FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
In the NFL, six teams remained unbeaten.
In college, three big underdogs pulled off upsets.
|LSU Band and Cheerleaders|
There are several big match ups for the upcoming weekend.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
There were still SIX undefeated teams after four weeks and all of them stayed unbeaten after last weekend’s games – Week #5.
Both CAROLINA (4-0 on a “bye” week) and ATLANTA (5-0; eked out home win in overtime) remained unbeaten.
GREEN BAY (5-0) took care of business at home and the Packers have a 2.5-game lead over Minnesota (2-2).
In the Packers’ Week #5 win over the visiting STL Rams, QB Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions. His home streak of 587 straight passes and 49 TD passes without an INT ended after 1,043 days. It was an impressive and unprecedented run for Rodgers at Lambeau Field.
NEW ENGLAND (4-0) is one game ahead of the NY Jets (3-1) and 1.5 games ahead of Buffalo (3-2).
CINCINNATI (5-0) was behind 24-7 after three quarters against visiting Seattle, but mounted a huge comeback to get into overtime and then prevail, 27-24 (a tie ATS). At the end of regulation, the Bengals had no timeouts left and the clock was running down as their FG unit hustled onto the field; with 2 seconds on the clock, the 31-yard kick to tie the game was “good”. After several possessions in overtime and three punts, Cincinnati was in position to win the game with a 42-yard FG try. The kick had a slight hook on it…drifting left…the ball hit the left upright…BOINK, the ball ricochets through the goal posts for a successful three-pointer to win. FINAL: CIN 27, SEA 24.
The Bengals have a 2-game lead over Pittsburgh (3-2) heading into their Week #6 matchup in Buffalo.
DENVER (5-0) won at Oakland, 16-10, in Week #5 and now has an almost insurmountable 3-game lead over both Oakland (2-3) and San Diego (2-3).
On the negative side, only the DET Lions remained winless heading into Week #5.
On Sunday, Detroit hosted the AZ Cardinals and got crushed by the NFC West leading Cardinals, 42-17 to keep their winless streak alive. Ouch!
THE OTHER DIVISIONS
The Indianapolis Colts have been struggling this season and QB Andrew Luck has been battling injuries, but the team has a 3-2 record (3-0 within the division) and leads by 1.5 games over Tennessee (1-3) and by 2 games over Houston and Jacksonville at 1-4.
The NY Giants started the season by blowing leads late in two games (0-2 record), but have since won three in a row and lead the division by 1 game over the other three teams (DAL, WSH, and PHI) with 2-3 records. The division is up for grabs.
Arizona (4-1) leads the division by 2 games over both STL and SEA with 2-3 records.
NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS
Only FOUR underdogs won outright in 14 games in NFL action this week for an upset rate of 28.6% (26.7% the previous week).
Following are the underdog winners:
On Thursday night, the IND Colts (+4h) were playing at Houston without starting QB Andrew Luck (shoulder injury). Backup QB Matt Hasselbeck had spent time in the emergency room and hospital last week, but recovered in time to start and performed well.
FINAL: IND 27, HOU 20
Cleveland (+7) won at Baltimore, 33-30, in overtime, virtually knocking the Ravens out of the AFC playoff race (I might be jumping the gun a bit, but BAL is now 1-4). The CLE Browns trailed 21-9 until scoring a TD late in the 3rd quarter and then another TD early in the 4th quarter to take the lead, 22-21. The teams then exchanged touchdowns, but CLE converted the 2-point conversion and the BAL Ravens did not convert theirs. Cleveland was now ahead 30-27 after scoring with 3 minutes remaining in the game. Baltimore had to settle for a 23-yard FG at the end of regulation, tied at 30-30 going to overtime.
In the extra period, BAL won the coin flip but went 3-and-out and punted, after which the Browns drove 51 yards in 12 plays and converted on a 32-yard FG for the win.
CLE Browns QB Josh McCown threw for 457 yards and 2 TD’s (no INT’s). There were no turnovers in the game.
Chicago (+9) won at Kansas City, 18-17. Down 17-6 late in the game, the CHI Bears scored two touchdowns in the last three minutes of the 4th quarter to prevail.
On Monday night, Pittsburgh (+3) was behind 20-17 at San Diego, but had a chance to win (or at least tie the game with a FG) on the last play of regulation from the Chargers’ one-yard line with only 5 seconds on the clock. There wasn’t enough time to run the ball and then stop the clock after the play was over in order to kick a FG on the next play if the running play was unsuccessful.
What would you have done? Kick the chip shot FG and send the game into overtime, or go for broke and try to win (or lose) the game on one play?
Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin said it was time to “go to the mattresses” (to act without restraint). Foregoing the FG to tie, the offense lined up in a “wild cat” formation. RB Le’Veon Bell took the direct snap and ran off left tackle…he was hit, but stretched his body and the ball out over the goal line just before his knee touched the ground for a TD and the win (and Sarah Thomas, the only female NFL official got the TD call right on the field, confirmed by replay review).
FINAL: PIT 24, SD 20
Washington (+7) was tied with host Atlanta at the end of regulation, 19-19, after three lead changes in the 4th quarter. In overtime, WSH won the coin toss and was driving, but a ‘Skins receiver slipped and fell and a long out pattern was easily intercepted and returned to paydirt by the Falcons for the “Pick 6” victory.
FINAL: ATL 25, WSH 19 (and Washington still covered ATS by 1 point)
This week TEN underdogs won outright in 55 FBS games for an upset rate of 18.2% (24.1% last week), including three “shockers” in Power 5 conference games involving “two-touchdown plus” favorites.
On Thursday night, Washington U. (+17) won in Los Angeles over USC and former U-Dub HC Steve Sarkisian, 17-12. It was the first time since 2001 (HC Pete Carroll’s first season) that the Trojans lost back-to-back home games.
UPDATE: Coach Sark reportedly showed up to the Trojan facility on Sunday morning after the game but was “unfit for practice”. He was placed on an indefinite leave of absence, and then was fired the next day (on Monday). He reportedly has a serious drinking problem; although not confirmed, he was supposedly intoxicated during the Trojans’ blowout victory at Arizona State in late September (and at other inappropriate times).
The interim coach will be Clay Helton (age 43), who was most recently the offensive coordinator and QB coach for USC (2013 to present). He played QB in college for Auburn and Houston (1990-1994). His career record as a college head coach is 1-0; he coached the USC Trojans to victory in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl (45-20 over Fresno State), the year Lane Kiffin coached for five weeks, was fired, interim HC Ed Orgeron took over for Weeks #6-#12, and then he quit when he was passed over for the permanent HC job. Instead, Sarkisian was hired as the head coach for the 2014 season, and Helton then coached the 2013 season-ending bowl game after Orgeron’s departure.
TWO SATURDAY SHOCKERS
Texas came into its game with AP#10 Oklahoma as a 16½-point underdog at neutral site Dallas, TX in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns entered the game with a miserable 1-4 record (only win over Rice), but jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and held on to shock the Sooners. Or maybe it wasn’t such a shock; since 1989, Texas is now 6-2 straight up against Oklahoma when the ‘Horns were unranked and the Sooners were ranked.
Washington State (+17) won at Oregon, 45-38 in double overtime. The Ducks now officially miss former HC Chip Kelly and QB Marcus Mariota and are not as good as they used to be.
THE OTHER ‘DOGS
Tennessee (+3) beat visiting AP#19 Georgia, 38-31; the UGA Bulldogs lost their potential All-American running back Nick Chubb on the first play from scrimmage (knee injury).
Wisconsin (+1h) won at Nebraska, 23-21. The NEB Cornhuskers scored a TD to take a 21-20 lead with 3:38 remaining in the game. The UW Badgers responded with a 70-yard drive and set up for a go-ahead 39-yard FG with only 1:26 to go, but the attempt bounced off the upright. Nebraska then ran the ball three times to force Wisconsin to use its time outs and punted to give Bucky Badger one last chance from their own 30-yard line and 1:06 showing on the clock. With no time outs, UW once again moved into FG range and this time was successful on a 46-yarder with 4 seconds left to win. For the second straight week the ‘Huskers failed to put away their opponent and now have lost four games by a total of 11 points. All four losses have come on the opponent's final offensive play. Coming into the game, Nebraska was near the top of the dubious FBS list for most penalties this season (49 penalties, tied for 2nd in all of FBS; I didn’t see their new ranking after last Saturday’s game, but they racked up another 9 penalties for 89 yards vs. Wisconsin).
Oklahoma State (+6h) won at West Virginia in overtime, 33-26.
Wake Forest (+7h) won at Boston College, 3-0. I didn’t see the game; must have been a yawner.
Connecticut (+2h) won handily at Central Florida, 40-13.
Rice (+4) won at Florida Atlantic, 27-26.
San Diego State (+2) won in Hawaii, 28-14.
Kansas State (+10) led at halftime, 35-17, over visiting AP#2 Texas Christian University, but the TCU Horned Frogs won the second half 35-10 to prevail by a TD.
