Well the long-awaited debut of the newly minted SEC Network really got it cranking this year by kicking off the season with what should have been a barn burner between Texas A&M and South Carolina. And by “barn burner” I mean that when the game was over, many people in South Carolina went home and burned their chicken coops. Then they followed it up with the second half of their opening night one-two PUNCH with the scintillating matchup between…uh…Vaaannnderbilt and, um, Temple. Ahem. Well. Since then the network has made sure that all the SEC games against opponents so insignificant that not even their own fans are aware of the games, let alone care, had a home on your TV dial. They just don’t bother to tell anyone exactly where on that dial the games can be found. But that last-second uncertainty, sending fans across the nation feverishly surfing channel guides and furiously calling their local providers to ask Bertha and Jethro at the call centers/slash/catfish farms about programming information that they were never given…and couldn’t articulate in decipherable English even if they were…this is all just part of the thrilling SEC Network experience!
At least the new network has the studio team in place that is sure to be the new standard for college sports coverage on “SEC Nation”: “The Office’s” Craig Robinson, the love child of Reece Davis and Ray Romano, a 27-year-old virgin and an Alabama Sleestak. I haven’t seen an odder foursome since Lady GaGa played Go Fish with Snap, Crackle and Pop.
Troy at Georgia (12:00, SECN)
Will Muschamp has been on the hot seat for the last year, but for an acute situation that had a very clear start and a finish (yes, “acute” is usually used to describe an injury – that was not a coincidence). But I think I would prefer that to the long term hot seat that warms Mark Richt’s posterior because of his chronic failure to meet any expectations of any Georgia fans, any season, ever. This week the hot seat has been expanded into a 2-person love seat, with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo sharing the cushion with Richt. The aptly named Bobo has not been as warmly receptive to the new stool, lashing out at the friendly local media after making the game-losing decision to take Todd Gurley, the most dominant player of this young college football season thus far, and use him as just a decoy inside the five-yard-line late in the fourth quarter with the game and possibly season on the line. Bobo chose to put the game in the hands of a quarterback of marginal talent making his first SEC start, on the road no less. When asked if they were running a certain concept during the game, Bobo barked at the freshman beat writer Troy, “Did you WATCH the GAME?!” When asked about his thought process following the late-game interception that set them up deep in the Carolina red zone, he responded, “I call the plays, I am accountable – NEXT QUESTION!” When directly asked why he didn’t just give Gurley the ball to plow for the winning touchdown, he shouted, “Take your question and SHOVE IT up your hushpuppy hole!”
I have no idea what a hushpuppy hole is, but I think I’d rather be sitting on a hot seat than to find out.
Troy: SHUT UP!
Oklahoma at West Virginia (7:30, Fox)
Well, Big Game Bob got to take out a little frustration on the SEC Saturday by beating Tennessee. Trouble is, the Vols are the creamsickle-headed stepchild of the SEC. And Bob is still crowing about winning a bowl game against an Alabama team that didn’t even care about being there. Never mind that Alabama is almost the only SEC team he can ever beat (3-0 against them; 1-4 against the rest of the SEC…and two of those 3 wins over ‘Bama were pre-2003, when the Tide were in rather dire straits)
Now that his brother Mark (the Daniel Baldwin of the Stoops family) is coaching in the SEC at Kentucky – a program that is historically closer to the cellar than Tennessee is currently…heck, Kentucky spends more time in the cellar than Dorothy’s family did in The Wizard of Oz. Wonder how that conversation is going to go between the Stoops brothers at Thanksgiving this year. By then Bob will have already lost one or two games that he should not have lost, as he has each of the last 13 years, so the bitterness in his craw should match that of the licorice on his plate. For now, he has to deal with the Mountaineers, a team that has already been humbled by an SEC team this year, so the crow may be warming up in the kitchen as I type.
Big Gripe Bob: 21
Little Distraction Dana: 18
Clemson at Florida State (8:00, ABC)
Well I said in my season preview that Famous Shamist would not get very far into the season before he got into trouble and embarrassed his school once again. Didn’t take long, did it? Standing on a table in the school cafeteria and bellowing out a horrific and vile rape-advocating multiple-obscenity phrase…that really dovetails nicely with his post-BCS title game oration declaring that “Everything is God”, dontchya think? I love that his QUOTE-”apology” explained his actions simply as being selfish. Like he just wanted a few more M&M’s than his buddy got (in this instance the M&M’s are Mandy and Marcia). Apparently his vocabulary is as weak as his moral code. “Selfish” means behavior concerned with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. How did his latest stunt selfishly benefit him? Guess there are some parts of an FSU education not even academic fraud can fix.
