Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER NFL WEEK THIRTEEN



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

The College Football Playoff picture is still fuzzy, as the conference title games this weekend could provide for some exciting fireworks.  The final CFP rankings will be announced on Sunday.


In the NFL, there are only four weeks remaining in the regular season.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
                                     

COLLEGE

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND -- BIG GAME RESULTS

FRIDAY

Stanford (+5h) at CFP#8 UCLA
UCLA needed a win at home to wrap up the PAC-12 South Division title and earn the right to play Oregon for the conference title.  But the Stanford Cardinal had won six straight games in this series, and Friday’s trouncing of the host Bruins extended the streak to seven.
FINAL: STAN 31, UCLA 10

CFP#13 Arizona State (+2h) at CFP#11 Arizona – playing for the Territorial Cup, and MORE.  [Yes, the higher-ranked team playing at home (Arizona) was the underdog; that’s a bit of a head-scratcher and it does not give me much confidence in the 12-member committee and their rankings.]
With the UCLA loss, the winner of this game would win the PAC-12 South.  And at some point in this game, the players found out that UCLA had lost.
The AZ Wildcats scored in the first minute of the game on a 25-yard fumble return, but the ASU Sun Devils had tied the score at halftime, 21-21.  In a game of all TD’s in which AZ State never held the lead, Arizona held on to win a nail-biter 42-35 and capture the PAC-12 South.

Arkansas (-2h) at CFP#17 Missouri
The Razorbacks, presumably with very little to gain, were the favorite ATS over the ranked Mizzou Tigers.
Missouri was playing for the SEC East Division title.
Arkansas jumped ahead 14-3, but Missouri closed the gap to 14-6 with a FG on the last play of the first half, after which the MU Tigers scored two 4th quarter TD’s including the game-winner with 4:38 on the clock to earn the right to play in the SEC Championship game for the second consecutive year (only two years in the SEC after transferring from the Big XII – “dominating the weak SEC”; well, at least the East Division). 
FINAL: MIZZ 21, ARK 14

SHOCKER OF THE WEEK (with “MAJOR BOWL” consequences)

Western Kentucky (+23) traveled to Huntington, WV to face CFP#24 Marshall, and grabbed a 14-0 lead four minutes into the game.  But the Thundering Herd fought back in a battle of touchdowns to trail only 49-42 at halftime (wow, that’s a lot of points in one half) and scored the only TD of the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 49-49.  In the final period, the WKU Hilltoppers retook the lead with a FG and TD, but Marshall tied the game at the end of regulation (0:38 on clock) with a touchdown after a 12-play, 82-yard drive.  In overtime, Marshall started with a TD and extra point to take its first lead of the game, 66-59.  Western KY came right back with a TD of its own, but decided to “go for two” and try to win the game in the first OT period.  The PAT was successful, and the Hilltoppers knocked Marshall from the ranks of the unbeaten and now the Thundering Herd probably will not get the “Group of Five” automatic major bowl berth (more on that below).
FINAL: WKU 67, MARSH 66.
There were 15 touchdown passes thrown in this game, eight by WKU’s Brandon Doughty (2 INT’s) and seven by Marshall’s Rakeem Cato (4 INT’s).  The two teams racked up 1,446 yards from scrimmage (738 and 708, respectively).  But The Herd lost the turnover battle 4-2 and more critically lost the game to ruin their perfect season.

SATURDAY

CFP#18 Minnesota (+14) at CFP#14 Wisconsin
Wisconsin had won 10 straight games in the long-running series between these contiguous-state schools only 270 miles apart, a quick drive on I-94.  Minnesota held a 17-13 halftime lead, but the UW Badgers came back and extended their streak with a 34-24 victory over the Gophers, retaining Paul Bunyan’s Axe for another year and earning a spot in the Big 10 championship game vs. Ohio State, who will be starting its 3rd string QB Cardale Jones (redshirt sophomore, Phil Steele had him ranked #41 QB coming out of high school) since backup JT Barrett suffered a broken ankle in the Buckeye’s 42-28 victory over Michigan on Saturday and is out for the season.

CFP#4 Mississippi State (-2h) at CFP#19 Mississippi
The visiting MSU Bulldogs traveled 100 miles to Oxford, MS through the Tombigbee National Forest to face rival Mississippi in the Egg Bowl.  Ole Miss stayed aggressive on offense (beautiful halfback pass for TD, end-around by WR, etc.) and was able to outlast Mississippi State and win 31-17 to eliminate the previously CFP#4 MSU Bulldogs from playoff consideration.

