Game 540: Minnesota “Flecks’s” new found energy over Middle Tennessee, 34-3

Game 540: Minnesota “Flecks’s” new found energy over Middle Tennessee, 34-3

Minneapolis – Under new HC P.J. Fleck, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0) dominated Middle Tennessee State of  ConferenceUSA, 34-3, in our Game 540, our first ever at the University of Minnesota.  The Gophers head into Big Ten play with a high, new energy level brought to Minneapolis by their new head coach who led Western Michigan last season to a 13-1 record, the MAC championship, and the school’s first bid ever to the Cotton Bowl.  Gopher fans anticipate great things from Fleck.  He’s brought new energy to the program and brought more optimism with only one season of recruiting for the Gophers under his belt.  The future begins now according to Gopher fans.

Head Coach P.J .Fleck, in gold shoes, keeps an eye on his Gophers during a timeout.

The Gophers shall rise again…

Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Anthony Cavalli and I met Dave and Bob, big-time Golden Gopher tailgaters, at a local bar, Hopcat, home of 80 beers on tap The die-hard, long-time Gopher fans confirmed that Fleck brings more to this program than any other new HC they remember that came to Minnesota over the years, even Lou Holtz. Dave’s still mad at him for taking all is Gopher recruits to Notre Dame after he announced his exodus from the Big Ten school who hasn’t played in The Rose Bowl since 1962.

Anthony, a resident physician and former Air Force Flight Surgeon studying Physical Medicine at the U of M Medical Center, attends Minnesota as both a student and works as a staff member.  He offered collegefootballfan.com a unique experience forty years since our own college graduation.  We got to sit in the student section!  Great view! Revisited perspective (still going back to college full time if I ever hit the lottery).

Early Gopher drive watched from above with our fellow students.

The Gophers led 6-3 over the ConferenceUSA Blue Raiders (1-2) with only 6:02 in the first half.  Conor Rhoda’s 24-yard pass to Frosh WR Demetrius Douglas extended the Golden Gopher lead.  But the icing on the first half score occurred on the next MTSU possession when DB Jacob Huff picked off a John Urzua pass and returned it 67 yards to make the score 20-3 at the break.

“Minnesota Rouser”

Anthony has a great set-up to attend Golden Gopher games, and after this one he found out his college football experience in Minneapolis is about to get better.  When he moved to Minneapolis a year and a half ago, he moved into an apartment right along the Blue line Light Rail system.  I caught the train right at the airport to meet him at his local Light Line station.  From the same station, we hopped on the Green line to take it past US Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings, and got dropped off within a short walk to TCF Stadium (Capacity 50,800) for the 2:30 kickoff.  After buying a student and student guest ticket, we viewed the U of M band performance finishing with their great fight song, “Minnesota Rouser”.  I enjoyed a Summit Ale, a local brew, from the tap nearby, and Anthony insisted I had to try cheese curds, a staple of local Minneapolis cuisine.  It’s a good thing I only bought the eight-pack.  I could have eaten a lot more covered in the recommended Ranch dressing.

Professors? Hell no! We’re College students! Animal House...

Later, we met fired-up Gopher fans Dave and Bob around the corner from Anthony’s place at Hopcats, a growing Midwest chain. Weekly big-time tailgaters at all the home games, they extended Anthony an invitation to meet up with them in the parking lot before the Maryland game in two weeks.  In addition, we already made a point to meet up to tailgate back in Jersey when the Gophers visit Rutgers, the Birthplace of College football, in 2019.  It will be their first trip ever to RU, and we’ve already got the tailgate place for them and their Gopher Tales group to meet up with us.  We look forward to it already.  That date could possibly be in line to be our Game 600 – another celebration for sure.  Back to game 540…

In the third, LB Thomas Barber picked off another Ursua pass (19 for 34, 135 yards, 2 INTs).  Forty-four yards later, 240-lb RB Kobe McCrary (23 carries for 107, 3 TDs) ran through a gaping hole to his right to give Minnesota (Ski-U-Mah) a 27-3 lead.  The Golden Gophers held the Blue Raiders in check for the balance of the game holding MTSU to 230 offensive yards overall. McCrary scored again from the two to finalize the score, 34-7.  Granted, it was a dominant performance by the Gophers over a Sun Belt team in a rebuilding process, but it turned out to be a great intro for us to other Gopher games as this program should continue to thrive in The Big Ten under the energetic Fleck, a former Rutgers assistant under Greg Schiano.

Upcoming clashes…

As stated, the Gophers host Maryland (2-0) in two weeks after a bye week.  The Terrapins host UCF this Saturday.  Middle Tennessee returns to Murfreesboro to host Bowling Green (0-3).  Collegefootballfan.com follows Game 540 with a Boys’ weekend trip to Annapolis to see Navy (2-0,1-0) host the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1, 1-0) in an American Athletic Conference game.  Touring Annapolis, tailgating, and Cigar smoking to be enjoyed.  We look forward to returning.

Another great Minnesota tradition learned – Sunday morning Bloody Mary with a beer chaser!

Game 539: Temple takes advantage of UMass misses, 29-21

Game 539:  Temple takes advantage of UMass misses, 29-21

Philadelphia – On Friday night on Lincoln Financial Field, Temple (2-1) and UMass (0-4) both played poorly but down to the wire in Collegefootball.com Game 539 that could have been a completely different result had Minuteman PK Michael Schreiner converted on several key field goals.    In a sloppy game played by both teams and a Temple team that looks like it has taken a big step back from last year’s AAC championship performance, the Owls came out on top, 29-21.  The Owls looked a mere shell of themselves compared to the last few years due to key graduation losses and the departure of former HC Matt Rhule who left for Baylor. Schreiner missed a 24-yarder in Q1 that bounced off the left upright failing to tie the score.  He failed to do the same in Q2 from 41, and then he misfired on a 32-yarder in the final period that could have pulled UMass within five to have a chance to win down the stretch.  For Dollegefootballfan.com, Game 539 disappointed us in that we had hoped to see two teams play better. Both have much room for improvement to have successful seasons.

Temple turnaround

Thirteen points in the final 1:04 of the first half gave the Owls a sudden nine-point lead to overcome a 10-7 advantage by the Minutemen.  QB Logan Marchi rolled right and hit Adonis Jennings down the sideline near the pylon for a 30-yard TD with 1:04 left.  A sack of QB Andrew Ford on the ensuing possession forced and recovered by TU’s DE Quincy Roche put the Owls on the UMass 18.  With :10 left in the half, Marchi (22 of 37, 248 yards, 3 TDs) threw 11 yards toward the back of the end zone where Keith Kirkwood made a leaping catch for the TD.  The PAT failed.  On the ensuing kickoff, for some reason return man Jessie Britt took a knee at this own seven.  Were the visitors giving up?    The Owls took a 16-7 lead into halftime.

Heavy traffic at rush hour along 95 South into Philly just left enough time to find cheap, convenient off stadium parking, time to buy a ticket from a local scalper at a competitive price, and the opportunity to buy one of these great Philly cheese steaks at The Linc with a cold 20 oz. can of beer for dinner, just in time to sit down for the 7 p.m.  kickoff.  Game 539 was planned to be  the first of two games this weekend.

