Steveo’s Salvos – August 24, 2015

Twelve days to go for our opening kickoff when we see Jacksonville visit Delaware on Friday, September 4 followed by Penn State meeting Temple the following afternoon at “The Linc” in Philly!…Our Gala Game 500 celebration on for Collegefootballfan.com’s 500th game when we see Army host Rutgers on November 21 is virtually sold out. Get in touch with us if still interested. WE may be able to get a few more seats near our section. “Go Knights – Black or Scarlet! We’re going to win the Tailgate!…We loved this article from D3Football.com on August 10, 2015: “Best road trips of 2015: Week 1, Northeast”. It’s definitely in the spirit of what we’ve done over the years. Was it not for our goal to be sure our 500th game will be on November 21 when Rutgers and Army meet, this is an adventure we would consider to attend four games in three days. To start the season on purely a D3 level, we thought the trip was well planned and interesting. The writer suggests Anna Maria College at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT on Thursday night, Sept 3; MIT at Worcester Poly in Massachusetts on Friday night; Maine Maritime at SUNY-Maritime under the Throggs Neck Bridge at 12 noon on Saturday, and then a trip across Jersey out to Wilkes-Barre, PA to see Moravian at King’s in a 6 pm kickoff. We would love to go back to New London to see a game at the Coast Guard Academy and plan to do so again. Great setting along the Thames River. It would be interesting to see MIT play football and up in that Worcester area where we have to go eventually to see Holy Cross in a home game for the first time, too. Last season on 9/11, we saw the Mariners of SUNY defeat Mass Maritime under the Throggs Neck, 31-30, for our first time there. Never been to King’s, but we’ve been to nearby Wilkes and last season we saw Moravian defeat the Alma Mater, Juniata, in Huntingdon. Not a bad four game set. The one game we would change is the noon start on Saturday. We would suggest going to Cortland, New York, to watch a good Red Dragon program, now a member of the Empire 8 moving on from the NJAC, host the Student Princes of Heidelberg from the Ohio Athletic Conference. Last season, the Princes finished 8-2 losing only to perennial conference powerhouses John Carroll and Mt. Union. It looks like a competitive game on paper, and I think you’d have much better chance to make the 6 pm kickoff down at King’s…

SUNY Maritime churns up yardage against Mass Maritime in Throggs Neck, NY last season.

SUNY Maritime churns up yardage against Mass Maritime in Throggs Neck, NY last season.

Next season, we will look closely at options to kick off our season in New England. UConn or BC usually has a Thursday night game to start the season. UMass is improving and is playing games on campus in Amherst again in its expanded stadium. There are games at Holy Cross we’d like to go to, and we eventually we want to see a game at Maine. D3 gives us several options along the way. One option would be to see Mass-Maritime play at the foot of Cape Cod in Buzzard’s Bay. Sounds like a great place to watch the game and see what happens after. The weather should be a comfortable way to start the season there that time of year. Got a big season in 2015 before we start thinking about 2016 though, but we’re always excited about new adventures…OK, so if you heard our interview last week with Chris, Josh, and Ray, on WVSL ESPN 92.3, they forced my hand to announce our projected Final Four in 2015 before we published it here. I was still in the process, but when I gave them my best shot, I realized after that I’m sticking with it because it sounds unlikely more than anything else. Here is Collegefootballfan.com’s Final Four for the CFP: 1.) Like everybody else, I am picking Ohio State. I’m hoping Penn State pulls the upset against them, but after a 31-24 scare in State College last year, OSU will be fired up on their home turf for this one at The Shoe.

Our meeting point last time we were at Ohio State.

Our meeting point last time we were at Ohio State.

2.) Like a lot of others, I like TCU. I always like Gary Patterson’s defense, and this year QB Trevone Boykin, a Heisman favorite, returns after a sensational season a year ago. He’s one of ten returning starters for the Horned Frog offense. I think TCU’s defense will outshine Baylor’s in their head to head game to end the season on November 27 in Fort Worth. TCU’s 61-58 loss a year ago will have them steamed for this one to give them an edge.  Winner of this year’s game will take it all into the CFP.

TCU is looking good entering this season.

TCU is looking good entering this season.

