Tuesday, November 5, 2013

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK EIGHT



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER



Hello Football Fans,
 
I'm still struggling with jet lag and have put way too much time into this letter, but hope it translates to an enjoyable experience for you this week.
 
 
Miami at FSU this Saturday, battle of unbeatens.
 
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police

(Ed Note: This column is late due to editor also traveling)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLLEGE POLLS as of October 27, 2013

Following is the second BCS poll and the latest AP rankings as a comparison.

BCS RANK           SU             RANK
TEAM             RECORD        AP Poll           Comments

#1 Alabama          8-0             #1 (55)             Hosts LSU on Nov 9th; at Auburn Nov. 30
#2 Oregon            8-0             #2 (3)              Plays at Stanford Thurs, Nov 7th
#3 Florida St         7-0             #3 (2)              Hosts Miami.FL on Saturday
#4 Ohio State        8-0             #4                    Plays at Michigan Nov 30th
#5 Stanford           7-1             #6                    Hosts Oregon Nov 7th & ND on Nov. 30th
#6 Baylor              7-0             #5                    Hosts Oklahoma Thursday, Nov 7th
#7 Miami.FL         7-0             #7                    Plays at FSU on Saturday
#8 Clemson           7-1             #9                    Plays at S.Carolina on Nov. 30th
#9 Missouri           7-1             #10                  Hosts Texas A&M on Nov. 30th
#10 Oklahoma       7-1             #13                  Plays at Baylor on Thursday, Nov. 7th
#11 Auburn           7-1             #8                    Hosts Alabama on Nov. 30th
#12TX A&M         6-2             #12                  Plays at LSU Nov 23rd& at Mizzu Nov 30
#13 LSU               7-2             #11                  At Alabama on Nov. 9th
#14 S.Carolina       6-2            #14                  Hosts Clemson on Nov 30th
#15 Texas Tech     7-1            #15                  Hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday
#16 Fresno State   7-0             #16                  Not tough schedule in last 3 games
#17 N. Illinois       8-0             #21                  Hosts Ball State on Wed., Nov. 13th
#18 Okla. State     6-1             #18                  Plays at Texas Tech on Saturday
#19 Louisville       7-1             #20                  Should win out in regular season
#20 UCLA            5-2             #17                  Hosts Washington on Friday, Nov 15th
#21 Michigan       6-1             #23                  Hosts Ohio State on Nov 30th finale
#22 Michigan St   7-1             #24                  Hosts Michigan this Saturday
#23 Central FL     6-1             #19                  Toughest game: home vs. Houston Nov 9th
#24 Wisconsin      5-2             #22                  Should win out in 5 remaining games
#25 Notre Dame   6-2             #26                  Plays at Stanford on Saturday, Nov. 30th

In the Top 10, two undefeated teams lost (only eight teams are still unbeaten going into next week).
BCS#10 Texas Tech lost at BCS#15 Oklahoma (the Red Raiders were listed as a 6½ point underdog, so this wasn’t an “upset”).  The two teams switched places in the BCS rankings.
BCS#5 Missouri lost to BCS#21 South Carolina and dropped to #9, while the SC Gamecocks jumped up to #14.

With losses last weekend, Nebraska and VA Tech and Oregon State dropped out of the BCS Top 25.  Taking their places were Michigan State at #22, Wisconsin at #24, and Notre Dame at #25.

The AP Poll and BCS Rankings have the same Top 24 teams, with the exact same ordering on the Top 4.  Note that in the BCS, Oregon leapfrogged FSU this week; they switched places at #2 and #3.  And #4 Ohio State (.8840) has closed the gap according to the BCS average as compared to #3 Florida State (.9211).  There is a big BCS average drop-off to #5 through #7 (in the .7xxx range), and then another big drop-off to #8 through #11 (.in the .6xxx range).

The six computers:
The metal midgets’ average has the same Top 5 rankings as the overall BCS rankings, in the exact same order.  Looking further, the computer average rankings have the same Top 11 teams as the overall BCS rankings, in slightly different order (according to the computers, Baylor and Clemson are at the bottom of those eleven teams; the computers like BCS#11 Auburn, ranking the Tigers #7).

FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

FFHL WEEK #8 – October 26th weekend

In FBS college games last weekend, 14 underdogs won their games outright out of 53 games, or 26.4%.

On Thursday night, Middle Tennessee +10 beat visiting Marshall 51-49.  The Blue Raiders threw a 9-yard TD pass on the last play of the game to win.

