by Bill Holmes
My recap of the only football games that matter
Week 15 Recap
The football week started on Thursday night when the 2-10 Houston Texans traveled to the 3-9 Jacksonville Jaguars. This game was for last place in the AFC South as well as better position in the draft race. The Jags have been playing decent football of late and were looking for their first home victory in over a year. They finally did it with the first win at EverBank Field since 11/25/2012 by a score of 27-20. As poorly as Houston played it should have been an easier win. The Texans had two turnovers and were penalized 177 yards. Despite that, Houston outgained Jax 406 to 281 and had the ball almost eleven minutes longer. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 103 yards and receiver Ace Sanders threw a 21 yard TD pass. The Texans got within four points in the fourth quarter but a late interception by the Jaguars allowed them to ice the game with a field goal with 25 seconds remaining. This was the Jags third straight win and four out of the last five after eight straight loses to start the season. They improve to 4-9. Next game at home against the Buffalo Bills. The official attendance was 60K in the 67K stadium but it looked like way more than 7,000 empty seats to me.
Saturday was the day for conference championship games and a few games by conferences that don't have championship games. Conferences with 12 or more football members can have a playoff game for the league championship. Of the six BCS conferences, the AAC and Big 12 do not have a playoff game. Why you may ask doesn't the Big 12 have a championship game? Because there are only ten teams in the Big 12. Now the Big Ten does have a playoff because there are 12 schools in the Big Ten. Got it? Mathematics is apparently not a strong suit of collegiate athletic conferences. Don't even think about the geographical anomalies.
South Florida played a meaningless game at Rutgers and of course lost 31-6. The win by the Scarlet Knights did make them bowl eligible (barely) with a 6-6 record. The Bulls scored two field goals in the 2nd quarter, that was it for scoring. USF was outgained by over 200 yards and committed two turnovers. They finish the season with a dismal 2-10 record. Let's hope this is rock bottom and the Bulls can show significant improvement next season. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) will have a different and weaker membership next year. They will also lose their automatic bid to the BCS bowl games.
The big conference championship games were in the SEC and Big Ten. The ACC game was pretty much a given that #1 FSU would beat Duke.
The SEC game was played first with the #5 Missouri Tigers vs the #3 Auburn Tigers. All tigers all the time. Auburn needed a win and then hope that #2 Ohio State lost in the later Big Ten game. In an exciting game Auburn beat Missouri 59-42. Not much defense here as Auburn outgained Missouri 677 to 534 yards. 545 of the War Eagle yards were on the ground with an incredible 303 rushing yards by Tre Mason.
In the Big Ten game it was #2 Ohio State vs #10 Michigan State. If the Buckeyes win they go to the BCS championship game, lose and the SEC champ goes. Well, just as I had hoped, OSU and coach Urban Meyers lost 34-24 to the Spartans. OSU led 24-17 in the third quarter but then MSU scored 17 straight points. It was beautiful. I've never liked Ohio State and dislike them even more now that Meyers is their coach. He didn't leave Florida in very good shape or under ideal circumstances.
As expected, #1 FSU rolled over the #20 Duke Blue Devils 45-7. A tight Noles team got off to a slow start and there was no score in the first quarter. Then FSU got warmed up and it was game over. They scored the next 45 straight points before Duke finally scored with a minute left in the game. The Seminoles Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Jameis Winston was 19/31 for 330 yards and three TDs. He also had 59 rushing yards and another TD.
So the BCS championship matchup worked out perfectly. It will be between the #2 Auburn Tigers against the #1 FSU Seminoles. That puts the SEC in the big game for the seventh straight year. It also puts the home state Noles in the title game for the first time since 2001. They last won it all in 2000. The Tigers won it all in 2011.
In Sunday's games we had a split. The ever declining Atlanta Falcons lost to the Green Bay Packers 22-21. The Falcons managed to do this despite leading 21-10 at the half and 21-16 after three quarters. That's right, they failed to score in the second half. It was a crappy game on a miserable Green Bay winter day. It was 9° with a -1° wind chill and light snow at game time. Atlanta falls to 3-10 and last place in the NFC South. The Falcons play the equally inept 3-10 Washington Redskins next in a home game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers meanwhile beat the Buffalo Bills 27-6 in much warmer weather in Tampa. The Bucs have won four of their last five games and are now 4-9 for the season. The game was close statistically but the Bills had five turnovers. Tampa Bay next hosts the 9-4 San Francisco 49ers.
Week 16 Recap
The only college game on Saturday was the Army-Navy game. This hasn't been much of a contest lately but it is always exciting to watch the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen. This years game was dominated by Navy 34-7. The Midshipmen gained 353 total yards with 343 on the ground and only 10 yards passing. It was Navy's 12th straight victory. They finished the year 8-4 while Army struggled to a 3-9 record. Being the father of a career Navy man and having grown up in a Navy town I have always rooted for the Midshipmen. I do wish the games were more competitive though. Thanks to all the members of the Corps and Brigade for their service.
The other major college news involved a little award known as the Heisman Trophy. In a rather lopsided finish, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston won with 2,204 votes. His margin of victory was 1,501 votes over the second place finisher. The voting results can be found here. It's interesting that Winston was completely left off 115 ballots, I suspect because of the alleged sexual assault charges that have now been dropped. Winston becomes the youngest trophy winner at age 19 and only the second freshman to win the award.
Speaking of the 49ers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found out SF is pretty good in a 33-14 home lose. The Bucs got to within six points at the beginning of the fourth quarter but then SF reeled off three straight scores, one on a TD fumble return. The 49ers dominated the statistics including an almost 10 minute advantage in time of possession. The Bucs fall to 4-10 and next travel to St. Louis to play the 6-8 Rams.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a real chance to extend their three game winning streak in a home battle of 4-9 teams. One of those teams is now 5-9 and it is not the Jags. They lose to the Buffalo Bills 27-20. Jax came back from a 20-10 halftime deficit to tie the score at 20 early in the fourth quarter. Buffalo scored again with 9:35 left in the game and then held on. The Jags had a chance to at least tie the game when they had a first and goal on the one with about 4:00 remaining. On third down they threw an interception in the end zone. Game over. Stats were close but the Jaguars had four turnovers. Jacksonville falls to 4-10 and next play their last home game of the season against the 5-9 Tennessee Titans.
As you may have noticed, all three of my teams have 4-10 records. Who will win the BillyJim47 futility trophy? They are all in a five way tie for third place in the draft. It appears that Houston has the inside track for the top pick followed by the Redskins.
Only two more weeks of games since there won't be any playoffs for me.