 Not the Temple program we’ve grown to admire

Right away, Temple displayed poor tackling capabilities on defense and the offense looked very disorganized until Ryquell Armistead’s 56-yard run down the right sideline to the 15 that only netted a 25-yard FG by Austin Jones.  It brought the realization that the Notre Dame win over TU, with this performance along with the 16-13 win over Villanova by Temple, the previous week did not indicate a vast improvement by the Irish at this point in the young season.  We shall see as the Irish schedule starts to improve in the weeks ahead.  This Temple team did not resemble the same disciplined, well-organized program as seen against the likes of Penn State, Notre Dame, USF, and the Naval Academy we had witnessed the last two years under HC Matt Rhule.  Granted there are new players stepping in, but the team lacks Rhule’s influence of what we’ve seen in recent Temple performances.

PK Aaron Boumerhi, evidently relegated to kickoffs and long FGs, put the Owls up by 12 with a 52-yard FG in the third.  UMass showed signs of hanging on in its next possession as Ford, on third and eight, connected with Britt for a 20-yard TD to pull back within five.  The Minutemen evidently weren’t giving up, but taking a knee on the final kick off of the first half still didn’t make sense. Jones, Temple’s short-range FG kicker, connected on a 37-yarder to take a shaky lead into the final period, 22-14.  The Minutemen were a TD and two-point conversion away from tying the Owls.

Minutemen down to the last minute

UMass moved down field and looked to get within five, but Schreiner’s third miss seemed to take the wind out of the sails for the Minutemen offense.  The D held Temple to a three and out.  The Minutemen drove to the Temple 28 where they struggled, avoided a FG attempt, and gave the ball over on downs there at the TU 28.  The Owls then put together a 10-play drive finishing it with a 13-yard one-handed TD catch by Isaiah Wright for a 29-14 lead with 3:48 left.  Give the Minutemen credit.  They drove the length of the field starting from their 24.  Aided by two pass interference calls, Ford ran it in from the one to trail, 29-21.    The defense forced Temple to punt again after three downs, and though UMass put up a fight until the end, a sack of QB Ross Comis, a fumble, and another fumble recovery left UMass at the 38 of Temple as the game ended.  Final score, 29-21.

Too little too late for UMass.  Missed FGs proved not only to detract from scoring opportunities, but proved to be momentum killers.  Failing to get within striking distance or a chance to tie multiple times can challenge the entire team’s mental state and confidence.  HC Mark Whipple has to determine what to do next to bolster his squad’s confidence.  TE Adam Breneman was non-entity in this game with only three catches for 46 yards, but Andrew Ford found ways to keep his team competing until the end.

Coming up…

Next up for UMass, a trip to Tennessee (2-1), a last play loser at Florida on Saturday.  Neyland Stadium will be hornets’ nest for the struggling Minutemen.  Temple will have a short practice week before playing at South Florida (3-0) on Thursday night in Tampa.  Right after Game 539 for Collegefootballfan.com, we sacked out a local hotel to get up at 4 am to fly out of Philadelphia International.  We planned to leave on a 6 am fight to Minneapolis for our first home game to see the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Read about this one on Tuesday morning!

Game 538: Nittany Lions feast on Pitt Panthers, 33-14

Game 538: Nittany Lions feast on Pitt Panthers, 33-14

State College, PA – In workman-like fashion, the No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0) dominated traditional rival Pittsburgh (1-1) early on offense and throughout on defense to win Collegefootballfan.com Game 538 since 1979. This game became the 98th in the series which has been interrupted by more recent conference scheduling conflicts.  PSU lost one of its two regular season games last year in a defeat at Pittsburgh, 43-18.  The Lions looked to extract some revenge to start the 2017 season on a better foot with a win over its intrastate rival first played in 1893.

The Lions and Panthers tussled for the 98th time in Collegefootballfan.com’s Game 538 with the Lions coming out on top, 33-14.

Penn State performed with efficiency, not flashiness in this game. Despite the Panthers outgaining the Lions 342 to 312 in total offense, the Lions ran 52 offensive plays compared to the Panther’s 86.  Three turnovers halted Pitt drives. One resulted in an immediate touchdown. A safety netted five more points as the next possession yielded a FG drive.

Fast Start

PSU DB Grant Haley intercepted USC transfer Max Browne’s pass on the team’s first defensive series returning to the Pitt eight. Trace McSorely (15 for 18, 164 yards, # TDs, 1 Int) connected TE Mike Gesicki right away for 7-0 lead.  Before the first period expired, McSorely connected again with Gesicki for a 10-yard TD pass to lead, 14-0.  Late in Q2, Pitt put together a 15-play drive finished off by an Alex Kressman 28-yard FG to make the score 14-3 at halftime.

TE Mike Gesicki remains “virtually untouched” crossing the goal line for the second time in the first quarter.

Great weather prevailed in Central Pennsylvania while fans down in Florida faced devastation from Hurricane Irma (like those recovering in Texas, out thoughts and prayers are with them).  The renewed rivalry for which we hope the two schools will find a way to continue playing annually brought 109,898 to Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley.   Pulled pork prepared by Ty turned out to be the highlight of our pre-game tailgate feast accompanied by some of our favorite pregame concoctions and snacks.  The Lions continued to methodically feast on Panthers in the second half of our Game 538.

My Chambersburg friends, Aaron, John, Ty, Kyle, and Dewey had their game faces on and drinks in their hands at our pre-game tailgate.

DeAndre Tompkins returned a Pitt punt 14 yards to the Pitt 46.  McSorely tossed a pass to RB Saquon Barkley over the middle who swerved, dodged, and broke tackles into the end zone for a 21-3 Nittany Lion lead.  Pitt responded with a 24-yard FG by Kressman.  The Lions’ defense kept the Panthers from any quick, long gains.

In the final period, the Lions drove 78 yards with Barkley (14 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD) a legitimate Heisman candidate, putting up six more for the Nittanies with a two-yard TD run.  Pitt second team QB Ben DiNucci finished a scoring drive on the visitor’s next possession with a three-yard run and connected with Qaddree Ollison for two points to cut the score in half, 28-14.  The score was not indicative of the Lion dominance.  Penn State P Blake Gillikin’s punt put Pitt back on its four. Two plays later, S Marcus Allen downed WR Darrin Hall in the end zone after a catch for a safety.  PSU’s ensuing possession resulted in a Tyler Davis 24-yard FG.

PSU S Marcus Allen tackles Darrin Hall of Pitt for a safety in the final period that netted in five more points for the Lions.

High expectations for the Nittany Lions

Final score of 33-14 stirred happiness in Happy Valley, but many PSU faithful found the win to be somewhat unimpressive.  Many hold high expectations for the Nittany Lions this year.  Many expect more every week out to their Lions.  Some big challenges still lie ahead.  The Lions seem to be building up for them, looking to peak at the right time. We will be back on Oct. 21 for Michigan. The kick-off time for that contest has not been announced yet.

