FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
Attached is an abbreviated summary of last weekend's activity on the gridiron. I was out of town and missed most of the action.
The NFL regular season has only three weeks remaining, and several division winners will probably be determined this weekend.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
Based on the new CFP Committee’s final playoff rankings, following are the inaugural semifinal playoff matchups to be played on January 1, 2015:
SUGAR BOWL in New Orleans, LA
CFP#1 Alabama (12-1) vs. CFP#4 Ohio State (12-1)
Alabama is a 9½ point favorite.
ROSE BOWL in Pasadena, CA
CFP#2 Oregon (12-1) vs. CFP#3 Florida State (13-0)
Oregon is a 9½ point favorite.
The Big XII co-champions got shut out of the playoffs; Baylor (11-1) ended up ranked #5 and TCU (11-1) finished at #6.
The semifinal winners will play in Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones’ house) on January 12, 2015, to determine the national champion.
Vegas odds to win the NCAA title:
ALABAMA 11/10 1.1 to 1
OREGON 7/4 1.75 to 1
OHIO ST 13/2 6.5 to 1
FLORIDA ST 7/1 7 to 1
THE OTHER “NEW YEAR’S SIX” MAJOR BOWLS
FIESTA BOWL #10 Arizona (-3) vs. #20 Boise State
COTTON BOWL #5 Baylor (-3) vs. #8 Michigan State
PEACH BOWL #6 TCU (-3) vs. #9 Mississippi
ORANGE BOWL #7 Mississippi State (-7) vs. #12 Georgia Tech
In the fallout Kansas State at #11 missed out on a major bowl since #20 Boise State was the automatic qualifier from a non-Power Five conference, and #12 GA Tech got the last spot. The Big XII got snubbed all the way around.
CONFERENCE TITLE GAME RESULTS
Oregon -14h vs. Arizona at neutral site Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA
RESULTS: OREG 51, AZ 13
Northern Illinois -6h vs. Bowling Green at Ford Field, Detroit, MI
RESULTS: N.ILL 51, B.GRN 17
Ohio State +4 vs. Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN
RESULTS: OSU 59, WISC 0
Missouri+14h vs. Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA
RESULTS: ALA 42, MIZZOU 13
GA Tech +4 vs. FSU in Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
RESULTS: FSU 37, GA.TK 35
Fresno State +22 at Boise State
RESULTS: BOISE 28, FRES 14
LA Tech +12 at Marshall
RESULTS: MARSH 26, LA.TK 23
CONFERENCES WITHOUT TITLE GAMES
Weekend RESULTS: BAYLOR 38, KSU 27 (clinched tie for title with win)
TCU 55, IOWA ST 3 (clinched tie for title with win)
OK.ST 38, OKLA 35
Two teams tied for the conference title with 8-1 records – TCU and Baylor.
Weekend RESULTS: UCF 32, ECU 30 (clinched tie for title with win)
CIN 38, HOU 31 (clinched tie for title with win)
MEMPHIS, CENTRAL FLORIDA, and CINCINNATI all finished at 7-1 in conference play and posted 9-3 overall regular season records.
PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE OREGON
BIG TEN OHIO STATE
SOUTHEASTERN (SEC) ALABAMA
ATLANTIC COAST (ACC) FLORIDA STATE
BIG XII BAYLOR & TCU
AMERICAN ATHLETIC (AAC) MEMPHIS & CINCINNATI & UCF
MOUNTAIN WEST (MW) BOISE STATE
CONFERENCE USA (C-USA) MARSHALL
MID-AMERICAN (MAC) NORTHERN ILLINOIS
SUN BELT GEORGIA SOUTHERN
FBS UNDERDOG WINNERS
Overall, FOUR underdogs won their games outright in 14 games (29% upset rate).
Central Florida (+7) won at East Carolina, 32-30, to clinch a tie for the AAC title.
Ohio State (+4) obliterated Wisconsin, 59-0, to win the Big 10 title.
SMU (+12) won at Connecticut, 27-20, to win its first (and only) game of the year.
