Like it or not; football season as we have known it for the past 100 years begins this week and it will run uninterruptedly through the first Sunday of February 2020. Then, if all continues down the existing path, football season will be extended into the late Spring when XFL 2.0 commences. The start of football season causes two things to happen here in Curmudgeon Central:
- It causes me to compile my annual predictions for every team in the league along with those NFL coaches I think are on a hot seat for the upcoming season. [Update: The first draft of that opus had to be revised when Andrew Luck retired; that revision is half-done; I am on schedule to publish those predictions on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.]
- It causes me to institute weekly rants loosely labeled as Football Fridays – notwithstanding the annual objection I get from one former colleague who lobbies for Tennis Tuesdays.
Today is the inaugural Football Friday for 2019. For those who have hopped on this bus in the past year and for those who have erased from memory last season’s offerings, let me set a few boundary markers for what will happen here:
- First and foremost, no one should take “Friday” literally. I know the social and travel schedule that my long-suffering wife has set up for the two of us between now and Halloween. There could well be some weeks where there is no Football Friday; there will surely be weeks where Football Friday could fall on a Wednesday. I am going to try to do a long football focused rant every week.
- I will follow the fortunes of Linfield College and its football season. The reason is simple; Linfield has had a winning season in football every year since 1956. If there is a longer streak of that kind in a team sport in the US, I am not aware of it.
- I will comment on happenings from the games in the previous week in college and NFL football.
- I will present the betting lines for interesting games in college football for the upcoming week with brief comments
- I will comment on happenings from the games in the previous week in NFL football.
- I will present the betting lines for all the NFL games for the upcoming week with brief comments.
- I will try to come up with a betting “Six-Pack” of college and NFL games each week. There are sure to be weeks where I will not find 6 games worth putting in that Six-Pack so consider that “feature” to be a sporadic one. [Foreshadowing: There is no Six-Pack this week.]
- After Halloween, by which time we should be able to discern the truly awful college teams from the merely bad ones, I will begin a count-down to name the 8 teams that I will nominate to be in my mythical SHOE Tournament which would determine the worst team in the country with play on the field.
So, that’s the outline for Football Fridays; and now, it is time to set sail on the first one.
The Linfield College Wildcats will not begin their season until 14 September. On that Saturday, the team will have traveled from their campus in McMinnville, OR to Glassboro, NJ to take on Rowan University. According to the computational website, WolframAlpha, that journey encompasses 2,450 miles. As you might expect for a game involving two Division III schools, this is an out-of-conference game…
There were only 2 Division 1-A college football games last week. In the first one, Florida rallied to beat Miami 24-20. It was a sloppy game; the team that made the last mistake lost the game. Nevertheless, there were some positive things for Miami to take from the game despite the “L” on their record:
- The pundits think Florida is a “Top Ten team”. Miami was in the lead early in the 4th quarter.
- Miami started a freshman at QB who acquitted himself nicely against a strong SEC-quality defense. Jarren Williams was 19 – 29 for 214 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs.
- The Miami OL does need some work. They allowed 10 sacks in the game and 16 tackles for a loss.
The Florida OL did not cover itself in glory here either. Florida ran the ball 27 times for a total of 52 yards. Hey, it’s still early in the season…
In the other contest, Arizona schlepped itself all the way to Hawaii. While points were hard to come by in the Florida/Miami game, the scoreboard in Hawaii lit up like a pinball machine. The final score was Hawaii 45 and Arizona 38 – – and on the final play of the game, the Arizona ballcarrier was dragged down at the 1 yardline missing out on the chance to tie the game and send it to OT. Had that happened, the game might still be going on waiting for a defensive stop by either team.
The total offense by both teams here was 1128 yards. I suspect that both coaches told their defenses that tackling was optional for this game.
In general college football news, there was a report earlier this month that the PAC-12 was considering starting some of their games at 9:00 AM on the west coast so that those games would be televised at noon on the east coast. The idea was to get PAC-12 teams in front of more eyeballs that way. Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot to sum up where that idea stands:
“Out West: Smart: The Pac-12 has decided not to start any football games at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Dumb: The conference will continue to explore the idea for 2020.”
That sums it up perfectly…
I want to offer up a proposition wager here. What will be the date on which there is the first seriously reported rumor about Urban Meyer returning to college football coaching?
- I say it will be October 20. Are you going Sooner or Later?
Utah State’s football coach, Gary Andersen, has seen his career circle back on itself. Back in 2012, he led Utah State to an 11-2 record and the team was ranked #16 in the country in the AP poll. That got him the job at Wisconsin where his teams went 19-7 in his two years there. He resigned from Wisconsin to take the job at Oregon State complaining that the academic admissions restrictions at Wisconsin made it very difficult to compete with other Big 10 schools.
