FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
|Notre Dame vs Northwestern|
The NFL divisional races are getting particularly interesting, with three divisions have two teams tied for the lead at 7-3.
In college, we are getting close to the final playoff rankings which will be announced on December 7th.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police (spotted in Vegas with Filter King last weekend)
SHOCKERS OF THE WEEK
Notre Dame (-17h) led 20-9 over visiting Northwestern at halftime, aided by a 32-yard fumble return for an Irish TD. However, after the scoring play the extra point kick was blocked and the NW Wildcats returned it to the opposite end zone to tally an oddball extra 2 points. Notre Dame was again ahead by 11 points (40-29) after scoring a TD with 10½ minutes remaining in regulation, but missed the 2-point conversion. Northwestern came back and tied the game at the end of regulation on a TD and 2-point conversion with 4 minutes left and the tying 45-yard FG with 19 seconds to go in the 4th quarter. The Wildcats prevailed in overtime with a 41-yard FG, and the shocker in South Bend was complete.
FINAL: NW 43, ND 40
The game statistics were virtually the same for both teams, including the critical turnover battle, with both teams turning it over four times.
Arizona State (-9h) lost at Oregon State, 35-27. Host OSU jumped out to a 14-3 lead, but ASU scored three unanswered TD’s including a fumble return score to take the halftime lead, 24-14. The Sun Devils still held a shaky 27-21 lead early in the 4th quarter after kicking a FG, but the Beavers scored on the following possession to retake the lead 28-27 with eleven minutes to go. Oregon State finished off the upset on a Pick 6 touchdown with 1½ minutes remaining in the game.
SATURDAY’S “PLAYOFF” RESULTS
CFP#1 Miss State (+9) at CFP#5 Alabama
Did you know the proximity between these two schools is the closest in the Southeastern Conference – 80 miles apart? That is a rhetorical question; the next one is not.
Do you know why Alabama was favored by so many points over the top-ranked team in the nation?
Maybe it was partially due to historical results. MSU had lost 19 straight road games against Alabama when the Tide was ranked in the Top 25 (dating back to 1954).
Also, Alabama had a 6-4 straight-up record when playing teams ranked #1 in the nation.
Also, #1-ranked teams that were playing a Top 25 team for the first time since being ranked #1 (Miss. St.) had been 1-8 straight-up in the last 30 years.
And even though the teams were probably closer in talent than in prior years, the Crimson Tide had won the last six matchups with the MSU Bulldogs by an average of 22 points. The closest final score in those last six games was a 13-point deficit for Mississippi State.
With all of that said, MSU lost the battle again at Alabama, 25-20. But the Bulldogs did not give up and scored a TD with 15 seconds remaining in the game to get the backdoor cover ATS. It was so sweet for the underdog betting Fugitive and Filter King in Vegas, because an Alabama bettor sitting too darned close to us said “It’s over” when Alabama scored a TD and took a 19-0 lead in the 2nd quarter [he “cootied” himself; as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”]. Mississippi State chipped away at the lead and was only behind 19-13 after scoring a TD early in the 4th quarter. Six minutes later, ‘Bama responded with a TD to extend its lead to 25-13 (and again covering ATS). But the “cootie” factor allowed the MSU Bulldogs to score the “meaningless” TD with 15 seconds remaining in the game to lose by only 5 points.
The Alabama win vaulted them to the top of the CFP rankings (dammit). Mississippi State dropped from #1 to #4, still in the playoff picture with a game still to be played at rival Ole Miss. ‘Bama still has to play a home game against Auburn. And then one of these teams will play in the SEC title game.
CFP#9 Auburn (+2h) at CFP#15 Georgia
How many crappy outings does an SEC team have to excrete onto the field before being dropped from the rankings? (rhetorical question coming from a frustrated Big 10 fan).
OK, back to the game (I had to do that for my sanity).
The UGA Bulldogs crushed visiting Auburn, 34-7. After the loss, the Tigers were 7-3 and still ranked CFP#14 (#16AP and #17 USA). Whatever.
