Thursday, September 12, 2013

Your College Football Weekend Primer: Saban vs Johnny

Striking the Heisman pose and beating Alabama made Johnny Manziel a household name in 2012.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

The college football season really gets going this week with, maybe, the most anticipated game of the year.

You just know Nick Saban, even with yet another crystal football in hand, has been sporting a throbbing hate boner for Johnny Manziel since he torched the Tide last year in Tuscaloosa. That means Bama will be even more focused than usual for A&M. Like, they're going to go from everyday sociopath focused, to American Psycho focused this week.

On the other side, you have the most polarizing athlete since Tim Tebow from a few weeks ago. Johnny Football, the chaotically brilliant and wonderfully unpredictable dual-threat quarterback is on the verge of, depending who you listen to, leading A&M to a national title, or tearing the entire football program, and possibly the fabric of civilized society, apart.

Here's just hoping Johnny gets a few good-natured taunts in before the Crimson Tide defense breaks him in half and Nick Saban pees in his dead skull. YOU F^*%#D WITH THE WRONG COLLEGE FOOTBALL DICTATOR!

Who is this Baker Mayfield Kid? You'll Find Out Thursday

There's been a lot of talk about Manziel, along with Florida State sensation Jameis Winston, but the out-of-nowhere QB story I want to tell you about is Texas Tech's Baker Mayfield.

Never heard of him?

Well, I'm pretty sure new Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury hadn't until this past August, so you're not alone.

The freshman walk-on, who didn't arrive in Lubbock until July after turning down his ONLY Division I scholarship offer (Florida Atlantic), has since taken the reins of Kingsbury's Air Raid attack and put up legit video game numbers.

Sure, one of those games was against FCS foe Stephen F. Austin, but Mayfield was even better in Tech's opener against an underrated SMU defense. In his first start ever, Mayfield thew for 413 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers on 72 percent passing. On the year he has completed 71 percent of his throws for 780 yards, seven touchdowns and no turnovers. He's also rushed for a touchdown and led the Tech offense to 102 points and nearly 1,200 yards of offense in just two games.

So yeah, the numbers jump off the page a little bit.

But we'll see just how good this kid, who was a state champion quarterback at Texas' Lake Travis High School, is Thursday night at home against a stingy TCU defense. The 24th ranked Horned Frogs are dealing with their own quarterback issues, as senior Casey Pachall left last Saturday's win over Southeastern Louisiana (Seriously, these freaking teams they schedule) with a forearm injury. Up-and-down sophomore Trevone Boykin will step in after going 3-6 as a starter last season, but TCU will still present the best defense Mayfield has faced to date.

Also, Gary Patterson is a Hypocrite

The Horned Frogs will be getting back reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the year Devonte Fields, who didn't play in their season-opening loss to LSU. Actually, just weeks after blasting LSU coach Les Miles for reinstating running back Jeremy Hill for the Tigers' game against TCU, Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson showed his true colors, ending Fields' two-game suspension early last week.

Leading by only three points at halftime, Patterson put Fields back into the lineup to make sure his team avoided the embarrassment of losing to Southeastern Louisiana.

Congrats coach, you're a real model of integrity and not at all a total hypocrite!

Sneaky Good Game of the Week: UCF at Penn State

If you think Penn State is going to roll over UCF this Saturday in Happy Valley, then you don't know too much about the Knights. Here are a few quick reasons why UCF will make this a game.

1. Quarterback Blake Bortles: His name may sound like the nerdy alter-ego of a bad super hero, but this kid is a model of efficiency. While he's only thrown the ball 43 times in two games, he's made the most of his opportunities, completing 70 percent of his passes for 530 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He's also averaging a robust 12.3 yards every time he drops back to pass.

I don't want to give coach George O'Leary career advice (Because I feel bad about not giving him the advice to NOT make stuff up on his resume to Notre Dame), but maybe he should let the best QB in the AAC not named Teddy throw the ball a little more.