Lion DE Torrence Brown (19) puts the clamps on Pitt WR Quadree Henderson in first quarter.

Next Saturday Panthers of another species prowl into the Happy Valley.  Georgia State (0-1) comes to play the Lions for the first time.  James Franklin ran some satellite camps with them down in Atlanta to penetrate SEC recruiting territory.  He returns the favor with a big pay-out to host GSU.  Pitt hosts No. 9 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Heinz Field.  After Game 538, Collegefootballfan.com pulls a double-header weekend.  On Friday night, we stop in Philly to see UMASS (0-3) with TE Adam Breneman take on Temple at “the Linc”.  The Owls (1-1) just got by FCS Villanova last Saturday, 16-13.  They seem to still be in a transition mode with new HC Geoff Collins taking over for departed Matt Rhule who went to Baylor.  My concerns for his departure are coming to light, but it’s still early for both Rhule and for Temple.  The next morning, we fly to Minneapolis to see the Golden Gophers (2-0) under new HC P.J. Fleck formerly of Western Michigan play Middle Tennessee State (1-1) of the Sun Belt.  For Collegefootballfan.com, it will be only the second time we will see MTSU play.  Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium will be the 52nd of the FBS home venues we will attend a game at.

The denizens of the Happy Valley enjoyed a beautiful day at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

Game 537: Hokies keep Mountaineers from climbing back, 31-24

Game 537: Hokies keep Mountaineers from climbing back, 31-24

Landover, Maryland – In the first meeting between No. 21 Virginia Tech and No. 22 West Virginia for the first time since 2005 to play for the Black Diamond Trophy, in our Game 537 VA Tech took three seven-point leads in the second half.   WVU struck back to even the score twice.  The third time was the charm though for VT as the old saying goes.  With 6:30 remaining in regulation, RB Travon McMillan put six up on the scoreboard with a three-yard TD run to take a 31-24 lead that would stand for the Hokies. However, the game was never in hand until WVU ran out of time at the Tech 15 after three passes fell incomplete near the end zone.  In front of a raucous crowd of 67,489 split about 50-50 between Mountaineer and Hokie fans, our first-time GGA Scott Bender, Hokie fan and alum, enjoyed his first Virginia Tech win in person since 2009,  sending him home as one Happy Hokie.

The teams battled throughout in front of the lively crowd and national televison audience.  Scott, who apologized that he generally exudes a “negative view” of his Hokies chances at winning games, stated that he gave the edge to the Mountaineers based on QB experience.  West Virginia’s Will Grier started for the first time since he left the Florida Gator program where he started six games in 2015.  Josh Jackson debuted for Tech this evening as a redshirt freshman.  Early in Q3, Mountaineer PK Mike Molina’s 34-yard FG tied the score at 10 apiece. After that, the two teams traded touchdown blows in game 537 for Collegefootballfan.com.   Tech polished off a 71 -yard scoring drive with DeShawn McClease’s 12-yard run.  After Slye missed a 39-yard attempt for Tech, the Mountaineers drove 79 yards capped by Grier connecting with David Sills V (9 catches for 94 yards, 2 TDS that could’ve been 3) on a slant pattern at the 10 to tie at 17-17.  Evan Staley returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards to the Mountaineer 32.  Josh Jackson tossed a 32-yard scoring strike to WR Cam Phillips right away to retake the Hokie lead, 24-17.

Final countdown

WVU QB Will Grier gains first down on late drive.

Going into the final period, WVU continued to drive from its twelve.  Grier hit Gary Jennings (13 catches, 189 yards, 1 TD) on a 60-yard scoring route to knot the score for the third time in the second half.  On Tech’s next series, Jackson (15 for 26, 235 yards, 1 TD) ran 48 yards on a draw play to the WVU two.  McMillan took it over for the 31-24 lead.  On its next defensive series, Tech held the Mountaineers to just five yard to force a punt.  They looked to ice the game with Slye’s 32-yard attempt, but it sailed wide right.  West Virginia looked now to tie the game with 1:55 left.  For the third time during this possession, Grier converted a first down with a run, this time on a third and seven to the Hokie 15.    His second of three incomplete passes went through the hands of a diving, “sure-handed” Sills in the end zone for what “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” been a score-tying TD. The third pass fell incomplete and No. 21 defeated No. 22 in an exciting, charged-up football game.

A reception here by WVU’s David Sills V could have sent Game 537 into OT.

    Coming up…

GGA Scott Bender will not forget this one.  The Hokie win broke his personal losing streak.  If VA Tech represents the ACC in any of the three bowls we plan to see them compete in after the regular season, Scott may try to join us once again.  They return to Blacksburg on Saturday to host FCS Delaware.  WVU heads back to Morgantown to face East Carolina who fell 34-14 to defending FCS champ James Madison last weekend.  And after Game 537, Collegefootballfan.com travels to State College, PA for the first of three trips there this season to see No. 4 Penn State battle their old rival, Pitt.  We look forward to that one!

PATs (Points after Tailgating)

All Tech kickoffs went for touch-backs.  Of 17 punts combined between both squads, only two were returned for a net total of two yards. One went for a loss.  Neither team turned the ball over. Certainly not Beamer Ball!  The former Tech HC Frank Beamer was introduced before the game along with former WVU HC Don Nehlen.   We witnessed both men along the sidelines over the years in some memorable games.

Made good contact with a WVU fan we sat next to for a future tailgate party next time we get out to Morgantown!

Scott presided as the former President of the NJ Va Tech Alumni Association.  As his Engineering career takes off, it became time to hand off his duties to a more recent alum.  This year, they will be moving their alumni game day parties a to Vanderbilt’s Bar at the Wyndham Hotel in Florham Park, an old haunt near one of my former employers.

David Sills V was the 13-year old QB awarded a scholarship by A-hole Lane Kiffin at USC eight years ago.  Kiffin’s no longer at USC of course, and we are so glad that Navy rolled over him in his FAU debut last week, 42-19.   Sills played for his Dad at Eastern Christian in Wilmington, DE that his father also heavily funded.  He’s no longer QB, but he’s a junior and under consideration for the draft in 2018.

This week, Tech moved up to No. 18 in the AP.  WVU dropped out of the Top 25 receiving 70 points.  However, there are at least 11 more games for everybody left to play this season, and remember, just about everybody gets a bowl trophy now-a-days.

 

Game 536: No. 7 Villanova defeats unyielding No. 24 Lehigh, 38-35

Game 536: No. 7 Villanova defeats unyielding No. 24 Lehigh, 38-35

Bethlehem, PA – The Villanova Wildcats started the season opener for both FCS powers from its 33-yard line in Game 536 for Collegefootballfan.com. Four plays later, QB Zach Bednarczyk (Wallington, NJ) fired a 13-yard scoring pass to TE Ryan Bell (Basking Ridge, NJ) for a quick 7-0 lead over host Lehigh.  They looked like the proverbial hot knife going through butter.  However, Lehigh fought back the entire game.  Costly mistakes cost the Mountain Hawks a winnable game against the tough Colonial Conference AA foe.  Villanova triumphed, 38-35, in an exciting game on a rare, cold, damp day that felt more like late October than early September.

