Friday, September 6, 2013

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK ZERO



The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

Hello Football Fans,
It was a great first week on the gridiron.

So much to talk about, so little time.  See the following summary, including some details.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL,

On the lam from the gambling police (as usual – Ed)


LAST THURSDAY’S COLLEGE KICKOFF

The 2013 season got off to a roaring start last Thursday night, with some great games available for viewing.

In the very first game of the season, host South Carolina (-12h) was leading North Carolina 27-10 (and covering ATS) with 8½ minutes to go in the game when play was suspended for lightning.  Had the game been cancelled, it would not have counted as a game ATS according to most Vegas sportsbooks (must be under 5 minutes), and per FFHL rules.  But unfortunately for some of us, the game was eventually completed, with UNC failing to score on four straight passes from the USC Gamecocks’ five-yard line that would have allowed the Tar Heels to cover ATS (what were they thinking?!!?  No sense of urgency)

And then there was the SEC opener, a thrilling game in which visiting Mississippi (-3) beat underdog Vanderbilt, 39-35.  The VU Commodores were down 28-32 facing a 4th-and-18 with 2 minutes remaining in the game, in dire straits, but converted and then scored on the next play, a 34-yard TD pass to go ahead 35-32.  Ole Miss wasted little time in answering back with a 75-yard TD run to go ahead 39-35 with 1:07 on the clock.  Vandy ran back the ensuing kickoff to their 49-yard line, but threw an interception to end the game with a loss, snapping their 7-game winning streak from last year.  Oh, and you probably noticed that the winning score also gave the Rebels the cover ATS by 1 point.

And then there was the “Battle of the Brothers”, Utah State at Utah (-2h), in which the host Utes were hanging on to a 27-26 lead until late in the game, running out the clock but finally faced with a 4th down and only 24 seconds to go.  They opted for the insurance FG from 38 yards to win 30-26 and cover ATS by 1.5 points.

And even later on Thursday night in an overtime game that continued past midnight (Pacific), Fresno State (-10) beat visiting Rutgers, 52-51 when the Scarlet Knights went for two after their TD in the first overtime period, and since it was not converted, the game was over.

And even later than that, USC (-23h) won at Hawaii, 30-13, but failed to cover ATS.  The Trojans scored a TD with only 48 seconds left to go ahead 30-5, but then gave up a Rainbow Warrior TD pass six seconds later to end the scoring.




“UPSETS” -- FCS (Division 1-AA) beats FBS (Division 1-A)

It was an ugly start for EIGHT FBS teams that lost to FCS schools.  Historically, that is a huge number of upsets by FCS schools in the first week (and a high number for a whole season).

FBS Kansas State, last year’s Big XII Champion, lost at home to FCS#1 North Dakota State, 24-21, after leading 21-7 in mid-3rd quarter.  And the NDS Bison had to drive 80 yards for a TD in the 4th quarter to win the game; it was an impressive 18-play, 8½ minute drive that ran the clock down to 0:19.

AP#25 FBS Oregon State lost at home to FCS#3 Eastern Washington 49-46, as the EWU Eagles generated a late 4th quarter TD to win – an impressive 11-play, 4½ minute drive leaving only 0:18 on the clock.  The OSU Beavers still got into FG range, but missed on a 50-yarder.  There were no turnovers in the game by either team.  EWA produced 625 yards from scrimmage.
It was only the 3rd time that an FCS school had beaten a ranked FBS school (Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007 and James Madison over Virginia Tech in 2010). 

FBS San Diego State got crushed at home by FCS#23 Eastern Illinois, 40-19, giving up five turnovers and losing the 2nd half 21-3.

FBS Iowa State lost at home to in-state rival FCS#16 Northern Iowa, 28-20, even though the Cyclones won the turnover battle 2-0 and the yards from scrimmage were close (UNI 457, ISU 410).  ISU had numerous red zone failures, and the UNI Panthers prevailed.

FBS Connecticut (from the new AAC conference) lost at home to FCS#12 Towson, 33-18.