3.) I have to have a “dark horse”. The Final Four can’t be so cut and dried before the season starts with Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, and Baylor among everybody else’s Final Four. Boring! Injuries, controversial calls, upsets, a possible probation, player suspensions (hope not), etc. will make differences somewhere. I’m diving deep into the pack and selecting from a conference many think will be on the outside looking into the CFP. I have a major reservation because of the leadership of their defense, but from what I saw from them a year ago, I’m looking for their offense to play ball control all season and with some slight improvements on defense, they can overcome three losses by six points or less a year ago. I love Paul Johnson’s triple option’s scheme at Georgia Tech, his offenses’ discipline, and its leadership under returning QB Justin Thomas. With 1,086 yards on the ground last season, he’s a running back who can throw the ball when he has to. The O-line returns four starters, and like when he was at Navy, Johnson finds the skill players he needs to run this offense. He finds even better athletes to play at Tech. Last season they beat Georgia in OT at Athens to finish the regular season, and roared past Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl we attended, 49-34. To get to the Final Four, they will have to be undefeated meaning they will have to knock off Notre Dame in South Bend, Clemson in the other Death Valley, Florida State at home in a game we will attend, and Georgia at home this year. Tall orders, but that’s why no one expects them to be there, and that’s why they are my dark horse.

Georgia Tech slotbacks will make their offense go behind QB Justin Thomas.

Georgia Tech slotbacks will make their offense go behind QB Justin Thomas.

 4.) It will definitely be an SEC team, but this year, it won’t be Alabama, Auburn or any other team from the SEC West. Look east, and ‘Bama and ‘Burn will both have a regular season loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. UGA and Tech both in the CFP? There’s a lot of football talent down there in the land of the Peaches. We see Georgia with Nick Chubb churning out the yards behind a steady offensive line and several other RBs coming up big. They host Alabama on Oct 3 and play at Auburn who they handled a year ago, 34-7. Mizzou will be down somewhat this year after winning three straight SEC East titles. After a loss at Georgia Tech, they will be primed for whomever they play in the SEC Championship. The passing game is suspect, but if Soph QB Brice Ramsey avoids mistakes, and the running backs remain healthy behind a dominant line, we look for Georgia to come up with a big season to get the SEC into the CFP. It won’t be the first time in recent years that a newcomer at QB led an SEC team to the conference championship. Of course, we have to point out that UGA’s only loss will be to Georgia Tech. Like last season, it will be in a fight to the finish. Great season coming up!

Our Best Radio Interview this Year – WVSL 92.3 ESPN Radio

Click on the arrow above for our interview with Chris Schmouder, Josh Bedall, and Ryan Bedall on WVSL 92.3 FM ESPN Radio in Selingsgrove, Pennsylvania on Sunday August 16. Steve Koreivo talks Penn State, Rutgers, Big Ten, Notre Dame, and SEC football among other preseason topics. He also predicts his “Final Four” for 2015!  Come on back regularly before, during, and after the season as we continue to follow the fun, excitement, and happenings about the games we attend, the teams that we follow, and the hottest topics in college football from the “Fan who’s seen ‘em all!”

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WCTC 1450 AM Radio interview and Steveo’s Salvos

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Click on 1450 WCTC logo above to hear our interview on August 17 with Bert Baron for a college football preseason preview. WCTC is the Flagship Station of Rutgers Football.

From the “You can’t make this stuff up category”: in 2004, my nine year-old son Eric and I took a ride to Lafayette College in Easton, PA where we saw The Harvard Crimson defeat the home Leopards, 38-23. After the game we walked near the visitors’ locker room to check out the weight room facilities at Fisher Field House and heard some kind of rousing school song coming from the Harvard locker room. The Crimson finished that day with a 3-0 record. They reeled off five more wins to enter tied with Penn both at 5-0 in early November for the Ivy League race. Eric and I went to Franklin Field in Philadelphia to see a de facto Ivy League Championship game. Harvard RB Clifton Dawson ran for 160 yards that day in Harvard’s 31-10 win to clinch at least a tie for the Ivy League Championship. I actually wondered if Dawson had any chance at making it to the pro level. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 186 yards and two TDs. A week later, The Crimson defeated their bitter rival Yale to win the Ivy League outright. Fast forward to the Discover Orange Bowl on January 4, 2012. On a cold, Miami night after Charlie Murren and I went to K-Mart to buy jackets and gloves to watch the game, Number 22 West Virginia was up 21-17 over Number 13 Clemson early in the second period when LB Darwin Cook recovered a fumble at the one-yard line and raced 99-yards to extend the Mountaineer score, 28-17. On the arm of QB Geno Smith, it was all Mountaineers after that as they continued extending the score with his 407 passing yards and six TD tosses. The Mountaineers set an Orange Bowl scoring record trouncing the Tigers, 70-33. Who could ever imagine in 2015, with the inexcusable sucker punch thrown by a former New York Jet teammate at Geno Davis, that the former Ivy League QB we watched in 2004 would be stepping in for a high-powered record-setting WVU quarterback? We never know who we’ll see when we attend these games. That’s a big part of the fun of following college football…

Miami wasn't as cold though as was UNH at Villanova in 2009.

Miami wasn’t as cold though as was UNH at Villanova in 2009.