Buffalo +1 won at Kent State, 41-21.

Western Michigan +3h got its first win of the season at Massachusetts, 31-30.

Houston +7 won at Rutgers, 49-14.

Duke +13 won at Virginia Tech, 13-10.

Navy +5 beat visiting Pittsburgh, 24-21, kicking a 30-yard FG as time expired to win.

Tulane +2h beat visiting Tulsa, 14-7.

Texas +2 won at TCU, 30-7.

UNLV +5 won at Nevada, 27-22.

Troy +10 won at Western Kentucky, 32-26.

Texas State +1h beat visiting South Alabama 33-31.

South Carolina +2h beat previously unbeaten Missouri at their homecoming, 27-24 in overtime.  Host Mizzou was ahead 17-0 after three quarters, but the Gamecocks’ coach, Steve Spurrier, inserted the injured 1st team QB Connor Shaw, and he helped SC score 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to tie the game at the end of regulation play.  In overtime, both teams scored a TD in the 1st OT (with SC scoring on a 4th down pass), then South Carolina kicked a FG to start the 2nd OT but Missouri then missed a 24-yard FG (boink, off the left upright) that would extended the game into a third overtime.

Minnesota +10 beat visiting Nebraska, 34-23.  It was the Gophers’ first win over the Cornhuskers since 1960, breaking a 16-game losing streak in this series.

Toledo +4 won at Bowling Green, 28-25, to claim the “I-75 Trophy”, a rivalry played every year since 1948.

NOT QUITE:
Wake Forest +24h jumped ahead 14-3, catching Miami in a strange week in which the final NCAA ruling was handed down to the school after three years of investigation (not that I feel sorry for “The U”).  But the Hurricanes finally recovered and scored the winning TD with 53 seconds remaining in the game to avoid their first loss of the season.
FINAL: MIA.FL 24, WAKE 21 

Oregon State +3h was behind only 20-12 and was driving at the end of the game to get the potential tie and send the game into overtime.  With the Beavers on the Cardinal 7-yard line and 1 second left, a pass into the end zone was incomplete, and Stanford held on to win and cover ATS.

AGAINST THE SPREAD
Wyoming +7h was leading at halftime, 23-14, at San Jose State, relinquished the lead but later tied the game on a TD with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.  But SJ State scored the winning TD with 8 seconds left.
FINAL: SJ St 51, WYO 44, but the Cowboys covered ATS by ½ point

SDSU +7h hosted Fresno State, and the game was tied 7-7 at halftime and 14-14 after three quarters, but then the visiting Bulldogs scored two TD’s to start the fourth quarter.  The Aztecs came back and scored two TD’s of their own at 8:54 and 6:15 to send the game into overtime.
FINAL: FRES 35, SDSU 28, and San Diego State covered ATS by the hook (1/2 point)


UCLA +23h was tied at halftime with host Oregon, 14-14, but the Ducks took care of business in the 2nd half and won handily, 42-14, to win by 28 and cover ATS by a mere 4½ points.

Clemson -16 was ahead of host Maryland, 40-20 (and covering ATS) late in the game, but allowed the Terrapins to score on a “meaningless” 14-yard TD pass with 9 seconds remaining in the game to not cover ATS in winning “only” 40-27.

Ties ATS:
Georgia Tech -10 won at Virginia, 35-25.

NC State +32 lost at FSU “only” 49-17, after Florida State had jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the 1st quarter, and then pulled their starting QB after the first series of the 3rd quarter.

Miami of Ohio +25 lost at Ohio U., 41-16.

TWO OTHER SIDE NOTES:
Temple +14 was playing at SMU, and it was only their 3rd meeting in history, with their last matchup back in 1946.  The series record was 0-0-2 going into this 2013 contest.  Of course the rules have changed; there are no ties anymore, so the streak of ties was broken.
FINAL: SMU 59, TEMPLE 49

Rice -18 put a beating on visiting UTEP, and with the game in hand, allowed one of their walk-on players to get into the game for one play (flashback “Rudy”).  What’s so special about this, you ask?  The Owls’ RB who carried the ball for a 1-yard gain on that one play was Jayson Carter, measuring out at 4’9”, 135 pounds.  I’m sure there is much more to this story, and maybe even a sequel in the works.


