Game 535: No. 8 Washington gets past improved Rutgers, 30-14

Game 535: No. 8 Washington gets past improved Rutgers, 30-14

New Brunswick, NJ – In Game 535 in the history of Collegefootballfan.com, the Scarlet Knight defense held a potent UW offense to a three-and out on it first offensive series pushing them back six yards – a rarity for RU in 2016.  The Knight offense, led by QB Kyle Bolin, Louisville grad transfer, drove his squad 59 yards into the end zone on a three-yard TD pass to speedy WR Janarion Grant around the left side for a quick lead over the No. 8 Huskies.  Rutgers’ D held “UDub” to another three and out.  Two in a row? However, the RU offense continued to fizzle with a very unimaginative offense until late in this game.

A 23-yard FG by Tristan Vizcaino late in the first and a 68-yard punt return by Dante Pettis off a booming 60-yard punt by RU’s Ryan Anderson, a D-3 grad transfer from Oliver College, gave the Huskies a lower than anticipate halftime lead.  GGA Wayne Mella (Rutgers) grumbled, “Special teams again.”  As for the fizzling offense, he noted with the no-huddle that it was similar to the offense run by nearby Somerville High School coached by his brother-in-law.  However, the HS team attained much better results during the previous season leading them into their NJ Group Championship game.  It seemed to us though that RU was holding back on its offense not willing to expose certain schemes early in the season before heading into tough Big Ten Conference play.  We thought that we would possibly see more deception on offense in the second half of this game if the Knights could stay close to the team that defeated them in their 2016 opener, 43-18.

RU not showing what are we not seeing? 

The game plan thus far focused on Gus Edwards, a Miami grad transfer (24 rushes for 79 yards) doing the brunt of the running.  Bolin’s passing game (23 of 34, 178 yards, 2TDS, 2 INTs) seemed relegated to short passes into the flats. Would he look to throw down field in the second half?

The Huskies made offensive adjustments during halftime.  They started from their 17 and drove the length of the field to score on a pass from QB Jake Browning who rolled right and connected with receiver Lavon Coleman, left wide open for a touchdown.  The next possession in CFF.com Game 535 resulted in three points off the foot of Vizcaino on a 22-yard FG after the Huskies started a drive  from their 15 to lead, 20-7.

Frosh Byron Murphy made his second interception of Bolin on the evening on a pass attempt down field to start a Husky possession from their 39.  RU HC Chris Ash got hot on the sideline.  To start the final period of Collegefootballfan.com Game 535, once again the Huskies started to mush their way down the field against Rutgers.  UDub scored on a TD pass to RB Myles Gaskin at the RU nine-yard line.  HC Chris Peterson, former successful, Boise State HC,  sent in some second teamers on his Husky defense.  On fourth and four at the UW 34, Bolin lofted a high pass near the goal line and WR Dacoven Bailey made a leaping, diving reception into the end zone for a beautiful TD catch to close the gap against the four-touchdown favorite, 27-14.  The Huskies moved the football starting from the 12 on its subsequent series, and Vizcaino nailed his third kick for the final score of 30-14.

Coming up…

Next week, Rutgers hosts Eastern Michigan of the MAC off its first winning season in years at 7-6 and a win over Charlotte of the Sun Belt Conference, 24-7.  Washington goes back to Seattle to host Idaho, a program that will move back to the FCS in 2018 before they host Portland State, a current FCS squad.  Collegefootballfan.com will follow Game 535 to travel about an hour west of New Brunswick to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to see two ranked FCS teams, No. 7 Villanova and No. 24 Lehigh do battle.

Extra points:

We came away feeling that Rutgers definitely looked improved.  We were surprised that Edwards carried for the majority of the running plays and that returning RB Josh Hicks tallied no carries. Senior Robert Martin carried 13 times for 55.  The roles could be reversed depending on the competition in the future.  Bolin looked shaky throwing the ball over the middle.  He never looked for Janarion Grant deep gathering in only three short passes for 20 yards.  Ash has probably decided to keep him healthy for conference play after suffering his season-ending leg injury to Iowa in Game four last year.  We expect to see more diversification to be initiated as the season rolls on. Former Minnesota HC jerry Kill was not hired to run a three-yard and “Cloud of dust” offense.  The D wore down a little but looked good and will improve when the offense puts together longer drives.  Aside from Anderson, special teams have their work cut out for them.