Nice to know that stealing soda from a restaurant, stealing expensive seafood from a grocery store, vandalizing public property with BB guns and being the subject of rape charges that were only avoided because of evidence being impossible to uncover after the many months that the university and police covered it up…combined, these offenses net a couple of baseball games in the dugout. But cussing in the lunchroom gets you a half-game rip. Very interesting price schedule they have in Tallahassee, or maybe it is the presence of an ongoing Federal investigation into this individual that forced their hand.
In any event, being the sporting man I am, I’d like to take bets on what will be his next offense, and when. Here are the latest Vegas odds:
*Solicitation of lewd acts from Renegade; Occurring before Thanksgiving: 20-to-1
*Painting Hitler’s face on the Bobby Bowden statue with paint stolen from Home Depot; Occurring on Halloween night: 12-to-1
*Breaking into the FSU administration offices, urinating on the President’s desk, falling asleep in the puddle of urea, choking on someone else’s vomit, being revived by a medic in the infirmary, upon revival sexually assaulting the medic and then being escorted by police to the campus chapel to deliver a sermon on how belittling women brings you closer to God; Occurring right now: 2-to-1
*Possible discipline handed down by FSU: Line Off
Dabo’s Dummies: 37
Winston’s Wankers: 33
Miami at Nebraska (8:00, ESPN2)
Unless Doc Brown set the Flux Capacitor for 1983, this game is going to SUUUUCK!
Our Motto is “Dedicated to Letters” Because We Can’t Count: 27
Yes, Our Fight Song is “Miami U How-Dee-Do”…REALLY: 17
Lehigh at Yale (1:00, Ivy Video)
I include this game because of its regional significance. Yes, Yale is very important to the northeast and New England in particular, as a super-elite of the Ivy League and the only reason to care about anything going on between Boston and New York. But in the South, it is perhaps even more important, critical in almost every communication and all intellectual commerce. Because in the North, Yale is a respected university, but in the South Yale is what you do to make a point or to be heard at a distance.
Even Ivy Leaguers Have Ugly Dogs: 27
Yes, their Mascot is named Clutch: 26
Bryant at Liberty (7:00, ESPN-GP, LFSN/Liberty Flames Sports Network)
A shy boy from Rhode Island named Bryant battles a sociopolitical and theological philosophy. This will be an internal struggle. Unfortunately, the game will be external, played outside where everyone else will have much better things to do. Liberty University’s motto is “Knowledge Aflame”, which was updated in the 1980s from its original motto, “Books Aflame.” Bryant University’s motto is “The Character of Success”, because it has to portray that character in school plays due to its inability to garner any success on the field. Its biggest historical rival is Bentley, but the rivalry has faded since Bryant’s jump from Division II to Division I and of course Bentley’s loss of popularity since the cancelation of “The Jeffersons”.
Kooky British Neighbor: Bad Back
Kooky Baptist Pastor: Bad Front
Utah at Michigan (3:30, ABC/ESPN2)
Remember back on the first weekend of the football season, when Kirk Herbstreit mentioned ‘Big Ten speed’ after seeing Wisconsin lose to LSU. No, he meant it as a compliment, not as an ironic punchline. When was the last time you heard somebody say, “Big Ten speed” with a straight face without talking about a very large bicycle? I guess he does have a point, though: I have never seen any conference run so fast…out of the Top 10 rankings, out of the playoff picture, out of the national conversation… They have not only speed, but clearly a quick first step, too because the league was flushed down the toilet before the second week of games were even over! There hasn’t been a truly fast player in the Big Ten – an athlete who was SEC-level fast – since 2006. That’s when Ted Ginn Jr took the opening kickoff of the BCS national title game to the house against Florida. Never mind that he would have been tackled for a moderate gain if Reggie Nelson had not been illegally pushed in the back on the return. He was fast. Too fast for the Big Ten. That’s why his own players mercilessly attacked him in the end zone after the play and tried to break his ankle, knocking him out of the game. Don’t bring that speedy stuff into our house – this isn’t Le Mans, you know!
