Week in Review #8

“SEC! SEC! My ass! “When Alabama beat up on Texas A&M last week, 59-0, that tells us how good A&M and most of the other SEC teams really are. The SEC is about the few good ones (Bama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss) and how they kick the hell out of everybody. How long is Arkansas’s losing streak? Are we supposed to be impressed by that SEC team? Don’t be surprised to see some other blow-outs come along and they could happen to some other supposed top SEC teams like LSU and Ole Miss. Of course, Presbyterian, UT Martin, West Carolina, and Samford pose some formidable competition to the SEC West in upcoming weeks, too. Oh, I see… those are safety valve games in case they had to stretch for a sixth win. This strategy works much better for the SEC East. South Carolina had Furman last week and South Alabama later on (to make up in case they lose out on a sixth win in the state championship to Clemson); Florida’s got Eastern Kentucky right where they need them since Florida State might be a hindrance to a goal of six wins to a bowl; Georgia’s plan has mighty Charleston Southern on the slate (I passed the campus a few weeks ago on a business trip. Looks like a very nice, big high school); and Kentucky, well the Wildcats are perennial whipping boys and only lined up for one of those automatic conference wins, but Mark Stoops is making them surprisingly more competitive now (5-2,2-2). I get it…

SEC upside down: Two SEC schools, South Carolina and Texas A&M, made the pre-season Top 25. Now they are both out.

SEC upside down: Two SEC schools, South Carolina and Texas A&M, made the pre-season Top 25. Now they are both out.

QB Rakeem Cato of Marshall set the NCAA record last weekend with his 39th consecutive game in which he connected for a touchdown pass as U of M defeated Florida International, 45-13. Cato threw four TD passes for a total of 110 in his four-year career. He surpassed Russell Wilson’s record of 38 straight games set at NC State and Wisconsin. It’s quite a feat, but during Cato’s senior season, the Thundering Herd dominates their schedule. He should add four more games to his streak and four more wins to finish 13-0. We hope some bowl can offer them a challenging match up in the post season. We think the Herd will be up for all comers, but we want to see them play some really top competition…

Rakeem Cato led Marshall over Maryland in the Military Bowl last season. Hopefully the Her will get a crack at a better team in a bowl this season.

Rakeem Cato led Marshall over Maryland in the Military Bowl last season. Hopefully the Herd will get a crack at a better team in a bowl this season.

This week we expect to see Auburn throttle South Carolina. The strength and speed of AU’s offense averaging 38.8 ppg will be too much for the Gamecock defense that can’t tackle or cover a pass. Auburn’s defense is much more physical and will give the Cocks’ QB Dylan Thompson fits…Michigan State and Ohio State won by identical scores of 56-17 last week over Indiana and Rutgers respectively. Expect to see more dominance by both in the Big Ten for the rest of the season, but mark November 8 as the big one when the two clash in East Lansing. We’re going with Sparty if everybody stays healthy until then. If the Ducks or Arizona Wildcats finish the season with one loss each, we figure one of those two from the PAC 12 and MSU with one loss will join an undefeated Florida State and an SEC champion (we predict Mississippi State) in the inaugural Football Four. Whatever the outcome, if these teams finish with these records and the SEC thinks they deserve more or vice versa, my dream of an eight-team playoff (The Ecstatic Eight!) will come sooner than expected. In the world of sports, records and contracts are made to be broken. Just ask a couple of college football coaches, or their former employers…I screwed up. I looked forward to seeing Penn State host Maryland on November 8 all year long in anticipation of seeing a high school classmate’s son, Cole Farrand, play at MLB for the Terps in that game. Well, I evidently put the wrong date in my schedule as these two teams meet on November 1 instead. I made another plan Nov. 8 that includes a flight (only $100 RT) I already paid for to see Appalachian State (2-5) host Georgia State (1-6) on November 1 in Boone, NC. You’re thinking, “What the..?” Well, a priority this season was to add the four latest additions to the FBS, and these two will be my Nos. 126 and 127. That’s probably where they are ranked, too. But the plan is the plan. If you know anybody interested in seeing The Terps visit the Nittany Lions that weekend, or know my Boonton HS friend George and want to see his kid play, send me an email at…

We will miss seeing Cole Farrand, Terrapins' MLB in against Penn State. Maybe we'll see him in a bowl game instead.

We will miss seeing Cole Farrand, Terrapins’ MLB against Penn State. Maybe we’ll see him in a bowl game instead.