Navy football captains QB Keenan Reynolds and NG Bernard Sarra were both recently asked the same question in media interviews and came back with similar retorts. ”Now that Navy is in a conference for the first time, have your season’s priorities changed?” Pundits wanted to hear if a conference championship in the American Athletic Conference transcended everything else for USNA football after being an Independent for 134 years. Both responded in separate interviews that “it’s different here.” The focus is still on winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The award has been presented since 1972 to the service academy who dominates head to head play between Army, Navy, and Air Force each year. Air Force leads in seasonal wins with 20, Navy 17, and Army 6. Navy’s taken nine of the last 12 after Air Force dominated for many years. Secondly, they said getting to a bowl game is still a priority. For that, the Mids will have more opportunities this year now as part of the American Athletic Conference. Reynolds said though that he understands winning the championship gets his team to a better bowl. We will see USNA focus on its priorities this year when we will see them host Air Force on October 3 and face Army in Philadelphia on December 12. The Mids have won 13 straight over Army. That’s big for Navy Seniors – throughout the entire Brigade, not just for the players. What’s interesting this year is that we will see Army’s last game on November 21st   before Navy when we celebrate our 500th game.   The Cadets host Rutgers. They get three weeks to prep for Navy.  With conference play, Navy plays Houston on November 27. If the Mids get to the AAC Championship, they will play that on December 5. Will we hear that they were looking past that game to Army? We will also see Navy host South Florida in the first AAC game we will see them participate in. Among the seven bowl contracts that the AAC has, one is the Military Bowl played right in Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium. With other AAC bowls in Miami, Boca Raton, and Hawaii, we’re sure the Mids have set their sights on doing some travelling…

The Houston Cougars will be one on navy's annual rivals in the Western Division of the American Athletic Conference.

Navy will play Houston annually in the AAC.

Let’s do some math here. Does this make sense? To us, this is the square peg in a round hole. Sports illustrated in its infinite wisdom, selected eight SEC teams to finish in its Top 25. Six are from the SEC West. Looking at their schedules and if it’s a real dog fight between all these schools that are supposedly so evenly matched, let’s predict that they split the games evenly they play among one another and beat everybody outside of these eight. If there are an odd number of games that a team plays among the eight, let’s say they finish with one more win than a loss. We won’t bring up strengths of schedules (and mostly home games) at this point, but maybe with the lower teams with only three losses, they could all be in the Top 25, but more interestingly the SEC may not have a team in the Final Four depending on other team’s bodies of work.  In this scenario, the two SEC East teams have one loss (this means Georgia could lose to Missouri but it would beat Alabama and Auburn, or beat Missouri for the East outright and split with the other two). In the West, Ole Miss and LSU will have two losses. Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State would all have three wins and three losses among the eight. So a 1-loss East team faces a two-loss team for the SEC championship? No brainer that Georgia or Mizzou gets first crack to the Final Four if they win. If a two loss team wins it, will any SEC qualify to go?     Let’s look at it from a different perspective. In order, the SEC teams ranked No. 2 through 25 are Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State. Based on this order, let’s say the top rated team defeats all the lower rated teams that they play among these eight. Start from the bottom. They may win all their other games, or they may not. Let’s look at No. 25 Mississippi State. At best under this scenario they finish the regular season at 6-6. Do wins over A&M, Kentucky, Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, and Louisiana Tech earn them at Top 25 ranking? I hope not. Those wins aren’t deserving of a Top 25. No. 23 LSU finishes 7-5 here. SI Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner writes, ”After the home opener against McNeese State, there will be no easy prey for the Tigers.” We beg to differ. SEC wins in this scenario are over aforementioned Mississippi State and unranked SEC teams South Carolina and Florida. “After McNeese State”, Eastern Michigan, Syracuse and Western Kentucky are teams on par with SEC play? If so, the MAC, ACC, and Sunbelt are just as good as the SEC, right? But that’s not something the SEC will admit to. Arkansas loses four head to head bouts here and gets by UTEP, Toledo, UT-Martin, and maybe Texas Tech all at home? Maybe Top 25. Wins over LSU and Mississippi State are not of note. Who did those two beat? The point is if you guarantee these squads should to lose five or six games and not beat anybody of note, how do you include them in your Top 25? Realistically, these are two extremes. It will end up somewhere in the middle as the better teams primarily dominate the lower ones, and a few teams from outside will beat these eight. In the end, it just doesn’t make sense that all these teams can be ranked in the Top 25.

We watched Mizzou beat Arkansas in the 2007 Cotton bowl before the Tigers joined the SEC.

We watched Mizzou beat Arkansas in the 2007 Cotton bowl before the Tigers joined the SEC.

