Collegefootballfan.com Season 2017 in Review
New record of 27 games in our 39th year!
Welcome to Collegefootballfan.com’s season 2017 in Review, part 2. If you missed our review of our first 13 games of 2017, scroll down. Disappointingly, we finished neither in Atlanta (too expensive for our budget), nor in Frisco, Texas, where Mother Nature grounded Plan B with a major snow storm along the eastern seaboard cancelling our flight and any convenient options to Dallas on Friday, January 5 to attend the FCS national championship game. She thwarted our plan to see at least two national champions play this year. She and the North Dakota State Bison did us in as the winner of five of the last six FCS championships defeated James Madison, 17-13. Had JMU taken the title for its second in a row by defeating the Bison, we’d have attained this distinction since we’d seen them win two other games already in 2017. Clemson gave us a shot to enable us to claim that we’d seen three, but the Tigers’ demise to the Alabama Crimson Tide took away our possibility to see three title winners compete during the 2017 season.
Despite missing the chance to see at least one of two national championship games in 2017, Collegefootballfan.com still set a new site record having attended 27 NCAA college football games in one season. In 2014, we attended 26. 2017 turned out to be great season once again for us, not only because of the action enjoyed on the field of play, but also because we had so many great times with good friends before, after, and during our games. In our Collegefootballfan.com 2017 Season in Review that follows, we summarize our second half of the 2017 season with memorable moments on and off the field of each game attended:
Penn State 42 – Michigan 13 At the start of season 2017, this matchup loomed as our biggest game of the regular season figuring this one had major implications regarding what team in the Big Ten East could represent that conference in the CFP. PSU showed up undefeated, but Jim Harbaugh’s hyped-up Michigan Wolverines showed up blemished already dropping their game with Michigan State, 14-10. The Lions looked to avenge the second of their regular season home losses from the previous year. In front of a record “White-out” crowd of 110,823, Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorely both scored two running TDs and hooked up on a pass play while the defense held Michigan in check on all but two series to win big. The Lions remained in contention, but the Wolverines were done for any shot at the CFP. Michigan fell to all its primary rivals by the end of the season. To make things look even worse for the vaunted Wolverines and their bombastic HC, their come from behind loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl turned out to be the only setback on the Big Ten bowl record as the conference finished 7-1 overall. Michigan finished 8-5 and out of the Top 25.
Wake Forest 42 – Louisville 32 During the course of CFF.com football history, we’ve attended six Demon Deacon games, all on the road. Remarkably they’ve won them all. With our good friend Jim “Bug” Harton retiring to North Carolina to be close to friends, family, and his beloved Wake Forest, we finally got our chance to attend a Deacon home game at BB&T Stadium. Wake hosted Louisville with 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson still leading the Cardinals at QB. After the game we left knowing we’d seen a former Heisman winner play, and that possibly we may have seen a future Heisman candidate in our midst as well. Entering the final period, Wake enjoyed a 35-17 lead thanks to four TD passes from QB John Wohlford to his freshman wide receiver Greg Dortch. Despite, 10 catches for 167 yards and another possible TD catch nullified coming loose in the end zone on a diving catch, Dortsch left the game with a stomach injury that ended his season. We plan to go back to see him again. Jim’s pre-game review to us was on the money. He said that Dortsch was one of the most exciting players he had ever seen. Lamar Jackson played up to his standards as well running for 161 yards and passing for 330 including three TD runs and a TD pass. Adding to a great game, Jim invited us to a great tailgate experience with his WFU frat friends Goober, On-Iron, Earl, and Wheels among others. Louisville finished 7-5 with three more wins before being slain by Mississippi State in the Taxslayer Bowl. Jackson announced he was forgoing his senior season and moving on to play on Sundays. As for the Demon football fortunes, I vowed to Jim and his friends that if Wake made it to the Belk Bowl, to which I had never been, that I’d meet them there near the end of the season. I already intend to get back down to BB&T to see one of the most exciting players in college football play again. Read on!
