Posted: Friday October 28, 2005 1:29PM; Updated: Friday October 28, 2005 7:38PM
College football is not taking us seriously this Saturday. The nation's top two teams have league dates with a pair of teams that are a combined 0-8 in their conferences. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is minus a D.J. (Shockley, the Georgia QB). What's a party without a D.J.?
You play games with us, college football, we'll play games with you. Hence, I'm devoting this entire column to Sudoku!
Okay, maybe not. But we will play Word Train (the name's of my own coining; I'm open to suggestions). In this game, you link nouns, phrases and terms that otherwise have nothing to do with one another (e.g. Keith Jackson Brown vs. The Board of Education) until the ideas reach a caboose. For the "Weekend Pickoff" version, a player from one of the pertinent schools must comprise a car on the train.
What does any of this have to do with who I think will win? Very little. Or about as much as this Saturday has to do with who will win the national title.
Laurence Ma-roney, the San Francisco Treat Williams Sonoma Catalog. The Golden Gophers ground-gainer is ranked third nationally in rushing (161.9 yards per game) and the impetus behind the No. 1 rushing attack. The Buckeyes defense is No. 1 in the nation against the run, holding opponents to 62.7 yards per game. No. 1 versus No. 1. Ground hogs versus ground grinches. I like the hogs ... barely.
Devin Hester Prynne Tin Tin Man-churian Candidate. Like his namesake from The Scarlet Letter, the Hurricanes' punt returner finds himself a shunned figure. Opposing punters won't kick to him, which is why Hester's first punt return for a TD this season did not happen until Miami's most recent win, against Temple. Miami, itching to play after a Wilma-imposed bye week and still smarting from last year's upset in Chapel Hill, will play as if possessed by Angela Lansbury.
Going retro-Gator on this one: Lance Kerwin Bell Epoque-alypse Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 12. A four-year starter (1984-87) at quarterback for the Gators, Bell led the SEC in passing his first two years before regressing his last two. Present-day Gators quarterback Chris Leak, who led the SEC in passing last season, is the currently conference's sixth-rated passer. Can Leak change that tune against the nation's No. 5 scoring defense?
Some-people-call-me-Maurice Drew Olson Twin Cities. The Bruins' Maurice Drew has more total yards (rushing/receiving/punt returns) than his Trojans counterpart, Reggie Bush. And Bruins quarterback Drew Olson has a higher passer efficiency rating than Matt Leinart. Plus, according to the school's website, the internet was invented at UCLA ... and then Stanford alums (e.g., the Google founders) figured out how to become bazillionaires off it.
Hanging Chad Henne Youngman-there's-a-place-you-can-go fish outta Watership Down. Q: Why is a game in Evanston being shown in primetime? A: The World Series did not need to return to Chicago for Game 6; and neither the Wildcats nor the Wolverines play a dull game. Keep your eyes on Wildcats linebacker Tim McGarigle (41), who led the nation in tackles last season and has twice as many as any teammate this year.
Jesse Mahelona-gain, naturally. A shout-out to Gilbert O'Sullivan on the Pickoff?!? You betcha. The Irish pop star also charted with Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, which is exactly what Vols coach Phillip Fulmer is asking himself as he endures a lingering quarterback controversy and season-ending injuries to leading rusher Gerald Riggs Jr., and defensive back Jason Allen, both seniors. Oh, and now his old pal Steve Spurrier comes a' callin'.
Hedy ('That's Hedley!') Lamar Owens Corning Insulation. Navy's senior QB missed parts of the Midshipmen's first two games -- both losses -- because of poor hydration, as opposed to insulation. Specifically, cramping. But once Owens, the team's leading rusher and passer, overcame his lactic acid woes, the Middies embarked on a four-game win streak. Meanwhile, if Rutgers had held on to a 27-7, third-quarter lead during the season-opener in Champaign, the Scarlet Knights would be 6-1 right now.
Yo, Adrian Peterson-tory Times Square Peg-it-will-come-back-to-you. Remember Adrian Peterson? A.D.? Ran for 1,925 yards as a freshman last season, breaking the NCAA freshman record (Ron Dayne, Wisconsin) while finishing as the runner-up for the Heisman? Those were relaxing times, Suntory times. Now? He has 16 carries -- and 57 yards -- in his past four games. A.D.'s been hampered by an ankle sprain, but he's also become a father and been disciplined for missing class.
John David Booty Call of the Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle up and Deal. Booty, a redshirt sophomore QB, is an understudy in patience. He began playing varsity high school football in the seventh grade. He threw 88 TD passes in his last two prep seasons, then graduated a year early and moved to L.A. For all that precociousness, he's been at USC for three years and, as Leinart's backup, attempted 37 passes. He'll likely augment that figure Saturday once the Trojans go up by 28.
Vince Young Guns & Ammo-right, don't nobody worry 'bout me. Last year a scary good, second-ranked Oklahoma bunch with the Heisman runner-up invaded Stillwater (well, not with live ammunition; it's a figure of speech) and barely escaped with a win. This year? Different school, same circumstances -- No. 2 Longhorns with likely Heisman runner-up Young -- and a much easier victory.