Steveo’s Salvos – November 11, 2015

“On the road again!”  After our bye week where we settled in to enjoy seeing Navy dominate Memphis on the tube in a 45-20 victory that catapulted the Mids to No. 20 in the CFP poll, we look forward to getting on the road for our farthest trip of 2016 to attend our games # 498 and # 499.  Friday, we head out to Boulder, Colorado for the Friday night clash at CU’s Folsom Field to see the Trojans of USC (6-3, 4-2) tussle with PAC 12 South foe Colorado sitting at the bottom of the conference (4-5,1-5).  We’re not predicting upset in this one, but we’re sure hoping for one!  CU got belted by No. 11 Stanford last week, 42-10, but had been showing signs of improvement earlier with some closer scores against stiff competition as they did vs. UCLA in a 35-31 loss.  QB Sefo Liufau leads a rushing attack of six ball carriers who each have over 280 yards so far this season.  The home field might give them some advantage with temperatures dipping into the 30s.  USC comes in on a three-game winning streak under interim HC Clay Helton who stepped in after the ouster of Steve Sarkasian before the Notre Dame loss.  The Trojans won close games in their last two outings at Cal, 27-21, and at home against Arizona, 38-30.  We think the Buffs can make this a competitive game with the ESPN spotlight on them.  Their key defensively is to try to slow down Troy QB Cody Kessler who’s thrown for 2,511 yards, 20 TDs, and five INTs.  His favorite target is WR JuJu Smith-Schuster who’s caught most of his completions for 1,094 yards and nine TDs.  RB Ronald Jones II is the leading Trojan ground gainer with 710 yards and six TDs.  You know there will be some talent on the field as I’m told at least 16 NFL scouts will be in attendance in the press box. I know because I’ll be up there with them out of the cold for this one.  CU SID Dave Plati who invited me out several years ago to add CU and Colorado State to my goal to “See ’em all!” is my gracious host for this game out in Colorado once again.  I told Dave I really appreciated the last opportunity when the Buffs and Rams met at Invesco Field at the time, but I really wanted to catch a game on campus with that brown-brick façade at Folsom Field!  I’m really looking forward to this. What great timing a week before we celebrate Game 500.  Go Buffs!…Of course taking such a road trip would be in vain on a Friday night if we didn’t find something fairly local to attend on Saturday.  Game # 499 worked out neatly.  The next morning, we head down to Colorado Springs for our first game ever at the US Air Force Academy.   We’ve been to West Point and Annapolis many times including this year’s game when Air Force fell to Navy, 33-11.  We love the traditions we’ve seen numerous times at Army and Navy, so we look forward to Air Force traditions such as the pre-game flyover and other festivities.  The Falcons (6-3, 4-1)  will host Mountain West Mountain division foe Utah State (5-4, 4-2).  The Aggies big win this season came over Boise State, 52-26.  They’ve scored 50 points plus in three of their last five games but hit a bump in the road last week at New Mexico, 14-13.  The Lobos halted the vaunted USU running attack holding it to 78 yards on 37 carries. Until then, it ran with potency.  Leading rusher Devante Mayes with 615 yards and seven TDs will try to get the running attack back on track.  QB Kent Myers stepped in for Chuckie Keeton who is sidelined for his third season in a row.  Myers has 1,106 yards passing for 10 TDs and one INT while rushing for 318 yard and three TDS.  We will see USAFA QB Karson Roberts lead his team a second time this season as he’s thrown for 694 yards while rushing for 410 and seven touchdowns.  RB Jacobi Owens is second in ground gains with 615 yards and four TDs.  Six players have rushed for 285+ yards.  With their 20-3 win over Army last week, the Falcons will focus on the MWC title again.  USU will be looking to even their conference record, but we think the Air Force will have some thruster power to keep the Aggies off balance.  This could be a trap game for the Air Force though as it reckons with Boise on the road the following week  A win here is  a step in the direction to take the Mountain division.  In the title game, the winner will probably take on San Diego State whom we saw get beat by Penn State early this season in State College.  We think this will be a tight game down to the wire game that will possibly go into overtime.  We think this will be another good one in what’s already been a fantastic season for….

