Thursday, October 2, 2014



Hello Football Fans,

The college football season is ramping up with some good match-ups this weekend (particularly in the hyped-up SEC, but that's OK for now).

And of course, the NFL is wide open and unpredictable at this time of the year.


The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL


Overall, THIRTEEN underdogs won their games outright in 52 games, for a 25% upset rate (20% last week).

On Friday night, Middle Tennessee State +3h won at Old Dominion, 41-28.

Minnesota +13 won at Michigan, 30-14.  This was a particularly ugly loss for a “big-time” football program, and the ‘Gander natives are restless.

Akron +20 won at Pittsburgh, 21-10, and Coach Terry Bowden had the Zips at the top of their game last weekend (lost earlier this season to Penn State 21-3 and Marshall 48-17).

Northwestern +10 won at Penn State, 29-6.  The NW Wildcats got their first FBS victory of the season in a big way.  Are they back on track for a winning season?  The Cats have a tough home game versus Wisconsin this Saturday.

Colorado State +9 won at Boston College, 24-21.  The CSU Rams took the lead for the first time in the game with only 1 minute remaining in regulation play, converting on a 4th-and-11 from the BC 13-yard line for the go-ahead and game-winning TD. 

Texas State +3 won at Tulsa, 37-34 in triple-overtime.

Missouri +4h won at South Carolina, 21-20.  The SC Gamecocks scored a TD with 7:25 remaining in the game to lead 20-7, but the visiting Tigers scored 36 seconds later to trail only 20-14 and then scored the game-winning TD with 1:36 to go on a 9-play, 51-yard drive.  There were no turnovers in the game: SC outgained Mizzou from scrimmage, 338-280.

Maryland +3h won at Indiana, 37-15.  How does this blowout happen?  The Hoosiers won at Missouri last week, and then lost miserably at home?!?.  And after losing to Indiana last weekend at home, the Mizzou Tigers went on the road and beat a ranked (not any more) South Carolina team?  Handicappers everywhere are collectively and figuratively pulling out their hair trying to figure out what is going on in college football early in the season.

Western Kentucky +7 won at Navy, 36-27.

Florida International +17 won at Alabama-Birmingham, 34-20.

Florida Atlantic +5h beat visiting Texas-San Antonio, 41-37.

Washington State +13h won at Utah, 28-27.  The Utes were ahead 21-0 in the 1st quarter, but the WSU Cougars bounced back and ultimately scored two 4th-quarter TD’s including the go-ahead score with 5 minutes to go.

Air Force +12h led 28-0 in the fourth quarter and “held on” to beat visiting Boise State, 28-14.  The BSU Broncos had seven turnovers and 9 penalties that sealed their fate.


Colorado +14h jumped out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter, but host California fought back and took its first lead of the game with five minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.  The Buffaloes recaptured the lead on a TD with only 3:23 to go in regulation time, but the CAL Golden Bears responded with two TD’s in the next minute to retake the lead.  Not over yet … Colorado scored a TD with 21 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.
FINAL: CAL 59, COL 56 in double-OT
With the victory, California-Berkeley snapped a PAC-12 conference fifteen-game losing streak.
This game marked the first time in NCAA history that two opposing teams each had 7 TD’s passes in a single game (and the game also tied the NCAA record for total TD passes in a game with 14).
In the loss, Colorado WR Nelson Spruce caught 19 passes for 176 yards and 3 TD’s.

Arkansas +8h was ahead 28-14 in the fourth quarter at neutral site AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX (“Jerry’s House”), but Texas A&M scored the last three TD’s including the game-winner in overtime to prevail.  FINAL: TXAM 35, ARK 28.


The oddsmakers are probably second-guessing themselves after the unusual results last weekend.  The home teams were only 17-33 ATS (34%), even though the home teams were 27-23 straight up (54% outright victories).  Basically, this could be interpreted to mean that the oddsmakers gave the home teams too much credit for home field advantage.  The following favored home teams all won, but failed to cover ATS: Oklahoma State (-14h, won by “only” 10), Wisconsin (-34h, won by 17), Virginia Tech (-21, won by 18), Toledo (-14h, won by 14 and missed by ½ point ATS), Kentucky (-17, won by 10 and snapped a 17-game SEC conference losing streak), Louisville (-21, won by 10), Auburn (-32, won by 28), California (-14h, won by 3 in double-OT), Texas A&M (-8h, won by 7 in overtime), Georgia (-17, won by 3), Mississippi (-21, ahead 7-3 after 1st quarter, then scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to win by 21 and get a tie ATS), Louisiana-Monroe (-13h, won by 2), and San Diego State (-17h, won by 17 and lost ATS by the hook).

