The 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta

The program from the first game where this all began back in 1979.Delaware defeated Rhode Island on their way to the D-2 National Championship. Our 39th season also starts in New England.

Our sights are set this season for the College Football Playoff on January 8, 2018 by hook or by crook designating our 39th season doing this crazy stuff as our Journey to Atlanta. We made it to Tampa physically last season. Great airfare, cost effective accommodations, but the CFP ticket prices escalated way out of reach. We watched the prices on the internet continuously rise. The one guy we saw selling on the streets of Tampa had removed his outer shirt and on his white t-shirt he wrote out in black magic marker, “two tickets, section 350, $4400”. I didn’t have the necessary funds on me, nor did I run to the nearest cash machine. We plan to nip that problem in the bud this season. Collegefootballfan.com has to attend a CFP game within geographic reach one time at least or our name isn’t collegefootballfan.com. And it’s evidently not going to get any cheaper. While focused on getting to the national championship game, we are also going to have one hell of a great regular season schedule, again, leading up to it! This year, it even starts earlier than usual, August 26, to get us to about 30 games in all this year featuring most levels of NCAA football competition. This ties the record for our earliest start dating back to 2001 when we saw Georgia Tech defeat Syracuse in the Meadowlands in the Kickoff Classic. It’s only June, and we are primed to go! The preseason publications are just coming out.

Syracuse DE Dwight Freeney makes a stop vs. Georgia Tech in the 2001 Kickoff Classic played on August 26 that year.

On August 26, we kick off in New England, home of the World Champion Patriots, but not at Gillette Stadium as we were originally led to believe. This will be played by two teams of extreme geographic reaches of American college football when the Hawaii Rainbows travel all the way to newly renovated Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen on their home campus in Amherst. Hawaii finished last season 7-7 with a bowl win at home (we refer to this as a consolation game) and a 46-40 win at home late in the season versus UMass. They return the favor. We expect to see a pretty competitive game despite the Minutemens’ 2-10 record a season ago as an Independent. One of our guests, Mike Ford, might actually bring us a lobster for our tailgate as he originally got us excited about when he came to his first game with us up at Penn State. We’ll see.

 

The following week on Thursday evening, we attend our first of four games on four consecutive days over the Labor Day weekend. We start with two very competitive programs of the last few years at the D-3 level when the Wesley College Wolves visit the Aggies of Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The Wolves finished 9-3 last season and played into the second round of D-3 playoffs falling to powerful John Carroll of Ohio. The Wolves also fell in their season opener at home last season to Del-Val, 21-14. The Aggies posted a 9-2,7-2 record and finished the season with a win over Muhlenberg in the Centennial-Middle Atlantic Bowl Championship. This should be another competitive battle to start our season. It should make up for what we will see at 7 pm the following evening when we join Rutgers alum and faithful follower Frank Scarpa to tailgate and join him in his obligatory commitment to his Alma Mater when they face last season’s No. 4 team, the Washington Huskies. We call this our obligatory commitment to see the typically over-rated, over-hyped, overly optimistic Scarlet Knights come down from media heaven and face reality. UW whipped them in Seattle in last seasons opener, 48-13. We expect the same here. On Saturday afternoon, we travel to a favorite FCS venue, Goodman Stadium off I-78 in Bethlehem, PA where Lehigh’s Mountain Hawks, 2016 Patriot League champs, host the perennially good Villanova Wildcats who went 9-4 last season before falling to South Dakota State in the FCS playoffs. The Cats defeated the Hawks early last season at home, 26-21. Looking forward to seeing a good match-up here by two teams vying to get back into post-season playoff contention. This game will mark the first time since 1985 that the Wildcats will not be playing under HC Andy Talley who retired after the 2016 season with an overall career collegiate record of 252-155-2. Taking over will be his Associate HC and assistant for 30 years at Villanova, Mark Ferrante. At the risk of dating myself, back in 1982 we attended a D-3 Playoff game where Ferrante quarterbacked under Talley at St. Lawrence University in a win over Wagner College in Staten Island. Time flies when you’re having fun! To top off the four-game weekend, well head down I-95 of Sunday to FEDEX Field in Landover, Maryland to see West Virginia clash with Virginia Tech. This will be the first time we ever see the Mountaineers play as a member of the Big 12, and this will be the first Hokie game we’ll attend without Frank Beamer along the sideline. Justin Fuente successfully took over the program a year ago winning the Coastal Division of the ACC with a 10-4 record including a Belk Bowl win over Arkansas. WVU ended up with a 10-3 tied for second in the Big 12, but lost to Miami in the Russel Athletic. WVU vs. VA Tech – a great FBS game to attend during the first weekend of the 2017 season! We look forward to tailgating with some VA Tech alum to get fired up over this one.

We know Rutgers’ football team will not be very good, but we know Cousin Frank’s pizza will be fantastic! We’re going to see RU host Top 10 Washington so we can have a few award-winning slices with our beer on Friday night, September 1.

The following Saturday, we look forward to seeing our first Pitt-Penn State game since 1992. This will be the second game of a scheduled four game series between the two old rivals, but were hoping that the two schools can figure a way to revive this rivalry every season. A great in-state rivalry at the start of the season gets the juices flowing to prime both teams for their upcoming conference schedules. Last season, Pitt came away with a 42-39 win. This marks the first trip of three we’ll be making up to Happy Valley this season with great expectations that the Nittany Lions will be in Atlanta when we get to the CFP Championship game!

We are expect to see Penn State excel this season with RB Saquon Barkely (26) and the Lions soaring to new heights!

In week four on our Journey to Atlanta, we head to Philadelphia on Friday night to catch an early Saturday morning flight to meet up with cousins Frank and Anthony for our first game ever in Minneapolis. Of course, we aren’t only catching a very economical flight out of Philly, but we’ll be stopping by The Linc on Friday night to watch Temple play under new HC Geoff Collins, formerly DC at Florida, to see UMass for the second time early in our season. We’re looking to see how the Owls are shaping up after former HC Matt Rhule, a great football coach in our opinion, set up shop in Waco, Texas to take over the reins at Baylor, a program with some significant off the field issues that Rhule will be challenged by to keep this Big 12 program afloat. Temple lost some key personnel after winning the AAC championship last year including three players drafted and several seniors who signed on as free agents. QB will be key role to fill as P.J. Walker started for the Owls the last four years. On a positive note, Junior RB Ryquell Armstead returns after last season with 919 yards and 14 TDs. In Minneapolis the next day, I’ll be attending my first ever Golden Gopher home game at TCF Bank stadium. I always loved their fight song Minnesota Rouser played as background music for NCAA highlight films on TV back in the ’70s (dating myself again). They will host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Golden Gophers are now mentored by new HC JP Fleck off his 13-1 Mid-American championship season at Western Michigan. As a former Rutgers HC, Frank Scarpa is joining us only to imagine if Fleck had only stayed at Rutgers. Typical Rutgers fan. MTSU appears on our slate for only the second time. We added them in their inaugural year when they joined the FBS in 2000. We saw them thrash another first-time FBS program, UConn, 66-10. This should be a competitive game, but we think the home team will take them to their new house in the end. A year ago, the Blue Raiders finished 8-5 while the Gophers won nine against four losses.