Air Force QB Roberts stopped for no gain.

Air Force QB Roberts (16) will have to get the triple option rolling to keep pace with the Aggies this Saturday.

Navy’s win last week really makes things exciting for us in the American Athletic Conference.  The Mids play SMU and Tulsa next.  If they win those two, it will most likely be a showdown with The Houston Cougars who are 9-0 right now.  But hold everything!  No. 24 UH plays No. 21 Memphis this Saturday reeling from their loss last week to No. 20 Navy, ranked for the first time since 2004.  The week after, Memphis travels to No. 22 Temple.  There are lot of big clashes in the AAC West the next few weeks.  Most likely, the champ of the West will play Temple.  Highest seed gets home field advantage.  If Navy wins out, we could go to the championship game in Annapolis.  If not, we could see Temple for the third time this year host a game at the Linc.  We are really looking forward to see how this conference unfolds, but Go Navy!  If Navy wins the AAC Championship, it looks like they could be the Group of Five rep in a major bowl this season.  It could be the Peach Bowl.  Too bad we have our Orange Bowl playoff ticket already. It’s seven hours away on the same day…

Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame in that order in the CFP.  We can agree with the final four, but in that order?  Bama lost to Ole Miss who lost to Memphis who lost to Navy.  So much for the body of work.  However, things are always apt to change.  Among three of the four teams here, rivalry games could be their undoing. You never know.  Clemson has South Carolina, but SC is tumbling.  Dabo Swinney will have his Tigers up for this one in memory of the Old Ball Coach, his antagonizer who quit on his team at mid-season.  Bama has Auburn, never mind Mississippi State.  The Iron Bowl?  You never know. That’s got potential though.  Ohio State Michigan at the Big House – this is the one to watch and we’ll be there! Of the three rivalry match-ups, this will be a blood bath. We get to see this game in the right year.  Despite Michigan’s two losses, the opener at tough Utah and the punt miscue that did them in against Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are going to be charged up. And if Ohio State isn’t, this could be the Big Ten’s ouster for the CFP.  Of course , the Irish have Stanford to contend with out in Palo Alto.  The Cardinal will be looking to gain some respect for the PAC 12…

The Irish and the Temple Owls have their sights set on great endings this football season.

The Irish and the Temple Owls have their sights set on great endings this football season.

Other games of consequence leading to the bowl make up – Florida State at Florida. I wouldn’t want the Noles as my opponent as a “spoiler”.  TCU at Baylor?  What about Oklahoma State finishing at home to Baylor and Oklahoma with TCU as a victim already.  A successful finish by the Cowboys is going to make it hard to keep them out of the CFP.  One last note about arch rivals.  If Navy wins on December 5 to take the AAC crown to compete in a major bowl, they still have to play Army!  Crazier things have happened, but Naah!  No way the Mids will look past that game even under those circumstances…Iowa ranked No. 5 in the CFP?  Last year in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Tennessee beat them like they were standing still – literally!  It was the slowest football team I’d ever seen at the FBS level. I just can’t believe they changed that much in one season.  I have to see them to believe there’s been that much improvement since that game…We’re not sure what FCS games if any are going to come in our direction this season.  With the potential of attending the AAC Championship on December 5 followed by army-navy a week later, that leaves December 19.  We have family plans on Saturday, but the D-3 championship is on Friday night.  The top four right now are Mt. Union  as usual), Linfield, UW-Oshkosh (UW Whitewater is No. 6),  and St. Thomas of Minnesota.  Others looming are No. 8 Johns Hopkins and No. 11 Wesley who fell to Salisbury State last week, 38-35.  Playoffs start in two weeks.  Like the FBS, a lot is going to happen before two teams reach the Stagg bowl in Salem, Virginia, but we want to get down there for that one, too….A lot of great football on its way over the next few weeks. We love this!

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