I also had two hotel rooms booked on that Saturday night when there is no game in State College. I kind of landed on my feet though in this case. I thought I had gotten pretty good rates just outside of town for $72/each for a game weekend. I figured Penn State wasn’t drawing as well under the sanctions so I just happened to time it right. The rooms were non-cancellable, but it turns out as long as I stayed in that particular hotel, I could book another night. I’m heading up on Nov. 29 for Michigan State. I inquired, but of course, the rooms went from $72 to $299! “I’ll get back to you.” Well 26 miles south of State College is the Alma mater, Juniata College, in Huntingdon. Haven’t been to a game there in years and they are improving now under HC Tim Lantz, class of ’80, with a QB who was ECAC Offensive Player of the week last weekend. The Eagles (we used to proudly be Indians) will host Moravian College at noon that day. Both teams are 3-3. I’ll see if I can contact a few college buddies to join me. Of course, I have two rooms booked now on Saturday night, and I just might have to eat the cost of the other room. I figured; let me see what else might be going on out there. I went to the Bucknell University website not figuring anything would work out, but I stepped into something, and it turned out to be good for me. On Friday night, November 7, Bucknell is hosting Fordham. Both schools are currently 5-1, 2-0 in the Patriot League. Fordham is favored to win the title and Bucknell is the surprise of the PL. It is halfway between home and State College. I called the hotel back and rebooked the extra room on Saturday to Friday. No problem. So I’m using the hotel room for two nights to see a meaningful game in the FCS at a stadium I’ve never had the chance to see a game in, and I get to see a good one at that. Next day, I’ll head to the alma mater that has a pretty good thing going on now to see a competitive game. And hopefully, I can meet up with some old college friends. I’m disappointed, I won’t be seeing Maryland vs. PSU, but this screw up on my part worked out better than I ever expected for a last minute adjustment. You don’t have to wonder why my wife is called St. Laurie …

We will see Mike Nebrich of Fordham lead his team a second time this season when the Rams visit Bucknell at Christy Mathewson Stadium on Friday November 7..

We will see Mike Nebrich of Fordham lead his team a second time this season when the Rams visit Bucknell at Christy Mathewson Stadium on Friday November 7.


Juniata QB Ward Udinski was honored as ECAC Southwest Offensive Player of the Week in an upset of undefeated Ursinus College, 38-10. The senior from Doylestown, PA threw for three TDs and 251 yards while adding another score on the ground among his 61 rushing yards. For the season, he has 1,469 yards passing and 371 rushing. His pass completion rate is 60% and he’s thrown for 10 TDs and rushed for nine. I look forward to seeing Juniata host the Greyhounds…”Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1130 AM Watertown, NY this Saturday between 9:30 and 10:30 am. Go to their site to listen to our live broadcast!

Knox Stadium at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. home of the up and coming Juniata Eagles!

Knox Stadium at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, home of the up and coming Juniata Eagles!

Bowl plans are shaping up already. Since the Big Ten has a spot in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl held at Yankee Stadium on December 27, we hope that Maryland finds its way there so we will be able to see Cole Farrand play. If not, maybe if Penn State can get six wins which is looking tough with their poor offensive line play, they could possibly play Pitt there. The ACC provides the other team. What the Pinstripe did a few years ago for Pitt and West Virginia maybe can done for this defunct rivalry as well. Another thought: if Rutgers can win a sixth game, it probably wouldn’t go back to the Pinstripe Bowl for a second year in a row. We figure they could end up in the Detroit Bowl just to get them a change of scenery…Our other bowls will be the Capital One Orange (a CFP Bowl between two of the Top 12 teams); the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on New Year’s Day between the SEC and the Big Ten; and the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville between the SEC and the ACC. Maybe Marshall can fill in on this one if the conferences can’t cover all their contracted bowls.

Whatever bowl and whoever we see, we hope they ate better thatnthis one we saw two years ago!

Whatever bowl and whoever we see, we hope they are better than this one we saw two years ago!

Brown smashes Ivy record as Princeton smashes Brown

Princeton, NJ (Oct. 18) – Brown QB Marcus Fuller attempted 71 passes to smash an Ivy League record, but that record was the result of futility as the third-ranked FCS Princeton rushing defense smashed the Bruins right from the start to hold Brown to -7 yards on 15 carries. They would carry the Tigers (3-2, 2-0) to a 27-16 victory in front of 5,807 fans including about 30 at our annual Big Tailgate held this year at Princeton Stadium. Our group surprisingly watched back-up Princeton QB Connor Michelsen replace last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Quinn Epperly, who sat out with an injury, throw for 367 yards and two touchdowns. He led his Tigers to four consecutive scores on their first four possessions to take a daunting 24-0 lead early in the second period. The Tiger defense bent but didn’t break as they checked the Brown offense in the red zone forcing three FGs and intercepting a pass in the end zone despite 454 passing yards and a late TD pass by Fuller (29 for 71, 1 TD). On a beautiful sunny, fall, day where our Big Tailgate got to bask by the Princeton observatory before the game, many got a taste of Ivy League football for the first time. The tailgating was fun eating, drinking, and talking to both new and old friends, but most came away with mixed reviews of what they got to watch during the game. Most found it a unique football experience to say the least.

PK Nolan Bieck finished the first Princeton possession with a 26-yard FG. On the Tigers’ second possession, they kept Brown (2-3, 0-2) off balance with the no-huddle offense. RB Will Powers (13 rushes for 69 yards, 1 TD), for whose father Will Powers Field at Princeton Stadium is named, swept nine yards around right end for a 10-0 PU lead. After a Brown three-and-out, Michelsen tossed a 49-yard TD pass to WR Matt Costello (8 catches, 121 yards, 2 TDs). At the end of Q1, Princeton was rolling along again after another BU three-and-out. The drive resulted in another pass from Michelsen to Costello for a 17-yard score and a 24-0 lead early in the second.

Tiger RB Will Powers sweeps right for a 9-ayrd TD and a 24-0 Princeton lead.

Tiger RB Will Powers sweeps right for a 9-yard TD and a 24-0 Princeton lead.