FINAL: TCU 52, KSU 45 (however, Kansas State did cover the spread)
AGAINST THE SPREAD – STRANGE TWIST
Mississippi State was favored by 30½ points over visiting Troy, and the MSU Bulldogs were already covering the spread at halftime, leading 38-0. They backed off in the second half and allowed Troy to score some points as the Trojans went through several QB’s. With only seconds remaining in the game, MSU led 45-14 (covering ATS by ½ point) and Troy was facing 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line. The coaches decided not to try to score a TD, but instead sent out the FG unit and kicked a meaningless but successful 3-pointer to lose only 45-17 and cover the spread.
RESULT: Mississippi State was a loser ATS, winning by only 28 points.
HAWKEYE of the FFHL was crying in his beer because he picked Mississippi State as his #1 pick, so thought I’d better mention this “strange twist”.
In the latest Top 25 rankings, there are 14 undefeated teams including all of the Top 9 ranked teams.
Only two previously ranked teams lost last weekend, and both fell out of the Top 25:
TEAM RESULTS RANKING
#17 USC Lost at home to Washington, 17-12 OUT
#19 Georgia Lost RB Chubb & game at TENN, 38-31 OUT
That means two teams moved INTO the Top 25:
New #24 Houston
New #25 Duke
The breakout of votes for the #1 ranking in the polls (with last week’s #1 votes in parentheses):
AP# Rank & Ranking in
TEAM AP Poll Coaches Poll Coaches Poll
#1 Ohio State 27 (38) 47 (50) #1 Unbeaten
#2 Baylor 13 (10) 8 (5) #2 Unbeaten
#3 TCU 3 (5) 5 (4) #3 Unbeaten
#4 Utah 16 (7) 1 (1) #7 Unbeaten
#5 Clemson 1 (0) 0 (0) #6 Unbeaten
#6 LSU 0 (0) 1 (1) #5 Unbeaten
#7 Michigan State 0 (0) 1 (1) #4 Unbeaten
#8 Florida 0 (0) 0 (0) #11 Unbeaten
#9 Texas A&M 1 (1) 0 (0) #10 Unbeaten
#10 Alabama 0 (0) 0 (0) #9 One loss to #13 Ole Miss
#11 Florida State 0 (0) 0 (0) #8 Unbeaten
The other unbeatens: #16 Oklahoma State, #17 Iowa, #22 Toledo, and #24 Houston.
#1 Ohio State is still looking very beatable against mediocre foes; last weekend’s home game vs. hapless Maryland was a 21-21 tussle in the 3rd quarter before the Buckeyes pulled away to win 49-28.
OH.ST is losing first-place votes each week (11 less than the prior week), and #4 Utah picked up an extra nine 1st-place votes from the sportswriters.
TCU has not been dominant this year, but fellow Big XII conference foe Baylor has been crushing its substandard opponents so far. The BU Bears have five (well, maybe 4½) tough games in a row starting November 5th (at KSU, OKL, at OK.ST, at TCU, and Texas).
In the sixth week of the season, there was only ONE game between FCS and FBS teams, and it was a SHOCKER:
FCS#23 Portland State absolutely crushed FBS North Texas, 66-7. NTU Mean Green head coach Dan McCarney was fired after the game. [Observation: Iowa beat North Texas “only” 62-16 two weeks ago].
FCS TOP 10 RANKINGS
RESULTS for several Top 10 teams:
#4 Illinois State won at #7 Youngstown State, 31-29. The ISU Redbirds took the lead 31-23 after scoring a TD with 4:18 remaining in the 4th quarter; the YSU Penguins scored a TD with 32 seconds left but failed on the 2-point conversion. [Observation: Illinois State lost its season opener at Iowa, 31-14].
#10 Northern Iowa lost at #2 North Dakota State, 31-28, in a heartbreaker. The UNI Panthers led 14-10 after three quarters, but then the fireworks started. There were FIVE lead changes in the 4th quarter, the last one when the NDSU Bison threw an 18-yard TD pass for the game-winner with 35 seconds remaining in the game.
#9 South Dakota State beat visiting #21 Indiana State, 24-7.
#8 Eastern Washington beat visiting Cal Poly-SLO, 42-41 in overtime. EWU scored first in OT to lead by seven; Cal Poly also scored a TD and decided to go for the 2-point PAT and the win, but the attempt failed.
