Countdown to Game # 500; Game No. 487

Tough Temple triumphs over Penn State to end drought started since WWII

The Owls charge on to the field led by QB P.J. Walker, No. 11.

The Owls charge on to the field led by QB P.J. Walker, No. 11.

Philadelphia (Sept. 5) – As a Penn State fan for many years, let me say this first of all: Temple has a very good football team this year and the players are well-coached. The Owls overcame a first half 10-0 deficit over a Nittany Lion team that had a lot to prove coming into this season with the sanctions they played under for the past three years, and they dominated the Nittany Lions the rest of the game for an outstanding 27-10 victory. Over the years since 1979, we saw PSU defeat the Owls seven times – a couple of close ones as a matter of fact. Their last win in this series occurred on October 18, 1941. We went to this game mostly interested in seeing how well the Lions had improved their Offensive line to protect QB Christian Hackenberg and to revive a strong Nittany Lion running game. We knew the Owls would provide a tough chore defensively, but we weren’t sure what they could muster offensively against PSU’s defensive strength. It seemed like we were seeing what was expected during the first period despite some early miscues by the Lions. But stunts by the Owl front seven and very tight pass coverage by a very skilled secondary gave Penn State more than we anticipated for the balance of the game. When a Penn State receiver was open, however, Hackenberg usually misfired, but more often than not, tight coverage did not allow him to throw to his prime receiver before he could release the ball. Temple sacked “Hack” like they invented the game “Hacky-sack”. They sacked him whether it was off a linebacker stunt through an open seam or with a two-man bull rush against the entire O-line. Despite knowing TU’s defense was strong coming in, on the other hand like many State fans, we wondered if there was any significant improvement up front on the O-Line at all. HC James Franklin and OL Coach Herb hand have some quick fixes to make for their upcoming games, and we’re not just talking about Big Ten games. Last season Hackenberg was sacked 44 times. In this first game, Temple took him down ten times already. We will be at home games against Rutgers and San Diego State in the coming weeks. We are eager to see what they are going to do in this short time frame after having worked on it during the entire off season. No doubt though that Temple’s D was good last year, and it’s even better this year.

The Owls swarmed the Lions defensively from the second period on.

The Owls swarmed the Lions defensively from the second period on.

PSU scored on its first drive starting from the 30 and culminating with a 34-yard FG by frosh PK Joey Julius, himself a big question mark literally and figuratively entering his first season and weighing in at 6’-1”, 261 lbs. On this drive, WR Geno Lewis had two passes slip right through his fingers. TU’s offense stalled after three plays again on its second possession and the Lions’ offense went back to work from their 25. At the TU 42, Akeel Lynch (10 carries for 78 yards, 1 TD) burst through a hole in the left side for a Nittany TD and a 10-0 lead. Maybe the Lions line had improved from what we saw on that particular play. The D looked dominant as anticipated well into the second period. TU showed no signs of overcoming them at this point. PSU’s Dan Pasquariello’s punt set Temple back on their seven yard line midway in the second. Former Elizabeth, NJ HS teammates, Temple QB P. J. Walker and RB Jahad Thomas combined for the 93 yards on the ground and through the air to get the Owls into the end zone on the ensuing drive. A fake handoff and a quick pitch out to Thomas around the left side put him in the end zone unscathed to put Temple within three, 10-7, with 2:25 remaining in the half. The score stood into half time.

The Lion defenders stopped Jahad Thomas early in the game...

The Lion defenders stopped Jahad Thomas (No. 5)  early in the game…

I kepyt my long-time PSU connection and die-hard alum John Massimilla closely informed by text about highlights through the first half as he attended a wedding in Atlanta this afternoon.   He asked me for my prediction for the second half as the wedding was about to start. I figured 24-7, PSU. The defense let up a score, but I had noted that players had been interchanged defensively through the half and that PSU would play the balance of the game with their first teamers that dominated TU‘s offense early. I also figured that Franklin would make some offensive adjustments and have Hackenberg finding some open receivers down field. My mind was picturing the wrong locker room at halftime. PSU did neither in the second half. Temple’s D was just warming up, and HC Matt Rhule and OC Marcus Satterfield saw some chinks in the Lion defense and would take advantage. On several critical situations in the second half, they used tight crossing patterns across the middle for big gains. Walker connected with Ventrell Bryant on one for 25 yards during the first half scoring drive.

PSU received the opening kick of Q3 out at the 35 when it was booted out of bounds. They netted only 19 yards before punting it away. Hackenberg terribly misfired on a third down passing attempt. All his passes seemed of the short out or over the middle variety. Rarely did he look long. You had to question the confidence the team had in their offensive front to give him adequate protection. Temple noted it, too.   Two series later, Temple’s PK Austin Jones sailed a 40-yard FG through the uprights. Temple was in this game to stay tied now at 10-10. Geno Lewis brought the kick out to the 35. A run for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a sack on a stunt by LB Tyler Matkevich (seven tackles including three sacks) forced another PSU punt. It was ruled a touchback, and PSU fans sitting with us up in section 235 right above the end zone were relieved as it looked to skip out at the one-foot line. We figured it was break. It didn’t matter for what was to come. After a completion of eight yards on an out pattern, Hackenberg threw toward the right sideline and DE Sharif Finch snagged it off his hip and ran it back to the PSU two after originally being ruled a touchdown. Following a defensive pass interference call in the end zone, Walker faked even me out from way above in my seat as his handoff went one way and he darted to his left untouched for a one-yard TD and a surprising 17-10 Owl lead. A minute remained in the third period.