Brown took to the air consistently after that. A 70-yard completion to WR Troy Doles (six catches for 200 yards) brought Brown to the PU seven. An illegal block pushed them back on a supposed scoring play, but the Bruins had to settle for Grant Zenne’s 28-yard FG instead. An interception of a Michelsen pass by FS Zach Gillen gave BU possession from the 32. A 42-yard pass to Doles put Brown in the red zone once again at the 16. Three incomplete passes forced Zenne’s second FG from 33 yards to trail, 24-6. That’s the way the scoring ended in the first half. We were entertained by the combined Ivy League bands of both schools. It seems like the Tigers and the Bruins have one of the more amicable halftime relationships among the Ivies.

Princeton and Brown bands play nicely together at halftime.

Princeton and Brown bands play nicely together at halftime.

PU relinquished the ball (Ivy “speak”) after three plays to start the second half. On a fourth and four at Princeton’s 16, a completion to RB Brian Strachan put Brown on PU’s doorstep at the one. A one-yard loss and two incompletions later, Zenne converted again for his third FG, 24-9. PU started a 60-yard drive later in the period, and Bieck added a 19-yard FG to give Princeton a 27-9 lead before moving into the final period.

Fuller continued his air assault on just about every play. From the Brown 20, the Bruins made it to the PU 14. His next pass into the end zone got picked by DB Andrew Frisby. Again BU took possession from their own 15, and moved down to the Tiger 20 with the aid of a confusing “targeting” call for which Tiger leading tackler LB Rohan Hylton was ejected. Fuller finally brought his team through the red zone with a 20-yard TD pass the Strachan (10 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD). With 6:13 left, I expected to possibly see a two-point conversion to get within ten to give Brown a chance for a TD and FG to at least go for a tie, but HC Phil Estes fresh off his 100th win at Brown, opted for one for a 27-16 score. Several of us anticipated an onside kick next. GGA Paul Fraley’s jaw dropped when we watched Brown’s kickoff sail down field. It looked like Brown was going down without a fight and they did. Without a chance to take possession to score quickly or to prevent the Tigers from consuming more clock, that’s where the score eventually settled, 27-16.

Brown aired the ball out often as Princeton stifled their running game.

Brown aired the ball out often as Princeton stifled their running game.

Next week, Princeton will tangle with Harvard, also 2-0 among the Ivies, at home next week. We wait to hear if Quinn Epperly will return, but Michelsen, also a senior, looks quite capable to get things done on offense. The Tiger defense may have to buckle down on its pass defense. Brown will host Cornell (0-5,0-2) back in Providence, Rhode Island. steps back out of the Ivy and into the SEC where we will see No. 5 Auburn host a disappointing South Carolina team at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday for a 7:30 pm kickoff.


Extra Points: GGA Bob Marcello noted that when the FG net went up, there must have been lot of “concern” that the one spectator in the end zone might run away with the ball! Reality is though that the game was nationally televised on NBC Sports Regional, and the All State “Good Hands” net had to go up as it was prepaid advertising. Even at this level, it’s all about the money.

GGA Bob Marcello claimed that the only reason the "Good Hands" net went up in the end zone was so that  this guy wouldn't run away with the ball!

GGA Bob Marcello claimed that the only reason the “Good Hands” net went up in the end zone was so that this guy wouldn’t run away with the football!

I think this was the second time we watched this particular FCS officiating crew. Like the URI at Fordham game, I could tell since the largest person on the field was the Umpire who lines up behind the defensive line. In the Princeton Athletic New Program, the Umpire is listed as Robert Kinter. He must have played on somebody’s line at one time.

This game as mentioned was televised by NBC Regional Sports TV (SNY in the New York market). A good thing – not many TV timeouts. St. Laurie was pleased, and noted no one wore red the few times the game was held up for commercial breaks. However, the game was slowed by all those Brown incompletions (42). Bad thing – only 5,807 showed up to watch in person. Those few watching on TV probably changed stations before the first period was over and watched something else. Charlie Roberts and I attended a Thursday night game in 2006 between Brown and Princeton that was also televised. The crowd seemed much bigger, Princeton won, and the Tigers went on finish 9-1 for a share of the Ivy League title. We saw four Princeton games that year during a very exciting season for the Tigers.

Entering the game, Princeton’s defense allowed 78 yards per game rushing. Brown RB Andrew Coker led Brown in rushing coming in with 70 yards per game. Today, he had seven carries for 14 yards. Unofficially, PU now allows only 12.5 rushing yards per game. The subtitle in the Game Program read: “The six-week Ivy League sprint starts this afternoon for two physical, run-first squads.” Could’ve fooled us – 367 passing yards to 454! Rushing : 118 to -7.

Connor Michelsen aptly stepped in at quarterback for Princeton throwing for 367 yards and two TDs.

Connor Michelsen aptly stepped in at quarterback for Princeton throwing for 367 yards and two TDs.

Will Powers scored a touchdown in his fourth consecutive game. It was Princeton’s sixth straight home win. Costello doubled his total of TD catches for this season with four, and he’s now fifth all-time in career receptions at Princeton with 132 snags. Bieck has now converted 12 consecutive FGs. All these Princeton steaks will need to continue to get the Tigers this year’s Ivy title starting with the Harvard game at home next week. They defeated Harvard the last two seasons in a 39-34 comeback win after trailing 34-10 in 2012, and then Quinn Epperly threw six TD passes a year ago for a 51-48 triple overtime win. There’s a lot on the line in next weeks’ premiere Ivy League game. This will be available on ESPN3.