GAMBLERS BEWARE!  (this looked like a “gimme” on paper, although history showed otherwise--that Baylor had struggled in last three trips to Ames, IA)
Baylor (-22, earlier in the week -21) won handily at Iowa State.  The BU Bears were ahead 35-7 at halftime and covering ATS “comfortably”.  But the ISU Cyclones scored a meaningless TD with 4:42 remaining in the game to get the “backdoor” cover ATS.
FINAL: BAYL 49, ISU 28, and the Bad News Bears fail to cover ATS by 1 point.

GAMBLERS BEWARE! (no lead is ever safe against the spread)
Kansas State (-27) was ahead of visiting UTEP 52-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter (covering ATS by 18 points), but gave up three TD’s to the Miners in the final stanza and the KSU Wildcats needed a TD of their own in the 4th quarter to prevail ATS.
FINAL: KSU 58, UTEP 28, and the Wildcats covered ATS only by 3 points.

And NC State +18 hosted AP#1 Florida State and was leading 24-7 after the 1st quarter (covering ATS by 35 points), and was still ahead 38-28 in mid-3rd quarter, but the Seminoles scored three TD’s in the next eight minutes to lead 49-38 early in the fourth quarter and then scored another TD late in the 4th quarter that would have given them a tie ATS – except that the NC State Wolfpack squeezed in a FG in the fourth quarter to cover ATS.  FINAL: FSU 56, NCS 41, and Florida State didn’t quite cover ATS by 3 points.


With only two FCS vs. FBS games last weekend, there was one FCS winner.  Yale beat visiting Army, 49-43 in overtime; it was the first Ivy League victory over an FBS team since 1986.

Cumulatively for the year, seven FCS teams have beaten FBS teams, as compared to a total of 16 upsets during the whole 2013 season.


Six teams had a “bye” last weekend; and, “bye” weeks will continue through NFL Week #12, after which all teams will have played the same number of games (eleven).

There are only two unbeaten teams after Week #4, and both of them had a “bye” week to stay at 3-0 (CIN and AZ).  Philadelphia had been 3-0, but lost at SF to fall into a tie for the division lead with Dallas in the NFC East at 3-1.

There are only two winless teams after Week #4, Jacksonville and Oakland are both 0-4.
The OAK Raiders just fired head coach Dennis Allen, with interim HC Tony Sparano taking over after their upcoming “bye” week.  Sparano had been the Raiders’ offensive line coach and assistant head coach this year; he had previously been the HC of the Miami Dolphins (2008-2011).


Overall, FIVE underdogs won outright in 13 NFL games, for a 38.5% upset rate in the 4th week of the regular season (37.5% upsets last week).

.On Thursday night, the NY Giants (+3) revived their offense and blistered host Washington, 45-14.

Tampa Bay (+7h) won at Pittsburgh, 27-24.  The TB Bucs jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the Steelers responded and led 17-10 at halftime and still 24-17 after three quarters.  Tampa Bay then scored the final 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning TD with only seven seconds on the clock.  The Buccaneers got their first win of the year with the help of 2nd-year QB Mike Glennon (3rd round draft pick, NC State).

Minnesota (+3) beat visiting Atlanta, 41-28.  With QB Matt Cassel out for the year with a broken foot, rookie 1st round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) started and looked good (albeit against a weak Falcons’ defense).

Dallas (+3) soundly beat visiting New Orleans, 38-17.

On Monday night, Kansas City (+3h) embarrassed visiting New England with a 41-14 victory.

[OK, be honest with me!  How many of you had either or both of New England and New Orleans going to the Super Bowl this season?  It doesn’t look promising for either of these teams right now, but of course “it’s still early”.]


San Francisco (-5) looked shaky against visiting Philadelphia, but ended up prevailing 26-21 to gain a tie ATS.  The PHI Eagles offense was anemic; they gained only 213 yards from scrimmage (407 for SF), and the offense scored ZERO points.  Philly scored all of their 21 points in the first half on a blocked punt recovery in the end zone, a Pick 6, and an 82-yard punt return TD by Darren Sproles.  And how are the 49’ers doing with their penalties problem?  Not that great; SF had 10 more penalties this week for 80 yards.