We will see Rutgers visit Penn State on November 11.  We don’t see UW winning the Pac 12 North.  This team is not as strong along eh lines as it was last season.  Stanford, Utah, USC, and Washington State will challenge them during the regular season slate.

Game 534: Darden passes and DelVal “D” drop Wesley Wolverines, 24-19

Darden passes and DelVal “D” drop Wesley Wolverines, 24-19

Doylestown, PA – In a battle between two ranked D-3 programs,  No. 20 Delaware Valley upended No. 11 Wesley College, 24-19 to open their seasons on this Thursday night in Game 534 for Collegefootballfan.com.  Delaware Valley U.  QB DaShaun Darden tossed two TD passes in the second period for 39 yards to WR Aaron Nelson and for 30 yards to WR Marquis Ellis to take a 22-3 lead over the Wolverines, a perennial D-3 powerhouse, late in the second half.  The drives sandwiched a 70-yard TD of a fumble recovery by LB Nick Wright.  After a deadlocked 3-3 score at the end of the first quarter, the kickers did not fare as well.  PK Pat Moran, whose 39-yarder bounced off the cross bar, failed to convert extra points following the last two touchdowns.  Wesley’s Nick Bruhn evened the first period score with a 22-yarder, but he would also miss his first PAT later on a mildly windy evening at James Work Stadium on the well groomed agricultural school’s campus.

WR Laquille Nesbitt catches pass for a first down in the first period for Delaware Valley.

Wesley started the second half from their 21. On a 4th and one at the DVU 11, QB Nick Falkenberg (Lawrenceville, NJ) picked up the needed first down over the left side, and workhorse RB E.J. Lee (32 carries, 162 yards, 1 TD) scored from the one to close the gap, 22-9.  Bruhn converted a second FG later in the third from 34 yards out.  The Aggies led 22-12 entering the final period.

DVU LB Nick DiGati fights through Mujahid Manuel to halt Wesley RB E.J. Ellis.

DVU halted Wesley’s next drive in Game 534 with an INT by DB Jarren McBride to take over on their 17.  The ensuing drive ended with a nicely placed punt by Stephen Adams to put Wesley at their nine.  The Aggies has put pressure and solid hits on Falkenberg in the second half.  Nick Wright came up with two more points for DVU when he sacked Falkenberg for a safety in this set to double his team’s lead, 24-14.  With 1:58 remaining, Wesley scored at the end of a 76-yard drive on an eight-yard TD pass to WR Dan Kesack (Lyndhurst, NJ).  to trail 24-19.  The Wolverines attempted an onsides kick.  The bounce went high, but the “hands team” fielded the ball nicely .  Wesley got the ball back with :45 left.  Falkenberg remained on the sideline after some punishing hits, and DVU won a hard-fought, non conference game to defeat Wesley for the second year in a row, 24-19.

The Delaware Valley Aggie mascot celebrates the home team’s win with a victory dance after our Game 534.

The Aggies next face Middle Atlantic foe Lycoming away.  Wesley heads to Ewing, NJ to take on NJAC foe, The College of New Jersey.  CFF.com heads to Rutgers this evening to watch the Knights host the No. 8 Washington Huskies.

Extra points:  Enjoyed the game with Guest Game Analyst Bill Reilly (Juniata College) from nearby Telford.  Bill was a suite mate our senior year there at 201 Flory with six other crazies.  He play QB at JC.  He and I were very impressed by the coverage of DVU CB Sammy Mohr who at 5’10” played tight coverage against 6’4″ WR James Okike.  His coverage helped hold the tall receiver with good hands to five catches and only 54 yards.  Bill will hopefully meet up with us for another game this season.

