PD’s Picks & Pans: Rivalry Week
Well race fans, the season gets for reals this week for most of the big programs in the country. In the SEC, the season started months ago, but for a big part of the Power 5, this is it, the middle of a 2-3 week span of big boy football. Playoff implications abound.
#8 Ohio State at #10 Michigan (12:00 pm, ABC)
Papa John’s has been put on notice. Shelley Meyer has dialed 9 and 1 and is waiting with her finger hovering over the 1. Last week Urban Meyer moved another step closer to another sudden attack of having to spend more time with his family by hanging out in Bristol, Connecticut at the ESPN studios for a year. And the Buckeyes didn’t just lose to Sparty: despite just a three-point game, they were actually slaughtered. The 14 points OSU scored were on drives of 32 yards and 6 yards. And it took them 10 plays to get those 32 yards. The Buckeyes got just 5 first downs. THE Ohio State University tallied a grand total of 132 yards of offense the entire day: 86 on the ground and 46 through the air. It was statistically the WORST performance an Urban Meyer offense has ever had in his head coaching career. Now OSU gets to take that white hot mess of an offense against the #2 defense in the nation when they face Michigan Saturday – a team that has tossed three shutouts this season and held two other opponents to just one scoring play.
On top of this, two of their star players announced they were going to pro just minutes after the game, while the erstwhile Heisman Trophy candidate running back added to his announcement that his coaching staff are morons who lost the game because they don’t know how to call plays. As always, the Buckeyes have it backwards. When your team is in need of a pressure release, it’s supposed to be the coaches who say crazy things to put the media attention on them and away from the team issues, and let the players recover out of the heat lamp of media scrutiny….you’re not supposed to have the players say crazy things about the coaches to put the media focus squarely on the team issues.
Cast your mind back to Urban Meyer’s 2009 Florida Gators. That team corroded from the inside with star players Cadillacing it through the second half of the season to protect their NFL draft stock from injury, and of course the heavy partying. It was the first step in the total destruction of the glorious but brief Urban Meyer Gator football dynasty. It is repeating at OSU, as we all predicted. We are witnessing the first step in the total destruction of the less glorious and even briefer Urban Meyer Buckeye football dynasty.
The Harbrawlers: 20
Pizza Party 2, Electric Bugaloo: 13
#2 Alabama at Auburn (3:30 pm, CBS)
Florida will need many games to go their way this week, and this is the most certain to fall the way the Gators want and need. They need an Alabama team at least holding the current #2 position in the playoff poll to roll into Atlanta ripe for the upset. Which means they have to knock off Au-bum. With the defensive coordinator every Gator loves to hate. Watch for bleeding from the ears as Will Muschamp’s defense gets taken to the Alabama wood shed drive after drive.
Rammer Bammer: 32
#6 Notre Dame at #9 Stanford (7:30 pm, FOX)
Gator fans have been debating the resumes and possibilities of a playoff committee choice between a 1-loss Notre Dame and a 1-loss Florida for the 4th and final money spot in the playoff rankings. I keep saying this choice will never happen this year, and this game is at least one of the reasons. Stanford is the better team, playing at home, trying to prove they are an elite team this year after being upset by Aflac, and most of all, not Notre Dame.
#3 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State (8:00 pm, ESPN)
This is the game they call Bedlam. Or, formally the Bedlam Series because it has historically been a sitcom. The Sooners have beaten the Cowboys repeatedly in this brother-against-brother rivalry, including 10 out of the last 12. In one stretch of games that ran from the mid-‘40s decade to the mid-‘90s, Oklahoma won 45 of 48 with one tie. There hasn’t been a more lopsided brother-vs-brother battle in the Sooner state since Oklahomans Clint and Ron Howard get together each year to compare resumes. And of course what better state is there than Oklahoma to feature a brother-on-brother rivalry where one brother is always on top? After all, in Oklahoma, pumpkin is not a holiday squash; it’s a verb and a direct object. However, something tells me that this is the year that Clint takes down big brother Ron. Say it with me: “Ben didn’t do it!!”
The Smog Strangler: 44
One of Those Stoops Brothers: 41
Texas A&M at LSU (7:30 pm, SEC Network)
The Corndogs have finally had it with The Hat. They are on the verge of firing one of the best coaches and most likeable characters in college football for the crime of not being as good as Nick Saban. I guess the porcine lips and o-rings inside the cornbread coating impact the memory. Les Miles has gone 110-32 (77%) at LSU with two SEC titles and a national championship during the undisputed toughest SEC conference run in league history. Saban preceded him and set the standard that Miles exceeded, going 48-16 (75%) with one SEC title and one national championship.
But before that? How about Gerry DiNardo (32–24–1, 56%, no titles), Curly Hallman (16-28, 36%, no titles), Mike Archer (27–18–1, 59%, 1 SEC title), Bill Arnsparger (26–8–2, 72%, 1 SEC title), Jerry Stovall (22–21–2, 49%, no titles), Charles McClendon (137–59–7, 67%, 1 SEC title), Paul Dietzel (46–24–3, 63%, 1 SEC title, 1 national title). That last pre-Saban/Miles national title? 1958. The one before that was never. But at least he’ll win Saturday because Coach Sumlin is the next in line for the SEC hot seat.
Red Stick Rubes: 24
#13 Florida State at #12 Florida (7:30 pm, ESPN)
There are so many question marks with both teams that an analysis of and prediction for this game is almost a waste of time. It all depends on which gator team shows up Saturday night. The team that struggled mightily to eke out narrow victories against the three worst teams on the schedule the last three weeks, or the team that turned the Georgia game into The World’s Largest Outdoor Snub Film.
But one thing is always certain about this game, thin or flush: Florida State does, has always and will always unequivocally and without reservation, suck.
And they not only have personnel issues, but they have a number of distractions coming into this game. Chief among them is the cyclonic rumors that Less Miles will be fired after the weekend and Jimbo Fisher will be tapped as the new head coach of the Bengals. Don’t know how this might affect the players, but it sure has Semi fans in a tizzy. They look at Jimbo Fisher like their trophy wife. What they don’t realize is that it’s just a participation trophy. But a participation trophy wife is the iron ceiling for the folks in Tallahassee. Remember, FSU fans are the reason that eHarmony developed 29 Dimensions of Compatibility with livestock.
As for picking this game, we will find out all we need to know in the first 60 minutes of play. I expect the energy level to be off the charts on the team and in the stands. I expect the offensive line to be healthier and to play at the highest level of the year. I expect Harris to play with the most focus and determination of his college career to try to beat the team to which he was committed before flipping to Florida two years ago. And I expect to see a trick play or two, or just a couple of new plays (or old plays out of new looks) that we have not seen this year, to try to catch FSU napping and bust a big gainer. And it may be orange and blue loss of objectivism, but I am calling it like this:
Gators, Bay-Bee!: 21
Felony State: 16