FBS South Florida (also from the new AAC, formerly the Big East) got blown out at home by FCS McNeese State, 53-21.  Brutal loss.

South Alabama, in its second year in the FBS, lost at home to FCS Southern Utah, 22-21.

Georgia State, in its first year in the FBS, lost at home to FCS Samford, 31-21.

FCS UPSETS – “NOT QUITE”:
Illinois eked out a victory at home over unranked FCS Southern Illinois, 42-34.
West Virginia beat visiting unranked FCS William & Mary, 24-17.
Kent State beat visiting unranked FCS Liberty, 17-10.





FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

Overall, only SEVEN underdogs won their games outright in 44 FBS vs. FBS games, for a 16% upset rate.  The oddsmakers have already dialed in the point spreads, and many games ended up within a touchdown of the spread.

Clemson (+3) beat visiting Georgia, 38-35 in a see-saw game that puts the CU Tigers in position for a potential national title run.  Their big games will come on October 19th at home versus Florida State and on the road at South Carolina on November 30th.  Late in the 4th quarter, the UGA Bulldogs had 1st and goal at the Clemson 5-yard line, ran three straight plays up the gut, and settled for a FG try to tie the game, but the high snap was bobbled and no points were scored on the drive.

UTSA (+3h) won at New Mexico, 21-13, as the Roadrunners outscored the Lobos 14-0 in the 2nd half.

Texas State (+8h) won at Southern Mississippi, 22-15.  The USM Golden Eagles extended their losing streak to 13 games (that is, 0-12 last year plus this ugly loss).

Western Kentucky (+4h) under new HC Bobby Petrino beat the SEC’s bottom-feeder Kentucky, 35-26, at neutral site Nashville, TN.

Northern Illinois (+3) won at Iowa, 30-27, as the Hawkeyes threw an interception around midfield with 1½ minutes remaining in the game with the score tied 27-27, which led to the NIU Huskies’ game-winning 36-yard FG with 4 seconds on the clock.  Iowa hadn’t lost a season opener since 2000.  The Hawks currently have a seven-game losing streak, and will threaten to break that ugly string of losses with a home game on Saturday against unranked FCS foe Missouri State.

Virginia (+1) beat visiting BYU 19-16 on a TD with 2:37 remaining in the game.  The Cougars outgained UVA 362-223 from scrimmage and won the turnover battle 1 to 2, but still lost in a game suspended for 2 hours because of inclement weather in Charlottesville, VA.

Colorado (+3) beat in-state rival Colorado State in Denver, CO, 41-27, and the Buffaloes snapped their 8-game losing streak from last year.

AGAINST THE SPREAD – “STRANGE TWISTS”

Probably in the wrong category here, but the game stats were a shocker to me. #1 Alabama (-20h) beat Virginia Tech handily at neutral site Atlanta, 35-10, but covered ATS by less than a touchdown.  VA Tech actually outgained the Tide from scrimmage, 212-206 and each team had only 1 turnover.  However, ‘Bama scored on a kickoff return, an interception return, and a punt return to leave no doubt.

Wisconsin was favored by 44½ points and beat visiting Massachusetts 45-0 to cover ATS by the hook.  The experts are already doing a great job of setting the lines this year.

There are many other instances where the point spread comes into play, but I lost this week so I’m tired of talking about the spreads right now.  Maybe I’ll be in a better mood next week.

FFHL RESULTS – WEEK ZERO

Quite amazingly, six of the 12 handicappers in our pool posted records of 3-4 ATS for the week.  And each of them lost their head-to-head matchup, as each of their opponents posted either a 4-3 or 5-2 record ATS.  Is the FFHL becoming a “fair” and “balanced” game of skill?  Doubtful.

Overall, we FFHL’ers started out the year with a decent week at 46-38-0 (54.6%) ATS.
We selected 16 underdogs out of 84 picks, and those ‘dogs were 8-8-0 ATS, or 50.0% ATS.  That means we performed better with our “favorites” picks, a 55.9% win percentage.

Collectively, our #1 picks and #2 picks for this week were the worst, each going only 4-8-0 ATS, or 33.3% ATS.  Our Pick#4 was best at 10-2 ATS, or 83.3%.