After the 27-9 lead, someone said, “No more Bruins’ games.” It wasn’t our Boonton K of C Grand Knight Ed Mainardi. Not only is he a Brown graduate, but he told us he was a team manager for his alma mater in the late 70s when they started to turn things around there.

GGAs Kevin McCormick and Steve Hopkins reminisced about their first Princeton game at Palmer Stadium many years ago. For each, it was on a Boy Scout trip out of Boonton. As we talked about it more, it turned out it was the same trip I had taken with my Rockaway Valley grammar school in 1966 when we all saw Colgate defeat Princeton, 7-0. Evidently it was big promotional Kids’ day of some sort at Princeton.

We had some long distance tailgaters join us this year.  Lew Fowler returned from a business trip in Germany the day before, and had his daughters join us from Maryland.  Also, Boonton HS alum and classmate Paul Kleim came up for the weekend from Tennessee and was able to join us for this year’s Tailgate.  It was great to have them all join us for the trip to Princeton this year! I mentioned to all that next year I will try to come up with something special to celebrate the 500th game of

Family, friends, and fans who attended this year's Big Tailgate at Princeton.

Family, friends, and fans who attended this year’s Big Tailgate at Princeton. week in review #7

Good thing but kind of funny – polls don’t mean anything anymore in college football. So why publish them?  No poll is going to matter between now and until the new 13-person College Football Playoff Committee selects the Final Four teams to meet on January 1. So vote as you like. Bitch, moan, or cheer about where your team sits in the all the polls you peruse every week. But why care? They don’t matter! Any way- here are the teams on our schedule still in the Associated PressTop 25 – No. 2 Florida State, No. 5 Auburn, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 21 Texas A&M, and No. 25 Marshall. This only tells us that we’re going to see some of the best teams in the nation during the regular season. So watch and enjoy every game as it comes along. Then watch who the committee selects when they’re all finished. Let’s just hope they pick the best four. We know there is going to be controversy. We’re still hoping for eight in the next few years…

Texas A&M put a hurtin' on South Carolina in our opener. The Aggies are still in the Top 25. As for the Gamecocks...

Texas A&M put a hurtin’ on South Carolina in our opener. The Aggies are still in the Top 25. As for the Gamecocks…

We already got December 6 penciled in for a playoff game when 24 teams will be vying for the FCS championship which has been settled successfully on the gridiron since 1978. No. 4 Villanova Wildcats and No. 5 New Hampshire Wildcats, both members of the Colonial Athletic Conference, won’t play each other during the regular season. Both seem to have the roads ahead of them paved to the FCS playoffs. If both are among the top eight FCS schools at the end of the regular season, each will get a bye on Thanksgiving weekend and host a second round game on December 6. We’re hoping a game works out for us at UNH in Durham, NH. We’ve never been to a game there before. That would be great – playoff game in cold New Hampshire on a Saturday December afternoon…OK so Mississippi State is now No. 1 and Ole Miss in No.3 in the AP poll. Ok, answer me this. How do we know how these teams stack up against the other Power 5 conferences? State beat Southern Miss, UAB, and South Alabama. Its remaining non-con is against FCS UT Martin. Ole Miss beat Boise, Louisiana – Lafayette, and Memphis. Next non-con up for them is D-2 Presbyterian. There are probably 50 teams among the Power 65 that could go undefeated if they played any combination of these four. We’ll even give MSU credit for playing South Alabama on the road, an unusual road trip for the SEC. So how do these wins prove these teams belong where they are? Just because they avoided anybody they might risk losing to? I don’t understand…Our Big Tailgate is Brown at Princeton this week. Both teams are 2-2. PU’s offense is superior with 153 points and senior QB Quinn Epperly, last year’s Player of the Year in the Ivy League, has accounted for 800 yards and four TDs through the air and 196 yards and eight TDs rushing. Brown’s defense has allowed less than 20 ppg, but we expect Princeton to be very ready after falling at Colgate in a 31-30 comeback loss against a traditional non-conference rivalry for both. Brown comes off the 100th career win for Bruin HC Phil Estes in a double over- time win over Holy Cross, 27-24. In their other win, 20-13 over Rhode Island the week before, the Bears held URI to three rushing yards. We saw the Rams get slammed by Fordham this year, 52-7. URI is pathetic. The Tigers should roll this weekend. Any money made this weekend at our bus/tailgate party goes to the Boonton (NJ) Knights of Columbus who raise funds to support charities such as Wounded Warriors, the Special Olympics, rides for a local kids’ park, their upcoming Thanksgiving food drive, and a Christmas drive for the local people in need…

URI's feeble running game in action against Fordham earlier this season.

URI’s feeble running game in action against Fordham earlier this season.