Game 533: Rainbow Warriors come up sevens to defeat Minutemen in last minute of play, 38-35

 

 Game 533: Rainbow Warriors come up with sevens to defeat Minutemen in last minute of play, 38-35

Amherst, Mass – With 48 seconds left in regulation of our Game 533, the long distance visiting Rainbow “road” Warriors of Hawaii (1-0) came up all “sevens” in a comeback victory over the Massachusetts Minutemen (0-1) in the 2017 season opener for both programs and for Collegefootballfan.com, 38-35.  On third and seven at the UMass seven-yard line, Rainbow QB Dru Brown threw a seven-yard TD pass to number 7, Metuisela ‘Unga.  The win assuredly made the ‘Bows return flight home a happy one.  For UMass football and its fans, the close, last-minute loss typified the Minutemen’s history since joining the FBS in 2012 – so near, yet so far.  Despite an exciting and basically well executed game by both squads throughout, UMass’s fandom remained pessimistic that their team could come out on top right until the final tick off the clock.  Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Mike Ford and his son, Colby, enjoyed their first UMass game in person, and Colby attended his first D1 football game ever during our Game 533.  He’s trying to best his brother Conner who got to see Alabama vs. LSU a few years back. Different level, but a great football game to watch none-the-less.  Father and son will definitely be attending more.

UMass LB Colbert Calhoun sacks Hawaii QB Dru Brown early in first period.

 

The Rainbow Warriors struck first after LB Solomon Mattautia picked off a pass tipped by a Minuteman receiver to take possession on the U of H 45-yard line.  QB Dru Brown (25-38, 391 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) dropped back and scrambled left beyond the line of scrimmage for 29-yard touchdown scamper.  PK Alex Trifonovitch’s PAT was good.  UMass drove for 76 yards including a 28-yard TD pass from QB Andrew Ford to TE Adam Breneman to the six where Anthony Isabella ran it in from the slot around the right side to even the score after Mike Schreiner’s kick.

Under pressure early, Brown completed 25 of 38 passes against UMass.

Defenses stiffen, but offenses heat up

For the balance of the first period and most of the second, the defenses dominated.  CB Isaiah Rodgers picked off a pass to for UMass to put them on their 40, the teams exchanged punts, and UMass stopped a Hawaiian drive with their backs to the wall on their 16 on a fourth and one.  After their ensuing punt, the Rainbow Warriors took over from their 17 late in the half.  From the 25, Brown connected with WR John Ursua on a slant pass over the middle.  Number five raced 75 yards to give the ‘Bows a short-lived lead with 1:57 remaining in the first half.  Isaiah Rodgers returned the following kick-off out to his 37.  Driving efficiently down to the two, Ford (21 for 30, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) started to roll right, pivoted around left and hit Isabella with a two-yard scoring pass in the end zone with two seconds left. Schreiner put up the extra point to tie 14-14 going into the halftime intermission.

RB Diocemy Saint Juste was a workhorse for the Bows with 78 yards on 23 carries.

I took a walk literally all the way around McGuirk Alumni stadium looking to buy a game program.  They had basically sold out the ten I had seen walking past the few fans who had them in the stands.  Second game in a row where no programs were available.  The previous was the CFP game I attended in Atlanta between Alabama and Washington.  The UMass stadium looked no different than it had when I last attended back in 2007 when I watched the Minutemen defeat Fordham in an FCS playoff game.   With little investment in this facility since joining the FBS ranks five years ago, we wonder how much longer UMass is committed to play at this level of NCAA football. The attendance announced totaled 12,145.  If McGuirk is a 17,000-seat stadium, there must have been a lot of no-shows.  Not many students attended this first of five games to be played on campus this season, but it didn’t look as if the student body had returned for the fall semester yet.

No significant improvements were noted at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on the UMass campus ten years since our last game attended there.

Second half excitement

Rainbow Warriors enter McGuirk for second half.

