Football Friday 11/16/18

Not every month has a Friday the 13th, but every Friday in the Fall is Football Friday in   these parts.  So, as usual, let me begin with a quick summation of the Linfield Wildcats’ season.  They played their final game last week and defeated Pacific University at home by a convincing 50-7 score.  That gives the Wildcats another winning season with a 7-2 record and that extends their consecutive winning season streak to 63 consecutive years.  Linfield finished second in the Northwest Conference this year, so they did not get an automatic bid to the Division III football tournament.

NCAA Football Commentary:

Arizona State is bowl-eligible.  That may not seem like something sufficiently surprising to merit comment – but there is context here.  It is safe to say that an awful lot of people were skeptical last winter when the Sun Devils hired Herm Edwards away from ESPN to run their football program.  Edwards’ approach was to be a “Football CEO” who would assemble a talented staff of assistants who would run the team.  That was an approach off the college football norm and when added to the fact that Edwards had been out of football and into the TV business for 10 years, it led to more than a bit of giggling among the folks who profess to know about college football.

Most pundits had Arizona St. finishing last in the PAC-12 South back in August; as of this morning, the Sun Devils have the inside track to win that division despite facing two road games to finish the year.  How did the Sun Devils do it?  The offensive guys on the staff must have realized sometime in early October that they were a much better running team than a passing team.  So, they started calling a lot more running plays and guess what?  It is no longer unusual to see an Arizona St. game where the team runs the ball 45 or 50 times.

Since Herm Edwards took a lot of gas from football commentators early in his tenure there, let me offer up an apology – – even though I was not one of those who thought he was in over his head.  Congratulations, Coach Edwards…

If you have been a reader in these parts for a while, you know that I like to have fun with players’ names.  Here are two from college football teams I have watched this year:

  • Alabama kicker, Joseph Bulovas should be on NFL scouts watch list.
  • Wisconsin CB, Rachad Wildgoose should have a brother named Chase.

With the college season coming to a close for lots of teams, it is time for me to look at the coaches on a hot seat in the major college programs.  I will not pretend to have any understanding at all of coaching issues at all levels of college football so let me limit this discussion to the Power 5 conferences only.  It is pretty clear that Maryland will be out looking for a new head coach on a permanent basis and so will Kansas and Louisville.  Added to those openings, here are coaches/schools that might need to finish the season with a win or two:

  • Chris Ash (Rutgers):  As of this morning, Ash’s record at Rutgers is 7-24 and more than a couple of those 24 losses have been embarrassments.  The best reason not to fire him is very simple; there are no hot coaching prospects who are going to beat down the doors in New Brunswick, NJ to take the job.
  • Lovie Smith (Illinois):  Hiring Smith after his time with the Bears was supposed to give Illinois footing when it came to getting highly talented recruits.  Well, if that happened, the Illini coaching staff is pretty inept.  Coming to the end of Smith’s third year at Illinois, the record is 9-25; more telling is the team’s 4-21 record in Big-10 games over that time.
  • Mike MacIntyre (Colorado):  The Buffaloes were 5-0 at one point this year having beaten up some really bad teams.  Then the wheels came off the wagon; Colorado is 5-5 this morning and looking bad during their 5-game losing streak.  If MacIntyre is fired, the game where Colorado blew a 31-point lead at halftime against a putrid Oregon St. team will be a major factor.
  • Clay Helton (USC):  The Trojans are 5-5 this morning and are out of the race for the PAC-12 South title and they play UCLA and Notre Dame to close out the season.  Two losses there – particularly one to a UCLA team that is in tear-down mode – would make USC ineligible for a bowl game and that could mean the end of Clay Helton on their sidelines.  Even if the Trojans make it to a bowl game, it could be one like the Music City Bowl; that will not go over well with USC boosters…
  • Larry Fedora (UNC):  He has been on the job since 2012 and has an overall winning record (44-42).  However, the Tar Heels were 3-9 last year and are 1-8 as of this morning in 2018.
  • Justin Fuente (VA Tech):  This one may be a tad premature; this is his 3rd season in Blacksburg, VA and the first two years were good ones with a combined record of 19-8 and two bowl appearances.  However, this year the team is 4-5 and has three very bad losses on the record (Old Dominion by 14 points, Ga Tech by 21 points and Pitt by 30 points).  Folks in Blacksburg are not used to that sort of thing…