NFL ACTION WEEK #8 (10/28/13) – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In pro games this week, only TWO underdogs won their games outright out of 13 games, or 15.4%.

NY Giants +5 won at Philadelphia, 15-7, and the Eagles continued their home losing streak, currently at 10 games and counting.

Oakland +2h beat visiting Pittsburgh, 21-18.  The Steelers scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a TD to get within three with 1:24 remaining in the game, but couldn’t recover the onside kick and the Raiders were able to basically run out the clock (after a fumble replay).
Raiders’ QB Terrelle Pryor ran for a 93-yard TD on the first play of the game to break the all-time single-play rushing TD record for quarterbacks.


NOT QUITE:
Dallas +3 took the lead in Detroit by scoring a TD with less than a minute remaining in the 2nd quarter to lead at halftime, 10-7, and the Cowboys retained that lead throughout the second half and kicked an “insurance” FG with 1 minute remaining in the game to lead 30-24.  But the Lions came roaring back with three long pass completions of 17, 40, and 22 yards to get the ball down to the Dallas 1-yard line.  But Detroit had no timeouts left and the clock was running, now down to 0:12 -- still needing to score a TD.  The Lions lined up to spike the ball, and everyone expected that, even the Dallas defensive line that was not quite ready for action, not in their normal 3-point stance.  So QB Matthew Stafford took a chance; after the ball was hiked, he jumped up over his offensive line and reached the ball over the goal line for the winning TD.
FINAL: DET 31, DAL 30 (the Cowboys still covered ATS, but messed up an outright win in the 4th quarter - again).

Washington +12 was ahead at Denver halfway through the 3rd quarter, 21-7, but then gave up 38 unanswered points to lose 45-21 in HC Mike Shanahan’s return to the Mile High City (formerly the Bronco’s head coach) and miss covering the spread by 12 points.
The ‘Skins coughed up 5 turnovers in the 4th quarter alone (complete collapse in the thin air).

Miami +6h was ahead of host New England at halftime, 17-3, but the Patriots scored 24 unanswered points in the 2nd half to win and cover ATS.

On Monday night, St. Louis +11 had a chance to score from the 3-yard line on the last play of the game to win, but were unsuccessful and ended up losing 14-9 to visiting Seattle.  However, the Rams did cover ATS.

AGAINST THE SPREAD
New Orleans -11 scored an “insurance” TD halfway through the 4th quarter to cover ATS at home vs. Buffalo, 35-17.  The Bills had 3 turnovers vs. zero for the Saints.

Kansas City -7 led 20-7 after scoring a TD with 1 minute remaining in the first half, but lingered after that.  With visiting Cleveland behind 20-17, the Browns’ final drive to get into field goal range (with the 2-minute warning approaching) was stopped on a failed 4th down conversion on their own 31-yard line.  The Chiefs then ran the clock down to 17 seconds, kicked an “insurance” FG to extent its lead to 6 points and won 23-17 but failed to cover ATS by 1 point.

NFL AFTER WEEK #7 (October 28th)
Undefeated teams: only KANSAS CITY
Winless teams: Tampa Bay and JAX

NFC East:       Dallas at 4-4 still has a 1-game lead, with NYG only 2 games out at 2-6
NFC North:     Three teams within 1game; only MIN Vikings are out of race
NFC South:     New Orleans still has a 2-game lead over Carolina, and is clear favorite
NFC West:      Seattle (7-1) has a one-game lead over SF (6-2)
AFC East:       NE leads by 2 games, all three other teams lost last weekend
AFC North:     Cincinnati (6-2) holds a 2½-game lead over Baltimore at 3-4
AFC South:     Indy (5-2) has a 2-game lead over Tennessee (3-4)
AFC West:      KC (8-0) has a 1-game lead over Denver (7-1); SD (4-3) has slim chance

NFL SUPER BOWL ODDS

The following chart shows how the odds to win the Super Bowl have changed during two weeks in the middle of October (per BleacherReport.com), and please note that the odds as of October 23rd did not have the results of last weekend’s games factored in:

(Record)          Oct 28th           ODDS             ODDS
TEAM             Record             Oct. 23rd          Oct. 10th

