Steveo’s Salvos – October 8, 2015

This weekend is our first Double-Header Saturday of the 2015 season. And with the New York Mets headed into the National League Division Playoffs at 9:45 EST on Friday night for the first time since 2006, this could be a long, sleepless but exciting weekend for We will hang in for the late night game televised late from Las Angeles where knowing that we have plans to get going early to West Point on Saturday morning, our beloved Mets will probably play an extra inning game. We plan to get up early Saturday to beat a sell-out crowd to Michie Stadium for a 12 noon kick off. The Cadets (1-4) will be hosting Duke (4-1, 1-0). The Black Knights fell at Penn State last weekend, only 20-14. Their four losses have been by a total of 20 points. Junior LB and Captain Jeremy Timpf leads the Army defense. Duke enters this game with consecutive wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College at home after a 19-10 loss on the road to No. 23 Northwestern. The Blue Devils offense runs with QB Thomas Sirk who has thrown for 1,063 yards and six TDs while tied for the team lead in rushing with 272 yards and two TDs. Army, playing its 125th season of intercollegiate football will run its triple option averaging 287.8 yards per game. QB Ahmad Bradshaw leads the team in rushing with 341 yards. Last week, Senior QB AJ Schurr filled in for him at Penn State. We look for FB Matt Giachinta to be a key this week to make their running game more effective…

Hoping for clear skies this Saturday to get our college football DH off to a good start. Go Army!

Hoping for clear skies this Saturday to get our college football DH off to a good start. Go Army!

After this game, we will head south to New Brunswick, NJ for the 8 pm night cap between No. 4 Michigan State (5-0, 1-0) and host Rutgers (2-2,0-1) who will have WR Leonte Caroo back in the lineup after being exonerated for assault charges against a woman who was a Scarlet Knight hostess who decided not to press charges. The Newark Star Ledger reports that the University has hired a law firm specializing in NCAA lawsuits to investigate the numerous charges and scandals in their football program. Head coach Kyle Flood will be absent once again in his third and final game of his suspension. Norries Wilson will again serve as HC. Under him, they ‘ve lost to Penn State and beaten Kansas. RU did not play last week. MSU comes off an unimpressive 24-21 win over Purdue which knocked them out as the No. 2 team in the nation. The Spartan defense has 18 sacks and forced 11 turnovers so far this season. Its D is led by New Jersey native and DE Shilique Calhoun who has 4.5 sacks. QB Connor Cook brings in 977 passing yards for 10 TDs and only one INT. His primary receiver is Aaron Burbridge who has 25 receptions and four for scores…Of historical notes: we saw Michigan State defeat Rutgers, 34-10, on September 29, 1990 at The Meadowlands. On September 12, 2009, we ran a bus trip to West Point where we watched Duke defeat Army on a rainy day, 35-19. On October 25, 1986, we attended the Rutgers-Army game at Giants Stadium that afternoon where the Scarlet Knights defeated the Black Knights, 35-7. From East Rutherford we headed to Flushing, Queens, NY where we attended the most memorable game in NY Mets history when we watched a ground ball go through first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs as the Mets defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. After the MSU-RU game this Saturday, we will probably catch the end of game two of the NLDS from LA on the radio and tv. We will have to recover from a second late night to write up two game reviews on Sunday, so they may be short! Of course on November 21, we will be back up at West Point to celebrate our 500th game where Knights of both colors will joust once again!…

MSU visits Rutgers Stadium Saturday night at 8 pm.

MSU visits Rutgers Stadium Saturday night for an 8 pm kickoff.

We have seven of this week’s Top 25 on our current schedule this season: 1.) Ohio State, 4.) Michigan State, 12. ) Florida State, 15.) Notre Dame, 17. ) USC, 18.) Michigan, 24.) Toledo. In addition, two other FBS teams already seen are undefeated, Temple (4-0) and Navy (4-0). This week, Navy will play at Notre Dame. On October 31, we will see Temple host ND at The Linc. In addition to Temple and Navy, two other American Athletic teams remain undefeated, Memphis and Houston. One of the four AAC’s has to get a shot at climbing into the Top 25 if they can finish the season unscathed after winning their championship game on December 5. If they can, they will be challenging Toledo and No. 25 Boise State for that non-Power Five Conference spot among the 12 major bowl bids… Instead of showcasing QB Christian Hackenberg for the NFL, maybe HC James Franklin should start developing Penn State’s future by inserting Freshman Trace McSorley at QB. PSU die-hard John Massimilla reported that it was frustrating once again to see “Hack” play again last Saturday… Here’s our take on the way the pollsters think, regretfully. Michigan State defeated 1-4 Purdue, 24-21, and fell two spots from No. 2 to No. 4, and rightly so. Had an undefeated No. 2 Ole Miss beaten a 1-4 Vanderbilt last week (instead of suffering a 38-10 loss at Florida) by the same score, not only would Ole Miss remained at No. 2, but Vanderbilt probably would’ve cracked the Top 25!..On Oct. 17, we will see the C-USA match-up between Old Dominion (2-3, 0-1) and our team # 129 Charlotte (2-3, 0-1) in Norfolk. They will both go in with exact records after this weekend because neither plays this Saturday…

We return to Foreman Field on October 17 to see Old Dominion play for the second year in a row.

We return to Foreman Field on October 17 to see Old Dominion play for the second year in a row.

Teams on our slate this season finished 15-9 last weekend. Only Rutgers did not play…If Philadelphia Eagle HC Chip Kelly keeps it up in the NFL, he will probably be one of the most sought after prospects for a college job next season at the level where his read-option offense works best as he’s proven at Oregon and New Hampshire… We’re surprised that some beleaguered program hasn’t called on Greg Schiano, formerly of Rutgers. It seems he could dig a downtrodden program up from the dregs, but just can’t get it to the top. RU may have given him too much time (5 years) before he started winning. Nobody else may want to wait that long…Talk about hot seats, Texas gave Charlie Strong a lot of money to turn the Long Horns into a stampede, but the 50-7 shellacking at the hands of TCU set him way back. He may not make it through year two of his contract. UT is one of the programs that can afford to pay him while he’s out of work… Mizzou dunked South Carolina last week while the rains flooded out the Gamecocks home back in Columbia, South Carolina. This Saturday’s game against LSU has been moved to Baton Rouge. Classes are cancelled at school, student’s cars are floating around in parking lots, railroad tracks are damaged, and water is not running on campus. Things are a mess down there. In their football program, too. I can’t see Spurrier talking about celebrating anything after this season like he said his team did after finishing 7-6 last year. I think the Old Ball Coach is finished as a HC…Big SEC East game this week when Mizzou (4-1) hosts No. 11 Florida (5-0)…

QB Maty Mauk who started for Mizzou last year ahs been suspended from the team and replaced by Frosh QB Drew Lock.

QB Maty Mauk (7) who started for Mizzou last year has been suspended from the team and replaced by Frosh QB Drew Lock.  They play Florida this weekend in a battle for the lead in the SEC East.

Utah State replaced injured QB Chuckie Heeton last week with Kent Myer and he led the Aggies to a 33-18 win over Colorado State. Myer threw for 137 yards and a score and rushed for 191 yards and another TD. We will see USU in action against Air Force on November 14 in Colorado Springs…Among our FCS teams, Delaware upset William and Mary … The top Five FCS schools are Jacksonville State (probably because of the OT loss to Auburn), Coastal Carolina (5-0), North Dakota State, Illinois State, and James Madison. Teams of note we see play often among the Top 25 include surprising No. 13 Fordham (4-1), No. 14 Villanova (2-2) , No. 21 New Hampshire (3-2) , and No. 24 Harvard, projected to win the Ivy league again. Dartmouth, Princeton and Stony Brook all received votes…Bo Pellini’s Youngstown State Penguins (3-1) are at No. 9…Former ND State HC Craig Bohls of three national FCS championships is now 0-5 at Wyoming this season losing last week to Appalachian State, 31-13. That was not expected after a 4-8 start last season…Princeton defeated Columbia, 10-5, in an Ivy League game played last Friday night. That’s got to be Al Bagnoli, former Penn coach, starting to show signs of improvement for the Lions. Let’s keep an eye on him…Last week we decided to plan to go to see Franklin and Marshall play at Johns Hopkins as one of our options for a game on November 7. We were hoping for a clash between two undefeated D3 teams playing for their Centennial Conference championship. Well, JHU remained unbeaten beating up The Alma Mater, Juniata, but F&M fell to Dickinson, 13-7. We may still go. It could be our best option that weekend… Wisconsin – Whitewater is still No. 1 in D-3 with 21 votes at 4-0 followed by No. 2 Mount Union at 4-0, as usual. Linfield (Ore), Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) , and Wesley of Delaware round out the Top Five in D3. Johns Hopkins is ranked at No. 10, Rowan is at No. 14, and Cortland State (5-0) is 15th. Wesley, now of the NJAC , hosts conference foe Kean this weekend followed by undefeated Rowan on October 24. Kean and Rowan will both be significant underdogs in these games, but if strange things do happen, we could see the two of them play one another on November 7. Our former Little League baseball player Matt Hill is a junior offensive tackle at Kean University this season…

Penn State (4-1,1-0) hosts Indiana (4-1, 0-1) in fifth starting game in Happy Valley this Saturday at noon.