One other football program may be part of the coaching carousel this year even though it will not do so because the fans want to run the coach out of town on a rail.  Bill Snyder is synonymous with Kansas State football.  Nevertheless, he is 79 years old and he just might want to take some time and do other things with what is left of his time on the planet.  K-State is not going to fire Bill Snyder any more than Steven Seagal is going to win an Oscar for Best Actor, but Snyder may decide to hang up his whistle…

Last week, Nebraska beat Illinois 54-35 raising the Cornhuskers season record to 3-7.  Humor writer, Brad Dickson, has this Tweet about the difficulties facing Nebraska football fans:

“Why does every Nebraska game begin at 11 a.m.? Have the people setting these start times ever tried to chug a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a cold Lincoln parking lot at 6 a.m. in November?!!  I’LL BET NOT!!!

Northwestern clinched the Big-10 West title with a win over Iowa.  Northwestern has 4 losses on its record this year; imagine the CFP Selection Committee horror if Northwestern wins the Big-10 Championship Game…

Michigan beat Rutgers 42-7 last week; the only good news for Rutgers’ fans is that Michigan did not cover the 39-point spread on that game.  Since I mentioned that the coach at Rutgers might be on a hot seat above, let me delve into the Rutgers results for 2018:

  • Rutgers has not scored more than 17 points in a game since beating Texas St and Morgan St. back in the opening weeks of the season.
  • Rutgers has lost 4 games by 21 points or more.
  • Rutgers’ final two games are against Penn St. and Michigan St. where they will be significant underdogs.

Penn St. beat Wisconsin last week 22-10 and Ohio St. beat Michigan St. 26-10.

West Virginia spanked TCU 46-10 setting up the potential for a Big-12 showdown in the final week with Oklahoma.  Meanwhile, Oklahoma dodged a bullet beating Oklahoma State 48-47.  For the record, the Sooners’ defense has not gotten significantly better since the team fired their Defensive Coordinator; please do not be shocked to learn that.  In two wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma St, the Sooners’ defense nonetheless gave up 7 yards per play.

It is almost as if Alabama and Clemson were lobbing warning shots at one another last week with top-shelf defensive games:

  • Alabama 24 Mississippi St. 0:  That makes 2 shutouts in a row for Bama…
  • Clemson 27 BC 7:  Total offense for BC was 113 yards.

Georgia beat Auburn 27-10 meaning that the Bulldogs’ tune-up for the SEC Championship Game against Alabama went well.

LSU beat Arkansas 24-17.  That game was not quite as close as it looks; LSU led by 21 points in the4th quarter.

Florida beat S. Carolina 35-24.  That game was not quite as comfortable as it looks; Florida had to score 21 unanswered points late to win this game.

Tennessee beat Kentucky 24-7.  I said last week that this game would be a coaching challenge for Kentucky after losing to Georgia the week before and killing any hope of winning the SEC East.  Well, it was indeed a big “let-down game” …

Pitt beat VA Tech 52-22.  The VA Tech defense was supposed to be better than that…

Wake Forest beat NC State 27-23.  Do you remember a few weeks ago when lots of folks thought NC State might be a threat to Clemson in the ACC?

Duke won a rivalry game over UNC 42-35.  That makes 6 losses in a row for the Tar Heels.  UNC has Western Carolina on the schedule this week; if they lose that game, Larry Fedora will not be on a hot seat; he will be on an ejection seat.