The Minutemen offense came out smoking to start the second half.  Ford connected with his HS teammate Adam Breneman (9 catches for 179 yards) twice on a 79-yard drive ending as RB Marquis Young ran it around left end for a one-yard score and UMass’s first lead, 21-14.  They didn’t stop there. The D forced a Hawaii punt and started the ensuing drive from the 35.  On a fourth and four at Hawaii’s 28, Ford raced 17 yards to pick up fresh set of downs.  The Minutemen crossed the goal line again with a three-yard pass from Ford to Malik Lee in the left flat to extended the UMass lead, 28-14.  The wary UMass fandom around Mike, Colby, and me conversed among themselves basically saying don’t get too excited, “We’ve seen this before.”  Sure enough, Hawaii put up seven more points a little over two minutes later.  Brown’s nine-yard pass to ‘Unga placed the ‘Bows on the Massachusetts two where RB Ryan Tuiasoa took it in to score.  Going into the final period, the Minutemen led, 28-21.  The UMass offense played conservatively and lost its steam.  Hawaii started to drive again.

Marquis Young carries around the left side for a one-yard  UMass TD run.

 

The Minutemen defense forced Hawaii to punt at the U of M 48.  The wobbly punt by Aussie Stan Gaudion hit Frosh return man Jessie Britt square in the chest where the ball ricocheted off his pads and on to the ground where Tuiasoa recovered at the UMass 15.  Brown zipped his next pass to WR Marcus Armstrong-Brown who kept both feet inbounds nest to the goal line pylon for six points.  The PAT re-knotted the score at 28-all.  Despite the pessimism surrounding us from Collegefootballfan.com, returner Andy Isabella too the ensuing kick all the way to Hawaii’s 46.  On a fourth and one at the U of H 21, Young (20 rushes for 83 yards, 2 TDs) broke through the left side of the line all the way for a touchdown. His burst put UMass out in front, 35-28, but 11:41 remained on the clock.  I predicted three more scores before this one ended.  Mike repeated several times that the fumbled punt was the turning point that would lose this game for UMass.

TE Adam Brenneman fights for a nine-yard gain after this catch in the third period.

Mike, Mike, Mike! 

Hawaii started from their 41.  They converted a fourth and one at the 50 for a first.  On a critical fourth and three, Brown connected with a wide-open Ursua for a first down at the 14.  Mike exploded, “How could they not be covering that guy (Ursua – 12 receptions, 272 yards, 1 TD)? Stupid!”  However, UMass held the Bows to a 35-yard FG to cut the lead to 35-31 with 5:23 left.  Mike liked HC Nick Rolovich’s decision to go for three instead of the six.   Minuteman fans said that after their two TD lead, HC Mark Whipple’s play calling became too conservative.  I agreed with that.  To Mike’s point, Hawaii forced a punt after a UMass three-and-out to take over from their 26 with 2:52 remaining.  Down four, they were hell-bent to get a TD.  A pass to Urusa put the Bows at the seven.  “Stupid!” reiterated Mike.  We all saw who Brown’s go-to guy was and UMass left him too open, again.  With :48 left, Hawaii rolled sevens and still came up a winner, 38-35.  The UMass offense frustrated our senses with the play calling.  Even with 23 seconds remaining and no time outs, a long bomb was the eventual choice, but a run and two short incomplete passes ended the game with a whimper by the Minutemen and not a bang.

WR Metuisela ‘Unga hauls in a Brown pass to the two to set up at TD.

Extra Points:

Hawaii surely would enjoy its long flight home.   UMass fans grumbled, “Same old same old.” I would have enjoyed seeing a hard-working UMass team looking to head in a better direction put up the win, but I appreciated seeing a good, competitive game going down to the final minute to start off the Collegefootballfan.com season.  For a season opener both teams played well and generally executed well to make this a fun, competitive, exciting game.  Mike and Colby agreed.

