Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER NFL WEEK SEVEN



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

We're just in the midst of finishing off the first half of the college football regular season and the CFP selection committee is about ready to publish their first preliminary rankings.  By the way, the selection committee has already changed for this year.  Read on.

Broncos vs Chargers Thursday

In the NFL, we're not quite halfway through the season yet, but I ventured a guess at "power rankings" for the top twelve or so teams.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

COLLEGE

NUMBER OF UNBEATEN TEAMS SHRINKS AGAIN

AP#4 Baylor (-7h) lost at West Virginia, 41-27, and is no longer undefeated.
AP#5 Notre Dame (+11h) lost at AP#2 Florida State in a tough battle, 31-27, to also lose its first game of the season.  The “illegal pick” in the endzone was called on the Irish offense on their otherwise game-winning TD.

That leaves only four unbeaten teams: Miss St, FSU, Ole Miss, and Marshall.

Mississippi State plays at Mississippi in the Egg Bowl on November 29th (Saturday after Thanksgiving).  But both teams play several tough games before their rivalry game.  See breakdown below.

FBS UNDERDOG WINNERS

Overall, SIXTEEN underdogs won their games outright in 52 games, for a 31% upset rate (21% last week).

On Tuesday night, Louisiana-Lafayette (+1h) won at Texas State, 34-10.
On Thursday night, Pittsburgh (+1h) won at Virginia Tech, 21-16.

BIG XII CONFERENCE SHAKE-UP
West Virginia (+7h) beat visiting AP#4 Baylor, 41-27.  The game was tied 27-27 after three quarters, but the WVA Mountaineers took control in the final stanza.  The home team won despite losing the turnover battle, 3-0.

AP#14 Kansas State (+7) won at AP#11 Oklahoma, 31-30.  After an early 7-0 lead, the Sooners were playing catch-up most of the game.  But OU scored a TD with 10:35 remaining in the fourth quarter to trail only 31-30.  The extra point kick was blocked, which ended up being the margin of victory for the KSU Wildcats.  With 3:53 remaining in the game, the Sooners had driven down to the KSU 1-yard line but were unable to punch it across the goal line.  The Sooners’ usually-stellar kicker Michael Hunnicutt missed the go-ahead 19-yard FG and Kansas State ran out the clock to secure the victory.  Hunnicutt also missed a 32-yarder at the end of the first half.  Oklahoma outgained KSU from scrimmage, 533-385 but lost the turnover battle 2-0, including a Pick 6 for a KSU TD in the first half.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE

AP#17 Arizona State (+3h) beat visiting AP#23 Stanford, 26-10.  The SU Cardinal offensive woes continued; they were shut out in the first half for the first time since 2007, trailing 14-0.  The Sun Devils could not get into the endzone against Stanford in the second half, but four successful FG’s (three in the 4th quarter) were enough to secure victory.  Backup QB Mike Bercovici started for ASU, his third start while Taylor Kelly is nursing injury.

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
North Carolina (+1) beat visiting Georgia Tech, 48-43.

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
Missouri (+5h) won at Florida, 42-13.  This was a bizarre game in which the MU Tigers racked up only 119 yards from scrimmage (only 20 passing yards, 99 rushing), yet led 42-0 with six minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.  Missouri started the game with a kickoff return for a TD and led 20-0 at halftime.  In the first seven minutes of the 3rd quarter, the Tigers scored TD’s on a punt return, a fumble return and a Pick Six interception; the game was over.  As you could guess, the FL Gators lost the turnover battle, 6-1.

NON-POWER 5 CONFERENCES

Ohio U. (+3) beat visiting Akron, 23-20.

Western Michigan (+3) won at Bowling Green, 26-14.

Ball State (+8h) won at Central Michigan, 32-29.

Southern Mississippi (+8h) won at North Texas, 30-20. 

Appalachian State (+6h) won at Troy, 53-14.

