Wednesday, November 6, 2013



Hello Football Fans,

We have some big games coming up this week in college: 

On Thursday night, Oregon plays at Stanford and Oklahoma plays at Baylor.

On Saturday, LSU plays at Alabama.

The NFL has finished up just over 1/2 of the regular season.

I've even thrown in a horse racing story this week.


The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police


COLLEGE POLLS as of November 3, 2013

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

BCS RANK         SU                    RANK
TEAM           RECORD      AP Poll         Comments

#1 Alabama         8-0                   #1 (52)         Hosts LSU on Sat.; at Auburn Nov. 30
#2 Florida St       8-0                   #3 (6)           Plays at Florida on Nov. 30th
#3 Oregon          8-0                   #2 (2)           Plays at Stanford this Thursday
#4 Ohio State      9-0                   #4                Plays at Michigan Nov 30th
#5 Stanford         7-1                   #6                Hosts Oregon Thurs.; lost at Utah, 27-21
#6 Baylor            7-0                   #5                Hosts Oklahoma this Thursday, Nov 7th
#7 Clemson         8-1                   #8                Lost only to FSU at home, but badly 51-14
#8 Missouri         8-1                   #9                Lost at home in 2OT to S. Carolina
#9 Auburn           8-1                   #7                Lost at LSU, 35-21 in September
#10 Oklahoma     7-1                  #12                Plays at Baylor this Thursday, Nov. 7th
#11 Miami.FL      7-1                  #14               Lost badly at FSU, 41-14
#12 S.Carolina      7-2                 #13               Hosts Clemson on Nov 30th
#13 LSU              7-2                 #10               Plays at Alabama this Saturday, Nov. 9th
#14 Okla. State     7-1                 #15               Had ugly loss at West VA, 30-21, in Sept.
#15 TX A&M       7-2                 #11               Plays at LSU Nov 23rd& at Mizzu Nov 30
#16 Fresno State   8-0                 #17               Sat. at WYO; then N.Mexico & at SJ State
#17 Michigan St   8-1                  #18               Finishes at NEB, at NW, & Minnesota home
#18 N. Illinois       9-0                 #22               Hosts Ball St, then at Toledo, home W.Mich
#19 UCLA           6-2                  #16               Plays at AZ, home UW & ASU, at USC
#20 Louisville       7-1                 #20               Lost to #21 UCF at home, 38-35 on Oct 18th
#21 Central FL     6-1                  #19               Hosts Houston this Sat; lost to S.CAR 28-25
#22 Arizona St     6-2                  #23               Lost at Stanford 42-28 & to ND 37-34
#23 Notre Dame   7-2                  #24               Lost at Michigan 41-30 and to OKLA 35-21
#24 Wisconsin      6-2                  #21               Lost at #22 ASU 32-30 & at Ohio St 31-24
#25 Texas Tech     7-2                 #25               Lost at OKL 38-30 & home v. OK.St 52-31

Note that FSU regained the #2 spot over Oregon, after the Ducks had leapfrogged FSU last week.  All of that means nothing until Thursday night as Oregon plays at #7 Stanford.  With a win the Ducks will surely retake the #2 spot.  More hopefully, maybe LSU will win at Alabama and really shake things up.

And #4 Ohio State (.8720) has lost ground to the top 3 teams according to the BCS average, as #3 Oregon posted a BCS average of .9435.  The Buckeyes are going to need two upsets at the top to get into the NCAA title game; their cupcake schedule is most likely going to hurt them.
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 #10 (.in the .6xxx range).

In the Top 10, two undefeated teams faced each other last Saturday – FSU -21h soundly beat visiting Miami of FL, 41-14, leaving only seven unbeaten teams going into next week.  Five BCS Top 10 teams had a bye last weekend.

BCS#15 Texas Tech -1h lost badly to visiting BCS#18 Oklahoma State, 52-31  The Red Raiders dropped to BCS#25 and the OSU Cowboys moved up to BCS#14.

BCS#21 Michigan lost badly at BCS#22 Michigan State, 29-6.  The UM Wolverines dropped out of the Top 25, while the MSU Spartans jumped up to #17.

The AP Poll and BCS Rankings have the exact same Top 25 teams, with slightly different ordering.  In the AP Poll, Alabama has lost a few of the 1st place votes with “only” 52 of the 60; FSU got 6 first-place votes and Oregon got the other two.

The six computers:
The metal midgets’ average has the same Top 9 teams as the overall BCS rankings, in slightly different order.  Five of the six computers have FSU ranked #1, giving the Seminoles the top spot for the computer average, followed by Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State, and then tied for fifth are one-loss Missouri and Stanford (ahead of undefeated Computer#9 Baylor).