Oklahoma State (+21) won at Oklahoma, 38-35, to gain bowl eligibility.
Note: There are only THREE weeks remaining in the NFL regular season.
UNUSUAL RACES IN TWO DIVISIONS
In the AFC NORTH, all four teams are still over .500. It feels as if division-leading Cincinnati (8-4-1) is fading, although the Bengals still hold a slippery ½-game lead over Pittsburgh and Baltimore at 8-5; Cleveland still threatens for a wild card spot at 7-6, with rookie Johnny Manziel taking over the starting QB role for the Browns.
In the NFC SOUTH, all four teams are still woefully under .500, as both New Orleans and Atlanta lost in Week #14 and are still tied for the division lead with 5-8 records, while Carolina with a lousy 4-8-1 record is only ½ game back (but will be starting backup QB Derek Anderson since Cam Newton was injured in a car accident this week); miserable Tampa Bay at 2-11 has finally been eliminated from division title contention.
[Of course this weak division is stirring up the debate on whether a sub-.500 division winner should be awarded a #4 seed and guaranteed home game in the wild card weekend of the playoffs. More on this next week.]
THE OTHER DIVISIONS
In the NFC EAST, Philadelphia and Dallas (9-4) are currently tied for the division lead. The DAL Cowboys travel to Philadelphia in Week #16 for most likely the deciding game.
In the AFC WEST, Denver (10-3) extended its division lead over San Diego (8-5) to two games; Kansas City (7-6) is three games behind, but is still in contention for a wild card berth.
In the NFC NORTH, Green Bay (10-3) maintained its one-game lead over Detroit (9-4) after the Packers beat Atlanta 43-37 in Green Bay and the Lions beat visiting Tampa Bay 34-17.
In the AFC EAST, New England (10-3) won at San Diego to take a nearly insurmountable 3-game lead over both Miami and Buffalo at 7-6, who are still fighting for wild card playoff spots.
In the NFC WEST, Arizona (10-3) held on to its 1-game lead in the division with a 17-14 win over visiting Kansas City, while 2nd-place Seattle (one game back at 9-4) stayed in touch with a 24-14 win at Philadelphia; 3rd-place San Francisco (7-6) lost ugly at Oakland 24-13 to virtually wipe out any chance at the playoffs this year.
In the AFC SOUTH, Indianapolis (9-4) maintained its 2-game division lead over 2nd-place Houston (7-6) after the Colts won 25-24 at Cleveland and the Texans won at Jacksonville 27-13 on Sunday.
WILD CARD RACES
With three weeks to go, there are four teams at 9-4 fighting for either a division title or one of the two wild card playoff spots. DAL & PHI (tied for their division lead), and DET and SEA (both 1 game behind in division). San Francisco needs a mountain of help, currently out of the picture with a 7-6 record.
With three weeks to go, there are three teams at 8-5 (SD, PIT, BAL) and five other teams at 7-6 (BUF, MIA, CLE, HOU and KC) still fighting for the two wild card playoff spots.
Either Pittsburgh or Baltimore could overtake CIN and win the AFC North, which would leave the Bengals fighting for an AFC wild card spot.
NFL UNDERDOG WINNERS
Overall, FOUR underdogs won outright in 13 NFL games (excluding three games “pick’em” games), for a 31% upset rate this week (37.5% last week).
Baltimore (+2h) won handily at Miami, 28-13.
Pittsburgh (+3) won at Cincinnati, 42-21.
Carolina (+10) won convincingly at New Orleans, 41-10.
Oakland (+7h) beat visiting San Francisco, 24-13.
FFHL RESULTS – WEEK FOURTEEN
Overall, we FFHL’ers broke even with the house this week at 42-38-4 (52.4% ATS). In college picks, we were 17-15-2 ATS (52.9%), and in the NFL we were 25-23-2 ATS (52.0%).
This week we selected 17 underdogs out of 84 total picks. On our 3 underdog picks in the NFL, we were 1-2-0 ATS. And on our 14 college ‘dog picks we were 8-6-0 ATS. Overall, that means we were 9-8-0 ATS (52.9%) on underdog picks.
FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Team For-Against Result / Unsolicited comments
In our 34 college picks, we had 5 contrary picks.
In our 50 NFL picks, we had 3 contrary picks.
Georgia Tech +4h vs. FSU 7-1 WIN, Florida St. wins only 37-35 to not cover
Missouri +14h vs. ALA 4-1 LOSS, ‘Bama blows out Tigers, 42-13
UConn -12 vs. SMU 3-0 LOSS, SMU wins 1st game of year, 27-20
Oregon -14h vs. Arizona 3-2 WIN, Ducks blow out ‘Cats, 51-13
STL Rams -2h at WSH 8-0 WIN, St. Louis shuts out ‘Skins 24-0
IND Colts -3h at CLE 6-0 LOSS, Indy wins only 25-24 to not cover ATS
SF 49’ers -7h at OAK 4-0 LOSS, Raiders win outright 24-13
GB Packers -12 vs. ATL 4-0 LOSS, Green Bay wins only 43-37 to not cover
CIN Bengals -3 vs. PIT 4-0 LOSS, Steelers blow past Cincy in 42-21 win
NE Patriots -3h at SD 5-1 WIN, NE Pats take over in 2nd half to win 23-14
Seahawks (Pk) at PHI 3-0 WIN, Seattle gets road win 24-14
HOU Texans (-5) at JAX 3-0 WIN, Houston gets “easy” road win 27-13
AZ Cardinals (PK) vs. KC 3-0 WIN, Arizona hangs on to win 17-14
CUMULATIVE RECORDS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) and STRAIGHT UP
COLLEGE – FFHL WEEK #14
FAVORITES 6-7-1 (46.4%) 10-4 (71.4%)
HOME TEAMS 2-6-1 (27.8%) 5-4 (55.6%)
There were five neutral site games this week (conference title games).
And the home teams struggled ATS again this week.
COLLEGE - CUMULATIVE
FAVORITES 331-364-16 (47.7%) 535-167 (76.2%)
HOME TEAMS 316-365-12 (46.7%) 395-299 (56.9%)
NFL – FFHL WEEK #14
FAVORITES 6-6-1 (50.0%) 9-4-0 (69.2%)
HOME TEAMS 3-12-1 (21.9%) 6-10-0 (37.5%)
There were three “pick’em” games this week.
The home teams failed miserably ATS this week.
NFL - CUMULATIVE
FAVORITES 101-100-3 (50.2%) 138-65-1 (67.9%)
HOME TEAMS 96-105-3 (47.8%) 116-87-1 (56.6%)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS
FINAL RANKINGS FROM “THE CFP COMMITTEE”
PLAYOFF TEAMS – THE TOP FOUR
#1 Alabama (12-1)
#2 Oregon (12-1)
#3 Florida State (13-0)
#4 Ohio State (12-1)
BIG XII SNUB – NO PLAYOFF SPOT, BUT MAJOR BOWL BID
#5 Baylor (11-1)
#6 TCU (11-1)
“NEW YEAR’S SIX” OTHER MAJOR BOWL BIDS:
#7 Mississippi State (10-2)
#8 Michigan State (10-2)
#9 Mississippi (9-3)
#10 Arizona (10-3)
#12 Georgia Tech (10-3)
#20 Boise State (11-2) Automatic Non-Power 5 qualifier
BIG XII SNUBBED – NO MAJOR BOWL:
#11 Kansas State (9-3)
UNSOLICITED COMMENTS ON POLLS
In the old days, Florida State would likely have been the #1 ranked team and would have been dubbed the mythical “national champion” (pending results of bowl games). But even the AP and USA Today polls this year have one-loss Alabama ranked #1 ahead of undefeated FSU at #2. The CFP committee has two teams ranked ahead of unbeaten FSU (ALA, Oregon).