CFP#15 Auburn (+9h) at CFP#1 Alabama
Last year’s Iron Bowl was the “Kick 6” victory by the AUB Tigers, a 109-yard missed FG attempt by Alabama that was returned for a TD.  This year, Alabama had already clinched the SEC West Division because Mississippi State lost earlier in the day.  Alabama led early, 14-3, but Auburn was able to take partial advantage of Tide turnovers to take the halftime lead, 26-21 [The UA Tigers had to settle for four short FG’s (20, 24, 24, and 20) in the first half].  Auburn extended the lead early in the 2nd half to 33-21 and was still held a 36-27 lead after failing in the red zone again and settling for another short FG with 3:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter.  After that, Alabama scored four unanswered TD’s to blow out the visitors.
FINAL: ALA 55, AUB 44 (Auburn scored late in game to make it look closer, but still did not get the backdoor cover ATS).

Rice +6h at Louisiana Tech
LA Tech (9-3) finished the regular season with an unblemished record in conference play and will represent the C-USA West in the Conference USA title game at Marshall.
Rice trailed only 28-24 early in the 2nd half, but the Owls went blind and the home team dominated after that.
FINAL: LA.Tk 76, RICE 31
LA Tech QB Cody Sokol (transfer from Iowa) passed for 387 yards and 4 TD’s (1 INT), and three Bulldog WR’s each had over 100 yards receiving (plus RB had 137 yards on 17 carries).

MOUNTAIN WEST MATCHUP:
Utah State +9h at Boise State became the contest to determine the winner of the MW Mountain Division.  The UT State Aggies benefitted from the Colorado State 27-24 loss at Air Force Friday, and would now win the tiebreaker over the BSU Broncos with a win in this game.  Unfortunately, it was not much of a contest on the blue field in Boise, as the BSU Broncos won convincingly 50-19 to capture the MW Mountain Division title.  With a win this weekend in the conference title game, Boise State will most likely grab the automatic major bowl bid given to just one non-Power 5 team.


CONFERENCE STANDINGS AFTER FFHL WEEK #13

POWER FIVE CONFERENCES

PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE (PAC-12)

NORTH          OREGON
SOUTH          ARIZONA
                       
TITLE GAME:            A REMATCH at neutral site Levi’s Stadium (new SF 49’ers home) in Santa Clara, CA, on Friday night, December 5th
                                    Arizona (+21h) won at Oregon earlier this year, 31-24

BIG TEN

EAST              OHIO STATE
WEST             WISCONSIN

TITLE GAME:            At Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts’ home) in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, December 6th



SOUTHEASTERN (SEC)

EAST              MISSOURI
WEST             ALABAMA

TITLE GAME:  At the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, December 6th

BIG XII           Three teams are tied with 7-1 records – TCU, Baylor, and Kansas State.
                        The KSU Wildcats play at the BU Bears and TCU hosts Iowa State on Saturday, December 6th 

TITLE GAME:            NONE

ATLANTIC COAST (ACC)

ATLANTIC     FLORIDA STATE
COASTAL     GEORGIA TECH

TITLE GAME:            To be played in Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (NFL Carolina Panthers home field), on Saturday, December 6th

GROUP OF FIVE CONFERENCES (“Non-Power 5” teams)

“THE AMERICAN” ATHLETIC (AAC)

AAC                MEMPHIS (7-1), CENTRAL FLORIDA (6-1), and CINCINNATI (6-1) all have just one loss in the conference.  Memphis beat Cincinnati earlier this year for a potential tiebreaker.  UCF plays a road games vs. East Carolina on Thursday, December 4th.  Cincinnati hosts Houston on December 6th.
TIEBREAKER:
In the event of a tie for the American Athletic Conference title, any tied teams
would be declared co-champions. There is no formal conference tiebreaker policy
for this season. The College Football Playoff committee would be able to select
any of the tied teams for a New Year’s bowl game, based on the committee’s
rankings.

TITLE GAME:            NONE

MOUNTAIN WEST (MW)

West               FRESNO STATE beat out SAN DIEGO STATE in a head-to-head tiebreaker (both finished with 5-3 conference records).   The FSU Bulldogs had beaten SDSU at home earlier in the year, 24-13.

Mountain      BOISE STATE

MOUNTAIN WEST
TITLE GAME:            The higher-ranked division winner, Boise State, earned blue home field advantage; the game will be played on Saturday, December 6th. And this is a REMATCH of a regular season game at Boise in which the BSU Broncos won 37-27 (was Fresno +17, and Bulldogs covered ATS).

