Monday, November 30, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 14

There were some changes in the week 12 College Football Playoff Rankings. The top two slots remain Clemson and Alabama but #3 is now Oklahoma and Iowa is #4. Ohio State with a loss and Notre Dame with a poor showing fell out of the playoff spots. Florida fell from #8 to #12 after their ugly game against an unranked opponent. TCU is now at #19 a drop of only one slot after their one-point loss to now #3 Oklahoma. Four SEC teams are in the top 25.

This is the last full week of the regular season in the college ranks. There will still be a few regular season games plus all the conference championship games.

The Football week started off with a Thanksgiving night game between in-state and AAC rivals USF @ UCF. These schools are about 100 miles apart on Interstate 4. This is a down year for the winless (0-11) Knights while the 7-4 Bulls have won three straight and six of their last seven. The Knights scored first with a FG about five minutes into the game. USF looked a little sluggish but put together a long drive in the middle of the quarter for a 7-3 lead. It was all Bulls from there on out. UCF didn't score again and USF did often. Final score was 44-3. Bulls QB Quinton Flowers threw for three TDs and ran for two more. USF outgained the Knights by over 250 yards. The Bulls improve to 8-4, 6-2 and still have a shot at the AAC East title. They need a Temple loss. The East winner will play West winner Houston. If USF does not win the East, their next game will be a bowl game. Saturday update, Temple did win over Connecticut and won the AAC East. The Bulls now await a bowl bid.

There was a big rivalry game Friday night in Fort Worth. The hated 9-1, 6-1 #7 Baylor Bears came to town to play the 9-2, 6-2 #19 TCU Horned Frogs. It was a miserable night, cold and rainy. The game start was delayed 45 minutes due to lightning. Both teams scored TDs on their initial possessions. Baylor also put together a long drive on their second possession for a 14-7 lead. Then the elements started to play into the game. There were a couple of interceptions. TCU scored on a Bears fumble to tie the game at 14. There were five total turnovers in the first half. The weather and the field deteriorated in the second half and neither team was able to score. So these two high powered offenses were stopped by mother nature. Remember, last year's game score was 61-58. In the first OT, Baylor scored a TD on a short pass. TCU answered with a TD.  The Frogs passed for a TD in the second OT then held Baylor short on a fourth and one. TCU wins in double overtime 28-21. Statistics were unimpressive but pretty even. Baylor did better on the ground and TCU did more through the air. The Bears five turnovers led directly to one TCU TD and stopped several drives. The Frogs limited their turnovers to two in the wet conditions. TCU Heisman candidate QB was just back from an ankle injury and still somewhat limited in his mobility. He went 18/33 for 148 yards, two TDs and an INT. He also rushed for a TD in OT. The win moves the Frogs to 10-2, 7-2 and ends their regular season. Next game will be a bowl.

The big FSU-Florida game was in Gainesville this year. On paper it looked like a dead even matchup between the 9-2 #13 Seminoles and the 10-1 #12 Gators. Unfortunately, the Gators luck ran out this game and their lack of a QB and offense plus no kicking game caught up with them. It was not surprising. The defense and luck had gotten Florida to their 10-1 record. Once again, the defense was up to the task but they got absolutely zero help from the inept offense. They held FSU to 10 points in the first half and 13 through three quarters. They were finally worn down and allowed 14 fourth quarter points for a 27-2 FSU win. Amazingly, Florida had only about 40 fewer total yards and actually held the ball about five more minutes. The Gators had more total yards until the fourth quarter. There problem is that they cannot convert on third down and sustain drives. They also missed two FG attempts, an old story this season. Gators QB, Treon Harris, was 19/38 and no interceptions which doesn't look bad. On closer look you will see that those 19 completions only netted 139 yards, a pitiful 3.5 yard average. Neither team looked very strong on the offense side of the ball. There were 16 punts in the game. This was mostly due to strong defensive units, but neither offense is great, although FSU's is at least functional. Florida drops to 10-2 for the regular season. Much better than expected, although this loss nixes any dreams of making the playoffs. They now have the unenviable task of facing #2 Alabama in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Hide the children, that could be ugly.

There were several important rivalry games played. Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 and cement their spot in the top four. Alabama won the Iron Bowl over Auburn to win the SEC West and remain #2 in the nation. Stanford knocked Notre Dame out of the championship race. Clemson survived over an inferior South Carolina to remain #1. Ohio State climbed back into the national championship picture with a convincing win over Michigan. Iowa beat Nebraska to stay in the top four. There were other regional rivalries games that had no effect on the national picture. 

The Gators suffered in the polls for their last two poor performances. The Week 14 AP Poll has Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa in the top four spots. Florida fell eight spots to #18. TCU moved up four spots to #11. There are still four SEC teams in the top 25 but only the Crimson Tide in the top 15. 

After a disappointing Saturday, there was no relief on Sunday. First up are the Jaguars. They got off to a good start with a 6-0 lead after one quarter and 9-7 halfway through the second. Then they gave up 14 Charger points in about two minutes, the second on a short drive set up by an interception, for a 21-9 halftime deficit. The Jags outscored SD 13-10 in the second half but it was not enough to overcome the deficit. Chargers win 31-25. Blake Bortles had a good day going 30/49 for 329 yards, two TDs and one INT. Unfortunately that INT led to a Chargers score which proved to be the difference. It was the only turnover of the game. Jacksonville falls to 4-7 but is still technically in the playoff run because of the weak AFC South. Next game is in Nashville against the even more inept Titans.

Last week Tampa Bay's rookie QB, Jamis Winston, was setting NFL records. This week he was another mediocre QB on a losing team. The Bucs traveled to Indianapolis  to play the Luck-less Colts. This was not a very exciting game. There were six FGs on seven attempts. Final score was 25-12. Neither team lit up the stats which were pretty close overall. TB was held to a dismal 27 rushing yards on only 26 attempts. The Colts only tried 21 rushes but did manage 132 yards including a 56 yard run. The Buccaneers are now 5-6 and will host the free-falling Falcons on Sunday in an NFL South clash. Which Jameis Winston will show up for that game?

Speaking of the Falcons, they continue to disappoint. They were very good hosts to the Vikings, putting up little resistance. The game ended at 20-10, but Atlanta didn't score their TD until there were less than two minutes remaining in the game. Falcon's one-time pro bowl QB, Matt Ryan, had another bad game, throwing two interceptions. Atlanta also lost a fumble. Minnesota didn't exactly light up the statistics, but they did enough and capitalized on Falcon mistakes. Remember, the Falcons started the season 5-0. They are now 6-5 and have lost four in a row. Their next game is in Tampa to play the Bucs. Which Matt Ryan and which Jameis Winston will be there that day. The QB that shows up should be on the winning side. 

It was a week that started good with USF and TCU and ended miserably with Florida and the NFL. Next week's college schedule will be limited to conference championships and a very few other games. The college playoff spots will be set by the end of Saturday.


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