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Monday, December 29, 2014

Football 2014 - Week 18

My recap of the only football games that matter

My heading of "the only football games that matter" is not true during the silly bowl season. I'll touch on several of these games with a glancing blow but mostly with tongue firmly in cheek. 

There were several bowl games this week It all started with the Miami Beach Bowl which is played in Marlins Park, a baseball stadium that is not in Miami Beach. It is the inaugural edition of this bowl, we needed more bowls. This game actually had two good teams, 8-4 BYU and 9-3 Memphis. I saw the tail end of the game. It ended in double overtime with a 55-48 Memphis win. Then a brawl broke out. Not just the normal pushing, shoving and posturing but actual punches and blood. There were very few butts in the seats. The published attendance was 20K but that number must include the teams, vendors, ticket takers, security and several thousand driving by on nearby Dolphin Expressway. 

The day after the Miami Beach Bowl, that wasn't played in Miami Beach, we had the Boca Raton Bowl which was actually played in Boca Raton. That's only about 45 miles north on I-95. There were an alleged 29K fans in the 29K capacity stadium. Apparently many fans in Boca Raton are invisible.

The second Tuesday game was finally one I had some interest. In the very long named San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the 7-5 Navy Midshipman played 7-5 San Diego State. That's a local school in their home field playing the Naval Academy in a big Navy town. Should draw a big crowd. There were 33K in the 71K stadium. It was a sloppy game with seven turnovers. It was also a close game with neither team ever leading by more than seven. Navy is strictly a rushing team with only 17 passing yards on 3/7. The Midshipmen took the lead with about a minute and a half remaining in the game. SDSU then drove down the field but missed a 35 yard chip shot FG attempt with 0:20 on the clock. Navy wins 17-16.

There was also the Royal Purple bowl on Tuesday but who cares.

On Christmas eve we had the first ever Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. The Popeye in the name is the chicken joint, not the cartoon sailor. This game was actually held in Nassau, Bahamas, one of the real hotbeds of college football. It was about 80° and humid at kickoff. The game was held in a 15K seat soccer stadium. We have high school football stadiums bigger than that in Texas. It was a game between two 7-5 teams from third tier football programs. I saw about five minutes of this game, looks like it was a good one by the 49-48 final score. Central Michigan trailed Western Kentucky 49-14 midway through the third quarter before staging their comeback that fell just short. They scored a miracle hail Mary/several laterals TD with no time left. They then went for two on the conversion for the win instead of taking the sure tie in regulation. Gutsy call. The alleged attendance was 13.6K, I guess they were all at the concession stands when I saw a crowd shot. 


For the next bowl we need to travel halfway around the globe to the Hawaii Bowl. This game feature the sub .500 Fresno State Bulldogs (6-7) against the always mighty 7-5 Rice Owls. Over the years there have been a number of names for bowl games in Hawaii and I think some years there was more than one game on the islands. Fresno State lost to finish with a stunning 6-8 record. More than worthy of a free trip to Hawaii. The game is played in the 50K seat Aloha Stadium. Published attendance was 25K. Most must have left for the beach before the opening kickoff.

The silly bowl season took Christmas day off but cranked back up on Friday with three more games. The first was the local Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. Zaxby's is some kind of chicken joint based in Georgia with over 600 locations. There are only two in Texas, neither in Dallas. This game is played in the Cotton Bowl while the actual (Goodyear) Cotton Bowl Classic game is not. The old Cotton Bowl is a huge 92K stadium. Plenty of elbow room as an alleged 31K showed up.

Next was the Quick Lane Bowl in beautiful downtown Detroit. Imagine the thrill of winning a slot in a bowl in Detroit. UNC would have been better off staying home. They lost which gave them a losing record and Chapel Hill is a way nicer place. It was probably a wash for Rutgers. What is a Quick Lane? It's apparently some slogan or name that Ford uses for their service departments. I was at a Ford dealer's service department a few days ago. They had lanes but it wasn't quick.

Finally there was the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. Bitcoin is that madeup internet currency that about 12 people in the world understand. I wonder if you have to use Bitcoins to buy tickets or if the schools are paid their appearance fees in Bitcoins? This game is played in beautiful Tropicana Field which is normally the worst baseball stadium in the majors. The Rays draw small crowds here. Meaningless football drew better, published attendance was 26K.