Georgia Tech beat Miami 27-21.  That is the 4th loss in a row for the Hurricanes and fans in South Florida might be getting a tad less enamored with Mark Richt these days…

Syracuse stomped Louisville 54-23.  The Orange scored 30 points in the second quarter of the game.  Here is a measure of how badly unraveled the Louisville football program has become:

  • 2017:  Louisville beat Syracuse 56-10
  • 2018:  Syracuse beat Louisville 54-23

Notre Dame beat Florida St. 42-13.  I know that Notre Dame is a Top 5 team in the rankings but that is a beat-down that is uncommon for the folks in Tallahassee.  I am now seriously wondering if Willie Taggert is over his head in a program as big as Florida St.  The Seminoles are on a 3-game losing streak and their record is 4-6; they need to win out to be bowl eligible and that is something Florida St. has been for 36 consecutive years.  Here is what is left on the schedule for Florida St:

  • Vs. Boston College (ranked #20 this week)
  • Vs. Florida (huge rivalry game against a team ranked #13 this week)

Out west, Cal beat USC 15-14.  This makes four games in a row where the Cal defense has been on display; the Bears have only given up 50 points in those last 4 games.  Since when do defensive players matriculate at Cal?

SMU beat UConn 62-50.  That is the eighth game this year where UConn has allowed opponents to score 49 or more points; that is the fourth game this year where UConn has allowed opponents to score 55 or more points.  I guess Randy Edsall must be on a hot seat at UConn – – if there are enough people in the Storrs, CT area who give a damn about the football program there.  Here is one more stunning stat about this UConn team:

  • UConn gives up an average of 623.6 yards per game.  That is 130th out of 130 teams that play Division 1-A football.
  • The next worst defensive team (Oregon St.), gives up 80.8 fewer yards per game than does UConn.


The Shoe Tournament Watch List:

Last week, we had a game between two teams on the watch list; what a spectacle that must have been.  In any event, Bowling Green beat Central Michigan 24-13.  C. Michigan was leading at halftime 13-0 but obviously could not stand the prosperity.

Here is this week’s list of twelve candidates for the eight SHOE Tournament slots in alphabetical order along with their record for the season:

  1. Bowling Green  2-8
  2. Central Michigan  1-10
  3. Kent St.  2-9
  4. Louisville  2-8
  5. Rice  1-10
  6. Rutgers  1-9
  7. San Jose St.  1-9
  8. Tulsa  2-8
  9. UConn  1-9
  10. UNC  1-8
  11. UTEP  1-9
  12. Western Kentucky  1-9

NCAA Games of Interest:

I know this is Cupcake Week in the SEC.  However, most of the teams there found nearby schools willing to take a pounding for a sizeable payday.  So, what is up with Florida needing to search as far away as Idaho to find a 40-point underdog?  Same question applies to Georgia who is making UMass fly a good distance to play a game as a 41-point underdog?

Indiana at Michigan – 28.5 (53.5):  With Ohio St. on tap for Michigan, this is a tune-up game that players might be looking past.  It has all the makings of a trap game.  I am tempted to take the points here but will resist that temptation…

Penn St. – 28 at Rutgers (49):  In the last 3 games between these teams, the combined score is Penn State 102 Rutgers 9.

Northwestern at Minnesota – 2 (47):  The spread opened with Northwestern as a 3.5-point favorite.  Obviously, bettors think that Northwestern will not take this game as seriously as they have recent games since Northwestern is the Big-10 West champ no matter what.  Minnesota is 5-1 at home this year.  Interesting game to watch – – and one to keep your money in your wallet over…

Wisconsin at Purdue – 4 (52):  Wisconsin has not been great this year; they lost 4 games.  Nonetheless, I don’t understand why anyone thinks Purdue is consistent enough to be a favorite in this game.  Purdue has lost to E. Michigan and Minnesota this year.  Very strange…

Syracuse vs. Notre Dame – 10 (65) Game is in NYC:  Syracuse is much better at home than they are on the road; they have been away from the Carrier Dome 4 times this year and have lost twice.  More importantly, they tend to give up lots of points in road games and Notre Dame will have QB, Ian Book, back on the field for this game.  This is the College Football Game of the Week.