Trailing 21-7 in the second period, Lehigh QB Brad Mayes fired a three-yard TD pass to Luke Christiano with 4:01 left to be played in the first 30 minutes.  Forcing ‘Nova to punt after a three and out, the Mountain Hawks engineered a drive to the defenders’ 13.  With the Hawks looking to tie the score or at least pull within four, the Wildcat defense forced RB Dom Bragalone to fumble.   FS Rob Rolle returned the loose ball to the LU 48.  The addition of a block in the back put the Cats at LU’s 33.  With 38 ticks left, RB Matt Gudzak (Tom River, NJ) raced all 33 yards on first down to pay dirt.   The sequence of two plays turned a potential tie into a 14-point lead for the visitors at halftime.

Exciting second half

Lehigh kept battling back within reach the entire second half of our Game 536.  Mayes (33 for 44, 406 yards, 4 TDs) connected with Christiano (Cranford, NJ) for a sixty-yard TD to start the second half scoring as quickly as Villanova did in the first half.  Within a minute, Bednarczyk (17 for 23, 209 yards, 2 TDs) hit WR Taurus Phillips on the right side for a 75-yard scoring pass play.  A 20-yard punt return by Quentin Jones put Lehigh in business at the ‘Nova 40. Mayes hooked up with WR Gatlin Casey for a 29-yard score to trail the Cats, 35-28, entering the final period.

PK Drew Kresge booted a 32-yard FG to extend the Villanova lead early in the fourth by ten.  Wildcat LB Ed Shockley (Millville, NJ) turned back a Lehigh run at the 42 on fourth and inches to terminate a potential Mountain Hawk scoring drive.   Lehigh FS Riley O’Neil knocked down a Bednarczyk on a fourth down to take back over from ‘Nova at the LU 21.  From there, Mayes led his offense on a scoring drive completing a three-yard TD pass to Casey this time at 4:43 left to close the score to 38-35.  The Cats proceeded to run out the clock on their last possession gaining necessary first downs to preserve their opening game win, 38-35.

Coming up…

Next Saturday, Lehigh heads down the Jersey shore to play Monmouth of the Big South, 31-12 winners over LU archrival Lafayette this weekend. Villanova goes to Lincoln Financial Field to face FBS rival Temple, losers to Notre Dame at South Bend in their opener.  CFF.com follows Game 536 with its fourth game in four days to see West Virginia and Virginia Tech tussle for the Black Diamond Trophy I Landover Maryland on Sunday night.  What a way to star our college football season!

Points after Game 536:

Tailgated with GGA’s Brian Donnelly (Towson) and his girlfriend Laurie and Steve and Donna Ciesla (Montclair State and Jersey City State) along with my wife, St. Laurie.  We enjoyed a fun afternoon despite the cooler than expected weather.  Lehigh’s Goodman Sports Campus presents one of the best FCS football settings anywhere.  Facilities for all Lehigh sports are well placed around the complex.  A fall baseball game took  place. Lacrosse, softball, soccer and field hockey fields and Stabler Arena for wrestling and basketball all fall within the very well kept complex.  A beautiful site, plenty of parking, competitive FCS football, a comfortable stadium with great sight lines, musical entertainment performed by the Marching 97, and affordable ticket prices and game day amenities make for a great day to enjoy college football.  Competitive visiting teams and no TV time-outs for most games create an atmosphere for entertaining collegiate football in beautiful surroundings on fall Saturdays in the Lehigh Valley.  If I had to make a choice to settle on a team to root for within 2-3 hours from home to follow one team (including Army, Rutgers, Princeton, and Lafayette among others) , Lehigh is the school I would follow.

The attendance for today’s game was 5,816.  Only for the Lafayette game are the 17,000 stadium seats full.  This year will be the 153rd edition, longest of any in all of college football.  We will look into future packages to get back to that game in the future.  Next year we will see Lehigh open its season in Annapolis against Navy, a conference rival in all other Patriot League sports outside of football.

Lehigh WRs Christiano and Troy Pelletier snagged 8 passes for 14 and 1 TD and 11 passes for 144 and 1 TD respectively.  Casey grabbed 5 for 64 yards and two TDS.  Gudzak carried the football for ‘Nova 13 times for 142 yards and two TDS.

Like our first game this season in Hawaii’s win over UMass, this one resulted in the same final score of 38-35.

Game 535: No. 8 Washington gets past improved Rutgers, 30-14

Game 535: No. 8 Washington gets past improved Rutgers, 30-14

New Brunswick, NJ – In Game 535 in the history of Collegefootballfan.com, the Scarlet Knight defense held a potent UW offense to a three-and out on it first offensive series pushing them back six yards – a rarity for RU in 2016.  The Knight offense, led by QB Kyle Bolin, Louisville grad transfer, drove his squad 59 yards into the end zone on a three-yard TD pass to speedy WR Janarion Grant around the left side for a quick lead over the No. 8 Huskies.  Rutgers’ D held “UDub” to another three and out.  Two in a row? However, the RU offense continued to fizzle with a very unimaginative offense until late in this game.

A 23-yard FG by Tristan Vizcaino late in the first and a 68-yard punt return by Dante Pettis off a booming 60-yard punt by RU’s Ryan Anderson, a D-3 grad transfer from Oliver College, gave the Huskies a lower than anticipate halftime lead.  GGA Wayne Mella (Rutgers) grumbled, “Special teams again.”  As for the fizzling offense, he noted with the no-huddle that it was similar to the offense run by nearby Somerville High School coached by his brother-in-law.  However, the HS team attained much better results during the previous season leading them into their NJ Group Championship game.  It seemed to us though that RU was holding back on its offense not willing to expose certain schemes early in the season before heading into tough Big Ten Conference play.  We thought that we would possibly see more deception on offense in the second half of this game if the Knights could stay close to the team that defeated them in their 2016 opener, 43-18.

RU not showing what are we not seeing? 

The game plan thus far focused on Gus Edwards, a Miami grad transfer (24 rushes for 79 yards) doing the brunt of the running.  Bolin’s passing game (23 of 34, 178 yards, 2TDS, 2 INTs) seemed relegated to short passes into the flats. Would he look to throw down field in the second half?

The Huskies made offensive adjustments during halftime.  They started from their 17 and drove the length of the field to score on a pass from QB Jake Browning who rolled right and connected with receiver Lavon Coleman, left wide open for a touchdown.  The next possession in CFF.com Game 535 resulted in three points off the foot of Vizcaino on a 22-yard FG after the Huskies started a drive  from their 15 to lead, 20-7.

Frosh Byron Murphy made his second interception of Bolin on the evening on a pass attempt down field to start a Husky possession from their 39.  RU HC Chris Ash got hot on the sideline.  To start the final period of Collegefootballfan.com Game 535, once again the Huskies started to mush their way down the field against Rutgers.  UDub scored on a TD pass to RB Myles Gaskin at the RU nine-yard line.  HC Chris Peterson, former successful, Boise State HC,  sent in some second teamers on his Husky defense.  On fourth and four at the UW 34, Bolin lofted a high pass near the goal line and WR Dacoven Bailey made a leaping, diving reception into the end zone for a beautiful TD catch to close the gap against the four-touchdown favorite, 27-14.  The Huskies moved the football starting from the 12 on its subsequent series, and Vizcaino nailed his third kick for the final score of 30-14.