The breakout of #1 rankings in the FCS Coaches Poll are listed below (with the #1 votes for the prior two weeks in parentheses):
#1 Coastal Carolina 15 (16; 17) 6-0 record, but still playing CUPCAKES
#2 North Dakota State 5 (6; 4) Beat visiting UNI last Saturday, 31-28
#3 Jacksonville State 4 (4; 3)
#4 Illinois State 0 (0; 0) Won at #7 Youngstown 31-29 last Saturday
#5 James Madison 2 (0; 1)
#6 Chattanooga 0 (0; 0)
#7 South Dakota State 0 (0; 1) Plays at #12 YSU this Saturday
#8 Eastern Washington 0 (0; 0) Beat Cal Poly 42-21 in OT last Saturday
#9 McNeese State 0 (0; 0) Beat #17 SE Louisiana 21-7 last Saturday
#12 Youngstown State 0 (0; 0) Hosts #7 SD State on Saturday
#14 Northern Iowa 0 (0; 0) Lost at #2 ND State 31-28 last Saturday
and dropped four spots (harsh)
Overall, we FFHL’ers had a decent week and ended up 44-39-1 ATS (53.0%). In the NFL, we posted an acceptable record of 17-13-1 ATS (56.5%), but once again did not do as well in college (although OK) at 27-26-0 ATS (50.9%). This week we selected 18 underdogs in 84 total picks. On our NFL ‘dogs, we were 2-2 ATS (50%), and in college we were 7-7 ATS (50.0%).
FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Listed below is a breakdown of some of our significant picks.
We had six contrary picks in college (Iowa/ILL; ND/Navy; Mich/NW; TCU/KSU).
We had only one contrary pick in the NFL (Hawkeye selected the underdog WSH ‘Skins +7 at Atlanta, and they “lucked out” and covered ATS by 1 point).
Team For-Against Result / Unsolicited comments
AZ Cardinals -3 at DET 7-0 WIN, Lions self-destruct in 42-17 loss
NY Giants -7 vs. SF 4-0 LOSS, Gnats lucky to win, 30-27 but fail to cover
GB Packers -9 vs. STL 4-0 WIN, Rams fizzle at end, Pack wins 24-10
ATL Falcons -7 vs. WSH 5-1 LOSS, Atlanta lucky just to win in OT, 25-19
NE Patriots -8h at Dallas 3-0 WIN, New England bucks Romo-less ‘Boys, 30-6
Maryland +33 at Ohio St 3-0 WIN, as MD Terrapins lose only 49-28
Michigan St -13 at Rutgers 3-0 LOSS, another lackluster win by Sparty, 31-24
Georgia -3 at Tennessee 3-0 LOSS, TENN Vols upset Bulldogs, 38-31
Utah -7h vs. CAL 3-0 LOSS, Utes win “only” 30-24 & don’t cover by 1½
Northwestern +7 at MICH 4-2 LOSS, as NW Mildcats get trounced 38-0
TCU -10 at KSU +10 2-2 KANSAS STATE loses “only” 45-38 to cover by 3
Iowa -11 vs. Illinois 2-1 LOSS, Hawkeyes win “only” 29-20 to not cover
The rest of our 28 college picks were spread out among 20 different teams.
This week – FFHL Week #5:
HOME TEAMS 25-28-1 (47.2%) 36-18 (66.7%)
There was one neutral game this week -- Texas vs. Oklahoma.
CUMULATIVE after six weeks:
HOME TEAMS 135-156-6 (46.5%) 179-118 (60.3%)
In the 5th week:
HOME TEAMS 4-9-1 (32.1%) 6-8 (42.9%)
The home teams were favored in 10 of the 14 games this week, and they collectively performed poorly this week.
Note: four teams had “byes”
CUMULATIVE after five weeks:
HOME TEAMS 34-39-3 (46.7%) 42-34 (55.3%)
Year-to-date, the favored teams are winning less than 2 of every 3 contests (that is, underdogs are winning more than 1 in 3 games straight up, or outright victories).
The Big 10 West Division appears to be up for grabs. Phil Steele’s preseason predictions had Wisconsin at the top and Nebraska runner-up with three teams tied for 3rd (NW, MIN, and Iowa). The standings after last weekend’s games:
Iowa 2-0 Sole possession of 1st place (so far)
Wisconsin 1-1 Home loss to Iowa
Northwestern 1-1 Road loss at Michigan
Minnesota 1-1 Road loss at NW
Illinois 1-1 Road loss at Iowa
Nebraska 0-2 Home loss to Wisconsin and loss at Illinois
Purdue 0-2 Close loss at Michigan State
The Big 10 as a whole has not been all that impressive so far this year. In the East Division, highly ranked Ohio State and Michigan State have struggled in victory with supposedly lesser opponents. Michigan, led by new HC Jim Harbaugh (hired for his defensive prowess), has outscored its last five opponents 160-14 (shutouts in their last three games) after losing their opener at Utah, 24-17. The Wolverines may end up being the team to beat (even with QB Jake Rudock tied for 2nd in all of FBS with 8 turnovers going into last weekend’s games).