Penn State (4-1,1-0) hosts Indiana (4-1, 0-1) in its fifth straight home game in Happy Valley this Saturday.  The kickoff is at noon.

Countdown to Game # 500; Game #491

Navy takes charge in Commander-in-Chief competition grounding Air Force, 33-11

Annapolis, Maryland (Oct. 3) – The US Naval Academy (4-0) forced four turnovers and QB Keenan Reynolds totaled 300 yards in offense to take a 21-0 lead over C-I-C Trophy rival Air Force (2-2, 1-0)  by halftime to eventually win, 33-11, in its first of two games to win the coveted prize annually sought among the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. Reynolds rushed for 183 yards and passed for 117 despite the Falcons keying on him during the entire game.  They did prevent him from crossing the goal line in his opportunity to surpass Wisconsin’s Montee Ball this season to become the leading scorer in FBS history with 500 points. He will have eight more regular season games after this one to top that mark.  He did throw a touchdown pass and teammates Chris Swain and Demond Brown carried the ball into the end zone to finish off drives set up by the opportunities by Navy’s defense. LB Daniel Gonzales led the D in tackles with 11. Both running the triple option offense, navy outgained Air Force 270 to 204 yards on the ground, but turnovers were the key to this victory for the Midshipman.  For, it was the 25th Navy win that we’ve attended over the years.  As usual, we enjoyed our time in the great Capitol city of Annapolis along the Severn River despite the pending and subsequent rain storms that caused some flooding later in the evening.

Flyovers were cancelled, but the tradition of Navy and Air Force exchanging "prisoners" (exchange students) was not affected by the weather.

Flyovers were cancelled, but the tradition of Navy and Air Force exchanging “prisoners” (exchange students) was not affected by the weather.

     Navy thwarted Air Force’s triple option right away forcing a three and out, and then came back with their version of the same offensive scheme ending a 63-yard drive with FB Chris Swain (18 carries for 54 yards, two TDs) taking it in from the two-yard line for a quick 7-0 lead.  Air Force was in a retaliatory mode driving from its 34 down to the one-yard line, but they came up empty on a fourth and goal when DE Will Anthony and S Kwazel Bertrand stopped FB Shayne Davern short on the one to take over on downs.  The Mids couldn’t move far and punted.  The Falcons started from at the Navy 39, but a misplay on a pitch out recovered by Betrand gave Navy possession again from the 36.

Navy defense stops Air Force on a fourth and goal at the one in the first period.

Navy defense stops Air Force on a fourth and goal at the one in the first period.

     To start the second period after introducing the 1960 USNA Cotton Bowl team, the Mids continued to drive. Reynolds (4 for 10 passes for 117 yards, 1 TD) fired to WR Thomas Wilson for his only reception of the game and a 27-yard touchdown.  Navy led, 14-0.  After the kick return to the 33, Air Force QB Karson Roberts  (9 carries for 45 yards and 5 for 12 passing for 73 yards) fumbled at the 16 and the ubiquitous Bertrand recovered the ball once again to take over at the 16.  After another Navy punt, LB Zach Hester tipped the ball and CB Brendon Clements picked off a pass by Roberts.  The Navy D had the Air Force Falcons stymied offensively.  Not able to capitalize again though, Navy once again took over the ball on a fumble by USAFA WR Garrett Brown, recovered by LB DJ Palmore. From the 32, Reynolds went around right end for 67 yards before being taken out at the one.  SB Demond Brown took it over from the one for the 21-0 halftime lead.

Demond Brown (25) scores Navy's third TD of the first half.

Demond Brown (25) scores Navy’s third TD of the first half.

     The rain covering the east coast most of the weekend started around halftime after the skies around Annapolis had remained cloud covered since the morning after a driving rain storm we travelled through the night before.  Guest Game Analyst Frank Lorito and I came well prepared to stay dry as well as warm.  The two flyovers scheduled before kickoff were regretfully  cancelled due to the weather.  The Cotton Bowl team introduced before the second period finished 9-2 that season losing in the bowl game to Missouri, 21-14. They beat 10-1 Washington and 6-3-1 Army that season. Duke was their only other loss that year. Villanova and Penn who they rarely play any more and a 2-8 Notre Dame team were defeated.  Navy beat SMU in Norfolk, bested Air Force in Baltimore, and ND and Army games were won in Philly.  Heisman winner Joe Bellino was a member of the team and Hall of Fame Coach Wayne Hardin was their HC.  The Navy and Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps performed together at the half playing “God Bless America”, “Wild Blue Yonder”, “Anchors Aweigh!” and the “Marine Corps Hymn.”  During the game, the scoreboard video featured clips by Mids of how “Chair Force Cadets” were striving to qualify as Midshipman while performing various feats with folding chairs attached to their butts. They could not qualify the rigorous testing, of course.  All in good fun, for the home team Mids, of course. By the way, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium offers the best college football  score updates compared to many other sites we’ve been to.  It goes beyond scores of the Top 25 or conference foes. With fans and a student body from throughout the country, they do a good job of keeping everyone there informed about all the games of interest, even FCS game updates.

The 1960 Navy Cotton Bowl team was honored between after the first period of the Air Force game.

The 1960 Navy Cotton Bowl team was honored between after the first period of the Air Force game.

    To start the third period Navy poured it on. They drove from the 75 to a first and goal at the four where it took them four attempts until Chris Swain scored from the one.  The missed PAT made it, 27-0.  A questionable forward pass call reversed another Air Force fumble that could have increased the Navy margin even more, but the Falcons put three points up with Drew Oeherle’s 39 yard FG late in the third to nix the Navy shutout, 27-3.

   In the fourth, the Air Force continued to march 53 yards with Roberts going over the right side for a one-yard TD run, and also brought it in on  two-point conversion to trail Navy, 27-11. On the next Navy drive, a 33-yard pass to WR Craig Scott was a key play resulting in Austin Grebe’s 37-yard FG.  Navy forced another USAFA punt and a 40-yard run by Reynolds to the three set up another Grebe FG, this time for 24 yards, to give the Mids a 33-11 lead with 1:56 left.  The game was over and the teams gathered on the field in front of their respective Corps and Brigade to sing the alma maters before the Brigade of Midshipman was granted ‘special liberty” for the weekend for spirit the week before the game and for beating Air Force. Some USNA alum nearby lamented, “Hey, we never got that.” The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is still a top football priority in “Crab Town.” Beating Army by far comes in at first.

Air Force QB Roberts stopped for no gain.

Air Force QB Roberts (16)  stopped for no gain.

   Next up for Air Force (2-2, 1-0) is 0-5 Wyoming at home in a Mountain West Conference game. We look forward to seeing the Falcons play for the first time in Colorado Springs when we go out there on November 14 to see them host Utah State.  The Mids take their 4-0 record to South Bend next Saturday to play the 4-1 Fighting Irish who fell to Clemson, 24-22, in very wet conditions down in South Carolina where it continues to flood. pulls off our first double header weekend of the season next Saturday when we head first to West Point for a noon kickoff between Duke (4-1, 2-0) and Army (1-4) who comes off a 20-14 loss to Penn State.  After that game, we will hustle down to the Birthplace of College Football, NJ to see Rutgers (2-2) host No. 4 Michigan State who just got by Purdue, 24-21. We will catch up on some pregame tailgating down there.

And the winner is...NAVY!

And the winner is…NAVY!

Extra points: Frank and I headed to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Saturday to park at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church across from the Stadium. On the way down, I we stopped at a parking lot to get on the phone to do our radio interview with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports” on his program on WNER in Watertown, NY.  From the church, we walked downtown to O’Brien’s for some Bloody Mary’s and to watch some non games meeting other fans catching up on some action, too.  We walked back up to tailgate little before meeting up with season ticket holders Brian Donnelly, “Navy Al”, Navy vet Jay, and their token Air Force fan/friend Jim to hang out before the 3:30 kickoff game to share some tales around the tailgate.  It was good to see them, and we plan to catch up again at Army game and at the Military Bowl to be played in Annapolis.

Navy’s overall record in our attendance is 25-34.  It’s improved vastly over the last few years  with the success they’ve had as they’ve won seven of the last eight we’ve seen them play. We see the next few years’ schedules and it looks like Navy (and Army) are giving their fellow Patriot league foes a shot to play football on TV with them in front of some good crowds (Army and Navy are Patriot League members in most sports, but not football). This year, Army opened with Colgate. Next year they open by hosting Fordham and two years later against Lehigh.  Army opened with Fordham this year losing 37-35 and they will play Bucknell in a few weeks. Georgetown, Holy Cross, and Lafayette are other Patriot League football teams.  With Navy now playing eight American Athletic Conference football games and committed to playing Army, Air Force, and Notre Dame every year, there is only room to play one other non-conference opponent during a 112-game season.  In 2017, they open against Florida International. In 2018, they are able to add a 13th game by playing at Hawaii before opening at home against Lehigh.

We’re glad to see Navy starting the games again with “Danger Zone” with clips from the movie, “Top Gun.”