Of course Kirk Herbstreit remembers that play because the Buckeye alumn was on the Ohio State sideline at the time and was even caught in a picture that went viral, watching the quick-footed return with a look on his face that is usually only seen when 4-year-olds hear the Ice Cream Man coming down the street for the first time. You would think that Kirk would have learned by now that there is no speed in the Big Ten. It’s been eight years and he is still slow to pick up on the news. Maybe that’s what he meant by “Big Ten Speed”.
Big Ten Speeding to the Basement: 20
What’s a Ute? (it never gets old): 23
Florida at Alabama (3:30, SEC Network)
Kent-Ucky, Kent-Yucky, Kent-Sucky! Oh brother Kent you spare a five? Because that and last week’s game against Kentucky will buy you a very bad cup of coffee, and nothing else. It has no bearing on Saturday’s game against Alabama. In 2012, Florida only beat Bowling Green by 13, and still went on to win 11 games. That’s the Bowling Green in Ohio, not Kentucky, but it was a team that never came anywhere close to being as good as the Wildcats team that took Florida on a nostalgic journey, like they were back in the mid-eighties (the last time Kentucky beat Florida) listening to an old Eagles record with a skip in it: “Take it to the limit”–scrrree! regulation–”Take it to the limit”–scrrree! OT–”Take it to the limit”–scrrree! 2OT–”Take it to the limit”–scrrree! 3OT–”One moooore tiiiime!”
After watching that game, only one question remained: is there any such thing as a new Eagles record?
The best news coming out of the Kentucky game was that Jeff Driskel met with a hypnotist at halftime. Apparently he had attended a magic show earlier in the week and was hypnotized into what is called a suggestive mental state. Whenever he heard the phrase “I’m wide open!,” he would hallucinate that his receivers were standing on stilts. The hypnotist was summoned to reverse the suggestive mental state at halftime, but the sharp second half passing game came with a trade-off. Not to divulge any secrets, but against Alabama Saturday, the offense is under a strict directive not to utter the phrase “Kettle of fish.” Also, if you say “Doctor Colossus,” you had better be wearing a raincoat.
On a serious note, B-sharp. On a more serious note, here’s something that occurred to me about Jeff during his second half passing surge against Kentucky. He showed a lot of skill in making all the throws beautifully with little pressure in the EMU game. In the first half vs UK, he started out sharp but after a few drops and increased defensive pressure, he really threw poorly. Then in the second half, Kentucky dialed up the defense another notch or two, started sending exotic blitzes on almost every play, and Jeff was just a few throws away from being perfect for the second half and 3 OTs. Point being that in Game 1, he emerged as a command QB when not being pressured; after halftime vs UK, he emerged as a command QB against heavy pressure on every play.
Could it be that we just witnessed against Kentucky a major step and stage in Jeff’s development? Could the rigor of that second half and multiple overtimes have turned on the rest of the lights in Casa Driskel? Was that a ramp up to high quality play in big game pressure situations the rest of the way? Even if it is just a measurable step in that direction, that is big, big news for the Gator program.
As for the opponent, with Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon, Christion Jones and Derrick Henry, the Alabama offense is like a Jimmie Johnson Chevy. And Blake Sims is the human restrictor plate. Hopefully Jake Coker will get some series as well, because he is the human spike strip. If you don’t know what a spike strip is, just watch an episode of “Cops” or ask any FSU player or alum. A spear, which is like a spike, is responsible for placing one of Bama’s best defenders on suspension for the first half (safety Nick Perry). The other starting safety Jarrick Williams’s chances of playing Saturday are dead (or extremely sleepy) with a broken foot bone, which is shaped like a spike. As far as you know. This could spell a much faster start through the air for the Gators than last week, which could lead to a few big touchdowns, which are usually followed by football spikes made by players wearing football spikes. If the Tide are able to shut down the Gators however, Florida fans will need their punch to be spiked. If the Gators can correct a lot of their mistakes from last week and exploit the Bama defense with the up-tempo spread as many similar offenses have done the last two years, then this one will be an absolute dog fight.
And that dog’s name. Is Spike.
Spike Lee (Mo’ Better Orange & Blues): 27
Spike Jonze (Being Nick Malkovich): 23