Nevada (+12) won at BYU, 42-35.  The Cougars lost their stellar starting QB Taysom Hill to injury three weeks ago and haven’t won since then.  BYU was ahead 28-13 at halftime, but the Wolf Pack prevailed in the 2nd half.  BYU outgained Nevada from scrimmage, 601-411, but lost the turnover battle, 3-0 (all fumbles, no INT’s by adequate backup QB Christian Stewart).

Kent State (+3h) beat visiting Army, 39-17.  The KSU Golden Flashes got their first win of the season at homecoming.

Middle Tennessee (+1) beat visiting UAB, 34-22.

Florida Atlantic (+4h) beat visiting Western Kentucky, 45-38.  FAU trailed 31-14 at halftime and still 38-28 after three quarters, but the Owls scored two TD’s in the final 2 minutes, 18 seconds to prevail.

UPSETS – “NOT QUITE”:
Purdue (+14) gave Minnesota a battle, but ended up losing on the road, 39-38.  The Golden Gophers are now in sole possession of the Big 10 West Division lead with a 3-0 conference record.  Still on the slate for the Goofers: at Illinois, home games vs. Iowa and Ohio State, and then road games vs. Nebraska and Wisconsin.

California (+7) nearly beat visiting UCLA, but lost 36-34 to the Bruins -- at home -- for the first time since 1998.

Iowa State (+12) lost at Texas, 48-45, as the Longhorns kicked a FG at the end of the regulation to prevail.

NFL

There is now only one winless team this season.  Jacksonville (1-6) got its first win over visiting Cleveland on Sunday, 24-6.  Oakland wasn’t quite as fortunate at home against Arizona, losing 24-13; the Raiders are 0-6.  In unenviable company with the JAX Jaguars are the two other one-victory teams: TB (1-5) and NYJ (1-6).

No NFL teams are undefeated, but there are four one-loss teams – Arizona (5-1) with a 1½-game lead over SF in the NFC West (Seattle is 2 games back), Denver (5-1) with a one-half game lead over SD (5-2) in the AFC West, and in the NFC East Dallas (6-1) has a one-half game lead over Philadelphia (5-1).

It’s still early, but NFL parity seems to be alive.  In the NFC South, Carolina leads the division with a 3-3-1 record; in contrast, Cleveland with the same win percentage at 3-3-0 is in the cellar of the AFC North.

PARITY
At this early stage, who would you pick as the Top 5 teams in the NFL, based on this season’s performances to date and also throwing in expectations for the remainder of the regular season?
It’s not that easy; make your list and compare it to mine (of course, I’m no expert).

#1 Denver (5-1) has played only 2 road games, lost in overtime at SEA in Week#1, but has three “quality” wins at home (IND, AZ, SF).  Defense is looking good; offense with QB Manning is expectedly excellent.  However, tough schedule is coming: SD at home this weekend and then six road games in the next 8 weeks including the last two games of the 8-game streak at SD and at CIN.

#2 Arizona (5-1) lost only at Denver so far; the Cardinals have two “quality” wins, both at home (SD, SF).  In the next two weeks AZ plays PHI at home and then DAL away.  Arizona is the only team in the NFC West without a loss in its division.  Road victories have not come easily for the Cards for several years (2010-2012: 4-20 record, but better at 4-4 last year under new HC Bruce Arians).

#3 Indianapolis (5-2) started the season 0-2 (at DEN, PHI), but now has a 5-game winning streak including two “quality” wins at home (BAL, CIN).

#4 Baltimore (5-2) has a relatively easy schedule and has a good shot to win the AFC North, currently with a 1-game lead over Pittsburgh and a 2-1 record in the division.  The Ravens haven’t really chalked up a “quality” win yet this year, but I picked them to get into the Super Bowl so I’m leaning on them right now.

#5 Dallas (6-1) – really?  Most pundits didn’t even expect the Cowboys to win more than 8 games for the whole season (Phil Steele 5-11 record; Fugitive 7-9).  Inexplicably to most observers, the whole defense as well as the offensive line has been resurrected.  DAL lost in Week#1 at home to SF and since then has won six straight games including a win in Seattle.  The Cowboys face AZ at home in two weeks.

