From the 1st quarter of the Ohio State-Michigan game, it was great college football all day & well into the evening. So many close games, so much riding on the outcomes, games that will never live up to the hype & yet they exceed the hype, so much emotion & a truly wild finish that will be a part of my top-10 as long as I live. Today is a perfect example of why I love college football more than the NFL. Here's a few observations of what I saw today.
Don't bother arguing, Brady Hoke made the right call going for two.
The day started with a huge brawl in the Ohio State-Michigan game that resulted in 3 ejections. The game featured 1,130-yards of total offense, the Wolverines passed for 451-yards while Ohio State ran for 393. There were only 6 total punts in the game, 3 apiece. They went back & forth for hours until the Buckeyes scored to go ahead 42-35 with 2:20 remaining in the game. But the Wolverines were up to the task as they drove 84-yards to tie the game on a 2-yard pass from QB Devin Gardner to WR Devin Funchness. I knew Hoke was going to go for two. His team was exhausted, they were completely unable to stop the Buckeye running game & prolonging the game with overtime was a losing strategy for Michigan. Their best shot was to make a 2-point conversion & win right then. Unfortunately the play selection left a lot to be desired in my book & Ohio State hung on for a 42-41 victory. It was their 24th consecutive win since Urban Meyer became the head coach in Columbus. They face-off with Michigan State next Saturday night in the BIG TEN Championship Game. I'm still not impressed with OSU, I'm not alone. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, a future first round draft pick, tweeted after the game:
That was not the 3rd best team in the country.
The Buckeyes will play Michigan State for the BIG TEN Championship next Saturday night in Indianapolis. If MSU pulls the upset with their superior defense, the SEC winner & Florida State will face off in the BCS Championship game.
I said FSU was the best team in the country weeks ago, I'm more convinced today.
Not because they hammered a beat up, burned out Florida Gators' team. A lot of people did that this season. The Seminoles won 37-7 a Heisman hopefull, Jameis Winston, threw three touchdowns, all to sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who caught 9 passes for 212-yards. The Noles are the best all-around team I have seen this year. I've thought that since October 19th when FSU went to #3 Clemson & pulled their pants down on national television to the tune of 51-14. If you haven't had a chance to see the Seminoles live, relax, you'll get to see them in the ACC Championship next Saturday night & then in the BCS title game in January, no way Duke beats them next week.
Duke wins their 10th, a new school record.
Head coach David Cutcliff has worked a major miracle this year, coaching his Blue Devils to 10-wins, something that had never happened in school history. They won eight last year, going to a bowl game for the first time in more than two decades. They're back at the bowl pay window, looking for another check. Back-to-back bowl bids has never happened either. The Dukies also can further build their program winning ten games, playing for the ACC Championship & playing in another bowl game. This is a good story.
The much-hyped Game of the Day lived up to all the pregame excitement & what a finish, wow!
The Iron Bowl, it's played every year the final week of the regular season & it's between Alabama & Auburn. The Tigers come in 10-1 while the 2-time defending BCS Champs stood undefeated at 11-0. The game goes back & forth, impressive passing by Bama senior QB A.J. McCarron, a productive run game from Auburn. Bama WR Amari Cooper caught 6 passes for 178-yards including a school record 99-yard touchdown reception early in the 4th quarter to put the Crimson Tide up 28-21. But a Nick Marshall to Sammi Coates 39-yard touchdown pass with :32 remaining tied it up & everybody figured we were headed to overtime. Wrong. Armed with two timeouts, Nick Saban decided if his team made a reasonable gain on first down, he try to get into field goal position before the clock ran out. I mean he has a Heisman candidate quarterback who had never lost a road game before tonight. Why not give it a shot? They did & after T.J. Yelson picked up 24-yards & ran out of bounds with one second left. We knew there was 1-second remaining because they ran the replay about twenty times. So now the choice for Saban was Hail Mary, 57-yard field goal attempt or kneel on the ball & wait for overtime. PK Cade Foster had already missed three attempts so Saban trotted out freshman Adam Griffith for the attempt. The kick fell about 5-yards short & senior Chris Davis fielded it about a yard from the backline & proceeded to return the kick all the way, untouched, for the winning touchdown. Alabama's chance at a third consecutive BCS title was gone. Auburn, who closed fast after losing to LSU way back in September, was now in the SEC Championship waiting to find out who they would play.
