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THE POTATO: BAMA FAN’S IRON BOWL PRAYER

It is time once again to reflect on the great danger that confronts our nation. We must unite against a singular evil and make our hearts full, our eyes clear and our minds focused.

There is no greater threat to our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy than the perfidious Auburn War Eagles. The Eagles are a good team, with a solid defense and something that at times closely resembles an offense.

May we in this hour not forget the similar wretched conquest of another great evil that to this day bedevils our lives. With this in mind we devote our will our energy and our spirit to conquer the evil that now assails us, for if there is no victory only misery will be left behind.

May there be no peace for the Eagle of War, whose dark soul brings with it always the stench of putridity. God Bless Roll Tide, and God Bless Alabama, and may the bold spirit of the fallen Tua inspire us who live for justice and fight for right.

Amen.

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COUCH POTATO COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 10: Waiting for Godot and Alabama-LSU next week; Georgia vs. Florida is the game today

HOUSTON at UCF, noon, ESPN2

Houston’s having a miserable season under first year coach Dana Halgorson, and this week’s trip to Orlando is not likely to help matters.

The dispirited Cougars are playing UCF – two Group of five teams that have been to New Year’s Six Bowls in the past four years. Both went to the Peach Bowl and won attention-grabbing games. UCF beat Auburn, which had upset Alabama, which then wedged its way into the playoffs and won the national championship that year. That started the Knights’ fake national title proclamations, pissing many people off, which was a big part of the objective. They had a parade and got rings and everything, which was slightly pitiful, but it did get the program national publicity, and UCF probably could have covered 14 against Bama that year. Houston, under then-coach Tom Harmon, beat the hell out of Florida State in 2015, which started the Seminoles’ fiery tailspin into Football Hell that persists to this day. Coach Willie Taggart is on a greased rail out of town, two years after Jimbo Fisher escaped that fate by taking over the Texas A&M program for $7.5 million a year.

Anyhow, UCF is going to wear their space-themed jerseys this week, so tune in early to see those sartorial masterpieces before they get all dirty running up a big lead on the struggling Coogs.

GEORGIA vs. FLORIDA in Jacksonville, FL, 3:30 p.m. CBS

Barring cataclysm, the winner will represent the East Division in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Florida’s ranked higher because their one loss is better than Georgia’s. The Gators went to Baton Rouge and peed down their leg late in the game and committed game-turning turnovers that gave No. 1 in the nation LSU all it needed to win 42-28, which wasn’t as bad as it looks like.

Georgia went to South Carolina and strained like a Pekingese puppy passing a peach pit in a 20-17 loss. UGA has not been as awesome as it was in past seasons when it rolled over all foes en route to blowing leads and losing to Alabama in championship games.

But Georgia’s a 6-point favorite or so, and that could be about right if quarterback Jake Fromm and the offense show up, which is problematical.

Fromm said this week that the off week came at a good time, but Georgia fans shouldn’t look for big changes in the offense – except that they’ll do the same old shit better.

Fromm’s stat line is a lot less awesome than it was his first two years. He threw 24 touchdowns his first year, 30 last year and has totaled just 9 this year against three interceptions. The Dawgs are not passing as much this year, and the receivers have, for the most part, sucked. They do get receiver Lawrence Cager back this week, so let’s see if he can add a spark. They’re going to need it.

Running back D’Andre Swift has almost as many carries (110) as Fromm does passing attempts (123), and he’s got 752 yards and 7 touchdowns this year, which is good, but he’s no threat to win a Heisman Trophy.

Florida’s been resilient this season, fighting injuries much of the way. But they’ll get two defensive starters back for this game, linemen linemen Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard.

That’s big, because if the Gators can significantly slow down the Georgia running game, they can win this game. But maybe Fromm will snap out of his funk and the receivers will start getting, you know, open, and joyful shall the Bulldog be. Hint: Don’t bet on it.

MIAMI vs. FLORIDA STATE 3 p.m. CBS Sports APP

I’m including this game only because it’s so sad. These used to be two major badass teams in a clash that could change humanity’s timeline, and now you have to download an app so you can watch the game on your phone.

