Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK #5



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

I am still fired up about last [10-3] Thursday night's game.  See letter for details.  The letter is longer this week, since I will be taking some time off.  Next letter will be about October 29th.

The Fugitive will be out searching for the one-armed man for a few weeks (remember, the real killer only got caught in the movie, and that’s not reality).  In a reverse Kung Fu (David Carradine, R.I.P.) search, I’m headed to China in the continuing quest to find my wife’s murderer.  I should be back and ready to kick out another newsletter on October 29th.  In the meantime, please pay attention and send me emails if you see anything really interesting.

[Youngsters say: “Who is David Carradine?”
Answer: Grasshopper (the name given to him by the blind Kung Fu master who heard a grasshopper sitting at the student Carradine’s feet]

Enjoy,
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, in search of the one-armed man

OK, Fugitive, get on with football - Ed


COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLLEGE “GAME OF THE YEAR” AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)

There is no reason to start talking football this week without first disposing of this bizarre result against the spread 2 Saturday nights ago.

Northwestern +7 hosted Ohio State and was ahead 23-13 early in the third quarter, lost the lead, but then retook the lead 30-27 after a 4th quarter TD with 9 minutes remaining in the game.  The OSU Buckeyes responded with a TD at 5:22 to take the lead 34-30, but still were not covering against the 7-point spread (and had never been covering ATS at any time during the game).  NW was stopped on downs on their next possession and punted.  Ohio State ran 5 plays and punted; but there were only 21 seconds on the clock, and the Wildcats needed to march 84 yards for the winning TD.  The first two plays were unsuccessful, but then came the last play of the game with 5 seconds remaining.  It was the ‘ole “hook-and-lateral” play; the pass was completed, the receiver lateral’d the ball to a teammate, who passed backwards to another teammate, and then another flip backwards rolled back into the end zone, and …..”No! No!”….. the Buckeyes landed on the loose ball for a TD and six points.  Game over.
FINAL: OSU 40, NW 30, and the Buckeyes covered ATS.  Unbelievable!
Statistically, this game was even, with no significant advantage to either team in any category (except for the last odd play of the game).



In the FFHL, three of us picked favored Ohio State and three picked the host NW Wildcats.  Quite amazingly, the other six of us all had a head-to-head opponent who picked that game.

HAWKEYE picked Northwestern, and with the Mildcats’ non-cover ATS, Mark lost his head-to-head matchup for the week to THE “Suddenly Lucky” FUGITIVE.

YO MAMA picked NW and lost his head-to-head matchup because of this game; had the game gone the other way, Doug would have tied WILD MAN with 5-2 record ATS.

MOORE MONEY also took NW, and Larry & Son lost to MIGHTY DUCK, but not because of this game.

On the other side:
KRAUT picked Ohio State to win that game ATS but still lost his head-to-head matchup in a tiebreaker to FILTER KING.  However, Mike did get a few extra “Deuce” points in the pool.

TOMMY BOY picked the Buckeyes to post a 4-3 record ATS, but still lost in a tiebreaker to 1-800-OPPOSITE.  Brandon also got a few extra FFHL2 points from this lucky cover ATS.

KID RUST picked Ohio State, but won his matchup over THE ROUNDERS by 3 games, so this lucky pick didn’t affect the head-to-head outcome.

FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In FBS college games this week, twelve underdogs won their games outright out of 55 games, or 21.8% (18.8% the previous week).

On Friday night, BYU +6 won convincingly at Utah State, 31-14.

Indiana +3 beat visiting Penn State, 44-24, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter.  Believe it or not, it was the first time the Hoosiers had ever beaten the PSU Nittany Lions (in their 17th meeting).  Of course, The Fugitive picked Penn State ATS because of this historical fact, and I jinxed them.

Ball State +5 won handily at Virginia, 48-27.

Wake Forest +7h beat visiting NC State, 28-13.  It was the Wolfpack’s first road game of the season.