Crippled Dawgs handle Tech in O.T.
I heard a name I'd never heard before today, Hutson Mason. He was the backup to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray & since Murray played about 50-straight without missing a start, Mason was an unknown commodity. No more, he led the Bulldogs back from a 20-0 deficit to a 41-34 double overtime win. Mason & running back Todd Gurley accounted for all five Georgia touchdowns. Mason completed 22 of 36 for 299-yards & two scores. Not bad for a guy no one ever heard of.
No more Heisman hopes for Boston College RB Andre Williams.
The Syracuse Orange knocked Andre Williams out of the Heisman Race by holding him to just 29-yards before he left with an injury.
UCLA wins bragging rites in LaLaLand.
Been a while, but the UCLA Bruins pounded their cross-town rivals 35-14 in a game that wasn't as close as the score might indicate.
Baylor takes the gifts from TCU & turns them into a 41-38 win.
Baylor was way down offensively, about 300 total yards & 23-points, but an alert defensive secondary snagged three interceptions & returned two of them for touchdowns. Horned Frogs' quarterback Casey Pachall isn't the same guy who went away to drug & alcohol rehab. He was once a promising quarterback, but no more.
So could the Mizzou Tigers finish with a win over Johnny Football to insure a trip to Atlanta?
Yes they could!!! At times they struggled, but when it came down to the 4th quarter, needing a touchdown to lock up the Atlanta trip to play Auburn, they did exactly what was needed. RB Henry Josey went left, planted hit foot & kicked it into high gear. Josey sped 57-yards for the winning touchdown. It was the touchdown that won the SEC East for the Tigers in just their second year in the conference. They trailed 14-7 at halftime, usually a death sentence for Mizzou under coach Gary Pinkell. They were 11-44 in games they trailed at half. But this is a new Tiger team, they are the most mature team Pinkel has ever fielded. This is the most balance team Pinkel has ever fielded, once again his Tigers rushed for 225-yards while passing for 238. They have one of the best defensive fronts in the land & for once, they have good depth. They have a number of playmakers returning next season, DGB, Hunt, Sasser, Maty Mauk, Josey, Hansbrough, Murphy, Morse, Gatti, Boehm, Hoch, Ray, Ealy, Golden, Brothers & Pinton. Players who got a lot of experience this season that should up their performance levels next season. This is what a football program should look like but Pinkel has to strike while the iron's hot. Recruiting better prospects & staying with your core principles are very important. Speaking of core principles Pinkel's spread was poo-poo'd as they entered the SEC & as the season progressed he came under fire for his 5-7 record. The offensive line had 11 different starters while numerous skill position players were injured including starting quarterback James Franklin. But this season, Franklin & corner E.J. Gaines were the only serious injuries. Pinkel's spread worked with his trio of speedy running backs , his giant wide receivers & a pair of quarterbacks who understand how this offense is run & can get the ball out on time.
Can Pinkel compete in recruiting with Georgia, Florida & S. Carolina? Not right now, but he could chip away at their advantage this winter & in a few seasons, he might be able to stand toe to toe with his toughest competition. Pinkel learned from Don James how to evaluate high school talent, Nick Saban did as well but he has little trouble recruiting 4 & 5 star prospects. When the Tigers play Auburn next Saturday, more people will watch them play than ever before, a strong performance would be big in future recruiting.
If Mizzou wins next Saturday afternoon, they have an outside shot at playing Florida State for the BCS title. The key is a loss by Ohio State or possibly a poor performance would be enough to sway the votes needed to move up into the #2 spot in the BCS Poll. I don't expect it, but who amongst you had the Tigers playing for the SEC crown back in August? A Show of hands please. This has been a freaky college football season & Mizzou might as well take full advantage of the weirdness. Who knows what might happen?