Georgia still has a shot at winning the SEC East Division, depending on how Missouri finishes its regular season (Go MU Tigers, historically a Big XII team)
CFP#16 Nebraska (+6h) at CFP#20 Wisconsin
Visiting Nebraska jumped out to a 17-3 lead after scoring a TD early in the 2nd quarter (aided by two Melvin Gordon fumbles), but then the UW Badgers scored 56 (that’s FIFTY-SIX) unanswered points. The halftime score was not outrageous with Wisconsin leading only 24-17, but the Badgers scored 28 points in the 3rd quarter and the game was virtually over (there was no way this game could be “cootied”).
FINAL: WISC 59, NEB 24
Surprisingly for the game, Nebraska only lost the turnover battle 5-4. But the Badgers outgained the ‘Huskers from scrimmage, 627-180.
[As an aside, FILTER KING of the FFHL was so disgusted watching this game in the early stages (since he bet Wisconsin ATS) that he went to the craps table, scored big there, and by the time he got back to the football game his Badger bet was winning easily. You gotta luv Vegas (at least when you’re ahead and lucky)!]
UW Badgers’ RB Melvin Gordon broke the all-time Division I NCAA rushing record with 408 yards from scrimmage on 25 carries (he sat out the whole 4th quarter of this eventual blowout). See Quiz Question at end of letter.
Gordon is now clearly going to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, projected only behind front-running Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta at this stage.
CFP#3 Florida State (-2h) at Miami of Florida
Ho-hum. The FSU Seminoles produced another late comeback to win – barely, 30-26, and their 26-game winning streak is still alive (last loss was to Florida at home in 2012). Miami led 16-0 after scoring a TD early in the 2nd quarter and still led 23-10 at halftime and 26-20 after kicking a FG with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Four minutes later, Florida State had to settle for a FG and was still behind 26-23. But the Seminoles took the lead for the first time in the game with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter and prevailed.
The statistics for the game were virtually the same (turnovers 3-3; Miami outgained FSU slightly).
Florida State covered ATS by 1½ points.
FSU has home games remaining vs. BC and Florida (with lame duck coach), and then the ACC title game; any loss would likely knock them out of the playoffs.
FBS UNDERDOG WINNERS
Overall, THIRTEEN underdogs won their games outright in 50 games, for a 26% upset rate (21% last week).
Northwestern (+17h) won in overtime at Notre Dame, 43-40.
Oregon State (+9h) beat visiting Arizona State, 35-27.
Georgia Tech (+3) soundly beat visiting Clemson, 28-6.
Virginia Tech (+5) won at Duke, 17-16, and the ACC Coastal Division winner is still undetermined.
Utah (+7h) won at Stanford, 20-17. The PAC-12 South division winner is still undetermined.
South Carolina (+7) won at Florida, 23-20 in overtime to give the Old Ball Coach Steve Spurrier a victory over his old team. The SC Gamecocks recovered a fumble in the end zone with 15 seconds remaining in regulation play to send the game into overtime.
Missouri (+4) won at Texas A&M, 34-27. The Tigers will repeat as the SEC East Division champion if they win out in the regular season with games at Tennessee (as 3½ point ‘dog) and home vs. Arkansas.
GROUP OF FIVE GAMES (non-Power 5 conference matchups):
On Tuesday night, Buffalo (+3h) blew out visiting Akron, 55-24.
On Thursday night in the American, Cincinnati (+3) beat visiting East Carolina, 54-46, to knock the ECU Pirates out of contention for a major bowl.
Appalachian State (+14h) won at Arkansas State, 37-32.
Troy (+5h) won at Idaho, 34-17, and the ID Vandals at 1-9 need a win in their final game at Appalachian State to surpass their win total from last year (1-11 in 2013). Idaho only plays 11 games this year because their early matchup with Florida was cancelled.
Florida International (+5) beat visiting Middle Tennessee State, 38-28.
Hawaii (+10h) shut out San Jose State on the mainland, 13-0.
