Thursday, October 29, 2015

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK SEVEN

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

The CFP selection committee will come out with their first preliminary set of rankings next Tuesday, November 3rd.


In the NFL, there are still five undefeated teams.  That will change this week.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police




COLLEGE

FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

This week ELEVEN underdogs won outright in 55 FBS games for an upset rate of 20.0% (18.2% last week), including the shocker of the week in Atlanta.

SHOCKING FINISH
Georgia Tech (+6h) was trailing AP#9 Florida State in a key ACC matchup at halftime, 16-10.  In the second half, the Yellowjackets held FSU in check and mustered up two field goals, one in the 3rd quarter and the tying FG with one minute remaining in regulation time.  Tied 16-16, FSU marched 37 yards in 8 plays to get within FG range for the win with six seconds on the clock, although it was a 56-yard try.  The kick was blocked, it rolled down to the GA Tech 22-yard line and was picked up by the Yellowjackets’ Lance Austin, who scampered 78 yards to paydirt on the last play of the game for the victory.
FINAL: GA.TK 22, FSU 16, and Florida State was knocked from the unbeaten ranks.

OTHER VICTORIOUS UNDERDOGS

Northwestern (+7) won at Nebraska, 30-28.  Big Red kicked a 48-yard FG to start the final period and take the lead 22-20.  The NW Wildcats responded with a TD and then kicked a 27-yard FG to take a 30-22 lead, but the NEB Cornhuskers drove 75 yards in eight plays for a TD to pull within two points with 4:18 on the clock.  Nebraska’s two-point conversion attempt failed, and Northwestern's offense was able to run out the final four minutes of the 4th quarter.

AP#23 Duke (+3) was the underdog at Virginia Tech, but eked out a victory in quadruple overtime, 45-43, the longest game in ACC history.  Tied 24-24 at the end of regulation, it took four overtime periods to determine the winner.  In the 4th OT, VA Tech scored a TD but failed on the required 2-point conversion attempt, while the Blue Devils followed with a TD and successful PAT to win by 2 points.

On Thursday night, AP#22 Temple (+3) was the underdog at East Carolina, but won 24-14 to remain undefeated and stay in the Top 25.  This year is the Owls’ first appearance in the AP Top 25 Poll since 1979, and it is the best start to a season in the school’s history (7-0).  Temple trailed 14-10 after three quarters, but scored two unanswered TD’s in the 4th quarter including an “insurance” TD after blocking an ECU Pirates’ punt.

On Friday night, San Diego State (+4) soundly beat visiting Utah State, 48-14.

Washington State (+7) won at Arizona, 45-42.

UTEP (+5h) beat visiting Florida Atlantic, 27-17.

Vanderbilt (+3) beat visiting SEC East foe Missouri, 10-3.

Buffalo (+2h) stampeded visiting Ohio U., 41-17.

Colorado (+2) won at PAC-12 North foe Oregon State, 17-13.

Idaho (+1) beat visiting LA-Monroe, 27-13.

NOT QUITE
Maryland (+6h) faced favored Penn State at neutral site Baltimore and was ahead 27-24 after scoring a TD late in the 3rd quarter, but the Nittany Lions responded early in the 4th quarter to retake the lead 31-27.  The Terrapins answered back quickly with a FG, still 10 minutes remaining in the game, behind only 31-30.  Maryland was unable to score after that and the loss spoiled the debut of Terps' interim coach Mike Locksley, who was promoted from offensive coordinator after HC Randy Edsall was fired on October 11th.
Penn State won the turnover battle 5-3, which helped them prevail in this one.

AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)

AP#2 Baylor (-37) was ahead 35-7 at halftime and flirting with a cover ATS already, but visiting Iowa State outscored the Bears 20-10 in the 2nd half.
FINAL: BAYLOR 45, ISU 27, and the Cyclones covered ATS.

AP#7 Michigan State (-16h) had a shaky 28-26 lead over visiting Indiana after three quarters, but scored 24 unanswered points in the final stanza to win handily and also cover ATS by 9½ points.
FINAL: MSU 52, IND 26

AP#14 Oklahoma State (-34h) was ahead of visiting Kansas 35-10 after three quarters, but poured it on in the final stanza against the weak sister of the Big XII, scoring 23 unanswered points to cover ATS by 13½ points.
FINAL: OSU 58, KANS 10

AP#19 Toledo (-14h) was trailing 28-10 at Massachusetts after the first half, but the Rockets outscored the UMass Minutemen 41-7 in the 2nd half to not only get the victory but also cover ATS by 1½ points.
FINAL: TOL 51, UMASS 35

