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!

Our November 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta continues

Our November 2017 season schedule starts off on a Thursday night. Brian Donnelly and I along with probably a company of Midshipman, the Temple Owl Marching band, some Philly football die-hards, and a horde of Temple students with no Friday classes will see Navy play at the Linc in an American Athletic clash for television money. Navy will ply the triple option for which QB Zach Abey should be very adept at running now, but he better be ready to throw the football, too. TU HC Geoff Collins defense will have plenty of time to prep for Navys triple option. Not only will they have the benefit of a week and a half to prep for Navys offense, but its previous game will be at Army West Point. They will be practicing for the same offense against the Cadets prior to that game. So, it gives the Owl defense more than two weeks to work on defending the triple option. This will be a rematch of last season’s AAC championship won by TU in Annapolis, and this will be a key game for one or both teams to return for that title. Navys offense will have to use the extra practice time to polish up on a few offensive wrinkles of their own, especially in their passing game.

Temple’s defense stopped Navy last season in the AAC championship game, but injuries to QB Bill Worth (15) and others slowed the Mids down.

Brian and I are already scrambling around to find any kind of game being played on Friday night after the game in Philly to lead into our travel plans for Saturday heading down to Charlottesville, VA. Maybe well go to Annapolis to see the sprint football matchup between powerful Navy and first-year program Caldwell (NJ) College. It sounds like a massacre to us, but until we can find something else that night, thats all there seems to be for our in-person football fixes. New Sprint (Lightweight) football rule 178 lb. limit increased from 172.

All set for Saturday. I will be making my first tour to Scott Stadium at the University of Virginia. I have not seen the Cavaliers play since the 1989 Kick-off Classic. Well be seeing them face another triple-option team, Georgia Tech, still under the guidance of former Navy head football coach Paul Johnson. The Cavs are led by two potential pre-season All-American defenders, not unusual for any team, but Virginia? S Quin Blanding and LB Micah Kiser are the main cogs in 2nd year Cav HC Bronco Mendenhalls defense. UVA is still the expected cellar dweller in the ACC. At Tech, Johnson is still sorting through QB candidates to replace starter Justin Thomas who graduated. Matthew Jordan is one candidate who has played in 14 games the last two seasons. Johnson will be also be looking to shore up his defense that allowed third down conversions 49% of the time last year, third to last in the FBS last season while allowing 24.5 ppg despite a 9-4 season. Four of five starters return to their secondary led by S Corey Griffin.

Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas burned Mississippi State’s D and out-played Bulldog QB Dak Prescott when we attended the Orange Bowl in 2015.

On November 11, our journey to Atlanta continues as we return to State College for our third and final game in Happy Valley during the 2017 season. It should be happy as the Nittany Lions host Rutgers. Will PSU still be undefeated in Big Ten play coming in after three of the four previous games against Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State will be on the road? Will RU come in healthy, or will they be decimated by injuries as they usually are whittled down in depth by now at this time of the season? Despite the foreseeable odds in this one, were going. Cousin Frank, RU fan who enjoyed his first Happy Valley experience despite the Scarlet Knight loss there two years ago, already backed out on attending this one. Oh, well. He also took my advice about not buying season tix at RU this year. Hell be able to get as many as he wants for any Rutgers home game. However, I figured hed want to see a team vying for the national title play during the season in front of a packed house to enjoy the experience he is looking for at the birthplace of college football someday.

LB Manny Bowen (43) returns among a solid corps of experienced Linebackers for Penn State.