We last saw the Golden Gophers two years ago in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. This year we add their home turf to our growing list of FBS venues.

On September 23, we will travel to our first of only two Navy games in Annapolis this year (thanks to Penn State playing three games we want to see while Navy is also at home). We may not have Big Tailgate this year as our options relative to our incident at West Point last season have soured us on going back. However, we do plan to arrange a Boys Weekend with the guys at the Navy-Cincinnati game this season. Festivities include a tour of the Academy, the Navy Museum at Preble Hall, Bloody Mary’s at Fran O’Briens Anthony House, tailgating at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, dinner somewhere in downtown Annapolis, and smokes at the Annapolis Cigar Factory to catch up on late games. And in the middle of it all, the Midshipmen will host the Bearcats for the first time as American Athletic Conference foes. The Mids, hit hard by injuries late last season, look to be back in the hunt for the western AAC title. Zach Abey played the last three games at QB, and despite losing all three, improved along the way leading the triple-option offense to 45 points in a 48-45 loss to Louisiana Tech in The Armed Forces Bowl. Experience returns on the front line and at the skilled positions for the offense. Improvement will need to come on the defensive side that allowed opponents to score 28.9 ppg in high-scoring contest last season. LB D.J. Palmore returns with a team-leading six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Fellow SR LB Micha Thomas returns after leading the D with 107 stops last season. Steady PK Bennet Moehring returns to HC Ken Niumatalolo’s squad. Coach enters his 10th season in Annapolis with a record of 77-42. The Bearcats come to town with new HC Luke Fickell who took over as HC for the Ohio State Buckeyes for one season in 2011. He looks to develop a squad that finished 4-8 a season ago with only one win in the AAC. Reports say his offense will need some time to develop and will probably rely on its defense to keep it within striking distance. However, with games on three straight Saturdays including Michigan before heading to Crabtown, Fickell’s Cats will need to learn how to handle the triple option quickly. DE Kevin Mouhan and DT Marquise Copeland will be called upon to lead the Bearcats charge against the Navy’s deceptive running attack. We look forward to a fun weekend at The Naval Academy.

In recent years, we can always count on games at Annapolis for the best in college football tradition, spirit, and excitement when the Midshipman play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

 

Our final weekend of the first full month of the season continues in the American Athletic Conference. We will be back at The Linc for cheese steaks and Houston vs. Temple in another first-time regular season West vs. East clash in the conference. Both teams lost their stalwart starting QBs from last season in four-year starter P.J. Walker for the home team and Greg Ward, Jr., the Cougars Heisman candidate entering the season a year ago. Both programs start off with new Head Coaches as well as mentors from both AAC schools took on new challenges at Big 12 programs in Texas. Former Florida Gator DC Geoff Collins takes over at Temple while former Cougar QB Coach Major Applewhite takes over at Houston. Applewhite may have gained a little advantage in this one as former Temple DC Mark D’ Onofrio is one of his two now at Houston. Leading the defense on the field for U of H will be Soph DT Ed Oliver who is listed on everybody’s All-American team. He was second in the nation last season with 23 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Applewhite will look to replace Ward with former Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen who we saw touted highly after he led the Aggies over a very shoddy South Carolina defense in his opener in the 2014 season. We saw the evening as way over-hyped, and things went downhill for him when he played against real competition four weeks later. We’ll get to see if we can note any improvements since we last saw him. Maybe Applewhite can help him under his guidance. Collins has a rebuilding task on the Owls defensive side of the ball. Safety looks to return the most experience with Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall back. With his Florida experience as DC, Collins could be the right coach in the right place at the right time to rebuild. Offensively, he will be analyzing several candidates to take over for Walker at QB who could pass and run. He may be bringing along a new offense balanced to pass from the QB position than to run it. He’s got good returnees with RB Ryquell Armstead (919 yards, 14 TDs) and WR Ventell Bryant (42 catches for 648 yards returning) leading a corps of experienced Owl pass catchers. Temple will have tough road ahead to repeat with South Florida looking improved in the East, but this game definitely looks to be a competitive one. We look forward to tailgating with a few local friends in the area and some good cheese steak sandwiches somewhere in Philly.

“Cheesesteak” Head in Philadelphia. The ones served at “The Linc” I had last season were delicious!

Look for our October game preview here next week.

Steve

Steveo’s Salvos Post-draft 2017

Steve-o’s Salvos post-draft 2017

You never know when you’ll see future NFL talent when you follow the college game as close as we do. We just happened to be at the right place and snap some of the right pictures at the right time at the games we’ve attended the past few years. You’ll see some surprises along with some of the stars you may have expected to see get drafted by the pros last Thursday through Saturday. Also, check out our pre-draft report from last week prior to the NFL. You’ll see how we did regarding some of the predictions we made.

Ohio State C Pat Elfein (65) pulls left to lead Ezekial Elliot around left end in OSU’s victory over Michigan in 2015. Elfein was taken at # 70 by the Minnesota Vikings.

RB Marlon Mack of South Florida didn’t fare well against Navy when we saw the Midshipman hold him to only 29 yards. He ran all over them in 2016 however, He was selected #143 overall by the Colts.

WR Chris Godwin keeps his feet inbounds for the completion in Penn State’s 2106 Blue-White game. He was the only Nittany Lion selected in this years’s draft at #84 by the Buccaneers.

Tennessee RB Alvin Kumara scores from the 11 late in the first half of the 2015 Outback Bowl against Northwestern. He was picked #67 by the Saints.

Tennessee DE Derek Barnett in pursuit to make a stop at the 2015 Outback Bowl versus Northwestern. He was selected #14 overall by the Eagles.

CB Jamal Agnew of the San Diego Torreros defends a pass against against Marist in their victory in Poughkeepsie this past season. Agnew was one of nine FCS players chosen in the draft. The Lions selected him at # 165.

We saw Cal QB Davis Webb play in a losing cause against Stanford this season as a grad student after transferring from Texas tech. He was selected #87 by the Giants.

We watched Temple OL Dion Dawkins (66) and the Owls play five times in 2016. He was selected at #64 by the Bills.

