This is the last regular season week for most high school football teams. Mercifully there will be no more football for L.D.Bell until Fall of 2016. As expected they were thrashed by playoff bound Southlake Carroll. The Dragons actually had an off year, losing two regular season games and finishing 8-2, 5-1. The Blue Raiders also had an off year finishing 1-9, 1-5. Their only win was against the equally inept 1-9, 0-6 Haltom Buffalos. Southlake scored 21 points in the first quarter, 21 points in the second quarter and 14 points in the third quarter for a slim 56-0 lead. Bell finally scored their lone TD in the third quarter to make it a 56-7 final. There was no score in the final period as I'm sure both sides emptied their benches. As you can guess, the statistics were very lopsided. The Dragons were just short of 600 total yards at 598. Bell had 180 yards. Amazingly the Raiders had only one turnover. Both teams were sloppy as there were 17 penalties for over 200 yards. As usual Bell is now in their normal "wait 'til next year" mode. Hopefully basketball and baseball seasons will be more successful.
There was a little bit better news in Florida as Bishop Kenny beat Ridgeview 17-13. Kenny led 14-3 at halftime but Ridgeview came back to make it 14-13 after three periods. The Crusaders added a FG in the fourth to seal the win. Gushanus had another 100 yard game, rushing 27 times for 101 yards. This game was closer than it should have been. The Panthers are a 1-9 team. This final week victory gives BK a 6-4, 3-1 season record. They finish second in District 4-5A. That is good enough for a spot in the playoffs. Their Regional quarterfinal game will be in Live Oak against the Suwannee Bulldogs.
Before I get to the college games of the week, let me mention that the first College Football Playoff Rankings (CFPR) came out on November 3rd. These rankings rather than the AP Top 25 Poll will be used for the rest of the season. Unfortunately the CFPR is not published until Tuesdays which is after I usually publish this blog. I will still refer to the AP poll sometimes. In the CFPR initial release, Clemson took the top spot. LSU was #2 and Alabama #4. The top four teams in the final rankings go to the playoffs.TCU is at #8 and Florida at #10. Six SEC teams made the list of 25.
It was a big day on the college front. Several top teams meeting in games that had real meaning in the playoff picture and conference standings.
#10 Florida had the early game against Vanderbilt. It was the Gators Homecoming and a win would clinch the SEC East title. Vandy came into the game 3-5, 1-3. Easy game, right. Talk about ugly, this game was. Two inept offenses doing everything possible to lose a game. Florida scored a TD about nine minutes into the game then promptly missed the extra point. Kicking is not the Gators strong suit. It stayed at 6-0 until almost the last play of the half when Vandy uncorked a 74 yard rush for a TD and made the kick for a 7-6 lead. It stayed that way until less than three minutes remained in the game. At that point, the Gators backup to their first time FG kicker got the call. Amazingly he nailed a 43 yard FG for the 9-7 win. It was almost all defense. The Commodores had 175 total yards, only 30 through the air on three completions. The Gators weren't much better with 258 total yards. They also had four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. In spite of the winning FG, Florida's kicking game is a mess. Their original kicker is injured, their walk on/open tryout guy missed the extra point try so their kickoff guy is now the man. The lack of confidence in their kicker altered the Gators playcalling. It may also bite them in future games. This very ugly win clinched the SEC East title and assures their spot in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Florida improves to 8-1, 6-1. Next up is a game at the now Spurrier-less South Carolina.
In the afternoon game, #8 TCU traveled to Stillwater to play #14 Oklahoma State in a Big 12 (only 10 teams) battle of unbeaten's. Both teams feature high-powered offenses. I figured there would be close to 100 total points scored. Not quite, but OSU did their part. Final score was Cowboys 49 Frogs 29. With the lose, TCU is out of the national playoff picture, probably out of a Big 12 title chance and Trevone Boykin may be out of the Heisman race. It was a very costly loss. TCU never led in the game. It was 14-9 after one, 29-9 at half, 42-16 after three and 49-29 final. The Frogs had several chances to get close, but Boykin threw four interceptions and only one TD. Even at that he had 445 yards passing and another 73 rushing with two TDs. In fact, TCU outgained the Cowboys by over 200 yards 663 to 456. With this loss, the Horned Frogs fall to 8-1, 5-1 and out of a tie for the Big 12 lead. Next game is at home against 0-9, 0-6 Kansas.
