Welcome to a mini version of Football Friday. I have managed to sleep off my stupor that was induced by an amazing intake of l-tryptophan yesterday combined with wall-to-wall football until late in the evening. I will begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack:
- College: 3-0-0
- NFL: 1-2-0
- Total: 4-2-0
- Money Line Parlays: 1-1 Net profit = $15
These results bring the totals for the season to:
- NFL: 18-21-1
- Total: 31-34-1
- Money Line Parlays: 2-5 Net loss = $98
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats advanced to the second round of the Division III football tournament beating Redlands last week 44-10. Linfield is now 10-0 for the season and will travel about 1700 miles to Collegeville, MN to take on the Johnnies of St. John’s University. The Johnnies are 11-0 in 2021 and won their first-round game by a score of 41-14. Go Wildcats!
Taking a quick look at the teams in contention for the Brothel Defense Award – given to the team that allows anyone and everyone to score at will – here are the contenders late in the season:
- New Mexico State allows 41.6 points per game
- Kansas (the winner of this award in 2020) allows 42.9 points per game
- UMass (winner of this award in 2019) allows 43.0 points per game
[Foreshadowing: Please look at that list again and keep it in mind…]
Instead of talking about college coaches getting fired this week, let me start today with two coaching contract extension stories. The first involves James Franklin at Penn State; this week, Franklin signed a 10-year contract extension which – with incentives – could be worth as much as $85M. Reports said that Franklin’s current salary at Penn State is $5.5M. Perhaps one motivation for the Penn State administrators to extend Franklin’s contract is that he has been mentioned as being a possible candidate for the USC job that is open this year.
Franklin did a magnificent job in his first head coaching stint at Vandy. In three years there, he took the Commodores to three bowl games and compiled an overall record of 24-15 at Vandy playing a full SEC schedule. At Penn State over the almost 8 full seasons, his record is 67-32. Obviously, Franklin is a successful recruiter and coach, but I wonder about the value of the contract. Penn State has never won the Big-10 East outright in his time there; and this year, the Nittany Lions lost to a bad Illinois team in 9 overtime periods. We shall see…
The other contract extension story involves Mel Tucker at Michigan State. Four weeks ago, Sparty rallied to beat arch-rival Michigan and then kept its undefeated season going until surprisingly losing to Purdue two weeks later. Plenty of reporting had it that Michigan State and Tucker were on the verge of signing a 10-year contract extension which – with incentives – could be worth as much as $95M. Reports said that Tucker’s current salary at Michigan State is $5.5M. Like Franklin, Tucker’s name had been linked to major job openings in college football this year including USC, LSU and Florida.
Those talks were supposedly put on hold after the loss to Purdue and early last week there were reports that the contract may have been pulled off the table by the administrators at Michigan State after Ohio State demolished Sparty last week 56-7. Those negative reports turned out to be a large pile of over-reaction because this Wednesday the deal was struck. Tucker was previously the head coach at Colorado for a season and went 5-7 with the Buffaloes. He has been at Michigan State for most of two seasons and has posted an 11-7 record there.
I cannot completely avoid talking about coach firings because last week I made a prediction that if Missouri beat Florida, that Dan Mullen would be fired at Florida. Well Mizzou did beat Florida and indeed Dan Mullen was fired less than 48 hours after the fact.
I am going to root to see Ohio State’s offense against Georgia’s defense somewhere in the CFP. Ohio State did not merely beat Michigan St. last week; it was a rout from start to finish. Michigan also won in a rout over Maryland last week setting up The Big Game this weekend.
Oregon suffered a big loss – to Utah – by 31 points. That simply must eliminate Oregon – – and probably all of the PAC-12 from any possible CFP consideration. Interestingly, Oregon and Utah could meet again in the PAC-12 Championship Game where the winner goes to the Rose Bowl.
Clemson seems to have found its stride late in the season and the Tigers beat Wake Forest by 3 TDs last week. Wake needs a win this week to be in the ACC Championship Game.
Cincy did what it had to do against a team with a strong record; they disemboweled SMU 48-14. The Bearcats just made life a bit more difficult for the CFP Selection Committee. Cincy is ranked 4th this week; Michigan is ranked 5th and Notre Dame is 6th. Guess which teams on that list would bring the biggest TV ratings…
Cal beat Stanford 41-11. Stanford beat Oregon many moons ago, but the season fell apart for Stanford since the calendar flipped over to November. In its three games in November, Stanford has been outscored by opponents 128-32. The Cardinal host Notre Dame this week…
As the college football season draws to a close, I can narrow down the potential field for my imaginary SHOE Tournament where we might determine on the field which team is the worst team in the nation in 2021. Next week, I will have the field of 8 ready and seeded to present to you; at this point, I think I have 12 teams that deserve serious consideration for the ignominy of an invitation:
- Akron 2-9
- Arizona 1-10
- Arkansas St. 2-9
- Florida Int’l 1-10
- Indiana 2-9
- Kansas 2-9
- New Mexico 3-8
- New Mexico St. 1-10
- Temple 3-8
- UConn 1-10
- UMass 1-10
- Vandy 2-9
College Football Games of Interest:
(Fri Afternoon) Iowa at Nebraska – 1 (41): Interesting line here. Iowa is 9-2 overall this year; Nebraska is 3-8…
(Fri Afternoon) UNC at NC State – 6 (62): In the pre-season polls, UNC was ranked in the Top Ten; the Tar Heels have lost 5 times this year and are 0-3 on the road.