Coming up…

Next week, Rutgers hosts Eastern Michigan of the MAC off its first winning season in years at 7-6 and a win over Charlotte of the Sun Belt Conference, 24-7.  Washington goes back to Seattle to host Idaho, a program that will move back to the FCS in 2018 before they host Portland State, a current FCS squad.  Collegefootballfan.com will follow Game 535 to travel about an hour west of New Brunswick to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to see two ranked FCS teams, No. 7 Villanova and No. 24 Lehigh do battle.

Extra points:

We came away feeling that Rutgers definitely looked improved.  We were surprised that Edwards carried for the majority of the running plays and that returning RB Josh Hicks tallied no carries. Senior Robert Martin carried 13 times for 55.  The roles could be reversed depending on the competition in the future.  Bolin looked shaky throwing the ball over the middle.  He never looked for Janarion Grant deep gathering in only three short passes for 20 yards.  Ash has probably decided to keep him healthy for conference play after suffering his season-ending leg injury to Iowa in Game four last year.  We expect to see more diversification to be initiated as the season rolls on. Former Minnesota HC jerry Kill was not hired to run a three-yard and “Cloud of dust” offense.  The D wore down a little but looked good and will improve when the offense puts together longer drives.  Aside from Anderson, special teams have their work cut out for them.

We will see Rutgers visit Penn State on November 11.  We don’t see UW winning the Pac 12 North.  This team is not as strong along eh lines as it was last season.  Stanford, Utah, USC, and Washington State will challenge them during the regular season slate.

Game 534: Darden passes and DelVal “D” drop Wesley Wolverines, 24-19

Darden passes and DelVal “D” drop Wesley Wolverines, 24-19

Doylestown, PA – In a battle between two ranked D-3 programs,  No. 20 Delaware Valley upended No. 11 Wesley College, 24-19 to open their seasons on this Thursday night in Game 534 for Collegefootballfan.com.  Delaware Valley U.  QB DaShaun Darden tossed two TD passes in the second period for 39 yards to WR Aaron Nelson and for 30 yards to WR Marquis Ellis to take a 22-3 lead over the Wolverines, a perennial D-3 powerhouse, late in the second half.  The drives sandwiched a 70-yard TD of a fumble recovery by LB Nick Wright.  After a deadlocked 3-3 score at the end of the first quarter, the kickers did not fare as well.  PK Pat Moran, whose 39-yarder bounced off the cross bar, failed to convert extra points following the last two touchdowns.  Wesley’s Nick Bruhn evened the first period score with a 22-yarder, but he would also miss his first PAT later on a mildly windy evening at James Work Stadium on the well groomed agricultural school’s campus.

WR Laquille Nesbitt catches pass for a first down in the first period for Delaware Valley.

Wesley started the second half from their 21. On a 4th and one at the DVU 11, QB Nick Falkenberg (Lawrenceville, NJ) picked up the needed first down over the left side, and workhorse RB E.J. Lee (32 carries, 162 yards, 1 TD) scored from the one to close the gap, 22-9.  Bruhn converted a second FG later in the third from 34 yards out.  The Aggies led 22-12 entering the final period.

DVU LB Nick DiGati fights through Mujahid Manuel to halt Wesley RB E.J. Ellis.

DVU halted Wesley’s next drive in Game 534 with an INT by DB Jarren McBride to take over on their 17.  The ensuing drive ended with a nicely placed punt by Stephen Adams to put Wesley at their nine.  The Aggies has put pressure and solid hits on Falkenberg in the second half.  Nick Wright came up with two more points for DVU when he sacked Falkenberg for a safety in this set to double his team’s lead, 24-14.  With 1:58 remaining, Wesley scored at the end of a 76-yard drive on an eight-yard TD pass to WR Dan Kesack (Lyndhurst, NJ).  to trail 24-19.  The Wolverines attempted an onsides kick.  The bounce went high, but the “hands team” fielded the ball nicely .  Wesley got the ball back with :45 left.  Falkenberg remained on the sideline after some punishing hits, and DVU won a hard-fought, non conference game to defeat Wesley for the second year in a row, 24-19.

The Delaware Valley Aggie mascot celebrates the home team’s win with a victory dance after our Game 534.

The Aggies next face Middle Atlantic foe Lycoming away.  Wesley heads to Ewing, NJ to take on NJAC foe, The College of New Jersey.  CFF.com heads to Rutgers this evening to watch the Knights host the No. 8 Washington Huskies.

Extra points:  Enjoyed the game with Guest Game Analyst Bill Reilly (Juniata College) from nearby Telford.  Bill was a suite mate our senior year there at 201 Flory with six other crazies.  He play QB at JC.  He and I were very impressed by the coverage of DVU CB Sammy Mohr who at 5’10” played tight coverage against 6’4″ WR James Okike.  His coverage helped hold the tall receiver with good hands to five catches and only 54 yards.  Bill will hopefully meet up with us for another game this season.

Game 533: Rainbow Warriors come up sevens to defeat Minutemen in last minute of play, 38-35

 

 Game 533: Rainbow Warriors come up with sevens to defeat Minutemen in last minute of play, 38-35

Amherst, Mass – With 48 seconds left in regulation of our Game 533, the long distance visiting Rainbow “road” Warriors of Hawaii (1-0) came up all “sevens” in a comeback victory over the Massachusetts Minutemen (0-1) in the 2017 season opener for both programs and for Collegefootballfan.com, 38-35.  On third and seven at the UMass seven-yard line, Rainbow QB Dru Brown threw a seven-yard TD pass to number 7, Metuisela ‘Unga.  The win assuredly made the ‘Bows return flight home a happy one.  For UMass football and its fans, the close, last-minute loss typified the Minutemen’s history since joining the FBS in 2012 – so near, yet so far.  Despite an exciting and basically well executed game by both squads throughout, UMass’s fandom remained pessimistic that their team could come out on top right until the final tick off the clock.  Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Mike Ford and his son, Colby, enjoyed their first UMass game in person, and Colby attended his first D1 football game ever during our Game 533.  He’s trying to best his brother Conner who got to see Alabama vs. LSU a few years back. Different level, but a great football game to watch none-the-less.  Father and son will definitely be attending more.

UMass LB Colbert Calhoun sacks Hawaii QB Dru Brown early in first period.

 

The Rainbow Warriors struck first after LB Solomon Mattautia picked off a pass tipped by a Minuteman receiver to take possession on the U of H 45-yard line.  QB Dru Brown (25-38, 391 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) dropped back and scrambled left beyond the line of scrimmage for 29-yard touchdown scamper.  PK Alex Trifonovitch’s PAT was good.  UMass drove for 76 yards including a 28-yard TD pass from QB Andrew Ford to TE Adam Breneman to the six where Anthony Isabella ran it in from the slot around the right side to even the score after Mike Schreiner’s kick.