Entering the final stanza, it was evident that the “great recruiter”, James Franklin, was being outcoached by former PSU Linebacker Matt Rhule. After another sack of hack by LB Nate Smith, Temple took over from its 49. At the PSU 24, Thomas (29 carries for 135 yards, two TDS) veered around the left end , stiff armed a would-be tackler, and continued to drift to the left pylon until he got into the end zone for an unexpected 24-10 Temple lead. Many Penn State fans had seen enough and headed to the exits. Their Lions didn’t seem to play with any sense of urgency. Lynch ran for four yards, Hack got sacked again, and Lynch caught a pass for a three-yard loss. They punted. What were the Lion coaches waiting for? They seemed to be throwing in the towel. Walker and Thomas teamed up again passing and running to set Jones up for a 30-yard FG attempt. With 5:41 left, Temple led 27-10. PSU played like it was already over. Three incompletions and a sack by DT Matt Ioanndis (Ringoes, NJ/ Hunterdon Central HS) on four consecutive plays sealed the game for TU. Temple had triumphed over PSU for the first time in 74 years during which they floundered with a 0-38-1 record. The way the Owls played on this day, it was well deserved. For PSU, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board, or more like the film room according to James Franklin during his post-game press conference. Maybe he and his team are spending a little too much time watching film together. Perhaps they should be out on the practice field some more where they should instill some more toughness amongst all this talent they are supposedly recruiting. I’d never seen a PSU team give up so early in a game before.

...but they didn't stop Thomas ( No. 5) later or often.

…but they didn’t stop Thomas ( No. 5) later or often.

Next week, TU has an important early American Athletic Conference East duel with Cincinnati (1-0), the favorite to win the division. The Owls will face QB Gunner Keil, the all-conference preseason QB selection. The Bearcats beat up on Alabama A&M in their opener, 52-10. That was like shooting fish in a barrel compared to what the Owls will bring with them defensively to Nippert Stadium. PSU heads home to hopefully friendly Happy Valley to host Buffalo of the Mid-American, 51-14 winners over FCS Albany last Saturday. HC Larry Leipold who now coaches the Bulls in his first season after leading D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater to six national championships in nine seasons may be bringing Bulls of different horns than what PSU was expecting when they booked this game. We will be heading to the Birthplace of College Football in New Brunswick, NJ to see Rutgers (1-0) with a depleted secondary facing pass-happy Washington state (0-1) who lost their opener to FCS Portland State, 24-17, despite 411 yards of total offense by the Cougars. The week after, we see RU visit PSU in their Big Ten openers. Lots of question marks abound for both programs between now and then.

Extra points: The parking situation at the Linc was the worst I’d ever experienced. We had tough experiences there in the past for Army-Navy, but this was totally out of hand as PSUers in particular hoarded multiple spots for all their gear and to hold for late arriving guests. That’s why up in State College, tailgaters are guided into parking spaces one-by-one where they eventually set everything up until the line is full and they are no longer blocking any traffic. It wasn’t the case here in Philly. After paying $20 and searching 45 minutes for no available spaces, I exited the lot and found free parking on the street in a safe neighborhood not far from Citizens Bank Park where I will suggest that we and our cohorts meet at this year’s Army-Navy game, our last regular season game this year. It was less than a mile walk from where we parked and after a vacation week of eating, drinking, and hanging on the beach, it was welcomed. We missed out on tailgating, but they were serving beer at The Linc for $9 each with vendors carrying trays up and down the stairs. It was worth a few bucks for St. Laurie and me.

P.J. Walker completed 15 of 20 passes for 143 yards among nine receivers. He was also tied for the lead in receiving yards with 25 as he hauled in an option pass from WR John Christopher for a big gain.

Attendance was announced at 69,176 for the largest Temple home crowd in its history. And surprisingly, the Temple fans weren’t outnumbered as expected. They had a pretty good showing. We’ll be interested to see how many will buy tickets for October 31 when they also host Notre Dame who won big over Texas this past weekend. I’m also hoping that the Owls can win the AAC East and that Navy will win the AAC West so the two will square off for the championship on December 5, the weekend before we’re back at the Linc of Army-Navy. That would be great!

I witnessed the most horrible half time activity ever created. Two TU students played “Cyber Soccer” on computers and they simulated kicking a soccer ball into a goal on the big screen. First of all, a soccer contest at a football game doesn’t belong. Secondly, they can’t get out on the field and kick field goals or do something physical? No one in the stands reacted at all in the after the final outcome. No one cared. Soccer and computer simulated games are two things I can definitely live without. Don’t bring them to a football game! Anyone can sit and play video games. Now we have to watch?

Countdown to Game # 500; Game No. 486

Struggling Jacksonville struggles past struggling Delaware in our opener, 20-14

Let the season begin!  Jacksonville returns the opening kickoff against Delaware.

Let the season begin! Jacksonville returns the opening kickoff against Delaware.