Saturday was a big bowling day with five games. First up was the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, quite a mouthful. I've often wondered why companies like Northrop Grumman advertise on TV or at sporting events. They don't make consumer goods and I can't imagine that someone shopping for a new ballistic missile would be swayed by a catchy TV commercial. The game was held at the 34K seat Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, home field of the Midshipmen. This game was a sellout, amazing.

Next was the Hyundai Sun Bowl that is actually played in the Sun Bowl stadium (51K capacity) in El Paso. It is the second oldest bowl in the country, first played in 1902. Duke was in this game, they don't get to too many bowls.  

Up next was the Duck (Dynasty) Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport. It's played in Independence Stadium which has been renovated and expanded to 49K. I remember passing it many times on I-20 when it looked like a decrepit high school stadium. This bowl featured the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, one of my favorite football personalities. It has been an off year for his Fighting Chickens but they managed to win for a 7-6 final record. This ensured Spurrier had another winning season. In 25 years as a college head coach he has had only one losing season, his first one. 

Now onto the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played in Yankee Stadium, a baseball park. Get it, pinstripe, Yankee Stadium. The game is owned by the Yankees and the winner gets the George M. Steinbrenner trophy. What a prize. I didn't see any of this game so I don't know how realistic the published 49K attendance is. Looks like it was a good game with Penn State scoring with no time on the clock for a one point victory over Boston College.

To wrap it up we have to go to the west coast for the National University Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Why does a university have to sponsor a bowl game? Maybe because it is a private school with a main campus in La Jolla, CA, one of the most expensive places in the country. Gotta keep that tuition money coming in. 

The march of the bowls took Sunday off to make room for the last week of the NFL regular season. But don't worry there will be three bowl games on Monday.

The Jaguars wrapped up their season in Houston. They end it like they started it, with a lose. The score remained close but the stats show that the Texans dominated. They held the ball over 19 more minutes than the Jags. One of Jacksonville's TDs was from an interception return. Offensively challenged has been the perfect description all season. Bortles was only 14/33 for 117 yards and five sacks. Their lone offensive TD was a pass from a wide receiver, not the QB. The Jaguars finish with a pitiful 3-13 record. Their defense is adequate but they have to find some offense in the offseason. Will a second season Blake Bortles be the answer? The only good news is that the Jags will get the number three draft pick. Wait til next year.

The Bucs win, the Bucs win, the Bucs win! No, not the game of course but the number one overall draft pick in 2015. In typical Tampa Bay fashion they took a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter but couldn't hold the lead. Final score, the Saints win 23-20. How many times have the Buccaneers had the lead only to lose it? Like Jacksonville, Tampa Bay has to find some offense. Will they use that top draft choice to pick a big name QB? There will probably be two Heisman Trophy winning QBs in the 2015 draft. The Bucs finish the season with a league worst 2-14 record. They went winless at home which doesn't help with ticket sales. 

In the late game the winner of the Carolina at Atlanta game would be in the playoffs despite a losing records. It was a home game for the Falcons plus they had already beaten the Panthers earlier in the year. So of course they would win. Not so fast bird breath. Atlanta forgot to show up for the game. They were completely overrun by the Panthers and lost 34-3. Carolina scored TDs on two interceptions and sacked Matt Ryan six times. The Falcons finish the season at 6-10. A very disappointing year for a team expected to do well. Meanwhile Carolina limps into the playoffs with a stellar 7-8-1 record and actually get to host a first round game. 


So all three of my NFL teams are done, no playoffs. What is the final tally? That would be an outstanding 11-37 overall record. That works out to .229 winning percentage, not even one win per week. 2015 has got to be better, right? 

At least the local D/FW fans will be happy. The Cowboys won their division and will host a game next week against Detroit.

For you bowling fans, have no fear. They crank up again today and there are still 21 games to go.

wjh 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Scattershooting 12-28-14


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week


I hadn't planned on doing a ‪#‎MusicMonday‬ until I read that Joe Cocker died today. He was only 70. Whether you like his music or not, you must admit he was an original. I'll never forget the time he was on Saturday Night Live in 1976 and John Belushi joined him for a very funny duet by two Cockers. Now they are both gone. Here is Joe's biggest solo hit which reached #5 in 1975, You Are So Beautiful. RIP Joe -

Here is part of the Cocker & Belushi performance on SNL -

Surely the world is about to end. There has been a bright yellow disk in the sky over the D/FW area all day (12/22). It seems to be radiating warmth. Will we all burn as it gets closer? Sacrifice your first born immediately and maybe we will be spared.

