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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.

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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.