Looking at rosters of both teams, it seems Navy recruits more side spread throughout he county than does Air Force.  USAFA seems to recruit primarily west of the Mississippi and down in Georgia. We’re surprised at this knowing that all the academies get appointments through Congressional reps from all 50 states. Kids from all over seem to express interest in flying.  I’m surprised USAFA can’t or doesn’t recruit better from other regions than what they do now.

After the game, Frank and I had dinner at the packed Federal House Restaurant downtown where we watched the early evening games.  We went to walk off some of our dinner and tailgating libations by heading to the Annapolis city pier. However, the high tide had rolled in and with all the rain the drains started backing up casing parking lots to flood. Patrons of the restaurants there were surprised to come out and find knee -deep water where they had parked their cars within the hour. Now the couldn’t open car doors without the water rushing in. Boats docked along the sea walls had been removed as it was feared that the tide might come over and carry the boats over. Their big boat show start next Thursday there.  We headed over to the Annapolis Cigar Factory store to smoke some Stogies, have few drinks, and watch the Notre Dame -Clemson game. It’s become an Annapolis tradition for us.  We watched the game with a nice guy who recently retired from the city of Annapolis and we talked about sports and good times growing up as kid when we did. We just reminisced about how growing up in our days was so different than today. We’re glad we were kids when we were. A trio of Air Force pilots, two brothers and a wife, came in  a little later and oblivious to everything around them.  The Chair Force couldn’t handle their liquor as well as we do.

Go Navy!

Go Navy!

Steveo’s Salvos – September 30, 2015

Last week, teams on our schedule this year won 13 and lost 5.  Five did not play. We decided to drop our Nov. 7 game plan to see either Lafayette or Lehigh based on who had the more competitive game that day against Colgate or Holy Cross respectively. Both teams are looking feeble thus far as are their guests. Lehigh is 2-2 while the other three are 1-3 and going nowhere. Fordham (3-1) looks like the cream of the Patriot League this year. The last two Saturdays, Princeton defeated Lafayette, 40-7, and Lehigh, 52-26. Neither team is going anywhere. We may decide to go to a D-3 game that could feature two undefeated teams vying for a conference championship and an automatic playoff if we see Franklin and Marshall at Johns Hopkins. New venue and more competitive contest than other higher division games we’re contemplating…

Since Lafayette and Lehigh have already stumbled this season, we don't have any plans to see them this year. Last year we saw them play the 150th game against one another at Yankee Stadium.

Since Lafayette and Lehigh have both already taken too many tumbles this season, we cancelled plans to see them this year. Last year we saw them play the 150th game against one another at Yankee Stadium.

This week’s game is under the duress of Hurricane Joachim crawling up the east coast. We’re keeping a close eye on it. This would be a huge disappointment to miss as it’s our only weekend planned in Annapolis which we love to go to every year. Besides, it’s undefeated Navy (3-0) hosting archrival Air Force (2-1). Don’t think this game means anything to these schools? In preseason practice interviews, Navy co-captains NT Bernard Sarra and QB Keenan Reynolds were asked by pundits if the new membership in the American Athletic Conference meant that their priority now was winning the conference. Both, interviewed separately, answered that the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy was still their team’s top priority. Supremacy over the other two academies still takes precedence for Navy, Air Force, and Army. Not only will it be a great game, but Keenan Reynolds has already scored nine TDS in the first three games. That brings him to a total of 422 career points, 78 short of Wisconsin RB Montee Ball’s all-time record of 500. He’s still got nine regular season games ahead of him and possibly two more with a conference championship game and a bowl game. Maybe Navy can send some ships to sea to escort Joachim away from the east coast this weekend…

Junior Toneo Gulley (22) returns among a stable of slotbacks in Navy's offense this year.

Junior Toneo Gulley (22) returns among a stable of Slotbacks playing for Navy’s offense this year.

Just when we thought pollsters were waking up to reality, they fooled us again. When will they learn? Auburn drops out of the polls with an overtime win over FCS Jacksonville State, a loss to LSU, and a loss of confidence in their QB Jeremy Johnson who was all their rage before the season. He got benched against Mississippi State. State had been bounced the previous week from the Top 25. A loss to LSU and a waste of a blowout against FCS Northwestern State dropped them. So they beat Auburn 17-9. Not only do they climb back in, but they leap past teams with more impressive resumes like Michigan, Cal, and yes, even SEC foe Florida. This week they play No. 14 Texas A&M. They win and they both stay in. They lose, who knows what the pollsters will do? This SEC love affair is sickening. Half of the teams in the American Athletic Conference already have more impressive wins than MSU does, and they are only in the “also receiving votes” category. That may change soon… Last week, Rutgers defeated Kansas at home in what many considered a game between the two worst teams among the Power Five conferences. Luckily for RU, it was home game as KU continued on a 32-game road losing streak. Unluckily for Rutgers that now has seven players suspended for various criminal activities, their upcoming schedule looks like this starting on October 10: No. 2 Michigan State, at Indiana (4-0 now and facing reality this week against Ohio State), No. 1 Ohio State, at No. 19 Wisconsin, at No. 22 Michigan, at Nebraska. Talk about losing streaks…Then they meet in our Game 500 against Army at West Point. Army (1-3) won last Saturday at Eastern Michigan, 58-36. The Black Knight defense was playing better up until this one. By the time Rutgers shows up, they could be slightly dinged up coming into Michie Stadium. The Black Knights with their triple option may be more formidable than RU thinks. They rushed for 566 yards and seven TDS against the Eagles (1-3)…We decided to keep our DH Saturday of October 10 intact. In a noon start, we will see Army host Duke who had a key win over Georgia Tech last week, 38-22. The Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0) face Boston College this weekend and could take a second significant step to challenge for the Coastal Division title. QB Thomas Sirk mixes up the run and pass well. After this game is over, we head down to Jersey on I-287 expecting to see No. 2 Sparty thrash around Rutgers…

Army practiced hand-to-hand combat in their spring game to get ready for the likes of Duke, Rutgers, andNavy, who we will see them all play this season.

Army practiced hand-to-hand combat in their spring game to get ready for the likes of Duke, Rutgers, and Navy, who we will see them all play this season.

The alma mater, Juniata College, faltered this last week to 1-3,0-3 with a 24-7 loss to Franklin and Marshall. Next up for them is D-3 No. 10 Johns Hopkins averaging 52 points per game. It made us note both F&M and JHU are undefeated and could be on a collision course for the Centennial Conference Championship. The game is at Hopkins which we hear has top rate facilities based on funding from its D-1 Lacrosse program…My move to get Ohio State at Michigan tickets this year looks better than I thought. Jim Harbaugh’s got the Wolverines at 3-1 with a 31-0 win over BYU who was ranked last week. He’s got them playing nasty again. That’s going to be some game at Ann Arbor. I picked the right year for that rivalry! Kicking around USC vs. UCLA next year…Charlotte and Old Dominion both are coming down to earth now at 2-2. We see them play in Norfolk on October 17. We see that Appalachian State whipped ODU, 49-0. What scares us is that we saw Appy beat Georgia State a year ago, 44-0. We thought the Monarchs would be much better than GSU this year. GSU fell to the 49ers, 23-20. The lost to Middle Tennessee, 73-14! As we suspect, there will be lot of points scored by these two teams when we see them play at Foreman Field. We go with the primary intention as adding Charlotte as our 129th team to maintain our goal “to see ’em all!”…Notre Dame (4-0) stomped struggling UMass last week, 62-27. Now the Irish visit 4-0 Clemson in what some people consider a playoff game into the CFP. Even if the Irish win, they have Navy and USC after the Tigers, but we look forward to October 31 now as we plan to see the Irish visit Temple in The Linc in Philly where both teams could be undefeated. TU only beat UMass by two points two weeks ago. After a bye last week, it was probably a good time to have off to reflect on where they are now. Their schedule leading up to the Irish is not as formidable starting at Charlotte, Tulane, UCF, and then at ECU. The game in Philly is already close to sold out. Temple fans showed up faithfully for their win over Penn State. It should be raucous if both show up undefeated…


ND’s defense suffered many injuries prior to last season’s Music City Bowl victory, but they are healthier and better this season to take on Clemson this weekend.

