We start the football week early with a Monday night game. Apparently lightening can strike twice. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the dysfunctional bully or bullied Miami Dolphins 22-19 to become the last NFL team to get a victory this season. The Bucs got out to a 15-0 lead and then watched the Dolphins score 19 straight points. Tampa Bay finally scored again with about 10 minutes to go and then held on. This has been the modus operandi for TB all season. They get off to a fast start and then fade. The difference this time is they somehow found the end zone for a late score and the win. The Bucs improve to 1-8 and are now tied with Jacksonville, who also won for the first time the day before, for the first draft pick. Next up the 2-7 Atlanta Falcons in Tampa.
Friday night brought us high school playoffs. We have good news and bad news here.
The LD Bell Blue Raiders didn't show their best in their 5A Division II Bi-District game against the Hebron Hawks. Final score was Hawks 27 Raiders 0. Although Bell actually finished slightly ahead in most statistics, the killer was five turnovers. This ends the Raiders season with a 7-4 overall record. It was a good but not great season. See you next year Raiders. Baseball season in a couple of months.
The continuing good news comes from the Bishop Kenny Crusaders. They easily beat the Palatka Panthers 44-22 in a game that wasn't that close. BK had 550 total yards to 182 for Palatka. The Crusaders quarterback, John Wolford, had a milestone game. He passed for 355 yds. which moved him into third place in history for passing yards by a Florida high school player. He moved past Tim Tebow (you may have heard of him) on the all-time list. Wolford is collecting state records this year. He has set the mark for career completions and career TD passes. Kenny is now 10-0 for the season and next host the 7-4 Clay County Blue Devils. Who will triumph, Devils or Crusaders?
Not so great a Saturday for my college teams. It started with a thrilling game between TCU at the Kansas State Wildcats. There were seven lead changes and the game wasn't decided until the 59:57 mark. The Frogs scored a go ahead FG with 2:13 remaining but then couldn't stop K-State from marching down the field and kicking a 41 yard FG for the win. Final score 33-31. This drops the Frogs to 4-7, 2-6. They are now officially out of the bowl picture. After a bye week, TCU hosts the undefeated #5 Baylor Bears. Good luck with that.
The bad news continued with a USF 23-10 home lose to the Memphis Tigers. The Bulls won the statistical battle but also had five turnovers. Offensively challenged teams like USF can't afford any turnovers, let alone five. The game was close at 6-3 after three quarters but then Memphis scored 17 straight points. The old alma mater falls to 2-7, 2-3 for the season and next host the 4-5, 3-2 SMU Mustangs.
Next the Florida Gators made a valiant effort at #10 South Carolina. The Gators went into the game with no chance. They were having to play with their third string and first time starting quarterback, Skyler Mornhinweg. Well, moniker challenged Skyler did an adequate job while the Gator defense played an outstanding game. Florida actually led 14-6 at halftime before the Fighting Spurriers came back and outscored them 13-0 in the second half. In this terrible Gator's season there were some signs of life and pride. Of course in big time SEC football a moral victory still counts as a lose. It was Florida's fifth straight lose for the first time since 1979. The Gators fall to 4-6, 3-5 and next host Division II (or whatever the hell they're now called) Georgia Southern. Not a sure win for this Gators' team. They have to beat the GS Eagles and then #2 FSU to become bowl eligible. I'm thinking the Gators will be idle in December.
In the SEC, only nine teams were in action. Ole Miss won the non-conference game. All the favorites won the conference matchups, although #7 Auburn almost blew it against Georgia. The Tigers jumped out to a 13-0 lead, 27-10 halftime advantage and 37-17 early in the fourth quarter. Then the Dawgs got hot. After three straight TDs, the Bulldogs actually led 38-37. Then the War Eagle flew in and made a miraculous catch with 25 seconds remaining to score a TD for a 43-38 Auburn victory. It was a great game, probably the best of the day. Georgia is now eliminated from the SEC East race. Auburn can still win the West with a victory over #1 Alabama in two weeks. With their lose to Auburn, Georgia fell out of the BCS top 25 but six SEC teams remain in the rankings with four in the top 12. Alabama remains #1.
In the race for the BCS championship game, #2 FSU further cemented their position. They completely dominated the Syracuse Orange 59-3. Despite the Noles domination, there was one statistical anomaly, Syracuse handily won time of possession 42 minutes to only 18 for FSU. That just shows that the Noles scored very quickly and easily. The Seminoles improve to 10-0, 8-0. FSU has only the 1-9 Idaho Vandals and the 4-6 Gators remaining on the regular season schedule. They then have to play the ACC championship game. The Seminoles are solidly in the #2 position in the BCS rankings. They are much closer to #1 Alabama than #3 Ohio State. They are now tied with 'Bama for first spot in the computer rankings.
Since Atlanta traveled to Tampa this week, I was assured of one pro win. I actually expected the Falcons to be that winning team since they beat the Bucs a month ago. That was not the outcome as TB beat Atlanta 41-28 for an amazing two wins in a row and in the same week. It was the Buccaneers biggest points explosion by far this season. The game statistics were pretty close but once again turnovers played a big part. TB had none, Atlanta had three. The Birds and the Bucs are now tied with 2-8 records. They both are one game behind in the race for the first draft pick. Atlanta next plays at the 8-2 Saints. The now streaking Bucs travel to the 6-4 Lions.
Jacksonville on the other hand returned to their losing ways. The Arizona Cardinals were in town. The Jags actually led 14-7 after one quarter and were tied at 14 at the half. Then thankfully they came to their senses and decided not to play after halftime. They lost the second half 13-0 and the game 27-14. The Jaguars came in second place in most statistical categories but made up for that by throwing two interceptions. The defense did OK with three sacks and holding the Cardinals to 14 rushing yards. Sadly, I think we are seeing the end of the line for once great running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He had only only 23 yards on 14 carries and only about 450 yards this season. With this lose Jax takes sole possession of last place in the NFL with a 1-9 record and therefore first place in the draft race. They can not let their guard down though as there are four teams with 2-8 records. Next up the Jaguars face one of those teams as they travel to the almost as inept 2-8 Houston Texans.
As the high school playoffs continue, all I can say is