While last week was a breather of sorts from difficult games for most of the major college football programs, this week flips the script. This is a week for serious college football fans to get their beverages chilled, their meats grilled and their snack bowls filled. The weekend got started with a bang Thursday night with the Lamar Cardinals taking on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Hey, don’t scoff. Lamar is a player. If not for Lamar, the Tri-Lambs and Omega Mus never would have beaten Alpha-Beta in the Greek Games. Head coach U.N. Jefferson has them playing well with the ol’ cruise control set on 35. And don’t let a directional Louisiana team fool you: when there are TWO directions in the school’s name, it reverses the shame of being just one direction. And anyone who has ever heard their music knows there is nothing more shameful than One Direction.
Now, onto the action this Saturday.
#21/#23 West Virginia Mountaineers at #14/#15 Oklahoma Sooners (12:00 pm, FS1)
It’s difficult getting used to the notion of West by-gum Virginia being part of the Big 12. Makes about as much sense as a ten-team league being called the Big 12. But these two teams and fan bases certainly don’t have to get used to each other. They are well acquainted from spending so many years together at the top of the “Worst Places to Live” list. And it’s no wonder. In Oklahoma, the ducks fly upside-down because there is nothing worth crapping on. But at least in the Sooner state, Moosehead is a beer. In West Virginia, it’s a misdemeanor. Both teams come into the game 3-0 and seeking to be the #1 team in the conference that isn’t named Baylor. Or TCU. Or Texas Tech. Or Oklahoma State. You see, at these two schools, counting is an advanced degree. West Virginia grads hang their diplomas from the rear view mirrors so they can use handicapped parking, and if you are wondering what the average Oklahoma student gets on their SATs, it’s drool.
Bob’s Braggarts: 24
Dana’s Dingleberries: 23
#13/#13 Alabama Crimson Tide at #6/#8 Georgia Bulldogs (3:30 pm, CBS)
Folks from Georgia are called many different things: Peaches, Buzzards, Crackers, Sand-hillers and Goober-grabbers. That last one has always made Gomer very jealous. But one thing they have never been called is realistic. Because the state of Georgia right now is abuzz with confidence that Mark Richt is finally going to break with tradition and win a big game. The sports media are even starting to slowly join in the delusion revolution. They clearly have not been paying attention to what has been happening in Athens. There are no suspensions at Georgia this week, but Mark Richt is only going to dress 50 players for the game against Bama. The rest of the players have finally learned to dress themselves. That aside, Georgia has done nothing but fatten up on terrible teams thus far in 2015, while Alabama has thumped Wisconsin and nearly come back to win against top-5 Ole Miss. Now, Alabama fans are not the sharpest knives in the drawer either (when someone says, “Hold that thought,” they cover their ears), but they know their history. They know that Alabama wins these games and Georgia loses them. I don’t expect anything different to happen Saturday.
Crimson Tide: 27
Black & Red Died: 21
#22/#21 Mississippi State Bulldogs at #15/#14 Texas A&M Aggies (7:30 pm, SEC Network)
This is probably the biggest game in the country that is not being treated as a very big game. That’s because these two teams are both playing shadow games. Despite being 7-1 between them with only a loss to presumptive playoff team LSU, they are lurking in long shadows right now. Missy State not only is behind in-state rival Ole Miss in the standings and in the polls, but they are also suffering from the disparity of the state next door. Ole Miss beat Alabama, which is as always an elite team, while State dominated Auburn, which is floundering in the COT (Curse of TOG). That’s not fair to MSU, but maybe if they didn’t go around castrating bulls on their practice field and banging illegal cow bells all night long, someone might give a hoot. Texas A&M, meanwhile has pulled off a minor miracle. The Texas Longhorns are as down as their program has been perhaps ever and the Aggies are riding the hype wave of the SEC, Johnny Football and one of the best and most recognizable coaches in the nation…and yet somehow they have managed NOT to replace Texas as the premier program in the state, instead creeping in the shadows of Baylor, Texas Christian and even Texas Tech.