Tulane +3 beat visiting North Texas, 24-21.

Rice +3 won at Tulsa, 30-27.

Florida Atlantic +4h won at UAB, 37-23.

South Florida +11h beat visiting Cincinnati, 26-20.

Missouri +1 won handily at Vanderbilt, 51-28.

Auburn +3 beat visiting Mississippi, 30-22.

Notre Dame +5h beat Arizona State, 37-34 in Dallas, TX.  The Irish were ahead 24-13 after three quarters, but the ASU Sun Devils scored two TD’s in the fourth quarter to tie the game 27-27 with 8:18 remaining in regulation play.  ND then retook the lead with a FG at 3:03, but ASU still had plenty of time.  Oops, Arizona State threw a Pick-6 (interception for a TD), and the game was all but over.  ASU scored a late TD with 11 seconds left.
FINAL: ND 37, ASU 34
From scrimmage, this game was even: ND 427, ASU 424, but AZ State had 3 turnovers to only one for the Irish.

SHOCKER OF THE WEEK:
Florida International +17 won at Southern Mississippi, 24-23.  One of these two teams had to taste victory, and it was the Panthers, who had lost its first four games by 33, 38, 21 (to FCS team), and 72.
The USM Golden Eagles have now lost 17 straight games, the first four of the 2013 campaign by 7 (to FCS team), 43, 21, and 53, plus they went 0-12 last season.  This most recent loss had to be shocking to fans in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; their team had posted a 12-2 record during the 2011 season.

NOT QUITE:

“CONSPIRACY THEORY”

On Thursday night, Iowa State +7 played evidently an “exhibition” game against visiting Texas, as the “powers-that-be” presumably had the ultimate outcome of the game already scripted.  The big money teams seem to rule, and the little guy gets crushed in the process.  More on that later.

Texas led host Iowa State 24-20 after three quarters, but the Cyclones scored 10 unanswered points including a FG with 3:40 remaining in the game to take the lead, 30-24, apparently leaving too much time on the clock for the visitors (and time for the officials to figure out that Texas may actually lose the game if something wasn’t done about this situation).  Texas marched 70 yards to get inside the Cyclones’ 5 yard line with time running out and needing a TD and extra point to win.  Texas RB Johnathan Gray ran up the middle toward the goal line… but wait, he had the ball stripped…. a fumble recovered by Iowa State and the game is over.  Not so fast, my Conspiracy Theory friend.  The Big XII officials ruled that the runner was downed by contact before the fumble.  Multiple video replays showed the ball being stripped and being returned downfield by Iowa State before the play was whistled dead (any fan watching that replay would have easily come to the conclusion that it was a fumble).  But the replay official in the booth would not overturn the ruling on the field.  Texas kept the ball and punched it in for the winning TD on the next play from scrimmage.
FINAL: TEX 31, ISU 30.
Iowa State outgained the Longhorns from scrimmage, 463-363, but the refs flagged “also-ran” ISU for 118 penalty yards vs. only 62 yards against Texas.

Texas appears to be bigger than the Big XII Conference itself.  The school did toy with leaving to join a proposed 16-team PAC-12 Conference, but ended up staying to keep the Big XII Conference alive.  And it’s well-known that Texas has the largest college football revenue in the country.  Could Texas really “afford” to have a Big 12 loss to Iowa State the week before the big hype game versus Oklahoma in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas the very next week (this Saturday).
Check this out:
Iowa State HC Paul Rhodes had a few choice comments for the media after the game, and the Big XII Conference muckety-mucks didn’t like it.  They reprimanded him for his thoughts about the disputed call.
Following is the conference’s statement claiming that there simply wasn’t any video evidence to overturn the call on the field:

“The ruling made on the goal line play was that the runner was down by rule with the ball.  Because of that ruling, instant replay is allowed to review the play, which it did.  Had the ruling on the field been forward progress, the play would not be reviewable because the goal line was not involved.  The Replay Official looked at all five views available for this play.  He correctly determined there was no indisputable video evidence to confirm that either the ruling on the field was correct, or that the ball was loose prior to the runner being down.  By rule when there is not indisputable video evidence to confirm or change the call on the field, the ruling stands.  On this play, the covering official ruled the runner was down and still had control of the ball.  There is no question the runner ends up on the ground, and there is no question that eventually an Iowa State player ends up with the ball.  However, after reviewing the video evidence it is impossible to tell with certainty when the runner loses control of the ball and at that point was he down or not.  The conference would acknowledge in this unique situation if a mistake were made, but we do not have the video evidence to prove that one occurred.”

Do you suppose this kind of statement works in real life?  If you repeat something enough times from a position of authority, does it become the truth?
Guess what Big XII official was responsible for producing the quoted statement above?
Walt Anderson, Doctorate of Dentistry, University of Texas, 1978.

I don’t feel any better after getting that off my chest.



COLLEGE POLLS

AP RANK       SU                   RECORD
TEAM             RECORD        ATS                 Comments

#1 Alabama         5-0                    2-3                   Plays cupcakes until Nov 9th LSU home
#2 Oregon           5-0                    4-0                   Plays at Stanford Thursday, Nov 7th
#3 Clemson         5-0                    3-1                   Hosts FSU on Oct 19th
#4 Ohio State       6-0                    4-1                   Plays soft schedule, at Michigan Nov 30th
#5 Stanford          5-0                   2-3                   Hosts Notre Dame on Nov. 30th
#6 Florida St        5-0                    3-1                   Plays at Clemson Oct 19th
#7 Georgia            4-1                  1-3-1                Plays at JAX vs. Florida Nov 2nd
#8 Louisville         5-0                   2-1-1                Hosts UCF Friday, Oct 18th
#9 TX A&M         4-1                  2-2                   Plays at LSU Nov 23rd
#10 LSU               5-1                  3-2-1                Hosted Florida last Saturday
#11 UCLA             4-0                  4-0                   Plays at Stanford Oct 19th
#12 Oklahoma       5-0                  3-2                   Played Texas in Dallas last Saturday
#13 Miami.FL       5-0                   3-1                   Plays at FSU on Nov 2nd
#14 S.Carolina       4-1                  1-4                   Plays FL & Clemson home in Nov.
#15 Baylor            4-0                   3-0                   Hosts Oklahoma Thursday, Nov 7th
#16 Washington     4-1                  4-0                   Barely lost to Stanford last weekend
#17 Florida            4-1                  2-3                   Played at LSU last Saturday
#18 Michigan        5-0                   3-2                   Hosts Ohio State on Nov 30th finale
#19 Northwestern  4-1                   2-2                   Barely lost to Ohio State last weekend
#20 Texas Tech     5-0                   3-1                   Plays at Oklahoma on Oct 26th

The following three teams were dropped from the Top 25 after losses last weekend: Arizona State, Mississippi, Maryland.

We still have no major upsets in the Top 10, although several games involving Top 20 teams were close this week.
#4 Ohio State was fortunate just to win at #16 Northwestern
#5 Stanford only beat #15 UW by 3 points at home
#6 Georgia faded late and won at Tennessee by only 3 points in overtime
#11 Oklahoma won only by three points over visiting TCU
#13 South Carolina beat visiting Kentucky by only 7 points

The USA Today Poll has the same Top 23 as the AP Poll, with slightly different ordering.


NFL AFTER WEEK #5

Undefeated teams: NOR, DEN, KC
Winless teams: NYG, TB, PIT, JAX


NFC East:       DAL & PHI lead division at 2-3; WSH is only ½ game out at 1-3 and the
0-5 Giants are only 2 games out of 1st place (ugly)
AFC North: BAL & CIN & CLE are all still tied at the top at 3-2
NFC North: DET & CHI at 3-2 have a ½ game lead on GB
NFC South: NOR already has a 3 .5-game lead in the division (CAR at 1-3; ATL at 1-4)
AFC West: DEN & KC at 5-0 have 3-game lead on SD & OAK


NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In pro games this week, SIX underdogs won their games outright out of 14 games, or 42.9% (last week was 40.0%).