Under pressure early, Brown completed 25 of 38 passes against UMass.

Defenses stiffen, but offenses heat up

For the balance of the first period and most of the second, the defenses dominated.  CB Isaiah Rodgers picked off a pass to for UMass to put them on their 40, the teams exchanged punts, and UMass stopped a Hawaiian drive with their backs to the wall on their 16 on a fourth and one.  After their ensuing punt, the Rainbow Warriors took over from their 17 late in the half.  From the 25, Brown connected with WR John Ursua on a slant pass over the middle.  Number five raced 75 yards to give the ‘Bows a short-lived lead with 1:57 remaining in the first half.  Isaiah Rodgers returned the following kick-off out to his 37.  Driving efficiently down to the two, Ford (21 for 30, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) started to roll right, pivoted around left and hit Isabella with a two-yard scoring pass in the end zone with two seconds left. Schreiner put up the extra point to tie 14-14 going into the halftime intermission.

RB Diocemy Saint Juste was a workhorse for the Bows with 78 yards on 23 carries.

I took a walk literally all the way around McGuirk Alumni stadium looking to buy a game program.  They had basically sold out the ten I had seen walking past the few fans who had them in the stands.  Second game in a row where no programs were available.  The previous was the CFP game I attended in Atlanta between Alabama and Washington.  The UMass stadium looked no different than it had when I last attended back in 2007 when I watched the Minutemen defeat Fordham in an FCS playoff game.   With little investment in this facility since joining the FBS ranks five years ago, we wonder how much longer UMass is committed to play at this level of NCAA football. The attendance announced totaled 12,145.  If McGuirk is a 17,000-seat stadium, there must have been a lot of no-shows.  Not many students attended this first of five games to be played on campus this season, but it didn’t look as if the student body had returned for the fall semester yet.

No significant improvements were noted at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on the UMass campus ten years since our last game attended there.

Second half excitement

Rainbow Warriors enter McGuirk for second half.

The Minutemen offense came out smoking to start the second half.  Ford connected with his HS teammate Adam Breneman (9 catches for 179 yards) twice on a 79-yard drive ending as RB Marquis Young ran it around left end for a one-yard score and UMass’s first lead, 21-14.  They didn’t stop there. The D forced a Hawaii punt and started the ensuing drive from the 35.  On a fourth and four at Hawaii’s 28, Ford raced 17 yards to pick up fresh set of downs.  The Minutemen crossed the goal line again with a three-yard pass from Ford to Malik Lee in the left flat to extended the UMass lead, 28-14.  The wary UMass fandom around Mike, Colby, and me conversed among themselves basically saying don’t get too excited, “We’ve seen this before.”  Sure enough, Hawaii put up seven more points a little over two minutes later.  Brown’s nine-yard pass to ‘Unga placed the ‘Bows on the Massachusetts two where RB Ryan Tuiasoa took it in to score.  Going into the final period, the Minutemen led, 28-21.  The UMass offense played conservatively and lost its steam.  Hawaii started to drive again.

Marquis Young carries around the left side for a one-yard  UMass TD run.

 

The Minutemen defense forced Hawaii to punt at the U of M 48.  The wobbly punt by Aussie Stan Gaudion hit Frosh return man Jessie Britt square in the chest where the ball ricocheted off his pads and on to the ground where Tuiasoa recovered at the UMass 15.  Brown zipped his next pass to WR Marcus Armstrong-Brown who kept both feet inbounds nest to the goal line pylon for six points.  The PAT re-knotted the score at 28-all.  Despite the pessimism surrounding us from Collegefootballfan.com, returner Andy Isabella too the ensuing kick all the way to Hawaii’s 46.  On a fourth and one at the U of H 21, Young (20 rushes for 83 yards, 2 TDs) broke through the left side of the line all the way for a touchdown. His burst put UMass out in front, 35-28, but 11:41 remained on the clock.  I predicted three more scores before this one ended.  Mike repeated several times that the fumbled punt was the turning point that would lose this game for UMass.

TE Adam Brenneman fights for a nine-yard gain after this catch in the third period.

Mike, Mike, Mike! 

Hawaii started from their 41.  They converted a fourth and one at the 50 for a first.  On a critical fourth and three, Brown connected with a wide-open Ursua for a first down at the 14.  Mike exploded, “How could they not be covering that guy (Ursua – 12 receptions, 272 yards, 1 TD)? Stupid!”  However, UMass held the Bows to a 35-yard FG to cut the lead to 35-31 with 5:23 left.  Mike liked HC Nick Rolovich’s decision to go for three instead of the six.   Minuteman fans said that after their two TD lead, HC Mark Whipple’s play calling became too conservative.  I agreed with that.  To Mike’s point, Hawaii forced a punt after a UMass three-and-out to take over from their 26 with 2:52 remaining.  Down four, they were hell-bent to get a TD.  A pass to Urusa put the Bows at the seven.  “Stupid!” reiterated Mike.  We all saw who Brown’s go-to guy was and UMass left him too open, again.  With :48 left, Hawaii rolled sevens and still came up a winner, 38-35.  The UMass offense frustrated our senses with the play calling.  Even with 23 seconds remaining and no time outs, a long bomb was the eventual choice, but a run and two short incomplete passes ended the game with a whimper by the Minutemen and not a bang.

WR Metuisela ‘Unga hauls in a Brown pass to the two to set up at TD.

Extra Points:

Hawaii surely would enjoy its long flight home.   UMass fans grumbled, “Same old same old.” I would have enjoyed seeing a hard-working UMass team looking to head in a better direction put up the win, but I appreciated seeing a good, competitive game going down to the final minute to start off the Collegefootballfan.com season.  For a season opener both teams played well and generally executed well to make this a fun, competitive, exciting game.  Mike and Colby agreed.

Hawaii heads home now to play FCS West Carolina next Saturday.  UMass travels to Conway, SC to face the newest FBS member, Coastal Carolina. The Minutemen will play again on our slate on Friday night, September 15 when we see them play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  This Thursday night, we at Collegefootballfan.com start a stretch of four games in four days after Game 533.  We will attend a D-3 game, an FCS game, and two FBS games.  Seven of the eight teams we will see are ranked in their respective pre-season Top 25 polls.  If only Rutgers…  We will try to get a review out by Wednesday night.  Check back with us then.

We plan to keep an eye on UMass CB and return man Isaiah Roberts who impressed us with his coverage including an interception and a pass break up in the end zone.

LB Sam Casilli, UMass’s leader on defense, played well but left with an injury late in the game. His name was called near the end, but we will watch for him again when we see the Minutemen play the Temple Owls.

The Rainbow Warriors had a  good showing of fans and alum who came to Amherst, Mass for this game.

 

-Steve Koreivo, ed.