The only other game within a field goal ATS was Houston (-3) beating visitor Buffalo, 23-17.  After this loss, BUF Bills’ QB E.J. Manuel earned a spot on the bench for next week’s game in Detroit.  Veteran Kyle Orton (who bailed out of Dallas before the season began) will start for Buffalo, a team tied with MIA and NE for the AFC East division lead at 2-2.  Orton was a 4th round draft pick out of Purdue in 2005.

Following are the Week #4 winners with greater-than-two TD point spread differentials:
NYG (+34, meaning “covered ATS by 34 points”), KC (+30h), BAL (+24h), DAL (+24), MIA (+20h), GB (+19), IND (+16h), and MIN (+16).  Overall, that’s eight blowouts ATS in 13 total NFL games last weekend.


Overall, we FFHL’ers were mediocre again at 35-45-4 (44.0%) ATS.  In college picks, we were again a pathetic 16-32-3 ATS (34.3%); but in the NFL we had another good week at 19-13-1 ATS (59.1%).  This week we only selected seven underdogs out of 84 total picks, and maybe there is a reason for that.  Of our 4 ‘dog picks in the NFL, we were only 1-2-1 ATS; and on our 3 college ‘dog picks, we were a perfect 0-3 ATS.  Overall, that is 21.4% ATS on underdog picks, which doesn’t really encourage us to pick the ‘dogs in the future.


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

                                    ATS Picks
Team                           For-Against     Result / Unsolicited comments

In our 51 college picks, we had ZERO contrary picks.
In our 33 NFL picks, we had only three contrary picks.

IND Colts -7h vs. TENN         6-0       WIN, Indy pounds QB-less Titans 41-17
PIT Steelers -7h vs. TB          5-0       LOSS, Tampa Bay upsets Pitt, 27-24
ATL Falcons -3 at MINN         5-0       LOSS, Vikings upset Atlanta, 41-28
SD Chargers -12h vs. JAX     4-0       WIN, San Diego bolts past Jags, 33-14
GB Packers -2 at CHI            3-1       WIN, Pack wins handily again in Chicago, 38-17

Notre Dame -9 vs. SYR         6-0       WIN, Irish victory 31-15 in E.Rutherford, NJ
Texas A&M -8h vs. ARK        4-0       LOSS, Aggies win only 35-28 in OT to not cover
Baylor -22 at Iowa State         4-0       LOSS, Bears give up “backdoor” TD to not cover
S. Carolina -4h vs. Mizzou      3-0       LOSS, Gamecocks lose outright to Tigers, 21-20
California -14h vs. COLO       3-0       LOSS, Bears lucky just to win, 59-56 in OT
Georgia -17 vs. TENN            3-0       LOSS, Bulldogs struggle just to win, 35-32


COLLEGE – 5th week (FFHL WEEK #4)
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               22-28-2  (44.2%)         39-13  (75.0%)           
            HOME TEAMS           17-33-0  (34.0%)         27-23 (54.0%)

Home teams really struggled ATS this week, and favorites didn’t do well either.
There were two neutral site games this week.

COLLEGE - CUMULATIVE (after 5 weeks)
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               108-119-4  (47.6%)     181-50  (78.4%)         
HOME TEAMS           102-116-0  (46.8%)     128-91 (58.4%)

NFL – 4th week (FFHL WEEK #4)
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               7-5-1  (57.7%)             8-5  (61.5%)   
            HOME TEAMS           7-4-1  (62.5%)             8-4 (66.7%)

One game was played in neutral site London.

NFL - CUMULATIVE (after four weeks)
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               28-32-1  (46.7%)         37-24  (60.7%)           
            HOME TEAMS           27-32-1  (45.8%)         36-24 (60.0%)

Home teams and favorites ATS are making a bit of a comeback; and by the end of the season, the ATS Records should be close to 50%.


I’m still trying to avoid the opinion polls at this stage of the season, but I did look at the new Grantland Rice FWAA Super 16 Poll, just to see if provided a different perspective from the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today (coaches) polls.  And…..the FWAA pretty much mirrors the Top 16 of the AP Poll.  In the top 15 teams, the rankings are exactly the same or within one position.  The only team that differs by more than one spot is FWAA #16-ranked BYU – the Cougars are ranked #18 by the AP.