No one in the AAC is ranked yet, but among Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Temple, we might see one of these challenging for that non-Power Five team in the CFP this year. Also, look for some of their head coaches to become hot items when Power Five schools are looking to replace their fired Head Coaches at the end of this season –particularly Justin Fuente of Memphis and Tom Herman of Houston…Colorado (3-1) defeated Colorado State to finish 3-1 in very weak non-conference games. Now the fun begins before we see them host USC on November 13. Picked to finish last in the PAC 12 South, they next play Oregon, at Arizona State, Arizona, at Oregon State, at UCLA, and Stanford. I say there are a few upsets in that mix…Other scores of note: after a 17-10 loss to Ohio State, Northern Illinois fell at Boston College, 17-14. NIU is no slouch when it comes to competing with Power Five teams. QB Troy Flutie threw a TD pass for BC…Buffalo is 2-2 after a loss to Nevada. John Massimilla saw the Bulls loss to Penn State, 27-10. He said to me last week, “Watch out for Buffalo.” We said this from the beginning. New HC Lance Leipold looks like he will do wonders there after winning six D3 championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He’s hardly had a chance to recruit yet. Success this season will prove he can coach. Next up for the Bulls is 2-2 Bowling Green. The two wins came over Big Ten Bottom feeders Maryland, 48-27, and Purdue, 35-28. We think Leipold will eventually find a home in the Big Ten and do great things…East Carolina had a big non–con win for the AAC beating Virginia Tech for the second year in a row, 35-28…Central Florida is struggling at 0-4 including one-point losses to Florida International and to FCS Furman. George O’Leary’s squad has nothing but AAC games left including Temple, Houston, Cincinnati, and ECU…In D3, No. 2 Mt. Union marinated Marietta, 61-0 while UW Whitewater got by D-2 NAIA Morningside, 33-30. The Mustangs of Sioux City, Iowa were 3-0 with an average score of 70-9 coming in before it fell to the defending D-3 national champ. They were selected as the preseason Top NAIA team by The Sporting News. Wesley College in Delaware ,now of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, defeated North Central of Illinois in a battle of perennial Top 25 teams (64-6 in ten years 10 conference play), 50-49. On the opposite end of the spectrum, two other new schools in the NJAC met, Salisbury State thrashed Southern Virginia, 91-3. It just doesn’t seem right. Craig Bohl is taking his lumps in his second year at Wyoming after three straight FCS championships at North Dakota State. New Mexico beat his Cowboys, 38-28, to fall to 0-4… In the FCS, our plans to see Villanova or New Hampshire in this year’s playoffs look sketchy. Both are unexpectedly 2-2. Last week, Nova was beaten for the first time in 14 tries by the Penn Quakers, 24-13. The Wildcats got stoned at Stony Brook by the Seawolves, 31-6. The good news though is that the James Madison Dukes look to sit atop the Colonial Athletic Conference. If we attend the D-3 Championship on Friday night, December 18 in Salem, VA, we may be able to see the Dukes play in a semi-final the next day in Harrisonburg right up I-81…Who’ll stop the rain, Joachim? Blow out to sea as we have an appointment for a big game in Annapolis this Saturday. Go Navy!

Despite the return QB Sean Goldrich at UNH, the Wildcats have struggled early this season.

Despite the return of Senior QB Sean Goldrich at UNH, the Wildcats have struggled early this season.



Count down to Game # 500; Game #490

71-yard fumble return puts Penn State past San Diego State,  37-21

State College, PA – Penn State’s 323-lb DT Austin Johnson picked up a fumble by San Diego State QB Max Smith forced by DE Carl Nassib and rambled, somewhat slowly, for a 71-yard TD run to give the Lions a 13-point cushion to hold off the SDSU Aztecs (1-3) for a 37-21 win.  Despite continued accuracy problems by PSU QB Christian Hackenberg (21 for 35, 296 yards, 3 TDs), he connected for some long passes and three TDs all in the first half.  A personal highlight for was to meet our good friend and the all-time No. 1 fan of San Diego State football, Tom Ables and his son Ken, right before the game.  Tom was attending his 761st SDSU game ever. The last Aztec game he missed was back in 1964.  Today was his 591st SDSU game in a row since then! He’s still travelling wherever his team goes, and he’s battled the elements including snow storms in Wyoming to get to see them on several occasions.  Now that’s dedication.

Tom and I meet before the game as his son Ken and Mike Ford, next to me, look on.

Tom and I meet before the game as his son Ken and Mike Ford, next to me, look on.

Penn State (3-1,1-0) drew first blood as RB Saquon Barkley took a middle screen pass and dove over the goal line for a 22-yard score.  The lead was quickly knotted at seven all when Rashaad Perry of the Aztecs returned the kick off starting from his end zone to the center of the field, picking up some blockers, and racing untouched down the right sideline for a 100-yard score.  On a 34-yard run by Barkley and two consecutive completions by Hackenberg, the Lions got into position to tack on three more points on a 40-yard FG by frosh Joey Julius to lead, 10-7, going into the second quarter.

After a three-and-out by the Aztecs, the Lions got into field goal range again with key plays on a 42-yard completion to Saeed Blacknall and a 21-yard run by Barkley. Jones made his kick good from the 24 to lead, 13-7.  A 55-yard run by Perry brought SDSU to the 20. QB Max Smith fired to WR Mikah Holder in back of the end zone in the left corner for a great catch to give the visitors a 14-13 advantage. The Tec’s defense next blocked a 55-yard FG attempt by Jones and took over at their own 38 but could not capitalize.  They forced the Lions to punt from the 29, but returner Lloyd Mills fumbled and Chris Goodwin recovered to set up a new drive for the Lions at SDSU’s 27.  At the 13, “Hack” hit RB Mark Allen in the left flat and he crossed the goal line for a 20-13 lead with 1:03 left in the second.  The Aztecs took over and DE Garrett Sickels forced a fumble by Donnel Pumphrey that was recovered by PSU DT Anthony Zettel.  Penn State took advantage as Hackenberg threw his third TD pass of the first half from 11 yards to Chris Godwin for a 27-14 halftime lead.

It was a great day for tailgating. Besides Tom and Ken Ables coming out to State College from San Diego for the first time, I also brought along a couple of other first-timers to Beaver Stadium as well.  Dave Headden ( Ohio Wesleyan) and Mike Ford (Providence College) came to enjoy great weather and great tailgate food including beef brisket served  up by John and Kelle Massimilla as part of the pre-game tailgate festivities. My daughter, Alex, a disappointed South Carolina Gamecock graduate with her alma mater struggling so far this season, also joined up as she had enjoyed many visits to State College since she was a little kid. Also meeting up with us a little while before the game was long-time CFF fan “Seton (Hall)” Fred Bacchetta and his sons Mark (Delaware) and Stephen (Montclair State).  Living in Roxbury, NJ, they’d come to see their good friend Angelo Mangiro start at center for the Nittany Lions. “Evan Williams” and “Jeremiah Weed” also made guest appearances.  It was a great time and a good game with a lot of memorable plays according to Mike Ford.  He and Dave said they’d like to do it again and possibly see the Lions play a Big Ten opponent in the future.  Mike wants to still try to figure a way he can bring down some lobsters from Rhode Island next time he joins to add to our tailgate.  We convinced him this time that it would be too difficult to get a boiling pot to cook them right this time. Mike couldn’t leave after the game without finding a PSU “Happy Valley” shirt that he purchased after the game to wear back in his native Rhode Island.  He remembers way back when Penn State defeated Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl.  It made his late father very happy that a team from the east was making a mark for itself showing that a program from out here could beat the best from anywhere else.

John, me, Dave, Mike, and Alex with Mound Nittany in the background.

John, me, Dave, Mike, and Alex with Mount Nittany in the background.

Like PSU in the first half, San Diego State punted and PSU fumbled where the Aztec’s Luke Bussey recovered at the Lions’ 21.  Donnel Pumphrey (18 carries for 56 yards, 1 TD) brought SDSU to within 27-21 on a one-yard TD run.

In the final period, Nassib’s tackle and Johnson’s rumble gave the Lions a 34-21 lead for more cushion with 13:44 remaining.  The next PSU possession resulted in Jones’s 26 -yard FG to finalize the days’ scoring and neither team mounted any sustainable drives afterward.  The Lions made the valley happy, 37-21.

The Lions will host their fourth of five consecutive home games when Army (1-3) off their first victory of the season this past Saturday when they defeated Eastern Michigan, 58-36. The Cadets and Lions will be playing each other for the first time since 1979 when PSU triumphed at Beaver Stadium when it had a much smaller capacity of about 60,000, 24-3.  It is sold out and it will be appropriately celebrated as Military Day.  The Aztecs with Super fan Tom Ables return to Qualcomm Stadium to start Mountain West Conference play against Fresno State (1-3,0-1). will be having a Military day of our own when we head to Annapolis, Maryland to see Air Force (2-1) visit Navy (3-0, 2-0) for the first round of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Last season, Air Force won the hardware starting with a 30-21 win over the Mids in Colorado Springs.  This should be a classic in the series.  Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has nine TDS this year already.  The Air Force gave No. 2 Michigan State a pretty good game two weeks ago falling, 35-21.

Extra points : Our condolences to PSU DT Anthony Zettel (7 tackles yesterday) and his family who lost their father, Terry, after a long battle with cancer. He was only 46. God bless him.

Official attendance recorded 95,107 seats sold.  15,000-20,000 of those sold were empty.  Many PSU fans including  students took a break for a weekend sandwiched between four other home games.  Tom and I would never do that!

This was our 96th Penn State game ( our last regular season game for this year). Under our watch, the Lions are 74-22. This was our second San Diego State game. They are 0-2. We saw them lose to UTEP the first time back in 2006. Only 759 games behind Tom!

Post game with the Penn State Blue Band.

Post game with the Penn State Blue Band.