Both teams define mediocrity: Identical 4-4 records, both riding a 1-game winning streak. FSU coach Willie Taggart is probably not long for this position, but it’s not really his fault. Fortune spins the wheel and we are cast up and cast back down. Ozymandias, king of kings, gets his ass kicked and his statue is all covered up with sand and shit in the middle of the desert.

It’s a hard life wherever you go. Especially in college football.

OLE MISS at AUBURN, 7 p.m. ESPN

Well, here we are again. Auburn is playing for fun after losses to Florida and LSU. The Tigers gave LSU a fight, losing only 23-20 and were an onside kick away from having a chance to pull out a miracle win. Florida kind of beat their asses.

The good news: the Tigers have the home field the rest of the way. But wait! Two of those four opponents are Georgia and Alabama, who will beat your ass if you aren’t careful, and at who will likely be playing to hold onto a berth in the SEC Championship Game.

Ole Miss is at the point in a dismal season where you compare losses for signs of positivity, and in the last two games, the Rebels have only lost by a touchdown – to Missouri and Texas A&M. Neither has a defense anywhere near as good as Auburn’s.

If Auburn clicks and clobbers Ole Miss by 40 points or something, they’ll have confidence going into the Amen Corner of a brutal schedule. If the offense struggles, and Ole Miss is able to put some points up and maybe cover that 19 points – then, uh-oh. An Auburn slide could be on the way.

OREGON at SOUTHERN CAL, FOX

Oregon is the only team in the Pac-12 with a shot at the playoffs, and Southern Cal has incentive to win because the Ducks cruise into L.A. every year and make off with all the talented recruits. Trojans Coach Mario Christobal, who has engineered a flaky 5-3 record this season, would love to make a good showing and maybe even pull out a win, destroying the league’s hopes of getting any of the big money for playing in the four-team show.

Southern Cal is only a 4 point underdog.

This is the sexy upset possibility of the week.

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COUCH POTATO WEEK 7: College football has actual decent games, in open defiance of the broken system that produces the egregious regular season

Michigan at Illinois, NOON ET, ESPN

Here’s another game that presents overrated Michigan yet another chance to lose to a team they should beat. May it be so because Harbaugh sucks.

Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, Noon ET; Fox

Oklahoma has rolled up astonishing statistics this season against wretched competition. Texas is not wretched. The Longhorns barely lost at home to LSU, who has become the darling of all those who want somebody, anybody, to beat Alabama. Will Jalen be able to explode through the middle of the Texas defense and thread the needle to Cee Dee Lamb far downfield to score dozens of points? Or will be end up feeling heat from surging Longhorn creatures, breaking right, flashing his 4.3 wheels to make it to the hashline so he can throw another one out of bounds for another third down incompletion and bring on the punter – like he did at Alabama before they handed the reins to Tua? Please, God, let Jalen find room to run and execute the offense because 1. he’s a good man and 2. It’s harder to watch than video of Mexican kids sleeping in cages on the Texas border.

South Carolina at Georgia, Noon, ESPN

South Carolina is just good enough to make you think, maybe they can cover the what, 25-point spread today? Then you have another sip of coffee and go, “Naaaah.”

Florida State at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Another shitty ACC team that can’t beat Clemson, which is not terrible this year, but nothing to clutch your bosom and say, “Oh, my my.” The ACC is a dog conference, so tell me, why doesn’t Notre Dame join it, win their half every week and then try to scoot one past Clemson to go to the playoffs all the time instead of showing up like locusts – every eight years, make a lot of noise, then die.

Alabama at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. CBS

Well, of course Alabama has a boatload of injuries on defense against Texas A&M, which would be a bad thing if Kellen Mond hadn’t forgotten how to play football since last year. The Tide has added about three more guys to the list of Walking Dead with blown knees, clobbered ankles and arrow wounds to the liver (I made that one up) who won’t be seen again until next season, if then. Texas A&M gave up significant yardage to Auburn and Arkansas, who are not in the same universe as Tua and the Four Wide Receivers of the Apocalypse, so it should be cruel and unusual. However, the Ags are relatively good at tackling running backs, so expect the running game to suck again this week, unless the OL learned to block all at the same time instead of intermittently, when they feel like it.