In FBS college games last weekend, only 8 underdogs won their games outright out of 49 games, or 16.3% (last week 26.4%).

On Thursday night, LA-Monroe +3h won at Troy, 49-37.

On Friday night, USC +4 won convincingly at Oregon State, 31-14.

Boston College +4h beat visiting Virginia Tech, 34-27.

Texas-San Antonio +3h won at Tulsa, 34-15.

West Virginia +12 won at TCU, 30-27 in overtime.

Minnesota +8h won at Indiana, 42-39, leaving a few FFHL handicappers still wondering why the Gophers were installed as the underdog in the first place.

Arkansas State +3h won at South Alabama, 17-16.

Then-#18 Oklahoma State +1h won convincingly at then-#15 Texas Tech, 52-31.

Northwestern +5h was on track to win at Nebraska until the Cornhuskers, with the ball on the Wildcats’ 48-yard line, tossed a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the 4th quarter for a touchdown to win the game. Big Red looked like they were finished after Northwestern took a three-point lead with 1:20 left, and starting their final drive at their own 17 with no timeouts.
FINAL: NEB 27, NW 24.

Texas A&M -47 was up only 9-7 at the end of the 1st quarter before pouring it on and scoring just enough times (no scoring in the 4th quarter) to cover the spread by 3 points.

Georgia Tech -10h beat visiting Pittsburgh, 21-10, to cover ATS by the hook (1/2 point).
The Yellowjackets scored the “insurance” TD with 2:41 remaining in the game.

Tie ATS:
Georgia -3 was leading 23-3 at Florida, but allowed the Gators to come back and have a chance to beat the visiting Bulldogs.  GA held on to win 23-20, but failed to cover ATS, settling for a tie ATS.


In pro games this week, SIX underdogs won their games outright out of 13 games, or 46.2% (last week only 15.4%).

On Thursday night, Miami +3 beat visiting Cincinnati 22-20 by sacking Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton in the endzone (barely) for a safety to end the game (first time that’s ever happened in the NFL).  The media was calling it a “walk-off safety” (sick; I thought that was a baseball term, and I don’t even like it used within America’s pastime).

NY Jets +6 beat visiting New Orleans, 26-20, in a game where Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan faced his twin brother Rob, the defensive coordinator of the Saints.

Washington +1 beat visiting San Diego, 30-24 in overtime, a loss that may have blown up the Chargers’ whole season.  The home team was up 24-14 after scoring a TD with 7 minutes remaining in regulation.  The Bolts answered with their own TD with 4 minutes left, and then with 2:10 on the clock drove from their own 8-yard line and had 1st-and-goal inside the ‘Skins 1-yard line, still down only 24-21, twenty-one seconds remaining in regulation play.  The Chargers failed to score a TD on three tries (coaches accused of bad play-calling after the game).  San Diego kicked the game-tying 19-yard FG to send the game into the extra period.
Washington won the coin toss and ran the kickoff out to its own 22-yard line to start the overtime.  Eleven plays later, the ‘Skins had a TD and the victory, without the San Diego offense getting a chance to touch the ball and respond.

Philadelphia +2h won at Oakland, 49-20, as “fill-in” QB Nick Foles threw seven TD passes in the first three quarters, and then rode the bench in the fourth quarter to only get a tie of the all-time TD pass record for a single game.

Cleveland +2h beat visiting Baltimore, 24-18, and the Browns are now in 2nd place in the AFC North division.

Chicago +10h won at Green Bay, 27-20, knocking out the Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers in the first half with a broken collarbone.  The Bears’ started their normal backup QB, Josh McCown, and he had a solid game with 2 TD passes and no interceptions.

Minnesota +10 scored the go-ahead TD with 5:40 remaining in the 4th quarter to lead 23-20 at Dallas, but missed the crucial extra point kick that would have given the Vikings a 4-point lead and forced the Cowboys to score a TD to not lose.  Instead, Dallas had plenty of time to get either a TD or FG to tie to at least get into overtime.  As in similar pressure situations in the 4th quarter, Dallas QB Tony Romo threw an interception, but the Vikes went three-and-out and punted from the Dallas 41-yard line.  The Cowboys had another chance, starting at their own 10 with 2:44 left.  A nine-play, 90-yard drive ate up the clock and ended in a TD that gave the home team the lead with 0:35 on the clock.
FINAL: DAL 27, MIN 23 and the Vikings lose again (but at least cover ATS this time).