Hawaii heads home now to play FCS West Carolina next Saturday.  UMass travels to Conway, SC to face the newest FBS member, Coastal Carolina. The Minutemen will play again on our slate on Friday night, September 15 when we see them play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  This Thursday night, we at Collegefootballfan.com start a stretch of four games in four days after Game 533.  We will attend a D-3 game, an FCS game, and two FBS games.  Seven of the eight teams we will see are ranked in their respective pre-season Top 25 polls.  If only Rutgers…  We will try to get a review out by Wednesday night.  Check back with us then.

We plan to keep an eye on UMass CB and return man Isaiah Roberts who impressed us with his coverage including an interception and a pass break up in the end zone.

LB Sam Casilli, UMass’s leader on defense, played well but left with an injury late in the game. His name was called near the end, but we will watch for him again when we see the Minutemen play the Temple Owls.

The Rainbow Warriors had a  good showing of fans and alum who came to Amherst, Mass for this game.

 

-Steve Koreivo, ed.

 

Season Opener – Steveo’s Salvos

Season Opener:  No teams come from farther apart than this

This Saturday, August 26 at 6 pm EST, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors who will have flown all the way out to visit the UMass Minutemen at Amherst, Massachusetts will clash at refurbished McGuirk Alumni Stadium for Collegefootballfan.com’s season opener.  The Rainbow Warriors were on the rebound finishing with a  7-7 record a year ago after five straight losing seasons.  Their victory total last season included a Hawaii Bowl win over Middle Tennessee State and a 46-40 regular season win over UMass, both played at the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium.  With Dru Brown taking over at QB five games into last season, the ‘Bows won six of ten games.  RB Diocemy Saint Juste returns with 1,006 rushing yards, but in short yardage situations, look for HC Nick Rolovich to call on Steven Lakalaka to barrel over people for the tough yards when needed.  He scored 13 TDs in similar situations last year.  The O-line is well established for our season opener returning three starters and a senior from a year ago.  Defensively Hawaii allowed 37.3 ppg and they were one of the most penalized teams in the FBS ranked at # 127.   New defensive coordinator Legi Suaiunoa is the fifth to take over the defense in five years, and the second in Rolovich’s second season in Honolulu, looking to lay down some discipline to eliminate costly mistakes made in the past.  A new PK and a new punter will start against UMass entering the season with big question marks on special teams.  We last saw Hawaii fall to Navy in Annapolis in 2013, 42-28.

Our 2017 season opener kicks off under the lights at McGuirk Alumni Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen, at 6 pm .

The Minutemen under HC Mark Whipple finished 2-10 last season.  QB Andrew Ford will be looking for TE Adam Breneman in key situations.  Breneman,  former HS teammate of Ford’s and a Penn State transfer who suffered leg injuries in the past, caught 70 passes for 808 yards and eight TDs in 2106.  He enters his senior season as a legitimate pro prospect.  RB Marquis Young ran for 898 yards last season, but UMass will be relying on four sophomores up front to step up quickly and make this offense more effective than a year ago.  Last season, the D allowed 35.5 ppg.  Whipple hired Defensive Coordinator Ed Pinkham who departed from a successful stint at Western Michigan after its 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl trip last season.  He’s initiated a change already from a 3-4 to a 4-3.  CB and return man Isaiah Rodgers and Safety Pat Amara, a Pitt transfer, will be key leaders in the Minutemen secondary.

Our season opener will be a competitive game probably filled with a lot of mistakes from first game jitters for both sides.  Despite the long trip,  we expect the visitors with cohesive experience on offense and renewed focus on some discipline on defense to be too much for UMass’s young O-line and for newly-learned adjustments to a new defensive scheme to handle in their first game.  UMass could be another FBS team returning to the FCS like Idaho is this year if significant improvement isn’t achieved this season.  We saw UMass’s FBS opener against Indiana in 2012 in a 45-6 loss.  Their band looked pretty good at Gillette Stadium that day.   Later this season at Temple on Friday, September 15, we will see them play again –  the football team, not the band.  UMass had a solid FCS program with a one national championship under Whipple and another under Dick MacPherson (read below) when he was HC there.