#6 San Francisco (4-3) should be getting several players back and have had a tough schedule so far.  The Niners face an “easier” middle, and then must finish the regular season with SEA, at OAK, at SEA, SD, AZ.

#7 Green Bay (5-2) lost on the road to SEA & DET, but have posted two solid wins (at CHI, CAR home) and the Packers’ offense is now R-E-L-A-X-T and out of its early season doldrums.

#8 Philadelphia (5-1) lost only at SF and has one “quality” win – at IND.  The Eagles face four road games in the next six weeks (AZ, HOU, GB, DAL) and then the next two weeks play home games vs. SEA and DAL.  The verdict is still out on the Brotherly Love Children.

#9 New England (5-2) has only one “quality” win (CIN at home).  The Patriots’ next six games are key: CHI, DEN, at IND, DET, at GB, at SD.  I’m thinking their significant weaknesses will be exposed, but I’ve been wrong before.

#10 San Diego (5-2) has faced a relatively easy schedule to date and the defense and running backs have significant injuries with which to contend.  The Chargers have one “quality” win (SEA at home, 30-21).  The Bolts’ last five games of the regular season are critical to a playoff run: at BAL, NE, DEN, at SF, at KC.  “San De-A-go, Super Chargers”.

#11 Detroit (5-2) has had a relatively easy schedule so far, but did beat GB at home (albeit, it was before the Pack offense woke up and QB Aaron Rodgers got the team to RELAX).


STILL PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
#12 Cincinnati (3-2-1)
#13 Seattle (3-3) has lost productivity from its defensive line, which lost several players in free agency.  The Seahawks’ sack totals have gone from top-tier last year to bottom feeder this year.
#14 Carolina (3-3-1)
#15 New Orleans (2-4, weak on road; six of next 10 games are at home)

OTHER TEAMS I don’t particularly like right now, but their records warrant a mention:
Miami (3-3)
Pittsburgh (4-3)
Kansas City (3-3)
Buffalo (4-3)
Cleveland (3-3)

TEAMS UNDER .500 WITH A CHANCE
Chicago (3-4)
Houston (3-4)
NY Giants (3-4)

NFL UNDERDOG WINNERS

Overall, only FOUR underdogs won outright in 15 NFL games, for a 27% upset rate this week (20% last week).

Miami (+3h) won at Chicago, 27-14.  The Dolphins held a 14-0 halftime lead as QB Ryan Tannehill hit his first 14 passes (25 of 32 for the game), and MIA still held a 21-7 lead after three quarters.  The Bears lost the turnover battle, 3-0, and have now lost all three of their home games this year and 5 of their last 7 dating back to last year.  For what it’s worth, the Bears have posted a 5-3 record at home each of the last five years (2009-2013).

Jacksonville (+5h) beat visiting Cleveland, 24-6.  The previously winless Jaguars were only ahead 10-6 after three quarters, but with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Browns muffed a punt at their own 8-yard line and the Jags recovered and scored on the next play.  One minute later, JAX intercepted a Brian Hoyer pass and returned it to the Browns’ 7-yard line and two plays later scored another TD.

St. Louis (+7) beat visiting Seattle, 28-26.  The Rams were ahead 21-6 at halftime with the help of a “trick play” punt return for a 90-yard TD.  The Seahawks came back and scored a TD with 3:18 remaining in the game, trailing only 28-26, but the 2-point try to tie failed.  Still time -- the ensuing kickoff was returned only to the 11-yard line and the Lambs were being meek on offense.  “Three and out” for the home team and Seattle was poised to get one more chance to take the lead and seize the victory.  But a STL fake punt from its own 16-yard line (with the lead, gutsy call!) was successful and the Rams were able to run out the clock from there.  HC Jeff Fisher said he didn’t want to give the ball back to Russell Wilson since the defense was having difficulties stopping him.  In fact, Wilson became the first player in NFL history to pass for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in a single game [23 of 36 for 313 yds, 2TD, 0 INT and 7 rushes for 106 yds and a TD].
There were no turnovers in the game by either team.