Temple 34 – Navy 26 On Thursday, November 2, we met up with Annapolis tailgate pals Brian and Jay at The Linc in Philly to see Navy now on the decline at 5-2 having dropped their last two games to Memphis and Central Florida. They faced Temple 3-5, struggling since we saw them get by UMass earlier. However, the Owls had the Mids well-scouted seeing what we noted in their 48-45 win over Air Force and how they were dominated through the air in their two previous losses. The Owls prepared better for Navy’s difficult triple option than any other team ever could have. With a week and a half to prepare against the Mids, their previous loss to Army had given them an additional week to prep for another offense that relied on the triple option. TU had two and half weeks to get ready. It paid off as they held Navy QB Zach Abey to 60 yards on 25 carries. He got injured and the Mids took to the air, but came up short. On the other side of the ball, TU’s Frank Nutile threw for 289 yards and four TDS. Two went to Adonis Jennings who blew by the Navy secondary with his speed to take advantage to gain 127 yards on only five receptions. The Owls got out to a 34-13 advantage into the final period before Garrett Lewis took Navy downfield on two drives scoring through the air. With this win, the Owls built some momentum into the end of the season to finish 6-6 overall and earn a trip to the Gasparilla Bowl (a prime example of why these games should be called Consolation games instead of Bowl games). They defeated Florida International, 28-3. We still had at least one more Navy game on our schedule for the 2017 season. By the way, Brian, Jay, and I enjoyed Philly Cheese Steaks from a Linc concession stand before kickoff. They confirmed what I had discovered last season. What they offer here is much better than what you can get from those well-known Philly tourist traps.
Virginia 40 – Georgia Tech 36 The Virginia Cavaliers overcame an early 15-0 deficit early in this game and overcame a bad case of the dropsies as QB Kurt Benkert lofted a 27-yard TD pass to Andre LeVrone who made a nice over the shoulder catch with 1:22 left in this game to drop Georgia Tech. Like Navy two nights before, the Yellow Jackets abandoned the triple option late in this game to go back and forth against a superior passing attack. The Cavs did not display such an effective air attack to start this game. They could have dominated early if not for at least seven dropped passes. It was an exciting game marked by a TD on a kick-off return, a pick-six, a safety, two-point conversions, multiple lead changes, lightning-quick scores, effective punts, and long scoring plays on the ground and through the air. Despite the rain throughout, we stayed dry getting tickets under cover from a local seller. CFF.com’s first game at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville was highlighted by a special occasion as Brian Donnelly and I we accompanied by my son, Eric, who came up from his Navy base in Little Creek, Virginia. Eric hadn’t had a chance to attend a game this season and he would be deployed after Christmas. He joined us for the game, brews, a tailgate featuring wings and cheese steaks, and dinner at a micro-brewery before we all headed back on Sunday. UVA ‘s Benkert impressed us as the game went on and his teammates started holding on to his passes to total 260 passing yards and three TD passes. GT QB TaQuon Marshall motored his offense. Early in the second period, Tech LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling intercepted and returned a Benkert pass 27 yards for another GT TD to make the score 28-13. UVA mounted its second comeback to tie the score at 28-28 before halftime. This turned out to be an exciting, intense game. Tech finished 5-6 with no bowl invitation. The Cavs finished 6-6, and we would end up attending their bowl game as we had already bought tickets not knowing who we would see at The Military Bowl. By the way, we will not be surprised to see Cav punter Lester Coleman drafted by some team next April. We never saw such an outstanding display of skills keeping an opponent near their goal line so effectively.
Penn State 35 – Rutgers 6 We headed to Penn State again for our third and final game at State College for Season 2017. However, we went disappointed as the Lions dropped their two previous games on the road at Ohio State by one and at Michigan State by three. Their chances for the CFP were very slim, if there was any chance at all. We had big expectations for them prior to this season. Due to some early morning travel changes, Vince Gallo and I took our seats late in the first period with Rutgers in the lead, 6-0. The score deceived though. Penn State players looked like they were sleep-walking against the underdog Scarlet Knights. The stalwart PSU female fan we’d met in front of us at previous games yelled out, “Somebody should tell them this is Rutgers.” PSU woke up and scored 35 points while the defense held the anemic RU offense to 200 yards. QB Trace McSorely ran for the first TD and threw for the second to DaeSean Hamilton to finish the first half. On only 14 carries for 35 yards, Saquon Barkley scored twice with the third. In the final period, McSorley threw to his TE Mike Gesicki for the final score. PSU played second and third teamers defensively in the last quarter. The Lions won, but the game wasn’t a celebration of what we anticipated as another win on the way to the CFP. We planned for the real big celebration when we planned to see the Lions at Maryland to finish in their last game of the regular 2017 season. As for RU, they finished at 4-8 looking to build its Big Ten future on three conference wins achieved this season.