2. Running Back Storm Johnson:
His name may sound like an American Gladiator… Wait, there is absolutely nothing negative about that. GIVE STORM JOHNSON THE M*+#%R F*@^!^G BALL!!!!!

Anyways, the junior transfer from Miami is averaging 5 yards per carry and already has five rushing touchdowns on the year. He's not as good as his name might suggest, but he's pretty good.

3. Stingy D: Ok, so Akron and Florida International don't exactly have potent offenses, but when you only give up seven points in your first two games, I'm pretty impressed. Another nice stat for UCF: They've only allowed two plays of 20 yards or more all season, and held FIU to just 30 yards on the ground last week.

4. Gonna be Geeked:
UCF is mostly comprised of kids that were told they weren't good enough to play at Florida's big three schools, or any of the national powers that regularly recruit the Sunshine State. That includes Penn State.

But it won't just be about hoping to prove people wrong, UCF should also revel in the attention that playing in Happy Valley affords. Not only will the game be Big Ten Network's primary game that night, the Knights will also play in front of nearly 106,000 fans at Beaver Stadium

To put that into perspective, they played in front of a reported 15,823 at FIU last week, but it looked closer to 8,000 based on how empty the stadium was.

Big Ten vs Pac 12

While we won't get an Ohio State/Michigan vs Stanford/Oregon type of game, the Big Ten and Pac 12 will lock horns for four relatively significant games. First, UCLA travels to Lincoln for a noon kickoff with the Huskers on ABC. That game should tell us a great deal about how far both these teams can go, and expectations are as high as they've been in the past decade for UCLA. Can the Bruins knock off an explosive, but inconsistent Nebraska squad?

Then at six Washington, also riding high expectations, travels to Urbana-Champaign to face the suddenly potent Illinois offense. Look for a fun quarterback duel between Washington star Keith Price and rejuvenated Iliini signal caller Nathan Scheelhaase.

An hour later Ohio State kicks off in Berkley against Cal for what should be the least competitive of the four games, but it's still a BCS team on the road. So hey, ya never know. Finally, we get an interesting game between Wisconsin and Arizona State in Phoenix. Wisconsin has been its usual dominant-against-cupcakes early season self, but the Sun Devil defensive line will be the Badgers' toughest test yet.

Considering the Big Ten has just about zero respect right now, they need solid showings in these games, as well as Penn State against UCF, and they'll probably be hoping for Purdue to pull off a miracle and not lose by 30 to Notre Dame. Indiana against Bowling Green is no slam dunk for the conference either, as the Hoosiers are coming off a loss to Navy. Iowa travels to face rival Iowa State in a game that just might feature the worst teams in the Big Ten and Big 12, respectively.

But it's also a big weekend for the Pac 12 which, outside of Stanford and Oregon, is looking to earn some national acclaim. We keep hearing that the Arizona schools are going to do something big, and we know UCLA has potential, but if they go 1-3 or worse in these games against the Big Ten, perception will be that the conference is two great teams and a whole lotta "meh."


First, here is your Stone Cold video of the week.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here is my Stone Cold betting lock of the week. Home team in caps.:

Notre Dame (-23) over PURDUE

As a Purdue grad, am I hoping that making this my lock will alleviate some of the pain of my alma mater getting blown out on national television? You betcha, but it's a pretty solid bet to make. Purdue lost by 35 in week 1 to a Cincinnati team that turned around and got blasted by Illinois, so Purdue has already shown it can get blown out by less than spectacular teams. Plus, the Boilers needed a last minute interception to escape with a home win over Indiana State last week.

What was even more disturbing was the fact that Purdue could only generate one offensive touchdown against ISU, a team that lowly Indiana scored 73 points on the week before. Purdue may have the worst offense in major college football right now, and the defense is decent, but not good enough to hold Notre Dame's athletes in check. This one has 28-0 at halftime and 45-7 final written all over it.

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