CONFERENCE USA (C-USA)     

EAST              MARSHALL
WEST             LOUISIANA TECH

TITLE GAME:            Home game for the “better” division winner, on Saturday, December 6th.
TIEBREAKER:
The two teams didn’t play each other during the regular season, so it comes down to this:
If neither team is in the top 25 of the CFP Rankings, average select computer ranking (Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Colley Matrix and Wolfe) would be used to determine host.
UPDATE: Marshall gets the home game.

MID-AMERICAN (MAC)                 

EAST              BOWLING GREEN
WEST             NORTHERN ILLINOIS, won the head-to-head tiebreaker over TOLEDO (both had 7-1 conference records).  The NIU Huskies won at W. Michigan on Friday, 31-21 in the regular season finale for both teams to clinch the MAC West.  Toledo won handily at cupcake Eastern Michigan on Friday, 52-16.

TITLE GAME:            At Ford Field, Detroit, MI (NFL Detroit Lions’ home field) on Friday night, December 5th.


SUN BELT   GEORGIA SOUTHERN (8-0) finished conference play unbeaten with a one-game lead over LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (7-1).  The GA Southern Eagles beat visiting Louisiana-Monroe 22-16 in their final regular season game.  The ULL Ragin’ Cajuns won handily at Troy in their finale, 42-23.
                        GA Southern is in transition from FCS to FBS and is not eligible for postseason play, but filed for a waiver.  The NCAA denied that waiver application, the decision was appealed, but the appeal has been denied.  GA Southern will be awarded the conference title but will not be allowed to participate in a bowl game.  The SBC Champion usually had played in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, AL.

TITLE GAME:            NONE

FBS UNDERDOG WINNERS

Overall, SIXTEEN underdogs won their games outright in 60 games (excluding one pick’em game), for a 27% upset rate.  There were sixteen Friday games, and the underdogs won 8 of those early 16, or 50% to help get the weekend started.

On Friday, Virginia Tech +1 won at Virginia, 24-20.
On Friday, Stanford +5h won handily at UCLA, 31-10.
On Friday, Missouri +2h beat visiting Arkansas, 21-14, to win the SEC East.

BYU +4h won at California-Berkeley, 42-35.
Rutgers +8 won at Maryland, 41-38.  The MD Terrapins led 35-17 at halftime.
Pittsburgh +10 won at Miami of Florida, 35-23.
Mississippi +2h beat visiting Mississippi State, 31-17.
North Carolina State +6 won at North Carolina, 35-7.
Illinois +8 won at Northwestern, 47-33.

Georgia Tech +13 won at Georgia in overtime, 30-24.  The UGA Bulldogs took the lead 24-21 on a fourth-down TD with only 18 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.  But GA Tech got good field position after the ensuing “squib kick” (almost as bad as the “prevent defense”).  After a 21-yard scramble by the GT Yellowjackets’ QB, a 53-yard FG attempt was good (barely over the crossbar) at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.  Tech got the ball first and scored a TD, but the extra point kick was blocked, leaving an opening for Georgia.  But on 2nd and goal, the Bulldogs threw an interception to end the threat.
FINAL: GT 30, UGA 24 in OT

This game accented the Atlantic Coast Conference dominance over the Southeastern Conference last weekend, as the ACC won all three matchups against SEC teams.  ACC Florida State -7h beat visiting Florida 24-19, ACC Clemson -4h beat visiting South Carolina, 35-17, and ACC GA Tech +13 won at Georgia.  Also, AAC Louisville -12h beat visiting SEC Kentucky, 44-40.  Is the SEC really that great this year, and will the conference get even one team in the CFP Playoffs?  If Alabama loses to Missouri in the SEC title game, maybe not.

GROUP OF FIVE GAMES (non-Power 5 conference matchups):

On Friday, Ball State +10 won at Bowling Green, 41-24.
On Friday, Northern Illinois +7h won an important MAC game at Western Michigan, 31-21.
On Friday, Western Kentucky +23 won at then-undefeated Marshall, 67-66, in overtime for the Shocker of the Week.


On Friday, Air Force +7 beat visiting Colorado State, 27-24, on a FG as time expired.
On Friday, Kent State +3 beat visiting Akron, 27-24.


Old Dominion +3 won at Florida Atlantic, 31-28, to become bowl eligible.
The OD Monarchs finished off a 16-play, 57-yard drive with the game-winning 27-yard FG on the last play of the game.