Temple CB Nate Hairston (15) showed tight coverage against Wake Forest in the 2016 Military Bowl. Because of it, the Colts selected him at #158.

We saw ILB Anthony Walker (18) and Northwestern in bowl games versus Tennessee and Pitt the last two seasons. Three picks after Hairston, the Colts selected him at #161.

Michigan WR Jehu Chesson got hammered against Ohio State in 2015, but the Chiefsselected the school’s leading receiver at # 139.

 

Steveo’s Salvos Pre-draft April 24, 2017

Steveo’s Salvos Pre-draft Report, April 2017

(See the results of the players we reviewed in our pre-draft below each caption)

We’ve seen a lot of collegiate talent perform these past three years who are going to make some NFL teams very happy after this week’s draft that starts this Thursday night. And then there are some college BMOCs who are going to make their new employers’ very disappointed over the next few years Then there will be a few surprises regarding some fantastic players you’ve never heard of. My good friend and amateur draft analyst Al Grant loves scouring the post season college All-star games and provides me with some input on some of the lower division players. Some we’ve seen in person, and there are some we wished we could have seen. Al and I compared notes on some of the players and give some perspective on who to look out for.

Of course, some of these players will never get drafted, but wait it out for those “hidden gems” to come to light in the free agent market after the draft. In a year or two they could become a household name or a favorite player on your favorite pro team, or even better yet, on your own fantasy football league team. Here are some players we’ve seen play during the last three years. We look forward to seeing where they end up in this week’s NFL selection process.

 

We think UConn’s Safety Obi Melifonwu, who shows tight coverage before picking off his second pass against Temple, is going to make some NFL secondary very happy. (Taken at #56 by the Raiders)

Christian McCaffrey (5) of Stanford lets his blockers clear a path before he bolts for his 90-yard TD run against Cal. Sooner or later during his NFL career, we envision him playing for New England. (Taken at # 8 by the Panthers)

Temple Owl RB Jahad Thomas runs for 11 yards before his nine-yard touchdown run against USF. We expect someone to draft him in the late rounds. (Free agent)

Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs (11) breaks out of the pocket in his second of three bowl games we watched the Vols win. Look for him to come into the draft at some position besides QB. He’s a winner. (Taken as QB at #136 by the Steelers.)

Buffalo Bulls TE Mason Shreck makes one of his critical first down catches we saw against Army. At 6-5 258, we think he’s one of those “hidden gems”. (Taken at #254 by the Bengals)

DT Larry Ogunjobi (65) of the Charlotte 49ers dominated ConferenceUSA at 6-2, 305 lbs during his career of 46 starts. We saw him against Old Dominion in 2015. He could be another unknown you will see get picked in this week’s draft. (Taken at #66 by the Browns)

RB Elijah Hood of UNC put up yards against Baylor in the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl in a 49-38 loss. We expect him to be among the highest RBs picked. (Taken # 245 by the Raiders)

WR Jalen Robinette made an unusual play for the Air Force turning this catch against Utah State into a 74-yard touchdown. The Air Force grad is a possible long shot to become this year’s draft from a service academy. (Free Agent)

As a true Frosh, LSU RB Leonard Fournette (7) scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and on an 89-yard run in the 2014 Music City. Top RB in the 2017 draft. (Taken #4 by the Jaguars)

 

Notre Dame QB DeShon Kizer looked much better in leading the Irish to a 24-20 win over Temple in 2015 than he did last season when we saw ND fall to Stanford at home. Someone will pick him in the mid rounds for future development. (Taken #52 by the Browns)

 

Clemson QB DeShaun Watson, seen here against Oklahoma, will be taken late in the first round. (Taken # 12 by the Texans)

Al likes Houston DE Cameron Malveaux (94) to bring some speed for some NFL team from the outside. (Free agent)

We think Solomon Thomas, DT Stanford, is going to be an NFL mainstay for quite some time. (Taken #3 by the 49ers)

FAREWELL TO WEST POINT-ARMY!

FAREWELL TO WEST POINT-ARMY!

With plans to attend at least two spring games in the northeast over the next few weeks, our upcoming NFL draft preview, and the constant tweaking of our Collegefootballfan.com 2017 football schedule as TV networks start announcing kickoff times, we first must bid farewell to West Point-Army football before next season starts. What do we mean by this?

If you follow us regularly during the season, you know we ran into (in reality, we were run into) a slight mishap up at West Point last season that could have turned out a lot worse. As far as we know, the possibility of someone getting seriously hurt still remains there, and Collegefootballfan.com refuses to bring any more busloads of happy tailgaters looking for a great time to an institution like the US Military Academy which blatantly refuses to recognize a safety issue that its fans are exposed to. Collegefootballfan.com says, “Farewell to West-Point Army Football!” Well see the Cadets play on the road, but we never intend to attend any more games at West Point. Over the years, we’ve been there about 30 times, during both very lean seasons for the Cadets and at one of the worst weather venues anywhere in the country despite the joke that Michie Stadium is listed as among one of the top sports destinations in the country. It’s certainly not among the safest. I can say that from first-hand experience.

Kind of what I felt like after trusting the people at West Point to help me out when I asked for an accident report.

For those of you who may have missed it, you can read up on it under our Game Review #523 from last November 5’when Brian Donnelly and I attended the Air Force-Army game won by the Falcons, 31-12. In a nutshell, before the game outside the northeast entrance of Michie Stadium after walking through Black Knights Alley, I got plowed over from behind by an unattended utility vehicle started up by preschoolers double-clutching before knocking me to the ground from behind. I got hit hard enough to break my binoculars slung over my shoulder, and I sustained deep cuts and abrasions on my right elbow, knee, and ankle. As I lay face down, the rear tires of the vehicle started to rip up along my right ankle bone starting to tear into my skin. It could have been worse, but luckily for me some camo-uniformed cadet or soldier stopped it as quickly as it had started. My mind jumped all over what was happening to me trying to figure which way to roll to avoid further injury as I felt a tire running up my right leg. The reality was, no matter which way I would have rolled, if the vehicle didn’t stop, I would probably have been seriously injured. This entire episode could have been worse if some frail senior citizen or some little preschoolerlike the ones who hi-jacked it got slammed into instead of a 5-10, 215 lb. adult male who works out regularly and stays in shape by walking almost daily. There were many young kids around with families, and with or without a parent, they could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time like I was. One of the kids on board hit the gas pedal hard to go from a complete stop to a high acceleration rate in reverse in a matter of seconds to belt me hard in the back leaving a large red mark under my right shoulder blade, basically a head shot to some little kid.