Gotta add a ‪#‎TuneTuesday‬. Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the Civil Rights anthems. It was originally released as the "B" side of a 45 (kids, ask your parents or grandparents what a 45 is). It was a minor hit at the time reaching #9 on the R&B chart and #31 on the Hot 100. Since then it has been covered by thousands. Here is the song written and performed by the great Sam Cooke. A Change Is Gonna Come -


I'm guessing that some heads are going to roll (literally) in the IT & network support ranks in North Korea.

There must be something going on. I decided to stop by Kroger this afternoon (12/24) while I was out riding, you can never have too much beer in the fridge. The place was jammed with frantic looking people, many who looked lost and at least one who was drunk. Very unusual for a Wednesday afternoon.

People who live in dirty glass houses shouldn't cast aspersions -

wjh

Monday, December 22, 2014

Football 2014 - Week 17

My recap of the only football games that matter

The College Bowl season started this week but first there was one last Thursday night NFL game. This was a battle of the 2-12 Titans vs the 2-12 Jaguars. The loser would occupy the AFC South cellar all alone and remain tied for first place for the top draft pick in 2015. This was the last home game of the season for Jacksonville. It was one of the few Jags games I get to see on TV. The weather was fine and the old hometown looked good. There were even 61,000 fans in attendance. So, how did this battle of these cellar dwellers turn out? It started out going the Titans way. They took the opening kickoff and drove 84 yards for a TD. They held the ball 7:37. Tennessee added a FG early in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead. The Jaguars had several three and out series before finally putting a drive together to score a TD with 0:31 remaining in the second quarter. 10-7 Titans at the half. Jacksonville pulled ahead 21-10 with TDs in the third and fourth quarters. The Titans managed a FG with six minutes remaining in the game but that ended the scoring. Jags win 21-13 and the Titans have the cellar to themselves. These are two young and offensively challenged teams that are rebuilding. Amazingly there were no turnovers in this game. The Titans had better statistics including almost 10 more minutes of possession but couldn't put scoring drives together. The Jaguars improve to 3-12 and finish their season at Houston.

The first five bowl games were on Saturday. I didn't have any interest in any of the ten teams. I just saw a few minutes of a couple of the games in passing. I do love the obscure sponsors for some of these minor bowls. R+L Carriers is some kind of shipping company but I don't think they will be delivering any of the Amazon purchases to your door. Royal Purple is motor oil, Gildan makes t-shirts, Raycom Media is owned by the state of Alabama and you know what Idaho potatoes are. It is called the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. I've never figured out what is famous. Is it Idaho, the potatoes or the bowl? Besides the funny names, some of the attendance numbers are pretty weak. Most numbers are fudged too so actual butts in the seats is even lower. TV shots of the stands can be pitiful. The R+L bowl drew 34K in the 72K Superdome. The Gildan bowl had 28.7K in a 39K stadium although I have no idea where they were sitting. The Purple bowl had 33K in a 37K arena. The Potato Bowl had 18K in the stadium that seats 37K and has blue turf. As proof that many of these bowl games are just TV fillers, the Raycom bowl started at 9:15 PM local time in Birmingham and finished after 1:00 AM. It drew 20K. Don't worry if you missed these games there are still 34 more bowl games to go.

In the pro ranks, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Saints in New Orleans 30-14. The Falcons scored in every quarter. The Saints had four turnovers. This lose eliminates New Orleans from the playoffs. The Birds win sets up a winner take all in next weeks Carolina at Atlanta game. The winner of the NFC South will have only seven wins and a losing season yet they will still be seeded number four in the playoffs. Several teams with better records will not make the playoffs but if you win a division it's automatic plus you get a home game in the first round.

In the battle of the bays, the Buccaneers continued their terrible season with a 20-3 lose to the Packers. They can't blame the weather because the game was in Tampa. The Bucs only had 109 total yards, 16 on the ground. Green Bay had the ball 17 more minutes. Pathetic. Tampa Bay falls to 2-13, the worst record in the worst division, and are now tied with only Tennessee for worst record. Their last game is at home against the Saints.

wjh

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scattershooting 12-21-14


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week


We were in Grapevine around lunch time today and Joe's Crab Shack happened to be right in front of us when we decided to eat. What a difference a decade makes. The place looks exactly the same but there has been a severe falloff in business. Back in the day there was often a wait for lunch if you got there a little after noon. Today there were maybe a dozen customers in the place. The food was fine and the beer was cold. Wonder how they do for happy hour and dinner? That used to be SRO too.