Southern Methodist University has been horrid all year, languishing in a winless season so far, and lost their long-time head coach June Jones after the first two weeks of the season (he quit). SMU (+11) hosted South Florida as an 11-point underdog and the Mustangs nearly pulled off the win, losing just 14-13. Southern Methodist led 13-0 at halftime, but gave up two 4th-quarter TD’s including the game-winner for USF on a 4-yard pass with 4 seconds on the clock.
Kansas (+28h) came into its final home game of the season as a huge underdog against highly ranked TCU. The Jayhawks nearly shocked the CFP world in losing only 34-30.
KU led 27-17 in mid-3rd quarter after scoring on a 78-yard pass reception, but then TCU scored two TD’s including the go-ahead score at the end of the third quarter on a 69-yard punt return. The Horned Frogs extended their lead to 34-27 early in the final stanza with a FG; Kansas threatened to tie the game with 7 minutes to go, but had to settle for a chip-shot 23-yard FG at that time and couldn’t score again.
SHOCKERS OF THE WEEK
I hesitate to say any underdog victory is a shocker in the NFL. But Houston dominated at Cleveland, Cincinnati dominated at New Orleans, and Tampa Bay dominated at Washington in road games. And then the St. Louis Rams pulled off the upset at home over Denver. See below for more details.
ODD RACES IN TWO DIVISIONS
In the AFC NORTH, all teams are over .500; Cincinnati (6-3-1) and Pittsburgh (7-4) temporarily jumped over Cleveland (6-4) for the virtual division lead. Baltimore is also 6-4.
In the NFC SOUTH, all four teams are miserably under .500; New Orleans (4-6) and Atlanta (4-6) are tied for the division lead, while both Carolina (3-7-1) and Tampa Bay (2-8) are still lurking with lousy records.
THREE DIVISIONS TIED WITH 7-3 TEAMS
In the NFC EAST, Philadelphia (7-3) and Dallas (7-3) are tied for the division lead.
In the AFC WEST, Denver (7-3) and Kansas City (7-3) have a 1-game lead over third-place San Diego (6-4). Oakland at 0-10 has already been mathematically eliminated from playoff competition. If the Raiders were playing in the NFC South, they would still be alive to win that division.
In the NFC NORTH, Detroit (7-3) and Green Bay (7-3) are now tied for the division lead after the Lions lost at Arizona last week.
THE OTHER DIVISIONS
In the AFC EAST, New England (8-2) with a win at Indy retained its 2-game lead over Miami (6-4) and extended its lead to 3 games over Buffalo (5-5), who lost to the MIA Dolphins last Thursday.
In the NFC WEST, Arizona (9-1) extended its lead to 3 games over 2nd-place Seattle (6-4) and San Francisco (6-4).
In the AFC SOUTH, Indianapolis (6-4) retained a tenuous 1-game lead over 2nd-place Houston (5-5) after the Colts lost and the Texans won on Sunday.
NFL UNDERDOG WINNERS
Overall, SIX underdogs won outright in 14 NFL games, for a 43% upset rate this week (only 23% last week).
Houston (+3h) won at Cleveland, 23-7.
Atlanta (+1h in our pool; later in Vegas, Falcons became 2½ point favorites) won at Carolina, 19-17.
Cincinnati (+7) won at New Orleans, 27-10, to give the Saints consecutive home losses.
Tampa Bay (+7) won at Washington, 27-7, and the “natives” (fans) are restless in the nation’s capital. It seems everyone is down on the Pig’Skins QB Robert Griffin, including HC Jay Gruden and some Washington players. Pundit Steve Young reports that he got feedback from reliable sources saying that RGIII doesn’t put in enough time at his job to be successful. At this early stage of his injury-filled career, I’m throwing a flag for “piling on”. We’ll see later.
St. Louis (+9) beat visiting Denver, 22-7, the Rams never trailed in the game.
New England (+3) won at Indianapolis, 42-20. The Patriots won at Indy for the first time in their history. Little-known 3rd-string RB Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards from scrimmage and 4 TD’s on 37 carries (longest run 20 yards). The IND Colts scored a TD early in the 4th quarter to try to make a game of it, trailing only 28-20, but the defense just couldn’t stop New England.