Newark, Delaware (Sept. 4) – In the opening game of the season, we watched two FCS teams struggle throughout the game to put together a sustained offense relying primarily on both punters to keep their opponents out of scoring position and their defenses and their own ineptitude to keep them just as far. Late long field goals by Brandon Behr and turnovers by both teams gave the Dolphins the final margin in their 20-14 victory. It was not a well-played, exciting game, but the final score was not settled until late in the final period. At game’s end, Delaware totaled only 163 yards in total offense. Jacksonville fared better with only 70 on the ground, but Dolphin QB Kade Bell threw for 269 yards through the air. However, after the initial drive of the game, his passes could not get the Dolphins anywhere near the end zone.

JU's Andy Jones hauls in a pass the Dolphin's opening drive.

JU’s Andy Jones hauls in a pass during the Dolphin’s opening drive.

The much more experienced Dolphins with 20 seniors and a penchant for revenge after falling to UD two seasons ago here clicked right away driving 85 yards on its first possession for a 22-yard scoring pass from Bell to WR Andy Jones (9 catches for 118 yards and 1 TD) for a quick 7-0 lead. With QB Junior Blake Rankin (transfer from Rutgers) and Junior RB Jalen Randolph starting, the Blue Hens failed to sustain any scoring drives midway through the second period.

Early in the second, a fumble by Delaware RB Wes Hills gave Jacksonville the ball at their own 13, but like UD, the Fins could not effectively move the ball. UD HC Stan Brock replaced his two prime starters with red-shirt Freshmen QB Joe Walker and RB Thomas Jefferson (Passaic Tech, NJ). The combo moved the ball to the JU 21. With 1:20 left in the half, Walker lateraled wide left to split end Diante Cherry who fired the ball into the end zone to Randolph who was back in the game to finally put the Hens on the board to tie the score going into half time.

Despite the return of 20 experienced players returning from Jacksonville, they struggled throughout executing their offensive game plan as much as did the Blue Hens with many freshman and redshirts playing in their first collegiate game of their careers. The Fins are hoping to get into this year’s playoffs as an at-large team as they are now not eligible to win the Pioneer Conference based on a self-imposed suspension. It turns out that as the only remaining non-scholarship conference with an automatic FCS bid, they found that 30 players had received Academic Freedom Scholarships, evidently very questionable for a team in a non-scholarship conference. Since punishment was self-imposed and accepted by the NCAA, they are still eligible for playoffs the “harder “way.

The UD Dance Team

Three members of the UD Dance Team

Neither team gained a first down on the first three possessions of the second half. When Jacksonville did, they gained 34 yards to get to UD’s 25. From there, Brandon Behr booted a 42-yard FG to give Jax the lead once again, 10-7. In the final period, Walker replaced Rankin again to get thing going, but the Hens still stalled out after a 39-yard run by Hills before being forced to punt after Walker was sacked by Malik Slater at his 39. Terrence Bryant returned the punt better than expected for a 34-yard run to UD’s 46. Bell could not get his team close enough once again, and Behr came in once again to settle for a 41-yarder through the uprights to lead, 13-7. Hills returned the ensuing kick to the 34 to seemingly provide some spark for the Blue Hens, but it fizzled resulting in another Eric Enderson punt (8 for 43.1 avg. and 2 inside the 20). It was still either team’s game to be won despite their struggles.

Jacksonville's QB Kade Bell scrambles out of Blue Hen pressure.

Jacksonville’s QB Kade Bell scrambles out of Blue Hen pressure.

Either way, either team would need a big play or two. Even with Jacksonville’s next series starting at the Delaware 48, they could not capitalize as UD DB Ray Torsza made a diving INT in front of Bell’s intended receiver going out at his own three-yard line. Despite his effort, with 2:47 left and two time-outs left for the Blue Hens, they immediately squandered the comeback opportunity. On second down, DL T.J. Jenkins sacked Walker knocking the ball loose in the end zone where LB Justin Horton recovered it for a touchdown. Behr’s conversion gave the Fins a 20-7 advantage with 2:09 to go. An unsportsmanlike penalty after the score forced Jacksonville back 15 on the following kickoff. Delaware’s Ray Jones returned it to the JU 46. On a second and eleven at the 32, Walker (combined with Rankin they completed 9 of 19 for 112 passing yards) connected with TE Ryley Angeline on a 31-yard pass to the one-yard line. Randolph took it on the next play with 1:20 remaining to cut the lead, 20-14. The ensuing onsides attempt was touched before going ten yards, and Jacksonville ran out the clock to prevail in the first game for both teams where the score stood.

It was a sloppy, ineffective and somewhat dull game as pointed out by my guest game analysts pictured below. Most of them are 2015 Delaware grads.

Our UD tailgate party (L to R): Emily (Bryant grad), yours truly, our niece Kassie, St. Laurie, Megan, Tucker, and Cassie also known at "Turtle." (photo by Josh)

Our UD tailgate party (L to R): Emily (Bryant grad), yours truly, our niece Kassie, St. Laurie, Megan, Tucker, and Cassie also known as “Turtle.” (photo by Josh)

Both teams will try to gain from the experience of their first game to move on and make adjustments for improvement. It’s probably the toughest learning experience for them and their coaching staffs. I always say that unlike the pros, the college teams don’t get the benefit of an exhibition season (thank the Lord) and have to develop from that first game experience. Happens every year. With that, the Hens host Lafayette (0-1) who fell hard to William and Mary, 34-7, in their opener. JU travels to D2 Newberry (1-0) (I found I was incorrect in my game preview. Pioneer teams now play three non-conference games each year. I assume the coast to coast nature of this conference puts a big strain on their travel budgets. Campuses range from New York to Florida to California to Iowa). We stayed over in Newark on our way back from a restful, fun, and needed vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It worked well for us before heading up to Philadelphia the next day where we would see Penn State play at Temple for our second game of Game 500 season.