Fordham (5-1) favored to win the Patriot League sits at No. 13 in the FCS poll. Several Ram players are among the leaders in individual offensive stats in the FCS. QB Mike Nebrich leads the nation in passing yards with 2,304. RB Chase Edmonds checks in at No.2 in rushing yards with 1,011. WR Tebucky Jones is fifth in the nation with 689 receiving yards while his teammate Sam Ajala is No. 10 with 624. Look for the Rams among the 24 in the playoffs this season barring any surprising upset in the Patriot League. However, remember their lone loss was 50-7 to No. 4 Villanova…No 150 between Lafayette and Lehigh is losing a lot of luster as Lehigh is 0-5 after losing its Patriot League opener to Bucknell, 45-24…We used to call the D-3 championship The Mount Union Invitational. Well, as the UW-Whitewater Warhawks have won five of the last six national championships played in Salem, VA; it’s now the UW-W Invitational. The top four all with undefeated records are the Warhawks, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mt. Union, and Wesley of Delaware who is 6-0. The top three are all 5-0…QB Rakeem Cato of No. 25 Marshall (6-0) who we watched throw for two scores in his team’s 52-14 win over Old Dominion two weeks ago, threw for three more last week in the Thundering Herd’s win over Middle Tennessee, looks to tie Russell Wilson’s record of 38 straight games with a touchdown pass against Florida International this weekend. After that, he has five more regular season games to go and a bowl game now that the Herd is already eligible…Marshall FB Devon Johnson is 10th in the nation in rushing with 814 yards and eleven TDs. Marshall is the best untested team in the nation. I look forward to seeing who they will match up with in a bowl. Among the five bowls C-USA has a contract with, the only Power Five conference match-up is with a Big Ten school in the Heart of Dallas Bowl unless they gain the 12th spot in the CFP…

The Marshall line who lead the charge for Cato and Johnson have The Herd at 6-0.

The Marshall line who lead the charge for Cato and Johnson have The Herd at 6-0.

We thought Penn State’s offensive line looked bad during the spring game. The certainly didn’t get any better since as was clearly the case against a struggling Michigan team last weekend in a feeble 18-13 loss…We give Rutgers HC Kyle Flood a lot of credit for trying to adjust the attitude in New Brunswick. We referred constantly to the “RU-tude” in the past as the mentality there always had RU focusing on kickoff classics, conference titles, and major bowl bids before ever playing a down of football every year. Teams were going to roll over for them supposedly only because they were Rutgers. There’s development of pride and confidence, but the program had no basis for this way of thinking. Flood caught on. His mantra has consistently been ”one game at a time” this season. Aside from the 13-10 loss to Penn State, it seems to be working, but now the competition will be somewhat improve starting at Ohio State this week followed by Nebraska in Lincoln the week after. We’ll see if refocusing each week will continue to win games as they play some of this year’s better teams in the conference during the last six weeks…Among the four new FBS schools we have on our schedule this season, Old Dominion who we saw already, is 3-4. Georgia Southern is 5-2 and 4-0 in the Sunbelt Conference. You remember that they defeated the Florida Gators last season when they were an FCS school. Their HC Jeff Moncken left GSU and is now HC at Army. What they’ve done so far is pretty impressive for a first year FBS entry. Their losses were to NC State, 24-23, and to Georgia Tech, 42-38. We will see them visit Navy on November 15. Not only are the visiting Eagles pretty formidable, but to their advantage, they run the same triple option as Navy. They will be very familiar with how to stop it, but Georgia Tech ran the same against them under former Navy HC Paul Johnson. This will be a challenging game for Navy and GSU. For the Mids it could be a critical game to achieve bowl eligibility.

We will be back in Annapolis with the goats and Brigade to see navy host a good Georgia Southern Eagle team.

We will be back in Annapolis with the goats and Brigade to see Navy host a good Georgia Southern Eagle team.

The other two teams, Georgia State and Appalachian State are both 1-5 and winless in the Sunbelt. Perfect! This will be an important game for both teams to possibly get their first conference win we see them play in Boone on November 1. We will never forget 2003 when we saw 0-6 UL Monroe defeat 0-6 UL Lafayette, 45-42 in an exciting struggle. This game will mean as much to these two teams who are now members of the same conference. Georgia State averages 27 ppg and allows 41.7. The ASU Mountaineers score 30.5 per game and allow 34.8. We expect to see a lot of points scored by both teams that day! Welcome to the FBS No. 126 and No. 127.

More Syracuse Dance team.

More Syracuse Dance team.


Syracuse miscues help lift now No. 2 Florida State

Syracuse, NY (October 11) – Florida State (6-0, 4-0) came to the Carrier Come ranked No. 1 in the nation, and the next day after beating a Syracuse team (2-4, 0-2), 38-20, led by two inexperienced college QBs, dropped to No. 2 in the AP poll on Sunday behind Mississippi State, winners over No. 5 Auburn, 38-20. FSU led throughout the game, but the Orange were as much at fault for beating themselves as the Seminoles were responsible for outplaying them. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston (our 17th seen perform in the annals of our history) had an impressive day statistically (30 of 36 for 317 yards and 3 TDs), but at least three dropped passes in early key situations, a dropped INT on an FSU scoring drive, and a few questionable calls and non-calls by the officiating crew, put the struggling Orange at a somewhat self-inflicted disadvantage. Had a few of these plays worked out favorably for Syracuse, this game would have been much more competitive. A few specific plays made a significant difference in the final outcome between No. 1 and a 2-4 underdog with inexperienced back-ups playing in key positions for the first time. The play-calling by new offensive coordinator Tim Lester seemed effective. Had the execution been better, he and HC Scott Schafer would look like geniuses. Guest Game Analyst Roy McDonald (a Syracuse dad) noted that if SU executed properly, “we’d see a significant chink in Florida State’s armor.”