Tampa Bay +15 were given little chance, traveling across country to Seattle.  The Buccaneers were ahead 24-7 mid-3rd quarter, but the Seahawks scored 17 unanswered points and at the end of regulation, the score was tied at 24.  In overtime, the Bucs won the coin toss by went 3-and-out on their first drive.  The Seahawks took advantage, marched into field goal range and kicked the game winner from 27 yards.
FINAL: SEA 27, TB 24

Buffalo +3 was tied with visiting Kansas City, 13-13 at the end of three quarters, but the undefeated Chiefs prevailed in the fourth quarter to win 23-13.  KC did not score an offensive TD for the whole game.

Houston +2h was ahead 21-3 at halftime, but their head coach collapsed on the field heading into the locker room and was taken to the hospital.  DC Wade Phillips took over,  and the Texans were still leading 24-12 after three quarters, but could not stop the comeback by the visiting Indy Colts.
FINAL: IND 27, HOU 24 and the Colts covered ATS by the hook (½ point).


Undefeated teams: KANSAS CITY, still hanging tough
Winless teams: Tampa Bay (still finding ways to lose) and JAX (just not very good)

NFC East:     Dallas at 5-4 has a 1-game lead over PHI at 4-5; NYG & WSH not out yet
NFC North:   Three teams tied at 5-3 at all 2-1 within the division; MIN is out
NFC South:   New Orleans has only a 1-game lead over Carolina after loss at NYJ
NFC West:    Seattle (8-1) finding ways to win and has a 1½-game lead over SF (6-2)
AFC East:     NE leads by 2 games over the surprising NY Jets (5-4)
AFC North:   Cincinnati (6-3) has a 2-game lead over CLE (4-5), even after loss at MIA
AFC South:   Indy (6-2) retained its 2-game lead over TENN (4-4) with a win at HOU
AFC West:    KC (9-0) has a 1½-game lead over Denver (7-1); SD flubbed it at WSH


This week, we FFHL’ers collectively performed not quite well enough to beat the “house” (52.4%) as we posted 43-40-1 (51.8% ATS).  In college, we were 27-18-1 (59.8% ATS), but in the NFL we struggled at 16-22-0 (42.1% ATS).


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

                                       ATS Picks
Team                              For-Against    Result / Unsolicited comments

NOR Saints -6 at NYJ            8-0           LOSS, Jets win outright, 26-20
KC Chiefs -3 at BUF              5-0           WIN, 4th quarter blast to win 23-13
DAL Cowboys -10 vs. MIN   4-1            LOSS, won only 27-23 to not cover ATS
GB Packers -10h vs. CHI       3-0            LOSS, Pack lost QB and game, 27-20
IND Colts -2h at HOU           3-0           WIN, 2nd half comeback to cover by ½ point
TEN Titans -2h at STL          3-0           WIN, a 28-21 Tennessee victory at St. Louis
SD Chargers -1 at WSH         3-1           LOSS, an ugly overtime loss to ‘Skins, 30-24

Arizona -16 at CAL                3-0           LOSS, Wildcats win only 33-28 on the road
Missouri -10h vs. TENN        3-1           WIN, a dominating win by Tigers, 31-3
Iowa +9h vs. Wisconsin         3-1           LOSS, Badgers score TD’s vs. FG’s, win 28-9
Michigan St -4h vs. Mich.      2-1           WIN, stifling Spartan defense prevails, 29-6

In the 10th week of college games:
                                        ATS                        Straight-up
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES           26-22-1  (54.1%)     41-8   (83.7%)  
HOME TEAMS        20-28-1  (41.8%)     26-23 (53.1%)
          AP TOP 10             4-1-0     (80.0%)     4-1     (80.0%)

Cumulative percentages through ten weeks:

                                        ATS                        Straight-up
                                        Record                             Record
FAVORITES           234-230-10  (50.4%)         380-94 (80.2%)      
HOME TEAMS        227-224-10  (50.3%)         277-184 (60.1%)
AP TOP 10             38-36-4    (51.3%)   64-14  (82.1%)

NFL – 9th week:
ATS                        STRAIGHT-UP
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES           5-8-0  (38.5%)                  7-6-0  (53.8%)       
          HOME TEAMS        6-7-0  (46.2%)                  7-6-0  (53.8%)

Cumulative percentages through nine weeks:

ATS                        STRAIGHT-UP
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES           65-66-2  (49.6%)     90-43-0  (67.7%)    
          HOME TEAMS        72-57-2  (55.7%)     80-51-0  (61.1%)

LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate

Tuesday       Ohio U +4 at Buffalo
                    Bowling Green -23h at Miami of Ohio