November 18, finally! I am adding a rivalry Ive been excited to see for many years to add to the likes of Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn. Were heading west to see USC host UCLA in the Las Angeles Memorial Coliseum, our first visit there ever. For us in the colder climes of the East and Midwest, its always a pleasant shock to the senses to see that game played in glorious sunshine with the colorful uniforms in warm weather on green grass on TV that late ,November Saturday afternoon. By then, the cold weather and darkness have already started to set the tone of dreariness from Old Man Winter about to settle into our areas for the next few months. I look forward to being in LA in person for once to bask in that atmosphere and to seeing the Bruins and Trojans and Song Girls perform in virtual living color! USC took it to the Bruins the last two years. QB Sam Darnold gives the Trojans a shot for this years title after leading SC to nine straight wins after a 1-3 start last season. At this point of the season, he could even be a lock for the Heisman. Defensively, there are key positions to fill. The Trojans look to bring more pressure on the QB and tighter coverage in the secondary after allowing 24.2 ppg last season. Their PK from a year ago was indefinitely suspended and might not return this season. At UCLA, HC Jim Mora is over a Bunsen burner after a 4-8 finish a year ago. It didnt help that Soph QB Josh Rosen went down due to a shoulder injury in game six vs. Arizona State after a 3-2 start to the season. The Bruins never recovered going 1-6 the rest of the way. Rosens been recovering from off-season surgery. Going into this season, the Bruins running game needs to be improved and the defensive front needs to be re-developed following some key losses coming into 2017. Well be heading out there hoping to see the Bruins throw a scare at the mighty Trojans, but that could be asking for a lot since USC could be rolling along on its way to the PAC-12 championship and beyond after their season finale against the cross-town rival on the arm of Darnold.

We will see USC play UCLA for the first time during our November 2017 season, but we will also see Army-Navy for the 11th time and for the sixth year in a row .

Our final game of our November 2017 season takes us to College Park, Maryland where the Maryland Terrapins will host Penn State in the Big Ten finales for both teams. The Lions are hoping to play the following weekend as Eastern division champs in Indianapolis. Maryland may not have the same hopes, but D.J. Durkins team may be looking to play a spoiler role at least if it hasnt improved over last years 6-6 regular season. That may be asking a lot replacing Howard, FIU, and Purdue with the likes of Texas and Wisconsin, both on the road, and Northwestern on this years slate in addition to the rugged Big Ten Eastern division. Maryland will be relying on Durkins ability as a recruiter to fill some gaps this season and on the ability to develop a new starting QB among several choices. Will he have enough depth and quality to show any improvement this late in the season. Were expecting PSU to be in the hunt for the CFP in this season finale. On two consecutive weekends, we think we will be seeing two of the teams headed for the CFP, Penn State and USC. It may be a pro-Penn State crowd coming into Byrd Stadium to give the Lions even more incentive to defeat Maryland to catapult them on to Indianapolis if that’s what it will take!

Will the Lions bring a white-out to Maryland’s Byrd Stadium to end their regular season?

The October 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta continues

The October 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta

Before reviewing our October 2017 season on the way to Atlanta, we’re taking a step back regarding our plans for September 30. We’ve already decided on a change. When planning this season, we definitely desired to see the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware play under new HC Danny Rocco. Successful as a Head Coach at Richmond and at Liberty in the recent past, we think the Delaware football program will be headed back to the top of the FCS heap where it belongs (what was UD thinking when they took on a former Rutgers assistant, Stan Brock?) though I twill take a few years. We think UD found the right man for their high standards. This game works out well for us. We also wanted to see FCS defending champion James Madison (14-1, 8-0) play this season though we originally would have liked to catch them down on their home turf in Harrisonburg, Virginia. However, with several friends and family members affiliated with the Blue Hens in recent years, it will be a chance for a pretty good tailgate party. We look forward to seeing progress made by Rocco in Newark over the next few years. We look forward to seeing what he can do with the returning players he inherits from a 4-7 squad especially with a RB by the name of Thomas Jefferson (Passaic Tech, NJ) lurking in his backfield who raced for 700 yards last season. The Dukes of JMU return a strong rushing game as well along with QB Bryan Shor, the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the year in 2016. He produced 3,002 yards through the air for 29 TDs and only six INTs a year ago on the way to the championship win over Youngstown State. It will be a presidential race of sorts for the Blue Hens with Thomas Jefferson leading the charge against a host of James Madison’s, but the result will hopefully indicate there are signs of how quickly Rocco can return this team Delaware back to the FCS prominence it has been known for over its storied history.

UD rolled over Delaware State last season, 56-14. The 2016 National Champs, James Madison, will be a more formidable opponent for the Blue Hens at Delaware Stadium on September 30.

Air Force at Navy : Take back the Chief?