Steveo’s Salvos – September 24, 2015

Aztec super fan Tom Ables’ assessment of his San Diego State team visiting the Nittany Loins in Happy Valley this Saturday: “We are a better team overall than we have shown, but our new QBs just are not getting it done, and opponents have stacked the line to stop Donnel Pumphrey. When we get our passing game going, we will be tough.”  A lot of the same can be said about Penn State’s season thus far.  No long passing game because the O-line can’t pass block.  The short game could work if Christian Hackenberg could throw the ball more accurately. Right now he can’t hit the broad side of the barn 50% of the time.  The good news is that the line is opening holes big enough for frosh phenom Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch to run through.  Also, the defense is good and improving.  Tom thinks the betting line is a little short this weekend.  We’re not saying the passing game for the Lions will improve, but if they focus on what they can do well, they should be able to score on the ground and stop the SDSU offense on the ground and through the air…And then there were five – SEC Top 25 teams that is.  It’s not surprising to us that five have fallen out and should have,  but that the voters could actually identify teams outside the SEC to replace them is as astonishing.  Surprisingly,  Mississippi State trounced Northwestern State, 62-13, but the voters didn’t bite.  Maybe they are catching on to the SEC scheduling strategy…

Mizzou hangs on at No. 25 with a paltry 9-6 win over UConn.  Let’s see what the Huskies do against Navy’s triple option in East Hartford this week.  The Mids made their American Athletic debut over an East Carolina team that challenged the Florida Gators the week before losing, 31-24.  Just ask Gator HC Jim McElwain who was upset about his team for several reasons (and rightfully so)…We’re in for Notre Dame at Temple on Oct. 31.  We just have to figure what game we’re going to skip to make sure we are on course for Game No. 500 on November 21.  We have to wait for a game time announcement to think about axing Duke at Army on a DH weekend on Oct 10, or skipping USF at Navy in a noon time start on Oct 31.  If TV sets the time between 7-8 pm, we may make it a DH weekend…Temple just squeaked by UMass, 25-23. Mark Whipple’s squad started making some improvements losing so many close games last season.  They are still trying to build on what he’s putting together there up in Amherst where they are actually playing home games again. Temple’s next three games are quite winnable – at Charlotte, Tulane, and Central Florida.  ECU on the road could be a challenge. They could possibly face the Irish undefeated.  Notre Dame stepped up against s big challenge, as we had thought, last week with a solid 30-22 win over Georgia Tech.  The Irish face a few challenges ahead of Temple with UMass, at Clemson, Navy, and USC. It will be our second of three games now at the Linc in Philly this season…Like a lot of years, Rutgers fans like to count their wins before they happen.  They look at Kansas (0-2) coming in for homecoming this week and they not be too confident even about this one.  On the other hand, Army is plodding along at 0-3 with three close losses (Fordham, UConn, Wake Forest). QB Ahmad Bradshaw, as RU fan Frank Scarpa witnessed says that he was impressed, runs the triple option effectively. Army’s defense, like most defenses in college football this year, has a lot of room for improvement according to Frank. He saw them lose to Fordham, 37-35, but their last two games they held their foes to 22 and 17 respectively. If RU doesn’t win this week, the battle between the Black Knights of the Hudson and the Scarlet Knights of the Raritan is going to be much more competitive than we thought when we booked this game as our 500th!…Frank reported Army’s Bradshaw looks as good as Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.  That is saying a lot, but he’s got a long way to go.  Reynolds scored five TDs last weekend in the win over ECU.  That’s 30 points in two games so far bringing him up to 398 career points.  He’s got at least ten more games to challenge Wisconsin’s Montee Ball’s career record of 500 points…Speaking of the Badgers, they are ranked No. 22 at 2-1.  Will they stay ranked for long? Wonder how former HC Bert Bielema feels about his move to Arkansas where his 1-2 Razorbacks are one of those hyped up SEC teams fallen from the ranks…Colorado (2-1) beat rival Colorado State in OT, 27-24, last week.  In two weeks they start PAC-12 play with Oregon followed by Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, and Stanford before we see them play USC who is also 2-1 now after falling to Stanford, 41-31. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the Buffs make this a game. We certainly hope so!…Air Force didn’t wilt against now No. 2 Michigan State last week falling to 35-21.  We will see them play Navy the week after next. They are off this week.  This game will be big. Glad we’re going.  We will see the Falcons again on our Colorado DH weekend when the host Utah State (1-2) out in Colorado Springs…Memphis just beat Cincinnati, 53-46. Cincy QB Gunner Kiel left the game early with a head injury.  Hope that he will be alright. However, what does it say for college football when a second teamer can come off the bench and keep his team in a game like this.  Good for the back up and his teammates, but it still says something about a lot of development of the offenses and the lack of good, tough, heads up play by the defenses…Happy Tailgating this weekend! Supposedly our first time Guest Game Analyst Mike Ford is coming down from Rhode Island and bringing us up some lobsters.  That’ll be a first for any tailgate we’ve been to!…Check out our Penn State-San Diego State Game Review on Sunday night.

Going back to see Penn State do some twirling again this weekend!

Going back to see Penn State do some twirling again this weekend!

Tom Ables coming Penn State game, his 761st

Our friend Tom Ables is traveling out from San Diego to see his alma mater/favorite team meet the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.  We are planning to catch up with him for a visit, but we’re not sure if we can ever catch up with his record-setting game pace!

When San Diego State meets Penn State Saturday, it will be the first time they’ve ever met. But it sure won’t be a first game for Aztec fan Tom Ables, who will be on the sideline with the team to see his 761st Aztec football game.
The 89-year-old alum saw his first game as a freshman in 1946, when he was just one month out of the main engine room of the battleship USS Alabama BB-60. Since then, he has missed only two games, home or away, and it’s been 51 years since he missed a road trip in 1964 — 591 in a row.

We're hoping to catch up in State College with San Diego State's No. 1 fan, Tom Ables, who has only missed two Aztec games since 1946!

We’re hoping to catch up in State College with San Diego State’s No. 1 fan, Tom Ables, who has only missed two Aztec games since 1946!

Last year, when the Aztecs played at North Carolina, an inquisitive sports writer did some research and found that among active longtime college football fans, Ables is now #1 in America.

Trips have taken the Aztecs many places, but none farther or more unique than the trip to Japan in 1981. They played Air Force in what was called the Mirage Bowl in Olympic Stadium with a crowd of 80,000 watching.
With his unique perspective, Ables has written a book about the history of Aztec football since World War II. An updated, second edition of GO AZTECS! has just been published at the start of the new season.


Countdown to’s Game # 500; Game 489

Penn State runs past “rival” Rutgers, 28-3

State College, PA – Penn State freshman RB Saquon Barkley rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and fellow senior running mate Akeel Lynch added 120 yards and a TD on 10 carries to lead the Nittany Lions, 28-3, in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Rutgers insists that this is their “rivalry” while Penn Staters evidently don’t see it that way. A review of the game’s final statistics would be misleading upon first glance. Rutgers amassed 20 first downs compared to 17, 251 passing yards to 141, and they led time of possession 32:39 to 27:41, but long gains of 75 and 54 yards by Lynch and Barkley respectively paced the Lions to shorter times of possession and a dominant ground game of 330 yards to RU’s meager 43. The Penn State line opened some huge holes through the RU defensive front which Barkley hit particularly quick. His QB Christian Hackenberg (10 of 19 for 141 yards and 1 INT) continued to misfire on multiple occasions with little pressure applied as he had done when we saw him play against Temple in this year’s opener. He was not sacked as the Knight defense was nowhere as quick or as dynamic as Temple’s. Aside from “Hack”, however, the Lions seem to be headed in the right direction with the insertion of Barkley in their backfield since.

Saquon Barkley (26)amassed 195 rushing yards against Rutgers.

Saquon Barkley (26)amassed 195 rushing yards against Rutgers.

Penn State got off to an inept start during its first series with two false starts and a chop block impeding their progress and forcing a punt. The defense played aggressively and held the RU offense in check forcing punts on their first five possessions of the first half.

Early in the second period, the Lions drove 80 yards with WR DeAndre Thompkins taking a hand off on a sweep from the right all the way around left end for its initial lead of 7-0. Like the Temple game, PSU confirmed it was conceding that it could not protect Hackenberg adequately to implement a long passing game. It relied solely on short out passes mostly into the flats, but his accuracy has a lot to be desired. Guest Game analyst Frank Scarpa (Rutgers –Newark) noted the Scarlet Knight secondary was allowing some big cushions for the Lion receivers. Eventually, PSU noted the same and took advantage from its own ten as Hack connected with WR DaeSean Hamilton on a quick slant out for a 48-yard gain to the Scarlet 42. Moving down to the 15, Barkley avoided several tackles after hitting a hole quickly for a 15-yard TD run to extend the home team lead, 14-0, with 2:00 left in the first. The Lions took over after an RU punt with 1:04 remaining. A huge hole opened on the left side and Lynch burst through to take it all the way for a 75-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead. The Lion ground game looked as it had early against Temple when it had a 10-0 lead in the opener, but as this game progressed, the running game looked to be building some more momentum. Going into this game, the expectation was that PSU would be able to take advantage of replacements in the Knight secondary filling in for starters kicked off the team recently for criminal activities, but instead the Lions’ O-line seemed to be able to dominate along the front to give the Lion running game the push that they needed. An interception by Lion CB Grant Haley finished the first half shut out by the Nittany Lion D.

DT Anthony Zettel (98) defends against a Chris Laviano pass.

DT Anthony Zettel (98) defends against a Chris Laviano pass.