Radio Interview 8:05 am EST On Monday Aug. 17 on WCTC 1450

On Monday Morning, listen in on your drive to work in central Jersey 1450 Talk Radio WCTC (Rutgers football flagship radio station) or stream on-line to hear us on Jersey Central with Jersey guy (and Lenape Valley Regional HS graduate) Bert Baron on his early morning show that airs from 6-9 am. Click on their logo to listen live, or come back later when we post our interview with Bert for your listening pleasure. To listen here on Monday morning, link on ahead of time and add answer a few questions about where you’re listening  from to gain access to listen live… wctc

Stream us live at 11:15 am, Sunday August 16

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This upcoming Sunday , August 26, www.collegefootballfan.com will be interviewed live  Sunday at 11:15 am,  on WVSL 92.3 FM on “Valley Sports Live” with Chris Schmouder and Brothers Josh and Ryan Beddall on Susquehanna Valley Pennsylvania’s ESPN Radio. Click on to the WVSL Logo above to listen in. Valley Sports live is heard here every Sunday at 11 AM. Join Chris, Josh, and Ryan for the Susquehanna Valley’s only sports talk show focused on local high school and college sports…

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Steveo’s Salvos – August 13

This upcoming Sunday and Monday, www.collegefootballfan.com will be interviewed live on two radio stations to preview the upcoming college football season. On Sunday at 11:30 am, you can catch us live from anywhere to hear our live stream on WVSL 92.3 FM on “Valley Sports Live” with Chris Schmouder and Brothers Josh and Ryan Beddall on Susquehanna Valley Pennsylvania’s ESPN Radio. Click on to the WVSL Logo below to listen in. Valley Sports live is heard her every Sunday at 11 AM. Join Chris, Josh, and Ryan for the Susquehanna Valley’s only sports talk show focused on local high school and college sports…WVSL_ESPN_Selinsgrove

On Monday Morning, listen in on your drive to work in central Jersey 1450 Talk Radio WCTC (Rutgers football flagship radio station) or stream on-line to hear us on Jersey Central with Jersey guy (and Lenape Valley Regional HS graduate) Bert Baron on his early morning show that airs from 6-9 am. Click on their logo to listen live, or come back later when we post our interview with Bert for your listening pleasure. To listen here on Monday morning, link on ahead of time and add answer a few questions about where you’re listening  from to gain access to listen live… wctc

ESPN will begin televising its College Football Playoff Top 25 Show on Tuesday November 3 and will continue to drone on about who the top four teams will be until December 6 when the selections are made. We may watch the first one, but after that like last year, we’ll wait until the program on December 6. All their analysis means zip until all the games are complete (except for Army-Navy on December 12), so why bother? It’s all about the money for air time and nothing else. I’ll probably be busy updating my site on those evenings anyway… Hey, three weeks from tonight all the shouting and pad-popping begin! Let’s get it on!…Sports Illustrated picks Ohio State at No. 1 (like everybody else), Auburn at No. 2, TCU at No. 3, and is the first of the polls where someone has picked Notre Dame at No. 4! We agree with them that no two teams from the same conference will make the Final Four. They excluded ‘Bama and Baylor as others have chosen. Oregon, too! Looks like the ACC will be the odd conference out this year unless somebody from that group goes undefeated and a few favorites suffer more than one loss. Who knows?… We will announce our Final Four on August 27. We still have some deep –diving and soul-searching to do. They won’t be right, but it will be fun if we can come up closer than all the people who do this kind of analysis for a living… I’m focusing on a couple of long shots that people will be wondering what I’m wondering. I’m even wondering, but something just tells me that it shouldn’t seem this easy to pick the Top Four from about only six teams identified. It can’t be that cut and dried. Too many crazy things and regretful things can happen during the course of the season. It rarely works out to be what most people think…

Can Sparty rally his Spartans to crash the 2015 Final Four?

Can Sparty rally his Spartans to crash the 2015 Final Four?

According to SI, we get to see five of their teams in the Top 25: Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and USC. We’re thinking Penn State reappears this year. Most teams we’ll see are in everybody’s middle ranks: Rutgers, San Diego State, Navy, Duke, Utah State, and Michigan among them…There sure won’t be a shortage of star power at the games we’ll attend this year. Of the Top 20 college football players identified by ESPN.com, we’ll not only see six of them perform on the field this year, we’ve already seen eight of them play. In all, we will see or have seen at least ten of the top twenty players by the end of this season, and there’s a good chance we’ll see some more come bowl season. Alabama has two players in the rankings and TCU’s QB Trevone Boykin is a top contender for the Heisman. One of those two or both could end up in the CFP’s Orange Bowl that we plan to attend on New Year’s Eve…As for the Top 20 players, we watched Ohio State’s DE Joey Bosa (No. 1) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (No. 2) play against Navy in their opener last season, and we’ll see the Buckeyes visit Michigan in their regular season-ending rivalry this November 28. Ranked as No. 7, LSU RB Leonard Fournette, had a big game against Notre Dame when we saw him in last season’s Music City Bowl despite a last second victory by the Irish.