Dolphin D holds Wes Hill to a short gain.

Dolphin D holds Wes Hill to a short gain and eventual fumble on this play.

Extra points: Despite the son of a former NFL and Florida Gator QB Kerwin ( also his HC), Kade Bell did not impress with his arm strength. He short-arms his passes. He gets the ball to his receivers, but they are mostly wide open. His stats from last year (3,181 yards and 31 TDs) are impressive, but his arm wasn’t.

JU Punter Ryan Giaratano outshone UD’s Ednerson this evening with seven punte averaging 47.6 yards ( one misplayed for 62 yards) but more effectively five finishing inside the 20.

Teams of the Colonial Athletic Conference, known as one of the toughest in the FCS, went 2-11 in their first weekend of play. Stony Brook did not play. Of the 11 losses, eight were to FBS teams. Top contenders Villanova and New Hampshire lost to UConn (20-15) and San Jose (43-13) respectively. Only James Madison and William and Mary won versus Morehead State and Lafayette respectively.

If UD HC Stan Brock does not see some significant improvement over the course of this season, if he’s not on the hot seat by then, he will be by next season. UD is not a program that can tolerate losing for long. Dave Nelson coached there from 1951-1965 to an 84-44-2 record. Legendary Harold “Tubby” Raymond had a 300-119-3 career record from 1965 to 2001. It included a D2 national championship in 1979 and many playoff bound seasons. His former LB on that championship team, K.C Keeler, took over in 2002 and led the Blue Hens to the FCS championship in 2003. That and an 86-52 mark over ten season weren’t good enough to keep him there. It’s been four years since the Blue Hens made the playoffs. The announced crowd of 17,472 had to include no-shows from what we saw. I’ve attended openers on weekday nights and playoff games on cold November days at Delaware Stadium where just about every seat was filled. The young alum who attended with me today couldn’t fathom that as they started school in 2010 after the last UD playoff team graduated. Despite being dedicated Frisbee Club team players, school is always memorable when you unite with the entire student body to root for your competitive football team.

Our niece Kassie graduated this past spring from UD and tailgated with us is now living and working in the area close to her alma mater. Her connection to the Delaware football program is truly memorable for her. She and one of her close friends were in a required freshman workshop and teamed arbitrarily with a third student to do a project. The other student was former UD tight end Nick Boyle (Sussex, High Point HS, NJ). Nick earned honors at Delaware as co-captain his senior year along with All-American Honors. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and will be playing in the NFL this season.

Steveo’s Salvos! September 4, 2015

Welcome to our Opening Weekend of the 2015 College football season! This evening we will be in Newark, Delaware to see the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware (6-6 in 2014) host the Jacksonville Dolphins (9-2 in 2014). HC Stan Brock’s Delaware program looks to recapture prominence in the Colonial Athletic Conference with a young squad rebuilding with 15 sophomores and freshman in the starting lineup. His two QBs, red-shirt freshman Joe Walker and fourth-year junior Blake Rankin, will both debut for their first time at the college level. RBs Wes Hills and Jalen Randolph return as a top CAA rushing duo. Seven true freshman may see action on the UD defense. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins, who forfeited five games a year ago due to some scholarship discrepancies they self-reported to withdraw from the 2014 FCS playoffs, return 20 experienced seniors. HC Kerwin Bell’s squad is led at QB by his son Kade who passed for 3,181 yards and 31 TDs a year ago. The Dolphins see this as a big game, their only non-conference contest, before battling this season for the Pioneer League title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoff. It will be a battle this evening to see if the Blue Hens can turn things around after four years since their last FCS playoff to challenge for a bid or if the Dolphins will jump start their season to make up for last year’s disappointment. Two years ago, we started off with the same match-up won by Delaware, 51-35. We look for Jacksonville to step up this time based not only on their superior experience, but a lot of the seniors on this Dolphin team experienced losing at Delaware Stadium two years ago. They remember and return with some vengeance. Speaking of remembering, in 1985, my Auburn buddy Charlie Murren and I attended the Florida at Auburn game won by the Gators. 17-10. QB Kerwin Bell led Florida to the win while his defense held eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson to under 60 yards and no TDs. Now we get to see Kerwin’s son play. Time flies while we’re having fun. Tonight’s kick-off is at 7 pm EST.
Tomorrow’s action brings us to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the 3:30 EST kickoff between Penn State and host Temple. Our eyes will be focused on PSU’s offensive line which needs to improve to get the Nittany Lions at least in the hunt for the Big Ten East title. Protection of QB Christian Hackenberg and the revival of a running game will depend on improved line play where inexperience and talent hindered by sanctions set this unit back last year. Their best game of last season was in their 31-30 New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College we attended last December. Rumblings are that the unit has improved during the offseason. They will have a true test in front of them tomorrow against a solid Temple Owl defense despite a 30-13 win a year ago. HC Matt Ruhle, a former PSU LB himself, returns 10 starters on defense. A year ago, his defense ranked 24th in the nation on total defense, fourth in scoring overall. Senior LB Tyler Matakevich is a tacking machine with over 100 tackles in each of his first three season. Nate Smith is formidable also at linebacker while DE Praise Martin-Oguike comes in hard from DE. The secondary led by soph CB Sean Chandler and safeties Will Hayes and Alex Wells who can give PSU receivers fits. It will be a true test for the Lions offense right off the bat. Defensively, led by DT Anthony Zettel and LB Nyeem Wartman, the Lions will show their strength. Temple hopes QB PJ Walker (Elizabeth, NJ) returns to his better form of two years ago as a more efficient dual threat who will rely on RBs Jahad Thomas and Jamie Gilmore to get the tough yards. If the Lions can give Hackenberg consistent protection he needs against the Owl D, they should come away with some confidence for the upcoming season. We expect to see that happen. PSU’s D should give the Lions a significant edge over the Owl offense in the final outcome.
Look for our game reviews for both contests by Sunday evening. Great season coming up!