Kansas City (+4) won at San Diego, 23-20, on a FG with 21 seconds remaining in the game and the Chargers 5-game winning streak was snapped.  The San Diego defense is really beat up, and their stable of running backs is depleted.  KC Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid is now 14-2 (87.5%) in games played after having a “bye” week.

“UPSETS” – NOT QUITE

FIVE matchups this week (that’s one-third of the games) were decided by 2 points or less.  Only 1 of the 5 winners in these games covered the spread – the underdog STL Rams over Seattle.

On Thursday night, New England (-9) beat the visiting NY Jets only 27-25.  The struggling Jets (1-6, only win in Week #1 at home vs. winless Oakland) had a game-winning 58-yard field goal attempt blocked on the last play of the game in Foxborough, MA.

Washington (-5h) beat visiting Tennessee, 19-17.  The Titans took the lead on a Charlie Whitehurst TD pass with 7:41 remaining in the game, but Kai Forbath kicked the game-winning 22-yard FG with no time on the clock.
In the second half, the WSH Pig’Skins replaced starting QB Kirk Cousins with Colt McCoy, who led his team to victory (11 of 12 for 128 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT).  There is becoming a three-headed QB “controversy” in DC, although Robert Griffin will get the starting role when healthy (whether he keeps the job is another story).

Buffalo (-5h) beat visiting Minnesota, 17-16.   The Bills threw a TD pass with one second remaining in the game to prevail.  The Bills lost their top two running backs to injury during the game.  The Vikings lost two more offensive linemen during the game, and had no OL reserves by game’s end.

Detroit (-2h) beat visiting New Orleans, 24-23.  The NOR Saints were ahead 23-10 after kicking two field goals in the fourth quarter, the second one with only 5:24 on the clock. The DET Lions then scored two TD’s including the game-winning TD pass with 1:48 remaining in the game to prevail but not cover ATS.

St. Louis (+7) beat Seattle, 28-26 (see above).





FFHL RESULTS – WEEK SEVEN

Overall, we FFHL’ers had a lackluster week in posting 40-43-1 (48.2%) ATS.  In college picks, we got back on track at 30-24-1 ATS (55.5%); but in the NFL we finally took a big hit in posting only 10-19-0 ATS (34.5%).

This week we selected 19 underdogs out of 84 total picks.  On our 7 ‘dog picks in the NFL, we were 2-5-0 ATS; and our 12 college ‘dog picks were 7-4-1 ATS.  Overall, that is a monkey-like 9-9-1 ATS (50.0%) on underdog picks (but still better than our “favorites” picks).

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

In our 55 college picks, we had only 7 contrary picks.
In our 29 NFL picks, we had 4 contrary picks

Baylor -7h at West VA            5-0       LOSS, BU Bears lose outright 41-27
Ole Miss -16 vs. TENN           4-0       WIN, Rebels bomb Vols 34-3 to cover ATS easily
Clemson -5 at BC                   3-0       LOSS, CU Tigers win only 17-13 to not cover by 1
Michigan St -16 at Indiana      3-0       WIN, MSU Spartans win handily 56-17
UCLA -7 at Cal Bears             3-0       LOSS, Bruins win 36-34 to not cover by 5 points
Cincinnati -13 at SMU            3-0       WIN, Bearcats crush hapless SMU 41-3
Duke -2 vs. Virginia                3-0       WIN, Blue Devils score final TD to win 20-13
Maryland -4h vs. Iowa            3-1       WIN, Terrapins beat Hawks 38-31 to cover by 2½
Notre Dame +11h at FSU      3-1       WIN, ND Irish lose 31-27 but cover ATS by 7½
Oregon -20h vs. U-Dub          2-1       WIN, OU Ducks beat UW 45-20 to cover by 4½

SEA ‘Hawks -7 at STL            4-0       LOSS, St. Louis Rams win outright, 28-26
CHI Bears -3h vs. MIA           4-0       LOSS, Miami ‘Fins win outright, 27-14
BAL Ravens -7 vs. ATL          3-0       WIN, Ravens beat Falcons handily, 29-7
CAR Panthers +6h at GB       2-1       LOSS, Packers blast Carolina 38-17
KC Chiefs +4 at SD Bolts       2-2       Underdog Kansas City wins outright, 23-20

CUMULATIVE RECORDS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) and STRAIGHT UP

COLLEGE – 8th week (FFHL WEEK #7)
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               22-29-1  (43.3%)         36-16  (69.2%)           
            HOME TEAMS           23-28-1  (45.2%)         33-19 (63.5%)

Favorites and home teams continue to struggle ATS.  Theoretically, the ATS percentages should be near 50%; at least that’s what the oddsmakers want (they don’t want bettors to be able to identify and use a “trend” to their own advantage against “the house”).