Great coaches never ever die when they leave behind

great memories and former assistant coaches

Hall of Fame College Football coaches Ara Parseghian, age 94, and Dick MacPherson, age 86, both passed away early this month.  I had the pleasure of seeing both men coach during their careers.  Growing up as a Notre Dame fan, I remember listening to Fighting Irish games on the radio at home when Ara Parseghian coached them during his first season in 1964.  It was against his former team, Northwestern. They won that day on their way to a 9-1 season, the first winning season at South Bend in five years. I rooted hard for the Irish over my younger years and vividly remember watching their 1973 24-23 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship.  At my personal, first-hand experience at a Notre Dame game for the first time, however,  I rooted against Ara and the Irish.  As a plebe at the US Naval Academy in 1974, I was a member of the Brigade of Midshipman at the Vet in Philly where 4,000 Mids hungered for an upset.  We stood and cheered the entire game as our 2-5 Navy classmates led 6-0 going into the final period against 6-1 Notre Dame, basically the same players I rooted for to win it all the previous New Year’s Eve.  An Irish punt return to our 27 resulted in a sliding TD catch by TE Pete Demmerle.  Randy Harrison’s late INT return 40 yards for a TD sealed the Irish win.  At the end of the season, due to health issues, Ara Parseghian retired.  Later, reports came out that this game influenced his decision to retire.  Beating a “lowly” 2-5 Navy team, 14-6, wasn’t good enough for ND fandom.  The pressure added to his health problems and family illnesses. Basically, Ara made this decision to step down after this game despite finishing 10-2 and defeating Alabama again, this time in the Orange Bowl, 13-11.  He amassed an overall record of 170-58-6 while at Miami (O.), Northwestern, and Notre Dame.  His career with the Irish finished with a record of 95-17-4,  third most coaching wins ever under the Golden Dome. It was a memorable time over my years growing up and developing a deep-seated love of college football. Amazing to me, however, that for a man I had admired for so long growing up, I ended up having to root against him at the only game I ever saw him coach at the very end of his illustrious career.

As for Dick Macpherson, at Syracuse from 1983 to 1990, I saw his first team topple to lowly Temple early in 1983 and eventually saw his squad upset Penn State in 1988.  It was a continuous improvement process in the years he guided Syracuse to a 64-44-6 record. But what was really inspiring was to look at his coaching staff he assembled while there.  He had assistants such as Don Blakeney, Foge Fazio, and Bob Davies who went on to become successful head coaches at Bowling Green, Missouri and Notre Dame, but to top it all off, he hired Tom Coughlin, future Head Coach of two Giant Super Bowl teams and Nick Saban, future Head Coach of five NCAA national Champs on his squad the same time early in their careers. The man had an eye for coaching talent for sure.  His overall record at UMASS and Syracuse totaled 111-75-3. His last four Syracuse teams finished 36-10-3 before he moved on to take over the New England Patriots.

 

Last season, we watched Notre Dame play Syracuse at Met Life Stadium.

Army-Navy maintains tradition

After much hype about relocating the greatest rivalry in college football, the Army-Navy game, to other venues around the nation, the two military academies decided to maintain tradition.  Already slated to play in Philadelphia this year, the following threes clashes will also take place at Lincoln Financial Field, and in 2021, they will battle at the Meadowlands as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Though the idea to move the game to other parts of the nation to allow many others to attend is admirable, it most likely wasn’t feasible.  This rivalry thrives on having all Midshipmen and Cadets attend.  Transporting them around the country to attend would be costly and would cut into required class time for the students.  Philly and the New Jersey Meadowlands are a bus ride away from Annapolis and West Point, so both make sense economically and time-wise.  We will plan to attend them all now, God-willing!

From our season opener this weekend through the Army-Navy game,  Collegefootballfan.com has 21 regular season games planned for this season. Follow our game travels  weekly for some fun and action.  After Saturday, we will wee four more games starting next Thursday through Sunday. Three divisions of NCAA football with seven of the teams ranked in their respective Top 25s.

Army and Navy will be parachuting on to the Lincoln Financial turf in Philly for the next four years.