DEN                7-1                   3                      2.5
SEA                 7-1                   5                      5.5
NOR                6-1                   8                      6.5
SF                    6-2                   8                      9
GB                   5-2                   11                    12
NE                   6-2                   12                    12
IND                 5-2                   14                    18
KC                   8-0                   14                    20
CIN                 6-2                   16                    20
DAL                4-4                   18                    33
CAR                4-3                   50                    150
CHI                 4-3                   50                    40
DET                5-3                   50                    50
SD                   4-3                   50                    100
ATL                2-5                   66                    66
BAL                3-4                   66                    33
PHI                  3-5                   66                    66
PIT                  2-5                   66                    150
HOU                2-5                   100                  40
MIA                3-4                   100                  66
NYJ                 4-4                   100                  75
WSH               2-5                   100                  66
NYG                2-6                   150                  150
TEN                3-4                   200                  100
BUF                3-5                   250                  300
AZ                   4-4                   300                  100
CLE                 3-5                   300                  66
STL                 3-5                   300                  200
MIN                1-6                   500                  150
OAK                3-4                   500                  250
TB                   0-7                   1000                500
JAX                 0-8                   none                none
FFHL RESULTS – WEEKS EIGHT

This week, we FFHL’ers collectively performed just well enough to beat the “house” (52.4%) at 43-37-4 (53.6% ATS).  In college, we were 26-25-4 (50.9% ATS), and in the NFL much better than in previous weeks at 17-12-0 (58.6% 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

SEA ‘Hawks -11 at STL         4-0       LOSS, Rams lose only 14-9 and cover by 6
DAL ‘Boys +3 at DET            4-0       WIN, Dallas lost only 31-30 to cover by 2
KC Chiefs -7 vs. CLE             3-0       LOSS, Kansas City won only 23-17 to miss by 1
NE Pats -6h vs. MIA              3-0       WIN, New England won 27-17 to cover by 3 1/2
SF 49’ers -16 vs. JAX            3-0       WIN, a blowout in London for the Niners, 42-10
CIN Bengals -6h vs. NYJ        2-1       WIN, a blowout in Cincinnati for Bengals, 49-9

Fresno -7h at SDSU                4-0       LOSS, Fresno won only 35-28 in OT to miss by ½
Alabama -28 vs. TENN           4-0       WIN, Tide covers ATS again in 45-10 victory
Clemson -16 at Maryland        3-0       LOSS, Tigers win only 40-27 on “backdoor TD”
Iowa -3h vs. Northwestern     3-0       WIN, Hawkeyes win 17-10 in OT to cover by 3½
Baylor -35 at Kansas               3-0       WIN, another Bears’ blowout, a 59-14 victory

COLLEGE
In the 9th week of college games:
                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               29-21-3  (57.5%)        39-14 (73.6%)  
HOME TEAMS          24-26-3  (48.1%)        30-23 (56.6%)
            AP TOP 10                  5-4-1     (55.0%)         8-2     (80.0%)

COLLEGE
Cumulative percentages through nine weeks:

                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record
                       
FAVORITES               208-208-9  (50.0%)    339-86 (79.8%)         
HOME TEAMS          207-196-9  (51.3%)    251-161 (60.9%)
AP TOP 10                  34-35-4    (49.3%)      60-13  (82.2%)
As we would expect in the long-run, the favorites are now exactly 50% winners and 50% losers after nine weeks of college games (and so are the underdogs).

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
NFL – 8th week:
ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               8-5-0  (61.5%)                        11-2-0  (84.6%)         
            HOME TEAMS          7-5-0  (58.3%)                        8-4-0  (66.7%)

NFL
Cumulative percentages through eight weeks:

ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               60-58-2  (50.8%)        83-37-0  (69.2%)       
            HOME TEAMS          66-50-2  (56.8%)        73-45-0  (61.9%)


LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #9

Wednesday     Cincinnati -3 at Memphis     

Thursday         South Florida +17h at Houston
                        Rice +4h at North Texas
                        Louisiana-Monroe +3h at Troy
                        Arizona State -11h at Washington State

Friday             USC +5 at Oregon State

Saturday          BIG GAMES:
                        BCS#7 Miami of Florida +22 at BCS#3 Florida State
Note: This is the biggest point spread in history between undefeated Top 10 teams this late in the season – by far.  The only other cases since 1980 have been Texas -12 hosting Oklahoma State (10/25/2008) – Longhorns won 28-24 but didn’t cover ATS, and
Miami -11 vs. Ohio State (2002 BCS Title Game) – Buckeyes won outright.
FSU has outscored their last three opponents 163-31, and two of those 3 opponents were unbeaten at the time and ranked in the Top 25.

