Monday, November 16, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 12

The week 10 College Football Playoff Rankings had Clemson remaining in the top spot, Alabama moving up to #2, Ohio State remaining at #3 and Notre Dame breaking into the playoff picture at #4. The Gators dropped a spot to #11 despite a win and TCU fell all the way to #15 with their loss. There were two one loss teams in the top four yet there were still three undefeated teams between #5 and #8. Some of this will shake out since Baylor and Oklahoma State meet in two weeks. It also looks like Iowa will have to play Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Stay tuned.

Only Bishop Kenny was still playing in my high school world. They had to travel about 85 miles west on I-10 to Live Oak to play the Suwannee Bulldogs in a playoff game. It was not a successful trip. The Crusaders fell 34-7. The Bulldogs led 20-0 by halftime. Kenny's only score came in the third quarter. There were no details of the game in either the Times-Union or at MaxPreps. BK finishes the season with a 6-5 record and now moves on to 2016. That ends the 2015 high school portion of this blog. 

I'll start the college coverage with #11 Florida @ South Carolina. This will be the first UF-USC game in ten years and only the fourth since 1990 that Coach Steve Spurrier hasn't been on one sideline or the other. He will be missed. The Gamecocks come into the game with a disappointing 3-6, 1-6 record. That is the main reason Spurrier wasn't coaching. This was a no lose game for South Carolina and except for national rankings didn't mean much for Florida either. Still, it was an SEC East game. It was not overly exciting. The Gators defense mostly shut down the Gamecocks until the fourth quarter. Florida scored TD's on two long first half drives and then added a third quarter FG for what looked like a solid 17-0 lead. Then the Fighting Chickens scored two fourth quarter TD's to pull within three points. Leave it to the Gators to make it exciting and/or exasperating. Florida cemented the game with a TD with about two minutes to go for the 24-14 victory. Despite what ended up a rather close score, the Gators dominated the game. They had over 200 more total yards, 20 more minutes of possession and held SC to a mere 21 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Turnovers were even with two interceptions for each team. It wasn't exactly pretty, but it moves the Gators to 9-1,7-1. Their SEC regular season is over with a trip to Atlanta for the title game assured. It looks like Alabama will be the opponent. Next up is an easy game against 2-8 Florida Atlantic.

Speaking of easy games, that is what TCU should have had in a home Big 12 (only 10 teams) game against the 0-9, 0-6 Kansas Jayhawks. Not so fast football fans. TCU got off to a quick 10-0 lead, the TD on a 49 yard punt return. The already wounded Frogs lost their Heisman Trophy QB, Trevone Boykin, who was injured early in the game. That is in addition to an already gimpy top receiver, Josh Doctson. Kansas managed to tie the game at 10 by halftime. The Horned Frogs led 13-10 after three quarters and 23-10 midway into the fourth before the Jayhawks got close again with a TD to make it  a one score game at 23-17. TCU held on to improve to 9-1, 6-1. It doesn't get easy for the Frogs. They now have to go to #12 Oklahoma for another Big 12 game followed by a home game against #6 Baylor.

I was pleasantly surprised by the USF Bulls who hosted #22 Temple. The Owls came in at 8-1, 5-0 and a virtual lock on the AAC East title. As they say, on any given Saturday... Somebody lit a fire under South Florida. After a boring 14 minutes of the first quarter, both teams scored a TD in the last 30 seconds. Then the Bulls reeled off three TD's and a FG in the second quarter for a 31-10 lead. This scoring blitz was aided by an Owl turnover and a staunch Bulls defense. Temple made some second half effort but USF held them off and the scoring wound up a stalemate at 13 each. That resulted in a 44-23 victory for South Florida. easily their best game of the season. Besides the score, the Bulls won the statistical battle too. Hopefully, this is the beginning of an upswing in the USF football program. They improve to 6-4, 4-2 and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. Next game is at home against AAC opponent Cincinnati.

In other big college games, unranked Oregon beat #7 Stanford 38-36. Arizona beat #10 Utah. #12 Oklahoma went to Waco and beat #6 undefeated Baylor. That throws the Big 12 race wide open. There are now three one loss teams behind the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys. Several of those teams still have to play each other. The big SEC upset was unranked Arkansas over #5 LSU 31-14. That pretty much assures Alabama the SEC West title. Besides leading in the won-loss column, the Tide owns the tie-breaker over the teams behind them. It looks like a Florida-Alabama SEC championship game in Atlanta on December 5th.

The latest AP Top 25 has some changes at the top. Their top four are now Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama and Oklahoma State. That's two OSU's in the top four. The Gators move up to #8 and TCU is now #11. There are only four SEC teams in the AP 25. Not nearly as good as recent past years.

It was another perfect week for me in the NFL. No, not the usual kind of winless record, but the opposite. Atlanta had the week off so they didn't lose. Their next game is at home against the Luck-less Colts.

The local Dallas Cowboys were in Tampa. This was a battle of the 2-6 Cowboys against the 3-6 Bucs, very exciting. The game lived up to its low expectations until the last couple of minutes. It was 6-3 Dallas after three quarters, quite an offensive battle. Finally, TB put together a drive and scored with less than a minute remaining. It looked like Tampa blew it again when Winston fumbled at the goal line while trying to vault for a TD. Fortunately, the Cowboys committed a holding penalty on the play. Jameis made good on the next play with a bootleg for the score. That made it 10-6 which wound up as the final score. The Bucs had better offensive numbers than Dallas but as usual had trouble in the red zone plus Jameis Winston threw two interceptions.Ugly game by both teams.The Bucs are now 4-5. Next game is in the city of brotherly love to play the also 4-5 Eagles. One team will be at .500 after the game. 

The teams from Florida were on a roll (Miami also won). The mighty Jaguars went to Baltimore to play another 2-6 team. The Ravens have always been a defensive team and the last few years the Jags have been too so I expected a low scoring game. It was 14-10 Ravens at the half, 14-13 after three. Baltimore pulled ahead 20-19 midway through the 4th and failed on the two point conversion attempt. That would prove costly. With no time on the clock, Jacksonville's Jason Myers kicked a 54 yard FG for a 22-20 win. The NFL is now saying that the penalty against Baltimore that allowed the FG was an incorrect call and the Ravens should have won the game. I'll still take it. The game was pretty even statistically except the Ravens had 150 more passing yards. They also had four turnovers to only one for Jax. Bortles had a less than stellar day at 22/45 for 188 yards with two TDs and an INT. Still, a win is a win where the Jaguars are involved. They now stand at an outstanding 3-6 record. They head back home now for an AFC South game against the 2-7 Titans. Somebody has to win that game. 

Pretty nice week for the good guys. Except for Bishop Kenny, everybody won. I better savor this because it doesn't happen very often.


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