On October 7, we will have a second Boys Weekend in Annapolis with a second crew as Navy will host the Air Force Falcons in the first round of play for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The Falcons absconded with the hardware last year, and Navy is itching to get it back after having dominated the Falcons and Army for 10 of the last 13 years before it lost to both rivals last season for the first time since 2001. Air Force returns junior QB Arion Worthman who threw for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns as he gained 674 on the ground to lead USAFA to a 10-3 record including an Arizona Bowl win over South Alabama. Air Force and Navy copy each other with the triple option so both teams will be prepared better than none other do defend each other in this one. It will take a few plays through the air to make a difference for the winner in this one. The Falcons won last year, 28-14. The Midshipman will be salivating for this one. So will we!

Last time Navy and Air Force exchanged “prisoners” in Annapolis in 2015, Navy prevailed. The Mids will battle to take the CIC Trophy back in 2017.

Upstate doubleheader weekend

We will see our second defending national champ in three weeks during our October 2017 season when we venture up to the Carrier Dome on Friday, October 13 where the Clemson Tigers come prowling in to try to humble the Syracuse Orange as they did last season at home, 54-0. With the graduation of All-American QB Deshaun Watson and 1,000-yard RB Wayne Gallman, well see what new talent HC Dabo Swinney added to the Tigers under the Dome. Swinney has a leg up to say the least when it comes to recruiting. His needs to replace offensive firepower with some new weapons will be his focus, but defensively, Clemson will be strong, especially up front. Defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence will lead the charge, and LB Kendall Joseph returns his junior season with 124 stops to his credit a season ago. The Tigers will most likely battle with Florida State for the ACC’s Atlantic Division. SU is projected to sit at the bottom. Will Dino Babers second edition show improvement in upstate New York to improve upon last years 4-8 mark? They showed improvement and excitement in their implementation of Babers spread offense that we witnessed last season in their 50-33 loss to Notre Dame at The Meadowlands. Junior QB Eric Dungey returns after averaging close to 300 yards passing while battling injuries. The offensive line was young last season but returns with decent experience. The defense was incredibly weak however to say the least. They finished very low in all team categories regarding every defensive category imaginable last season. They allowed 38.6 points per game. Six times they allowed at least 45 points in losses. The only impressive win registered was over 10-4 Virginia Tech, 31-17. Ten starters return on defense. Will it be the same old-same old, or will there be marked improvement based on the lumps they took to gain experience last season? Were willing to check things out under the Dome again and see what new improvements both squads bring in 2017. It could be blow-out again, or a surprise if the Orange can score and challenge the thriving Clemson program. We are prepared for either, hoping for at least the latter to see some form of an entertaining game. Call us crazy, but we look forward even more to our FCS stop nearby the next day.

HC Dabo Swinney reloads his offense before he brings his Clemson Tigers back to the Carrier Dome this season.

Our first college football game ever was in 1966 when some locals organized bus trips among many local schools in our area of Morris County, NJ to see the Princeton Tigers host the Colgate Red Raiders at Princeton’s old Palmer Stadium. Both teams had good programs going then, and the Red Raiders won a tough, competitive game, 7-0. The Raiders fullback, the late Marv Hubbard, went on to play for the Oakland Raiders of the AFL/NFL where he was named All-Pro three times and played in Super Bowl II. Over the years, we watched this program play again at Princeton, at Lehigh, at Rutgers, and even at Penn State, but 51 (!) years later, I will attend a Colgate game on their home field at Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, NY for the first time to see them host a formidable Patriot League foe, Fordham. Under fourth year HC Dan Hunt, the Raiders (5-5, 4-2) return with a stout defense led by DE Pat Afriyie. However, Hunt will need to replace key offensive personnel behind an experienced offensive line. The defense needs to be up for the task ahead of them when Fordham shows up with senior RB Chase Edmonds. We’ve seen him play in each of his first three years, and look forward to what could be a record-breaking season looking to surpass Georgia Southerns Adrian Peterson, the all-time leading rusher of the FCS. To date, Edmonds has rushed for 5,285 yards and 62 TDs. He needs 1,274 to take the lead. The Rams will also return QB Kevin Anderson to give the Ram offense plenty of firepower. Their secondary returns three starters from a year ago including Caleb Ham, an all-league pick. The Rams defeated Gate last year, 24-20, and look to take on Lehigh to regain the Patriot League playoff bid after an 8-3,5-1 record last season. We look forward to this 1 pm kick-off at the peak of the fall season in upstate New York. Sounds like football the way it should be on a crisp, cool fall afternoon among the colorful autumn backdrop in the great outdoors. Hopefully, there will only be one TV time-out, if any, in each half.