NOT QUITE:

Texas Tech +25 was a huge underdog to CFP#7 Baylor at neutral site Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.  The BU Bears led 45-20 with 2:18 remaining in the 3rd quarter, but the Red Raiders chipped away and scored a TD with only 1:42 remaining in the game to pull within two points, 48-46; the two-point conversion failed and Baylor held on to stay in contention for the Big XII title and a potential spot in the CFP playoffs (although this near-collapse probably won’t help their cause).
Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes completed 30 of 56 passes for 598 yards and six TD’s (1 INT).  The TTU Red Raiders lost the turnover battle 4-1, but outgained Baylor 712-547 from scrimmage.

AGAINST THE SPREAD

Fresno State (-11) was ahead of visiting Hawaii 28-0 in the first half and the score didn’t change through three quarters of play, but the Rainbow Warriors scored three TD’s in the final period to lose only 28-21 and cover ATS by 3 points.  FFHL’er TOMMY BOY lost a tough one on his #3 pick.

NFL

NFL UNDERDOG WINNERS

BIG GAME RESULTS

It’s probably a bit early to be calling any of these games “big”, but nevertheless:

On Thursday, Philadelphia and Dallas were both 8-3 and fighting for top spot in the NFC East.  The PHI Eagles (+3h) won handily in Jerry Jones’ house in Arlington, 33-10, and for now have the lead in the division.  The Cowboys travel to Philly in two weeks for their second regular season meeting.

Also on Thursday, Seattle (7-4) played at San Francisco (7-4) and each team was fighting just to stay in the playoff picture.  The visiting SEA Seahawks (+1h) shut down the 49’ers to win 19-3; the whole Forty-Niner organization seems to be in turmoil (GM, HC, etc.).

On Sunday, Denver (8-3) played at Kansas City (7-4) in the “Sea of Red” Stadium.
DEN Broncos’ 3rd-string RB CJ Anderson has been playing because of injuries, and he rushed for 167 yards in the game (he had 168 rushing yards the previous week).  The KC Chiefs’ defense really missed not having safety Eric Berry in the lineup (suspected lymphoma; lump in chest).  FINAL: DEN 29, KC 16 (Denver was favored by 2 points)
DIVISIONAL RACES

Note: There are only four weeks remaining in the NFL regular season.

UNUSUAL RACES IN TWO DIVISIONS

In the AFC NORTH, all four teams are still over .500, but only division-leading Cincinnati (8-3-1) won last weekend and the Bengals now hold a 1½-game lead over the other three teams -- Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore, all with 7-5 records. 

In the NFC SOUTH, all four teams are still under .500, although both New Orleans and Atlanta won on Sunday and are still tied for the division lead with 5-7 records, while Carolina with a lousy 3-8-1 record is only 1½ games back, and miserable Tampa Bay at 2-10 still isn’t mathematically eliminated.

THE OTHER DIVISIONS

In the NFC EAST, Philadelphia (9-3) won in Dallas (8-4) on Thanksgiving to take a 1-game lead, and for now the head-to-head tiebreaker.  The DAL Cowboys travel to Philadelphia in two weeks for the revenge game.

In the AFC WEST, Denver (9-3) maintained its 1-game lead over San Diego (8-4) and extended its lead to two games over Kansas City (7-5) with a 29-16 road win over the Chiefs on Sunday.

In the NFC NORTH, Green Bay (9-3) maintained its one-game lead over Detroit (8-4) after the Packers beat New England 26-21 in Green Bay and the Lions beat visiting Chicago 34-17 on Thanksgiving Day.

In the AFC EAST, New England (9-3) lost at Green Bay to see its lead shrink to 2 games over both Miami (7-5) and Buffalo (7-5), who posted wins in Week #13 to stay in the playoff race.

In the NFC WEST, Arizona (9-3) gave up some more of its big lead in the division with a 29-18 loss at Atlanta, while 2nd-place Seattle (one game back at 8-4) beat 3rd-place San Francisco (7-5) convincingly 19-3 in Santa Clara, CA.

In the AFC SOUTH, Indianapolis (8-4) maintained its 2-game division lead over 2nd-place Houston (6-6) after the Colts won 49-27 over visiting Washington and the Texans won at home 45-21 over Tennessee on Sunday.