Our Best Radio Interview this Year – WVSL 92.3 ESPN Radio

Click on the arrow above for our interview with Chris Schmouder, Josh Bedall, and Ryan Bedall on WVSL 92.3 FM ESPN Radio in Selingsgrove, Pennsylvania on Sunday August 16. Steve Koreivo talks Penn State, Rutgers, Big Ten, Notre Dame, and SEC football among other preseason topics. He also predicts his “Final Four” for 2015!  Come on back regularly before, during, and after the season as we continue to follow the fun, excitement, and happenings about the games we attend, the teams that we follow, and the hottest topics in college football from the “Fan who’s seen ’em all!”



WCTC 1450 AM Radio interview and Steveo’s Salvos


Click on 1450 WCTC logo above to hear our interview on August 17 with Bert Baron for a college football preseason preview. WCTC is the Flagship Station of Rutgers Football.

From the “You can’t make this stuff up category”: in 2004, my nine year-old son Eric and I took a ride to Lafayette College in Easton, PA where we saw The Harvard Crimson defeat the home Leopards, 38-23. After the game we walked near the visitors’ locker room to check out the weight room facilities at Fisher Field House and heard some kind of rousing school song coming from the Harvard locker room. The Crimson finished that day with a 3-0 record. They reeled off five more wins to enter tied with Penn both at 5-0 in early November for the Ivy League race. Eric and I went to Franklin Field in Philadelphia to see a de facto Ivy League Championship game. Harvard RB Clifton Dawson ran for 160 yards that day in Harvard’s 31-10 win to clinch at least a tie for the Ivy League Championship. I actually wondered if Dawson had any chance at making it to the pro level. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 186 yards and two TDs. A week later, The Crimson defeated their bitter rival Yale to win the Ivy League outright. Fast forward to the Discover Orange Bowl on January 4, 2012. On a cold, Miami night after Charlie Murren and I went to K-Mart to buy jackets and gloves to watch the game, Number 22 West Virginia was up 21-17 over Number 13 Clemson early in the second period when LB Darwin Cook recovered a fumble at the one-yard line and raced 99-yards to extend the Mountaineer score, 28-17. On the arm of QB Geno Smith, it was all Mountaineers after that as they continued extending the score with his 407 passing yards and six TD tosses. The Mountaineers set an Orange Bowl scoring record trouncing the Tigers, 70-33. Who could ever imagine in 2015, with the inexcusable sucker punch thrown by a former New York Jet teammate at Geno Davis, that the former Ivy League QB we watched in 2004 would be stepping in for a high-powered record-setting WVU quarterback? We never know who we’ll see when we attend these games. That’s a big part of the fun of following college football…

Miami wasn't as cold though as was UNH at Villanova in 2009.

Miami wasn’t as cold though as was UNH at Villanova in 2009.

Navy football captains QB Keenan Reynolds and NG Bernard Sarra were both recently asked the same question in media interviews and came back with similar retorts. ”Now that Navy is in a conference for the first time, have your season’s priorities changed?” Pundits wanted to hear if a conference championship in the American Athletic Conference transcended everything else for USNA football after being an Independent for 134 years. Both responded in separate interviews that “it’s different here.” The focus is still on winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The award has been presented since 1972 to the service academy who dominates head to head play between Army, Navy, and Air Force each year. Air Force leads in seasonal wins with 20, Navy 17, and Army 6. Navy’s taken nine of the last 12 after Air Force dominated for many years. Secondly, they said getting to a bowl game is still a priority. For that, the Mids will have more opportunities this year now as part of the American Athletic Conference. Reynolds said though that he understands winning the championship gets his team to a better bowl. We will see USNA focus on its priorities this year when we will see them host Air Force on October 3 and face Army in Philadelphia on December 12. The Mids have won 13 straight over Army. That’s big for Navy Seniors – throughout the entire Brigade, not just for the players. What’s interesting this year is that we will see Army’s last game on November 21st   before Navy when we celebrate our 500th game.   The Cadets host Rutgers. They get three weeks to prep for Navy.  With conference play, Navy plays Houston on November 27. If the Mids get to the AAC Championship, they will play that on December 5. Will we hear that they were looking past that game to Army? We will also see Navy host South Florida in the first AAC game we will see them participate in. Among the seven bowl contracts that the AAC has, one is the Military Bowl played right in Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium. With other AAC bowls in Miami, Boca Raton, and Hawaii, we’re sure the Mids have set their sights on doing some travelling…

The Houston Cougars will be one on navy's annual rivals in the Western Division of the American Athletic Conference.

