There were a lot of big rivalry games in the college ranks. It is also the end of the regular season for most teams. There were many exciting games and some upsets.
As usual the week's news started on Tuesday with the release of the College Football Playoff Rankings. There were no changes in the top seven spots. Alabama, Oregon, FSU and Mississippi State hold the four playoff slots with TCU at number five.
The football games started on Thanksgiving Day this week. The big college game was #5 TCU at Texas. This date used to be reserved for the annual Texas vs Texas A&M rivalry game. With A&M's move to the SEC, that rivalry ended because the great University of Texas was angry that A&M defected. They were going to punish the much inferior Aggies. Of course since then the Longhorns program has fallen on hard times and A&M is doing fine in the SEC. On this Thanksgiving Texas was thoroughly whipped by the little private school from Fort Worth 48-10. The Longhorns helped out the Frogs immensely by committing six turnovers. TCU had one pick six and was consistently playing with a short field. This was a convincing victory but will it be enough to keep the Frogs ahead of Baylor and Ohio State in the polls. TCU improves to 10-1 and has a final home game against 2-9, 0-8 Iowa State.
The USF Bulls had a Friday game against in-state rival UCF. The schools are in the same conference and about 100 miles apart on Interstate 4. A couple of years ago, USF was flying high in the Big East Conference and UCF was struggling in a minor conference. Not anymore. The Bulls have fallen on bad times, the Big East is gone as a football conference and the Knights have had a couple of good years. Once again USF proved that they are inept on offense. They managed 200 total yards but only five (5) on the ground for 22 attempts. How is that possible? Despite three turnovers, UCF squeaked out a thrilling 16-0 victory. USF finishes the season 4-8, 3-5 and are done. No bowl game this year.
There were a few other college games on Friday. #17 Missouri beat Arkansas 21-14 to clinch the SEC East title. Stanford crushed #8 UCLA 31-10 which knocked the Bruins out of the Pac-12 championship game.
In the Friday night lights high school division Bishop Kenny finally reached the end of their season. They lost 34-14 to Tallahassee Godby in the Region 1-5A final. Kenny got the game within seven in the third quarter before the Cougars pulled away in the fourth. The Crusaders end their season with a very good 10-2 record. It was the second year in a row that BK had at least 10 wins. They advanced one round farther in the playoffs this year. This season's success was somewhat unexpected after losing all Florida QB John Wolford last year to graduation. Congratulations to the team.
Saturday was full of college rivalries. Some were big games because of conference and national rankings. All were big games for bragging rights and recruiting.
Let's start with the one between between the undefeated #3 FSU Seminoles and the mostly inept Florida Gators. No contest right? Well, as we go through some of these games you will see that records and rankings aren't all that important. Like many Florida families we are divided in our loyalty. My oldest son and daughter-in-law are Noles, my youngest son and I are Gators. The game was 21-16 at halftime and then they traded one field goal each in the second half to end up 24-19. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, threw four interceptions, three in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the Gators are severely challenged on offense and could only manage field goals from those turnovers. Gators QB, Treon Harris had two of his own interceptions. It was a sloppy outing by both teams. This was coach Will Muschamp's final game at Florida. He will not coach the team in a bowl game. His tenure was less than successful particularly the last two seasons. The Gators finish the regular season 6-5, 4-4 and now await bowl selection day. The Noles complete their second consecutive undefeated season at 12-0, 8-0. They head to the ACC championship game against #16 Georgia Tech.
In the SEC it was a mess on Saturday. It started out with the SEC East losing three rivalry games to ACC teams. The just mentioned FSU win over Florida as well as Clemson over South Carolina and Georgia Tech over Georgia. The once mighty SEC, at least the East, is in trouble. Then the #4 Mississippi State Bulldogs fell to in-state rival #19 Ole Miss. That knocks Miss. St. out of the playoffs. #17 Missouri was able to hold off Arkansas to clinch the SEC East title. In the big game #1 Alabama eventually prevailed over archrival #15 Auburn to stay atop the polls for the playoffs. Overall the SEC was 0-4 in non-conference games. Totally unacceptable. Alabama and Missouri play next week for the SEC championship. If, by chance, the Tigers knock off Bama there may not be any SEC teams in the playoffs.
In other college games #7 Baylor barely beat Texas Tech. Unranked Stanford beat #8 UCLA. Most of the rest of the games turned out as expected.
In the new AP Poll there were a few changes. Alabama leapfrogged FSU for the #1 spot, Oregon remained #3. TCU rose to #4 followed by Baylor and Ohio State. The four playoff teams will come from these six schools. The Tide, Noles, Ducks and Buckeyes have conference title games. TCU has what appears to be an easy outing against Iowa State. Baylor has a more challenging foe in Kansas State. We'll see how the College Playoff committee sees it on Tuesday. The final selection will be December 7th.
On to the NFL. Let's start with the Giants at Jaguars game. This was the return of Tom Coughlin to Jacksonville. Tom was the original coach of the Jags and did a terrific job of building a winning program. Unfortunately he was a complete asshole. He has mellowed a bit and has found success with the Giants. On this Sunday he lost on his old home turf. The Jaguars actually won a football game 25-24 over New York (who actually play in New Jersey). Neither of these bad teams scored in the first quarter and then the Giants scored three TDs in the second quarter for a 21-3 halftime lead. It's over right. The Jags are an offensively challenged team so what do they do, they score 22 second half points and hold NY to a FG for a 25-24 win. The winning FG was kicked with less than a half minute remaining in the game. The Giants won the statistical battle but also had three turnovers. The Jaguars defense scored two of their touchdowns, one more than the offense. At this point of the season a win doesn't really help Jacksonville. They are in the race for the top draft spot, not a playoff spot. The Jaguars are now 2-10. Next up is a home game against Houston.
In a surprise, the 4-7 Falcons beat the 9-2 Cardinals. Atlanta got out to a quick 17-0 lead and then held on. They had 500 total yards which has to be a season high. The Cardinals helped the cause with three turnovers. Amazingly this win moved the now 5-7 Falcons into first place in the dreadful NFC South. Next Atlanta, a southern city, has to travel to Green Bay. A lovely place in December.
Two wins on Sunday is more than enough. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put an end to those winning ways with a 14-13 loss to Cincinnati. As usual the Bucs got ahead 10-0 in the first half but then couldn't score or hold on. The Bengals managed just enough offense to win despite three turnovers. This game drops TB to 2-10 for the season. They are definitely in the hunt for top draft choice. They now travel to lovely Detroit to meet the 8-4 Lions. At least it's an enclosed stadium.
Next week at this time we will know the four teams in the college playoffs as well as the other bowl participants. Will the Horned Frogs make it? Can FSU continue to play badly and still win? These and other questions will soon be answered.