Accidents do happen. I was lucky. As I got up a bit stunned and confused to say the least, I was surrounded by young soldiers on duty at the game that weekend for security purposes. They took information, asked if I wanted an ambulance to take me to the hospital (I thought to myself that the game starts in about an hour), contacted their captain, and escorted me to the first aid station under the west side of Michie Stadium. There, I must have been asked five times if I was retired military, like that should make some kind of difference when I got run over by a utility vehicle at a football game. No. An army doctor checked me out, army medics checked my BP, etc. Some Army officer with no name badge and covered insignia came in to talk to me about what happened. We eventually BS-ed about the game, college football, Army-Navy, today’s game, my USNA affiliation, etc. A civilian EMT named Paul came in to bandage me up, and the army doctor gave me Motrin. The MPs gave me a number to call if I needed further assistance at the game, etc. Brian and I made it to our seats on time just before kick-off.

I was satisfied all was taken care of properly until a few days later when my right leg started to swell up. I figured it was an infection from the tire tread starting to tear into my ankle. The Neosporine they’ treated me with evidently wasn’t enough. I called my doctor for an appointment and told his office what had happened. Just in case, I called the Military Police station at West Point to request an accident report. The person I needed to contact had just left. I was told everyone was leaving for a long Veterans day weekend. I called back the following Monday. Long story, short: nobody knew anything about it. There was no record on any incident as such filed on November 6. No knowledge. The soldier I remembered with the name tag “Meaks” was on duty along with others from Ft. Drum. No report existed. In addition, I had received a survey from Army-West Point football asking me about my game day experience at the just attended Army-Air Force game. They always send these out to ticket buyers. I responded with a report about what had happened. I informed them that they have a dangerous situation there and that it needed to be reviewed. With all the security like IDs checked at main gates, metal detectors at the stadium entrances, and soldiers carrying automatic weapons around campus at Army football games, there has to be a film recording of this incident high above the entrance point into Michie where I got rear-ended mano against machine. I heard nothing back, not even a sorry.

I never heard anything since. No follow-ups from the West Point Police department. No response from the Army Ticket office survey. Three weeks ago though, I received a call from Army Football Group Sales who know me and I got to know them as I’ve arranged bus trips over the years with them to host groups for fundraisers at West Point including my 500th game celebration on November 21, 2015 when Rutgers beat Army, 31-21. I brought two full busloads for a memorable time, but I’m not planning any more events like this to West Point ever again as I don’t plan to risk having something happen to any of my friends after getting treated like this. I asked my contact at Group Sales, who is a good guy (he came to my seat to visit me at game # 500), if he’d ever heard about my response to the survey. Of course, he hadn’t. I told him what had happened. I told him that I was looking for nothing in return for myself. I needed to hear from somebody that new safety precautions had been put in place to prevent anyone else enjoying a Saturday at an Army game getting way-laid like I was. How about not leaving vehicles unattended? How about locking vehicles or not using self-starting vehicles in crowded areas. It doesn’t seem that difficult. Evidently what is difficult is admitting a mistake was made. Who knows? Maybe some generals kid working part-time left the vehicle unattended, or some officers kids were the ones who shouldn’t have been playing on the utility vehicle. No parent ever came by to apologize for what happened after I was whip-lashed to the ground.

I was told that Group Sales would look into this. Its been three weeks. I haven’t heard anything since. Army-West Point is interested in having me bring up busloads of 55 people, but evidently, they don’t care about the safety of their visiting fans. I’m not risking that knowing what I know now. Everything was swept under the carpet. Just like the cheating incident regarding the information passed on from the former coach/broadcaster from Wake Forest, Army West-Point is very hush-hush. This isn’t about national security. This is college football. They sure don’t demonstrate any integrity here when it comes to safeguarding football fans visiting their campus or reporting violations of any rules of intercollegiate athletics by their coaching staff. I’m certainly not financially supporting Army Football when it displays total disregard for safety or honest play. Farewell to Army-West Point football! I wish I could say its been fun.

We’re back! Time to get ready for the 2017 college football season!

Due to some technical difficulties, we’ve been off line for almost two months now, but tonight, we’re back! We had some great help from our web host, Justhost.com, to recover to get back on line and to become stronger on the defensive side of this site than ever before. It’s time to get ready for the 2017 college football season.

Tell her she can stop looking for us now. We’re back!

Luckily for us, it’s been the slower part of the college football season. Sure the national signing day took place, but that’s all hype. It’s a big leap from high school to college for many players. Let’s focus on all those recruits from two years ago who made it this far and will be playing as juniors for their possible final season before they become draft eligible. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and Penn State RB Saquon Barkley will be among the best players we will see this year, and we’re sure to see some current unknowns ready to step up. Sure, there are going to be freshman ready to step in in some situations, but what pieces are already in place this year to make a run at Atlanta? That matters more to us especially with our goal set on attending the CFP Championship. We’re back for another great season. Why should this one be any different?

Washington and Alabama may not be back in Atlanta next January, but collegefootballfan.com will be!

Speaking of talent evaluation, we’ll be giving our insight about players we’ve seen play the last couple of years and assessing their NFL draft worthiness before the draft in April. Of course we’ve been busy scouring 2017 schedules and piecing together another great college football season while we’re keeping an eye on March Madness. Hell, it’s only six Saturdays until the PSU Blue-White game, and we’re still looking for a few other games this spring. After that, it’s only fourmonths until our college football fun begins on August 26 when Hawaii travels as far as it can across the continental US for an FBS contest to visit the Massachusetts Minutemen on their campus in Amherst. After that, we think we can attend a record 30 games this season. We’re still perusing slates that will probably change and have some ideas how we can do this. I think we have a legitimate shot for a collegefootballfan.com single season record. We’re glad to be back.

For the second year in a row, we’ll see Delaware host Delaware State during the first week of the season, but we expect to see the UD program become an FCS contender again soon under new HC Danny Rocco.

We’ve prioritized our 2017 program with big Penn State (ranked No. 5 in the “very early ESPN.com polls”) games, followed by our other favorite team, Navy, and then co-mingled the balance with the newest FBS team (Coastal Carolina) , a storied rivalry (USC vs. UCLA), and some trips to other venues we’ll be visiting for the first time (Wake Forest for one). We’re looking at potential travel schedules where we can pull together multiple games over a few days as usual. And then there’s a few D-3 weekday games that will be scheduled for additional bulk. Of course, we know TV is going to change kickoff dates and times. Sometimes that makes it better for us, sometimes more difficult.

We’re expecting an announcement soon that the PSU-Michigan game will be another prime time, white-out as was the PSU-OSU game last season at Beaver Stadium.

