FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
You've probably already seen at least a video replay of the most bizarre finish to a football game this year, and arguably for the decade in a relatively big game on the college scene involving Top 25 teams.
I've added a few stats to the description of that game.
In the NFL, there are still five undefeated teams.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, on the lam from the gambling police
This week SIXTEEN underdogs won outright in 56 FBS games for an upset rate of 28.6% (18.2% last week), including the shocker of the year in Ann Arbor.
AP#6 Michigan State (+8) was a TD-plus underdog at AP#12 Michigan at the Big House in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The MSU Spartans outgained the home team from scrimmage (for the game, 386 yards to 230 yards), but the UM Wolverines never trailed in the game until the “debacle of the year”. Michigan led 23-14 after kicking a FG with 9½ minutes remaining in the game. The Spartans responded quickly with a TD to trail by only 2 points with 9 minutes to go. Late in the game with the ‘Ganders still leading 23-21, the host forced Sparty to turn the ball over on downs with 1:47 showing on the clock at its own 45.
The Spartans had only one timeout left and used it after the next snap. Michigan had two, and HC Jim Harbaugh used both of them, including his last timeout facing 4th-and-3 at midfield with 10 seconds left to discuss all of their options (ahead by 2).
"If you go for it, you leave them with a Hail Mary opportunity," Harbaugh said. "We could protect and throw a long pass. We ran through the scenarios and felt like the best decision was to punt. They didn't have any returners. It was a matter of punting it.”
The game was seemingly over. These days computer-generated calculations put odds on nearly everything. Reportedly, with 10 seconds left and only a punt remaining, Michigan State still had a 0.2% chance to win the game (2-in-1000 chance).
The snap …..
Michigan punter Blake O'Neill bobbled a low (but not terrible) snap. As he tried to get a handle on the ball, O’Neill spun around to try and punt the ball, he was swarmed by Spartans and the ball popped into the air.
Jalen Watts-Jackson found himself in perfect position to make the unbelievable play – snagging it out of the air and racing 38 yards into the end zone just as the clock turned to 0:00.
The most bizarre play was the only turnover of the game by either team.
FINAL: MSU 27, MICH 23
The hero of the game, Watts-Jackson, was injured on the celebration after the play – he badly dislocated and/or broke his hip that will require surgery and his season is over (and potentially his football career). [But he goes out like Butch Cassidy - Ed]
Maybe, but maybe not, the most bizarre loss of the decade. Compare this one to the Alabama-Auburn game on November 30, 2013, the last time an FBS game ended with a defensive or special-teams game-winning score with no time left. Tied at 28-28, Alabama missed a potential game-winning 57-yard FG attempt on the last play of regulation and Auburn returned the failed kick 109 yards for the winning score. FINAL: AUB 34, ALA 28.
OTHER VICTORIOUS UNDERDOGS
On Friday night, Utah State (+10) upset visiting AP#21 Boise State, 52-26, as the BSU Broncos turned the ball over seven times … in the first half (8 for the game) and couldn’t recover. The halftime score was 45-10 USU Aggies.
Also on Friday night, host Fresno State (+6h) beat UNLV 31-28, as the FSU Bulldogs scored two unanswered TD’s in the fourth quarter to claim victory.
Rutgers (+6h) won at Indiana, 55-52. The IU Hoosiers were ahead 52-33 after three quarters, after which the Scarlet Knights scored 22 unanswered points in the 4th quarter off of three Indiana turnovers and kicked the winning 26-yard FG with no time on the clock for the victory.
Memphis (+10h) beat visiting Ole Miss out of the SEC, 37-24, after spotting the Rebels a 14-0 lead. The MU Tigers responded with 31 unanswered points to take a 31-14 lead early in the third quarter, clung to a 31-24 lead after three quarters, and held on for victory to extend its current winning streak to 13 games. Undefeated Memphis moved ahead of Toledo in the AP Poll as the highest-ranked non-Power 5 team.
Oregon (+3; yes, the Ducks were the underdog) won at Washington, 26-20.
Colorado State (+4) beat in-state MW conference rival Air Force at home in Ft. Collins, 38-23.
Georgia State (+13) won at Ball State, 31-19.
South Florida (+2h) won at UConn, 28-20.
Pittsburgh (+3h) won at Georgia Tech, 31-28.
Kent State (+7) won at UMass, 15-10.
Nebraska (+2) won handily at Minnesota, 48-25.
Wyoming (+6) beat visiting Nevada, 28-21, and the young Cowboys snapped their 9-game losing streak dating back to November 1st of last year.
Western Michigan (+4) won convincingly at Ohio U, 49-14.
San Diego State (+2h) won at San Jose State, 30-7.
Idaho (+13h) won at Troy, 19-16, and the Vandals picked up their first FBS win of the year, holding on for the victory after leading 19-3 after three quarters.
FINAL STANZA BLITZES against the spread
On Saturday, several games were determined by dominating 4th quarter scoring:
AP#1 Ohio State (-19) outscored visiting Penn State 17-0 in the 4th quarter to win 38-10 and cover ATS by 9 points.