WILD CARD RACES

NFC
With four weeks to go, only four non-division leaders have a legitimate chance to get the two wild card playoff spots.  Three teams are tied at 8-4: DAL, DET, and SEA; San Francisco needs some help, currently with a 7-5 record.  Right now, SEA and DET have the tiebreaker edge over DAL for the wild card spots.

AFC
Right now, San Diego at 8-4 sits in the first wild card position (#5 seed), with six teams at 7-5 fighting for the other playoff spot (#6 seed): BUF, MIA, PIT, BAL, CLE, and KC.  Miami currently has the tiebreaker edge, but there are too many games left to get overly excited.  The SD Chargers are in good position now, but have a tough schedule in December and don’t have a lock on a playoff spot yet.

NFL UNDERDOG WINNERS

Overall, SIX underdogs won outright in 16 NFL games, for a 37.5% upset rate this week (27% last week).

On Thanksgiving Day, Philadelphia +3h stunned host Dallas in winning handily, 33-10.
On Thanksgiving Day, Seattle +1h stuffed host San Francisco, 19-3.

San Diego +6 won by a whisker at Baltimore, 34-33.  The SD Chargers were behind 30-20 after the Ravens scored on a TD with six minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, but the Bolts responded with a 6-play, 77-yard TD drive and then held Baltimore to a FG with 2:22 on the clock trailing only 33-27.  San Diego then drove 80 yards for the tying TD with 38 seconds remaining and the extra point kick gave the Chargers the win (even though they lost the turnover battle 2-0).

Jacksonville +2h beat the visiting New York “Semi-Pro Football” Giants, 25-24.  NYG was ahead 21-0 until the Jaguars kicked a FG just before halftime.  Jacksonville scored three TD’s in the 2nd half (missed two 2-point conversions) including two fumble returns for touchdowns to take a 22-21 lead early in the 4th quarter.  The Gnats finally retook the lead on a FG with 3:26 on the clock, but then allowed JAX to drive 55 yards on 11 plays and kick the 43-yard game-winner with 28 seconds remaining in the game.  The NY Gnats lost the turnover battle, 3-0.
Heading into this game, the JAX Jaguars had been the underdog in FORTY straight games.  The Jaguars had gone 2-10-2 ATS in their 14 games, and 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 home games.

New Orleans +4 won at Pittsburgh, 35-32, in a game not as close as the score indicated.  The NOR Saints led 35-16 after scoring a TD with 10:25 remaining in the 4th quarter, after which the Steelers scored two late touchdowns (and two 2-point conversions) including the last TD with no time left in the game. 

Atlanta +2h beat visiting Arizona, 29-18.  The ATL Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and never relinquished the lead.  WR Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 189 yards and the Falcons won the turnover battle 3-1.


NOT QUITE

Tampa Bay +3h hosted AFC North division leader Cincinnati and hung tough but lost 14-13 (but covered ATS).  CIN Bengals QB Andy Dalton was sick Saturday night and Sunday morning (gastric distress), regurgitating at least 20 times and needing three bags of IV fluids prior to the game.  He then figuratively “puked” on the field, throwing up 3 interceptions in the first half.

FFHL RESULTS – WEEK THIRTEEN

Overall, we FFHL’ers really stunk it up again this week (almost as bad as last week) at 31-53-0 (36.9% ATS).  In college picks, we were a lousy 22-32-0 ATS (40.7%), and in the NFL we were even worse (again) at 9-21-0 ATS (30.0%).

This week we selected 18 underdogs out of 84 total picks.  On our 5 underdog picks in the NFL, we were 2-3-0 ATS.  And on our 13 college ‘dog picks we were 8-5-0 ATS.  Overall, that means we were an OK 10-8-0 ATS (55.6%) on underdog picks.  Doing the math, that means our “favorites” picks were really bad at 21-45-0 ATS (31.8%)
Filter King (2-5 ATS) and Fugitive (1-6 ATS) left all of their mojo in Vegas two weeks ago and have not recovered.  Time for another road trip?

FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)

                                    ATS Picks
Team                          For-Against   Result / Unsolicited comments

In our 54 college picks, we had 5 contrary picks.
In our 30 NFL picks, we had ZERO contrary picks.