USC at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., ABC

Here’s a rivalry that old men on Social Security are able to remember being good. Notre Dame, whose claim to fame this year is playing Georgia close in Athens, but still LOSING, is a 14-point favorite. USC might could screw up and cover that, since they have their main man quarterback back after a ridiculous string of injuries. And he returns just when the seventh-string guy was beginning to learn the plays.

Florida at LSU, 8 p.m., ESPN

Florida got a lot more cred than they probably deserved by removing the wheels and burning the tires of Auburn’s creaky offense last week. I’d bought in, I was all believing that this Cox freshman at Auburn was the second coming of Johnny Football only not a manic-depressive with a drug problem, and then, BOOM! Florida’s defense squashed him like a bug. It was bound to happen someday, Auburn was not all that good, but they really were starting to believe, and since time immemorial, when Auburn plays on pure emotion, they beat teams they don’t have any business beating. I just wasn’t sure that Florida was good enough to hit them in the mouth hard and often enough to level out the feel-good hormones in the War Eagle Nation’s brains. Evidently, they were.

Florida’s flaky, man, but they’re just a big, old ugly team that does what their coach tells them. They drag you down into the mudhole and get you to play their mudhole game and you do not beat a mudhole team in a mudhole. I like that redheaded quarterback, who didn’t go in the transfer portal because he loves being a Gator. Last week against Auburn he gets hurt, goes over to the sidelines, spits on some dirt and rubs it into the wound, then limps back out there and throws big, ugly passes to big, ugly receivers – who are actually prettu good. I also like that little No. 2 who Auburn said wasn’t fast enough to play for them, so he broke loose on an 88-yard, heart-spiking scoring run in the fourth quarter and outran everybody in a white shirt.

But can Florida beat LSU? Well, my first impression is not freaking likely. LSU has a really good team. But they had a really good team last year this time, and then they played Alabama and got beat 29-0, because Alabama missed two extra points, of course. So Ed Orgeron said “Yow yow! Yow yow yow yow!” Which means, “Goddamn it, we’re going to throw the ball and do all that fancy-dancy stuff and score like a big ole alligator eatin’ a bowl full of crawfish boudin balls.”

And boy, do they throw the ball. Their transfer quarterback, Joe Burrow (sounds like a train robber in the 1880s, doesn’t it? Great name.) fires dimes to that flock of wide receivers that some folks say is better than Alabama’s, but nah, I’ll believe that when I see it. But they are damn good, and they roll up and down the field like engines of helldeath, scoring 50 a game.

And they play the worst defense you ever saw. It’s hard to believe, because LSU has always had a decent defense except when the chips were down against Alabama. As we’ve said before, Alabama’s defense has been far less murderous than usual this season, but at least they have an excuse – more injuries than the Avengers after that big guy, Thanos, pushes all the buttons on that glove thing. Oh, yeah. SPOILER. If you haven’t seen a three-years old movie yet. I hate you spoiler people, who want us all to keep a secret so your viewing experience isn’t diminished because you’re too lazy to get off your butt, go to the movie theater and watch the thing.

I still think LSU’s defensive backs are good enough to cover Florida’s receivers, such as they are. And their defensive line is good enough to get back there and chase Kyle Trask out of the pocket, because I am faster than Kyle Trask, and I’m slow as a cold stink bug.

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COUCH POTATO COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama is No. 1 again, but they aren’t the best team right now: Auburn is; Clemson has been sucky, but they always are this time of year

Guys, if Alabama’s the best team in the country right now, the others in the top 10 are not as good as I think they are. Alabama has made its beat-ass reputation running and stopping the run since the 1880s, but not this year. Boy, that Tua can pass and the four wide receivers of the apocalypse can catch, great God O mitey. But a good defense can put a stop to that. Bama has yet to confront anything remotely resembling a good defense.