 

Nobody asked but…

The pre-season publications chimed in with their Top four picks for the CFP.  No guts or real analytical foresight…everybody has Alabama at No. 1:

AP Poll: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, USC

Sports Illustrated:  Alabama, Florida State, Ohio St., Oklahoma State

Athlon’s: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, Washington

Street and Smith’s: Alabama, Ohio St., Florida State, USC

Lindy’s:  Alabama, USC, Ohio St., Florida State

Coaches poll:  Doesn’t matter, they only know about two teams, theirs and the next one they will be facing.  At lest that’s the way it should be.

We say it’s not where you start, it’s how you play every week, avoid mistakes, block and tackle, and where you finish.  Thinking out of the box, here’s what we come up with:

Collegefootballfan.com Poll:  Penn State, USC, Florida State, Auburn

No way Alabama or FSU is going to lose the first game of the season and go unscathed the rest of the season.  Auburn will beat Bama at home in the final game of the season at the Iron Bowl. QB Jarrett Stidham adds a new offensive dimension at Auburn to win “Alabama and Other Six division of the SEC”.  They beat one of “The Other Seven” in the SEC championship.  Ohio State loses at home to PSU who also beats Michigan the week before to finish undefeated to win the Big Ten championship against tough Wisconsin in the B1G finale.  USC dominates The Pac 12 with Sam Darnold at QB. They beat Washington in their championship gane.  The CFP championship in Atlanta will be a rematch of last year’s exciting Rose Bowl, but the result will be reversed and by a slightly wider margin.  (Remember, you read that here first!)

What we really like about college football!

 

 

Our December 2017 Season: Our Journey to Atlanta winds down

Our December 2017 season; Our journey to Atlanta winds down

Coastal Carolina joins FBS play with momentum and leadership

“Chauncey” the Chanticleer mascot of Coastal Carolina barges into the Sun Belt Conference in 2017.

For the first weekend in December, we land in Conway, SC for the final month of regular season games, division play-off games, and bowl games. We get to add Coastal Carolina University as our 130th Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team when the Chanticleers host Georgia Southern at home in expanded Brooks Stadium. Note that in 2018, the FBS will ball back to 129 teams again as Idaho has decided the cost of FBS travel to compete especially in the Sun Belt is too prohibitive to continue this endeavor, and they will return to the former conference of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the Big Sky Conference. The Vandals have improved over the last few years, but probably never should have left the FCS in the first place. With the addition of Coastal and the departure of Idaho, we at collegefootballfan.com can still say that weve seen em all among the FBS. At this game, we have a lot of interest regarding the two coaching staffs. CCU HC Joe Moglia has coached his team to a 51-15 record on their way to compete at the FBS level. His prior 18 years in business included seven years at TD Ameritrade where Moglia and his management team grew the company as its clients assets grew from $24 billion to over $300 billion. While coaching, he remains the Chairman of TD Ameritrade. His football program also continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Entering FBS play, he adds two former successful head coaches as his primary assistants. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Chadwell arrives from Charleston Southern where he coached the Buccaneers to a 35-14 record over the last four years and won Big South titles garnering a playoff bid in the FCS playoffs the last two. Former HC of James Madison University, Mickey Matthews, enters his second season under Moglia. In Harrisonburg from 1999-2013, he recorded a record of 109-71 while winning the FCS (formerly 1AA) championship in 2004. Like any strategic, successful leader whether in business, politics, or sports, Moglia builds his program by hiring proven winners to surround him. This will be an interesting year for the Chanticleers though they are not bowl eligible in their first season in the FBS. At Georgia Southern, HC Tyson Summers returns from his first season in Statesboro where the Eagles finished 5-7. Many attribute this programs fall from a switch from their highly successful triple option to a spread offense. Summers is not continuing in that vein in 2017. Summers hired away Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Cook in the off-season who worked the triple option under the steerage of the Godfather of the triple option, Paul Johnson. Trouble is that primary experience they had that kind of talent for graduated this past spring. GSU has to revamp skills on offense with a new set of playmakers as the defense looks to replace seven experienced DL and all of its linebackers. The Eagles ahve to do some rebuilding, and fast, to get back to its traditional winning ways.