In the third period, the teams exchanged punts, and State thwarted the next RU drive on a tipped pass intercepted by CB John Reid who returned it to the Rutgers 35. Some offensive ineptitude by PSU turned this one over on downs. After a sideline interference penalty to start the drive at the 50, on a third and one at the RU 41, Hackenberg threw a pass into the ground on a long pass left at the feet of his intended receiver Saeed Blacknall. On the ensuing fourth down, Hack made a futile attempt on a QB sneak. Instead of surging forward, he seemed to go straight down to come up significantly short of the first to turn the ball over. The score remained unchanged entering the final period. The Scarlet Knights were on the move entering the final period with a drive starting from its 13.


PSU picks up yards on a short out pass.

The Knights drove to PSU’s 11 before a delay of game penalty set them back five more yards. Temporary HC Norries Wilson, former Columbia HC now Associate HC at Rutgers, taking over for suspended HC Kyle Flood for not adhering to university guidelines regarding contacts with professors, decided to settle for three points. Kyle Federico converted to avoid the shutout, 21-3. The Lions’ next drive into Scarlet Knight territory ended in futility with Hackenberg floating a pass well beyond his intended receiver that was picked by S Anthony Cioffi with a leaping catch. RU’s next possession was stopped by three consecutive PSU sacks of Laviano by DE Carl Nassib, SS Jordan Lucas, and DT Austin Johnson for a total of -29 yards. Around this time, the “striped” Blue and White stands led by the student PSU section had begun chanting, “We’re not rivals…We’re not rivals…” indicating their disdain for another program that thinks this is a rivalry and only defeated the Lions twice in  their sporadic history, the last win back in 1988 (does PSU consider Temple a rival now?). Even RU fan and GGA Frank Scarpa said that if the Knights want to make this a rivalry, they should start winning some games to show they are worthy of being considered one. PSU took over from their 30. Barkley bolted for a 54 yard gain before being forced out of bounds, and he carried again for the 16-yard TD to finish the scoring for the day, 28-3. Penn State takes a 2-1, 1-0 record into next week while RU falls for the second week in a row to 1-2, 0-1.

"We're not rivals!...We're not rivals!..."

“We’re not rivals!…We’re not rivals!…”

Next week Rutgers hosts Kansas (0-2) in a game that was scheduled during Charlie Weiss’s tenure in Lawrence in a game that was probably arranged to help the NJ native do some potential recruiting in the Garden State. He’s no longer coaching at KU since he was released last September. We’re unaware if he’s moved on to some other coaching position yet. The Jayhawks are 0-2 with losses to FCS South Dakota and up and coming Memphis. The winner of this one will be taking home one of a few they have a chance if winning for the balance of this season. We return to State College this Saturday for our last trip there this season to see the Lions face San Diego State (1-2) for a 3:30 pm kick off. We look forward for a chance to catch up with our good Aztec friend Tom Ables, the greatest Aztec fan of all time. Tom’s has missed only two SDSU football games since 1946! He’s our idol. Tom tells us that RB Donnel Pumphrey is the key to the San Diego State offense. On 68 carries thus far, he has 249 yards and two TDs – not as good as had been hoped for.

Customized tailgate Ambulance - our new tailgate friend, Josh, customized this ambulance as his newfangled tailgate transport. He'll transport your favorite libations in, and he'll transport you out if necessary.

Customized tailgate Ambulance – our new tailgate friend, Josh, customized this ambulance as his newfangled tailgate transport. He’ll transport your favorite libations in, and he’ll transport you out if necessary.


Steveo’s Salvos – September 17, 2015

Interesting game that we will be attending this weekend will be between Penn State, one-year off of sanctions resulting from the hideous actions by an ex-coach who had access to football facilities to take advantage of young boys and now is trying to rebuild, and Rutgers who comes to Happy Valley without their HC Kyle Flood who the university suspended for three games and a $50,000 fine. Associate HC Norries Wilson will take his place during his suspension. Flood was suspended for the next three games (PSU, Kansas, and Michigan State) and $50,000 for illicitly contacting a professor directly about how his player could change his grade and actually helping that player edit his paper. The suspension has nothing to do with that player and the five others facing criminal charges who have been suspended from the team. We will see if Flood will still hold this position at the end of the season whether he wins most of his games or not. The incidents that have occurred indicate that he and his staff have little control of this team. Recruiting and financial support will take a hit from these incidents. The blemish on the university will dictate that he won’t be there beyond this year if it truly wants to compete in the FBS…The last player suspended, All-conference WR Leonte Caroo, was suspended indefinitely for domestic violence right outside the locker room committed after Saturday’s loss to Washington State. Rutgers comes into Beaver Stadium without its top receiver and several starters from their secondary. The inexperienced players in the RU secondary are taking this season on as a learning experience. DE Darius Hamilton has not yet played and without him last week, we saw that the pass defense was of no consequence (one sack). Penn State replaced junior OT Paris Palmer after the Temple game (10 sacks) and shifted some other players on the O-line to positions each was supposedly better suited for. They defeated Buffalo and improved last week winning, 27-14. We look for Penn State to throw the short passes for long pick-ups which Washington State did so successfully last week against RU. The question is if QB Christian Hackenberg is suited for this offense. He has not impressed with any accuracy so far this year. We give the Lions an edge here though as the 100,000 Blue and White faithful will be looking for some continuous improvement since the first game. A couple of first year RBs were effective last week. Saquon Barkley carried 12 times for 115 yards and 9-yard run for a TD. Brandon Polk carried only three times for 45 yards and a 22-yard touchdown. With improved line play, PSU should dominate the decimated defense that RU will throw at them. If they can’t, HC James Franklin needs to stop recruiting better players and make the ones he has play better…

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to shore up their defensive secondary against Penn State.

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to shore up their defensive secondary against Penn State.

We are considering some schedule changes to improve the quality of the games we will see as we monitor the results of certain teams we penciled in prior to the season. Rivals Lafayette (0-2) and Lehigh (1-1) aren’t themselves this year. The Leopards fell to Delaware, 19-9. The Mountain Hawks were crushed last week by James Madison, 55-17. We will keep an eye out for their two games we considered as options on November 7, but we will now also consider Princeton at Penn, NC State at Boston College, and the alma mater, Juniata, at Moravian who we saw play last season. Duke at Army is looming as a bust. We may cancel that one out and look at going to Notre Dame visiting Temple at the Linc on Oct. 31. If it’s a night game, we can still possibly see USF at Navy in Annapolis since it’s scheduled at noon.   If the game at the Linc is earlier, we may look into East Carolina at UConn of Friday night. We’re watching some key results among these various teams over the next few weeks to come up with the most interesting and competitive games possible …

We’re interested in the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game this weekend as we selected the Yellow Jackets as our “dark horse” final four team. ND is already going through the injury bug but on the offensive side instead of the defensive side this year. Tech scored 66 points and 65 points in their first two game respectively albeit they scored them against Alcorn State and Tulane, neither on par with Notre Dame’s defense. However, GT’s HC Paul Johnson has gone up against the Irish before while at Navy. In 2007, he snapped ND’s 44-game winning streak against Navy. He had some close games as well in the previous seasons that resulted in losses, but two of the three years after he left, the triple option he left behind in the capable hands of HC Ken Niumatalolo defeated the Irish twice. With better athletes at Georgia Tech and with skillful Justin Thomas running his offense at QB, we’re looking for Tech to win this one. One week of preparation is sometimes not enough to be prepared for this offense, and with some key offensive players sidelined for the Irish, the odds look to be in the Yellow Jackets’ favor…Boston College set a scoring record las week against Howard, 76-0. Duke and UNC also pummeled in-state HBC rivals NC Central and NC A&T 55-0 and 53-14 respectively. These results combined with the average scores of the FBS vs the HBCs (61-7) the weekend before indicate the demise of these FCS programs and that it makes no sense to schedule such games for either group’s benefit in the future. Oh, excuse me. I forgot about those little pay days that the HBCs are guaranteed…

The Georgia Tech line returns some experience after their Orange Bowl victory last season.

The Georgia Tech line returns some experience after their Orange Bowl victory last season.

For the second year in a row Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt suffered an early season injury putting him out of action. In the Orange’s 30-17 victory at home against Wake Forest, Syracuse freshman quarterback Eric Dungey was named ECAC rookie of the week for his first collegiate start. Dungey completed 8-of-13 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He stepped in successfully against FCS Rhode Island the previous week when Hunt was lost for the game. The Orange stand at 2-0 and will host Central Michigan followed by LSU the next two weeks… We thought Fordham (1-1) would be struggling in their start this year and that Chase Edmonds would not have the support around him that got him off to such a great start his freshman year as the Rams won the Patriot League and made the FCS playoffs. The win over Army disproved this enough in their opener, but their 14-7 loss to No. 3 FCS Villanova is even greater proof that the Rams are on their way to another successful season. Last year, they lost to the Wildcats, who return many key players to make a run at this year’s national championship, by a score of 50-7! The Rams look like they will dominate a weakened Patriot League this year despite all schools now awarding football scholarships. Credit the Cats defense though for holding Edmonds to 74 yards and no TDs on 16 carries…Charlotte won its second game as an FBS team though it was against D-2 Presbyterian, 34-10. Next up is Middle Tennessee fresh off a loss to No. 2 FBS Alabama, 37-10…All four teams we saw the first week won the second week including Delaware over Lehigh, Jacksonville over Newberry, and Penn State over Buffalo. But Temple came up with the biggest win overall defeating AAC favorite Cincinnati on the road, 34-26. They look good to win over their next three opponents before hosting Central Florida and then visiting ECU. If they can run the table to that point, that’s why we are thinking of going to Philly the following week to see what they will do against the Fighting Irish…

The 2-0 Temple Owls impressed us against Penn State. We may go see them again when they host Notre Dame.