The KC Chiefs lost their star RB Jamaal Charles for the year when he tore his ACL making a cut in his own backfield – a devastating non-contact injury.
In last Saturday’s game at Tennessee, University of Georgia RB Nick Chubb landed wrong and tore the PCL and two other ligaments in his knee. He is a true sophomore, will be out for the year, and will not be able to enter the 2016 NFL Draft because he is not three years removed from high school.
On the other hand, former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, out for the year with a knee injury, is eligible for the draft. Last week, he decided to leave UCLA and enter the 2016 NFL Draft because he wants to be compensated for his skills.
ANOTHER COACHING CHANGE
“The Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier just quit (resigned, not retired though) as the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks – effective immediately.
Shawn Elliott, the co-offensive coordinator and OL coach, will be the team's interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Spurrier, age 70, said he doubted he'd be a head coach again, but he couldn't say what the future would bring. He said he couldn't envision himself being a collegiate head coach again.
Spurrier was candid (as per normal) and said the program had slipped and it was time for him to step aside and "let someone else have a go at it." He philosophized in saying that
“if the players know you're not going to be their coach, you just don't have the accountability needed. I think I was probably the best coach for this job 11 years ago, but I'm not today.”
LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #6 (college FB’s 7th week)
Thursday AP#18 UCLA (+6h) at AP#15 Stanford
Oct 15th Auburn (-2) at Kentucky
Western Kentucky (-32h) at North Texas New HC for Mean Green
Friday Cincinnati (no line yet) at BYU
Oct 16th Houston (-17h) at Tulane
AP#21 Boise State (-10) at Utah State
UNLV (-6) at Fresno State
Saturday TOP 10 MATCHUPS (both SEC conference games):
Oct 17th AP#8 Florida (+7h) at AP#6 LSU
AP#10 Alabama (-4h) at AP#9 Texas A&M
TOP 25 MATCHUPS:
AP#6 Michigan State (+7h) at AP#12 Michigan
AP#13 Mississippi (-10h) at Coaches Poll #22 Memphis
AP#17 Iowa (-2) at AP#20 Northwestern
USC (+6h) at AP#14 Notre Dame Trojans’ interim HC Clay Helton
Penn State (+17) at AP#1 Ohio State
Arizona State (+7) at AP#4 Utah
West Virginia (+21) at AP#2 Baylor Bears only loss in 2014 at WVA
AP#19 Oklahoma (-4h) at Kansas State
Air Force (-3h) at Colorado State
Akron (+12) at Bowling Green
Louisiana Tech (+13h) at Mississippi State
Tuesday Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State
BYE WEEKS: DAL, OAK, STL, TB
Thursday Atlanta (-3) at New Orleans
Sunday Divisional Matchups:
Oct 18th Chicago (+3) at Detroit
Houston (-1h) at Jacksonville
Kansas City (+4) at Minnesota
Arizona (-3) at Pittsburgh
Carolina (+6h) at Seattle
New England (-7) at Indianapolis Colts’ QB Andrew Luck is probable
Monday NY Giants (+3h) at Philadelphia
FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION
QUESTION #1: (Particularly for you Hawkeye fans out there)
Iowa Hawkeyes’ RB Jordan Canzeri rushed for 256 yards in last Saturday’s homecoming game vs. Illinois. Name the two other Iowa Hawk running backs who have rushed for more than 256 yards in a single NCAA game.
HINT: one was in the 1960’s and one was in the 1990’s
QUESTION #2: Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has 73 rushing touchdowns in his college career. He needs five more rushing TD’s to break the all-time FBS record, held by whom?
BONUS: What running back held the record (at 73) before the current record-holder broke it in 2012? (tough one; he played for a non-Power 5 team in the 1990’s).
BONUS #2: Name the other two RB’s that amassed over 70 rushing TD’s in their college careers (currently #4 and #5 on the all-time rushing TD list).
HINT: They were back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners.
Tavian Banks 1997 314 yards
Ed Podolak 1968 286 yards
Jordan Canzeri 2015 256 yards on 43 carries (that’s a load)
Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (2009-2012) rushed for 77 touchdowns, and currently holds the all-time FBS record. He also has the record for most total TD’s with 83.
Navy’s QB Reynolds already holds the all-time record for career rushing TD’s by a quarterback.
The Top 5 rushing TD leaders:
RB Montee Ball Wisconsin 2009-2012 77
QB Keenan Reynolds Navy 2012-current 73
RB Travis Prentice Miami.OH 1996-1999 73
RB Ricky Williams Texas 1995-1998 72
RB Ron Dayne Wisconsin 1996-1999 71