Navy will play Houston annually in the AAC.

Let’s do some math here. Does this make sense? To us, this is the square peg in a round hole. Sports illustrated in its infinite wisdom, selected eight SEC teams to finish in its Top 25. Six are from the SEC West. Looking at their schedules and if it’s a real dog fight between all these schools that are supposedly so evenly matched, let’s predict that they split the games evenly they play among one another and beat everybody outside of these eight. If there are an odd number of games that a team plays among the eight, let’s say they finish with one more win than a loss. We won’t bring up strengths of schedules (and mostly home games) at this point, but maybe with the lower teams with only three losses, they could all be in the Top 25, but more interestingly the SEC may not have a team in the Final Four depending on other team’s bodies of work.  In this scenario, the two SEC East teams have one loss (this means Georgia could lose to Missouri but it would beat Alabama and Auburn, or beat Missouri for the East outright and split with the other two). In the West, Ole Miss and LSU will have two losses. Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State would all have three wins and three losses among the eight. So a 1-loss East team faces a two-loss team for the SEC championship? No brainer that Georgia or Mizzou gets first crack to the Final Four if they win. If a two loss team wins it, will any SEC qualify to go?     Let’s look at it from a different perspective. In order, the SEC teams ranked No. 2 through 25 are Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State. Based on this order, let’s say the top rated team defeats all the lower rated teams that they play among these eight. Start from the bottom. They may win all their other games, or they may not. Let’s look at No. 25 Mississippi State. At best under this scenario they finish the regular season at 6-6. Do wins over A&M, Kentucky, Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, and Louisiana Tech earn them at Top 25 ranking? I hope not. Those wins aren’t deserving of a Top 25. No. 23 LSU finishes 7-5 here. SI Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner writes, ”After the home opener against McNeese State, there will be no easy prey for the Tigers.” We beg to differ. SEC wins in this scenario are over aforementioned Mississippi State and unranked SEC teams South Carolina and Florida. “After McNeese State”, Eastern Michigan, Syracuse and Western Kentucky are teams on par with SEC play? If so, the MAC, ACC, and Sunbelt are just as good as the SEC, right? But that’s not something the SEC will admit to. Arkansas loses four head to head bouts here and gets by UTEP, Toledo, UT-Martin, and maybe Texas Tech all at home? Maybe Top 25. Wins over LSU and Mississippi State are not of note. Who did those two beat? The point is if you guarantee these squads should to lose five or six games and not beat anybody of note, how do you include them in your Top 25? Realistically, these are two extremes. It will end up somewhere in the middle as the better teams primarily dominate the lower ones, and a few teams from outside will beat these eight. In the end, it just doesn’t make sense that all these teams can be ranked in the Top 25.

We watched Mizzou beat Arkansas in the 2007 Cotton bowl before the Tigers joined the SEC.

We watched Mizzou beat Arkansas in the 2007 Cotton bowl before the Tigers joined the SEC.

Radio Interview 8:05 am EST On Monday Aug. 17 on WCTC 1450

On Monday Morning, listen in on your drive to work in central Jersey 1450 Talk Radio WCTC (Rutgers football flagship radio station) or stream on-line to hear us on Jersey Central with Jersey guy (and Lenape Valley Regional HS graduate) Bert Baron on his early morning show that airs from 6-9 am. Click on their logo to listen live, or come back later when we post our interview with Bert for your listening pleasure. To listen here on Monday morning, link on ahead of time and add answer a few questions about where you’re listening  from to gain access to listen live… wctc

July 25 radio interview on “Spadora on Sports”

We interviewed about the upcoming season on “Peter Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1410 AM his flagship station out of Watertown, NY. Currently, Spadora is featured weekly on FOX Sports Radio WNER-AM 1410 Watertown, NY; WYBG-AM 1050 Massena, NY;  WZNE – FM 94.1 Rochester, NY; BostonSportsRadio Boston, MA; ESPN Radio WTSA-AM 1450 “The Ticket” Brattleboro,VT as the host of SPADORA ON SPORTS. This 2 hour sports radio program features exclusive analysts of the College Football and Basketball, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL that is built around athlete and celebrity interviews. SPADORA ON SPORTS is currently broadcasted in several markets in NY, VT, and Canada. We will be featured on various Saturdays throughout the college football season. Click on the link below for our July 25 interview:


“Angel in the desert”

Check out our link “Tales from the Tailgate” to read an updated excerpt of a favorite chapter in our book about our adventures on our quest to see every major college football team play at least once.  The book covers the first 119 teams, but we’ve kept up seeing eight others that have joined the Football Bowl Subdivision since then.  If you enjoy this particular tale, link on to the book on our website sand read reviews by other readers.  As an avid college football fan, you’ll get a taste for what a great time we’ve had (and continue to have) attending college football games over time and all over the country.  And after you read it, let us know what you think about it by adding your own review to the Amazon site.  It makes for great reading in the offseason waiting for the action to start again next fall. It also makes a great gift for birthdays, graduations, and Father’s Day for any college football fan who would enjoy following this adventure while their favorite team gets ready for the 2015 season.