Pitt – 6.5 at Wake Forest (60.5):  Pitt clinches the ACC Coastal title with a win here.  If the game were in Pittsburgh, I would take the Panthers in a heartbeat – – but it is not.

Missouri – 6 at Tennessee (57):  The Total Line opened the week at 45; this is a humongous move in that line.  Missouri’s pass defense is suspect; they rank 120th in the country giving up 276.5 yards per game.  Tennessee could win this one outright at home…

Ole Miss at Vandy – 3 (70):  The Total Line opened the week at 66.5 and has risen slowly all week long.  Both teams play offense better than defense.  Vandy ranks 88th in the country; Ole Miss ranks 125th.  That is why the Total Line has expanded…

West Virginia – 5.5 at Oklahoma St. (74):  The Cowboys are tough at home; just ask Oklahoma about that.  If the Mountaineers are looking beyond this game to their meeting with Oklahoma next week, they could lose this one straight up…

Utah – 7 at Colorado (47):  The visitor from the west is favored in this border war…

Utah St. – 28 at Colorado St. (68:  The visitor from the west is favored in this border war too…

Stanford – 2 at Cal (45):  Stanford did not live up to its pre-season expectations this year.  Cal exceeded its pre-season expectations this year.  None of that will matter even a little bit in this huge rivalry game.  Stanford has lost 4 games and all of them were to teams ranked in the Top 20 as of this week.

Oregon St. at Washington – 33.5 (58):  This spread is an indictment of the Oregon St. defense – – ranked 129th in the country this morning.  Washington has not score more than 35 points in a game this season save one early season game against a Division 1-AA team.  The oddsmaker must think they will score more than that here in order to put a 33.5-point spread out there.

There will be 4 NCAA Football Games in the Six-Pack below…

NFL Commentary:

I think we can all agree that John Elway was a great NFL QB; if there are dissenters, please explain the basis of your disagreement.  I will stipulate that Elway knows how to play QB at an elite level, but I have come to doubt that he can recognize the necessary capabilities in others to do the same.  Forget for a moment the Broncos’ free-agent signings at the QB position and consider the college QBs that Elway has drafted since he became the head football honcho in Denver:

  1. Brock Osweiler (2012)
  2. Zac Dysert (2013)
  3. Trevor Siemian (2015)
  4. Paxton Lynch (2016)
  5. Chad Kelly (2017)

I do not think I missed any others; this list has “FAIL” written all over it; none of these players remains with the Broncos; some are not in the NFL any longer.

I am going to make two sorta bold predictions here:

  1. The Eagles’ hope to repeat as Super Bowl Champions is no more than that – hope.  I think the Eagles are unlikely to make the playoffs this year let alone make any sort of run in the playoffs.
  2. The Falcons had high aspirations at the start of this season as a Super Bowl contender; I think those aspirations have crashed and burned.

Having made no friends in Philly or Atlanta, let me now say that THE most disappointing team in the NFL this year must be the Jags.  It took a furious 4th quarter comeback by tom Brady last year in the playoffs to prevent the Jags from playing the Eagles in the Super Bowl.  This year, the Jags are in the basement in the AFC South.  Over the recent years, the Jags have spent a lot of time in that division basement; perhaps last year’s run to the playoffs was a “black swan”?

Last week, the Jags lost to the Colts.  In recent years, the Colts have been less-than-fearsome, but this year they have Andrew Luck back under center and they seem to have found a running game laying around somewhere.  Their win over the Jags was their 3rd in a row and Luck has completed 70% of his throws in those 3 games.  Do not write off the Colts making the playoffs this year…

The Titans beat the Pats last week; it is the second time this season that a coach who has former ties to the Patriot organization has beaten the Pats.  The Titans won on the strength of running the football for 150 yards and scoring on their first 3 possessions to take charge of the game and its tempo.