(Fri Nite) Washington St. – 1 at Washington (45.5): This is the Apple Bowl rivalry game. Washington St. is bowl eligible; Washington will not be participating in a bowl game this year other than this “Apple Bowl.”
(Fri Afternoon) Cincy – 14 at East Carolina (57): Cincy must win convincingly here if they want to continue to be part of the CFP discussion.
Ohio St. – 7 at Michigan (65): The winner of this game will be in the CFP save for an upset loss in the Big-10 Championship Game against either Iowa or Wisconsin.
Pitt – 13.5 at Syracuse (58): Pitt is 9-2 and is one of the participants in the ACC Championship Game. Syracuse is 5-6; this is their last chance to achieve bowl eligibility. Based solely on motivation here, I like the Orange to put up a real fight here; I’ll take Syracuse plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Navy – 13.5 at Temple (43): These are two bad teams; Temple may be a very bad team. Navy averages 18.6 points per game this year; Temple only scores 16.5 points per game. There may be a lot of punting here.
Wake Forest – 6 at BC (65): Wake needs to win this one to play Pitt in the ACC Championship Game. BC is bowl eligible at 6-5 but all 5 of their losses have been in game against ACC opponents.
Maryland – 2 at Rutgers (53): The reason this game is interesting is that both teams are 5-6; the winner will get a minor bowl bid.
Wisconsin – 7 at Minnesota (39.5): This will be a defensive game from start to finish. Wisconsin needs a win here to face the winner of the Michigan/Ohio St. game in the Big 10 Championship Game.
Arizona at Arizona St. – 20 (53): This is a big rivalry game but the fortunes of these two teams have been very different this year.
Oregon St. at Oregon – 7 (61): They call this rivalry game “The Civil War”.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma St. – 4.5 (50): This rivalry game is known as “Bedlam”. Both teams are 10-1 overall; both are 7-1 in Big 12 Conference games; the winner will try to convince the CFP Selection Committee to look favorably on their season. On average, the Sooners score 8.5 points per game more than the Cowboys. On defense the Cowboys enjoy an even larger advantage; Oklahoma St. ranks 3rd in the nation in Scoring Defense giving up only 14.9 points per game. I like the Cowboys at home to assert themselves on defense here; I’ll take Oklahoma St. to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.
Alabama – 20.5 at Auburn (57): The SEC Championship Game is set; Alabama and Georgia will square off. Unless that Championship game is a blowout loss by either team, I think both teams should be in the CFP. Yes, I know that if Georgia wins that game by a TD, it will be Alabama’s second loss in 2021; I still think they are one of the four best teams I have seen this year. Having said all that, I think this line is fat for such a rivalry game; I’ll take Auburn plus the points in this “Iron Bowl” game; put it in the Six-Pack.
Penn St. – 2 at Michigan St. (52): Two coaches with big contract extensions (see above) square off here…
Florida St. at Florida – 3 (59): Over the last several weeks, the Seminoles have been improving; over the last several weeks, the Gators have been horrible – – and their coach just got fired.
Texas A&M – 6.5 at LSU (47): If LSU wins here, they are bowl-eligible…
UMass at New Mexico St. – 6.5 (59): I said above that the Brothel Defense Award stats would show up again. Well, here they are; two of the three worse scoring defenses in the country face off. Both of these teams are on the SHOE Tournament list too. Since this is Thanksgiving Weekend, you should give thanks that you are not forced to watch this hot mess of a game. Label this one an Avert Your Eyes Special.
The Jets lost to the Dolphins last week 24-17. Is that an indication that the Jets’ defense woke up from a 4-week snooze? In the 4 games prior to last week, the Jets had allowed a total of 175 points – almost 44 points per game.
Tyler Huntley subbed in for Lamar Jackson and the Colts eked out a win over the hapless Bears who had to go with Andy Dalton after Justin Fields was injured. You are excused if you do not recognize Huntley’s name or recall where he played college football…
The Browns got a real scare from the Lions who also had to go with a backup QB. Tim Boyle was the Lions’ QB last week and you are excused if you do not recognize Boyle’s name or where he played college football. I went to the Internet to satisfy my curiosity and found these stats for Tim Boyle at UConn:
- 133 of 275 for 1237 yards with 1 TD and 13 INTs
Now I am curious how he ever got an invitation to an NFL Training Camp let alone how he made an NFL regular season roster…
It looks to me as if Baker Mayfield is regressing – – or maybe his shoulder injury (to his left shoulder not his throwing shoulder) is more serious than the Browns are letting on.