COLLEGE - CUMULATIVE
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               173-205-9  (45.9%)     294-84  (77.8%)         
HOME TEAMS           175-196-5  (47.2%)     225-152 (59.7%)
           
NFL – FFHL WEEK #7
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               7-8-0  (46.7%)             11-4-0  (73.3%)          
            HOME TEAMS           8-7-0  (53.3%)             11-4-0  (73.3%)

NFL - CUMULATIVE
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               51-53-2  (49.1%)         71-34-1  (67.5%)        
            HOME TEAMS           46-57-2  (44.8%)         62-42-1  (59.5%)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLLS

Once again, the AP and USA Today polls are quite similar.   The Top 4 is exactly the same with same order.  The Top 21 are the same teams with slightly different order; Michigan State is AP#8 but USA#5, while all other teams are ranked within one spot of each other in the two major human polls.
And the new FWAA Super 16 almost identically mirrors the Top 16 of the AP Poll (exact same sixteen teams, slightly different order; Top 5 exactly the same order).

There are still only three teams getting the #1 votes in the three polls (#1 votes in parentheses; this week’s # followed by last week’s #), and the rankings didn’t change for the three remaining undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences:

                                    Rank               Rank                                      
AP (#1’s)         USA                FWAA            
           
            Miss St            1  (43;45)         1  (36;26)         1  (28;30)                    
Florida State    2  (14;12)         2  (22;31)         2  ( 9; 8)                      
            Ole Miss          3  ( 3; 3)           3  ( 4; 5)           3  ( 3; 2)                      

The teams ranked AP#4 through AP#16 all have one loss.  The top-ranked team with two losses is AP#17 Oklahoma (losses to #10 TCU, #11 KSU).  Unbeaten Marshall is ranked #23, behind fellow non-Power 5 team AP#18 East Carolina (5-1, lost at S.CAR 33-23).

WHICH TEAMS ARE SET UP TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
The 12-member selection committee for the CFP is scheduled to come out with their first preliminary rankings on October 28th.
“Twelve members?  I thought it was 13, Fugitive.”
Archie Manning, an alumnus of AP#3 Ole Miss, has excused himself from the committee for the 2014 season due to health concerns after complications from knee replacement surgery.  He is unable to travel to get to upcoming CFP meetings, but plans to be back in 2015.  If there are any ties, the remaining twelve “jurors” must break the tie on their own (i.e., someone has to change his/her vote); there is no other tie-breaking process in this regard.

Leading up to the first release by The Committee, let’s take a quick look at where we stand right now.  And by the way, it really stinks that there are four teams from the seven-team SEC West Division ranked in the Top 5 in the AP Poll (disgusting to this fan).

#1 Mississippi State (6-0) has six games in as many weeks to finish the regular season that includes two challenging road games (maybe three): at UK, ARK, FCS opponent, at ALA, VAND, and finishing up on November 29th at Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

#2 Florida State (7-0) has a relatively easy schedule to finish the regular season, and is very likely to get into the 4-team CFP.  The Seminoles have lackluster wins against three of their toughest opponents so far (Okie St by 6 at neutral site; Clemson at home without QB Winston in overtime; Notre Dame at home by 4 with help of offensive pass interference to negate a late TD).  Remaining on their schedule as possible spoilers: at Louisville, at Miami.FL and struggling Florida at home.

#3 Mississippi (7-0) has beaten Alabama at home for its only really impressive win so far.  The Rebels will find out if they are for real in the last six weeks, with a road game at LSU and a home game vs. Auburn in the next two weeks, then FCS and Bye, and finishing the regular season at ARK and home vs. Mississippi State.