Last week, the Panthers were absolutely dominated by the Steelers on Thursday Nite Football.  Notwithstanding that beat-down, I would not write off the Panthers for a playoff slot just yet.  The Panthers have 6 wins so far and they have three “bunnies” left on the schedule:

  1. Lions
  2. Bucs
  3. Browns

The Falcons laid an egg in Cleveland last week as Nick Chubb ran wild for 175 yards.  The Browns gained a total of 211 yards rushing and the Browns’ defense stopped the Falcons 3 times from the 1-yardline in the 4th quarter while the game was still in doubt.

The Bucs continued to put their ineptitude on display in their loss to the Skins last week.  Consider:

  • The Bucs gained 501 yards on offense and scored all of 3 points in the game.
  • In 5 trips to the red zone, here were the Bucs’ outcomes: INT, missed FG, FG, missed FG, lost fumble.  [Aside:  That is the sort of performance you might expect from a SHOE Team in the collegiate ranks.]

I think the Bucs are about to implode this team and start over.  I suspect that the coach and the GM will be changed in the off-season; I suspect the team will not re-up Jameis Winston and will move him along for draft assets starting in 2019.

The Saints were toying with the Bengals’ defense last week.  In the first half, Drew Brees threw for 317 yards while only throwing 2 incomplete passes; the Saints led 35-7 at the half.  The Bengals’ offense is not designed to win any shootouts; this game was no contest after the middle of the 2nd quarter.  After the game, the Bengals fired their Defensive Coordinator and Marvin Lewis announced that he was taking over the defense.  Granted, Lewis earned his stripes as a “defensive whiz” but he is not going to be the one to cover WRs on the field – – and against the Saints there were lots of WRs running free out there.  Here is how bad the Bengals’ defense has been recently:

  • Bengals have given up 31 points or more in 6 of the last 7 games.
  • Bengals have given up 158 points in their last 4 games.
  • Bengals have given up 500 yards or more in the last 3 games.
  • How much of that was the defensive coordinator’s failure?

The Packers beat the Dolphins 31-12 last week.  The Packers’ defense sacked Brock Osweiler six times and picked off one of his passes.  Basically, the Packers cruised to a win here.

The Chargers beat the Raiders 20-6.  The Raiders may have watched the Bucs’ debacle in the early game last week, because they seemed to emulate the Bucs’ futility.  The Raiders penetrated the Chargers’ 25-yardline 4 times in the game and managed to get a single field goal for that effort.  Or maybe the Raiders were imitating the Falcons from last week; they too were stopped at the 1-yardline to end a drive.

The Chiefs beat the Cards 26-14 last week.  I guess the Cards can feel good about two things on defense:

  1. They sacked Patrick Mahomes 5 times.
  2. They held Mahomes to 248 yards passing – his lowest total ever.

Other than that, …

Two weeks ago, Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times in a game.  Last week things got better; he was only sacked 6 times by the Bears’ defense.  I guess that is what passes for “improvement” in Detroit these days.  The Bears ran out to a 26-0 lead and put it in cruise control for the win.  Bears’ kicker, Cody Parkey did something in that game that he could not do again if he tried.  Parkey hit the upright on 4 place kicks in the game – – 2 FG attempts and 2 PATs.  Most kickers do not hit the uprights 4 times in a season; Parkey did it in a single game.

The Rams beat the Seahawks even though the Seahawks ran the ball for 273 yards in the game. Teams that run the ball that well usually win the game.