LSU Frosh RB Leonard Fournette (7) scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and on an 89-yard run in last year's Music City.

LSU Frosh RB Leonard Fournette (7) scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and on an 89-yard run in last year’s Music City.

For the second year in a row, we’ll see the Michigan State Spartans in a road game when they visit Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 10. Last year, we saw the Spartans beat Penn State. DE Shalique Calhoun (Middletown, NJ, No. 8) and QB Connor Cook (No. 12) look to do some damage against the Scarlet Knights. We will see more double-barreled stardom when we see the USC Trojans visit the Colorado Golden Buffalos on Friday, November 13. Sophomore CB Adoree Jackson (No. 16) returns after recording 49 tackles, three TD catches, and two kick-off returns for TDs. Senior QB Cody Kessler will look to pick apart the Buffs, picked to finish last in the PAC 12 South, at Folsom Field. We’ll be fired up for the Buffs that evening. We saw DB Jalen Ramsey (No. 10) of Florida State in the Seminole’s victory at Syracuse last season, and this year we will see him in a more critical ACC game when they visit Georgia Tech at Booby Dodd Stadium on October 24 for our first visit there. In addition to the aforementioned we watched play last season, DE Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss (No. 13) played as a frosh in 2013 in a win over LSU, and QB Dak Prescott led Mississippi State in their Orange Bowl loss to Georgia Tech…Don’t forget to tune into our radio interviews on Sunday and Monday!

Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas showed up Dak Prescott in last year's Orange Bowl. Will he do the same against the Seminole's this season?

Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas showed up Dak Prescott in last year’s Orange Bowl. Will he do the same against the Seminole QBs this season?

Steveo’s Salvos – August 10, 2015

Twenty-five days until our season opener when we see Delaware’s Fighting Blue Hens of the Colonial Athletic host the Jacksonville Dolphins of the Pioneer Conference at 7 pm on September 4 in an FCS game between a traditional power and an upstart. HC Dave Brock will field one of UD’s youngest teams in history with only eight seniors and 50 players with one to two years of experience. The Hens have struggled in recent years not making the playoffs and finished atypically at 6-6 year ago. They look to get off to a better start when they lost at FBS Pitt last season, 62-0, in their opener. Jacksonville will visit UD for its second opener in three years there after a 9-2 season in 2014. QB Kade Bell, the son of HC Kerwin Bell who we saw when he starred for the Florida Gators against Auburn back in 1985, are considered one of the two best teams vying for the Pioneer Conference title in 2015. This looks like an interesting start to our 2015 season. JU can put a lot of points on the board. In the 2013 opener where Brock and Bell also squared off, the Hens came out on top, 51-35…Speaking of Delaware football, what’s become of former HC K.C. Keeler who played for legendary HC Tubby Raymond (300 UD victories) and then followed in his footsteps as HC for 11 seasons finishing his career ther at 86-52 with an FCS National Championship in 2003? He’s now entering his second season as HC of the Sam Houston State Bearkats where he finished 11-5 in his inaugural season. Last season, the Southland Conference power defeated Villanova, his primary rival at UD 34-31, in the FCS playoffs before falling to eventual National Champ North Dakota State in the semi-final, 35-3. We are especially interested to see how many players Keeler has had transfer to his new school from the FBS in his second season at Sam Houston. Not only at Delaware, where QB Joe Flacco transferred to from Pitt before starring at QB for the Baltimore Ravens, but even while at D-3 Glassboro State (now Rowan) did Keeler attract disenchanted D1 players to join his ranks. At that level, his Profs reached the championship final four times, but they never triumphed in the finale. His Bearkat roster is full of players where under the heading “Hometown (previous school)”, the latter doesn’t indicate their high school name.  Instead it reads with names like Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, WVU, Baylor, and seven other FBS programs. The way the bigger programs recruit top quality players who move down on the depth charts based on attrition, Keeler offers them a second chance to play rather than sit on the bench. It seems to pay off for his teams and for the players. Among the best among those he’s brought to SHSU is probably Jalen Overstreet formerly of Texas. His bio indicates he played QB and RB at UT scoring several TDs as a redshirt freshman. He had 650 yards and seven TDS for the Bearkats a year ago. He will be a main cog in the Bearkat offense this season.  With his recruiting strategy in place, Keeler’s Bearkats will continue to compete for FCS national championships… At the first game we attended in 1979 to start this crazy obsession with college football, KC Keeler started as a junior LB when we saw the Blue Hens defeat Rhode Island, 49-14. Another former player we saw play during our pre-history who eventually turned into a formidable coach is also taking on a change to his career. Former New Orleans Saint HC Jim Haslett is joining the coaching staff at Penn State. In 2015, he will be more of an advisor according to HC James Franklin’s latest press conference. Still under contract, he will be spending some time watching his son play football at D2 Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 1977 while I was recovering from knee surgery, I worked the press box as a spotter at The Alma Mater, Juniata College, during our home games. Our non-conference opponent for that season’s opener was IUP where Jim Haslett starred and became Little All-American LB. Our D3 Indians led by QB Dave Wichrowski defeated Haslett’s D2 Indians, 38-21. Haslett was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft. His HC at Buffalo was Juniata grad and fellow Pittsburgh area native Chuck Knox. Haslett was voted NFL Rookie of the year and played seven seasons for the Bills and two for the Jets before moving on to a long and successful NFL coaching career. For Penn State this season, he will be reviewing all phases of the games and giving James Franklin his input based on 30 years of coaching experience. Sounds like a good addition to the PSU staff. I also saw James Franklin play QB at East Stroudsburg against Southern Connecticut State during his playing days in college. It’s an unbelievable experience to have followed players seen over the years and see where their lives end up after their college days whether it’s in the football world or somewhere in else in life that we see them or even meet them…