Indianapolis +2h knocked visiting Seattle from the unbeaten ranks with a comeback 34-28 victory.  The Seahawks jumped out to a 12-0 lead and still led 19-17 at halftime and 28-23 after three quarters, but the Colts put together two long drives – an 86-yard, 14 play TD drive (and 2-point PAT) and a 9-play drive ending in a 49-yard FG to prevail.  Colts’ sophomore QB Andrew Luck has now engineered fourth quarter comebacks in 9 of his 21 NFL starts.
Seattle outgained the Colts from scrimmage, 423-317.

Baltimore +3 scored a TD early in the fourth quarter to lead 23-13, but host Miami later tied the game at 23 with a Pick-6.  The Ravens came back with the winning FG at 1:42.
FINAL: BAL26, MIA23.
Baltimore outgained the Dolphins from scrimmage, 384-294 and won despite having 2 turnovers vs. none for Miami.

Philadelphia +1h won at NY Giants, 36-21, despite losing their starting QB Michael Vick to a hamstring injury in the first half.  The Eagles scored two unanswered TD’s in the fourth quarter to close the deal.  The Gnats are 0-5, and lost RB David Wilson to a neck injury.

Arizona +1h beat visiting Carolina, 22-6, after trailing 6-3 at halftime.

Late Sunday night (Monday morning, 2:39AM Eastern), Oakland +4 beat visiting San Diego, 27-17.

On Monday night, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets +9h won at Atlanta, 30-28, with a 43-yard FG as time expired.  The Falcons trailed 27-14 after a Jets’ TD early in the 4th quarter, but with 5:40 remaining in the game and trailing only 27-21, they marched 63 yards in 10 plays to take the lead behind Atlanta QB Matty Ice (4th quarter comeback king), 28-27.  There was still 1:54 on the clock; too much time, and New York drove 55 yards in 8 plays to get into FG range for the game winner.



NOT QUITE:
Dallas +7h and visiting Denver were tied at 48-48 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation; QB Tony Romo and the Cowboys had the ball on their own 20.  Another untimely interception by Romo pretty much iced the game for the Broncos, who drove into position and ate clock to set up for the winning chip-shot FG on the last play of the game.
FINAL: DEN 51, DAL 48.
Romo threw for 506 yards and 5 TD’s; his interception was the first he had thrown since the first quarter of Week #1.
Peyton Manning threw for 414 yards and 4 TD’s, but tossed his first interception of the year.

FFHL RESULTS – WEEK FIVE

This week, we FFHL’ers collectively performed pretty much like typing monkeys at 43-41-0 (51.2% ATS).  In college, we were 31-29-0 (51.7% ATS), and in the NFL again mediocre at 12-12-0 (50.0% ATS).

FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)

Listed below is a breakdown of some of our significant picks. 

                                    ATS Picks
Team                           For-Against    Result / Unsolicited comments

We had only 24 NFL picks, so I’ll list them all:
KC Chiefs -2h at TENN         6-0       WIN, covering ATS by 6½ points, 26-17
DEN Broncos -7h at DAL      5-1       LOSS, winning only by 3 points, 51-48
MIA ‘Phins -3 vs. BAL          2-0       LOSS, Ravens win outright, 26-23
PHI Eagles +1h at NYG         2-0       WIN, as the Gnats fall to 0-5 in 36-21 loss
CAR Panthers -1h at AZ        2-0       LOSS, failed in 2nd half to lose 22-6
SF 49’ers -6 vs. HOU            1-1       blowout WIN for Niners, 34-3
SEA ‘Hawks -2h at IND        1-1       LOSS, as Colts come back to win, 34-28
GB Packers -7 vs. DET         1-0       WIN, Lions without Megatron lose 22-9
NE Pats +1 at CIN                1-0       LOSS, Bengals win in 4th quarter, 13-6