#4 Alabama (6-1) will travel to LSU and then host Mississippi State and Auburn in November.  ‘Bama lost at #3 Mississippi, 23-17.  The Tide’s lopsided 59-0 victory over Texas A&M should be discounted since the visiting A&M Aggies were playing their fourth tough game in as many weeks (at ARK, at Miss.St, Ole Miss, then at ALA), and aren’t really that good anyway (given too much credit when they blew out mediocre South Carolina in season opener).  The SC Gamecocks aren’t that good (lost at home to Missouri, lost at Kentucky).

#5 Auburn (5-1) lost at Mississippi State, 38-23, and has a tough six-game schedule to finish the regular season (S.CAR, at Ole Miss, TX A&M, at UGA, FCS opponent, and then at ALA).  It would be impressive if the AUB Tigers run the table, in which case they could win the SEC West Division if the MSU Bulldogs lose two games.

#6 Oregon (6-1) lost at home to then-unbeaten Arizona, 31-24, but the Ducks may still be able to make the playoffs with no more blemishes on their record.  They have a “quality” win at home over Michigan State.  Toughest games coming up are rival Stanford at home and then at Utah in the first two weeks of November, followed by the potential PAC-12 title game against the South Division winner (#14ASU, #15AZ, #19Utah, #20USC, #25UCLA).  Speaking of that, the South Division winner could win the PAC-12 title game and potentially make the CFP, if it is a team with only one loss.

#7 Notre Dame (6-1) just suffered a tough loss at Florida State, 31-27, and still has road games against Arizona State and USC in November.  If the Irish run the table, I believe they’ll be in the CFP.

#8 Michigan State (6-1) lost at Oregon after collapsing in the 2nd half of that game.  The Spartans’ toughest game is against Ohio State at home on November 8th, and they should be able to beat their other four Big 10 East Division opponents on the regular season schedule.  The Big 10 title game could be a rematch with Nebraska and revenge for the Cornhuskers, if Jim G. gets his wish.  With a Big 10 title, MI State should get into the CFP (but still may not).
#16 Nebraska will win the Big 10 West Division with no hiccups including road wins at Wisconsin and Iowa (plus home game vs. USAToday #24 Minnesota).
#13 Ohio State (5-1) suffered an ugly home loss early in the season to Virginia Tech while adjusting to their backup QB after Braxton Miller went down for the year.  With road wins at Michigan State and Minnesota in back-to-back weeks in November and then winning the Big 10 title game, the Buckeyes still have a chance to make the CFP.

The highest-ranked Big XII team is #10 TCU, followed closely by #11 Kansas State.  The Texas Christian Horned Frogs host the KSU Wildcats on November 8th.
Baylor, who beat #10 TCU but lost to #22 West VA, is ranked #12, and plays at #17 Oklahoma on November 8th.
Kansas State will travel to Baylor for a game on December 6th.

OTHER NEWS and MINUTIA

THE NEW “FALL EXPERIMENTAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE” (FXFL)

First, I want you all to know that this new league came very close to infringing on my FFHL trademark.

The new league ended up being comprised of only four teams for this year.  Each team will play the other three teams once.  That means the FXFL season consists of nine total games.  It is a developmental league designed for now to be a feeder league for the NFL.

The first game was Wednesday, October 8th on ESPN3.  The Omaha Mammoths beat the Boston Brawlers, 41-18.  The Mammoths were led by QB Brock Jensen (North Dakota State).  Boston’s QB was Tajh Boyd (Clemson).  Attendance was about 3,000.

The next two games were played Wednesday, October 15th.
The Brooklyn Bolts beat visiting Boston, 27-20.
Omaha beat the visiting Blacktips, 20-19.

The next two games will be on Friday, October 24th, followed by the remaining four games on October 31st, November 5th and 7th and 12th.

The Blacktips do not have a city or a home stadium, so all three of their games will be on the road.