The Bills started Matt Barkley at QB last week against the Jets; Barkley had been with the Bills for 10 days prior to the start.  The Bills ran off to a 31-0 lead and won the game in a walk.  There has been mounting pressure on Todd Bowles in NY; this game tried the patience of even the morst ardent Jets’ fan.  The team was playing the worst offense in the league and that offense was starting a guy who could not possibly know the whole playbook and that new QB had already shown several teams in the NFL that he isn’t very good.  Final score was Bills 41 and Jets 10.  The Bills amassed 451 yards of offense here; their previous high for the year was 100 yards fewer than that.  The Jets went 3-and-out on its first 3 possessions; it was an omen for what was to come…

NFL Games This Week:

Six teams have their BYE Week this week.  The entire AFC East is taking a week off…

  1. Buffalo Bills:  They scored 41points last week with Matt Barkley at QB.  I doubt that many fantasy owners played Barkley in that game.  I wonder how many will start Barkley next week after two weeks of practice time with his new mates…
  2. Cleveland Browns:  They beat the Falcons 28-16.  Nick Chubb ran wild.  Interim coach Gregg Williams gave the team an extra day off.  The bar for rewards in Cleveland is pretty low.
  3. Miami Dolphins:  They defended the wrong “Aaron” last week.  Aaron Rodgers only passed for 199 yards, but Aaron Jones carried the ball 15 times for 145 yards and 2 TDs.  The team gets a week off to deal with run defense issues.
  4. New England Pats:  They get to let the stink of their loss to the Titans attach to themselves for an extra week here.
  5. NY Jets:  The Jets threw in one of the more embarrassing performances of the last several years against the Bills last week.  Heads will roll on the field and on the sideline in the upcoming offseason.  Some folks in the GM’s suite should pay a price here too.
  6. SF Niners:  They had a 10-point lead over the Giants in the 3rd quarter and managed to lose the game.  That cannot make for a warm and fuzzy extra week of practice…

Dallas at Atlanta – 3 (48.5):  The loser of this game will not make the playoffs; the winner is certainly not guaranteed to make the playoffs, but the loser is cooked.  This is the second road game in a row for the Cowboys.  If they adopt the game plan they used against the Eagles last week and run the ball, they can win this one.  If they revert to a dink-and-dunk passing attack as the basis for the offense, they will lose.  The Cowboys are not a good road team this year; they are 1-4 on the road.

Cincy at Baltimore – 3.5 (39.5):  Joe Flacco is questionable for this game with a hip injury.  Lamar Jackson has been less than impressive when he is in the game so far this year.  The other QB on the Ravens’ roster is RG3.  Frankly, I am surprised that the Ravens are favored here other than the fact that the Bengals are imploding, and the game is in Baltimore.  I showed the Bengals lack of defensive prowess above; if Jackson starts and does not play well against that defense, you might begin to wonder if it was a good idea for the Ravens to trade up to get him in the first round of last year’s draft.

Philly at New Orleans – 9 (56):  The Saints have covered in each of their last 7 games.  This is a big number to cover but the Eagles bring a banged up defensive secondary to the field against Drew Brees and company.  This could get ugly…

Tennessee at Indy – 1 (50):  It looks as if the oddsmaker is expecting a let-down game for the Titans after last week’s dominant win over the Pats.  Or … is this some recognition of how well Andrew Luck and the Colts have played recently?  Luck has thrown 3 TD passes in each of his last 6 games and is the only QB in NFL history to do that.

Houston – 3 at Washington (42):  The Texans have plenty of experience in playing close games and winning them.  The Skins have plenty of experience in playing low scoring games and winning them.  This game will be close and low-scoring.  JJ Watt and Company will be playing against a patchwork Skins’ OL minus at least 3 starters and that might be ugly.

Tampa Bay at Giants – 1.5 (52):  This is Dog-Breath Game of the Week #1.  The Giants came from behind to win last week.  The Bucs gained almost 500 yards and scored 3 points (see above).  Big changes are coming in Tampa; maybe big changes are coming in NY too.  Before the Niners game last week Odell Beckham, Jr. said he thought the Giants would win 8 in a row to finish 9-7.  Well, one down and a win here for the Giants would make two on the way to eight in a row…

Oakland at Arizona – 5.5 (41):  This is Dog-Breath Game of the Week #2.  The spread opened at 3 points and expanded to this level quickly.  Bettors seem to be saying that the Raiders have tossed in their jockstraps for the season and are only playing to collect their game checks.  Who am I to argue with that assessment?  Josh Rosen seems to be improving week to week; Derek Carr seems to be regressing.