In the expired BCS system, the formula would have had to determine the top two teams. 1/3 of the formula used the USA Today Poll (ALA#1, FSU#2), and 1/3 from Harris Poll and 1/3 from computers. It’s hard to say what would have happened, but it would likely have been Alabama vs. Florida State. Wouldn’t it have been a fiasco if it would have been determined to be Alabama vs. Oregon, with undefeated and defending national champion FSU not invited to the title game? And by the way, why should Alabama be chosen over the other four one-loss teams? (a discussion for next week).
In the AP Poll, Baylor was ranked #4, while playoff team Ohio State was ranked #5.
Following is a breakdown of the #1 pick by poll voters:
AP USA FWAA
ALABAMA 27 28 26
FSU 25 25 10
OREGON 8 7 4
TCU 0 1 0
OTHER NEWS and MINUTIA
FCS PLAYOFF RESULTS – SECOND ROUND
The first-round winners played road games against the top eight seeds last Saturday.
All of the seeded teams (playing at home) won except for #3 seed Jacksonville State.
Following are the results:
Northern Iowa Panthers at #5 seed Illinois State Redbirds
Illinois State got revenge on UNI for its only loss of the season.
RESULTS: ISU 41, UNI 21
Montana Grizzlies at #4 seed Eastern Washington Eagles
RESULTS: EWU 37, MT 20
Fordham Rams at #1 seed New Hampshire Wildcats
RESULTS: NH 44, Fordham 19
Indiana State Sycamores at #8 Chattanooga Mocs
RESULTS: CHATT 35, IND ST 14
Sam Houston State Bearkats at #3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks
RESULTS: SHSU 37, JAX.ST 26
Liberty Flames at #6 Villanova Wildcats
RESULTS: VILLA 29, LIB 22
Richmond Spiders at #7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
RESULTS: C.CAR 36, RICH 15
South Dakota State Jackrabbits at #2-seed North Dakota State Bison
RESULTS: NDSU 27, SDSU 24
FCS QUARTERFINALS THIS WEEKEND
#8 Chattanooga (10-3) at #1 New Hampshire (11-1) in Durham, NH
#5 Illinois State (11-1) at #4 Eastern Washington (11-2) in Cheney, WA
#7 Coastal Carolina (12-1) at #2 North Dakota State (12-1) in Fargo, ND
Sam Houston State (10-4) at #6 Villanova (11-2) in Philadelphia, PA
HEISMAN TROPHY FINALISTS
There are three finalists for the 80th Heisman Trophy to be presented this Saturday night.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta is the heavy favorite, accompanied by longshots RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) and WR Amari Cooper (Alabama).
OTHER CATCH-UP NEWS
Former Colorado State HC Jim McElwain took the head coaching job at SEC University of Florida.
Nebraska replaced fired Bo Pelini with former Oregon State HC Mike Riley. Riley was the head coach for the OSU Beavers in 1997-1998 (8-14 record) and then again from 2003-2014 (85-66 record), with a stint as HC with the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001 (14-34 record).
Former Wisconsin HC Gary Andersen took the vacant position with Oregon State. He was 19-7 in two years with the UW Badgers after coming from Utah State.
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon announced his intention to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #15
Saturday Army (+15) vs. Navy in Baltimore, MD
NFL WEEK #15 – ALL GAMES
Thursday Arizona (-4h) at St. Louis
Sunday Divisional Matchups:
Oakland (+10) at Kansas City
Houston (+6h) at Indianapolis
Cincinnati (+1h) at Cleveland Browns starting QB Manziel
Miami (+7h) at New England
Tampa Bay (+3) at Carolina Panthers’ QB Newton is out
Washington (+6h) at NY Giants
Minnesota (+8) at Detroit
Denver (-4) at San Diego
San Francisco (+10) at Seattle
Dallas (+3) at Philadelphia
Other non-divisional games:
Jacksonville (+14) at Baltimore
Pittsburgh (-2h) at Atlanta
Green Bay (-4h) at Buffalo
NY Jets (-2) at Tennessee
Monday New Orleans (-3) at Chicago