The Upcoming Football Weekend

Since it is Friday, it is time to look ahead to the football action on tap for the weekend and – per tradition – I will start with college football.  Memphis overcame a 17-0 deficit last night to beat Houston 42-38.  The surprise here is that the game was so close; just last week, Houston lost to Tulsa and gave up 45 points in the process.  Let’s just agree that Tulsa is not exactly a “powerhouse” …

Occidental College plays Division III football – or they did until the middle of last week.  Occidental canceled the rest of their season after having to forfeit its last two games for lack of healthy players.  The team only had one healthy defensive lineman and only 35 players fit to be on the field.  The team was 0-3 in the games that it did play and was outscored in those three losses by a cumulative score of 170-19.  The school did not kill off the football program; the idea is to rebuild the team and play again next year in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Whilst on the subject of Division III football, Linfield College is on track for another winning season with a 4-1 record (3-0 in conference) and a home game against George Fox University.  That game should be interesting; George Fox is 5-1 (3-0 in conference) and comes off a 58-12 win over Willamette College.

Let me take a moment to focus on some of the bad teams in college football this year:

  • UTEP is the only team with 7 losses so far this year – and they are winless to boot.  Oh, they already switched coaches and are playing for an interim coach…
  • San José St. is the only team at 1-7.  The win was over a Division 1-AA school and the cumulative score for the games against Division 1-A teams is 265-75.
  • Baylor is 0-5 and Kansas is 1-6.  The lower rungs on the Big 12 ladder are weak.
  • UMass is 0-6 and has had two BYE weeks to prepare for this week’s game against Georgia Southern (0-5).  It’s a Bagel Bowl Game.  Yippee …!
  • Teams that are often above average who are stinking out the joint this year include UNC (1-6), Pitt (2-5), Mizzou (1-5), BYU (1-6) and Oregon St. (1-6).

In games this weekend:

  • Tennessee visits Alabama and Bama is a 35-point favorite.  If Alabama covers – remember the Vols lost at home to Georgia 41-0 3 weeks ago – Butch Jones might need to rent a car to get home.
  • LSU at Ole Miss is the most interesting SEC game this week.  Ole Miss scored 56 points last week against Vandy; the LSU defense has been excellent at times and incredibly porous at other times.
  • Louisville travels to Florida St.  Both teams are having disappointing seasons.  The Louisville defense is awful; the Florida St. offense is struggling to say the least.
  • Michigan visits Penn St. and Penn St. is favored by 10 points.  That line seems fat to me…
  • Syracuse goes to Miami coming off an upset of then #2-ranked Clemson.  Miami is a 17-point favorite this morning.  Obviously, the oddsmaker thinks last week’s performance by Syracuse was a fluke.
  • USC at Notre Dame is clearly the best rivalry game of the week.
  • Colorado goes to Washington St. where the Cougars will be looking to atone for laying a giant egg last week against Cal.  Colorado’s defense has given up 75 points in the last two games.

Moving up to the NFL, the weekend began with a wacky game last night; the Raiders beat the Chiefs 31-30.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the final 3 minutes of the wildest finish of the season:

  1. Raiders force a punt and take over at their own 15 trailing 30-24.
  2. On 4th-and-11, Derek Carr completed a pass for 13 yards to the Chiefs’ 29.
  3. On 3rd-and-10, Carr threw what was ruled a TD pass – – but replay showed the receiver was down inside the 1-yardline.
  4. Now the fun begins with 8 seconds to play.  An apparent TD pass was nullified by offensive pass interference.
  5. With 3 seconds on the clock from the Chiefs’ 10, Carr’s pass was incomplete – – but there was defensive holding on the play
  6. In an untimed down from the 5, there was another incomplete pass – – but there was defensive holding on the play.
  7. In another untimed down from about the 2, Carr hit Michael Crabtree in the end zone for the winning TD.  Needless to say, there was plenty of contact by both the receiver and the defender on that play.

Anticipating a full weekend of games all of which produce that sort of cardiac conclusion is fantasy.  Nonetheless, there could be some interesting games:

  • Bills/Bucs:  The Bucs are banged up – including Jameis Winston.  Perhaps we get to see more of Ryan Fitzpatrick who put 27 points on the scoreboard in the 4th quarter of last week’s game.
  • Ravens/Vikes:  It is a “purple-on-purple” game.  Expect a low-scoring defensive game here.
  • Cards/Rams (in London):  If the Cards win, they will be tied with the Rams in the NFC West.  Rams’ defense will have to stop Adrian Peterson and make the Cards a 1-dimensional offense.
  • Jets/Dolphins:  This is actually an important game in the AFC East.  Who had that back around Labor Day?
  • Saints/Packers:  Brett Hundley is the next man up for the Packers for the foreseeable future.  All of a sudden, the Saints discovered defense…  However, remember this is an outdoor game for the Saints – – a dome dominant team.
  • Broncos/Chargers:  The Chargers are on a 2-game win streak.  The Broncos dropped a turd in the punchbowl against the Giants last week.
  • Cowboys/Niners:  Cowboys come off a BYE Week and draw a winless opponent.  However, the spread is only 6 points.  Hmmm…
  • Bengals/Steelers:  Channeling Keith Jackson here, these two teams plain don’t like each other.
  • Titans/Browns:  Titans are on the road; Titans had a short week; Titans’ QB is banged up and immobile.  Given all that the Titans are 6-point favorites in the game.  That tells you what you need to know about the Browns.
  • Panthers/Bears:  Mitchell Trubisky has not seen a pass rush like the one he will see here.
  • Seahawks/Giants:  The Seahawks are not a good road team and this game is a transcontinental road trip.  Are the Giants coming back to life or was last Monday an aberration?
  • Falcons/Patriots (Sun Nite):  The Falcons can’t blow another halftime lead – – can they?
  • Skins/Eagles (Mon Nite):  MNF gets another top-shelf game.  Even though it is early in the season, an Eagles’ win here would give them a huge lead over the Skins in the NFC East.

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“Last Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the [University of Nebraska] homecoming king proposed to the homecoming queen and she said yes. If the bride throws the bouquet accurately, one-third of Husker fans favor starting her at quarterback.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………