In the night game, USF went to East Carolina for an AAC game. Unlike the other games, this one had no real importance. Considering neither team is offensively gifted, it turned out to be an exciting game. USF led 2-0 (yes, 2) after one quarter, 12-7 at halftime, trailed 14-12 after three, led 15-14, trailed 17-15 and won 22-17 in the fourth. The Bulls had over 200 more total yards and more than 10 minutes longer possession time. It's the same story for USF, they have a hard time sustaining drives and closing the deal. They were an anemic 6-19 on third down conversions. With the win, the Bulls are now 5-4, 3-2. They are now back home for another AAC game against the 8-1 #21 Temple Owls. When was the last time Temple's football team was ranked?
In a couple of other big games, #1 Clemson defeated #16 FSU to clinch the ACC Atlantic division crown and keep their College Playoff hopes alive. The Seminoles hung in there for three quarters when the game was tied at 13 but the Tigers scored 10 unanswered points in the final period for the 23-13 win.
The other big game was #2 LSU at #4 Alabama. The Crimson Tide rolled over the Tigers in this one. After a scoreless first quarter, LSU kept it close, trailing 13-10 at halftime. The second half was all 'Bama. Final score was 30-16 but it wasn't even that close. The Tide had 250 more total yards and controlled the ball 19 more minutes. LSU's Heisman candidate running back, Leonard Fournette, was held to only 31 yards on 19 carries. The team had only 54 rushing yards. Alabama now has control of the SEC West and will improve in the rankings.
The latest AP Top 25 has Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama and Baylor in the top four positions. TCU fell to #13, Florida stayed at #11. There are four SEC teams in top 25, three in the top 11.
I had a perfect Sunday in the pro ranks, perfectly winless that is.
Let's start with the Jaguars. They were in New Jersey to play the Jets. After a FG for a 3-0 lead, Jax fell behind 14-3 after one quarter but closed it to 14-10 at the half. They got close a couple of times in the second half but ultimately fell 28-23 to NY. The Jags actually had almost 150 more yards than the Jets. They held New York to only 29 rushing yards. Should be enough to win, but they also had four turnovers. Blake Bortles was 24/40 for 381 yards and two TDs and two INTs. The Jags also had two fumbles. The more you look at the numbers in the NFL, the more you realize that turnovers really matter. This lose moves Jacksonville to 2-6 (the same record as the Cowboys for all my local friends). Now they travel to Baltimore to play the also 2-6 Ravens.
The other New York team invaded Tampa Bay and took the pirates booty or is that kicked the Bucs booty. Tampa Bay let 3-0 and 6-3 in the first quarter but never again. They got within two points in the fourth quarter but then the Giants reeled off 14 points for a 32-18 win. TBs up and down season continues. Jameis Winston had a fair day going 19/36 for 249 yards but no TDs. He did run for the Buccaneers only TD. The statistics were fairly close but Tampa Bay continues to have trouble scoring or playing well in the second half. They also had three lost fumbles. The Bucs fall to 3-5 and now host the free-falling 2-6 Cowboys.
Finally, Atlanta had to travel cross country to play the 49ers. This was not a pretty game. There were only three points scored in the second half. That was a FG by the Falcons but unfortunately was not quite enough as they fell 17-16 to SF. Neither team was stellar on offense but Atlanta had only 17 rushing yards on only 14 attempts, pathetic. The Falcons started the season 5-0 but since then have been 1-3 for a 6-3 overall record. They have a bye week to figure it out before hosting the Colts.
Not the best week for me, but Florida and South Florida won. Bishop Kenny made the post-season.