Fordham’s Chase Edmonds (22) took the ball all the way for a TD against UNH in the 2015 playoffs. The Rams look for another playoff run with him in his senior season in 2017.


On the 21st, we will attend our biggest regular season game of our October 2017 season! In what has yet to be announced as a prime-time game, we head back to State College for a classic Penn State White-Out in Happy Valley when the Nittany Lions host the Wolverines of Michigan under Jim Harbaugh. Its not only a key step for both toward the Big Ten eastern division championship, but PSU looks to revenge its second of two regular season losses from a year ago. This one was lopsided in favor of U of M, 49-10. Beaver Stadium will be primed for this one. Who knows how all Harbaugh’s new blue chippers will perform from the get-go? QB Wilton Speight returns to call signals after throwing for 2,538 yards and 18 TDs. Who knows who he will be throwing to, but you can be sure, Harbaugh has talent itching to show what they can do. He will have a group of talented young RBs returning to share the load on the ground. The defensive line returns top sophomore Rashan Gary and Senior LB Mike McCray who tallied 76 tackles last season. All of the secondary will be replaced. Michigan opens with Florida, but will McSorely be the best QB they will face up until this game? This is going to be a battle under the lights in Happy Valley after a long day of tailgating! A week later, PSU will have to be up to the task again when it travels to Columbus to play Ohio State, a team looming for revenge as well as the Lions knocked them off their Big Ten pedestal last season, 24-21. Two important weekends back to back in Big Ten Eastern division play.

I hope to run into my Michigan friends I tailgated with impromptly at the Michigan-Ohio State game in 2015. I’d like to return the favor and I hope the result for U of M turns out the same as it did that day!

Repeat for the Heisman?

We will finish off our October 2017 season with a new venue, a Heisman Trophy winner, and some great friends. This weekend, George Lazarides, who I introduced to tailgating and Navy football last season, and I will head down to Winston-Salem for our first Wake Forest home game ever. There we will meet up with our good friend and Wake Forest alum Jim Harton who we both know well from our old fitness center downstairs in the bowels of our office building where we worked. Jim retired to his native NC and goes to all the Deacon football games down there. We will meet up with him to tailgate and have a great time as we see his Demon Deacons take on the Louisville Cardinals in an ACC clash featuring Cardinal QB Lamar Jackson, Heisman Trophy winner of 2016. Last season, LU shellacked the Old Gold and Black, 44-12. Jackson loses his primary offensive skill position mates from last season. HC Bobby Petrino will be introducing him to a new tailback, a couple of new wide-outs, and a new tight end. Three new starters will plug in losses to graduation up front. On the other side of the football, LU returns nine starters. CB Jaire Alexander tops a returning secondary with his five INTs last season. LB Stacy Thomas will be called on for leadership among the BUs who lose two stalwarts from last year. The Cards went into a tailspin last season losing their last three games. They clubbed Florida State last season 63-20 down in Tallahassee, but they visit FSU the week before this. It may take a toll on them when they come calling on the Demon Deacons. Coming off a 7-6 season with a bowl win, HC Dave Clawson is focused on improving his WFU offense that returns with some significant experience. The question here is similar to the one we have about Syracuse’s defense. How good was the experience for an offense that finished in the bottom 10% in the FBS in scoring, total offense and passing efficiency? We saw their 34-26 win over Temple in the Military bowl last year, but the Cards continue to play outstanding defense. According to Street and Smith, Clawson is leaning to start QB Kendall Hinton who missed most of last season with a knee injury. John Wohlford who filled in adequately for him will probably at the ready again. They’re going to have to move the ball effectively against a tough defense while keeping Lamar Jackson off the field. The Deacs will have tough task coming into this one. Jim will have us pulling for his underdogs.

Lamar Jackson looks to take his second Heisman in a row. Can he do what other before him have failed to do?



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.


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)



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.