A Mini-Football Friday 11/22/19

Time constraints for this week allow only for a mini Football Friday this week and no room for a Six-Pack.  Half a loaf is better than none…  In fact, half a loaf may be more than can be delivered next week with the intervention of Thanksgiving.

Last week, the Six-Pack was under .500 for the first time this year.  The record was 2-3-1.  Here is how the Six-Pack has done so far this season:

  • Overall:  28-18-2
  • College:  15-6-1
  • NFL:  13-12-1


College Football Commentary:


Last week, the Linfield College Wildcats finished their regular season with a 24-17 win over George Fox University.  Linfield was 8-1 for the season and as Northwest Conference Champions, they will play in the NCAA Division 3 playoffs.  Their first-round opponent this weekend is Chapman University, the champions of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  Chapman’s record this year is 9-0; they score an average of 37.1 points per game and allow 16.9 points per game.

These teams have two common opponents.  Both defeated Whitworth during the season.  Chapman beat Redlands 21-18 back in October; Linfield’s only loss for the season was to Redlands in September by a score of 27-19.  Go Wildcats!

Undefeated seasons ended for two teams last week:

  1. Minnesota lost to Iowa – at Iowa – 23-9.  The Big 10 West just got a lot more interesting.  Minnesota has 1 loss in conference and Wisconsin has 2 losses in conference.  Both the Gophers and the Badgers are solid favorites this week.  Then, the two teams meet on November 30 at Minnesota.  Assuming both teams win this week, that game will determine the Big 10 West champion.
  2. Baylor lost to Oklahoma 34-31 at Baylor.  Both teams have 1 loss for the season and those losses are both in conference.  Baylor led this game 28-3 early in the 2nd quarter but the Sooners pitched a shutout in the second half to win the game.

Reacting to the Baylor result on Facebook, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times posted this comment:

“Baylor blew a 28-3 lead in losing to Oklahoma.

“Adding further insult, the Atlanta Falcons immediately sued the Bears for trademark infringement.”

Penn State beat Indiana last week setting up the Game of the Week for this weekend.  Penn State travels to Columbus, OH to take on the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.  Penn State has one loss in conference – – to Minnesota – – but a win here would give them a tie-breaker’s edge over Ohio State in the Big 10 East.  Yes, the Nittany Lions do have a conference game after this one, but it is a home game against Rutgers – – so this game is the de facto Super Bowl game for Penn State.

Ohio State, on the other hand, has a real opponent on deck after Penn State leaves town.  The Buckeyes close out their season against traditional rival, Michigan, in Ann Arbor a week from Saturday.

Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines dispatched Michigan State last week 44-10 leaving the Spartans with a 4-6 record for the season.  The schedule makers for the big 10 may have seen this coming because they set up Sparty to finish with games against Rutgers this week and Maryland next week.  Bowl-eligibility is very possible in East Lansing…

Clemson remained undefeated breezing by Wake Forest 59-3.  ACC football is plain vanilla except for Clemson…

Florida State achieved bowl-eligibility with its 6th win of the season over Alabama State – a team the Seminoles ought to be embarrassed to schedule.  The final score was 49-12.

Iowa State beat Texas 23-21 last week; both teams now have 4 losses for the season.  Texas was ranked #19 going into this game and certainly did not play the way a ranked team should be expected to play.  Texas scored 2 4th quarter TDs to take the lead with 5 minutes left to play.  The Longhorns lost the game after allowing a 10-play drive to set up a 36-yard game winning field goal as time expired.

Kentucky beat Vandy 38-14; that is the 5th win for the Wildcats.  They can become bowl eligible with a win in either of their final two games against Tennessee-martin (this week) or against rival Louisville (next week).

Georgia beat Auburn 21-14.  Georgia will play in the SEC Championship Game as the East Division winner.

Alabama beat Mississippi State 38-7 but QB Tua Tagovailoa dislocated and fractured his hip and is out for good.  Any of the NFL teams who were quietly “Tanking for Tua” were not happy with that result.