A #TuneTuesday entry. This song was just announced as a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee. It was released in November 1966. In 1967 it reached #1 on the R&B chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It's sung by the great Aaron Neville. His first big hit. Here is Tell It Like It Is

I think it's time.

It's a sad day for sarcasm and political humor. The last Colbert Report airs tonight on Comedy Central. We'll have to wait until sometime after May 2015 for Stephen to reappear as the host of The Late Show. The Colbert Report has been must view TV at my place for years. It will be missed.

Time for a Christmas ‪#‎TBT‬. Here is Matt all dressed up for his first Christmas. This was 1992 and young Santa was six months old. Unfortunately there is an old bald elf in the pictures too.

Merry Christmas!


Has anybody in North Texas seen the sun lately. I'm feeling a little low on vitamin D.

We're getting closer -

More proof that geography is not a strong point of college athletics. In the new 12 team AAC conference alignment Cincinnati is in the East division and Navy is in the West.

Another sad day in the comedy world. Last night (12/18) was the final Colbert Report and tonight (12/19) is the last Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. It's been a fun ten years. Goodbye to Craig, Geoff and Secretariat. You guys made me laugh and cry many nights. Thanks.


Another TV milestone tonight. It will be the last Christmas program for the Late Show with David Letterman. There are two great traditions. One is Jay Thomas knocking the meatball off the top of the Christmas tree with a football and telling the great Lone Ranger story. The second is the Darlene Love performance of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Here is her first appearance in 1986 -

And here is the performance from last year -

For another dreary day here is the perfect song. It's sung by the Walker Brothers who were neither brothers nor Walkers. Still, it's a good song from 1966. Here is The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) -

For the last few days Encore Western has been promoting that starting in January they will be broadcasting "Death Valley Days". They are also going to air "Wanted Dead or Alive". I remember having a 20 Mule Team model when I was a kid. It was a bear to put together. Looking forward to seeing the old episodes. 


It's the final ‪#‎SongSunday‬ before Christmas so here is my favorite holiday song. I'm not alone in thinking this is the best Yuletide song by the best singer. The song was written in 1944 and has been covered by numerous singers. The best singer, Nat King Cole, recorded it four times. Here is the iconic rendition of The Christmas Song.
Merry Christmas and keep your chestnuts warm -


wjh

Friday, December 19, 2014

College Bowl BS

2014-15 College Bowl Schedule

Here we are once again at the end of the college football regular season. Now we are about to start the mostly silly season also referred to as bowl season. We got rid of the BcS but still have the bowl BS. There are only three games that mean anything, the three playoff games with the top four teams as decided by the College Football Playoff Committee. All the rest are what the other kind of football (soccer) would call a "friendly", an exhibition game. They are games held to promote a city, event, product or just to fill TV programming. Most will be televised by ESPN, several of which were started and are produced by the network. Some are old established bowls like the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sun and Gator. Of course they all have title sponsors now. Some newer ones have no name other than the sponsor. 

Here are some facts about bowl games. There are 125 FBS college football programs, schools that used to be classified division 1-A. There are now 39 bowl games counting the new playoff sites. That means 76 different schools will participate in bowls. The championship game will have the two teams that already participated and won the semifinal bowls. Do the math, that means 60% of the FBS schools will be in bowls. Not a very elite group. It reminds me of youth sports where everybody gets a trophy just for participating. Most FBS schools now play 12 regular season games. You need six victories to qualify for a bowl. That's an outstanding 50% winning rate. It is in fact possible to have a losing record and still qualify for a bowl if a team plays 13 games as do those in conference championship games. This scenario played out this year as 6-7 Fresno State is headed to the Hawaii Bowl. There are 12 bowl teams with 6-6 records. Florida is 6-5, they had a game rained out. That's 14 bowl participants with only six wins. 

The silly season starts on December 20th with five games. It ends on January 12th with the Championship game. The very first one is th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. What are (is) R+L Carriers? The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is also on that day. Some other unfortunately or confusingly named bowls include the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl, Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, Duck Commander Independence Bowl, National University Holiday Bowl and Taxslayer Bowl. 