USC 28 – UCLA 23 We looked to finally add this great, traditional crosstown rivalry to among the many other great ones we have already attended. Since early in the season, we anticipated seeing two of the top FBS QBs in all the land in a showdown. Despite UCLA QB Josh Rosen outgunning Sam Darnold of USC 451 yards to 264, Darnold’s superior leadership skill on offense seemed to be the key to the Trojan victory. Both will get drafted in April, but we say Darnold’s leadership capabilities give him the edge at the next level. The Trojans took the early lead in this game and the UCLAns put together long drives but never evened the score. When the Bruins closed to within four, 21-17, Darnold seem to light the spark to get his team on a TD 90-yard drive finished off by a two-yard run. Rosen’s comeback attempt resulted in a 27-yard TD to Jordan Lasley, but the two-point conversion pass attempt misfired. USC ran out the last 2:36. Good rivalry game. Great thanks to our friends Jim and Judy Lewis and their son Danny for hosting us, and it was great to meet up with my niece Emily and her boyfriend Tommy at “LA Live!” for lunch before the game. What impressed us most during this great rivalry, sitting in a perfect sightline, were the UCLA cheerleaders, No. 1 hands down for our 2017 season!
Penn State 66 – Maryland 3 We scheduled this game expecting to celebrate a Penn State send off to the Big Ten Championship. That wasn’t happening. Instead, the win turned out to tie our most lopsided victory of all time with the Lions’ 63-point margin. The Lions have two incentives going for them to apply such devastation on the Terrapins. First was the uncalled-for 2015 hand-shake snub during the coin toss when PSU struggled to overcome sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky debacle. The game marked the first time both met as Big Ten foes and Maryland won, 20-19. In addition, HC James Franklin intends to be Maryland’s biggest recruiting competitor for players both programs will try to attract from the Delmarva region. Penn State QB Trace McSorely completed 22 of 37 passes for 237 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 36 yards and a touchdown. His backup QB, Tommy Stevens, saw a lot of action as RB as well as QB during the course of the game. He carried the ball 12 times for 113 yards and three TDs of 21, three, and six yards. He also threw a five-yard TD pass. Saquon Barkley ran the football 16 times for 77 yards and two early TDs. TE Mike Gesicki hauled in two TDs among his five catches. Everybody on Penn State contributed on offense. They never turned to ball over. Maryland rushed for 124 yards and passed for 179. They fumbled the ball away twice. The Terps finished 4-8, 2-7 in the Big Ten. Good luck to them on the recruiting trail this year. Penn State finished 11-2 with a 35-28 win over Washington in the Fiesta Bowl to finished ranked No. 9. The margin of victory tied that of Virginia Tech’s 63-0 win over Western Michigan we witnessed in 2004.
Coastal Carolina 28 – Georgia Southern 17 We scheduled this game between 2-9 Coastal and 2-9 GSU just to maintain our goal to “see ‘em all.” The CCU Chanticleers played in their first season of FBS football and we wanted to keep pace. We met some fans on our flight down who maintained tight connections with Chanticleer HC Joe Moglia who followed a very interesting and successful path in coaching and in business to get where he is today. However, an illness sidelined him for the season and his video before the game assures CCU fans that he will return next year to keep the Chants on their winning ways. At the FCS level, his team near Myrtle Beach achieved a 51-15 record since he took over the program. Southern scored early in the third period to take a 17-14 lead over the home team. The big turnaround for CCU occurred on a fake punt as Osharmar Abercrombie ran 19 yards for a first down to continue the drive. A 37-yard TD pass from Kilton Anderson to Malcolm Williams put the Chants ahead for good, and Abercrombie’s 41-yard touchdown finalized the score. The Chant defense held the Eagles in check throughout the fourth period to give them their third victory on the final game of the regular season for both teams. We plan to go back to Conway, SC again to see what this program will do with HC Joe Moglia back on the sideline. We look forward to seeing that.
