Mint Juleps, ‘cause they’re likely to need them.  Especially about late 3rd quarter when the Sabes smells blood in the Bryant-Denny crimson water and becomes even more intent on revenge after last year’s loss in Oxford.  Since ’07, The Sabes is 9-1 against teams he lost to the year before.  And, Sir Lane-a-lot will unleash Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake in the same backfield (YouTube last week’s Bama game) as he continues to rejoice in his latest Reggie-Lindell duo.  The Tide D has this song they like to have played on the PA before they take the field. It’s a C Murder tune, “Down with My N……”  Oh, they don’t play the lyrics, just the melody.  That oughta be enough. Winner: Bama.


5.       Keep Austin Weird. That’s the city slogan. Seriously. How fitting for the clash of the karmas in Austin as Cal-Berkley comes to San Francisco’s branch office in the Southwest (I have that copyrighted, so use it at your own peril.).  The 2-0 Bears will quickly ascertain that fall has not arrived in the ATX.   Under a blazing mid-September sun, the Horns will attempt to erase some doubts after the loss to ND and the win against Rice in which they were out-offensed 442-277.  The Owls also had the ball 44:02.  But, after a late-night arrival at SFO, the Bears will likely be remembering the immortal words of The Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”  Winner: Texas 

And, now, some quick headlines

 What would Mr. Cool do?  Arkansas @ Texas Tech.  Kliff Kingsbury, the winner of the Ryan Gosling look-alike contest (NCAA coaches division) unleashes his Texas Tech aerial circus on a still-reeling Arkansas that’s suffering from a bloated tummy courtesy of a Big MAC.  Winner:  The Red Raiders.

The Ghost of Lewis Grizzard.  South Carolina @ GA.  The late, great Southern journalist/humorist’s ashes are scattered beneath the Sanford stadium grass.  Lewis loved the Dawgs.  And watching his beloved Dawgs between the hedges.  Steve and the ‘Cocks won’t.  Winner: Gawjuh.

I love L.A.   Stanford @ USC.  Sing along with me, now….Century Boulevard (We love it) Victory Boulevard (We love it)  Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it) Sixth Street (We love it, we love it) We love L.A.  …Eh, not so fast Cardinal fans.  Winner: USC.

Babes in Lotusland.  BYU @ UCLA.  The Cougars’ QB, 22-year old freshman (mission trips will age you) Tanner Mangum, is the off-the-bench player of the year. The Bruins’ freshman, so-far, sensation Josh Rosen is lighting up the Rose Bowl.  UCLA is #10; BNYU is #19.  Nine place differential.  Hmmmm.  Bruins by 9. Winner UCLA.