Last week, Ole Miss, who got stoned by Memphis, gained 500 yards and scored 31 on Alabama with a second-string quarterback who can’t throw it across an average living room. But he ran through Alabama like water through a mountain stream as linebackers took bad angles and missed tackles when they did get to the ball, and defensive linemen waved as ballcarriers went by and hollered to the safety, “Here he comes! Get him!”

You know who’s running and stopping the run right now? Auburn. They’ve become true believers in themselves, that 12-year-old quarterback is playing like a wild man, and Gus Malzahn is hell when he has a team that can score. The defensive front is looking like the best in ball right now. If Dan Mullen isn’t coming up with a brilliant game plan and coaching the hell out of Xs and Os and Jimmys and Joes, Florida is going to get killed dead on their home field like a possum on the Interstate.

If the Iron Bowl were this week, Auburn would win. They’d have to hold Bama to about 40 points, which I think they could do, and the 12-year-old quarterback would run around behind the line for a minute and a half until somebody got open.

Poor LSU had an off week so they dropped to No. 5, leapfrogged by Ohio State, who got too much credit for pounding a weak Nebraska team into goo. The Buckeyes are good, though. Nebraska is horrid.

Oklahoma is in sixth place – you know the CFP Committee and ESPN executives are hoping hard for a first-round clash between Bama’s Tua Tagavailoa and the guy he beat out, Jalen Hurts, who is a hell of a player, too. Actually, I’d love to see that, myself.

Wisconsin, the last team in America that still plays football as God intended, by blocking and tackling hard, and handing the ball to Jonathan Taylor, who is the best running back in the nation (if you don’t count Hurts, who has a low number, lines up behind the center and passes occasionally.) The Badgers wore throwback jerseys and only beat Northwestern by 9, which is a lot of points when you play defense and run 12 minutes off the clock on a 47-yard, scoreless drive.

There’s parity in college football this year, at least going into Week 6. I think there are about 12 teams that could win the national championship if the chips fell right.

I have a theory on that. Two years ago, Alabama didn’t finish first in recruiting, they were what? like seventh? So Nick Saban ran off everybody but the water boy after a national championship season. Do they still have water boys? Probably not. They just let the players drink water like the lazy guy on the construction crew.

America’s gone to hell, and back when there were water boys, we were winning World Wars, all the daddies had good jobs so the mamas could stay home and make sure the kids didn’t grow up to be assholes, and football players, who got a drink of water about three times a week, were tough. Teams threw about six passes a year whether they needed to or not, and final scores were like 9-7 because a straight-legged kicker knocked through a conference-record, 27-yard field goal in the third quarter, and the defense made the lead stand up. I wasn’t actually alive then, but that’s what my grandfather told me. He’s dead now.

But anyway, Alabama didn’t sign all the good players, so there were one or two left over for everybody else. This is the year that’s starting to show. Enjoy it while you can.

OK. That’s that.

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COUCH POTATO WEEK 4: After three weeks of little, a bounty of games that have meaning in the vast, indifferent universe that holds eternity

Tennessee at Florida; Southern Miss at Alabama; California at Ole Miss, Noon, ESPN, ESPN2 and SEC, go find out for yourself which one.

Tennessee and Florida are such flaky teams this year that it wouldn’t surprise me if the Vols won. Florida lost Felipe Franks last week to a stomach-turning ankle injury, but Kyle Trask came in and did just fine, leading the Gators to an unlikely comeback win over Kentucky, which did more to help Florida win than Florida did. Florida’s got enough offensive weapons around Trask that he could be an effective, game-manager kind of dude they can win with, especially against a team that gave up 38 points to Georgia State and lost at home. Both teams have been painful to watch because they profane the game of football. They’re playing the early game, so make a bloody Mary to help you through it.