“UPSETS” – NOT QUITE
NY Giants (+4) trailed only 16-10 and had 1st-and-goal from the SF 49’ers 4-yard with just under five minutes remaining in the game, but four scoring chances failed including the 4th down interception by QB Eli Manning (his 5th INT of the game).
FINAL: SF 16, NYG 10, and the Giants lost the turnover battle 5-1 yet still almost won the game.
FFHL RESULTS – WEEK ELEVEN
Overall, we FFHL’ers didn’t quite beat the house this week in posting 43-41-0 (51.2% ATS; 52.4% needed to pay for the “juice”). In college picks, we were a monkey-like 29-30-0 ATS (49.2%), and in the NFL we were decent at 14-11-0 ATS (56.0%).
This week we selected 21 underdogs out of 84 total picks. On our 2 underdog picks in the NFL, we were perfect at 2-0-0 ATS. And in our 19 college ‘dog picks we were 12-7-0 ATS. Overall, that means we were a powerful 14-7-0 ATS (66.7%) on underdog picks.
FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Team For-Against Result / Unsolicited comments
In our 59 college picks, we had 4 contrary picks.
In our 25 NFL picks, we had zero contrary picks.
GB Packers -5h vs. PHI 6-0 WIN, blowout victory for Pack, 53-20
DEN Broncos -9 at STL 5-0 LOSS, Rams shut down Denver, 22-7
PIT Steelers -6 at TENN 4-0 LOSS, Pitt does just enough to win, 27-24
AZ Cardinals -2 vs. DET 3-0 WIN, Arizona up early and hangs on, 14-6
AZ State -9h at OREG St 7-0 LOSS, ASU loses outright to Beavers, 35-27
FSU -2h at Miami.FL 6-0 WIN, late TD by Seminoles secures 30-26 win
Utah +7h at Stanford 5-0 WIN, Utes upset the Cardinal 20-17
TCU -28h at Kansas 3-0 LOSS, Horned Frogs barely win 34-30
Georgia -2h vs. Auburn 3-0 WIN, no contest in 34-7 blowout by Bulldogs
LSU +2 at Arkansas 3-0 LOSS, ARK Razorbacks shut down Tigers, 17-0
Ohio State -12 at MINN 3-0 LOSS, OSU gives up cover ATS late in 31-24 win
Miss St +8h at ALA 4-1 WIN, backdoor TD to cover ATS in 25-20 loss
Texas A&M -4 vs. Missou 3-1 LOSS, MU Tigers win outright 34-27 over Aggies
Nebraska +7 at Wisconsin 2-1 LOSS, Big Red lets RB Gordon loose, 59-24
And in Vegas, following are the bets for The Fugitive (8-1) and Filter King (10-3) for the weekend (and there was plenty of luck involved). We were at the same casinos, but made several bets at different times and got different point spreads in some cases:
College (4-1 plus parlay losses)
Wisconsin -6h WIN
Georgia -2h WIN
Missouri +3h WIN
Ohio State -13h LOSS Fumbled punt by OSU gives Gophers a TD to cover
Filter King as punt was in air, “Don’t fumble it!”
And it was the proverbial “kiss of death” for that bet
Utah +10 WIN
Two 3-team parlays on Saturday failed (losses by LSU, Duke, AZ)
NFL (6-0 including parlay victories)
Green Bay -6 WIN
Arizona -1 WIN
Houston +4 WIN
New England WIN Money line bet +125
3-team parlay BIG WINNER!!
2-team parlay WINNER!!
Mississippi St +9h WIN Lucky backdoor cover
New Mexico +19h WIN
Missouri WIN Money line bet +150
Utah +9 WIN
Green Bay -5h WIN
Arizona (Pick) WIN
New England WIN Money line bet +130
Oakland +10h WIN
2-team parlay LOSS Won STL+9h, lost Atlanta -2h by the hook
In our pool’s FFHL picks, where we had to pick exactly seven games by Thursday night, Filter King was a sad 2-5 ATS and Fugitive was only 4-3 ATS. Go figure.