Nevada (-7) was trailing the visitors from Hawaii 20-13 after three quarters, but the Wolf Pack scored 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to not only get the victory but also cover ATS by 3 points.
FINAL: NEV 30, HI 20

Arkansas (-6h) hosted SEC West foe Auburn and the score was tied 24-24 at the end of regulation.  After four overtime sessions, the teams had scored more points in the extra periods than during the first four quarters.  In the first OT, Auburn got first possession and scored a TD and kicked the extra point; the Razorbacks followed suit.  In the 2nd OT, ARK went first and scored a TD and extra point kick, with Auburn matching them.  In the 3rd OT, Auburn scored a TD and converted on the required 2-point attempt to lead by 8 points; Arkansas followed suit and tied it up.  In the 4th OT, Arkansas scored a TD to lead by “only” six (not yet covering ATS), but converted on the 2-point PAT to lead by 8 (now covering ATS); Auburn was then stopped on downs and the game was over (with 52 points scored in overtime).
FINAL: ARK 54, AUB 46, and the Razorbacks covered ATS by 1½ points.

FBS RANKINGS
In the latest Top 25 rankings, there are still 12 undefeated teams including the Top 6 ranked teams.  Two teams fell from the unbeaten ranks – AP#3 Utah and AP#9 Florida State.

FOUR teams in last week’s Top 25 lost over the weekend, and two of them fell out of the Top 25:
RANKED                                                                                            NEW
TEAM                         RESULTS                                                       RANKING

#3 Utah                       Lost at USC, 42-24, as 3½ point ‘dog                        #13
#9 Florida State          Lost at GA Tech, 22-16                                  # 17
#15T Texas A&M      Lost at Ole Miss, 23-3, as 5-point ‘dog         OUT
#20 California            Lost at UCLA, 40-24, as 3-point ‘dog           OUT

That means two teams moved INTO the Top 25:
New #24 UCLA
New #25 Mississippi State

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              39 (28)                        49 (45)                        #1        Unbeaten
#2 Baylor                    7 (12)              10 (12)                        #2        Unbeaten
#3 Clemson                 6 (1)                1 (1)                #6        Unbeaten
#4 LSU                        5 (1)                1 (1)                #4        Unbeaten
#5 TCU                       3 (3)                2 (4)                #3        Unbeaten
#6 Michigan State      0 (0)                0 (1)                #5        Unbeaten
#7 Alabama                1 (0)                0 (0)                #7        One home loss to Ole Miss
#8 Stanford                 0 (0)                0 (0)                #8        One loss at Northwestern
#9 Notre Dame           0 (0)                0 (0)                #9        One loss at Clemson
#10 Iowa                     0 (0)                0 (0)                #11      Unbeaten
#11 Florida                 0 (0)                0 (0)                #12      One loss at LSU
#12 Oklahoma State   0 (0)                0 (0)                #10      Unbeaten
#13 Utah                     0 (16)              0 (1)                #14      One loss at USC

The other undefeated teams: #16 Memphis, #18 Houston, #20 Toledo, and #21 Temple.

THE SUPERSEDED BCS SYSTEM
According to a report from USA Today, LSU would be the top-ranked team in the BCS standings, as determined by five of the computer formulas previously used in the BCS system. Current AP#1 Ohio State would be ranked BCS#4.  Clemson would be ranked BCS#2, followed by BCS#3 Alabama.

Rounding out the meaningless “BCS Computers” Top 10:
#5 Michigan State, #6 Iowa, #7 TCU, #8 Baylor, #9 Notre Dame, and #10 Florida.
BCS#11 Memphis is the highest-ranked Group of Five team (non-Power 5) in this computer ranking, and the highest-ranked PAC-12 team is #12 Stanford.
[Editorial Comment: Good thing this doesn’t really count for anything, because Alabama is in the Top 4 and ahead of two undefeated Big XII teams, even though the Tide has a home loss and doesn’t play any true road games out of conference.] 

Computer rankings are designed to remove the human element from the championship picture, but no method or metric is infallible in college football. The College Football Playoff brought more of the human element back into the CFP selection process by having a 13-member committee make the decisions, similar to the process used in college basketball for March Madness.

The first College Football Playoff selection committee rankings will be released next Tuesday night, November 3rd.  Of course, the first set of rankings will be informative but technically meaningless; only the final committee rankings in early December will matter.

NFL

The FIVE undefeated teams from last week are still unbeaten after Week #7.
Catchup: there hadn’t been this many unbeaten teams through Week #6 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.