Army 14 – Navy 13 As time expired, Navy’s Bennet Moehring’s field goal attempt of 48 yards missed to the left in Game 554 played during a snow storm with swirling winds at Lincoln Financial Field to give the Cadets of West Point their second consecutive win over arch-rival Navy after 14 straight losses. Army took the lead with 5:10 left on QB Ahmad Bradshaw’s QB sneak and Blake Wilson’s PAT. Army won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 1996. Thanks to Dan Donnelly of DanfromtheTailgate.com, who treks out from California each year to attend this classic game. He coordinates a big get-together with friends from his alma mater, Frostburg State, primarily Ray Carlucci, to have a great grand finale for tailgating at Army-Navy. This year’s menu had everything: Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwiches; Sausage and peppers; Long Island kielbasa, Morristown cheese steaks, South Jersey cheese steaks, Cousin Frank’s burnt end pork rounds, Pulled pork, Dino’s famous pot luck/road kill chili, Brian Donnelly’s Old Bay spice wings, Bubba burgers, Cannoli’s from Calandra’s Bakery in Parsippany, NJ, Pop LeBlanc’s and friends’ lobsters direct from Boston, and more! Bloody Mary’s, Fireball/Rumchata, Evan Williams Honey Bourbon, and all kinds of beers were overflowing in Parking Lot P near Lincoln Financial. Army finished a very successful season under HC Jeff Moncken with an exciting 35-28 win over San Diego State in the Armed Forces Services Bowl for a 10-3 record. With a 6-6 record at the end of regulation, we would follow Navy to Annapolis for the Military Bowl.
Mount Union 12 Mary Hardin-Baylor 0 For the second time in our history, we traveled to Salem, Virginia for the D-3 national championship to be played on Friday night, December 15. On a cold, windy evening, the defenses dominated with 12-time national champion Mount Union leading the defending champs from MH-B, 3-0, going into the final period. MU QB D’Angelo Fulford’s 42-yard TD pass to Justin Hill through Crusader defenders extended the Purple Raider lead, 10-0. Raider defender Nick Brisk, game MVP, tackled MH-B QB Paul Robinson in the end zone for the safety that made the score 12-0. The entire Raider D stymied The Cru offense throughout to take the title back to Alliance, Ohio for the 13th time.
James Madison 51 – South Dakota State 16 The D-3 championship turned out to be even more convenient to attend in our 2017 Season as the FCS semi-final between the host JMU Dukes and the visiting SDSU Jack Rabbits played in Harrisonburg, Virginia about two hours north of Salem. It gave us the chance to attend two games this weekend. For collegefootballfan.com, it was our first game ever at James Madison’s Zane Showker Field at Bridgeforth Stadium, a beautiful setting near the Blue Ridge Mountains. No. 1 and defending FCS champ James Madison let South Dakota State hang close in the first half, but a burst of five consecutive scores in the third period put them on their way to 51-16 victory to head to Frisco, Texas on January 6 to face North Dakota State in the national championship. JMU ‘s defense forced 10 turnovers, nine by QB Tarvyn Christion (six INTs, three fumbles) over the course of the game. Of the first four in the first half, only one resulted in a score by the Duke’s offense. In the second half, the offense got on track and became virtually unstoppable. On the second play from scrimmage, Marcus Marshall broke through the middle for a 65-yard touchdown run. On the third play of the next JMU possession, Marshall out did himself with and 85-yard TD jaunt. Next, the Dukes drove 70 yards on seven plays culminated by Taylor Woods’ three-yard run. Following QB Tarvyn Christion’s third fumble of the game recovered at the Jack Rabbit sixteen, Ethan Ratke’s 24-yard FG went through the uprights. The Duke defense picked off its third pass for its next score. S Raven Greene took it 59 yards for the score and the home crowd frenzied with their Dukes up by a score of 51-10. The SDSU Jack Rabbits finished 11-3 ranked No. 4. JMU went to Frisco for the FCS championship versus North Dakota State. We planned to follow and would be in a position to have seen two national champs play this year, but Mother Nature put the kybosh on that with a snowstorm cancelling our flight until Monday after the game. The Bison defeated the Dukes, 17-13, to take the title for the sixth time in seven years.