The Titans lost last week to the Texans in a classic trap game; Ryan Tannehill threw 4 INTs. The Titans’ record is 8-3; the three losses are to the Cards (OK), the Jets (say what?), and the Texans (Are you bleeping kidding me?!).
There were big wins last week by the Vikes (over the Packers) and the Eagles (over the Saints) as those teams eye wildcard possibilities.
The Football Team spoiled Cam Newton’s “homecoming” – – then again it was also Ron Rivera’s “homecoming” so that one was not ruined.
The Chiefs looked good on offense and on defense against the Cowboys.
The Chargers/Steelers game was an entertaining game; that was a big win for the Chargers.
Regarding yesterday’s Triple Header, the Lions/Bears game was a bumble-fest from start to finish. Early in the second quarter, Troy Aikman said that he had figured that the first team to score 17 points would be the winner. He was right; the Bears won the game 16-14.
The Cowboys/Raiders game was a penalty-fest from start to finish. Each team was flagged 14 times in the game. Cowboys’ DB, Anthony Brown committed 4 defensive pass interference penalties in the game; all 4 of those penalties came on third-down plays where the pass was incomplete; that means Anthony Brown converted 4 third-down situations for the Raiders. The Cowboys maintain a 2-game lead in the NFC East and the Raiders managed to remain only a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.
The Bills/Saints game was no contest. The Saints were short-handed on offense and the Bills’ defense never let the Saints develop any sort of offensive rhythm. That is 4 losses in a row for the Saints; the Bills are tied with the Pats atop the AFC East pending the results of Sunday’s games.
Teams on their BYE Weeks this week:
- Cards: They have survived without Kyler Murray for the last 3 games and are still a game and a half ahead of the Rams in the NFC West.
- Chiefs: They have looked much more like a serious playoff team over the past couple of weeks.
Titans at Pats – 7 (43.5): The spread on this game opened at 4.5 points; it was up to 7 points by Tuesday night and has remained there for the rest of the week. This is my Game of the Week; both teams are at the top of their division in the AFC. The Pats have won 5 in a row; the Titans looked awful last week (see above).
Jets at Texans – 2.5 (44.5): If you thought yesterday’s Lions/Bears game was bad, try not to watch this one. Both teams arrive with 2-8 records for the season. This is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week.
Eagles – 3.5 at Giants (46): The Eagles are in the wildcard chase in the NFC. The Giants are in disarray.
Bucs – 3 at Colts (53.5): This was my runner-up for Game of the Week. The Colts have won 3 in a row and are squarely in the wildcard picture in the AFC.
Falcons – 2 at Jags (45.5): Put this game in the same category as Bears/Lions and Jets/Texans; it is meaningless, and it should be as exciting as tofu.
Panthers – 2.5 at Dolphins (42): I like the Panthers defense to carry the day here. I’ll take the Panthers on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Steelers at Bengals – 4 (45): This is a big game in the AFC North; the Bengals are 6-4; the Steelers are 5-4-1.
Chargers – 3 at Broncos (48): The Chargers can tie the Chiefs on top of the AFC West with a win here. The Broncos are in last place in that division and cannot afford another loss.
Vikes at Niners – 3 (49): The Niners will want to run the ball against the Vikes’ run defense that ranks 28th in the NFL. I think they will be very successful in that endeavor; I like the Niners to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Rams – 1 at Packers (47): The spread here opened with the Packers as 1.5-point favorites. The line “flipped” on Wednesday and has stayed here for the past two days. The Packers have a 2.5-game lead over the Vikes in the NFC North race; the Rams need a win to keep pace with the Cards in the NFC West.
(Sun Nite) Browns at Ravens – 3.5 (47): Neither team has looked in sync for a couple of weeks now, but the Browns look worse to me.
(Mon Nite) Seahawks at Football Team – 1 (46.5):The Football Team is in the wildcard picture in the NFC; the Seahawks are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but given tiebreaker situations, they are eliminated from possibly winning the NFC West. I think the Football Team is starting to find itself on offense and the Seahawks defense is not good. The Seahawks give up 401.8 yards per game; that ranks them 31st in the NFL in Total Defense; only the Jets are worse. I like the Football Team to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.
So, let me review the Six-Pack:
- Syracuse +13.5 against Pitt
- Oklahoma St. – 4.5 over Oklahoma
- Auburn +20.5 against Alabama
- Panthers – 2.5 over Dolphins
- Niners – 3 over Vikes
- Football Team – 1 over Seahawks
And here is a two-team Money Line parlay for the week:
- Eagles at minus-180 against Giants
- Football Team at minus-110 against Seahawks
- A $100 wager here would yield a profit of $197.
Finally, let me close with an email from a reader:
“Since you often close your columns with obscure quotations here is one you may want to use. It comes from Delmore Schwartz who was a prize-winning poet in the 20th century.
‘Existentialism means that no one can take a bath for you.’
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………