The SHOE Candidates:


We are beginning to develop some clarity at the bottom of the college football barrel after last week.  I will stick with a list of 12 candidates for the 8 slots in the imaginary SHOE Tournament this week – – but it sure looks like about half of the slots have inhabitants…

  • Akron:  They lost again last weekend to E. Michigan and they lost again on Wednesday night this week to Miami (OH).  Akron is the only winless Division 1-AA team in the country at 0-11 and will close out their season next week against Ohio University.  Akron will be in the SHOE Tournament.  Cumulative score so far is 383 – 123.
  • Georgia Tech:  Ga Tech lost to Va Tech last week 47-0.  However, they survived a 13-point rally in the 4th quarter by NC State to win last night.  Their third win on the season may have eliminated them from SHOE consideration – something that will not annoy the players, coaches or alums.
  • New Mexico State:  They won their first game of the season last week over Incarnate Word.  ‘Nuff said…
  • Northwestern:  They demolished UMass last week.  They still belong in this candidate list, but that dominant performance against a “true bottom-feeder” probably means they don’t belong in the SHOE Tournament itself.
  • Old Dominion:  They did not lose because they had a BYE Week.  This week’s opponent is Middle Tennessee State.  See below for a comment there…
  • Rice:  They won their first game of the season last week over Middle Tennessee State 31-28.  The Owls scored all their points in the first half and hung on to win.
  • Rutgers:  They lost to Ohio State 56-21.  Is there a sign of life in the Rutgers’ team?  They scored 21 points here; in their previous 6 Big-10 games, they had scored a total of 24 points.
  • S. Alabama: They lost again last week to fall to 1-9 on the season.
  • UConn:  They did not lose because they had a BYE Week.
  • UMass:  They lost to Northwestern (a SHOE candidate) last week 45-7.  Prior to that game, Northwestern had been averaging 12 points per game.  UMass closes out the season against BYU – another shellacking likely.  I will be shocked if UMass is not in this year’s SHOE Tournament.
  • UTEP:  They lost again last week to fall to 1-9 on the season.
  • Vandy:  The Commodores lost last week to Kentucky.  They have 2 wins this year and face East Tennessee State this week, a team that is Division 1-AA with a record of 3-8.  A loss here will put Vandy in the SHOE Tournament for sure.

Action for SHOE candidates this week presents some interesting things to look for.

  1. UTEP and New Mexico State meet in a game they call the “Battle of I-10” for the Interstate highway that connects El Paso and Las Cruces.  I wonder if the folks at Florida and Florida State take umbrage here…
  2. ODU plays Middle Tennessee State this week.  That is the team that lost to Rice last week.  Maybe Middle Tennessee State becomes a SHOE candidate with a loss here?  Maybe this is a second win for the Monarchs?
  3. UConn plays E. Carolina – a team with only 3 wins on the season – this week.  Maybe this is a second win for the Huskies?


College Games of Interest:


Michigan – 9.5 at Indiana (51.5):  Wolverines must not look ahead to Ohio State next week…

Texas A&M at Georgia – 13 (44):  That’s a big spread for what looks to be a low-scoring game.

E. Carolina – 14.5 at UConn (66): SHOE Tournament interest only…

BYU – 40 at UMass (68.5):  SHOE Tournament interest only …

S. Alabama at Georgia State – 10 (52): SHOE Tournament interest only …

Purdue at Wisconsin – 24.5 (48):  Badgers must not look ahead to showdown with Minnesota next week.

Minnesota – 14 at Northwestern (40.5):  Gophers must not look ahead to showdown with Wisconsin next week.

Oregon – 14.5 at Arizona State (52.5):  Oregon leads the PAC-12 North comfortably.

Utah – 22 at Arizona (57):  Utah leads the PAC-12 South by one game over USC.

UCLA at USC – 14 (65):  USC is still in the PAC-12 South race.