Texas A&M embarrassed the Old Ball Coach's team in its 2014 opener, 52-28.

Texas A&M embarrassed the Old Ball Coach’s team in its 2014 opener, 52-28.

A favorite quote of ours comes from Steve Spurrier among the various conference media days held before the teams started practices for gear up for the season that starts for most FBS squads on September 5. Spurrier said, “We were 7-6, the same as Tennessee, the same as Arkansas, and I think they’re celebrating big seasons last season so we were celebrating also. We were doing cartwheels and high fiving after the Independence Bowl Game.” Now I can believe that last statement. Winning in the final game of the season is always worth celebrating with a positive bead drawn on the next season. The Cocks defeated the Miami Hurricanes, 24-21. However, I can’t believe that the Old Ball Coach’s players after his tenth season at Columbia following three years of 11-2 records could be as happy as those other two programs. Carolina had a solid core returning of returning players and were embarrassed defensively in their opener I attended against Texas A&M who eventually flopped had it not been for a horrendous out of conference schedule. It was the most embarrassing performance of defense I had seen in 35 years of attending college football games. The Gamecocks struggled throughout the year defensively and salvaged a .500 season with wins over FCS Furman and South Alabama. I saw them fold 21-20 against Mizzou in the final quarter and fall at Auburn, 42-35, indicating their defense had not improved. Arkansas played in its second year under HC Bert Bielema following 3-9 and 4-8 seasons respectively. So to go 6-6 before beating old rival Texas in the Texas Bowl, 31-7, must have certainly brought jubilation back to the Razorback program. After three consecutive 5-7 seasons following the Lane Kiffin year, Tennessee performed in its second year under HC Butch Jones. I attended the devastation they handed to slow Iowa in their 45-28 TaxSlayer Bowl victory. Three Iowa scores came after the second and third UT teams mopped up after the beat down. Tennessee definitely had reason to celebrate. Their future looks brighter than it has since Phil Fulmer. The Gamecocks? Maybe the Old Ball Coach is getting “old”. Spurrier’s team opens in Charlotte against UNC coached now by Larry Fedora on Thursday, September 3. This is the first season in five years that we don’t have the Gamecocks on our regular season schedule. They reeled off victories the first six games we attended, but fell all three times last season. My daughter Alex graduated from there this past spring with a degree in Exercise Science…

Tennessee overwhelmed Iowa in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl. Butch Jones' team ahs an eye on the SEC East title in 2105.

Tennessee overwhelmed Iowa in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl. Butch Jones’ team ahs an eye on the SEC East title in 2105.

WR Deonte Caroo of Rutgers told the Asbury Park Press that he’s the best WR in the Big Ten this season. Last season, he made First Team Big Ten with 1,086 yards and ten TD catches. Not only will he be challenged by several receivers that will see improvements to their own offenses since year ago, but he has a heavy burden ahead of him as the Scarlet Knights have to settle on a new QB between inexperienced Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig to replace four-year starter Gary Nova.   In addition, the Knights have to replace three starters on the offensive line, and experienced offensive coordinator and former Maryland HC Ralph Friedgen stepped down to hand the reigns over to new OC Ben McDaniels. RU’s offense has a huge learning curve ahead to go up against some of the best defenses in the Big Ten that will be keying on Caroo…

Rutgers QB Gary Nova follows his line into the end zone from the one for a touchdown.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova follows his line into the end zone from the one for a touchdown against Navy last season.