Roberto Aguayo caps first quarter scoring for Seminoles, 10-0.

Roberto Aguayo boots extra point for Seminoles in first period.

Florida State looked like they were prepared to roll to a romp as anticipated by the odds makers as they drove 70 yard on eight plays with Mario Pender taking the ball 12 yards off right tackle for a quick 7-0 lead. Austin Wilson led the Orange on to the turf under the Dome to start the game. Runs by Prince-Tyson Gulley (16 for 80 yards) and two pass completions moved the Orange to the FSU 19, but a pass into tight coverage was picked by DB Jalen Ramsey to start the next Seminole possession from the 39. The turnover resulted in an extended 10-0 lead as Roberto Aguayo booted a 34-yard FG for the visitors.

Syracuse’s next possession had freshman AJ Long replacing Wilson under center. Cole Murphy converted a 21-yard FG to cut the score to 10-3. SU moved the ball surprisingly well against the top-ranked Noles. A few dropped passes off the hands of open receivers did not bode well for the Orange. The same could be said on defense as a ball thrown right to FS Durell Eskidge covering deep bounced right off his chest that would have terminated FSU’s next drive to give SU possession. Instead, the Noles continued down field and finished in the end zone as Winston connected with Pender on a crossing pattern for a three-yard TD pass and a growing 17-3 lead. It was a very poor defensive series for Syracuse. FSU’s next series after a punt resulted in Pender fumble recovered by NT John Raymon at FSU’s 16. Two incomplete passes called for a 32-yard FG. Murphy’s conversion cut the lead, 17-6. The Noles put together a drive consisting of five pass completions and an SU interference call with All-American TE Nick O’Leary (8 catches, 93 yards, one TD) at the end of a 21-yard TD pass with 4:38 left in Q2. SU did not wilt. Wilson returned to call signals. RB Adonis Ameen-Moore shouldered most of the workload to place the Orange at the six with a fourth and goal. HC Scott Schafer bargained his team needed more than just another FG. Lester called the right play, but the pass to Steve Ishmael, a freshman, was dropped in the end zone. Roy and I noted it was the fourth drop (including the INT) by SU that was making a significant difference in the first half. FSU took a 24-6 lead into the locker room.

The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd.

The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd.

My GGA and I trekked to the far end of The Carrier Dome during halftime to meet with Isaac Alford who does the SU Blog for “Spadora on Sports”, our radio affiliate on Watertown, NY’s WNER 1130 AM. Isaac came out of the press box to meet with us as he’d interviewed me in the past in Pete’s absence. A native of Darlington, SC and an Army vet, we had a good talk. Roy and I talked with Isaac about our impression of SU shooting themselves in the foot during the first half and hoped for the Orange to play better in the second half. It was great to meet up with him. We’ll talk more in the future.

Isaac Alford, Syracuse Sports blogger for Spadora on Sports , and I caught up during halftime.

Isaac Alford, Syracuse Sports blogger for Spadora on Sports , and I caught up during halftime.

SU feebly started the second half with a three and out. On the other hand, FSU put together a touchdown drive with Winston firing to WR Jesus Wilson for a seven-yard TD. With AJ Long at QB, a 35-yard pass to Gulley that got to the 27 set up a 22-yard TD pass to Ishmael ( 3 catches, 93 yards, 2 TDs – could have been 3). Late in the third, Nate Andrews picked off a pass forced by Long (16 for 27, 167 yards, 2 INTs, 2 TDs) at FSU’s eight-yard line. Roy made his comment about SU’s lack of execution on some critical plays. SU’s passing stats would have been bolstered if not for some key drops.

Early in the fourth and 92 yards later, RB Dalvin Cook (23 carries for 122 yards, 1 TD) ran left for a seven-yard score and a 38-13 lead. Austin Wilson (5 for 9, 89 yards, 1 INT) returned at QB. Though Long played well overall, it seemed strange to us that Austin had been pulled after the initial series of the game as he moved the team well starting at QB for the first time. We would like to have seen what he could have done had he developed a rhythm with his offense. He’s a sophomore as Long is a freshman, and he’s bigger at 6-3, 210 lbs. On this next series, however, he suffered a head injury and Long had to come back in. He capped off this drive with a 35-yard scoring pass to Ishmael on a crossing pattern to make the score somewhat respectable despite the odds, 38-20. For the remaining 10:37, neither team mounted a serious scoring threat. Roy and I came away unimpressed with FSU believing had it not been for a few key miscues by the underdogs manned at several key positions by inexperienced players, the outcome may have been at least closer. When Mississippi State knocked off Auburn later that day, the pollsters evidently felt the same way.

Jameis Winston releases under pressure.

Jameis Winston releases under pressure.

Next week, now No. 2 Florida State will host No. 5 Notre Dame at 8 pm. The Irish won a close game, 50-43 over North Carolina who score a lot but is 127th in the nation for points allowed. This will be an interesting game. Syracuse travels to Wake Forest who has an identical 2-4, 0-2 record with the Orange. tackles the Ivies for the only time this season where Princeton (2-2, 1-0) hosts Brown (2-2, 0-1). We’re looking forward to our Big Tailgate. Tickets still available. Email me at for more info if you would like to attend.