We’re back! We’ll be focused once again this spring primarily on teams we’ll be seeing next Fall and making other observations about college football in general in Steveo’s Salvos. Before we start firing off some broadsides though, check out our Tentative and continuously updated schedule for 2017 by clicking here.

Rain, shine, or snow, my Navy fan buddies and I will attend four Navy games together this year. I will see home games vs. Air Force and Cincy, the Friday night at Temple, and of course the 118th meeting with Army in Philly. We’re back!

Steveo’s salvos: The Great 2016 College Football Season: temporary relief of college football domination?

The Great 2016 College Football Season: temporary relief of college football domination?

     Let us be the last to chime in about what a great game we all watched when Clemson defeated Alabama, 35-31, to win the CFP title game in epic fashion as Deshaun Watson fired a touchdown pass into the end zone at the Alabama two-yard line to WR Hunter Renfrow with one second left to complete college football domination by Alabama at the FBS level – at least for this year.   You just can’t wrap up the most exciting sport of any with a more dazzling finish to cap it all off.  We tried to get attend that game, but for at least $2,200 per ticket, we just couldn’t do it.  We stumped around Tampa on Sunday at local watering holes mostly frequented by Clemson fans.  Many were overheard to be telling Alabama fans that they hoped The Tide would take it easy on their team, but like us, they all hoped for at least a tight rematch based on last year’s 45-40 win by the Crimson Tide.  We all got more than that! 

       The Tigers had to be ready to step in up under HC Dabo Swinney, and they did.  They went toe to toe, and even when The Tide took over the lead with a little over two minutes left, my new-found friends and I at the Green Diamond Bar in Venice, Florida, all not so much rooting for Clemson, but instead looking for the end of Alabama’s domination, thought that there may have been too much time left on the clock for the Tigers to come back for a win.  A good return, a penalty, and a couple of dazzling catches by wide receivers took the Tigers to the two when Watson and Renfrow connected for the winning score. Story book ending.  Great game!  Why can’t the next season start tomorrow?  At least Bama’s college football domination has been put on temporary hold.

Dabo's Cats do it!

Dabo’s Cats do it!  Will they be the next FBS program to enjoy college football domination in the FBS?

     We learned our lesson. The CFP championship is on the “bucket list.”  Next year, the road leads to Atlanta in the new $1.8 billion replacement of the “obsolete” Georgia Dome.  Our fund for a game ticket or two has already started with a little budget to still keep us on the road “to see ‘em all” and to the attend the most competitive games we can afford no matter what division of NCAA football from week to week.  Every college football season for us just seems to get better and better. 2016 was no exception.  Our biggest disappointment was not laying out the money early when the prices were $400, but what did we know?  We thought prices would eventually come down, not escalate to the levels they eventually did. We heard some die-hards bought tickets on the last day for $15,000! 

      The whole system has changed. We monitored the internet where the prices kept going up.  Few tickets seemed available on the streets of Tampa.  One guy stripped off his shirt  to wear only a white undershirt on a 40 degree Sunday.  On it he wrote, “Two tickets section 350, $4400.”  What’s in my wallet?  Not that much. I knew I was destined for my back up plan to head to the Green Diamond and see some of my late Uncle Rick’s friends there.  A friend whose daughter goes to Clemson told me that the students there had to enter a lottery to get student tickets by shelling out $500 each.  College student thickets?  That’s a shame.  I thought college football should be primarily for college kids. Those  days are gone.  Someone should have put a stop to that.  Too much greed is overtaking what should be a college memory for as many kids attending the participating schools as possible, not just the ones who can get money from rich Mom and Dad!

    Another thing that made this season even better, it not only sidetracked Alabama’s growing college domination in the FBS, but it resulted in other divisions ending dynasties by other teams to finish with new national champions.  The FCS 2016 College football season ended with new national champions putting an end to the five-year FCS college football domination by North Dakota State.  The James Madison Dukes defeated the Bison on their home turf in Fargo, ND in the semifinal, 27-17.  Youngstown State took Eastern Washington down on a last second behind the defender’s back scoring catch in the end zone to best the Eagles in Cheyney, Washington, 40-38.  In their finale, the Dukes defeated the Bo Pellini-coached Penguins 28-14, for the FCS crown in Frisco, Texas – another bucket list destination one of these years.

   In Division 3, the two perennial champions of the last 11 years, Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater were ousted from the playoffs before the semi-final winners headed to Salem, Virginia to play for the championship.  The Purple Raiders and Warhawks met nine times over the past eleven years to settle the dual college football domination of the national championship at the lowest level of NCAA football competition.  However, UWW took an ouster in the quarterfinals to John Carroll University, 31-14.  JCU also defeated Mount Union, in the final day of Ohio Athletic Conference play, 31-28, to knock the Purple Raiders off their No. 1 D3 pedestal heading into the playoffs.  However, in semi-final action, No. 6 John Carroll fell in a close one to Wisconsin Oshkosh, 10-3.  In the other semi-final game, another defensive struggle, No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor of Texas defeated Mt. Union, 14-12.  The title game scene was set in Salem for the first time in 12 years without either team garbed in the purple of the Raiders nor the Warhawks.  MH-B and UW Oshkosh slugged it out in a defensive battle with the team from Texas coming out on top, 10-7.

Mount Union is one of two premier D3 football programs in recent years.

Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater have combined  in purple for 11 years for college football domination in D3.  

   Only in D2 did a repeat Champion make its way to the top as the NW Missouri Bearkats defeated North Alabama for the national championship, 29-3.  NW Missouri took the title for the third time in four years.  They’ve won six titles overall. Congratulations to them and the other three national champions of 2016.  In all instances, it might only be a reprieve as Alabama, North Dakota State, Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater will probably all be in the hunt for national championships next year, but we can all savor the 2016 season as maybe the beginning of the end of college football dominations.

Game 532: Crimson Tide prevails over Washington Huskies in College Football Playoff, 24-7

Crimson Tide prevails over Washington Huskies in College Football Playoff, 24-7

Atlanta, GA – On a rainy day outside the covered Georgia Dome, the Alabama Crimson spotted Washington the first touchdown of the game and then its defense and effective special teams held the Huskies to their lowest total yardage and point total of the season.  Later in the game, a 99-yard drive would seal the 24-7 victory to advance them to the CFP Championship next Monday night in Tampa.  The Huskies’ defense stood basically toe-to-toe with The Tide offense through much of the game, but their west coast offense lacked the speed and arm strength needed to beat the Bama secondary deep.  The Crimson Tide had their game plan figured out and stuffed their offense which had averaged 44.4 points per game.   Two turnovers including the Crimson Tide’s 11th defensive TD of the season made the big difference early to start them rolling.  Alabama is big, strong, fast, talented, and well-coached, no doubt, putting them at the top of the heap among all 129 FBS schools.   Only Clemson remains in their path to a second straight championship.