Clemson -14 at SYR              6-0       WIN, Tigers victorious, 49-14
Georgia -10h at TENN           6-0       LOSS, Bulldogs barely win in OT, 34-31
Stanford -7h vs. WSH            4-0       LOSS, U-Dub stays in game to lose only 31-28
Ohio St -7 at NW                  3-3       WIN, lucky lucky lucky Bucks in 40-30 win
Oregon -38h at Colorado        3-0       WIN, Ducks score just enough to cover, 57-16
Ball St +5 at Virginia               2-1       WIN, a Cardinals SU victory, 48-27
FSU -15h vs. Maryland          2-1       WIN, Seminoles beat Terps to finish, 63-0

COLLEGE
In the 6th week of college games:
                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               30-25-0  (54.5%)        43-12 (78.2%)  
HOME TEAMS          26-28-0  (48.1%)        27-27 (50.0%)
            AP TOP 10                  5-4-0     (55.6%)         9-0     (100.0%)

COLLEGE
Cumulative percentages through six weeks:
                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record
                       
FAVORITES               135-137-4  (49.6%)    228-48 (82.6%)         
HOME TEAMS          140-120-4  (53.8%)    166-98 (62.9%)
AP TOP 10                  24-18-3    (56.7%)      41-4   (91.1%)

NFL – 5th week:
ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               7-7-0  (50.0%)                        8-6-0  (57.1%)           
            HOME TEAMS          9-5-0  (64.3%)                        8-6-0  (57.1%)

NFL
Cumulative percentages through five weeks:

ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               39-36-2  (51.9%)        51-26-0  (66.2%)       
            HOME TEAMS          44-30-2  (59.2%)        48-28-0  (63.2%)


LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #6 (seventh week)

Thursday         Arizona +6 at USC                             OCTOBER 10TH
                        Rutgers +18h at Louisville
                        San Diego State -4 at Air Force                    

Friday             Temple +21 at Cincinnati                 

Saturday          Florida +7 at LSU
                        Northwestern +10h at Wisconsin (Homecoming)
                        Oklahoma -13h vs. Texas in neutral site Dallas                   
                        Baylor -17 at Kansas State
                        Oregon -13h at Washington
                        Oregon State +1 at Washington State
                        Boise State -6h at Utah State
                        Kent State +13h at Ball State (Homecoming)
                                   
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #7 (eighth week)

Tuesday          Louisiana-Lafayette at Western Kentucky

Thursday         Miami of Florida at North Carolina  OCTOBER 17TH

Friday             Central Florida at Louisville

Saturday          BIG GAMES OF THE WEEK:
Florida State at Clemson                    ACC Atlantic Division “title” game
UCLA at Stanford (Homecoming)


OTHER INTERESTING GAMES:
                        USC at Notre Dame
Iowa at Ohio State (Homecoming)
                        Iowa State at Baylor (Homecoming)
                        Washington at Arizona State
                        Colorado State at Wyoming               “Border War” every year since 1946
                        BYU at Houston
                        Akron at Miami of Ohio (Homecoming)
                       
NFL WEEK #6 – SELECTED GAMES

BYE WEEKS: ATL, MIA

Thursday        NY Giants +7h at Chicago                 OCTOBER 10TH

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
                        Oakland +8 at Kansas City
                        Arizona +10h at San Francisco
                        Washington +5h at Dallas
                       
                        Other interesting games:
                        Green Bay -2h at Baltimore
                        Jacksonville +26h at Denver              Record-breaking point spread!!
                        New Orleans +2h at New England
                       