Dogs of Bull: 20
#7/#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #11/#12 Clemson Tigers (8:00 pm, ABC)
I really don’t know which program embarrassed itself more last week. No, not by anything they did on the field, as they both brought home clean and decisive victories. It was off the field and off their rockers. First off, you have Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney busting out in dance in the locker room after beating Louisville. Louisville. A team that left the game 1-3. Dabo is the kind of guy who would spike the football if he won a yodeling contest against a man with a stoma. But the inappropriateness of dancing after beating Louisville is nothing compared to the actual display of dancing he put on. At least I think it was dancing. It was sort of a combination of the whip, a flamboyant jazz-hands mummy walk, laying eggs and being electrocuted. Hollywood writers are scrambling to cast his role opposite Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Dance. He made Miley Cyrus look like Ginger Rodgers. I honestly haven’t seen moves like that since 90-year-old Katharine Hepburn fell down an escalator. But at the very least, his freakish gyrations only offended mere mortals. Notre Dame has actually been boasting that Pope Francis’ visit to America is going to deliver a national title to the Irish. Of course, historically speaking, when the Pope visits America the Irish do not find themselves overly blessed between the lines, with an overall record of 58-27-1 in those years, including the most recent visit that produced a 5-7 campaign under Bob Davie. The Irish nonetheless sought the Pope’s football absolution, hoping the pale pontiff wouldn’t know his football history. But you know what they say: You can fool some of the papal some of the time…
Meanwhile Dabo has tried to get cool points out of the whole thing, joking to the media about how unfair it is to have the Pope fixing games and whatnot. He even joshed that it is such a big game that he would be hard pressed to get a ticket for Jesus. I don’t think Dabo understand how the whole omnipotence thing works. He turned water into wine and fed hundreds of people with a loaf of bread and a herring….I’m pretty sure Jesus can persuade a scalper to spot him a ticket.
Dancin’ Dabo: 28
Rope a Pope: 24
#9/#11 Florida State Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3:30 pm, ESPN or reverse mirror)
Yeah that’s what it says on the TV listings: “reverse mirror”. That’s a term they made up to describe when two national television channels have their signals split regionally, such that each of two programs will be available in all (or almost all) regions on one of the two channels, but will not air on the same channel in all regions. That broadcast plan makes about as much sense as, say, a college mascot starting each home game by stabbing its own school’s logo in the face with a flaming spear. Luckily this game is not in Tallahassee so we won’t be accosted by such an affront to logic. But then what can we expect from a school that harbors more criminals than Argentina, but whose fans think they are the cleanest program in the country and just the victim of a media conspiracy? Talk about looking into a reverse mirror.
Gridiron War Criminals: 37
Wake and Baked: 17
#5/#3 Ole Miss Rebels at #23/#25 Florida Gators (7:00 pm, ESPN)
Whenever these two teams meet, the biggest question facing analysts is always the same: which school has the most beautiful women. Ole Miss is always the most insistent, but I think it is just warped perception from being in the state of Mississippi. In the state of Florida, a beautiful girl is usually within 20 feet of anywhere you stand. In the state of Mississippi, a beautiful girl is usually a visitor.
But if you’re talking about football, this game has more mystery than the eligibility status of Laremy Tunsil. On paper, the Bears should roll, maybe even steamroll. But they very likely will be missing three starting offensive linemen, leaving them exposed to brutalization from Florida’s strongest position unit, and their quarterback has already shown himself to be prone to bad throws, whether under pressure or not. However, the Gators will be facing a similar pickle when they have the ball: a weak offensive line trying to hold the front line against a dominant defensive line.
But back to that paper on which Ole Miss appears so much better than Florida. It is based on their impressive win over Alabama and Florida’s struggles to beat East Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. But what if that Ole Miss win against Bama weren’t so impressive? What if the Tide lose to Georgia Saturday? (pause for laughter) And what if Florida’s win over Tennessee were actually much more impressive than we know right now? What if the Vols go out and beat Arkansas and then Georgia in the next two weeks? A Georgia team that beat Bama? (pause again for laughter – it never gets old). We have already seen that the wins over ECU (beat Virginia Tech) and Kentucky (beat Missouri) are much more impressive than thought at game time. And suppose the fourth quarter Florida offense against Tennessee were not just a collapse by Tennessee but the coming of age of this quarterback, this offensive line and this offense overall? And what if the mysticism of the Calloway Grieracle was just the beginning of the magic returning to the Swamp? I’m in a good mood…I’m going with the good guys. We’ve got the most beautiful girls, too!
The Magic is Back, Titles to Follow: 24
Cheating Don’t Win Jack: 23