                        BCS#21 Michigan +6 at BCS#22 Michigan State              
                        BCS#18 Oklahoma State +2h at BCS#15 Texas Tech
                       
                        Other interesting matchups:
                        Wisconsin -9 at Iowa
                        Navy +16h at Notre Dame
                        Northwestern +7 at Nebraska
                        North Carolina -2h at NC State
                        Kent State +1 at Akron
                        Temple +13h at Rutgers
                        Army +13h at Air Force
                        Georgia -2h at Florida
                        Boise State -7 at Colorado State

NFL WEEK #9 – SELECTED GAMES

BYE WEEKS:            AZ, DEN, DET, JAX, NYG, SF

Thursday        Cincinnati -2h at Miami                     OCTOBER 31TH

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
                        Atlanta +7 at Carolina
                        Baltimore -2h at Cleveland
                        Indianapolis -2h at Houston
                       
                        Other interesting games:
                        New Orleans -5h at NY Jets
                        San Diego -1 at Washington
                       
Monday          Chicago +10h at Green Bay

FOOTBALL MINUTIA

The trade deadline for the NFL, 4PM Eastern time on Tuesday, October 29th, has come and gone.  Cleveland’s potential star WR Josh Gordon is staying with the Browns.

There was actually one trade just before the deadline:
The PHI Eagles announced they traded 330-pound NT Isaac Sopoaga and a sixth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
Sopoaga has started seven games for the Eagles this season after coming over from the 49’ers.  The Patriots were extremely thin on the defensive line after Vince Wilfork went down for the season, and Sopoaga gives them a serviceable player inside for a relatively small price.

Other significant trades were finalized well before the deadline, earlier in the regular season, and all seven involved former 1st round draft picks:
WR A.J. Jenkins and WR Jon Baldwin swapped teams (Jenkins to KC; Baldwin to SF)
RB Trent Richardson was acquired by Indianapolis from Cleveland for the Colts’ first round pick next year.
MLB Jon Beason was traded by Carolina to the NY Football Giants on October 3rd.
OLT Eugene Monroe was traded by Jacksonville to Baltimore (for multiple late-round draft picks), and in turn the BAL Ravens traded their OLT Bryant McKinnie to Miami for a conditional late-round pick.
OT Levi Brown was unloaded by Arizona and picked up by Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick, which turned out to be no draft pick, since Brown was injured before playing a game for the Steelers.

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

QUESTION #1:  Of the 126 FBS college football teams, name the five schools that have not won a game yet this season.
HINT: New Mexico State and Western Michigan got “off the schneid” last weekend.

QUESTION #2: Last weekend, Octavius McKoy of Division III Western Connecticut rushed for 455 yards from scrimmage on 43 carries to break the all-time single game NCAA record.  The previous record had been 441 yards.  Who holds that single-game record for FBS (Division I-A) schools?
HINT: He was very successful in the NFL.

QUESTION #3: Last weekend, Detroit’s WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson had 14 receptions for 329 yards and 1 TD against Dallas.  He just missed the all-time single game receiving yards record by 7.  Who holds the all-time record with 336 receiving yards in one game?
Hint: At the time, he was a dynamic deep threat (1989).
Bonus:  Who is in 3rd place all-time at 309 yards (1985)?  If you get this, you win the jackpot.

ANSWER #1:
Georgia State (new to FBS this year), but has lost to 3 FCS schools so far this season.
Southern Mississippi, currently sporting a 19-game losing streak.
Hawaii (tough schedule so far; lost at UNLV 39-37; 2 more home games-SDSU & Army)
Connecticut (changed head coaches in mid-season)
Miami of Ohio (already played Massachusetts, and doesn’t play any FCS teams this year)

ANSWER #2:
LaDainian Tomlinson, with 406 rushing yards from scrimmage against UTEP during his junior season at TCU in 1999.

ANSWER #3:
Willie Lee “Flipper” Anderson, Jr. of the St. Louis Rams (1988-1994), then played for Indy, Washington, and Denver.  He broke the record on November 26, 1989 on 15 receptions and 1 TD.  His QB was Jim “Chrissy” Everett, who threw for 454 yards that day at New Orleans (1 TD, 2 INT’s) in the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday night.
Kent, do you remember our fantasy football year and watching that game?  I believe that was the year we brought home the 4-foot traveling trophy.
3rd all-time was Stephone Paige of the KC Chiefs (1983 to 1992).

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