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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 COLLEGE FOOTBALL A few reasons to watch ball tomorrow, but nothing that really sing

14 Iowa at 19 Michigan noon Fox

Oh, Iowa, you and your underrated quarterback could do the whole world and Michigan in general such a favor by knocking over the Wolfer Dogs in their own house this morning and bringing us all a step closer to no Jim Harbaugh in any position of significant authority. Nate Stanley has led the Hawks to four wins, ass beatings of Miami of Ohio, Rutgers and Middle Tennessee and a 1-point vic over Iowa State. It’s nothing to write home about, but guess what Nate has in common with Tua Tagovailoa? They both like popsicles, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Neither has thrown an interception. Iowa can beat Michigan based on what I’ve seen of the two teams. I really don’t care. But Jim Harbaugh just kind of pisses me off, a feeling I seem to share with most Michigan fans.

Utah State at 5 LSU noon

LSU fell a notch in the polls by taking a week off last week. Will there be an Utah State jersey left unburned after this game? Will the campus have been invaded by Louisianians leaving no brick on top of the other? Only symbolically, I suppose. But I’m thinking we’re looking at an epic dog beating here.

7 Auburn at 10 Florida 3:30 CBS

Only good game all day. Does Puff the Magic Auburn keep childhood dreams alive in the hot Florida sun this afternoon, or do the wheels fly off. I don’t think so. I think Auburn’s found their stride, they have a great defensive front and can stand and bang with most folks. But you know, Florida can do a thing that Auburn has been good at over the years, and that’s been play like shit and win all their games. So can Florida turn in a shitty victory? Yes, they can. But will they? All depends. Auburn, for all their scrambling, rambling, scraping and running over bulldogs have been a very efficient team. No brutal picks at inopportune times, touchdown passes with 6 seconds felt, etc. If bad Florida shows up and makes Bad Auburn from the realm where it as been hiding, we could be in for a freakshow that sees the Gator against all odds hold on to its undefeated mantle and make everybody go “OOOoooooooooo.” I doubt, it, but if that’s how it happens, that’s how it’ll happen.

Georgia at Tennessee 7 espn

Imagine Georgia’s a helicopter, put 4,000 chickens in a box, then drop it from 10 miles up into a coyote habitat deep in the Grand Canyon. That’s what Georgia’s going to do Tennesssee.

Vandy at Ole Miss

Here’s Vanderbit’s change to prove how bad Alabama’s is. Can the Anchors Down hold the Old Mississippi Black Bear Rebel Schooler Sharks to under 500 yards? I got 10 bucks says they can. Who wants some?

25 Michigan State at Ohio State

Michigan State is always just good enough to look really horrible when they get run through a wood chipper by a good team, such as Ohio State. Everybody take some shovels up the remains of Michigan State and mulch your roses with them

California at Oregon

Why does everyboy hate Cal? Just because they are smarter than you and are going to get better jobs that you when they got out of school. They’re 4-0 and Oregon is 3-1, thanks to that last second failure to cover an open Auburn receiver in the first game of the union. So are they any good anyway, or did they just beat a team that got hot. Show us, Cal. Beat their guts out or lose. Either way, we’ll know.

15 Washington at Stanford

It’s kind of Pitiful that Washington is the last best hope for the Pac-12, which is just awful. The last time Washington won on the road at Stanford is 2007, and the last time a Washington Graduate got a job instead of a Stanford one is caveman days. Stanford is a good shool. Washington is where to go if you want to fish a lot in sight of skyscrapers and work in the forest doing something with trees. Washington is 4-1, which is on the verge of being relevant. Stanford is 2-2 which is just right before beating Washington and destroying all their hopes and dreams.

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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’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL SUNDAY REVIEW, Sept. 8, 2019 – Will Florida be better with the backup QB?

Will backup QB Trask make Florida more consistent?

Poor Felipe Frank mangled his ankle against Kentucky when two 300-pound Wildcats scissored him at high speed and and his right ankle went one way and he went the other. It was horrible to watch, and harder to watch was our boy, the high-strung, emotional, hard-trying, inconsistent, water-and-gasoline Felipe in obvious pain, wiping tears from his red face with a towel trying to put on a tough-guy face and give his team a thumbs up as trainers toted him off the field on a stretcher with an air cast on his foot. He’s gone for this season, off to long months of rehab and long years of grinding pain. Dislocated ankles as bad as that one looked are a bitch – you do get better but you don’t get well.

But then, what do you know, here came Kyle Trask, perhaps the only good second-string quarterback in America who didn’t hurl himself into the transfer portal and teleport to a program far, far away. He settled the Gators down and paced an 11-point, comeback win over Kentucky, who was playing with their backup quarterback after a horrid injury to their starter. The Wildcats missed a makable field goal with 54 seconds left to pull out the defeat, then Florida tacked on a decorative touchdown on a long play in the waning seconds.