In our last Salvo, we reported on our plan to add the Charlotte 49ers as our 129th FBS team when they visit Old Dominion on October 17. Regretfully, word came out today (August 9) that 49er offensive line Coach Phil Ratliff passed away from a sudden heart attack at the age of 44. The former Marshall lineman leaves behind his wife and a young son and daughter. It’s a sudden shock to his family and the 49er team. Condolences to all.

Steveo’s Salvos! August 1, 2015

Five weeks from today is the first Saturday of college football action. Several good games will be televised on Thursday, September 3. It’s our first year not attending an opening night game in long time. We will open on Friday night, September 4, when we’ll attend an FCS battle between Jacksonville and Delaware.  We’re behaving ourselves so that Saturday, November 21 will be our 500th game since 1979 when Army hosts Rutgers….Why are all these condescending head coaches complaining that Notre Dame needs to join a conference? So they can lower their standards to be an also-ran like most of the programs at the FBS level? And I’m not just considering the play on the field. The Fighting Irish play a solid schedule every year. They never play any FCS teams and play very few non-Power Five conference teams. Even Navy’s become a more formidable program than it was in year’s past. They have high academic standards. When a player doesn’t perform academically or gets charged with some misdemeanor or substance abuse violation, they’re generally suspended or eventually gone from the program. They generally top the graduation rates among all FBS programs every season. They have a national TV contract of their own because the networks are willing to pay for the rights to air their games due to a huge national following. Instead of other coaches insinuating that the Irish should join a conference to “compete fairly” for a playoff bid, maybe they should focus on their own programs and raise their standards to emulate ND’s. They should go mind their own business to clean up their own programs instead of telling someone else who generally does it right what they should do. How can anyone chastise BYU for similar reasons? As for Army, they tried out ConferenceUSA for number of years and it didn’t work out. Their goal is to play a national schedule as they recruit players from every state in the Union. Their players represent America. Maybe they’ll follow Navy into the AAC, but they’ll do it when they are good and ready. “Duty, Honor, Country.” Their goals are little loftier at West Point than those of other schools in the FBS. Surely they can’t recruit as well as other FBS programs, so let them determine their relevant level of play amongst what’s right for their program…

Notre Dame showed it can still play with anybody in the Music City Bowl last season when they defeated LSU, 30-27.

Notre Dame showed it can still play with anybody in the Music City Bowl last season when they defeated LSU, 30-27.

I caught some CFL action on TV the other night. The Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s QB Drew Willy passed for 269 yards and two TDs in a 23-13 win over the British Columbia Lions. Willy, a Randolph, NJ native, was a freshman QB at the University of Buffalo when we added the Bulls as our 101st team during our goal to “see ‘em all” when his team fell to the Ohio Bobcats, our 100th team back in October, 2005. The Bobcats under former Nebraska HC Frank Solich triumphed 34-20 in a game marred by 29 penalties, three of which were overturned. The Bulls pulled within 27-20 late in the game, but a flagrant unsportsmanlike call late in the game turned the tide back for the Bulls to come up short. I just can’t believe it’s ten years ago. It’s in Tales from the Tailgate. Check it out!…The Big Ten Media days started today. We will see five B1G teams compete this year in six different games including Rutgers at Penn State, Michigan State at Rutgers, and Ohio State at Michigan. We’ll also see one of these or another team from the B1G as we plan to attend the Outback or Citrus Bowl which will feature a Big Ten Team vs. the SEC on New Year’s Day. The conference champion may be seen in the Orange Bowl in the CFP which we intend to be at this year…Rutgers HC Kyle Flood talks glowingly of how his team finished 8-5 in their inaugural season. He’ll have new QB for the first time in four years and offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen stepped down. They took their lumps against OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska last season and will play them all again this year. We will see them host Washington State under pass-happy HC Mike Leach who picked up Alex Grinch , secondary coach at Missouri the last few years, as his new defensive coordinator. Seems like a good move in the right direction on his part. The Scarlet Knights bested WAZU last season in the opener for both in Seattle, 38-35. This year’s early match-up may be a good barometer of how RU will fare the rest of the season with a new QB in place along with eight new starters on a defense that allowed 30.2 points per game a year ago and ranked 98th overall defensively. Penn State and Michigan, also Eastern Division rivals, will show big improvements over last season respectively coming off sanctions limiting scholarships and Jim Harbaugh’s new coaching staff. Regarding PSU we will see them open at ‘the Linc” against Temple, and the Owls will be a good barometer to see how well Penn State has upgraded its primary weakness from a year ago, its offensive line. Temple defense ranked 24th nationally on defense and return 10 starters. They fell to the Lions 30-13, but they will be fired up under HC Matt Rhule, a former PSU linebacker himself. If the Lion’s O-line can give QB Christian Hackenberg much better protection than a year ago and can open some holes consistently that it didn’t do a year ago, that will indicate the Lions are ready to challenge again in the Big Ten. On September 19, our calendar is marked for the 8 pm contest when RU visits Happy Valley. A week later, we return there to see Linebacker U host San Diego State, a contender for the Mountain West Conference title. We look forward to both games…

The Nittany Lions will have to give Hackenberg better protection this year to compete for the B1G title.