But Filter King won enough money on his Vegas football bets last weekend to pay for his annual FFHL entry fee.
CUMULATIVE RECORDS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) and STRAIGHT UP
COLLEGE – FFHL WEEK #11
FAVORITES 21-28-1 (43.0%) 37-13 (74.0%)
HOME TEAMS 24-25-1 (49.0%) 32-18 (64.0%)
A lot of home teams and favorites won their games outright, but didn’t cover ATS this week (and of course home favorites did not do well ATS).
COLLEGE - CUMULATIVE
FAVORITES 274-297-13 (48.0%) 447-128 (77.7%)
HOME TEAMS 263-299-9 (46.8%) 329-243 (57.5%)
NFL – FFHL WEEK #11
FAVORITES 6-8-0 (42.9%) 8-6-0 (57.1%)
HOME TEAMS 7-7-0 (50.0%) 7-7-0 (50.0%)
Note that 11 of the 14 home teams were favored to win.
NFL - CUMULATIVE
FAVORITES 81-77-2 (51.2%) 108-51-1 (67.8%)
HOME TEAMS 74-82-2 (47.5%) 92-65-1 (58.5%)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS
FOURTH PRELIMINARY RANKINGS FROM “THE CFP COMMITTEE”
The 12-member selection committee for the CFP has had some pretty interesting conversations in their meetings. Undefeated FSU is still ranked only #3, even after #1 Mississippi State lost on Saturday (Alabama jumped over every other team to take the #1 spot).
#1 Alabama (9-1)
#2 Oregon (9-1)
#3 Florida State (10-0)
#4 Mississippi State (9-1)
NEED SOME HELP:
#5 TCU (9-1)
#6 Ohio State (9-1)
#7 Baylor (8-1)
#8 Mississippi (8-2)
#9 UCLA (8-2)
#10 Georgia (8-2)
#11 Michigan State (8-2)
#12 Kansas State (7-2)
#13 Arizona State (8-2)
#14 Auburn (7-2)
#15 Arizona (8-2)
#16 Wisconsin (8-2)
VERY SLIM CHANCES:
#17 Utah (7-3)
#18 Georgia Tech (9-2)
#19 USC (7-3)
#20 Missouri (8-2)
#23 Nebraska (8-2)
NON-POWER 5 TEAMS:
No Group of Five team is ranked in the CFP Top 25.
The highest-ranked teams in the Associated Press Poll are:
AP#18 Marshall (10-0) The Thundering Herd must play at UAB, W.KY
AP#22 Colorado State (9-1) The Rams still must play NM and at Air Force
AP#28 Boise State (8-2) Losses to Ole Miss (neutral) and at Air Force (ouch!);
The Broncos beat Colorado State at home early, 37-24
Remaining games: at WYO, home vs. Utah State
Once again, the AP and USA Today polls are quite similar; the Top 25 teams are exactly the same (with slightly different order). The FWAA Super 16 poll has the exact same Top 16 in the exact same order as the AP Poll, except that the #13-#15 teams are switched around. The CFP rankings have the same Top 16 teams as the AP & FWAA polls, with some interesting differences in the order – Florida State is #1 in three polls and only #3 in the CFP Poll that will be the only one to count at the end of the season. Also, Ohio State is ahead of Baylor, and UCLA is ahead of both Georgia and Michigan State.
OTHER NEWS and MINUTIA
INJURIES and OUTCASTS
University of Georgia’s RB Todd Gurley suffered a torn ACL injury in last Saturday’s game and is out for the season; he was just getting back into the lineup after serving a suspension for receiving money for signing autographs. He will probably sit out all of next year and then declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
University of Florida head coach Will Muschamp has been relieved of his duties effective at the end of the regular season (2 more games). The Gators are 5-4 and play their regular season finale at Florida State.