That last one bothers me. This is what has traditionally been the Gator Bowl but there is no mention of Gator in this year's title or logo. Last Year it was the Taxslayer Gator Bowl. This is sad because the Gator Bowl is the sixth oldest bowl and has been going since 1946. This is partly to be blamed on Jacksonville and the Gator Bowl committee not being willing and/or able to keep up with other bowls. What was once a premier bowl when there were fewer than ten post-season games is now on about the third or fourth rung of bowl games. This year's Gator Bowl (it will always be the Gator Bowl to me) has two unranked teams, the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes vs the 6-6 Tennessee Volunteers. Here are the bowl logos from last year and this. One more example of corporate dollars trumping history and tradition.

2014 Logo


2015 Logo
As far as teams that I follow, here is the rundown. USF didn't qualify for a bowl with their 4-8 record. The Florida Gators with their stellar 6-5 record will be going to the prestigious Birmingham Bowl on January 3rd to play the 8-4 East Carolina Pirates. This bowl has only been in existence since 2006 and is owned by ESPN. 
The TCU Horned Frogs did a little better. The #6 Frogs finished 11-1 and play 9-3 #9 Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Peach Bowl is now one of the big six bowls that rotate the semi-final playoff games. They don't have a playoff game this year but they do get two top 10 teams. 

There are 12 SEC teams playing in bowls this season. I'm sure I'll watch at least a few of them. The Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, and his South Carolina Fighting Chickens will play the Miami Hurricanes in the previously mentioned Duck Commander Independence Bowl. This is a battle of two 6-6 teams. 

The big deal this year is the four team playoff. The two semifinal games are #2 Oregon vs #3 FSU in the Rose Bowl and #1 Alabama vs #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Both games are on January 1, 2015. The winners will meet on January 12th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. All three games will be televised by ESPN.
































As usual there will be several bad bowl games played before sparse crowds. Some will have terrible weather. Some will have terrible announcer teams. Of course with 39 games there will also be some very good games. That's what happens every year.

So, pick your poison. Watch no games, all games or something in between. Whatever your choice, Happy Bowling. Let the games begin.

wjh

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cuba vs USA


On Wednesday, 12/17/2014, President Obama announced changes to our relationship with Cuba. He announced the exchange of some prisoners, easing of travel restrictions, loosening of monetary sanctions and the first steps towards reestablishment of diplomatic relations. There were other points in the speech but it is not my intention to document or debate the specific changes in our dealings with Cuba. 

One of the lines in Obama's speech stated that most Americans were not alive when the current policies, embargoes and restrictions were enacted. I happen to be one of those Americans who was alive. I happened to be alive in Florida at the time. I also happened to be going to school in a Catholic diocese and parish that took in Cuban refugees in the 1959-61 time frame. Several Cuban kids were sent to my elementary school. Most of them didn't speak any English at first. There was one of them in particular who was my age and we became friends. He had to wait for the bus to take him back to the refugee camp and I wasn't in a rush to go home on my bike after school. The bond was baseball. It started one day after school. The bike rack was near the softball field. I had my baseball glove with me. This Cuban refugee was by the backstop. I noticed him and waved. He approached me and said in broken English "I pitch, you catch?". That phrase has often come to mind when I think back to my school days or hear stories about Cuba. I nodded yes and we went to the field. For the next 20 or 30 minutes we played catch, him on the pitchers mound and me behind the plate. We repeated this routine on many other afternoons. He learned more English, I learned some Spanish and we both figured out more gestures and hand signs. Then one day he wasn't there, I never saw him again. I don't know what happened. Sometimes the refugee kids got transferred to a new place, sometimes they got reunited with their parents and moved on. To be honest, his leaving didn't make a big difference in my daily life but it obviously made an impression since I still have vivid memories of those days. They were good times.

My next remembrance of Cuba was the missile crisis. I lived in North Florida and was surrounded by three US Navy bases. We were pretty sure that we would be a target. There was a giant sigh when that crisis was averted.

Over the years the Cuban refugees assimilated into the US society. The Castro regime faded from the news for the most part until this week.

Now we have major changes coming. After 50 years we are going to try a different approach in dealing with Cuba. I say it is about time. The whole country was pretty much in agreement with the original embargo and sanctions. The hope was that we could starve Castro out. That didn't work. Cuba is still a communist country and still surviving. The Castro brothers and the rest of the ranking Cuban government members are doing fine. The average Cuban citizen is living at some level of poverty. How is that an effective policy against an oppressive regime? 

