Monday, November 17, 2014

Football 2014 - Week 12

My recap of the only football games that matter

The third College Football Playoff Rankings came out Tuesday and there was a pleasant surprise. TCU leapfrogged over Alabama for the #4 position. I'm sure that is a result of the fact that the then #6 Frogs easily beat then #7 Kansas State by 21 points. Meanwhile #5 Alabama struggled against #16 LSU and needed a last second FG for the tie then won in OT. It was also somewhat surprising that Oregon rose to #2 while FSU fell to #3. This even though the Noles remain unbeaten and the Ducks have one lose. Can you really rank the unbeaten defending national champions behind any team with a lose? There are four more weeks of ranking with the final decision for the four playoff slots coming on December 7th.

High school playoffs began this week. Bishop Kenny played at home against the Palatka Panthers. The Crusaders had a rather easy night of it. They never trailed and went on to a 38-15 victory. The stats in the Florida Times-Union are incomplete (no rushing or total yards) but Kenny did outgain Palatka 323 to 44 through the air. BK now advances in the Region 1 playoffs. Next game is at Clay. This looks like a tough test, Clay beat Westside 46-6 in their first round playoff game. Westside won over Kenny 38-20 during the regular season although BK got revenge in the district tiebreaker playoff. 
It was a rollercoaster day in the college ranks. Some bad weather,  some upsets, some close calls and several exciting games.

Saturday started out with the South Carolina Fighting Chickens invading The Swamp. USC coach Spurrier probably gets a better reception than Florida coach Muschamp. Neither team is ranked, they came into the game at 4-5, 2-5 for the Gamecocks and the Gators at 5-3, 4-3, a very down year for both schools. I was hoping for a good game between evenly inept teams. Good would be the wrong adjective, close is accurate and sloppy is most descriptive. Once again the Gators snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. They seem to be good at that. South Carolina easily won the first quarter, then the Gators won the second quarter for a tie at 10 at the half. Florida pulled ahead in the third quarter and with about three minutes remaining in the game they were within easy FG range. The FG attempt was blocked. They then stopped SC and forced a punt. The Gators went conservative and failed to get the first down needed to run out the clock. They punted with 39 seconds remaining and it too was blocked. That allowed the Gamecocks to score the tying TD with 12 seconds on the clock. Florida settled for a FG in overtime then the Fighting Spurriers got a TD. SC wins 23-20. Neither team really deserved the win. They both now have five wins and both play a patsy next so they should get bowl eligible with a sixth win. They also both should lose their season closer against their instate rivals Clemson and FSU.

In a Sunday update, Will Muschamp has resigned as Florida's coach. He will stick around for the last two games of the season. No word on a bowl game if they qualify. It's a needed change. Now we wait to see who is his replacement.

Next up was #4 TCU at Kansas on a frigid day. This should have been a rather easy game for the Frogs so of course it wasn't. TCU was behind at the half and twice trailed by 10 in the third quarter before pulling ahead for good with about 17 minutes to go. Final score was 34-30. The Horned Frogs overcame three turnovers and a bit of bad luck. It was not a very impressive win for TCU. It will be interesting to see if they remain in the top four. The Frogs record improves to 9-1, 6-1. They next travel to Austin to play Texas. 

In a night game of the inepts it looked like SMU would finally win a game and USF sink even lower. I had thought about going to this game which was in University Park (a small college town of 25K surrounded by north Dallas) but it was too cold, windy and rainy for me to watch two bad teams even if South Florida is my alma mater. The Mustangs got out to a 13-0 lead and held the lead until the final seconds. The Bulls scored the winning TD with 0:04 remaining in the contest. That kept SMU winless at 0-9, 0-5. Meanwhile USF improves to 4-6, 3-3. South Florida outgained SMU by over 100 yards but as usual had a couple of turnovers. Next weekend USF goes to Memphis.

In the SEC there were big games and surprises. The biggest game was #1 Mississippi State at #5 Alabama. The Crimson Tide won the game 25-20 but that can't really be considered an upset. 'Bama is a perennial football power and it was a home game. The Tide led 19-3 at the half. The Bulldogs had several chances but three interceptions killed them inspite of having almost 100 more yards of offense and holding the ball four more minutes. This win puts Alabama in first place in the SEC West. Both schools have big intrastate games against very good teams to finish the season so it's not decided quite yet.

The SEC was full of surprises. #9 Auburn lost badly to #15 Georgia 34-7, #17 LSU was upset by unranked Arkansas and #24 Texas A&M lost at home to unranked Missouri. It's always dangerous to be the favorite in a conference matchup. There were no non-conference games.
There were other close calls and upsets around the college landscape. #3 FSU made another miraculous comeback to beat Miami 30-26. The Noles were outgained, held the ball 11 minutes less time and had three turnovers. They trailed all game until the last three minutes. FSU has had a charmed season so far and will probably finish the regular schedule undefeated for the second year in a row.

Other upsets were a lose by #6 Arizona State at Oregon State, a romp by #20 Wisconsin over #16 Nebraska 59-24, unranked Northwestern over #18 Notre Dame and #22 Georgia Tech over #19 Clemson.

All that is reflected in the new AP top 25 rankings. FSU returns to #1 followed by Alabama and Oregon. Mississippi State falls to #4 and TCU remains at #5. The SEC still has two teams in the top four, four in the top 10 and six in the top 25.

Moving on to the pros, the Jaguars had a bye week so no loss there. Next game at Indianapolis. In a rare feat Atlanta and Tampa Bay won. That means my teams had no loses this week, a miracle.

The Falcons won a very close game at Carolina 19-17. They kicked the winning FG with two minutes left in the game. Everything about the game was close. Atlanta QB, Matt Ryan, had a good day going 31/45 for 268 yards and one TD. This win makes the Falcons 4-6 on the season and in a tie for first place in the very weak NFC South. They host the Browns next.

The other game was Tampa Bay's win at Washington. This game is proof that turnovers are killers. A poor offensive line is another killer. Washington had three turnovers and allowed six sacks of QB RGIII. Other than that, total yards were close and the Skins actually held the ball about nine minutes longer. Buccaneer receiver Mike Evans had seven catches for 209 yards and two TDs. It is the third week in a row that he has gone over 100 yards and had a TD. A true bright spot for the otherwise lackluster team. Final score was 27-7. Both teams are terrible so this contest didn't mean much. The Bucs improve to 2-8 and now move on to frigid Chicago.


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