 

Season Opener – Steveo’s Salvos

Season Opener:  No teams come from farther apart than this

This Saturday, August 26 at 6 pm EST, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors who will have flown all the way out to visit the UMass Minutemen at Amherst, Massachusetts will clash at refurbished McGuirk Alumni Stadium for Collegefootballfan.com’s season opener.  The Rainbow Warriors were on the rebound finishing with a  7-7 record a year ago after five straight losing seasons.  Their victory total last season included a Hawaii Bowl win over Middle Tennessee State and a 46-40 regular season win over UMass, both played at the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium.  With Dru Brown taking over at QB five games into last season, the ‘Bows won six of ten games.  RB Diocemy Saint Juste returns with 1,006 rushing yards, but in short yardage situations, look for HC Nick Rolovich to call on Steven Lakalaka to barrel over people for the tough yards when needed.  He scored 13 TDs in similar situations last year.  The O-line is well established for our season opener returning three starters and a senior from a year ago.  Defensively Hawaii allowed 37.3 ppg and they were one of the most penalized teams in the FBS ranked at # 127.   New defensive coordinator Legi Suaiunoa is the fifth to take over the defense in five years, and the second in Rolovich’s second season in Honolulu, looking to lay down some discipline to eliminate costly mistakes made in the past.  A new PK and a new punter will start against UMass entering the season with big question marks on special teams.  We last saw Hawaii fall to Navy in Annapolis in 2013, 42-28.

Our 2017 season opener kicks off under the lights at McGuirk Alumni Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen, at 6 pm .

The Minutemen under HC Mark Whipple finished 2-10 last season.  QB Andrew Ford will be looking for TE Adam Breneman in key situations.  Breneman,  former HS teammate of Ford’s and a Penn State transfer who suffered leg injuries in the past, caught 70 passes for 808 yards and eight TDs in 2106.  He enters his senior season as a legitimate pro prospect.  RB Marquis Young ran for 898 yards last season, but UMass will be relying on four sophomores up front to step up quickly and make this offense more effective than a year ago.  Last season, the D allowed 35.5 ppg.  Whipple hired Defensive Coordinator Ed Pinkham who departed from a successful stint at Western Michigan after its 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl trip last season.  He’s initiated a change already from a 3-4 to a 4-3.  CB and return man Isaiah Rodgers and Safety Pat Amara, a Pitt transfer, will be key leaders in the Minutemen secondary.

Our season opener will be a competitive game probably filled with a lot of mistakes from first game jitters for both sides.  Despite the long trip,  we expect the visitors with cohesive experience on offense and renewed focus on some discipline on defense to be too much for UMass’s young O-line and for newly-learned adjustments to a new defensive scheme to handle in their first game.  UMass could be another FBS team returning to the FCS like Idaho is this year if significant improvement isn’t achieved this season.  We saw UMass’s FBS opener against Indiana in 2012 in a 45-6 loss.  Their band looked pretty good at Gillette Stadium that day.   Later this season at Temple on Friday, September 15, we will see them play again –  the football team, not the band.  UMass had a solid FCS program with a one national championship under Whipple and another under Dick MacPherson (read below) when he was HC there.

Great coaches never ever die when they leave behind

great memories and former assistant coaches

Hall of Fame College Football coaches Ara Parseghian, age 94, and Dick MacPherson, age 86, both passed away early this month.  I had the pleasure of seeing both men coach during their careers.  Growing up as a Notre Dame fan, I remember listening to Fighting Irish games on the radio at home when Ara Parseghian coached them during his first season in 1964.  It was against his former team, Northwestern. They won that day on their way to a 9-1 season, the first winning season at South Bend in five years. I rooted hard for the Irish over my younger years and vividly remember watching their 1973 24-23 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship.  At my personal, first-hand experience at a Notre Dame game for the first time, however,  I rooted against Ara and the Irish.  As a plebe at the US Naval Academy in 1974, I was a member of the Brigade of Midshipman at the Vet in Philly where 4,000 Mids hungered for an upset.  We stood and cheered the entire game as our 2-5 Navy classmates led 6-0 going into the final period against 6-1 Notre Dame, basically the same players I rooted for to win it all the previous New Year’s Eve.  An Irish punt return to our 27 resulted in a sliding TD catch by TE Pete Demmerle.  Randy Harrison’s late INT return 40 yards for a TD sealed the Irish win.  At the end of the season, due to health issues, Ara Parseghian retired.  Later, reports came out that this game influenced his decision to retire.  Beating a “lowly” 2-5 Navy team, 14-6, wasn’t good enough for ND fandom.  The pressure added to his health problems and family illnesses. Basically, Ara made this decision to step down after this game despite finishing 10-2 and defeating Alabama again, this time in the Orange Bowl, 13-11.  He amassed an overall record of 170-58-6 while at Miami (O.), Northwestern, and Notre Dame.  His career with the Irish finished with a record of 95-17-4,  third most coaching wins ever under the Golden Dome. It was a memorable time over my years growing up and developing a deep-seated love of college football. Amazing to me, however, that for a man I had admired for so long growing up, I ended up having to root against him at the only game I ever saw him coach at the very end of his illustrious career.

As for Dick Macpherson, at Syracuse from 1983 to 1990, I saw his first team topple to lowly Temple early in 1983 and eventually saw his squad upset Penn State in 1988.  It was a continuous improvement process in the years he guided Syracuse to a 64-44-6 record. But what was really inspiring was to look at his coaching staff he assembled while there.  He had assistants such as Don Blakeney, Foge Fazio, and Bob Davies who went on to become successful head coaches at Bowling Green, Missouri and Notre Dame, but to top it all off, he hired Tom Coughlin, future Head Coach of two Giant Super Bowl teams and Nick Saban, future Head Coach of five NCAA national Champs on his squad the same time early in their careers. The man had an eye for coaching talent for sure.  His overall record at UMASS and Syracuse totaled 111-75-3. His last four Syracuse teams finished 36-10-3 before he moved on to take over the New England Patriots.

 

Last season, we watched Notre Dame play Syracuse at Met Life Stadium.

Army-Navy maintains tradition

After much hype about relocating the greatest rivalry in college football, the Army-Navy game, to other venues around the nation, the two military academies decided to maintain tradition.  Already slated to play in Philadelphia this year, the following threes clashes will also take place at Lincoln Financial Field, and in 2021, they will battle at the Meadowlands as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Though the idea to move the game to other parts of the nation to allow many others to attend is admirable, it most likely wasn’t feasible.  This rivalry thrives on having all Midshipmen and Cadets attend.  Transporting them around the country to attend would be costly and would cut into required class time for the students.  Philly and the New Jersey Meadowlands are a bus ride away from Annapolis and West Point, so both make sense economically and time-wise.  We will plan to attend them all now, God-willing!

From our season opener this weekend through the Army-Navy game,  Collegefootballfan.com has 21 regular season games planned for this season. Follow our game travels  weekly for some fun and action.  After Saturday, we will wee four more games starting next Thursday through Sunday. Three divisions of NCAA football with seven of the teams ranked in their respective Top 25s.

Army and Navy will be parachuting on to the Lincoln Financial turf in Philly for the next four years.