New England and Carolina both won at home to remain perfect on the season, while Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Denver all had a bye week to remain undefeated.  The GB Packers play at Denver this Sunday.

NFC SOUTH:
CAROLINA (6-0) beat visiting Philadelphia on Sunday night and remained ½ game ahead of ATLANTA (6-1), who won at Tennessee, 10-7.  The CAR Panthers won their first six games of an NFL season for the first time in franchise history.

NFC NORTH:
GREEN BAY (6-0) is now 2 games ahead of Minnesota (4-2), who won at Detroit 28-19 on Sunday after trailing 17-6 in the second quarter.

AFC EAST:
NEW ENGLAND (6-0) extended its lead over the NY Jets (4-2) to 2 games after beating them in Foxboro, MA on Sunday, 30-23.

The Jets led 20-16 early in the 4th quarter after kicking a FG, but the Patriots responded with two TD’s, their first time to take the lead with 7 minutes remaining in the game and then an “insurance” TD with 1:13 showing on the clock to lead 30-20 (covering ATS).  But wait….the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets weren’t done yet.  They marched into field goal range and converted with 18 seconds left.  The score was now 30-23 (and now the NE Rats were not covering ATS).  The Jets tried the onside kick…and it worked.  Time for two plays – the first gained some yardage, and the second play (presumably to be a relatively short Hail Mary pass into the end zone) was cancelled due to a false start penalty and by rule the clock was reset to ZERO – game over.
Patriots’ QB Tom Brady was responsible for 352 of his team’s 353 yards from scrimmage (99.7%) and was his team’s leading rusher for the game with 15 yards.

AFC NORTH:
CINCINNATI (6-0) extended its lead over Pittsburgh (4-3) to 2.5 games after the Steelers and starting QB Landry Jones lost at Kansas City on Sunday, 23-13.

AFC WEST
DENVER (6-0) was idle in Week #7 and still has a big 3-game lead over Oakland (3-3), who won at San Diego on Sunday, 37-29.

THE OTHER DIVISIONS

The Hapless AFC SOUTH
The mediocre Indianapolis Colts (3-4) lost on Sunday 27-21 to visiting New Orleans (trailed 27-0 in 3rd quarter) to slip below .500 for the year, but the Colts still have a slim 1-game lead over Houston (2-5), who lost at Miami on Sunday (the Texans trailed 41-0 at halftime).  Jacksonville (2-5) is also only one game out of the division lead after beating Buffalo in London on Sunday, 34-31.

The Nearly Hapless NFC EAST
The NY Football Giants (4-3) captured the division lead with a 27-20 home win over Dallas on Sunday.  The Cowboys led 13-10 at halftime, but had 4 turnovers in the second half and allowed the Giants to retake the lead after three quarters, 20-13.  Later, Dallas tied up the score on a TD with 7 minutes to go.  The NY Gnats responded immediately with a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD and the eventual game-winner.

The PHI Eagles (3-4) and WSH ‘Skins (3-4) are only one game out, and the DAL Cowboys (2-5) are in the cellar alone, two games behind the Giants.

NFC WEST
Arizona (5-2) won on Monday night, 26-18, over Baltimore to maintain its 1.5-game lead over the STL Rams (3-3) and two-game lead over SEA Seahawks (3-4).
ATS:
The Cardinals were favored by 8 points, led 26-10 after scoring a TD with 8 minutes remaining in the game, but missed the extra point kick (making it still a “two-score” game).  The BAL Ravens blocked an AZ punt and subsequently scored a TD on one play from the 1-yard line, plus converted the 2-point PAT and now trailed only 26-18 (eight points behind and tied ATS) with 4½ minutes to go.  Baltimore got the ball back with still 2 minutes remaining on the clock, but with no timeouts.  The Ravens marched toward the Cards’ end zone and had 2nd-and-goal from the 4-yard line (no, the 9-yard line after a false start penalty-ouch) with six seconds on the clock.  A pass into the end zone was intercepted; game over and a tie ATS.

NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

THREE underdogs won outright in 14 NFL games this week for an upset rate of 21.4% (42.9% the previous week). 

Jacksonville (+4h) beat Buffalo in London, 34-31.  The Jags led 27-3 in mid-2nd quarter, but only 27-13 at halftime.  JAX led by the same score at the end of the 3rd quarter, but the BUF Bills scored 17 points in the 4th quarter, including a second TD on a “Pick 6” with 5½ minutes remaining in the game to lead 31-27.  Jags’ QB Blake Bortles bounced back from his interception and threw the game-winning 31-yard TD pass with 2:16 on the clock.