Alabama is a 39-point favorite against Southern Miss, which I don’t think will stand up because Jack Abraham is a good passer and Alabama’s pass rush isn’t good enough to pressure him and the defensive backs often neglect to cover all eligible receivers. I don’t really blame Alabama’s defense for sucking – they’ve had more injuries than many overloaded passenger buses that plunged off a cliff. Most recently, defensive lineman LaBryan Ray messed up his foot or something and is out for six weeks, and Antonio Alfano, that five-star DL from New Jersey, has apparently decided he likes sitting in his room playing video games more than going to school and playing football. Nick Saban said they’re operating under the assumption that he has quit, which is a reasonable conclusion when a guy doesn’t come to practice or go to class. Alabama needs to wrap Tua in bubble wrap like a precious china teacup, tell him to throw passes to the Four Wide Receivers of the Apocolypse, and score enough to put in Mac Jones as soon as practicable. If Tua gets hurt, Bama’s a solid top-20 team with a good chance at going to the Gator Bowl.

California has slid to a two-point dog at Ole Miss, a team that I cannot understand. But I think they’ll win, because California is good at a lot of things, but not college football.

Michigan at Wisconsin, Noon, Fox

I’ve seen Wisconsin play twice and they are a good football team. They always are. But this year, they have quite a few people who could beat me in a footrace, vastly improving their chances of winning the egregious Big Ten and maybe even making the playoffs. Jonathan Taylor is a holy terror at running back. Unless Michigan has done something I have heretofore seen no evidence of, He’ll go through their defense like shit through a short dog. Michigan has been just good enough not to get the uber-expensive Jim Harbaugh sent on the road to perdition, but this could be the year.

Auburn at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. CBS

All right, now, here we go. We got a ballgame, folks. Texas A&M has to win or it’s their second loss of the year, their first in the league, and they’ll be playing for funsies the rest of the year. QB Kellen Mock got smushed two weeks again in a decisive loss at Clemson, because Clemson’s defense bounced his head off the turf a few times, which will make you see the world entirely differently. Auburn’s defense is – I’m not kidding – about as good as Clemson’s. But the big question is, will this be the week that the wheels come off Auburn’s offense? The Tigers have gotten better each week, QB Bo Cox, who’s 18 and looks 12, has made some freshman flubs but also a few great plays, and they have four runningbacks who are all fair, but when you switch them in and out they’re better because the one in the game is usually better rested than the linebackers who’ll be chasing him. But still … Being an Auburn fan this year is a little like that movie, The Matrix, where you wake up from a beautiful dream of life and find you’re in a box full of goo serving as a battery in a dark, giant machine that cares not for you nor any human. On the other hand, this Auburn team reminds me of a bunch of other ones that were flawed, but kept finding ways to win until they started believing they were good and then, what do you know, they were good. Auburn fans love teams like that – that do goalline stands, make opposing star quarterbacks underperform, give up 99-yard touchdown passes, but then run back a 50-yard field goal attempt 99 yards with no time left to win.

Notre Dame at Georgia, 8 p.m., CBS

Excuse my SEC bias, but I think Georgia is the best team in the country right now, and I’ll be stunned if they don’t hand Notre Dame their head this Saturday. The defense is swarming and cruel, and QB Jake Fromm gets far less attention than he deserves. He’s a sweet, smiling friendly guy who is cold-blooded killer on the field, and he made former five-star Justin Fields say “screw it,” jump into the transfer portal and land at Ohio State, where he’s raising all kinds of Hell in the Big 12. Notre Dame is always pretty good, always plays a weak schedule, and gets far more credit than they are due for beating teams that couldn’t win a 5A high school state championship in Georgia. Georgia’s a 14-point favorite, and I think that’s low.

 

 

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Couch Potato: Championship weekend – Oklahoma vs. Texas and Bama vs. Georgia only ones that matter

Championship weekend would be a lot more exciting if the games weren’t meaningless. Well, except for two, which might affect seeding. 

If things shake out the way everybody thinks it will, Alabama will beat Georgia and Oklahoma will beat Texas, which means we’ll have the battle of the electrifying quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa vs. Kyler Murray in the opening round. Good. Maybe a few people will watch it, which has been a bit of a problem for the College Football Playoffs. 

The viewership of the CFP hasn’t been as colossal as ESPN hoped when it signed a 12-year contract for seventy jillion pillion dollars. People aren’t watching TV as much as they used to because the Internet is destroying the world, and college football fans tend to watch their team with ardor and ignore any other team that they haven’t laid a bet on. 