Congratulations to No. 1 Ohio State, first-ever CFP Champs!

” Le Regiment”

Congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes (14-1)  for their 42-20 victory over the now No. 2 Oregon Ducks (13-2) in the first ever College Football Playoff Championship.  The OSU defensive line did an outstanding job shutting down the Duck attack led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.  Kudos to Urban Meyer and his coaching staff to effectively rotate defensive linemen in and out to avoid getting winded early as did Florida State in the Rose Bowl semi-final loss to Oregon.  QB Cardale Jones showed he can be as cool as a cucumber under pressure.  We’re anxious to see what he’ll be like when he gets even more experience down the road.  Ezekial Elliot was outstanding at running back in the semi-final and the final.  The offensive line was outstanding blocking up front. Overall it was great team effort by the Buckeyes that won the game despite four turnovers.  How many teams could have gone all the way as they did with their third-string QB starting in the last three games of the season?   It was the end to an exciting and successful season under the new playoff format. The Buckeyes look to be a force to be reckoned with again next season with so many young key players returning.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti scored another TD in last week's Wildcat win over UT Chattanooga.

New Hampshire Wildcat RB Nico Steriti had a great game against Fordham in the FCS playoffs.

It was a fantastic season for as well.  We attended a record 26 college football games in one season in 2014-2015.  We attended five bowl games (two exciting finishes, a big upset, a very competitive game, and one clunker – four out of five isn’t bad).  We attended an FCS quarterfinal game. The New Hampshire Wildcats (12-2) finished third in the nation at the FCS level.  We attended our 10th Army-Navy game. We attended the longest ongoing rivalry in college football when we saw Lafayette play Lehigh for the 150th time when they met at Yankee Stadium to celebrate their special, historic game. I got to watch my Alma Mater , Juniata College, play a home game for the first time in 35 years back in Huntingdon, PA as HC Tim Launtz is turning that program back to what it once was.  The night before, I saw Fordham defeat Bucknell at Christy Mathewson Stadium for my first time to decide the Patriot League Championship. With good friends Charlie and Lynda Murren, we attended a great game with them at their alma mater, Auburn, where the Tigers defeated my daughter’s school, South Carolina, 35-28.  It was bitter sweet as our daughter, Alex, will graduate from South Carolina this spring, and her beloved Gamecocks let her senior class down finishing 7-6.  We attended three SC games this season, and they lost all three!


The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd.

The Syracuse Dance Team performed brilliantly during the game for the Homecoming crowd against then No. 1 Florida State.

We watched a total of 40 different NCAA football teams – 25 FBS schools, nine FCS, and six D-3 schools.  We added the four newest teams to join the FBS – Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Georgia State, and Georgia Southern. We’ve seen every FBS team play at least once including the University of Alabama -Birmingham whose program folded this season (one downer). Though Georgia Southern got romped over by Navy, they finished a very respectable 9-3, best among the new FBS schools, and won the Sunbelt Conference.  However, due to some asinine rule, they did not go to a bowl game giving way to several teams they manhandled.  We attended games at seven new venues for us – five campus sites and two new bowl games.  We saw defending champ Florida State defeat Syracuse with the 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston at QB.  Good luck to him in his future if he doesn’t get his act together off the field. We watched Rutgers fall 13-10 in their Big Ten debut to Penn State. One of our former Little League Baseball players, LB Nick Rafferty, made the travel squad every game and lettered at RU as a red-shirt freshman this year. It was a thrill to see him on the team.  PSU was eventually released from sanctions imposed by the Jerry Sandusky crimes as it struggled to a 6-6 finish. Hope is on the horizon, however, as the Lions played their best game of the season in an overtime win over Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.  We look forward to the spring game and next season to be back out in State College drinking Evan Williams Honey Bourbon with John and Kelle Massimilla along with their friends and family.  And in our first weekend of the season, we saw South Carolina blown away by Texas A&M because it played the worst defense we could ever remember seeing played at any level of college football.  We knew the Gamecocks were headed for trouble.  But two days later in Baltimore, we watched Navy give Ohio State, led by freshman QB J.T. Barrett, a pretty good game in  a 33-17 Buckeye victory.  Of course little did we know, it was OSU’s first step on the way to the 2014 National Championship.  They became the 11th team in 35 years of us doing this that we would watch play in their Division 1 (now FBS) championship season.

OSU defense in early season action against the Naval Academy.

OSU defense in early season action against the Naval Academy.

Yes, it was a fantastic college football season for  In the end, we saw eight of the final Top 25 teams in the AP poll play this season:

1. Ohio State (14-1)

5. Florida State (13-1)

6. Michigan state (11-2)

8. Georgia Tech  (11-3)

11. Mississippi State (10-3)

14. Missouri  (11-3)

22. Auburn (8-5)

24. Marshall (13-1)

We liked the speed, power, and toughness displayed by Marshall FB  Devon Johnson (47) when we saw him play against ODU. He finishes 6th in rushing with 1,636 yards and 17 TDs this season.