Cal at Stanford – 2.5 (40):  This rivalry provides a “Game of Interest” every year…

Texas at Baylor – 5.5 (59.5):  Baylor cannot afford another conference loss…

SMU at Navy – 3.5 (67.5):  Two “under the radar” teams that are very good.

Michigan State – 20.5 at Rutgers (43):  SHOE Tournament interest here plus potential impact on Mike Dantonio’s continued employment as head coach at Michigan State.

North Texas – 6.5 at Rice (55):  SHOE Tournament interest only…

Arkansas at LSU – 43.5 (69):  These two teams are in the same division in the same conference – – but they are miles apart in terms of quality.

UTEP at New Mexico State – 7.5 (55.5):  Major SHOE Tournament interest here…

ODU at Middle Tennessee State – 14.5 (47):  Major SHOE Tournament interest here…

Penn State at Ohio State – 18 (57.5):  That is a big spread for what is the Game of the Week.


NFL Commentary:


CBSSports.com had a report earlier this week that Marvin Lewis is one of the “hot candidates” for an open NFL head coaching job when that coaching carousel starts to spin.  If you are surprised by that assertion given the status of the Bengals in his final years and their current doormat status, please remember that he took over the Bengals in 2003 when the entire franchise was a laughingstock and he made it respectable.  Between 2003 and 2018, he took that laughingstock franchise to the playoffs 7 times.

What I find interesting about that report is that it swims upstream in the current NFL where the trend most definitely is to find a young offensive-minded wunderkind to be the next head coach for a downtrodden franchise.  Lewis is definitely a “defensive guy” and he is 62 years old.

Speaking of the Bengals, here is a comment on that subject from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Quick hit: Until 0-9 Cincinnati gets off the schneid, let’s call them the Bagels.”

If you watched the Chiefs/Chargers game in Mexico City on Monday nite, I assume that you observed the condition of the field.  Kickers and runners where kicking up large divots on at least half of the plays.  That made me wonder how bad the field had to be last year when the league moved the venue out of the stadium in Mexico City and put it in Los Angeles on several days’ notice.  I thought the field this year was a substandard facility.

Last week, the Bills thumped the Dolphins 37-20 putting an end to the 2-game win streak for the Dolphins.  Before the kickoff, Greg Cote had this comment in the Miami Herald:

“Suddenly an 0-7 team seen as tanking is a 2-7 team in jeopardy for not getting the quarterback its wants in the 2020 NFL Draft on account of unexpected success. And poor Dolfans aren’t sure how to feel. What a truly weird-ass season.”

Last week, the Broncos led the Vikes 20-0 at half time and had held the Vikes to 58 yards passing in the first half.  Then everything went south…  In the second half, Kirk Cousins threw for 261 yards and 3 TDs as the Vikes rallied to win the game and stay with the Packers in the NFC North race.

In a game with precisely zero significance regarding the playoffs, the Jets beat the Skins 34-17.  The Skins’ 2 TDs in the 4th quarter accomplished two things:

  • It broke a streak of 16 straight quarters where the Skins had failed to find the end zone.
  • It made this game look a lot closer than it was.

The Cowboys beat the Lions 35-27; coupled with an Eagles’ loss, that puts the Cowboys on top of the NFC East for the moment.  However, consider that the Cowboys’ defense gave up 27 points to the backup QB for the Detroit Lions.  That is not a good reflection on the Cowboys’ defense…

The Falcons beat the Panthers 29-3.  Are we living in Bizarro World – – or were the Falcons of September and early/October the inhabitants of Bizarro World?  The Falcons have given up only 12 points in the last two weeks to a pair of teams that possess good offenses.  Prior to those two games, the Falcons were giving up an average of 31.25 points per game.

Three top-shelf teams – the Niners, Pats and Ravens – all won last week.  The Raiders aspire to top-shelf status in 2019 and they too won last week, but their win was labored even against the woebegone Bagels – – er Bengals.

Last night, the Texans beat the Colts 20-17.  That puts the Texans a game up on the Colts for the moment.  The Colts have 5 losses this year; the Texans have 4; looking at the AFC standings, it looks as if 11-5 may be necessary to make the playoffs in the AFC.