Last week was slightly better at 8-5-1. There were several last minute losers & a couple of genuine upsets. We have three games on Thanksgiving Day, let hope we get off to a good start. No more bye weeks, it's 16 games every week from here on out. As always, my selections are in bold print.
Green Bay at Detroit
Oakland at Dallas
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Jacksonville at Cleveland
Tennessee at Indianapolis
Chicago at Minnesota
Miami at NY Jets
Arizona at Philadelphia
Tampa Bay at Carolina
New England at Houston
Atlanta at Buffalo
St. Louis at San Francisco
Cincinnati at San Diego
Denver at Kansas City
NY Giants at Washington
New Orleans at Seattle
Tie breaker--total points MNF--47
Sorry but due to no internet access thanks to Charter Cable, I was unable to write my usual Sunday night NFL summary. The swelling in my right ankle & foot went down considerably, enough to get the OK to return to sitting in a full upright position staring at my laptop. Here is my analysis of what I saw yesterday.
Yes the the Chiefs lost 41-38 yesterday, especially painful as the winning score came with :24 left in the game. Making the loss even more painful was the loss of OLB's Tamba Hali & Justin Houston, the NFL's leading sack duo. How long they'll be out is unknown, but it's doubtful they'll be able to play against Denver this Sunday. Once they left the playing field, Charger QB Phillip Rivers had much more time to survey the field & throw from a clean pocket. When Houston left with what is being called a dislocated elbow, the Chiefs led 14-3. A San Diego touchdown by RB Danny Woodhead with :16 left in the half was big & when they scored again after taking the second half kickoff, the Chiefs found themselves down 17-14. Rivers stood in the pocket seemingly forever before throwing another completion. Alex Smith was pressed hard by the Charger pass rush, being sacked 3-times in the first half. They were playing without the right side of their O-Line, tackle Eric Fisher & guard Jon Asamoah both were inactive with injuries. But as the game went on, Smith got more time to throw, especially downfield. He threw three touchdown passes in Kansas City's highest scoring game of this season. Jamaal Charles was super again with 114-yardsrushing & a pair of touchdowns on just 14 carries. Once again Kansas City's secondary was burned with pick plays & crossing routes, they play this type of pattern so poorly,it's become a weekly thing.
Thanks to a loss by our primary competition within the AFC West, our Chiefs are tied for first with a 9-2 record. The winner Sunday afternoon is in the driver's seat. Whether they do or not, remember how you felt last year at this time. We now have a regime that will build this team into a serious Super Bowl contender, at least that's the way I see it. As we see the lack of quality depth affecting our pass rush yesterday, DE Mike DeVito missed the game too. They still need a free safety, at least one DE that can push the pocket along with Dontari, at least one WR that scares the opposition & more offensive line depth. That's a tall order for one off-season, but didn't we think this was a 3-year build? These nine wins show the Dorsey-Reid show is headed in the right direction. If we get one or two more, we'll be playoff bound regardless of what happens the rest of the way.
I'm guessing there were some dry heaves amongst the Bronco faithful late last night. After cashing in on 3 first half turnovers, the Broncos went to the locker room at half up 24-0. They weren't impressive offensively, the turnovers were everything on this bitter cold, blustery New England night. New England got the 2nd half kickoff & Brady leads the Pats on an 80-yard, 8-play touchdown drive into the wind. On Denver's next possession Montee' Ball fumbled & the Pats were back in action at the Denver 32. Very quickly the Patriots scored to make it 24-14 & it was obvious we had a game. On their next possession New England drove 64-yards in just 1:42 & scored on a short Brady-to-Gronkowski touchdown pass. The Broncos had the ball at the start of the 4th quarter & on their second play, Peyton Manning threw a pick to Pats corner Logan Ryan. In three plays New England scored the go-ahead touchdown. Cue the gag reflex in the Mile High City. As regulation closed the game stood at 31-apiece. Bill Belichick shocked the world when he took the wind instead of the ball when his team won the overtime coin toss. After two possessions per team, the Pats punted with 3-minutes left. The ball fluttered in the gale force wind & return man Wes Welker signaled for his team to get away from the ball.. But his signal was too late & the ball bounced once & hit teammate Tony Carter. The Patriots covered the ball at the Denver 18. Two plays to center it & kicker Stephen Gostkowski split the uprights from 31-yards to complete the comeback.