AP#4 Utah (-6h) outscored visiting Arizona State 20-0 in the 4th quarter to win 34-18 and cover ATS by 9½ points.
AP#14 Notre Dame (-6h) outscored visiting USC 17-0 in the 4th quarter to win 41-31 and cover ATS by 3½ points.
AP#17 Iowa (-1h) traveled to AP#20 Northwestern and outscored the Wildcats 24-0 in the second half to win, 40-10, and cover ATS by 28½ points (I know this one’s a reach, but had to sneak this one in for the Hawk fans out there).
Arizona (-7h in the FFHL) traveled to Colorado and outscored the Buffs 21-7 in the 4th quarter to win 38-31, but missed covering ATS by the hook (that “h” stands for ½ point, and the “hook”).
In the latest Top 25 rankings, there are still 14 undefeated teams including the Top 7 ranked teams.
SEVEN teams in last week’s Top 25 lost over the weekend, and three of them fell out of the Top 25:
TEAM RESULTS RANKING
#8 Florida Lost at #6 LSU, 28-35 #13 (LSU now #5)
#9 Texas A&M Lost at home to ALA, 41-23 #15tie
#12 Michigan Lost at home to #7 Mich. St, 27-23 #15tie
#13 Mississippi Lost at Memphis, 37-24 #24 (Memphis #18)
#18 UCLA Lost at #15 Stanford, 56-35 OUT (Stanford #10)
#20 Northwestern Lost at home to #17 Iowa, 40-10 OUT (Iowa #12)
#21 Boise State Lost at Utah State, 52-26 OUT
That means three teams moved INTO the Top 25:
New #18 Memphis Unbeaten
New #22 Temple Unbeaten
New #25 Pittsburgh One loss at Iowa
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 28 (27) 45 (47) #1 Unbeaten
#2 Baylor 12 (13) 12 (8) #2 Unbeaten
#3 Utah 16 (16) 1 (1) #7 Unbeaten
#4 TCU 3 (3) 4 (5) #3 Unbeaten
#5 LSU 1 (0) 1 (1) #5 Unbeaten
#6 Clemson 1 (1) 1 (0) #6 Unbeaten
#7 Michigan State 0 (0) 1 (1) #4 Unbeaten
#8 Alabama 0 (0) 0 (0) #8 One loss to #24 Ole Miss
#9 Florida State 0 (0) 0 (0) #9 Unbeaten
#10 Stanford 0 (0) 0 (0) #11 One loss to Northwestern
#11 Notre Dame 0 (0) 0 (0) #10 One loss at #6 Clemson
#12 Iowa 0 (0) 0 (0) #13 Unbeaten
The other unbeatens: #14 Oklahoma State, #18 Memphis, #19 Toledo, #21 Houston, and #22 Temple.
There are still FIVE undefeated teams this year. Atlanta lost its first game of the year on Thursday night.
CAROLINA (5-0) won at Seattle on Sunday and moved ½ game ahead of ATLANTA (5-1), who lost at New Orleans, 31-21.
GREEN BAY (6-0) took care of business at home (even though they gave up over 500 passing yards) and the Packers still have a 2.5-game lead over Minnesota (3-2).
NEW ENGLAND (5-0) is still one game ahead of the NY Jets (4-1) after both teams won on Sunday.
CINCINNATI (6-0) still has a 2-game lead over Pittsburgh (4-2) after both teams won in Week #6.
DENVER (6-0) 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 positive side of the negative side, the DETROIT Lions (1-5) got their first win of the year at home over Chicago in overtime, 37-34 (and it was a struggle). All 32 NFL teams now have at least one win.
The mediocre Indianapolis Colts lost on Sunday night to drop to 3-3 for the year, but still have a slim 1-game lead over Houston (2-4).
The PHI Eagles and NY Giants are tied for the division lead with mediocre 3-3 records, ½ game ahead of Dallas (2-3) and 1 game ahead of Washington (2-4). The division is up for grabs.
Arizona (4-2) lost at Pittsburgh on Sunday and now leads the division by only 1.5 games over the STL Rams (2-3), and by two games over SEA and SF with 2-4 records.
NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS
SIX underdogs won outright in 14 in NFL games this week for an upset rate of 42.9% (28.6% the previous week).
On Thursday night, New Orleans (+3) beat visiting Atlanta, 31-21, and the Falcons fell from the unbeaten ranks.
Houston (+1) won at Jacksonville, 31-20, and the HOU Texans scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to prevail.
Pittsburgh (+4) beat visiting Arizona, 25-13, with backup QB Michael Vick starting again for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, and then 3rd-stringer Landry Jones replaced Vick (tweaked hammy). Big Ben may be back for next week’s game, and Jones could be his backup (or the starter if Ben is unable to go).
Miami (+1) won handily at Tennessee, 38-10, with the Dolphins led by new fiery interim head coach Dan Campbell. The current TENN Titans’ HC Ken Whisenhunt has had a tough stretch (4-29 record as HC).
Carolina (+7) won at Seattle, 27-23, to stay undefeated and the Panthers took sole possession of the lead in the NFC South.
San Francisco (+2) beat visiting Baltimore, 25-20.