Pittsburgh – 5 at Jax (47):  The Steelers had extra time to prepare for this game coming off a Thursday night game last week.  Equally important, the Steelers finally shed the drama associated with LeVeon Bell this week; he is not going to report to the team at all.  The Jags will need a big game from Leonard Fournette to stay in this game.

(Sun Nite) Minnesota at Chicago – 3 (44.5):  The Bears record is padded; here are five teams they have beaten:

  1. Cardinals
  2. Bucs
  3. Jets
  4. Bills
  5. Lions

By the way, the Vikes record is padded too.  Here are four teams they have beaten:

  1. Niners
  2. Cardinals
  3. Jets
  4. Lions

This is a flexed game; it was originally a 1:00 PM start.  The Vikes come to the game off a BYE Week.  The winner will be in first place in the AFC North; the teams are only half-a-game apart this morning.  However, there is a large disparity in the point differential for the teams this year.  The Bears are +94 for the season; the Vikes are only +17 for the season.   The team that rushes the passer more effectively and more consistently will win this game

(Mon Nite) KC at Rams – 3.5 (63.5):  This is clearly the Game of the Week.  It was supposed to be played in Mexico City but the field there was not in good enough condition, so the game was moved to LA early in the week.  I cannot recall ever seeing a Total Line this high for an NFL game.   It opened at this level and has stayed here all week long – – other than 1 Internet sports book where the Total Line has gone up to 64.   Both teams bring 9-1 records to the field.  The Chiefs have the highest point differential in the NFL at +113 points; the Rams are second in the NFL in point differential at +104.  The loss of Cooper Kupp is significant; he is a security blanket for Jared Goff.  If you like rock ‘em/sock ‘em defense, this is not the game for you.  It could wind up 45-41 as easily as it could wind up 24-20.

This week’s Six-Pack:

Miami – 6.5 at VA Tech (51.5):  This has been a disappointing season for both teams and both offenses have been a big part of those disappointments.  I like the UNDER here.

Virginia at Ga Tech – 4.5 (53):  Virginia has several defensive linemen out; Ga Tech will run the ball all day long.  I think it will be a long day for the Cavaliers.  I’ll take Georgia Tech and lay the points.

Middle Tennessee St. at Kentucky – 16.5 (46):  Kentucky has lost 2 in a row to Georgia and then Tennessee.  Middle Tennessee State is not on a par with either of those teams, but those two losses took a hugely promising season for Kentucky down to one where they are not going to play in a major bowl game.  That should be deflating, and Middle Tennessee can score a little bit.  I like Middle Tennessee St plus that big helping of points.

Arizona at Wash St. – 10.5 (62.5):  That line looks fat to me even on the Palouse.  Arizona QB, Khalil Tate, has started playing the way he did last year and that can be scary.  Arizona had an extra week to point to this game too.  I like Arizona plus the points here.

Carolina – 4.5 at Detroit (49.5):  This is the second road game in a row for the Panthers; meanwhile, the Lions were just awful against the Bears last week.  The Panthers need a win; the Lions need better players.  The Panthers are only 1-3 on the road as opposed to 5-0 at home; the Lions have always been better at home than on the road.  I’ll go with the better team as opposed to the better venue play.  I’ll take the Panthers and lay the points.

Denver at Chargers – 7 (45.5):  The Broncos are coming off a bye, but the Chargers are the better team with a real shot at the playoffs.  The return of Melvin Gordon helps the Chargers a lot; the Broncos run defense is not stout.  The Chargers are charging toward a playoff slot; the Broncos are headed home for the Holidays.  I like the Chargers to win and cover here.

Finally, here is a note from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald about a serious accident at a college football game earlier this year:

“Headlines I Never Imagined Reading (one in a series): ‘Colorado Football Mascot Shoots Self In Groin With T-Shirt Cannon’.”