CIN Bengals -3h at TB            5-0      LOSS, Cincinnati wins only 14-13 in Tampa
NY Giants -2h at JAX             3-0      LOSS, Gnats lose outright to lowly Jags
MIA Dolphins -6h at NYJ        3-0      LOSS, Dolphins win only 16-13 over lowly Jets

UCLA -5h vs. Stanford            7-0      LOSS, Bruins blown out in critical game, 31-10
Utah -9 at Colorado                 4-0      LOSS, Utes lucky just to win 38-34 in non-cover
Michigan St -13 at Penn St       4-0      WIN, MSU Spartans wins 34-10
Mississippi St -2h at Miss         3-0      LOSS, Ole Miss thumps rival, 31-17
Alabama -9h vs. Auburn          2-1      WIN, Tide dominates end of game in 55-44 win
Texas +6h vs. TCU                  2-1      LOSS, TCU wins easily 48-10 (6 Texas turnovers)
Marshall -23 vs. W.KY            1-1      MARSHALL Herd upset by WKU in OT, 67-66
CAL -4h vs. BYU                    1-1      BYU upsets Bears 42-35
FSU -7h vs. Florida                  1-1      FLORIDA loses “only” 24-19 to cover ATS by 2h




CUMULATIVE RECORDS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) and STRAIGHT UP

COLLEGE – FFHL WEEK #13
                                                ATS                            STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                       Record

FAVORITES             30-29-1  (50.8%)       44-16  (73.3%)         
            HOME TEAMS         24-35-1  (40.8%)       27-33 (45.0%)

There was one pick’em game this week (NEB at Iowa, a 37-34 overtime comeback victory by the Cornhuskers, after which Nebraska HC Bo Pelini was fired).

There was one neutral site game this week (Baylor vs. Texas Tech)


COLLEGE - CUMULATIVE
                                                ATS                            STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                       Record

FAVORITES             325-357-15 (47.7%) 525-163  (76.3%)     
HOME TEAMS         314-359-11 (46.7%) 390-295 (56.9%)

The home teams struggled again this week -- both ATS and SU.

NFL – FFHL WEEK #13
                                                ATS                            STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                       Record

FAVORITES             8-8-0  (50.0%)                       10-6-0  (62.5%)        
            HOME TEAMS         11-5-0  (68.8%)         9-7-0  (56.3%)

NFL - CUMULATIVE
                                                ATS                            STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                       Record

FAVORITES             95-94-2  (50.3%)       129-61-1  (67.8%)   
            HOME TEAMS         93-93-2  (50.0%)       110-77-1  (58.8%)


COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS

THE LAST PRELIMINARY RANKINGS FROM “THE CFP COMMITTEE”
The 12-member selection committee for the CFP is now going completely away from tradition, whether you consider the mythical “poll” champion in the old days or the most recently defunct BCS system.  Florida State is the defending national champion and is undefeated this year, and yet three teams are currently ahead of the Seminoles in the rankings.  I’m not an FSU fan, but the object of the game is to win; not to win pretty, (e.g., “game control” or huge “margin of victory”), but just to claim victory each week.  We’ll see where this goes in the final poll, but something in the new system seems to be going awry.  [You may have noticed that for the first time this year, the CFP has exactly one team from each of the Power Five conferences in the Top 5].

TOP FOUR:
#1 Alabama (11-1)                 Just needs win in SEC title game
#2 Oregon (11-1)                   Just needs win in PAC-12 title game
#3 TCU (10-1)                       Blew out host Texas to promote their cause
#4 Florida State (12-0)           Could unbeaten team get bumped out?    


NEED SOME HELP:
#5 Ohio State (11-1)            OSU has new QB for Big 10 title game
#6 Baylor (10-1)       

LONGSHOTS:
#7 Arizona (10-2)     ‘Cats need win vs. Oregon to have a chance
#9 Kansas State (9-2)                     Must win at Baylor on Saturday
#10 Mississippi State (10-2)
#11 Georgia Tech (9-2)       Must beat FSU in ACC title game
#13 Wisconsin (10-2)                      Must beat Buckeyes in Big 10 title game
#16 Missouri (10-2)  Tigers need win vs. Alabama to contend

@LVSuperBook odds to win the CFP NCAA Championship:
Alabama        5/4
Oregon          5/2
TCU              4/1
Baylor            8/1
FSU               10/1
Ohio State      15/1
Missouri          25/1
Wisconsin       30/1
Arizona          40/1
Kansas St       40/1
GA Tech        40/1
Miss State      100/1

PRESUMABLY OUT OF PLAYOFFS:
#8 Michigan State (10-2)
#12 Mississippi (9-3)
#14 Georgia (9-3)     Mizzou wins SEC East, UGA is also-ran
#15 UCLA (9-3)        Home loss vs. Stanford knocks Bruins out
#17 Arizona State (9-3)       Loss at Arizona eliminates ASU

NON-POWER 5 TEAMS:
With losses by Marshall and Colorado State last weekend, there is now only one “Group of Five” team ranked in the CFP Top 25 (and in the AP and USAToday Top 25 as well).