We liked the speed, power, and toughness displayed by Marshall FB Devon Johnson (47) when we saw him play against ODU. He finishes 6th in rushing with 1,636 yards and 17 TDs this season.


Please check us out regularly as we will continue to report on the comings and goings of this season and next.  We will also be adding pages of history and other fun facts on some new pages to be published. Hopefully we can improve our site even more for your viewing and reading pleasure.   We especially  look forward to sharing our ideas for the upcoming season where plans are already underway to do something special for our 500th game to be attended in 2015.  Party!

Also special thanks to Pete Spadora and his crew on WNER 1130 AM in Watertown, NY (and broadcasted in other markets as well).  Pete hosted us on his show “Spadora on Sports” just about every other Saturday and let us talk about everything on our college football platter.  He’s a great supporter and a great friend.  He and his guys make this entire experience even more fun!

Tennessee “slays” inept Iowa



Maybe if the Hawkeyes were coached to run without holing hands, they could run faster!

Maybe if the Hawkeyes were coached to run without holding hands, they could run faster!

Jacksonville, Florida (January 2, 2015) – The Tennessee Volunteers (7-6) came to the TaxSlayer Bowl (formerly “Gator”) at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville jacked-up to play. The slow-footed, Iowa Hawkeyes (7-6) were out-muscled, out-hustled, and out -coached to a 45-28 Tennessee Vol victory. They played like jack____! And don’t let this final score fool you! Tennessee had a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter after their fourth possession of the game. Eventually the Vols had a 42-7 lead before they emptied their benches to get everybody a chance to play in Tennessee’s first bowl win since 2007. We can’t even say that the Vols drew first blood as Hawkeye DB Desmond King ran into his HC Kirk Ferentz along the sideline and put a bloody gash over his right eye. For it was disappointing finale – a clunker of a game – to finish our season in which we attended the most games ever, 26, including four bowl games right before this one which were generally well-played and competitive. By the end of the third, we’d see enough. The Hawkeyes didn’t show up despite their final three touchdowns to give the score some undeserved respectability. We had waited too long to see them make us think they were interested in playing a football game as it was. What a letdown for me and the Iowa fans who were far outnumbered by people clad in bright orange get-ups.

Jalen Hurd knifes through the Iowa defense for a first period touchdown.

Jalen Hurd (1) knifes through the Iowa defense for a first period touchdown.

Jalen Hurd (16 carries for 122 yards, 2 TDs) finished the first Vol drive with a three-yard touchdown run. He finished the second with a 29-yard TD scamper. Next time UT had the ball, RB Marlin Lane threw 49-yard option pass to Vic Wharton for a 21-0 lead to end the first period.

To start the second, Vol QB and eventual game MVP Joshua Hobbs got into the act with an eight-yard run. He finished the day with16 of 21 passing for 129 yards and one TD to go along with 76 rushing yards and two TDs. Then low and without a hold, FB Mack Weisman tripped into the end zone by the nose of the football to put the Hawkeyes on the board. Dobbs threw a TD pass to Von Pearson for a 35-7 lead at intermission.

QB Joshua Dobbs dashes between blockers for a big gain.

QB Joshua Dobbs dashes between blockers for a big gain.

At halftime, I started to plan my move out to beat the traffic, but I held out as long as I could. I had no other plans then to have dinner, watch another game on TV, write down some notes about my four bowl game stories, and pack up for my trip back to NJ the next day. Of course, I really looked forward to spending the day in Nashville again on my way back and meeting up with HS classmate Paul Kleim and his wife Carolyn. Now Tennessee farmers, this Jersey boy was looking forward to meeting up with them to show them around Nashville before catching an evening flight back home. I could use a few Bloody Marys, some Apple Piehole, and beers along with some good old country and western (and we enjoyed them all. And more!).


Ahhhh! What a relief…Halftime!

Dobbs scored on an 11-yard run in the third for a 42-7 lead.   The third period ended. I knew who was taking home the trophy in the first quarter. My season was ending on a whimper and not a bang. I was out of there. Tennessee won, 45-28. I heard all about it at the local Applebee’s that night. I had beaten the crowd in, but 20 minutes later, the bartender Bud and I and the waitresses were about the only ones not wearing Orange! There were a few humbled Hawkeye fans, too.

Congrats to Tennessee. But can your band please learn to play something other than “Rocky Top!”

This is what it looked like at Applebee's after the game.

This is what it looked like at Applebee’s after the game.

I have to start planning now for September 3, 2015. What teams will be kicking off the season that Thursday night? Can I combine a trip to see a game on Friday and Saturday and maybe Monday, Labor Day? When will all the schedules be out? Next year is game #500 for me. Who? What? Where? When? Tickets? Got to plan a big tailgate for that one. So let the real fun begin – again!

Look for more stuff on the upcoming CFP game and beyond. We don’t stop talking college football because the games are done. Click here to hear us on Saturday morning with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports!” on WNER in Watertown, NY.  Time to be announced in a day or so.

The US Marine Corps Ceremonial band from Paris Island, SC performed before the game. They could have put up a better fight than the Hawkeyes had they played in the game instead.

The US Marine Corps Ceremonial band from Paris Island, SC performed before the game. They could have put up a better fight than the Hawkeyes had they played in the game instead.