The 2-0 Temple Owls impressed us against Penn State. We may go see them again when they host Notre Dame.

Another good win for the 12-team American Athletic Conference was Houston’s’ 34-31 win over Louisville. HC Tom Herman, Ohio State’s coordinator last year will have his Cougars in a fight with Memphis and Navy to win the West. Memphis has a key game this week against Bowling Green who played Tennessee tough at Neyland and beat up Maryland at Byrd Stadium, 48-27. They will play Cincinnati the week after. This conference has some great coaches to consider for bigger programs in the near future…The Military Bowl to be played in Annapolis give home team Navy the automatic bid if it achieves a winning record and is not invited to play as the mid-major rep among six CFP games. We will get tickets soon figuring we can see Navy play again in a bowl game we are already planning to see… With a loss to BYU, 35-24, Boise is probably out of the picture for that particular honor to play in the CFP. BYU could be considered now as an FBS independent. Key games ahead for them are at UCLA this weekend, at Michigan the week after, later at East Carolina, and against Missouri on November 14… Overall last Saturday, teams on our schedule this year went 16-7. Navy had a week off to prepare for its first ever AAC/conference game at home against East Carolina. Air Force (2-0) plays at No. 4 Michigan State (2-0) this Saturday in East Lansing. We will see these teams both play later this season. ODU is 2-0 after defeating local rival Norfolk, 24-10. The Monarchs step up a few notches to host NC State at Foreman Field this Saturday…Hapless Eastern Michigan dumped Wyoming, 48-29. That seems like a setback for Craig Bohl who stepped up to take over an FBS program after leading North Dakota State to three national FCS championships…Toledo who we will see late this season pulled off the biggest upset of the week beating Arkansas in Little Rock, 16-12. Did I hear someone on ESPN say what a detriment it is for the Razorbacks to be playing in Little Rock instead of Fayetteville? Boo-hoo! We plan to see the Rockets host Western Michigan (0-2) who fell to Georgia Southern down in Statesboro, 43-17. It’s one thing to lose to now No. 4 Michigan State the Saturday before, but GSU got whacked by West Virginia in their opener, 44-0…In D-3, the season is off to a typical start. No. 1 Wisconsin-Whitewater nuked Belhaven, 62-6. They play football newcomer Finlandia this week. No. 2 Mount Union (1-0) had a week off and open their Ohio Athletic Conference play against Muskingum. Typical D-3 challengers to the unofficial Big Two follow: Linfield, May Hardin-Baylor, Wesley, etc…On to Happy Valley!

Navy may get another "home game" this season with a bid to play in this year's Military Bowl.

Navy may get another “home game” this season with a bid to play in this year’s Military Bowl.

Countdown to’s Game # 500; Game No. 488

Washington State flips Rutgers in a seesaw battle, 37-34

New Brunswick, NJ: The Birthplace of College Football – After 59 minutes of poor defense, costly penalties, turnovers, explosive special teams play, no pass rush by RU, and coaching wonders and blunders, Washington State QB Luke Falk tossed an eight-yard TD pass to WR River Cracraft with thirteen seconds left to play to take its first victory of 2015 back to Pullman, Washington, 37-34. Rutgers attempted a rugby-like comeback on the final kickoff that almost resulted in a safety before the final ball carrier flipped the ball forward for a penalty as no time remained on the clock. This non-conference game would be the most difficult for the Scarlet Knights to gauge how they will possibly withstand the upcoming Big Ten schedule that starts next week at Penn State. Many Rutgers faithful came away trying to determine if the Knights would have a shot at its tenth bowl game in eleven seasons. After this loss, few seemed optimistic.

The Birthplace

Facing the pass-happy Cougars coached by Mike “ I refuse to punt” Leach, who we’d seen coach previously with the same mantra during his tenure at Texas Tech, RU’s secondary decimated by scandalous crimes allowed Luke Falk’s’ first of four TD passes, this one to Dom Williams, for a seven-yard score to polish off a 75-yard opening drive. The Knights punted after their first possession and WAZU’s Kyrin Preister took it out of the end zone for a short return to the 13. What was he thinking? The Cougs drove down to the RU 12. Typical of Leach as seen in the past, he decided to forgo an attempt for three to extend his early lead, and RU stopped a sneak by Falk to take the ball back on downs.

Luke Falk (4) completes one of his many passes to Tavares Martin (12).

Luke Falk (4) completes one of his many passes to Tavares Martin (12).

In the second period Rutgers starting QB Chris Laviano came up limping and threw an INT to Marcellus Pippins who made a leaping over the head grab. Starting at The Scarlet Knights’ 34, the Cougars capitalized with a 46-yard FG by Erik Powell for a 10-0 State lead. Many RU fans anticipated a timely QB change by HC Kyle Flood to bringing in Hayden Rettig who had started well the week before against Norfolk State, but he stuck with his starter throughout the entire game. It paid off right away somewhat with a 37-yard FG by Kyle Federico. However, Falk (47 for 66, 478 yards, 4 TDs) continued connecting until his next drive stalled at RU’s 30. Leach’s head cleared again and Powell added another three instead of attempting to go five yards on a fourth down with 52 seconds left. But the Knights gave it a shot of their own as Laviano completed five consecutive passes to the WAZU 25. An illegal formation pushed them back five, and Federico booted a 48-yard FG to close out the first half scoring, 13-6, in favor of the visitors.

RU’s opening drive of the second half resulted in a fumble by Laviano who reached back to throw as it slipped out of his hand to have it recovered by DL Destiny Vaeao at his team’s 36. Falk threw his second TD of the day to RB Keith Harrington from the five extending State’s lead, 20-6. On Rutgers’ ensuing drive, Flood decided go for a first down on 4th and six at the 36, and it paid off with a 20-yard gain on a pass to Janarion Grant to the 16. RB Robert Martin (9 rushes for 61 yards, 1 TD) slithered his way through the Cougar defense for a 15-yard score. Washington State blocked the extra point to keep the margin at eight. RU pooch-kicked for some unknown reason, and the Cougs started from their 37. The drive died at the RU 32 on fourth and three when Falk’s pass attempt to Cracraft (8 catches for 121 yards, 1 TD) fell incomplete.   The Knights started their drive from that spot and ran the ball successfully to get to their one when time expired in the third.

Rutgers Josh Hicks (8) runs the sweep to the right for a gain.

Rutgers Josh Hicks (8) runs the sweep to the right for a gain.

On the first play of the final period, Laviano connected to the right side to TE Mike Flanagan (Mendham, NJ) to get within two. He followed up with a pass for the two-point conversion to WR Leonte Caroo (4 catches, 52 yards, 2 points) who came open late crossing the back of the end zone on the play. The score was deadlocked now, 20-20. State’s next drive resulted in a 37-yard FG by the strong-legged Powell. Note that on the drive, RU burned its third and final time-out. Two including the third seemed wasted. In any case, having no time outs would be critical in a close, high-scoring game. The Cougars three-point margin did not last long as Scarlet Knight returner Janarion Grant caught the kickoff in the end zone, started up the right sideline, cuts across the field, found blockers and a seam, and ran down the left sideline for a 100-yard TD return. The home crowd celebrated its first lead, 27-23. Plenty of time remained, however, with 12:30 remaining for both teams to continue to light up the scoreboard. The Cougars had three time-outs left to RU’s none.   State did not disappoint their small turn-out (I saw two in a liquor store by my house before the game) 3,000 miles from Pullman. Falk hit Gabe Marks (14 receptions, 146 yards, 1 TD) with an out pass for a 23-yard TD to go back in front, 30-27. Marks grab looked short of the goal line from where Frank Scarpa and I sat with his fellow RU alum, Phil, in section 108, but Marks’ foot hit the pylon and the TD stood. The ball did not look like it broke the plane of the end zone. State also kicked the ball short, and RU started from the 48. RB Josh Hicks (16 carries for 91 yards) caught the ball out of the backfield, but Peyton Pueller stripped the ball away and Isaac Dotson recovered at the 32. The Cougs drove to the RU 39, and on fourth and six, Mike Leach handed the Knights a gift as Falk’s pass fell incomplete to give the Knights the ball with great field position. One RU fan nearby said, “The Washington State coach is an imbecile.” We agreed. The teams exchanged punts – yes, with a 4th and six from his own 24 even Leach decided not to go for it. He might as well have though. Janarion Grant was on the receiving end and took it 55 yards for a 34-30 lead. With 1:31 remaining and two time-outs left for Washington State, everyone in High Point Solutions Stadium among the 45,536 fans still remaining knew that Rutgers had scored with too much time left on the clock. Falk went to work again with his short passing game eventually converting on a fourth and five at Rutgers’ 38 for a 12-yard pass to Robert Lewis to keep the drive alive before the game-winning score to Cracraft (8 catches for 121 yards, 1 TD). An exciting finish to a crazy game, but a resounding one for the die-hard Rutgers fans.