Formerly CFP#24 Marshall (11-1) lost at home to presumably be eliminated from contention for the automatic major bowl bid.
Formerly AP#21 Colorado State (10-2) lost at Air Force, 27-24, as a 7-point favorite and is also presumably eliminated from the automatic “major bowl” consideration.

CFP#22 Boise State (10-2) is in position to capture the automatic “major bowl” berth, assuming the Broncos can win a home game as a 20-point favorite over Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game.
If Boise State loses in the MW title game, American Athletic Conference’s Memphis could be next in line, assuming that the Tigers win out and capture the AAC conference title.  The only other possibilities appear to be Marshall and Colorado State.

Once again, the AP and USA Today polls are quite similar; the Top 22 teams are exactly the same (with slightly different order).  The Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll has the exact same Top 16 as the AP Poll (slightly different order).  Every one of the polls has Alabama as the #1 ranked team (Who’s mixing that Kool-Aid, and hooz drinkin’ it?!!?).  The AP and USA still have Florida State at #2, but the Super 16 Poll and the CFP have Oregon at #2.  The Super 16 has FSU #3, and the CFP has TCU #3.  I’m not going to comment further until the final poll comes out on December 7th.

OTHER NEWS and MINUTIA

Oklahoma Sooners’ QB Trevor Knight is still out with a neck injury, and will not play vs. Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Game this Saturday.

University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) is discontinuing its football program for financial reasons.  The Blazers won six games this year and are bowl-eligible, but may not be able to play even if invited.  This will leave only 12 teams in the Conference USA, with Charlotte to be added next year, getting the conference back up to 13 teams.  But C-USA is looking for 14 teams, so possibilities are: UMass, FCS Liberty, and FCS James Madison.

Michigan HC Brady Hoke was fired; the search for a replacement is ongoing.  SF 49’ers coach Jim Harbaugh is an alum, but he’s probably not going to take that job.

The CLE Browns showed little offense in Buffalo last Sunday, so they brought in backup QB Johnny Manziel in the fourth quarter and he led the offense to its only TD of the game.  HC Mike Pettine is scheduled to announce the starter for Week #14 tomorrow – either rookie Manziel or incumbent Brian Hoyer.  Hoyer has a good record with Cleveland as a starter, but he has thrown only 1 TD pass and 6 interceptions in his last four games, including 0 TD’s and 5 INT’s in his last two games.

FCS PLAYOFF RESULTS – FIRST ROUND

The first eight seeds received a bye week for the first week of the playoffs.  The other 16 teams in the 24-team tournament played first round games on Saturday.  The winners play road games against the eight seeded teams this upcoming Saturday, December 6th.

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (8-4) at Northern Iowa Panthers (8-4)
Winner plays at #5 seed Illinois State Redbirds (10-1)
RESULTS: TIMBER!! UNI cuts down Lumberjacks.  UNI 37, SFA 7
Northern Iowa gave Illinois State its only loss of the season in Cedar Falls, IA earlier this year, 42-28, and now must travel to Normal, IL for next week’s playoff game.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-2) at Fordham Rams (10-2)
Winner plays at #1-seed New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1)
RESULTS: Fordham 44, SH 22

Indiana State Sycamores (7-5) at Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3)
Winner plays at #8 Chattanooga Mocs (9-3)
RESULTS: IND ST 36, E.KY 16

San Diego Toreros (9-2) at Montana Grizzlies (8-4)
Winner plays at #4 seed Eastern Washington Eagles (on the ugly red field)
RESULTS: MT 52, USD 14

Southeastern Louisiana Lions (9-3) at Sam Houston State Bearkats (8-4)
Winner plays at #3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (10-1)   
RESULTS: SHSU 21, SE LA 17

Liberty Flames (8-4) at James Madison Dukes (9-3)
Winner plays at #6 Villanova Wildcats (10-2)
RESULTS: LIB 26, JMU 21

Morgan State Bears (7-5) at Richmond Spiders (8-4)
Winner plays at #7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (11-1)
[Coastal CAR got beat in its regular season finale at home vs. Liberty, 15-14, suffering its first loss.]
RESULTS: RICH 46, MORG 24

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (8-4) at Montana State Bobcats (8-4)
Winner plays at #2-seed North Dakota State Bison (10-1)
RESULTS: SDSU 47, MT ST 40

The FCS title game will be played on January 10th in Frisco, TX.