     Both teams’ first possessions resulted in three and out drives. UW took over next from its 36.  The eighth play later resulted in a 16-yard over the shoulder catch by WR Dante Pettis in the end zone for a 7-0 Husky lead.  I turned to Guest Game analyst Charlie Murren (Auburn) and asked, “What did you think?”, after such an efficient looking drive. Charlie, respectful of his arch-rival’s head coach, dead-panned, “It’s early.”  Early enough.  Bama came right back with a 78-yard drive completed by Bo Scarborough’s 18-yard TD run.  Before the period ended at 7-7, CB Anthony Averett (Woodbury, NJ) forced a fumble from WR John Ross and DL Jonathan Allen recovered to take over on the Washington 40. 

Husky WR Dante Pettis hauls in the first quarter TD pass for an early 7-0 lead.

Husky WR Dante Pettis hauls in the first quarter TD pass for an early 7-0 lead.

    Five seconds into the second quarter, Adam Griffith kicked it through the uprights for a 41-yard FG and a 10-7 Crimson Tide lead.  Through the balance of the half, Crimson Tide P JK Scott kept the UW offense with their backs against the wall.  His long hang times gave the Tide great coverage starting their last three drives of the half at the nine, twenty, and four-yard lines.  After Scott’s third punt, the Huskies finally seemed to build a little steam getting out to their 32, but with 1:13 left, Jake Browning’s pass to the right flat under pressure was picked off by Bama LB Ryan Anderson.  He returned it to the end zone for a Tide 17-7 lead, deflating what little momentum the Huskies were starting to build on before halftime. 

The Crimson Tide defense held the Husky offense to a season low 194 yards at the Peach Bowl.

The Crimson Tide defense held the Husky offense to a season low 194 yards at the Peach Bowl.

     Through the too many typical time-outs we fans have to sit through during a college football game, in this one I observed the coaching interactions along both sidelines.  There were two distinctive, yet successful styles, observed along both sidelines.  Chris Peterson, who has turned the Husky program around since coming over from a very successful stint at Boise State, roams the sideline as his primary coordinators gathered with their respective charges to review strategies and situations. Peterson rarely ventured into these meetings.  On the Alabama sideline, several assistants would huddle with their respective squads during each break.  However, Saban seemed to have something to say to the entire team at some point during the breaks, or he would communicate something to a specific player each time before breaking from the huddle, in most cases before the other coaches were finished.  He had constant input, but it was generally to a specific player, evidently about something he saw, wanted to create an awareness about, or wanting to review a technique.

At the Georgia Dome, the Alabama twirling squad looked as if the were already dressed to head to the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast.

At the Georgia Dome, the Alabama twirling squad looked as if the were already dressed to head to the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast.

     In the third, Scott continued to impress with his punts (indoors today) pinning the Huskies deep in their territory.  Surely throughout the season, Scott may not have punted as often as many others, but with his impressive hang times, he looks like a likely candidate to help out some team playing on Sundays in the future.  Finally, the Husky offense got some breathing room at the end of the third. 

     They failed to score, but on third and three at the UW 48, Browning punted from his QB position for a successful coffin corner kick that rolled out at the two pinning the Tide with the worst field position they had all day.  In third and nine from the three, however, Bo Scarborough (19 carries for 180 yards and two TDs, Game MVP) picked up a first down with a 12-yard run.  Two plays later, he ran left, broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage, cut across field and toward the end zone evading would-be tacklers for a 68-yard TD run to give the Crimson Tide a comfortable 24-7 lead.  UW return man John Ross did what he did unsuccessfully during the entire game. He returned the kick back out to the 17 after fielding it in the end zone instead of settling for a touchback to start from the 25.  The teams exchanged punts, and then the Husky defense stopped Scarborough on a fourth and one for a three-yard loss to take control on downs.  Browning continued to throw on short passes and misfired short on his lone long attempt.  Bama’s coverage was as tight as could be, but Browning doesn’t seem to have the arm strength to throw the ball long.  On fourth and 17, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Old Bridge, NJ) intercepted Browning’s pass and took it out to the 28.  Two UW players were on the ground with injuries, supposedly in retaliation for some previous “cheap shots”. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were called against Alabama, but no one was ejected. 

Damien Harris (34) stopped for no gain to start the Crimson Tide's 99-yard drive.

Damien Harris (34) stopped for no gain to start the Crimson Tide’s 99-yard drive.

    The game ended with Alabama’s 14th win against no losses this season, their 26th in a row over two seasons.  The Crimson Tide will move on to play Clemson, a 31-0 victor over Ohio State in the other CFP semi-final, for a rematch of the 45-40 title game win last season. It should be a good one as Clemson HC Dabo Swinney uses Alabama, his alma mater, as a model for building his Tiger program.  I’m still looking for a ticket if you got one.

It's on to Tampa for the Crimson Tide.

It’s on to Tampa for the Crimson Tide.

Extra Points:  It’s amazing that a beautiful, 24-year old facility like the Georgia Dome is coming down.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  Charlie mentioned that this one went up for $400 million. The new one has a price of $1.5 billion. For what? Sky boxes?  Hello!  Big companies are cutting back on those kinds of entertainment expenses now.  They have too many other goodwill expenditures they have to reserve for the rest of society.  Those entertainment costs are long gone.  This was the last college football game to be played in the Dome.  The Falcons have at least one more playoff game there.  I wonder where all the tons of steel and concrete will be disposed of.

An Alabama fan seated next to me and I got to discuss several things including his insight on Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin’s eventual departure.  He said he could live with him or without him.  We agreed Nick Saban was smart to keep him under wraps, out of the media, and out of recruiting.  We also agreed that Florida Atlantic, the school he will be head coach of next year, will be on probation after next season.  In news heard today (Monday), we found out that we all saw Kiffin for the last time on the Alabama sideline.  He’s out as Saban decided he’s not satisfied with his latest performance as he’s probably trying to balance his new opportunity with his Bama job.   Saban won’t stand for that at this point.  Who can blame him?  Kiffin probably has to get busy finding hostesses to help with his recruiting process at FAU.  His replacement Steve Sarkisian , former fellow USC assistant coach with Kiffin, is on his way to Tuscaloosa to be OC for the CFP title game, a season ahead of schedule.  He may be familiar with Kiffin’s system, but of course not the personnel.  I’m sure Saban will be in all those offensive sideline huddles next Monday.  Kiffin, I can’t believe anybody would take that chance to see how he behaves.  Who at FAU is going to keep him under wraps?  He probably has the go-ahead to do whatever he wants. That’s scary.  I hope the administration there is not that ignorant.  Universities are supposed to be educators of higher learning.  I sometimes wonder about that.