Wednesday   Central Michigan +20h at Ball State

Thursday      BIG GAMES:
AP#2 Oregon -10 at AP#6 Stanford        Last year, #14 Stanford won at #1 Oregon in OT as a 20½ point ‘dog
                    AP#12 Oklahoma +14 at AP#5 Baylor    Last year, Baylor +21h came close
                                                                                at #14 Oklahoma, 42-34
                    Troy +13 at Louisiana-Lafayette

Friday           AP#20 Louisville -28 at Connecticut
Air Force +2h at New Mexico

Saturday       BIG GAME:
AP#10 LSU +12h at AP#1 Alabama        Last year, #1 ‘Bama -8h needed a last-minute TD to win at #5 LSU, 21-17
                    Other interesting matchups:
                    NC State +9h at Duke
                    Illinois +10 at Indiana
                    Virginia Tech +6h at Miami of FL
                    Western Michigan -3 at Eastern Michigan
                    Tulane +8h at UTSA
                    AP#17 Fresno State -10 at Wyoming
                    BYU +7h at AP#21 Wisconsin
                    West Virginia +6h at Texas
                    Houston +10h at AP#19 Central Florida
                    AP#16 UCLA -1 at Arizona          


BYE WEEKS:                    CLE, KC, NE, NYJ            

Thursday      Washington -2h at Minnesota

Sunday         Divisional Matchups:
                    Detroit (no line yet) at Chicago     Bears’ QB Jay Cutler may be ready
                    Jacksonville +13 at Tennessee
                    Cincinnati -1h at Baltimore
                    Denver -7h at San Diego             Broncos have interim coach
                    Other interesting games:
                    Carolina +6 at San Francisco       5-3 v. 6-2, 2nd place teams meet
                    Dallas +7 at New Orleans  5-4 v. 6-2, NFC division leaders meet

Monday        Miami -2h at Tampa Bay

FOOTBALL and other sports MINUTIA

The NFL seems to keep pushing to locate a team in London, which doesn’t seem to be a popular idea with American fans, and I’m not sure the Brits are all that excited about that prospect either.  Anyway, for 2014, there will be three games in London.  I had mentioned the three home teams earlier, but here are the matchups (dates not set yet):
Jacksonville vs. Dallas
Atlanta vs. Detroit
Oakland vs. Miami

HORSE RACING (“Say What??!?”) – It’s a feel-good story
(excerpts from Bill Dwyre article in the Los Angeles Times)

The Breeders Cup thoroughbred races were run at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, CA last week, culminating with the grand finale, the 12th race on Saturday – The Classic, with a $5MM purse ($3MM to winner).  Game on Dude was favored at 1.7 to 1, but did not have the right stuff on this day.  The second favorite, going off at 4 to 1, was the winner by less than a nose in a photo finish – Mucho Macho Man, ridden by jockey Gary Stevens and trained by Kathy Ritvo.
What’s the big deal, Fugitive?

First, the horse was being born five years ago in Florida.  He left the womb and didn’t move.  Handlers poked, stroked, tried everything; no movement.  Then suddenly, he got up and galloped off.  He was quickly nicknamed “Lazarus”.

Second, the jockey had been forced into retirement seven years ago due to bad knees and dangerous falls.  In January 2013, Stevens made his comeback and at age 50 was the winner of one of the biggest thoroughbred races of the year, a race he had never won previously in his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

And last but not least: five years ago at age 39, Ritvo spent six months in the hospital with cardiomyopathy, a disease that would soon kill her if she didn’t get a heart transplant.  In the 11th hour, she got a new heart as she was preparing to die.  After recovery, she went back to work as a thoroughbred trainer, even though her doctor had advised her to avoid places of dirt and bacteria (to prevent rejection of transplanted organ).  On Saturday, Ritvo became the first female trainer to win The Classic.


QUESTION #1:  Philadelphia’s backup QB Nick Foles tied the all-time single-game NFL record for TD passes with seven last Sunday at Oakland.  He is now tied with six other passers.  How many can you name?
HINT: I just asked this question earlier in the season because another QB accomplished this same feat in NFL 2013 Week #1 (and I gave you the answer at that time).  Remember?  Besides the one QB earlier this season, this performance had not been duplicated since 1969 (three times in the 1960’s, once in the 1950’s, and once in the 1940’s).

Peyton Manning did it with Denver in the 2013 opener against Baltimore.
Sid Luckman                     1943
Adrian Burk                       1954
George Blanda                    1961
Y.A. Tittle                          1962
Joe Kapp                           1969
Nick Foles threw for 406 yards on 22 completions in 28 attempts, no interceptions.
And he may not start for the Eagles if Michael Vick is ever healthy (hamstring this time).

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