Monday          Indianapolis -1 at San Diego


NFL WEEK #7 – SELECTED GAMES


BYE WEEKS:            NOR, OAK

Thursday        Seattle at Arizona                   OCTOBER 17TH

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
                        Tampa Bay at Atlanta
                        Buffalo at Miami
                        New England at NY Jets
                        Dallas at Philadelphia
                        Baltimore at Pittsburgh
                                               
                        Other interesting games:
                        Houston at Kansas City
                       
Monday          Minnesota at NY Giants

FOOTBALL MINUTIA

“COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF”
Remember last year’s decision?  This is the real name of the new college playoff system starting in 2014 to replace the current BCS system – “College Football Playoff”.  A committee will determine which four teams get into the post-season playoff each year, as well as ranking and placing at-large teams in the noncontract New Year's Day bowls (Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A).

The official announcement is currently scheduled for November 11th, but following is a reported unofficial list of 12 committee members (the jury or the dirty dozen or the disciples, depending on whether your team gets in or not).  No current head coaches or conference commissioners are eligible.  The committee may be expanded to up to 18 members prior to the official announcement.

Archie Manning         Father of Eli and Peyton, former NOR Saints’ QB
Barry Alvarez            Wisconsin athletic director (AD)
Pat Haden                  USC AD
Oliver Luck               West Virginia AD, father of Andrew Luck
Michael Gould            Retired Lt. General, former Air Force Academy superintendent
 
Tom Jernstedt                Former NCAA executive vice president
Jeff Long                   Arkansas AD
Tyrone Willingham    Former head coach of Stanford, Notre Dame and U. of Washington
Dan Radakovich        Clemson AD
Mike Tranghese         Former Big East Commissioner
Steve Weiberg               Longtime former sportswriter at USA Today
AND,
Condoleezza Rice       Say What??!?” Former Secretary of State under George W. Bush  (2005-2009), she was one of two women to become the first female members of Augusta National (where the Masters is played).  Her father was a long-time Alabama high school football coach.  “Fugitive, where is her connection to football?”  There is none, but she has been around the game her entire life, and she considers herself a student of the game (most of us would fit into that category).  Ms. Rice elaborated: “I find the strategy and tactics absolutely fascinating.  I find the evolution of the game really interesting.  Again, as it relates to military history.  Military history has swung back and forth between advantage to the offense and advantage to the defense.  When the offense has the advantage, then a new technology will come along that will temporarily give the defense the advantage and vice versa.  Football has that kind of pattern, too.”  (“Say What??!?”).

PLAYER NEWS
QB Josh Freeman was exiled from Tampa Bay, and the Minnesota Vikings signed him to a one-year deal.  I don’t think this is a good move for my team; what a mess at the QB position.  Can Freeman, out of Kansas State as a 2009 first round draft pick, be the savior for the struggling NFC North cellar dweller?  It appears as if HC Leslie Frazier is trying to save his job.

BCS POLL

The initial BCS rankings for 2013 will be announced on Sunday, October 20th at 8:30PM (Eastern time) on ESPN.

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

I’m guessing most of you missed my trick question last week, as the WAC was “quietly” disbanded last year.  If someone would have asked me that question, I would have missed it.  I’m just a Slumdog Ten-Thousand-aire.

QUESTION #1:  Tom Brady’s streak of throwing at least one touchdown pass in each of his last 52 games was snapped Sunday in rainy Cincinnati.  His streak is 2nd best all-time.  Who holds the record, and how many games?

QUESTION #2:  How many NFL regular season games will be played in London next year (2014 season)?
Bonus: Which of those NFL teams will be designated as the “home” team (meaning that each of them will have only 7 real home games next year?



ANSWER #1:
54 straight games by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Had Brady continued his streak, he would have been in position next Sunday to tie Brees’ record at home versus the Saints.

ANSWER #2:
Three -- Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Oakland.  Their opponents will be announced later.
This year, there are only two games being played in London.
The league has hinting that an NFL franchise could be located in London in the future.  Not good.

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