NFL Games This Week:

There are 4 teams enjoying their BYE Week this week:

  • Arizona:  The Cards are playing competitively and need for their defense to improve to start winning games.
  • Kansas City:  Their half-game lead over the Raiders in the AFC West is seriously in jeopardy this week as they try to get themselves healthy.
  • LA Chargers:  Sorry, but that loss on Monday was the end of their playoff hopes for 2019.
  • Minnesota:  They trail the Packers by half a game now and will be pulling for the Niners to beat the Packers on Sunday.


Miami at Cleveland – 10.5 (45):  I suspect that the clock has struck midnight for the Dolphins after a 2-game winning streak and they will go back to being pumpkins – er … doormats.

Denver at Buffalo – 3.5 (38):  This spread opened at 5 points and has been dropping all week long.  The Total Line opened at 35 points and has risen steadily all week.  I suspect that the Broncos will have plenty of difficulty scoring on the Bills’ defense; the Bills have difficulty scoring just about every week.  Lots of punting and field goal tries here…

Pittsburgh – 6.5 at Cincy (39.5):  Steelers are on the fringe of playoff relevance; a loss here will mean the end of their season.  The Bengals just stink…  The Steelers need this game to remain relevant.  The Bengals have conclusively shown themselves to be irrelevant.  Seriously now, do you really want to spend 3 hours watching these two teams go at it?

Giants at Chicago – 6.5 (39.5):  Here is the existential question:

  • Is the Giants’ defense lousy enough to yield more than 20 points to the inept Bears’ offense?

Oakland – 3 at Jets (46.5):  The Raiders squeaked by the lowly Bengals last week with a half-hearted effort.  They are in the thick of a playoff race and do not need a loss to a bad team because they took that bad team lightly.

Carolina at New Orleans – 10 (47):  The spread here opened at 7 points and has been rising all week.  One Internet sportsbook has the line at 11 points as of this morning.  The Saints were awful two weeks ago and rebounded last week; Panthers were awful last week.  Both of those “awful performances” came against the Falcons.  Hmmm…  A win for the Saints here all but ends the NFC South race.

Tampa at Atlanta – 4 (51.5):  Which Falcons team will show up Sunday?  How many INTs and lost fumbles will Jameis Winston contribute to this effort?  Avert your eyes…

Detroit – 3.5 at Washington (40.5):  The Lions have NEVER won a game over the Skins in Washington.  Last road win for Lions over Skins was in 1936 when the team was in Boston.  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week – – although it got some competition from the Giants/Bears game.  Dwayne Haskins versus Jeff Driskel; be still my heart.

Jax at Tennessee – 3.5 (41.5):  The word that comes to mind here is “Boring” …  Titans are on track to have a shot at finishing 9-7 for the fourth consecutive season.  The best “angle” I can come up with for this game is:

  • Battle of the Big Backs:  Leonard Fournette versus Derrick Henry

Like I said, “Boring”

Dallas at New England – 6.5 (45):  Two division leaders; and yet, this is not the Game of the Week.  Pats’ run defense will need to play well here to stop Ezekiel Elliott.  Cowboys’ defense remains suspect.

(Sun Nite) Green Bay at SF – 3 (48):  This game was flexed from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night.  This game also pits two division leaders against each other and the combined records for these teams is 17-3.  That makes this the Game of the Week.  The key matchup here will be the front four of the Niners against the OL of the Packers.

Seattle at Philly – 1 (47.5):  This spread opened at 3.5 points for reasons I could not possibly explain.

  • Factors favoring the Eagles:  Home field; body clock game for Seahawks.
  • Factors favoring Seahawks:  Everything else.

Eagles’ season is on the line here and I think the wrong team is favored.

(Mon Nite) Baltimore – 3 at LA (46.5):  This game may not have the luster of the Packers/Niners game, but it has the potential to be as fun to watch as any game this year.  Come on now, Aaron Donald and his cohorts against Lamar Jackson $ Co…

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