Minnesota Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson has been suspended by the NFL for the rest of the 2014 season – without pay. That is at least a 15-game suspension, and he cannot be reinstated until at least April 15, 2015; of course, that is pending appeal. What a mess the league office has made of the personal conduct policy in this tough transitional period (Commissioner Goodell got caught between leniency in Ray Rice 2-game suspension and the ensuing outcry after the Rice video was made public).
Once again, the court was “forgiving”. Peterson pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge of “reckless assault” and was fined $4,000 and must do 80 hours of community service.
After a 10-game suspension, Cleveland WR Josh Gordon will be available to play next Sunday at Atlanta.
LOWER FOOTBALL DIVISIONS
FCS Rankings (#1 votes in parentheses):
#1 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 11-0 (20) No wins vs. FBS teams
#2 New Hampshire Wildcats 9-1 (4) Lost at FBS Toledo 54-20
#3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks 9-1 (1) Lost at Michigan State 45-7
#4 North Dakota State Bison 10-1 (1) Lost at Northern Iowa, 23-3
Won at FBS Iowa State, 34-14
#11 Northern Iowa Panthers 7-4 Lost FBS Iowa 31-23, lost FBS Hawaii 27-24 Lost at #18 IND St 20-19
Lost at home to #15 South Dakota St 31-28
Lost at home to #15 South Dakota St 31-28
FCS #12 Montana State plays at FCS #13 Montana this Saturday.
The host Grizzlies’ head coach Mick Delaney is retiring after this season at age 72. During his coaching career, he was an assistant head coach at Montana State (1976-1980), a running backs coach under HC Sonny Lubick at Colorado State (1993-2007), and most recently the Montana HC since 2012.
LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #12
Tuesday Northern Illinois (-14) at Ohio U FINAL: NIU 21, OHIO 14
Massachusetts (-3) at Akron FINAL: AKRON 30, UMASS 6
Wednesday Bowling Green (+6h) at Toledo
Kent State (+7h) at Buffalo
Thursday North Carolina (+6) at AP#25 Duke
CFP#12 Kansas State (+2) at West Virginia
Arkansas State (-5) at Texas State
Friday San Jose State (+13) at Utah State
Air Force (+4h) at San Diego State
UTEP (+7h) at Rice
Saturday PAC-12 SOUTH “Playoff” GAMES THIS WEEK:
CFP#19 USC (+3h) at CFP#9 UCLA
CFP#15 Arizona (+4) at CFP#17 Utah
BIG 10 WEST “Playoff” Games:
CFP#25 Minnesota (+10) at CFP#23 Nebraska
CFP#16 Wisconsin (-9h) at Iowa
OTHER GAMES of interest:
Colorado (no line yet) at CFP#2 Oregon
Boston College (+19) at CFP#3 Florida State
Vanderbilt (+29) at CFP#4 Mississippi State
Indiana (+34h) at CFP#6 Ohio State
Oklahoma State (+28) at CFP#7 Baylor
CFP#8 Mississippi (-3h) at Arkansas
Washington State (+16h) at CFP#13 Arizona State
CFP#20 Missouri (+3h) at Tennessee Vols’ QB is out for year
Louisville (+3h) at Notre Dame
Stanford (-5h) at California
Northwestern (-1h) at Purdue
Syracuse (+7h) at Pittsburgh
Western Michigan (+1) at Central Michigan
South Florida (+19) at Memphis
GROUP OF FIVE CONTENDERS
Boise State (-12h) at Wyoming Broncos vs. Cowboys
New Mexico (+21h) at Colorado State
Marshall (-20) at Alabama-Birmingham
CUPCAKE CENTRAL (dominated by SEC)
FCS Western Carolina at Alabama (tough test for Tide)
FCS Samford at Auburn (another tough SEC nonconference matchup)
FCS Charleston Southern at Georgia (ditto)
FCS Eastern Kentucky at Florida (ditto)
FCS Savannah State at BYU (independent Cougars get in the SEC act)
NFL WEEK #12 – SELECTED GAMES
BYE WEEKS: CAROLINA, PITTSBURGH
Thursday Kansas City (-7) at Oakland
Sunday Divisional Matchups:
NY Jets (+4h) at Buffalo
Jacksonville (+14) at Indianapolis
Green Bay (-9) at Minnesota
Arizona (+6h) at Seattle
Dallas (-3h) at NY Giants
Other interesting games:
Detroit (+7) at New England
Miami (+7) at Denver
St. Louis (+4h) at San Diego
Monday Baltimore (+3h) at New Orleans
QUESTION #1: After losing at San Diego on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders currently have a 16-game losing streak. What NFL team holds the all-time record for longest losing streak, and in what years?