I know that there is opposition to the easing of the restrictions. There are still many Cubans in this country who had to flee the Castro coup. Most stayed in Florida. Miami has the second largest Cuban population of any city. Only Havana has more. That generation of Cuban-Americans has mostly been in favor of US policy of isolating Cuba diplomatically and economically. They supported the embargo. I understand that viewpoint in 1960. They wanted to punish Castro and quickly get their country back. I'm sure they still want their country back but the quickly part is long past.

There will of course be political opposition and blowback. It has already started. Part of it will be sincere difference of opinion and most will be to simply oppose anything Obama does. 

It seems to me that as the Cuban people are exposed more to the outside world and democracy they will demand more freedom. It is my hope that increased tourism, trade and changes to monetary policy will help the population more than the leaders.

We deal with countries and regimes all over the world that we don't agree with or like. We certainly should deal with one of our closest neighbors, one we have much in common with. Having diplomatic relations and trading with a country does not mean we support them.

Let's give Obama's plan a try. Let's lift the embargo. Let's reunite the families that have been broken apart. Let's celebrate the new relationship with a fine cigar and a glass of rum.

wjh

Monday, December 15, 2014

Football 2014 - Week 16

My recap of the only football games that matter

It was a very slow week in the college ranks. Most teams finished their season last week. There were some quarterfinal playoff games in the FCS division. The FCS division has a real postseason playoff with 24 teams. Can you imagine that? The FBS bowl games start on Saturday, 12/20.

There was one game in the FBS division and it was a big one. It was the 115th meeting of the Army and Navy military academies. The first game was in 1890. The Army-Navy game is full of tradition. This year the Black Knights and the Midshipmen met in Baltimore. Navy went into the game with a 6-5 record and a 12 game winning streak over Army which had a 4-7 record. Navy was heavily favored. As is often the case in traditional rivalry games records and point spreads don't mean much. Army got off to a good start by returning a blocked punt for a touchdown on the Midshipmen first possession. They then played great defense until the very end of the second quarter. Navy put together a 70 yard drive and scored a TD with 0:18 remaining in the half. Tie score 7-7 at intermission. The Midshipmen scored a FG in the third quarter and another TD early in the fourth. The Black Knights managed a FG with a little less than two minutes remaining in the game. They failed to recover the onside kick. Navy ran out the clock for a 17-10 win, their 13th in a row. The stats were pretty close. Neither team is much of a passing threat. The difference was Navy put together a couple of sustained drives. It turned out to be a better game than most expected but the result was the same as it has been lately. This ends the season for Army with a 4-8 record. Navy will play San Diego State in the very long named SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL. I must admit I'm a Midshipmen fan having a son who is a career Navy man and having grown up in a Navy town. Their 13 game winning streak is fine with me.

There were no new AP or College Playoff polls this week.

In the pro ranks I scored another trifecta. In what has become a trend, the Jaguars got out to a lead 12-10 at the half and then failed to score in the second half. Final score Baltimore 20 Jacksonville 10. Bortles was 21/37 for 210 yards and an interception. He was also sacked eight times. All the Jags points were from field goals and one of the Ravens TDs was on a blocked punt. Not exactly an offensive spectacular. The Jaguars are now 2-12 for the season and have yet to win an away game. Mercifully there are only two games left in the season. The next one is at home against Tennessee on Thursday night so I will get to see one of the few Jaguar games on the NFL network. 

In Atlanta the Falcons fell behind the Steelers by 13 early and never could catch up. It was a close game in every aspect except for turnovers. Atlanta only had one, but it resulted in a Pittsburgh TD, the difference in the 27-20 Steelers win. This lose takes the Falcons record to 5-9 but they are still in the hunt for the NFC South title. That brings with it a home field playoff game. Their next two games are against New Orleans and Carolina, the two division teams they are in the race with.

Finally we have Tampa Bay at Carolina. The Buccaneers scored a TD in the first quarter and one in the fourth. In between they only managed a FG. The Panthers didn't do much better, scoring only one TD all game but they did four FGs for a 19-17 win. Carolina did win the statistical battle with about 100 more total yards and an amazing 15 more minutes time of possession. Tampa Bay helped out by committing three turnovers. The Bucs fall to 2-12 and next host the Packers.

The Jags and Bucs are tied with the Raiders and Titans for the worst record and thereby first draft choice. With only two games remaining in the regular season, it seems certain one of these four teams will win the draft lottery. The Jags and Titans play each other this coming Thursday so one of them will move to three wins (barring a tie).

wjh