And, the AP and USA Today polls are nearly identical as well, with only one team in the Top 25 that differs in ranking by more than two spots [USC is AP#16 and only USA#20].

After five weeks of college football, there are four teams getting all of the #1 votes in the two main polls:
                                                Rank   AP #1              Rank   USA #1
AP       Votes               USA    Votes
            Florida State                1          27                    2          26
            Oregon                        2          13                    4          7
            Alabama                      3          13                    1          15
            Oklahoma                   4          7                      3          14


INJURIES UPDATE (difficult to keep up; here are a few)

Minnesota QB Matt Cassel (broken foot) has been put on “injured reserve” (IR) and he is out for the year.  Rookie Teddy Bridgewater takes over for a depleted offense missing its best player, RB Adrian Peterson (deactivated).  OG Brandon Fusco (torn pectoral surgery) was also put on IR and is out for the year.  TE Kyle Rudolph had groin surgery and will be sidelined for about 6-8 weeks.
UPDATE:  This happened before last week’s game, and the Vikings still won (albeit at home and outside at Minnesota Gophers’ college stadium against dome team Atlanta).

San Diego lost LB Manti Te’o indefinitely with a broken foot.

IND Colts safety LaRon Landry is out for the next four weeks for a PED violation.

I’ve missed so many injuries this week; do the homework before placing your bets.


A new domestic violence case came to light last week, not directly involving an NFL player.  John Elway’s son, Jake (age 24), agreed to a plea deal whereby he gets one year probation and an assault charge was dropped.  He was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge – “disturbing the peace.”

The NFL is responsible for disciplining its players under the personal conduct policy, but the league is not an alternative to the court system.  The NFL should not be to blame if the courts are too lenient and don’t dole out tough enough sentences for “guilty” domestic abuse violators.  That is, the courts need to take domestic violence seriously and send the message, or the problems continue unabated.
The NFL is a high-profile business and thus gets a lot of scrutiny regarding ongoing social issues.  But a lot of the domestic violence issues can be resolved when the appropriate attitude is instilled in young people at home.

LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #5 (college 6th week)

Thursday       Arizona +23 at AP#2 Oregon
Oct 2nd           Central Florida +3 at Houston
                        Florida Atlantic -7 at Florida International

Friday             Utah State +21 at AP#18 BYU          
Oct 3rd            San Diego State -1 at Fresno State
                        Louisville -2h at Syracuse

Saturday        AP#14 Stanford -2 at AP# 9 Notre Dame
Oct 4th                         (rankings don’t agree with betting line; home team overrated?)
                        AP#15 LSU +7h at AP#5 Auburn    (can you say “SEC overrated”?)                                AP#4 Oklahoma -5 at AP#25 TCU
                        AP#3 Alabama -6h at AP #11 Mississippi
AP#6 Texas A&M +2 at AP#12 Mississippi St. (more SEC overrated)
AP#19 Nebraska +7h at AP#10 Michigan State

Navy -4h at Air Force
                        Purdue +10 at Illinois
                        Marshall -18 at Old Dominion
                        Virginia Tech -2h at North Carolina
                        AP#17 Wisconsin -9h at Northwestern
                        Arizona State +12h at #16 USC         (ASU QB is “very questionable”)
                        Florida +2h at Tennessee
                        AP#7 Baylor -16h at Texas
                        Utah +13 at AP#8 UCLA
                        NC State +14h at Clemson
                        Boise State -2 at Nevada


BYE WEEKS:  Miami, Oakland (having played each other in London last Sunday)

Thursday       Minnesota +9h at Green Bay
Oct 2nd          
Sunday           Divisional Matchups:
Oct 5th             Tampa Bay +10 at New Orleans

Other interesting matchups:
                        Chicago +2 at Carolina
                        Houston +5h at Dallas                        Battle of Texas
                        Buffalo +7 at Detroit              
                        Baltimore +3h at Indianapolis
                        Arizona +7 at Denver
                        NY Jets +7 at San Diego
                        Cincinnati -1 at New England

Monday          Seattle -7 at Washington
Oct 6th


Sorry, none this week.

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