That’s why we won’t be having an eight-team playoff until they figure out how to make it rain. That, and have eight teams that deserve to be there. 

If Georgia wins, Alabama and Georgia will both go to the playoffs and Oklahoma gets screwed, and so will the advertisers who bought time on the semifinal broadcasts. Ohio State is probably going to get screwed no matter what because Notre Dame went undefeated against a cake schedule, and Notre Dame is Notre Dame and they’re not. 

Anyhow. Whatever. Here we go.  

Big 12, Oklahoma vs. Texas, noon on ABC 

The only reason this game isn’t a yawn is because Texas somehow beat Oklahoma 48-45 during the regular season, which goes to show it can be done.  

Texas is weird this season and Oklahoma scores billions and plays no defense at all. The teams hate each other, which always improves watchability.  

Kyler Murray is amazing and fun to watch, but he’s listed at 5-foot-11 in the program and is probably more like 5-9, which means if he goes to the NFL he’ll be a punt returner. 

Sun Belt, Louisiana-Lafayette at Appalachian State noon on ESPN 

Lafayette, Louisiana is one of the greatest towns to eat in that ever was if you like fried food and gumbo, which I do. Boone, NC, is really pretty with mountains and trees and stuff.  

That is all I know about these teams. 

AAC, UCF vs. Memphis, 3:30 p.m. on ABC 

UCF lost its quarterback last week to a pretty grim-looking knee injury, and the new guy is a good runner but doesn’t pass as well. Memphis only lost 31-30 to these guys earlier in the year and could ruin a perfect season and incessant talk of fake national championships and deserving a berth in the playoffs. I have yet to meet an Alabama fan who is not fully in favor of UCF earning the right to challenge the Crimson Tide in the first round of the playoffs, which should tell you something. Memphis got beat by Navy and slaughtered by Tulane, so I gotta think UCF’s got a chance even with McKenzie Milton on crutches. 

SEC, Alabama vs. Georgia, 4 p.m. on CBS 

The one thing I see in Georgia’s favor is that there’s a close-to-unanimous consensus that Alabama will beat the hell out of them, and when that happens, a lot of the time the underdog wins. However, I’ve felt that way about Alabama’s games with LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn, and Alabama beat the hell out of all of them. Nevertheless, Georgia has an elite defense, even if it did give up 36 points to LSU, whom Alabama shut out. The Dawgs also have an excellent running game and Alabama has been less dominant against the run than usual – even underachieving Auburn had a 75-yard TD against them only it was called back by a holding penalty because of course it was. If Georgia can establish the run, make first downs, keep Tua off the field and score about 38 points … yeah, sure. 

ACC, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. on ABC 

OK, last week Clemson looked so shitty against South Carolina that Dabo got mad at fans who said so and acted like he might leave and go somewhere he would be better appreciated. Within hours, Auburn started negotiating a cheaper buyout for Gus Malzahn if he wants to keep his job, which would be the dumbest financial decision ever made if Gus signs that piece of paper. Oh, I can have $32 million now and never have to work again, or I can keep my $7 million job another year if I take less than $32 million if you fire me next year after I lose all my best players? Sure! (Pro tip: Take the $32 million and go somewhere you don’t have to play Nick Saban every year). I don’t think Dabo will go to Auburn, but I never thought we’d be getting ready to send people to Mars in a few years, either, so I guess anything’s possible. Except Pittsburgh beating Clemson. Pittsburgh’s just fucking awful.

Northwestern vs. Ohio State, 8 p.m. on Fox 

Ordinarily, I’d say Northwestern and snowballs in Hell have a lot in common against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. But the Buckeyes are so flaky, it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost,  which would make Rose Bowl officials start playing Russian roulette with a full clip and one in the pipe because Northwestern has about 43 fans. But OSU looked good last week exposing Michigan as a big, slow team that played a weak schedule, and with a convincing win today would probably back into the playoffs if Texas could beat Oklahoma. The last time OSU backed into the playoffs against Alabama, they upset the heavily favored Tide and went on to win the national title. Past performance is no indication of future results.