Extra Points: It was Homecoming for Syracuse in front of an announced crowd of 43,293 fans, but there were a lot of empty seats in the Dome. How many schools have the No. 1 team in the nation on the docket as their Homecoming foe? I thought you’re supposed to invite somebody you can dominate from beginning to end so you can have a happy celebration afterward.

It was a little over a three-hour drive up to Syracuse for us. We tailgated before and after the game at the Skytop parking area. The bus trip to and from the Carrier Dome was run pretty smoothly. At the Dome bus stop we met up with Roy’s son Miles who’s majoring in Electrical Engineering. He couldn’t join us today at the game. Miles played on my Little League baseball teams over the years. He ran cross country in high school and now and avid runner. He’s already got tickets for the NCAA eastern regional finals to be played at the Carrier Dome during March Madness. Good planning on his part. I told Roy if he ever wants to go up to a Syracuse b-ball game at The Dome to let me know. I’ve never been. Next season, the football team hosts LSU. We will take that one into consideration.

Florida State has three players from Sussex County, NJ where we are headquartered: back-up QB Sean McGuire who filled in for Winston during the Clemson game hails from Sparta but played high school ball at Seton Hall Prep; Freshman TE Ryan Izzo who played for Pope John HS in Sparta is a Highland Lakes resident; and second team OG Chad Mavety, a junior, is also a Sparta resident. Many people at a party I attended with friends in Stanhope last night asked if I’d seen Sean play. Many know him as he once lived in Byram Twp. where I live.

More action from the Syracuse Dance Team:



Catch us this Saturday at 10:30 am on “Spadora on Sports” on WNER AM 1130 in Watertown, NY and Pete’s other affiliates. Click here to listen in. We’ll be on our way to Syracuse to talk to him about Upstate … Continue reading

Marshall mangles Monarchs

Norfolk, VA (October 4) – accomplished two significant milestones last weekend. We added Old Dominion University, a first-year FBS member, as our 125th team and added Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium at our 49th FBS venue, the 123rd … Continue reading Week in Review # 5

    Of the nine games we’ve attended thus far, it looks like a new record for a CFF season already. Seven of nine visiting teams have won games thus far. We can’t remember the last time that many visiting … Continue reading

Tigers claw back from deficit to upset Gamecocks with late rally, 21-20

Columbia, SC (September 27) – South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson fired a touchdown strike to WR Pharaoh Cooper who made a great grab as he was hit hard by Missouri defenders at the goal line for a 23-yard scoring play. Elliot … Continue reading Week in Review #4

Our take on Jameis Winston: as we said before, we predict that this kid is a catastrophe waiting to happen. If he hasn’t learned anything from the recent punishments dished out by the NFL for anti-social behaviors, will he ever … Continue reading

Rutgers domination along both fronts holds off Navy, 31-24

Annapolis, MD (Sept. 20, 2014) – Navy QB Keenan Reynolds fired the last shot of the game against their second Big Ten opponent this season to try to send the Mids into overtime or for a last second win, but it was a misfire as WR Jamir Tillman caught his pass out of bounds beyond the end zone, and Rutgers (3-1) held on to win against Navy, 31-24. It may have been a costly win for RU as leading RB Paul James suffered a knee injury in the second period and left on crutches after gaining 96 yards on his first seven carries. Reports came out on Monday that he suffered a torn ACL and is lost for the season. The result of the game was clearly won by the Scarlet Knights along both fronts. The offensive line dominated opening up holes to amass 284 yards, RU’s most since the 2007 International Bowl, in rushing. Defensively, the front seven thwarted Navy’s triple option rushing attack averaging 403 yards per game limiting them to 171 yards on 43 carries. What kept Navy in the game was a surprising passing game. Had Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo opened it up earlier and a little more often, his team may have put more points on the board against a suspect RU secondary. However, early misfires may have prompted him to stay on the ground longer than desired, but as the game went on, Reynold’s passes became more effective.

Navy (2-2) scored on its first possession after recovering a James’ fumble at the RU 25, and Reynolds (19 carries for 25 yards , two TDs/ 12 of 26 passing for 231 yards, 1 TD) ran in the first score from the one. The score remained 7-0 when Navy’s Nick Sloan went wide with a 40-yard FG attempt that could have extended the Navy lead, and at that point, the momentum seemed to shift to the Knights. On a fourth and two, James broke through a hole in the right side and raced down field for a 38-yard TD to tie the game, 7-7. Late in the period, Reynolds fumbled and put RU at Navy’s 36.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova follows his line into the end zone from the one for a touchdown.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova follows his line into the end zone from the one for a touchdown.