Once again Peyton Manning was beaten by his longtime nemesis Tom Brady. The Pats under Belichick & Brady are 10-4 against Manning. As the game progressed, Manning's cold weather issues became evident once again. His passes outside the hashmarks fluttered & were difficult to catch. The farther he threw the ball the less accurate he was. Manning has never been a cold weather quarterback & as he ages, it's gotten worse. It should be noted the Broncos could have as many as 5 cold weather games plus the Super Bowl in New Jersey. I still don't understand why he went to Denver. I know he offered his services to Houston but they told him they already had Matt Schaub. There's a brilliant decision huh? He could've been playing in another dome with a better defense.
I'm getting kinda tired of the total lack of respect for the Chiefs. "They haven't played anybody," "The Chiefs are a fraud," you've heard it. Look at the standings, there are 5 AFC teams with a winning record & the Chiefs are tied for the most wins. They beat nine teams on their schedule, including 3 NFC East teams, the schedule they earned with a 2-14 record last season. They'll probably win another 2-3 games to earn a wildcard spot at worst. If they beat Denver Sunday, they could win the division. Look around the league, the NFC East & NFC North both stink. Minnesota played Green Bay & still the NFC North couldn't get a win yesterday, just two losses & a tie. Atlanta blows, so does Baltimore & Pittsburgh. Who's been more disappointing than Houston? There aren't a lot of great teams this season, should the Chiefs apologize for beating a pack of stiffs? After the crappy football we've been forced to watch the past two seasons, I'm glad as hell our team is 9-2. Denver has played three teams with a winning record, beating us while losing to Indianapolis & New England. The Colts, who have beaten Seattle, San Francisco & Denver while getting smoked by St. Louis, Arizona & San Diego. They were also beaten by Miami. It's all so very confusing.
The QB a prominent Kansas City talk show host wanted the Chiefs to draft with the number one overall pick, Geno Smith, continues to stink up the place. In the last four games, he's thrown 10 interceptions & lost 4 fumbles all while tossing one touchdown pass. In yesterday's 19-3 loss to Baltimore, Smith completed 9 of 22 attempts with 2 picks & a lost fumble.
Another quarterback who had a brutal day yesterday, Detroit's Matthew Stafford, threw four picks, one returned for a score, as the Lions missed their chance to be in first place all alone. Detroit was upset at home by Tampa Bay 24-21 to remain tied with the Bears at 6-5.
Seattle may find the playoff run difficult as they might be down two of their top three cornerbacks. Walter Thurmond, their nickel back, is appealing a four-game suspension four violating the league's policy on controlled substances.....for the third time. Starter Brandon Browner will be suspended for a year for violating the same policy......for the fourth time.
Hey sports fans, I just got some disappointing news. Due to some new swelling, I am off the internet for the foreseeable future or until the swelling goes down. My doctor has conveyed orders to keep me in bed with my foot elevated or in my recliner with my foot elevated above my heart & these rules apply all day except mealtimes. So if I'm not here tonight, tomorrow night or Sunday, this is why. I will say this regarding the Mizzou Tigers tomorrow night in Oxford Mississippi, the Ole Miss Rebels are a handfull at home. Just like MU, the Rebels can score very quickly & because of that, they can hang around deep into the 4th quarter. James Franklin returns as the starting quarterback & I wonder how long it will take him to lead the team effectively. The Chiefs have a couple of injured starters that could effect their performance Sunday versus the Chargers. Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe & the pass rush all must come up big for Kansas City to go into the Denver game next Sunday tied for the division lead. OK, I'm getting the look, I have to assume the position. Have a great weekend!