Some of the other players you may recognize:
Brooklyn Bolts QB’s are Cory Robinson (Troy) and Kolton Browning (LA-Monroe), and offensive lineman Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame) is on the roster as well.
Omaha Mammoth backup QB is Jordan Jefferson (LSU)
Boston Brawlers backup QB is Carson Coffman (KSU)
The Blacktips list only one QB – Joe Clancy out of Merrimack (MA)

OTHER CATCH-UP

Back in NFL Week #6, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco threw FIVE touchdown passes in the first 16 minutes and 3 seconds of the Ravens’ game at Tampa Bay.  That performance broke the NFL all-time record for fastest to throw five TD passes to start a game (only 1 minute into the 2nd quarter).  Wow!  FINAL: BAL 48, TB 17.

OTHER ALL-TIME RECORDS IN THE NFL

QB Peyton Manning threw his 509th touchdown pass in the first half of the Denver Broncos’ demolition of the SF 49’ers on Sunday night.  He surpassed Bret Favre to become the NFL’s all-time career TD pass leader.

Dallas RB DeMarco Murray has rushed for over 100 yards in his first seven games of the 2014 season.  That breaks the all-time NFL record of six, set back in 1958 by Jim Brown.  Murray is on track to break the all-time record for number of rushing attempts at about 427 carries.  If his heavy workload continues, history would say his future is doomed based on the pounding he would endure in such a short period of time.  We’ll see; the Cowboys probably will continue to “overuse” him if they continue to win using this strategy.

COLLEGE RECORD

Marshall QB Rakeem Cato broke the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.  Last Saturday’s victory at FIU was the 39th straight game Cato has thrown a touchdown. The record was previously held by Russell Wilson (NC State and Wisconsin), now the Super Bowl winning QB for the Seattle Seahawks.

LEGALIZED GAMBLING

The New Jersey State Assembly recently passed new sports betting legislation and promoter-Governor Chris Christie quickly signed the bill into law on October 17th.  The new state law partially repeals New Jersey’s prohibitions on sports betting, paving the way for casinos and racetracks to begin taking wagers.  Monmouth Park is supposedly ready to take NFL bets this Sunday, October 26th.

But wait….. “Not so fast, my friends”
On October 21st, the NCAA, NFL and other major sports leagues filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in an effort to halt legalized sports betting in New Jersey.  The State of N J must file its response to the restraining order today and then the leagues will file a reply by tomorrow, after which US District Judge Michael Shipp will decide if the leagues have proven that they will be irreparably harmed by sports betting in New Jersey.
And just for the record, it is no surprise that "the NCAA has asked the United States District Court to stop the state of New Jersey from allowing sports wagering to occur in casinos and racetracks across the state in violation of the injunction issued last year," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn told ESPN. "The NCAA continues to believe that the spread of legalized sports wagering is a threat to student-athlete well-being and the integrity of athletic competition."  [Editorial Comment: it sounds like the NCAA is comparing this state law to the Ebola outbreak].  As an aside, the NCAA has a policy of not holding championship events in states that offer sports betting.

If the restraining order is granted, there will be no sports betting at Monmouth Park on Sunday.  And based on the judge assigned to the case, many legal sources expect the leagues to be granted the restraining order.

NFL PLAYERS

On October 17th, Seattle traded WR Percy Harvin to the NY Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick (4th to 6th rounder depending on productivity).  Minnesota had drafted him in the first round in 2009 and later traded him to Seattle for a 1st round pick and 3rd and 7th round picks as well.  He signed a big contract with the Seahawks last year, has been injured much of his career, and is rumored to be somewhat of a distraction in the locker room (fights with teammates, anger and trust issues, etc.).  Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin stated that the news of the trade was a shocker, and that he thinks it contributed to the teams’ slow start in their game at St. Louis on Sunday.

On October 21st, Dallas released rookie Michael Sam from its practice squad.  He is now available to be signed to any other team’s practice squad; and of course while he was on the Cowboys’ practice squad, he could have been signed to any team’s 53-man roster (and still can be now).

LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #8

Thursday         Connecticut +27h at AP#18 East Carolina
                        Miami of Florida -3 at Virginia Tech
                       
Friday              Troy +14 at South Alabama
                        South Florida +11 at Cincinnati
                        BYU +6h at Boise State
                        AP#6 Oregon -18 at California                      

Saturday         AP#1 Mississippi State -14 at Kentucky
                        AP#3 Mississippi -3h at AP#24 LSU
AP#20 USC (Pick’em) at AP#19 Utah  (Utes switching QB starter)
AP#25 UCLA -13h at Colorado
AP#14 AZ St. -2h at U-Dub    (appears ASU QB Taylor Kelly will start)
AP#22 West Virginia +1 at Oklahoma State

Michigan +17 at AP#8 Michigan State
Texas +10 at AP#11 Kansas State
AP#13 Ohio State -13 at Penn State
AP#15 Arizona -2h at Washington State
Florida Atlantic +28 at AP#23 Marshall
Akron -1h at Ball State
Wyoming +18h at Colorado State
Georgia Southern -16h at Georgia State
North Texas -14h at Rice
Louisiana Tech -9h at Southern Mississippi
UTEP +10 at UTSA
USA#24 Minnesota -7 at Illinois          (Illini QB out; 2 backups could play)


NFL WEEK #8 – SELECTED GAMES

BYE WEEKS:             NY Giants, San Francisco

Thursday         San Diego (+7) at Denver                  Big AFC West matchup
                                                                                   
Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
                        Baltimore (+1) at Cincinnati
                        Buffalo (+3) at NY Jets                       Bills’ two RB are injured
                        Houston (-3) at Tennessee                
                       
                        Other interesting games:
                        GAME IN LONDON: Detroit (-3h) vs. Atlanta
Green Bay (+1h) at New Orleans
                        Indianapolis (-2h) at Pittsburgh
                        Philadelphia (+2h) at Arizona
                        St. Louis (+6h) at Kansas City            “I-70 Freeway Series” game
                        Miami (-5) at Jacksonville                  “I-?? Freeway” game
                        Seattle (-4h) at Carolina

Monday           Washington (+9h) at Dallas

QUIZ QUESTIONS – Handicappers’ Special

QUESTION #1:  Name the only winless FBS team so far this season.

QUESTION #2:  OK handicappers, have you been paying attention?  Name the three FBS college teams that have not lost a game against the spread this year.
HINT: Two of the three are Top 25 teams.
BONUS (tough):  Name the five teams that have only lost one game ATS this year.
HINT: Only one is a Power 5 conference team.

QUESTION #3:  Name the two FBS college teams that have not won a game against the spread this year.
HINT: One team is from the AAC and the other is from the MAC.
BONUS: Name the five teams that have only won one game ATS this year.
HINT: Amazingly, two are ranked in the Top 25.

QUESTION #4: Name the two NFL teams that have only lost one game ATS this year, and then name the one NFL team that has only covered ATS once this year.

ANSWER #1:
SMU, whose coach (June Jones) resigned after his Mustangs had played two games and had scored a total of 6 points, giving up 88 points.

ANSWER #2:
Nebraska (6-0 ATS)
Mississippi (6-0-1 ATS)
Iowa State (5-0-1 ATS)
BONUS:
Rutgers (3-1-2 ATS)
South Florida (5-1 ATS)
Western Michigan (5-1 ATS), first loss ATS last week
Marshall (5-1 ATS)
Arkansas State (4-1 ATS)

ANSWER #3:
Toledo (0-6 ATS)
UConn (0-5 ATS)
BONUS:
Florida State (1-5 ATS)
UCLA (1-6 ATS)
South Carolina (1-5 ATS)
North Texas (1-5 ATS)
LA-Monroe (1-4-1 ATS)

ANSWER #4:
IND Colts (6-1 ATS)
KC Chiefs (5-1 ATS)
NOR Saints (1-4 ATS)

Of course, after Question #1, it is nearly impossible to get all of the answers (unless you have the Gold Sheet at your fingertips, right Mick?).  Handicappers, how did you do?  25% success rate is excellent (same as a good defensive shortstop at the plate).


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