All in all, it was an exciting game and we learned a lot of stuff. Kentucky’s a program, and won’t die easy this year – they’d have won if their kicker could have poked the ball about a foot to the right so it went between the uprights instead of sailing harmlessly by the upright, leaving Florida’s then 22-21 lead intact.

I think it’s safe to say that Florida is one of those emerging teams that has some talent sprinkled throughout, but makes up for lack of talent by playing ugly. They drag you down into their swampy comfort zone and cheerfully beat you wallering in the mud, biting reptiles, stinging bugs, brain-eating amoebas and general hideousness.

Trask, a redshirt junior who has graduated and could have gone anywhere else to play, may be a steadying influence. If nothing else, he loves being a Gator, or else he’d be long gone.

If he doesn’t try to do too much, gets the ball to the guys around him who can go with it, and the offensive line steps up its game just a touch, the offense could come together enough to be a big, old ugly team that can’t do anything right but beat you.. The defense was always semi-good, in a scattered, sputtering, fail-and-recover sort of way.

The Gators, 3-0 now with a conference win, look more like a spoiler than a contender this year. But we’ll know more next week when Tennessee comes to Gainesville.

The Vols finally got a win – 45-0 over Chattanooga, which wasn’t much of a team. But when you’re stuck in the kind of nightmare tailspin the Big Orange was in, it doesn’t matter how you come out of it. That victory does not mean there aren’t a few hundred thousand Vols fans who didn’t read that demented column last week suggesting that Athletic Director Phil Fulmer fire head coach Jeremy Pruitt and take over himself to lead the Vols back to the towering heights attained under his leadership before, you know, everything went to shit.

Is Auburn’s offense starting to show up?

It’s hard to tell a lot about how Auburn performed against Kent State, who didn’t put up much of a fight.

Auburn’s defense has been the strength of the team, buying time for the offense to catch up.

But the Golden Flashes caused a moment of discord when quarterback Dustin Crum gashed the Tigers secondary with a 53-yard scoring pass. A lot of people were suddenly thinking, Oh, Lord, if this guy can do that what are Joe Burrow, Jake Fromm and Tua do?

The Tigers ran the ball the best they have all year. Baby Bo got more work under center and gets smoother all the time. They piled up more than 600 yards – but again, it was, like, you know, Kent State.

We’ll find out Saturday when AU goes to Texas A&M, which has a lot to prove after laying an egg at Clemson – even though Clemson had a lot to do with that.

It’s a big game. If Auburn wins, Texas A&M is playing for funsies. If Auburn loses, the Tigers will be behind the eight-ball from here on out.

And they’re young and growing and all that – except for the OL, which is mature and just not real good, but the feeling so far is that Auburn’s offense has been wobbling along at high speed like a car racing down the interstate with a loose wheel. You’re just waiting for those lugs to pop off.

Is Alabama that good? Is Clemson?

Yeah, yeah, they are. It’s just that we expect them to be flawless and destroy all that dares stand before them.

Alabama’s offensive line still looks sketchy at times – though it did show signs of stabilization after a miserable first quarter against South Carolina. Then Tua got uncrunk and here he went again, 444 yards and four touchdowns like it was nothing.

The defense got beat a few times by … South Carolina … and that makes you wonder what it’ll do against better teams with actually hellacious offenses. But let’s face it – Alabama’s schedule is cake. Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee are awful, and Mississippi State was pitiful losing at home to Kansas State. A trip to Texas A&M on Oct. 10 is nothing to look past, but it’s not as ominous as it once was. LSU, way up there on Nov. 11 should be a dilly, but it’s at Tuscaloosa and if Alabama hasn’t worked the kinks out by then, it’s not going to. Auburn has a good defense – and if the offense catches up and builds come confidence the regular-season finale in Auburn could be a bitch. But if Auburn loses a few games and the offense sputters, they’ll be done for by late November.

Clemson’s waltz to the postseason is even easier. There’s not a team on their schedule they shouldn’t stomp.

Alabama will have to get past Georgia, probably, in the SEC title game if all goes as expected, and the Dawgs look damn good. That Jake Fromm is a smooth operator. He just calmly drops back into the pocket and murders you, and those two running backs are horror shows. The defense is hellish.

There seem to be a lot more pretty good teams this year. Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are all scary, and could beat anybody on a good day. Maybe even any day.

But it still looks like Clemson, Bama and Georgia in that order again this year – if nobody gets hurt, which has a bad habit of happening. Oh, and if LSU keeps torching defenses and smushing opposing offenses, put them in the mix, too.