End of the end of the season tradition?

Army-Navy tradition continues, but how much longer in Philadelphia?

We close our December 2017 season of the regular season games on our journey to Atlanta on December 9 in traditional fashion at the 118th version of Army-Navy. The Cadets bring back confidence and experience after last seasons 8-5 record, a Hearts of Texas Bowl win over North Texas State, and the returns of Senior QB Ahmad Bradshaw and Junior FB Andy Davison (961 yards, 12 TDs). It will be hard fought as usual as Navy will be looking to come off its first defeat in 15 years against Army while Army West Point wants to prove that their win was no flash in the pan. This clash between these two will be our sixth consecutive, and it totals our 11th overall dating back to 1972 in the greatest rivalry of all in college football. We call it that with no doubts because no other game between two rivals stirs more blood nationally than this one. As my cousin Debbie Keyes, whose son Robert started on the OL for The College of New Jersey for three seasons a few years back told me recently, her husband Phil only watches two football games a year. The Super Bowl, only because its on at whatever party he attends, and the Army Navy game which he watches with fervor. As a colonel in the Army reserves he always roots intently for The Brave Old Army Team. And there are hundreds of thousands at least like him throughout the country who hold this game in higher esteem than any other. Its a tradition among families with military blood in their veins going back a long way with a lot of pride. However, this could turn out to be our last for a while. Many other cities including some as far away as Florida, Texas, California, and Washington state are bidding to attract this historic American college football rivalry. It seems costly to transport 8,000 Mids and Cadets to such far reaches of the nation. If this happens, we probably wont go. With bowl season a few weeks away, this will put a crimp in our travel budget to say the least. However, it would be ideal for other parts of the county to attend the game and take in the atmosphere. Hopefully, it will return back to Philly on a regular basis on the highways between Annapolis and West Point where the rivalry intensifies every season no matter what the records of either team before this heated battle!

‘Tis the Seasonto go Bowling!

We’re saying good-bye to the Music City Bowl this year and heading to the Belk Bowl for the first time instead. However, we will be back to Nashville in the future for sure!

After the college football regular season, our December 2017 season continues through playoffs and Bowl season. Follow us right here again this season as our goal is to continue our journey to Atlanta. Well be savoring each game as we roll on. The very next weekend we will find a playoff game most likely in the east among the FCS, Division 2, and Division 3 games that most interest us. That weekend is a possibility of the D-3 national championship game on Friday night, December 15, as always in Salem, VA. Easy bowl road trip for us this season. Following Christmas on Monday, December 25, we will start nearby in New York City on Wednesday for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the Big Ten and the ACC. Next day takes us back to familiar haunts in Annapolis for the Military Bowl between The American Athletic and The ACC. On Friday, for the first time we plan to be at the Belk Bowl in Charlotte for another ACC bowl against the SEC. We will be ACCd out! With plans to be in Atlanta on Monday, January 8, we will take a quick look if we want to do something on the 30th in order to watch the two CFP semis at home on New Years Day. The Liberty, the Taxslayer, or the Orange Bowl can all be considered depending on who is playing. Its a long way off, but we’ve got our options in place.

With less than two weeks until our opener when Hawaii visit UMass on August 26, watch here for more updates with Steveo’s Salvos!

Our November 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The October 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta continues

The October 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta

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

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

Air Force at Navy : Take back the Chief?

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

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

Upstate doubleheader weekend

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

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

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

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

White-out!

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

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

Repeat for the Heisman?

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

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

 

 

The 2017 season: Our Journey to Atlanta

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Look for our October game preview here next week.

Steve

Steveo’s Salvos Post-draft 2017

Steve-o’s Salvos post-draft 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Steveo’s Salvos Pre-draft April 24, 2017

Steveo’s Salvos Pre-draft Report, April 2017

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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