FCS UPDATE and
FCS TOP 10 RANKINGS
RESULTS for Top 25 matchups:
#7 South Dakota State won convincingly at #12 Youngstown State, 38-8.
#2 North Dakota State lost at home to unranked South Dakota, 24-21.
#17 Portland State beat visiting #16 Montana State, 59-42
#16 William & Mary beat visiting #20 New Hampshire, 34-18.
#14 Northern Iowa lost to visiting Western Illinois, 24-19.
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 5 (4)
#3 James Madison 3 (2)
#4 Illinois State 2 (0)
#6 South Dakota State
#7 Eastern Washington
#8 North Dakota State
#9 McNeese State
#10 Sam Houston State
#13 Portland State
#16 William & Mary
#17 Youngstown State
#23 Western Illinois
#25 Northern Iowa Panthers have 2-4 record; tough schedule so far.
Overall, we FFHL’ers ended up only 34-43-7 ATS (44.6%) this week. In the NFL, we posted a pathetic record of 8-17-3 ATS (33.9%), but in college we at least did as well as the San Diego Zoo primates at 26-26-4 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 only three contrary picks in college;
We had only three contrary picks in the NFL.
Team For-Against Result / Unsolicited comments
AZ Cardinals -4 at PITT 4-0 LOSS, Steelers upset Arizona, 25-13
MIN Vikings -3h vs. KC 4-0 WIN, Minnesota wins 16-10 to cover by 2½
GB Packers -10h vs. SD 3-0 LOSS, Green Bay wins “only” 27-20 to not cover
NE Rats -9h at INDY 4-1 LOSS, New England wins only 34-27 to not cover
CHI Bears +3 at DET 2-1 TIE, Lions get 1st win of season in OT, 37-34
Utah -6h vs. AZ State 5-0 WIN, Utes win in 4th quarter comeback, 34-18
Michigan -8 vs. Mich St 4-0 LOSS, Wolverines lose outright (UGLY!), 27-23
LSU -7 vs. Florida 4-0 TIE, Tigers prevail by a touchdown & PAT, 35-28
Mississippi -10h at Memphis 4-0 LOSS, MU Tigers win outright over Rebels, 37-24
Florida St -7 vs. Louisville 4-0 WIN, Seminoles win 41-21 to cover by 13
Penn State +19 at Ohio St 3-0 LOSS, Buckholes prevail 38-10
Arizona -7h at Colorado St 3-0 LOSS, AZ Wildcats win only 38-31 to fail by ½
Northwestern +1h vs. Iowa 3-1 LOSS, UI Hawkeyes win outright, 40-10
Kansas State +3h vs. OKLA 2-1 LOSS, OK Sooners crush purple birds, 55-0
This week – FFHL Week #6:
HOME TEAMS 27-28-1 (49.1%) 33-23 (58.9%)
CUMULATIVE after seven weeks:
HOME TEAMS 162-184-7 (46.9%) 212-141 (60.1%)
In the 6th week:
HOME TEAMS 8-5-1 (60.7%) 8-6 (57.1%)
The favorites did poorly ATS this week, and our FFHL record reflected that.
Note: four teams had “byes”
CUMULATIVE after six weeks:
HOME TEAMS 42-44-4 (48.9%) 50-40 (55.6%)
FOOTBALL NEWS and MINUTIA
LOS ANGELES FOOTBALL?
The NFL has scheduled town hall meetings for fans in St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego on October 27th through October 29th to discuss potential relocation of their teams to Los Angeles. Presumably NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not be attending, which is probably a wise move considering he may be the target (instead of the relocation topic) if he attends.
LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #7 (college FB’s 8th week)
Thursday California (+3) at UCLA Bruins played last Thursday
Oct 22nd AP#22 Temple (+3) at East Carolina
Georgia Southern (+6) at Appalachian State
Friday AP#18 Memphis (-11) at Tulsa
Oct 23rd Utah State (-5) at San Diego State
Saturday TOP 25 MATCHUP
Oct 24th AP#15 Texas A&M (+5h) at AP#24 Ole Miss Aggies’ 1st true road game
Tennessee (+15) at AP#8 Alabama
Northwestern (+7h) at Nebraska
AP#3 Utah (+3h) at USC Utes are the underdog
Washington (no line yet) at AP#10 Stanford
AP#9 Florida St (-5) at Georgia Tech GA Tech QB could be back
AP#6 Clemson (-6h) at Miami.FL
Duke (+2h) at Virginia Tech
Bowling Green (-14h) at Kent State
Middle Tennessee (+7h) at Louisiana Tech
BYE WEEKS: CHI, CIN, DEN, GB
Thursday Seattle (-6) at San Francisco
Sunday Divisional Matchups:
Oct 25th Minnesota (-3) at Detroit
NY Jets (+8h) at New England
Oakland (+4) at San Diego
Dallas (+4h) at NY Giants
Buffalo (-5) vs. JAX in LONDON
Philadelphia (+3h) at Carolina
Monday Baltimore (+7h) at Arizona
FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION
Out of town last weekend, so will have to catch up next week.
(The lateness of this post is entirely editor's fault - sorry)