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



7 thoughts on “Football Friday 11/16/18”

  1. The Big Game is never really one to bet given how unpredictable it can be. Venue doesn’t matter, records do not matter, and luck keeps popping into the picture. The key stat (assuming the game gets played tomorrow, it’s really smoky here and the AQI is well over 200) will be turnover margin. Please don’t play McElwaine until late in garbage time… Also, it will be interesting to see whether Bryce Love is healthy enough because the pass defense in particular has been a strong point for the Bears even though Arceaga-Whiteside is NFL-ready. Tim DeRuyter worked some magic here. If the game is deferred, the weekend of December 1 is open and since the Pac-12 championship game is 11/30 without either team realistically participating in it I would guess it would get moved.

    WSU would have to lose both games, UW would have to lose to OSU at home (nope) to set up a 3-way tie and I don’t think Stanford goes through even then.

    Arizona lives and dies on Khalil Tate’s performance. I don’t think WSU will overlook them in their current magical season but it does feel like trap game. CU closes at Berkeley next week, and may sneak one out but I would agree that McIntyre would be on the hot seat no later than next season if there is no bowl game. Just remember that expectations for CU were “moderate” although coming from way ahead to lose to OSU at home was pretty bad.

    SC’s also had injuries to deal with, and I sense the Bruins see this as a pickup opportunity. It won’t help Helton, though. I don’t think ND will overlook the Trojans either because they really don’t like them. This USC team has too much talent to have this record, even with the injuries.

    Taggart’s hot seat is well earned. I don’t know if it a player not in sync with the system thing (the current excuse for Kelly at UCLA) or what, but record-breaking losses usually do not thrill the donors and they will demand action or the checks will stop.

    A couple of things: these are 18-22 year old men more prone to emotional swings, and that on every play there are 11 talented guys trying to stop you.

    As far as the Raiders tanking, there may be some truth to that. Derek Carr’s regression is likely due to his getting gun-shy, however. During last week’s game I was watching the announcers ripping on him to not be so quick to throw into the ground / sidelines / checkdowns (“he has time to hit his receivers downfield…”) right before a couple of sacks from “watch out” blockers. The OL stinks. The DL and defense appear to have conditioning issues, and get tired.

    1. Rugger9:

      You called the postponement of the Big Game due to AQI issues. Perhaps my rant on 11/19 will explain – partially – why Colorado pulled the trigger on MacIntyre before the final game this year.

  2. Jack,
    I was raised in Palo Alto, ergo, I am a Stanford “Indian” fan… In a interview after the famous Cal Band Game Elway was asked a question about the game, I don’t remember the question but I sure remember his response – with a deer in the headlights look on his face he said, “they ruined MY season”. Haven’t been his biggest fan since.

    1. Terrence C Latorre:

      I too remember the Sanford Indian – – predating the arrival of an evergreen tree as the school mascot.

      I do not recall that incident involving Jack Elway but it does seem a bit over the top in terms of personalizing the moment.

      1. They actually went through a few other options: Robber Barons, Trees, Cardinals, (Turkeys), etc., before settling on the color. We Blues had a lot of fun with that. The Tree became their mascot and a new version is put together every year, and when the Cal Bears kidnap the costume.

        I was part of the field security for the Play, and remember looking up into the Stanford stands after Moen scored: it was like a Warhol painting with all of the jaws dropped and one of the best things I’ve seen in my life (I was a rugger at Cal). Of course we agree that John Elway’s a spoiled though talented brat but that’s not really news. Jack (John’s father) was actually classier than that, but beating John 3 out of his 4 years is satisfying.

      2. I also remember the Stanford Indians, before I went to Cal I was a Stanford fan (it happens), back when the LSJUMB was actually funny and creative. I recall the one time they marched in formation for a game against Army, where it involved a Native American begging for his land, getting “shot” by the drum major, the cross and wreath hammered into the field at his head and the band marching over him to the fight song. Or, Spiro Agnew’s goodbye to the Vice Presidency (involving a hand) and other classics. Now it’s like SNL…. boring and recycled.

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