                                   
LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #14

Thursday      Central Florida (+6h) at East Carolina    

Saturday       CONFERENCE TITLE “PLAYOFF” GAMES:
Dec 6th          Oregon -13h vs. Arizona               PAC-12 title in Santa Clara, CA
                        Ohio State +4 vs. Wisconsin                   Big 10 Title in Indianapolis, IN
                        Florida St -4 vs. GA Tech             ACC Title in Charlotte, NC
                        Missouri +14h vs. Alabama                      SEC Title in Atlanta, GA
                        Louisiana Tech at. Marshall        CUSA Title game
                        Fresno St. +20 at Boise State      MW Title game
                        Bowling Green +6h vs. N. Illinois           MAC Title in Detroit, MI                
                       
BIG XII regular season finales:
Oklahoma State (+20h) at Oklahoma
                        Kansas State (no line yet) at Baylor
                        Iowa State (+33h) at TCU
                        AAC regular season finales:
                        Houston (+6h) at Cincinnati
                        SMU (+12) at Connecticut
                        Temple (-3h) at Tulane
           
NEXT WEEK:
Saturday        Army vs. Navy in Baltimore, MD
Dec 13th

Playing for bowl eligibility:

Based on last weekend’s results, with most teams playing their final regular season games, following are the bowl eligibility outcomes:

TRYING TO QUALIFY         RESULTS

Virginia at VA Tech             VA.Tk Hokies win, 24-20, to qualify
                                                for bowl game and eliminate the UVA Cavaliers
Illinois at Northwestern       Illini qualify; NW ‘Cats do not
California                              loses to BYU 42-35 and doesn’t qualify
Oregon State                                    loses to Oregon 47-19 and doesn’t qualify
Tennessee                            wins 24-17 at Vanderbilt to qualify
Kentucky                               barely loses at Louisville 44-40 to miss bowl game
Pittsburgh                              wins 35-23 in an upset at Miami.FL to qualify for bowl
Michigan                               loses at OSU to miss bowl game for 3rd time since 1975
UAB                                        wins at S. Miss 45-24 to qualify for bowl game
Old Dominion                                   wins at FL Atlantic 31-28 to qualify for bowl game

Navy                                       Won at S.ALA, 42-40, for bowl eligibility
Ohio U                                               Won at Miami.OH, 24-21, to qualify for bowl
Akron                                     Lost at Kent State, 27-24, to not qualify
Fresno State                         won vs. Hawaii 28-21 to be eligible for bowl game

Temple                                   needs win at Tulane next weekend to qualify
Oklahoma State                   at OKLA on Dec 6th

NFL WEEK #14 – SELECTED GAMES

Thursday      Dallas (-3h) at Chicago      

Sunday         Divisional Matchups:
                        Pittsburgh (+3) at Cincinnati
                        Houston (-5) at Jacksonville
                        Carolina (+9h) at New Orleans
                                   
                        Other interesting games:
                        Indianapolis (-3h) at Cleveland
                        Baltimore (+3) at Miami
                        Kansas City (+1h) at Arizona
                        San Francisco (-8) at Oakland                  Bay Area Bowl
                        Seattle (+1) at Philadelphia                      
                        New England (-3h) at San Diego
                        Buffalo +10 at Denver

Monday         Atlanta (+11h) at Green Bay


QUIZ QUESTON

QUESTION #1:  Clemson and South Carolina faced each other for the 112th time last Saturday in a matchup of teams from the State of South Carolina, “The Palmetto State”.
This game has now been officially tagged as the “Palmetto Bowl”.  Of the 112 matchups, the 2014 game was the 106th consecutive in the series.  Name the only other pair of FBS schools to have a longer streak of consecutive matchups (108 consecutive years).
HINT:  The two teams played each other last Saturday in a meaningful game.
BONUS: What is a Palmetto?




 
ANSWER #1:
Wisconsin and Minnesota, in a game played for Paul Bunyan’s Axe; and for this year to determine which of the two teams would represent the Big 10 West in the conference championship game.

BONUS:
You may have guessed or known “small palm” – “etto” for diminutive.
A palmetto is any of several varieties of low-growing fan-leaved palms.

Also:
Palmetto Bug is a Florida woods cockroach
Palmetto Skipper is a butterfly
Palmetto Cheese is a brand of pimento cheese


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