New Orleans (+3h) won at Indianapolis, 27-21.  The NOR Saints were ahead 27-0 in the third quarter and nearly relinquished the lead.

Oakland (+3h) won at San Diego, 37-29, hanging on for the victory after carrying a huge 37-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

NOT QUITE

Tampa Bay (+3h) was leading 24-0 during the first half at Washington, but eventually lost the game, 31-30, when the ‘Skins drove 80 yards in 11 plays for a TD to take the lead, leaving only 24 seconds on the clock.




MORE COLLEGE

FCS UPDATE and
FCS TOP 10 RANKINGS

RESULTS for Top 25 matchups:

#4 Illinois State beat visiting #23 Western Illinois, 48-28, and moved up to FCS#3.

#8 North Dakota State won at #21 Indiana State, 28-14, and moved up to FCS#6.

#12 Richmond won at #3 James Madison, 59-49, and moved up to FCS#8; James Madison dropped to FCS#9.

#13 Portland State won at Cal Poly-SLO, 38-35, and moved up to FCS#12.

#17 Youngstown State lost at Southern Illinois, 38-31, and dropped to FCS#24.

#25 Northern Iowa won at #6 South Dakota State, 10-7, and moved up to FCS#21; SD State dropped seven spots to FCS#13.

The breakout of #1 rankings in the FCS Coaches Poll are listed below (with the #1 votes for the prior week in parentheses):

#1 Coastal Carolina                15 (15)           
#2 Jacksonville State              8 (5)   
#3 Illinois State                      3 (2)
#4 Chattanooga                      
#5 Eastern Washington
#6 North Dakota State                                   
#7 McNeese State                                          
#8 Richmond
#9 James Madison                  0 (3)
#10 Sam Houston State
Others:
#12 Portland State
#13 South Dakota State
#21 Northern Iowa                Panthers have 3-4 record; tough schedule so far
#24 Youngstown State                                  

FFHL RESULTS – WEEK SEVEN

Overall, we FFHL’ers ended up a thumbnail better than the monkey this week with a record of 41-40-3 ATS (50.6%) this week.  In the NFL, we posted a pedestrian record of 14-13-3 ATS (51.7%); in college we matched the San Diego Zoo primates for the second straight week at 27-27-0 ATS (50.0%).  Collectively for the season, after eight weeks and 672 picks, we are 49.0% ATS [52.0% NFL and 47.5% college].

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.
We had six contrary picks in the NFL.

                                    ATS Picks
Team                           For-Against    Result / Unsolicited comments

CAR Panthers -3 vs. PHI        6-0       WIN, Carolina wins again, 27-16
ATL Falcons -5h at TENN     3-0       LOSS, Atlanta flubs in 4th qtr. to win only 10-7
AZ Cardinals -8 vs. BAL       3-0       TIE, Arizona missed PAT kick & wins only 26-18
SD Chargers -3h vs. OAK      2-1       LOSS, Raiders win outright in San Diego, 37-29
NY Jets +8 at NE Rats            2-1       WIN, New England wins only by a TD, 30-23
CLE Browns +6h at STL        2-1       LOSS, Cleveland loses by more than a TD, 24-6

Utah Utes +3h at USC            10-1     LOSS, Trojans dominate Utes at home, 42-24
HOU Cougars -22 at UCF      3-0       WIN, Houston explodes after slow start, wins 59-10
LSU Tigers -16 vs. WKU       3-0       WIN, Louisiana State wins 48-20
FSU ‘Noles -6h at GA.Tk       3-1       LOSS, Florida State donates at end in loss, 22-16
Toledo -14h at UMASS          3-1       WIN, Rockets take off after trailing 28-10 at half
Ohio St -21h at RUTG            2-2       OSU Buckeyes won handily, 49-7 to cover ATS

COLLEGE
This week – FFHL Week #7:
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               31-24-0 (56.4%)         44-11 (80.0%)
            HOME TEAMS          29-25-0 (53.7%)         37-17 (68.5%)

There was one neutral site game last weekend: Penn State and Maryland played in Baltimore.  Collectively, the home teams may be waking up.