Andersen spent 2.5 seasons at Oregon State and the results were awful. Overall his teams went 7-23; even less impressive was the record of 3-18 against PAC-12 opponents. He was fired in the middle of the 2017 season and he spent last year as the associate head coach at Utah. Now, he has gone back to Utah State where it all began…
Games of Interest:
This week the rest of the college football teams swing into action. We all should know that pre-season polls in college football – – and college basketball – – are generally worthless except to give a landscape view of teams we should expect to be pretty good as opposed to the rest of the teams in the country. Since I cannot pretend to have studied the 130 Division 1-A teams in depth to have some personal insight into which teams will be good and which will be “disappointing”, I will have to focus to some extent on the worthless pre-season polling results.
I said above that some of the Football Fridays this year should not be taken literally. This is one of them. I am writing this on Thursday morning because I will be traveling later today to visit relatives. I will have the opportunity to post this rant on Friday morning but would not have nearly the amount of time it would take to write it from scratch. Since that is the case, I will not be able to mention anything about the Clemson/Georgia Tech game from Thursday night or about the Utah/BYU game – The Holy War – also from Thursday night. More than likely, I will be commenting on them when I do next week’s Football Friday which will also be done earlier in the week than on Friday.
(Fri Nite) UMass at Rutgers – 16 (55): This game is interesting because Rutgers is favored by more than 2 TDs; that happens about as often as a Sasquatch sighting in Times Square. The spread opened at 10 points and has been rising steadily to this level. This spread also points to a possible suggestion for the good folks who run the University of Massachusetts:
- Perhaps you might consider abandoning Division 1-A college football and dropping down a notch?
Florida Atlantic at Ohio St. – 27.5 (63.5): Ohio St. is ranked #5 in the pre-season polling; FAU is not mentioned. This should be an organized ass-kicking…
South Alabama at Nebraska – 36 (66): The best comment I saw leading up to this game came from humor-writer, Brad Dickson:
“To prepare to face South Alabama in the season opener the Husker football team is watching lots of film – mostly of the movie ‘Deliverance.’”
Akron at Illinois – 18 (51): Yes, I know that this is a MAC team going on the road to play a big 10 team – – but Illinois is giving 18 points?
South Carolina – 10.5 at North Carolina (63.5): The spread opened at 7.5 points and has been rising steadily all week. Welcome back to the sidelines, Mack Brown…
Duke at Alabama – 33.5 (57.5): Alabama is ranked #2 in the pre-season polls. This should be another organized ass-kicking.
Northwestern at Stanford – 6 (47.5): Almost assuredly the Division 1-A this week with the highest total SAT scores in the starting lineups.
Boise St. at Florida State – 4.5 (51.5): If the Seminoles lose this one badly at home, Willie Taggert would be well advised to hire a food taster.
Middle Tennessee St. at Michigan – 34 (54): The Wolverines are ranked behind Ohio St right now; if they want to catch Ohio St. in the polls prior to playing them late in the season, they will have to run up some big victory margins. It begins here…
Georgia Southern at LSU – 27.5 (52): Some folks think LSU is a dark horse team to make the CFP in January. I don’t think so, but they should win this handily in Baton Rouge.
Georgia – 22 at Vandy (58): Georgia is ranked #3 in the preseason polls, but this game is on the road against a team played good defense last year. That line may be fat…
Oregon at Auburn – 3.5 (56): Oregon will contend in the PAC-12 North and they have a Heisman candidate at QB in Justin Herbert. Auburn will play a better brand of defense than Oregon is used to seeing in the PAC-12. Maybe this is the most interesting game of the week?
Sam Houston St. at New Mexico – 9 (62.5): Not to worry, Bob Davie will have his team safely in their hotel rooms the night before this home game.
(Sun Nite) Houston at Oklahoma – 23 (79.5): The Sooners are ranked #4 in the pre-season polls. One burning question is whether Jalen Hurts can make it three consecutive Heisman trophies for OU QBs under Lincoln Riley. If so, it starts here…
(Mon Nite) Notre Dame – 20 at Louisville (54.5): The Irish ran the table last year winning 12 in a row until losing in the CFP to eventual national champion, Clemson. Can they do something like that again this year?
There are no NFL games this weekend other than the last of the meaningless Exhibition Games where the single best outcome for all 32 teams is to leave the field with no injuries to players the clubs intended to keep on their 53-man roster. Given the lack of any real NFL action and the few games at the college level with any real betting interest, there will be no Six-Pack this week.
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“The World Orienteering Championships end today in Norway. Are eliminated teams said to be dis-oriented?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………