Iowa 27 – Boston College 20 In the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, the Hawkeyes scored a touchdown with 3:09 left in the game to win, 27-20, but not before S Josh Jackson sealed the victory with an INT to take away any life left in the Eagles’ faint hopes of a comeback. After running the clock down to 54 seconds, BC took the ball back and the Hawkeyes defense held on to win its first Bowl Trophy in its last five attempts. The Hawkeyes and Purple Eagles went into Q4 tied playing on a slippery field with temps in the teens with Iowa driving at their 46. Our beers froze! Iowa put up a 38-yard FG and BC countered with a 24-yard FG. On the Eagles’ next possession, a sack by Iowa DE Anthony Nelson forced BC QB Darius Wade to fumble and DE Parker Hesse recovered to give Iowa the ball at BC’s 48. Game MVP Akrum Wadley ran it 21 yards to the 27 before Nathan Stanley connected with TE Nate Wietting who bounced in at the one warranting a review. FB Drake Kulick took it in the old-fashioned way with a power drive through the middle to give Iowa (8-5) a 27-20 lead that the defense would never give up in the remaining minutes. Iowa finished 8-5 while BC completed its season at 7-6.
Navy 49 – Virginia 7 The Virginia Cavaliers showed up with the dominant fan base at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium among a paid crowd of 35,791, and kick returner Joe Reed throttled the Mids on the opening kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown. We also saw him return one in the UVA win over Georgia Tech earlier in our season 2017. The Cavs looked like they were going to be a formidable foe for the Mids today as both came in with records of 6-6 overall. However, Reed’s explosive jaunt would be Virginia’s only score of the day. Navy came right back and dominated the Orange and Blue with 452 yards on the ground compared to 175 yards of total offense for UVA to wallop them in the Military Bowl sponsored by Northrop- Grumman. Unlike our first UVA game, QB Kurt Benkert threw poorly. Like that game, his receivers dropped catchable balls when he was on target. Navy’s coaching staff made some adjustments in their secondary to defend against the passes more effectively. On offense, Navy never attempted a pass. Starter Malcolm Perry carried 16 times for 114 yards and two TD runs of 22 and 19 yards. After Perry suffered a leg injury in the second period, Zach Abey, the starter early in the season, took over and garnered MVP honors with 88 yards on 13 carries coring five times with runs from the one three times, the five, and the 20. Navy annihilated UVA for the win and the teams finished their seasons 7-6 and 6-7 respectively.
Wake Forest 55 – Texas A&M 52 The Aggies took a 42-41 lead into the final period. The Aggies and Deacons exchanged the lead three more times until Wake Forest’s Matt Colburn blasted over from the one with 2:28 remaining to take the lead in the Belk Bowl, 55-52. A&M drove to their 44 the following series, but the Demon Deacon defense halted them to preserve their second bowl victory for the first time in school history for two years in a row. For Collegefootballfan.com, our first Belk Bowl set a record for most points scored in a regulation game with 107 total points. In 1999, we attended Army’s 59-52 victory over Louisville, but two OTs attributed to the final score. We attended the Belk with good friend and Wake alumnus Jim Harton along with his fellow WFU classmates I had met this season at the Wake vs. Louisville game. All of Jim’s (“Bugs’”) cohorts still refer to each other by their collegiate nicknames. I now belong to this elite club with a nickname of my own – “8 and 0” Koreivo. That’s Wake’s record for all their games I’ve attended including three bowl games. They want me and WR Greg Dortch back bad next season!
Unexpectedly, the Belk Bowl turned out to be my last game attended in the 2017 season. The FBS championship in Atlanta fell way out of my price range, and Mother nature ruined my travel plans for the FCS title game I intended to see on January 6 in Frisco. Despite these disappointments, as you’ve read, I probably could not have asked for a more fun, exciting, memorable season seeing some personal records broken. Also, we attended most having great times with good friends met over the years and with some new ones who we hope to get together with for more tailgate festivities in the future. For more details about each game, check out our original Game reviews on this site. We’re already planning our 2018 schedule to do it all again next season. Our 2017 season will be hard to top, but like the players we see compete every weekend during the fall, we’ll give it our best shot.
Check back soon as we will do “Super” memories, our 2018 pre-draft preview, our tribute to a departed friend who passed on in October, and other offseason updates in Steveo’s Salvos to keep our guns blasting about this great game of college football. We can’t wait until next college football season!