 

Nobody asked but…

The pre-season publications chimed in with their Top four picks for the CFP.  No guts or real analytical foresight…everybody has Alabama at No. 1:

AP Poll: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, USC

Sports Illustrated:  Alabama, Florida State, Ohio St., Oklahoma State

Athlon’s: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, Washington

Street and Smith’s: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, USC

Lindy’s:  Alabama, USC, Ohio St., Florida State

Coaches poll:  Doesn’t matter, they only know about two teams, theirs and the next one they will be facing.  At lest that’s the way it should be.

We say it’s not where you start, it’s how you play every week, avoid mistakes, block and tackle, and where you finish.  Thinking out of the box, here’s what we come up with:

Collegefootballfan.com Poll:  Penn State, USC, Florida State, Auburn

No way Alabama or FSU is going to lose the first game of the season and go unscathed the rest of the season.  Auburn will beat Bama at home in the final game of the season at the Iron Bowl. QB Jarrett Stidham adds a new offensive dimension at Auburn to win “Alabama and Other Six division of the SEC”.  They beat one of “The Other Seven” in the SEC championship.  Ohio State loses at home to PSU who also beats Michigan the week before to finish undefeated to win the Big Ten championship against tough Wisconsin in the B1G finale.  USC dominates The Pac 12 with Sam Darnold at QB. They beat Washington in their championship gane.  The CFP championship in Atlanta will be a rematch of last year’s exciting Rose Bowl, but the result will be reversed and by a slightly wider margin.  (Remember, you read that here first!)

What we really like about college football!

 

 

Our December 2017 Season: Our Journey to Atlanta winds down

Our December 2017 season; Our journey to Atlanta winds down

Coastal Carolina joins FBS play with momentum and leadership

“Chauncey” the Chanticleer mascot of Coastal Carolina barges into the Sun Belt Conference in 2017.

For the first weekend in December, we land in Conway, SC for the final month of regular season games, division play-off games, and bowl games. We get to add Coastal Carolina University as our 130th Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team when the Chanticleers host Georgia Southern at home in expanded Brooks Stadium. Note that in 2018, the FBS will ball back to 129 teams again as Idaho has decided the cost of FBS travel to compete especially in the Sun Belt is too prohibitive to continue this endeavor, and they will return to the former conference of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the Big Sky Conference. The Vandals have improved over the last few years, but probably never should have left the FCS in the first place. With the addition of Coastal and the departure of Idaho, we at collegefootballfan.com can still say that weve seen em all among the FBS. At this game, we have a lot of interest regarding the two coaching staffs. CCU HC Joe Moglia has coached his team to a 51-15 record on their way to compete at the FBS level. His prior 18 years in business included seven years at TD Ameritrade where Moglia and his management team grew the company as its clients assets grew from $24 billion to over $300 billion. While coaching, he remains the Chairman of TD Ameritrade. His football program also continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Entering FBS play, he adds two former successful head coaches as his primary assistants. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Chadwell arrives from Charleston Southern where he coached the Buccaneers to a 35-14 record over the last four years and won Big South titles garnering a playoff bid in the FCS playoffs the last two. Former HC of James Madison University, Mickey Matthews, enters his second season under Moglia. In Harrisonburg from 1999-2013, he recorded a record of 109-71 while winning the FCS (formerly 1AA) championship in 2004. Like any strategic, successful leader whether in business, politics, or sports, Moglia builds his program by hiring proven winners to surround him. This will be an interesting year for the Chanticleers though they are not bowl eligible in their first season in the FBS. At Georgia Southern, HC Tyson Summers returns from his first season in Statesboro where the Eagles finished 5-7. Many attribute this programs fall from a switch from their highly successful triple option to a spread offense. Summers is not continuing in that vein in 2017. Summers hired away Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Cook in the off-season who worked the triple option under the steerage of the Godfather of the triple option, Paul Johnson. Trouble is that primary experience they had that kind of talent for graduated this past spring. GSU has to revamp skills on offense with a new set of playmakers as the defense looks to replace seven experienced DL and all of its linebackers. The Eagles ahve to do some rebuilding, and fast, to get back to its traditional winning ways.

End of the end of the season tradition?

Army-Navy tradition continues, but how much longer in Philadelphia?

We close our December 2017 season of the regular season games on our journey to Atlanta on December 9 in traditional fashion at the 118th version of Army-Navy. The Cadets bring back confidence and experience after last seasons 8-5 record, a Hearts of Texas Bowl win over North Texas State, and the returns of Senior QB Ahmad Bradshaw and Junior FB Andy Davison (961 yards, 12 TDs). It will be hard fought as usual as Navy will be looking to come off its first defeat in 15 years against Army while Army West Point wants to prove that their win was no flash in the pan. This clash between these two will be our sixth consecutive, and it totals our 11th overall dating back to 1972 in the greatest rivalry of all in college football. We call it that with no doubts because no other game between two rivals stirs more blood nationally than this one. As my cousin Debbie Keyes, whose son Robert started on the OL for The College of New Jersey for three seasons a few years back told me recently, her husband Phil only watches two football games a year. The Super Bowl, only because its on at whatever party he attends, and the Army Navy game which he watches with fervor. As a colonel in the Army reserves he always roots intently for The Brave Old Army Team. And there are hundreds of thousands at least like him throughout the country who hold this game in higher esteem than any other. Its a tradition among families with military blood in their veins going back a long way with a lot of pride. However, this could turn out to be our last for a while. Many other cities including some as far away as Florida, Texas, California, and Washington state are bidding to attract this historic American college football rivalry. It seems costly to transport 8,000 Mids and Cadets to such far reaches of the nation. If this happens, we probably wont go. With bowl season a few weeks away, this will put a crimp in our travel budget to say the least. However, it would be ideal for other parts of the county to attend the game and take in the atmosphere. Hopefully, it will return back to Philly on a regular basis on the highways between Annapolis and West Point where the rivalry intensifies every season no matter what the records of either team before this heated battle!

‘Tis the Seasonto go Bowling!

We’re saying good-bye to the Music City Bowl this year and heading to the Belk Bowl for the first time instead. However, we will be back to Nashville in the future for sure!

After the college football regular season, our December 2017 season continues through playoffs and Bowl season. Follow us right here again this season as our goal is to continue our journey to Atlanta. Well be savoring each game as we roll on. The very next weekend we will find a playoff game most likely in the east among the FCS, Division 2, and Division 3 games that most interest us. That weekend is a possibility of the D-3 national championship game on Friday night, December 15, as always in Salem, VA. Easy bowl road trip for us this season. Following Christmas on Monday, December 25, we will start nearby in New York City on Wednesday for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the Big Ten and the ACC. Next day takes us back to familiar haunts in Annapolis for the Military Bowl between The American Athletic and The ACC. On Friday, for the first time we plan to be at the Belk Bowl in Charlotte for another ACC bowl against the SEC. We will be ACCd out! With plans to be in Atlanta on Monday, January 8, we will take a quick look if we want to do something on the 30th in order to watch the two CFP semis at home on New Years Day. The Liberty, the Taxslayer, or the Orange Bowl can all be considered depending on who is playing. Its a long way off, but we’ve got our options in place.

With less than two weeks until our opener when Hawaii visit UMass on August 26, watch here for more updates with Steveo’s Salvos!