BONUS: Name the only other two NFL teams (and years) since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 that have produced a longer losing streak than this year’s Raiders.
QUESTION #2: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon broke the single-game rushing record last Saturday. Who holds the NCAA Division I all-time single-season rushing record?
The 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers under head coach John McKay started their expansion team without a victory for 26 straight games (lost all games in their 14-game inaugural season in 1976, and then the first 12 games in 1977).
The next worst is 19 consecutive losses by Detroit (2008-2009) and then Miami with 17 (2006-2007).
Before the AFL-NFL merger, the Oakland Raiders of 1961 and 1962 sported a 19-game losing streak (6 losses to finish 1961 season and 13 losses to start the 14-game regular season in 1962).
Raiders’ backup QB Matt Schaub currently has a 24-game losing streak. His Houston Texans lost the last 14 games of the 2013 season, and then he was traded to Oakland and the Raiders have lost 10 straight this year (even though he didn’t even play in a many of those games). That reminds me of my sophomore year as a high school basketball player when our team went 0-17 that season. Brutal!
Back to the all-time losing streak: Coach McKay had to have a sense of humor to survive this miserable start for the Bucs’ expansion team. Following are a few of his quotes at post-game press conferences and elsewhere:
- On hearing about kicker Pete Rajecki’s nervousness at playing in front of McKay: “That’s unfortunate, as I plan on attending all the games.”
- At a postgame press conference: “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a bunch of bananas.” At the following week’s press conference, after a member of the media left a case of bananas at his door: “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a Mercedes-Benz."
- On John Brodie’s comment that Steve Spurrier throws one of three passes into the ground: “That’s OK; we’ll just get shorter receivers.”
- “We’ve determined that we can’t win at home and we can’t win on the road. What we need is a neutral site.”
- “We didn’t block real good, but we made up for it by not tackling.”
- When asked how he compared coaching in Tampa to coaching at USC: “It’s a three-hour time difference.”
- “Mr. Culverhouse has been a great owner. He hasn’t come to the dressing room yet to give me any suggestions. Well, I need some advice. I called the Baltimore owner, but he was busy.”
- To players planning on staying in Tampa over the offseason: “Stop by my office tomorrow and pick up some fake noses and mustaches so no one recognizes your sorry asses.”
Additionally, assistant coach Dennis Fryzel, when the team was penalized for having 12 players on the field, asked a referee, “Which one was it?"
And the last one for now: Injured guard Ira Gordon reportedly told McKay, “Coach, I got the x-ray, but I don’t feel any better.”
Barry Sanders out of Oklahoma State. He rushed for 2,628 in only 11 games. He also ran for an additional 222 yards from scrimmage in the 1988 Holiday Bowl vs. Wyoming, but this didn’t get counted in the official statistics back then, and it still hasn’t been added retroactively to his official total. Whatever; that’s bogus.
Gordon currently has 1,909 rushing yards this season and still has at least three, maybe four games remaining (at Iowa, Minnesota home, a bowl game, and maybe the Big 10 title game), all of which will count in his official statistics – at least 13 games, maybe 14. If he “breaks” the record, that would be like comparing apples to oranges (or Ruth154 to Maris162 – and/or to pumped up Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds).
In Division III, Mount Union’s RB Nate KMIC (he bought a vowel) holds the all-time rushing record of 2,790 yards (in a 15-game season).