Before the game, I got to visit the College Football Hall of Fame right around the corner from the Georgia Dome on Marietta Street.  It’s got some great memorabilia, historical info, and interactive opportunities for the fans.  Stop by when you go by the new stadium opening next year.  Alabama will play Florida State in the first college game there.

The wall of helmets when you first enter teh College Football Hall of Fame.

The wall of helmets when you first enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

 

Hey!  I have this program in my personal collection since I was at this game.  However,  I  couldn't find a program at yesterday's game.

Hey! I have this program in my personal collection since I was at this game. However, I couldn’t find a program at yesterday’s game.

Game 531: Tennessee beats inept Nebraska defense in the Music City Bowl, 38-24

Tennessee beats inept Nebraska defense in the Music City Bowl, 38-24

Nashville, TN – Tennessee Volunteer QB Joshua Dobbs ran for three TDs and threw for another to seal the final score in his team’s 38-24 win over Nebraska in the 2016 Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl.  He ran for 118 yards and completed 23 passes of 38 for 291 yards.  From my great seat at the 35-yard line in the club level of Nissan Stadium, I watched a Husker defense that missed many tackles, that had no concept of leverage containment to keep runners inside, and that couldn’t cover receivers.  Despite Dobbs’ numbers through the air, his receivers dropped many catchable passes as did Nebraska’s, especially early in the game.  This game was a confirmation of my feelings that though today’s players are bigger, stronger, and faster than those in years gone by, they lack basic skills, blocking and tackling technique, and football knowledge that their predecessors were superior in.  Are the coaches not coaching the same way at all levels as those did in the past, or are college players in particular just looking to make the big plays to be highlighted on Sports Center to get the big bucks (a la Jadaveon Clowney of “The Hit”) as opposed to using the skills coached to be fundamentally football sound to win the game?  Some of this is becoming more evident as players decide to sit out games to avoid injuries as opposed to continuing to contribute to the team that got them there.  This is supposed to be “team” sport.  Fantasy football be damned!  It’s screwing up my favorite game! What did General Patton say about “individuality”?

Husker DE Freedom Akinmoladun (91) sacks Josh Dobbs in scoreless first period of the Music City Bowl.

Husker DE Freedom Akinmoladun (91) sacks Josh Dobbs in scoreless first period of the Music City Bowl.

     Dobbs led his team to a 21-7 lead in the second period, following a scoreless first 15 minutes to start, with a 10-yard and a two-yard TD run following John Kelly’s 28-yard run down the left sideline.  Nebraska scored between Dobb’s two TDs on a 38-yard pass from Ryker Fyfe to Brandon Reilly (4 catches for 98 yards and two TDs). The last Vol drive covered 75 yards on nine plays in 1:27 with nine seconds left in the half.

An actual form tackle by a Nebraska defender in the first period.

An actual form tackle by a Nebraska defender in the first period.

    In the third, Aaron Medley’s FG of 46 yards seemed to surprise several UT fans nearby who were critical of his kickoffs that resulted in numerous out of bounds penalties allowing the other team to start from the 35.  Medley had done this twice already today.   Before the third period expired, Reilly would make his second TD reception to cut Tennessee’s lead, 24-14.

     In the last period, Dobbs broke out of the pocket at the Husker nine with several defenders trying to arm tackle him before he bolted to his left to take it in for another score.  The ensuing Cornhusker drive resulted in Drew Brown’s 45-yard FG.  The Nebraska kickoff unit caused Tyler Byrd to fumble and they took the ball back at Tennessee’s 31.  Fyfe now ran it in from the nine to close the score, 31-24, looking to possibly take this game down to the wire.  However, four plays later, Dobbs connected with WR Josh Malone who easily beat CB Joshua Kalu for a 59-yard scoring play.  Nebraska would hold the Tennessee offense in check with two three and outs for the balance of the game, but the last two Husker possessions ended with the Vols taking over on downs.  The first time finished at their 48 on a fourth and 35 following a16-yard sack by DL Jonathan Kongbo right before a nine-yard sack by DE Derek Barnett.   The final NU drive came to a halt after four straight incompletions from the 14.  Tennessee took a knee and celebrated their 38-24 victory.

Dobbs (11) breaks out of the pocket before running to his left for a nine-yard TD to put UT up by 14.

Dobbs (11) breaks out of the pocket before running to his left for a nine-yard TD to put UT up by 14.

     This was the third time in three years the Vols defeated a Big Ten opponent.   CFF.com attended all three (plans had been made to attend prior to knowing what teams would be playing) – this one, last year’s 45-7 win over Northwestern in The Outback, and their humbling 45-28 win over Iowa at the Taxslayer Bowl the year before that.  They should offer us tickets if they end up again in a bowl we pre-select to guarantee them a win unless it’s against Penn State.  We watched the Nittany Lions defeat them in the Outback in 2007, 20-10 (Wow! Ten years already).  We were rooting for the Lions, of course.  We also saw the Vols defeat Wisconsin in the short-lived Garden State Bowl, 28-21, in 1981 at The Meadowlands.  I still remember Tennessee’s Willie Gault streaking down the right sideline in front of me for a long kickoff return for a TD in that one.

     For Collegefootballfan.com, we’re on the road from Nashville to Atlanta early Saturday morning for the big one in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl where No. 1 Alabama meets No. 4 Washington in the College Football Playoff Semi-final round.  Look for our update on this one late New Year’s Day.

 Happy New Year to all of you!

Don't worry! Collegefootballfan.com will keep coming back for teh cheerleaders!

Don’t worry. Collegefootballfan.com will keep coming back for the cheerleaders! Go Huskers!

Games 529 and 530: Wake Forest and Northwestern pull the upsets

Wake Forest upends heavily favored Temple in Military Bowl

This bowl is for all our Vets and active military!

This bowl is for all our Vets and active military!

Annapolis, Maryland – The unranked and young Demon Deacons of Wake Forest (7-6)  allowed  No. 23 Temple to score the first time it had the ball, but QB John Wolford led the offensive attack to a 31-7 lead into the third period while the defensive charge led by LB Thomas Brown with seven tackles, a sack, a key break-up, and a forced fumble held Temple (10-4) to -20 yards rushing to take home the exciting,  well-played victory, 34-26. Brown was chosen as the game’s MVP.  For collegefootballfan.com, this was our first of four bowl games in five days.  We stayed overnight in Delaware on the way up to New York City to drive early in the morning to attend the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.