The Cougars' River Cracraft (21) in the open for a big gain against Rutgers.

The Cougars’ River Cracraft (21) in the open for a big gain against Rutgers.

Next week, Rutgers (1-1) travels to State College to take on the Nittany Lions (1-1) in their Big Ten opener. We will be there for the 8 pm kickoff. RU has this game circled since last season’s 13-10 loss in their Big Ten Debut. One hundred thousand PSU fans will be there to see that Penn State stays on course to improve upon its season after a loss to Temple and a 27-14 win over Buffalo last week. Against Temple, PSU used a short passing game that did not work against the tight coverage Temple gave them. The RU secondary struggles, but so does the offensive line of Penn State. It will be a matchup to determine whose weakness is worse, or who can make the adjustments to improve to right themselves for the balance of the season.

Extra points: RU fans though t this would be a win. Now they only consider Kansas (0-2) and Army (0-2) as their best bets for wins. Indiana is away and Maryland is at the far end of the season. Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska will visit Piscataway. PSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin loom as road games.

Frank Scarpa grilled us some great cheese steak sandwiches before the game, but fresh venison was delivered to the parking lot just in case.

Frank Scarpa grilled us some great cheese steak sandwiches before the game, but fresh venison was delivered to the parking lot just in case.

Steveo’s Salvos – September 11, 2015

Please remember those in your prayers who passed away violently on this day in 2001 and their families.

Click on the arrow below to hear last Saturdays’ radio interview with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1430AM. It includes a little preview of the game we will be attending this Saturday when Washington State visits Rutgers at 3:30 pm EST for Game # 487.


Congratulations to LB Cole Farrand, son of George Farrand, a fellow classmate from Boonton (NJ) High school. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Cole signed as a free agent with then New York Giants and is assigned to the team’s practice squad. Cole achieved a most likely “first” during his college football career. In 2013, Cole tallied 23 tackles in the Terps game against Clemson and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week. A year later, he wrapped up 19 times against the Indiana Hoosiers to be named The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. There can’t be too many others who have garnered such an honor in two different major conferences. Good luck to him in his pro career. We hope to see him get into some action when he’s called on if he gets a chance later this season….

Maryland LB Cole Farrand  is now a New York Giant.

Former Maryland LB Cole Farrand is now a New York Giant.

When the season opens, we like to see what FCS teams pull off the upsets over the big boys. One victim was the PAC 12 team we will see come east this weekend. The Washington State Cougars fell to FCS Portland State, 24-17.   QB Luke Falk competed 27 of 41 passes for 289 yards and two TDS in their losing cause. He will have a chance to increase those numbers against a Rutgers secondary decimated by players kicked out of school for criminal charges…Another team we will see play this season that fell to an FCS foe was Army who will be hosting our Game 500. They lost to Fordham, 37-35. Ram RB Chase Edmonds picked up where he left off last year rushing for 250 yards and three TDs. Our scouting reports say that Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw ran the triple option very well and throws a really nice pass. However, the Army defense needs a lot of improvement…South Dakota State knocked off the hapless Kansas Jayhawks, 41-38. The ‘hawks visit Rutgers in two weeks probably compliments of NJ native Charlie Weis who was let go as HC of KU after being bounced out of Notre Dame…Utah State who we will see play at Air Force later this season, edged Southern Utah, 12-9. This is somewhat of a shocker as the Aggies are expected to challenge for the Mountain West this season with the return of Chuckie Keeton to QB. He only threw for 110 yards against Thunderbirds. A late punt return for 88 yards gave the Aggies the win…

Chase Edmonds gallops 91 yards on a touchdown jaunt last season against New Hampshire.

Fordham’s Chase Edmonds gallops 91 yards on a touchdown jaunt last season against New Hampshire.

FCS North Dakota defeated Wyoming, 24-13. Most ironic about this game is that Cowboy HC Craig Bohl is in his second season at Laramie after leading North Dakota state to three consecutive FCS championships. However, the NDSU Bison, members of the Missouri Valley Conference, and the Fighting Sioux of the Big Sky Conference, have not been able to resume their 110-game series since they last met in 2003. That was Bohl’s first season as HC of the Bison. The Sioux knocked off the Bison in that game, 28-21. If Bohl was looking to even up his personal record with UND, it evidently backfired…Speaking of the four-time current defending FCS National Champ, North Dakota State, they fell in their first game of the season on August 29 to Montana, also a Big Sky member, 38-35. A week later, the upset by the Grizzlies was somewhat tarnished as they fell at home to Cal Poly, 20-19….Check out the FCS second week ratings. Twelve of the Top 25 teams have 0-1 records courtesy of the FBS including teams ranked Nos. 2-5. No. 1 Coastal Carolina topped Furman, 38-35. Maybe it shows that you should pick on people your own size. We still love going to FCS games though… Further breaking down the FCS, Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) aren’t what they used to be when it comes to being competitive in college football. Great pro players such as Walter Payton, Buck Buchanon, Steve McNair, and Jerry Rice played their collegiate ball at Jackson State, Grambling, Alcorn State, and Mississippi Valley State respectively. This past week, their four alma maters combined with six other HBCs – Alabama A&M, Bethune-Cookman, Howard, Morgan State, Norfolk, and Savannah – all opened against FBS competition. The combined scores of these ten games: FBS 615 – HBCs 77. Scouting and media exposure as well as the great talents among the black athletes they used to be able to recruit have escalated most up to the FBS level. Those gems previously “hidden” and competing for the HBCs are now playing among all the best of the FBS and other FCS teams…The two newest entries into the FCS opened their inaugural season last Saturday against one another. Kennesaw State (Georgia) defeated East Tennessee State (last season played was in 1999), 56-16, at Steve Spurrier Field at Kermit Tipton Stadium in Johnson City, Tennessee. KSU is a member of the Big South Conference, and ETSU will join the southern conference next season…The latest and only new team to join the FBS, the Charlotte 49ers, won its first FBS game ever with a 23-20 win over second year program Georgia State. GSU’s Panthers evidently played better than when we saw them lose big last year to another inaugural FBS team, Appalachian State, 44-0. We will add the 49ers as our 129th team on October 17 when they play at Old Dominion in Norfolk. The Monarchs won their opener defeating everyone’s favorite patsy Eastern Michigan, 38-34…

The Appy State O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards against Georgia State last season.

The Appy State O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards against Georgia State last season.

In D3, Mount Union started its season with a typically lopsided win over Bethany, 47-0. Juniata College, the alma mater, knocked off Grove City, 26-13. Wisconsin Whitewater, defending National Champ opens this weekend against a new program, Belhaven, in Jackson, Mississippi…Two years ago, Dave Headden and I started off our season seeing Norwich Academy play RPI in Troy, NY. A friend of my family’s, Jimmy LaBell, was playing LB for Norwich. Dave’s late father and older brothers all graduated from RPI. The RPI kicker for the Engineers, Andrew Franks, graduated this spring and will be the starting kicker for the Miami Dolphins this weekend. We can’t wait to see what he does at the highest level. reported about his efforts during the current pre-season:” Franks was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, the longest at 51 yards, and 4-for-4 on extra points. He put eight of his 10 kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. Franks was a two-time first-team All-America selection.” Fantasy football pick? This definitely has to be fantasy football for a Biomedical Engineering major from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute…Had we followed’s proposed road trip to see four games during Week One, we would have seen some pretty good games: Coast Guard 34 – Anna Maria 6; Worcester Poly 31 – MIT 28; SUNY Maritime 30 – Maine Maritime 0; and Moravian 21 – King’s 17. Had we followed our own advice to change that third game, we’d have seen Cortland defeat the Heidelberg Student Princes, 26-24!…

Hail Juniata, Alma mater!

Hail Juniata, Alma mater!

Former Wisconsin Whitewater HC Lance Leipold with six national championships in D3 over the last nine years, coached his Buffalo Bulls to his first FBS victory impressively over FCS Albany, 51-14. This Saturday, the Bulls will play his first FBS competition ever when they go to Happy Valley to play Penn State…Of the 27 teams on our schedule this year, they started 17-9. Two games included the four teams we saw play one another, and Toledo’s game versus Stony Brook was cancelled due to severe weather…Navy’s QB Keenan Reynolds added one TD in pursuit on Montee Ball’s record of 500 career points in the Mids 48-10 rout of Colgate… Duke won handily over Tulane. Junior QB Thomas Sirk threw for 289 yards and two TDs for the win…Colorado lost its opener in Hawaii. Michigan fell to Utah in Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Michigan State defeated Western Michigan, 38-24 in a game between two teams we will see play later this year. MSU will visit Rutgers, and WMU will visit Toledo the night before we go to see Ohio State at Michigan.

Whether he's right or wrong, only HC Kyle Flood of Rutgers  is the one with his job on the line.

We stay local to see RU face WAZU this week. Will Kyle Flood be running the team for the rest of this season?