In this college-only first week:

                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

            FAVORITES               25-19-0  (56.8%)        37-7  (84.1%)
            HOME TEAMS           21-17-0  (55.3%)        30-8  (88.9%)

OTHER FOOTBALL MINUTIA

In the AP Poll, the Oregon Ducks leapfrogged Ohio State into the #2 spot, and Clemson jumped up to #4 after its win over Georgia, who dropped to #11.  Boise State and Oregon State dropped out of the Top 25 with losses over the weekend, and U-Dub (Washington) #20 and Baylor #23 entered the poll.

Based on the new “targeting” rule, six players were ejected from games last weekend.  Three of those players were flagged and ejected in the 2nd half of their game, meaning that each of them will miss the first half of their next game.  However, one of those three got a reprieve based on a technicality, because an ejection is supposed to be reviewed by replay officials at the time of the call on the field, and that process was not performed properly.  The PAC-12 Conference later reviewed the film and determined that had the replay official reviewed the ejection play, it would have been reversed and the player would have been able to continue playing in the game.  He will get to play the full game next week.

There are 31 new head coaches in FBS College FB this year.  Fourteen got wins during the opening weekend, another 15 suffered losses, and 2 were idle.
The winners: ARK.St, Auburn, BC, CIN, Kent St, NC State, Northern Illinois, Oregon, SJ State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, W. Kentucky, and Wisconsin.

Heisman Hopefuls – The Odds Have Changed

#1        QB Teddy BRIDGEWATER (LOUIS)               5/1 odds (9/1 two weeks ago)
#2        QB Braxton MILLER (OHIO ST)                   13/2 (was preseason favorite 9/2)
#3        QB Johnny “Bad Boy” MANZIEL (TXAM)     15/2
            (was 4/1 before off-field issues, which dropped him to 15/1, and then after the
              NCAA ruled on his suspension, he popped back to 7/1 before 1st game)
#4T      QB Tajh BOYD (CLEMSON)                           8/1
#4T      QB Marcus MARIOTA (OREGON)                  8/1
#6T      RB Duke JOHNSON (MIA.FL)                      10/1  (top non-QB right now)
#6T      QB Jameis WINSTON (FSU)                        10/1 (redshirt freshman)

                       
                                                                       
NFL NEWS

The QB carousel continues, as my info from September 1st has already changed.

The NY Jets cut QB Graham Harrell and signed QB Brady Quinn to be the experienced backup behind rookie starter Geno Smith, as it now appears Mark Sanchez is injured more seriously than we were earlier led to believe (maybe out for a month).

The OAK Raiders did cut this year’s 4th round QB selection in Tyler Wilson, but then re-signed him to their practice squad later.  It appears Terrelle Pryor has in fact beat out Matt Flynn for the starting job in Week #1.

Sophomore QB Robert Griffin III, coming off major knee surgery in the offseason, will start for the Washington ‘Skins in Week #1.  Sophomore QB Kirk Cousins is available as the capable backup.

In Jacksonville, QB Blaine Gabbert broke the thumb on his throwing hand earlier in the preseason, but started practicing again on Monday and is playing through the pain.  He should start in Week #1

In San Diego, rookie MLB Manti Te’o is still nursing a foot injury and is doubtful to play in Week #1 for the Chargers.





LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #1

Thursday         Sept 5th            Florida Atlantic (+20h) at East Carolina

Friday             Sept 6th            Wake Forest (+3) at Boston College

Saturday
Sept 7th            South Carolina (+3h) at Georgia
             Florida (-3) at Miami of Florida
             Notre Dame (+3h) at Michigan
                       Texas (-7h) at BYU

It’s a relatively weak schedule this week; sets up well for a focus on the NFL.
                       
NFL WEEK #1 – SELECTED GAMES

Refer to previous letter sent out September 1st
           
QUIZ QUESTIONS

Even with 3-day weekend, I ran out of time and do not have a stumper for you this week.
Sorry, Krueg and Debbie.

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