Pre-game tailgate at MB boosting Dan from the Tailgate blog: Jason, Dave, Air Force Jay, Navy Al, Brian Donnelly, Wake Forest grad Jim Harton, and yours truly

Pre-game tailgate at MB boosting Dan from the Tailgate blog: Jason, Dave, Air Force Jay, Navy Al, Brian Donnelly, Wake Forest grad Jim Harton, and yours truly

Jahad Thomas (5) and Ryquell Armstead both ran for 918 yards this season. The Demon Deacon defense put a top to that allowing -20 yards rushing at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

Jahad Thomas (5) and Ryquell Armstead both ran for 918 yards this season. The Demon Deacon defense put a stop to that allowing -20 yards rushing at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

Deja vu’ at Yankee Stadium: Northwestern upends Pitt in the Pinstripe

New York – We saw our second upset within 24 hours as Northwestern (7-6) surprised No. 21 Pitt (8-5), again with good defense,  but also behind the running skills of RB Justin Jackson who impressed with 224 yards and three TDs to take game MVP honors.  It was a seesaw battle, one in which we expected to see Pitt’s James Conner have a big rushing day.  Instead, the Wildcats held him in check before he left the game with a head injury with only 32 yards and never to return.

Justin Jackson (21) fights for extra yards to keep a scoring drive alive.

Justin Jackson (21) fights for extra yards to keep a scoring drive alive.

As Guest Game Analyst Bob “Cat” Marcello (King’s College, PA) noted during the game, “Neither team (Panthers nor Wildcats) was dogging it.”  No pun intended by him, but I interpreted him that way. It was a great game on a cold afternoon that Cat sat through with a bad, head cold. He’s CFF.com’s MVP for this one while introducing us to Foley’s Bar on 33rd street in Manhattan between Penn Station and the D Line subway to Yankee Stadium.  The place is like a museum packed with sports memorabilia. You gotta check it out some time when you visit New York.

As Cat said, neither team was dogging it as Wildcat QB Thoroson threw this one down field.

As Cat said, neither team was dogging it as Wildcat QB Clayton Thorson threw this one down field.

At 6 AM  Thursday morning, we caught a flight for Nashville.  No live football for us on Wednesday, women’s college basketball instead. One of my former Little League players, Lindsey Sabo, the only girl I ever managed, plays point guard for D-3 Castleton State of Vermont. She and her Spartans just happened to be playing in The Music City Classic here this week. They fell to highly ranked Ohio Northern today and play  Marymount of Virginia in their second game tomorrow (Friday).  However, I’ll be at the Music City Bowl for Tennessee vs. Nebraska on Friday at the same time she and her Spartans are playing nearby. Hope they can finish on a positive note with a win to make their trip memorable.

That will be followed by an early morning drive to Atlanta on Saturday to meet up with my Auburn connections Charlie and Lynda Murren for the CFP semi-final Peach Bowl between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Washington.  I predicted Temple and Pitt would both win by multiple touchdowns.  I’m going to predict the same for Alabama. Let’s see what happens!  Stay tuned for more insight and game action.

Pitt sideline action.

Pitt sideline action.

Happy Bowl season- four games in the next five days!

We’re off!  Off from work this week and off to four games in next five days during bowl season.  It’s a hectic schedule, but that’s why we are Collegefootballfan.com.  We’re loving it. Follow along.  It’s going to be great.

On Tuesday,  we head to Annapolis for the Military Bowl sponsored by Northrop-Grumman where American Athletic champion Temple (10-3) should most likely defeat Wake Forest (6-6).  What intrigues us most about these two teams are the dynamics of their coaching staffs.  We are really sorry to see Matt Rhule gone from Temple and now running Baylor.  We loved what he’s done with this Temple Owl program.  He’s recruited well from Pennsylvania and New Jersey where his players on the field get better every week.  He’s a good game coach who has his teams well prepared.  However, we think he’s stepping into a situation very similar to his predecessor Al Golden who left TU to go “clean up” the Miami Hurricane program decimated by off the field problems.  A northeast guy as opposed to having a background coaching in the great state of Texas, it seems that he has an uphill battle competing with  lot of well established recruiters in the Lone Star.  No doubt, we think he’s a great hands-on coach, but how well can he recruit the local players?  On the other hand, we ‘ve seen him develop his players.  Hopefully he will be able to do the same at Baylor.    Ed Foley, his TE and special teams coach serves now as the interim Temple HC while former Florida Gator DC Geoff Collins will take over after the bowl season.  RBs Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead who both have rushed for 918 yards each this season will give the Owls an effective one-two punch.  We also like the Demon Deacon’s HC Dave Clawson who’s had successful stints doing the same at Fordham and at Bowling Green.  It’s only his second year at Wake, but we think he’s got things going in the right direction there.  We  see TU winning by two TDs.

On Wednesday, we trek to the Bronx to see Pitt ( 8-4) take on Northwestern (6-6) at Yankee Stadium, probably the worst football venue we’ve ever watch football in.  It was built for baseball no doubt. Pitt under HC Pat Narduzzi, former Michigan State DC, is building momentum.  Wins against Clemson and Penn State this year indicated that the Panthers can play with anyone on any given day.  RB James Conner overcame health issues and rushed for 1,060 yards and 16 TDs this year.  Northwestern under HC Pat Fitzgerald did not have an impressive win among the six they had this year.  They came close against Ohio State losing 24-20.   We saw the Wildcats humbled in the Outback Bowl last bowl season by Tennessee, 45-7.  We hope they put up more of a fight, but we’ll see what happens.  We expect the Wildcats to hang in during the first half, but we expect to see the Panthers pull away by about threes cores in the second half.

After we get these two under our belt, we’ll be heading south to Nashville for the American Franklin Home Mortgage Music City Bowl on Friday where Tennessee (8-4) takes on a more formidable Big Ten foe this bowl season in Nebraska (9-3).  The next day, we’ll be on our way to Atlanta for our first Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl, our big one this year.  In the College Football Playoff, No. 1 Alabama (13-0) plays No. 4 Washington (12-1).  Bama HC Nick Saban gives Washington credit as being the toughest team The Crimson Tide will play this year.  He’s right about that.  Not a lot of people give the Huskies a chance against the rolling Tide.  However, we are particularly interested to see what trick plays UW’s HC Chris Peterson will have up his sleeve for this game.  When he was at Boise State, he pulled off some big bowl upsets over ton FBS programs with a fired up team and a few surprised on offense to keep his more established foes off balance.  Can he work that magic against Saban?  We’re sure he’s going to give the a try.  Will they work?  That may be a different story this bowl season, but the horses he has in QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, and WR John Ross may be up for the task.  We’ll be there.

Check us out this week.  Happy Bowl Season!