COLLEGE
CUMULATIVE after eight weeks:

                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               204-205-9 (49.9%)     333-85 (80.0%)         
            HOME TEAMS          191-209-7 (47.8%)     249-158 (61.2%)

NFL
In the 7th week:
                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               7-6-1 (53.6%)             11-3 (78.6%) 
            HOME TEAMS          6-6-1 (50.0%)             8-5 (61.5%)   

Note:  four teams had “byes”, and one game was in London

NFL
CUMULATIVE after seven weeks:

                                                ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               47-53-5 (47.1%)         68-37 (64.8%)
            HOME TEAMS          48-50-5 (49.0%)         58-45 (56.3%)

FOOTBALL NEWS and MINUTIA

AP#2 Baylor starting QB Seth Russell broke a bone in his neck in last Saturday’s victory over Iowa State; he will have season-ending surgery.  His replacement will be true freshman and 5-star recruit Jarrett Stidham, who has played in every game this season (85.7% completion rate, 331 yards passing, 6 TD passes).  His backup will be sophomore Chris Johnson, who has been playing WR for the BU Bears this year.

Iowa State fired offensive coordinator Mark Mangino; his immediate replacement will be passing game coordinator Todd Sturdy, who will take over the play-calling.  The ISU Cyclones will also be switching its starting QB from Sam Richardson to Joel Lanning.  Head Coach Paul Rhoads is presumably on the proverbial “hot seat” (his job is probably in jeopardy as well).

Central Florida HC George O’Leary resigned effective immediately on Sunday, October 25th.  UCF had lost badly at home to Houston on Saturday, 59-10.
On the same day, Miami of Florida fired HC Al Golden after the Hurricanes’ ugly home loss to Clemson, 58-0 (worst loss in school history).

In the NFL, the DET Lions (1-6) fired their offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi after a home loss to Minnesota, and before their trip to London this week.  Quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter takes over.  Two offensive line coaches were also fired.

HOU Texans’ RB Arian Foster is out for the year after tearing his Achilles tendon in last weekend’s game.

And from Tommy Boy of the FFHL, who points out that the University of Pittsburgh uses a placekicker with the name of Blewitt, Chris Blewitt.  Now that’s a tough one to overcome.  However, Chris hit 3 of 4 field goals last week in a 23-20 win over visiting Syracuse (+7h); his only miss was from 50+ yards and he kicked the game-winning 25-yard FG on the last play of the game (he didn’t “blow it”).

LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #8 (college FB’s 9th week)

Thursday         North Carolina (-3) at AP#23 Pittsburgh
Oct 29th           AP#5 TCU (-14) at West Virginia    
                        Oregon (+2h) at Arizona State
                        Western Michigan (-20) at Eastern Michigan
                        Texas State (+21) at Georgia Southern
                        Buffalo (-7h) at Miami of Ohio

Friday             Louisville (-12) at Wake Forest
Oct 30th          Louisiana Tech (-12h) at Rice
                        Wyoming (+28) at Utah State
                        East Carolina (-7h) at Connecticut
                       
Saturday          TOP 25 MATCHUP
Oct 31st          AP#9 Notre Dame (-10) at AP#21 Temple
Other ranked teams in action:
                        AP#3 Clemson (-10h) at North Carolina State
                        AP#8 Stanford (-12) at Washington State
                        Maryland (+17) at AP#10 Iowa
                        USAToday#23 Georgia (+2h) at AP#11 Florida
                        AP#12 Oklahoma State (-3) at Texas Tech
                        Oregon State (+24) at AP#13 Utah
                        AP#14 Oklahoma (-38h) at Kansas
                        AP#15 Michigan (-14) at Minnesota
                        Tulane (+30h) at AP#16 Memphis
                        Syracuse (+20h) at AP#17 Florida State
                        Vanderbilt (+11) at AP#18 Houston
                        AP#19 Mississippi (-7h) at Auburn
                        Miami of Florida (no line yet) at AP#22 Duke
                        Colorado (+21) at AP#24 UCLA
                        Others:
                        Florida International (-3h) at Florida Atlantic
                        Louisiana Monroe (+11h) at Louisiana Lafayette
                        Tennessee (-8h) at Kentucky
                        USC (-5h) at California



NFL WEEK #8 – SELECTED GAMES

BYE WEEKS: BUF, JAX, PHI, WSH

Thursday        Miami (+7h) at New England
Oct 29th          

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
Nov 1st            Tampa Bay (+7) at Atlanta
                        Minnesota (Pick’em) at Chicago
                        Tennessee (no line yet) at Houston
                        Cincinnati (-3) at Pittsburgh              Steelers’ QB Ben is back
                        San Francisco (+8h) at St. Louis
                        Others:
                        Detroit (+5) vs. Kansas City             in LONDON
                        Green Bay (-3) at Denver                   Battle of unbeaten teams
                                               
Monday          Indianapolis (+6h) at Carolina
Nov 2nd          

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

Sorry, Krueg and Debbie.


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