Touchdown Jesus showed up for the Fightin' Irish in South Bend last Saturday, just after the willowy Eric Ainge did the hokey pokey toward the Vol sidelines on the heels of tying up the Irish at 21 in the second half. Twenty points later, and Notre Dame had passed Tennessee on the right, not using a turn signal at all, just mashing the gas.
The Volunteers are now left with having to win out over Memphis, Kentucky and Vandy in order to be bowl eligible. And Vandy has a pretty good team.
The first order of business for the new look Big Orange will be to try to win a game against cross-state rival Memphis this Saturday in Knoxville. Tiger running back D'Angelo Williams is easily one of the top runners in the country, and converted Memphis quarterback Maurice Avery is surprisingly proficient at his new position.
The Memphis Tigers have a long consistent history of harassing the East Tennessee Orange, and there is simply no reason on God's green mountain that they won't do it again this week. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For some reason the Vol coaching staff still believes that scarecrow Vol QB Eric Ainge will forget about his checkerboard past and play football like a real Orangeman. But so far there are only the shrink bill and five losses to reference at the season-ending coaching inquisition. And there's still a lot of football to be played from now until the Music City Bowl, should that opportunity indeed arise. Tennessee 24 Memphis 14.
Holy visor toss, the Cocks are in the postseason already! Who'd a thunk Steve Spurrier would take enough time out of his busy golfing schedule to marshal South Carolina to a winning season in his very first year in command?
While it's true South Carolina has had a few personnel losses before and during the season, especially at wide receiver, it is also true that freshman running back Mike Davis is beginning to assert himself in the Cock offense, and that factor alone has increased potency as much as any sure-handed tight end on the planet. Nirvana, in the form of back-to-back victories over Tennessee and Arkansas, has South Carolina daring to shoot for a nine win campaign.
Florida must be secretly trembling over the prospect of an early -morning upset in Columbia, because in truth the Gators are just a touch light in the seat of the pants themselves, Chris Leak's right arm notwithstanding. As with the near-miss against Vandy a week ago impressed in their memory, Florida will be lucky to get out of this thing alive. Florida 20, South Carolina 17.
Vanderbilt was treated like, well, Vanderbilt in Gainesville last Saturday night, despite the watchful eye of a nighttime ESPN audience, many of whom had already quit watching Miami annihilate Virginia Tech on another air wave. So there it was in broad nightlight, Vandy, three measly yards away from the season's biggest upset and, POW! The yellow hankey.
How DARE the Commodores excite themselves so about a potential road win over the Gators! Can you imagine just how panicked those zebras were when they realized the Dores were but a three-yard gain away from SEC disaster?
Vandy quarterback Jay Cutler will be trying to get the Commodores back on a winning track.
Actually, you don't have to imagine anything. If you were watching, you saw it. Perhaps next time Bobby Johnson will hurriedly send out his kicker and run the fake. But, heck, I guess there's always illegal formation or holding if it appears that the play might work. Great stuff guys. Check's in the mail.
Meanwhile, back in Lexington, the Big Blue had a pretty good day of it on offense at Commonwealth Stadium where the Cats piled up more than four centuries of yardage against Auburn and fired up the scoreboard with 27 home team points. Running back Rafael Little and quarterback Andre Woodson are to be feared if you are a downtrodden VU this weekend, even though the game is in Nashville. Vanderbilt 31, Kentucky 30.
Whoa Nellie! Wild Boyz and the Razorbacks in the Grove where the sedge is withered from the lake and no birds sing. Losing seems like a 140-year habit that the Rebels just can't seem to shake, but in this case, it's likely more the fault of one yankee offensive coordinator than it is a top 40 defense orchestrated by a colossal Cajun with a highly offensive ‘tude.
QB Ethan Flatt
If ever Ethan Flatt is given the entire, four-quarter chance at quarterback, this Ole Miss team may just live up to its traditional role as giant killer and general conference menace. Ole Miss 20 Arkansas 17.
Alabama has been the SEC's psychic vampire all season long, converting into friendly fodder, a score of bottom-feeding offensive weaklings, whose sole purpose in football life seems to be to enable Alabama to perpetuate its self-spun myth of invincibility. Hogwash. Take those broken wings and leant to fly. Dracula cannot survive without co-dependence upon his victims. Be gone, I tell you. Where's the silver bullet or the wooden stake? For God's sake, where's Touchdown Jesus when you need him? Won't anybody bell that cat?
Quiet now. Put a sock in the howling dog. Our hero Jamarcus is on the bus, a hand on the laces, earphones around his head. Like a long-armed Cajun assassin waiting in the weeds, his impending deed moves upon silence.
With whom should they score? And since when do they win at home in Tuscaloosa, these boneyard-bound bloodsuckers of the lie? Alas, peace be with you all. The spirit that rises will be that of the Sunday morning watchman signaling, "all is well." It's an old gambler's adage. LSU wins in Tuscaloosa. Never forget again what you once so keenly understood: The trend is your friend. LSU 20, Alabama 13.
Speaking of trends, has there ever been a more magnificent setting for big Auburn football wins than that land between the hedges by the mountain streams in Athens, GA?
Lord, I remember.
Where Sullivan launched Beasley and Bo ran for the SEC and the zone anyway--all the way--despite being out of bounds. Just to make a point, you see. Brooks held up #1 on his way to 200 in only 13 carries while Cribbs zagged for 166. Frank Warren did the rest. Leard came back home and Ronney made mockery of lone corners helpless again and again. We laughed out loud that day. Frank Sanders soared high in the end zone, and Bostic and Tony Richardson galloped like stallions loosed. Where once Freddy Weygand reversed and Aundray leapt tall Dawgs on his way to the goal line. Do you remember?
We saw Fred and Dameyune take over the night, and cold as it was, seemed ever so cozy. And crazy Cobb and Carnell, too, 41 carries for the orange and blue. Heck yes, I remember, and you do, too. To those of us who have knowledge of the tracks, we who sat on the hillside as younger voyeurs of these great warriors at their work, the Red is an invitation, a homecoming of sorts. Where once old white Dawgs, slow and square, were confounded by something more immediate, more urgent, more intent. Indeed, more at home. War Eagle my brothers and sisters. Eat a peach. Auburn 23, Georgia 17.
Editor's Note: Mark Green was 5-1 on last week's pick and for the season is 54-14 (.794).