Kyle Federico did for RU what Sloan couldn’t do for Navy and put three on the board for a 20-yard FG to put the Knights in the lead, 10-7. On Rutgers’ next drive, James left the game for good, but Justin Goodwin (Madison, NJ) and Desmon Peoples (19 carries for 82 yards) stepped up effectively. QB Gary Nova (11 of 14 passing, 151 yards, two rushing TDs) plunged in from the one for 17-7 Scarlet Knight lead. Navy came right back with a 75-yard drive ending with Reynolds’ seven-yard TD run to narrow the gap. However, Rutgers’ o-line continued to dominate Navy’s defensive front and drove 91 yards. With: 27 left in the half, Goodwin (26 carries for 104 yards, 1 TD) took it over from the three for a 24-14 halftime lead. Under an intense sun the entire first half, we spent the intermission in the shade of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on the Gold side, where St. Laurie and I met with GGA Steve Ciesla who sat with Frank Scarpa who stayed in the bleachers commiserating with fellow RU fans.

Navy’s opening drive was highlighted by a 53 yard pass to Tillman down to the 27. Sloan converted with a 35-yard FG to close to 24-17. Rutgers started from its 37 with the aid of a 15-yard illegal block by the defense – never saw an illegal block called against a team without the ball. From there, Rutgers controlled the line of scrimmage and Nova took it in from the one once again to end the third period scoring for their 31-17 lead.

Keenan Reynolds attempts a pitch, but RU held Navy to a season-low of 171 yards on 43 carries.

Keenan Reynolds attempts a pitch, but RU held Navy to a season-low of 171 yards on 43 carries.

In the final period with 5:20 remaining, the Mids finished off a 75-yard scoring drive with a rare TD pass. WR Brenan Dudeck was left wide open in the end zone for a 14-yard TD reception. On RU’s ensuing possession, the Mids’ defense stopped the Knights in a third and one to force a rare three and out. They took over from the 26 with 3:12 left. Blue and Gold got down to the Scarlet 16, but sacks by second team safety Andre Hunt and DE Kemoko Turay put Navy back to the 36 with a fourth and 20 from where Reynolds took his final shot into the end zone that went for naught to end the Navy threat. Exciting finish! Unusual stats for both teams that learned a lot going into the balance of their seasons. RU can run the ball to keep mistake-prone QB Nova from forcing INTs. Can they continue to do it against better run defenses than Navy’s however without Paul James? It knows it can stop the run, but Rutgers still needs to shore up its secondary. Navy needs to sharpen up its passing game with some play action to take advantage of its run game to utilize its passing game more consistently which can be effective if needed.

Rutgers returns to High Point Solutions Stadium to finish its non-conference slate against Tulane (1-3) on Saturday at noon. Navy welcomes high-scoring Western Kentucky (1-2) now of Conference USA to Annapolis for a 3:30 kick off. Last year, the Hilltoppers defeated USNA, 19-7. heads to Columbia, SC for our final Parents weekend there and for ESPN Game Day as the No. 13 Gamecocks (3-1, 0-1) host Missouri’s Tigers (3-1) in an SEC game kick off at 7 pm.

Extra points: With Rutgers win over Navy, the respective records of both teams are 24-30 and 21-33. They are tied for second in appearances with 54.  RU is second in wins with 24. Navy is first in losses with 33. With Navy’s admission into the American Athletic Conference next season, the teams are not scheduled to meet any time in the near future due to conference scheduling obligations.

Rutgers Mom Patty Rafferty and Navy Mom St. Laurie Koreivo pose together in front of Navy's Tecumseh in T-Court before the game.

Rutgers Mom Patty Rafferty and Navy Mom St. Laurie Koreivo pose together in front of Navy’s Tecumseh in T-Court before the game.

It was a special weekend for us in Annapolis this weekend. Nick Rafferty, second team LB for Rutgers has been friends with our son Eric since kindergarten. Nicks’ father Frank and I coached both boys in Little League baseball for ten years. For Lenape Valley (NJ) High School, Nick played RB and Eric started at offensive tackle their senior year and finished with an 8-2 record. Frank and his wife Patty, who is responsible for making my “119” jersey that adorns the cover of “Tales from the Tailgate”, joined St. Laurie and me for the weekend to tailgate, go to the game, and tour Annapolis. Long time Guest Game analysts Steve Ciesla and Frank Scarpa joined us as well. Nick called Eric, now stationed at Norfolk Naval Base as an ITN, to offer him a will-call ticket to the game. Eric had no duty this weekend and was able to join us on Saturday. We didn’t expect to see him again until we visit him in two weeks down at Norfolk. He wore his Navy t-shirt and sat with Frank and Patty in the Rutgers parent section. He cheered for the Navy (would’ve cheered for Nick had he gotten into the game), and people around him wondered how he got his ticket. He told him that he’s a friend of Nick’s and that he’s an enlisted Navy guy, but not a Midshipman. He accepted defeat with grace in the end. We enjoyed tailgating, the weekend, and a post- game meeting with Nick before the RU team headed back home by bus. At LVRHS their senior year, Nick and Eric and the rest of the Patriots fell to Madison High School featuring Justin Goodwin (now in the RU backfield) in a one –point loss featured on MSG Varsity TV. A last second FG went wide for LVR to miss the chance to beat Madison, a top 20 team in the state, that evening. Nick’s RU roommate, Safety Andre Hunt, who came off the bench, made a critical sack of Keenan Reynolds on Navy’s final drive.

For breakfast on Sunday, we went to Chick and Ruth’s on Main Street an Annapolis for the first time. We had to wait outside for about 15 minutes, but it was worth it. It was featured on “Man vs. Food.” We’ll go back again. Try it when you get down there. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.