The Nittany Lions will have to give Hackenberg better protection this year to compete for the B1G title.

Good chance that we will get to see FBS newcomer Charlotte as our 129th team on October 17 when they visit Old Dominion as we visit our son Eric down there in Norfolk. When we added ODU last year as our 128th team, it wasn’t pretty as the formidable Thundering Herd trampled the Monarchs, 55-14. The game was over in the first half. ODU loses the services of QB Taylor Heinecke who despite throwing for 14,959 yards, we weren’t impressed by. ODU fortunes rest this year on his replacement, Redshirt Freshman Shuler Bentley, twice named South Carolina Gatorade player of the year. RB Ray Lawry (Kingsway Regional, Woolwich, NJ) who finished last season as C-USA Rookie of the year, will be relied on to lead the ground game. He had 131 rushing yards against a tough Marshall D a year ago when we saw him play. The defense, however, allowed 38 ppg per game and 452.2 yards per game last season. We expect to see a more competitive game at Foreman Field than we did a year ago. Despite their first year in the FBS, the Charlotte 49ers have a team of juniors returning that scored 38.8 ppg against mostly FCS teams a year ago including some credible programs like The Citadel, Coastal Carolina, and James Madison. Despite scoring 56, 34, and 40 points in those three games, their defense allowed 63, 59, and 48 respectively. We think we’ll see a wild, high-scoring game in this one. The Niner offense is led by RB Kalif Phillips who rushed for 1,436 yards and 20 TDs last season. Matt Johnson who started at QB before being felled by a knee injury in the last three games, has thrown for 4,522 yards and 34 TDs the last two seasons. Lee McNeil backed him up adequately and four starters return to the O-line. Austin Duke who had 79 receptions a year ago for 1,373 yards and nine TDs returns to action. The D returns eight starters from a squad that allowed 31.6 ppg against FCS and lower division schools, and 477.4 yards per game. They’re going to have to learn to suck it up under new defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt who left Texas Tech as DC after three games last season to become linebacker coach at UL-Lafayette. Sounds shaky here. The Monarchs will get two weeks to recover from facing Marshall again before playing this one. The 49ers will get two weeks to recover from playing the best program they’ll have faced to date, the Temple Owls. This game should be like a pinball game with lots of action and plenty of scoring to light up the scoreboard. We hope it’s more fun than watching a blow-out like we did last year at ODU. We hope it will be a memorable experience welcoming Charlotte to the FBS.

The Thundering Herd of Marshall smothered Old Dominion last season to welcome them to the FBS.

The Thundering Herd of Marshall smothered Old Dominion last season to welcome them to the FBS.

July 25 radio interview on “Spadora on Sports”

We interviewed about the upcoming season on “Peter Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1410 AM his flagship station out of Watertown, NY. Currently, Spadora is featured weekly on FOX Sports Radio WNER-AM 1410 Watertown, NY; WYBG-AM 1050 Massena, NY;  WZNE – FM 94.1 Rochester, NY; BostonSportsRadio Boston, MA; ESPN Radio WTSA-AM 1450 “The Ticket” Brattleboro,VT as the host of SPADORA ON SPORTS. This 2 hour sports radio program features exclusive analysts of the College Football and Basketball, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL that is built around athlete and celebrity interviews. SPADORA ON SPORTS is currently broadcasted in several markets in NY, VT, and Canada. We will be featured on various Saturdays throughout the college football season. Click on the link below for our July 25 interview:

spadora2011

Steve-o’s Salvos – July 23

We’re now even more excited than ever about our 2015 schedule! After celebrating our 500th game this season on November 21st, we have our plan in place the following Saturday to attend probably the best rivalry game we’ve never attended (been to Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, South Carolina-Clemson, Harvard-Yale among others). And not only that, it’s going to be as intense as ever. We initially thought we’d go when one team was down so that the interest wouldn’t be at a high echelon which would enable us to get a cheap ticket due to luke-warm interest. But, I went to Saint Laurie, told her the plan, the cost, the desire, and fact that time is becoming more of the essence – a bucket list. I got her blessing. I’m heading to Ohio State at Michigan! Most likely a game with a significant bearing on the national championship and possibly the Big Ten Eastern division (I’m hoping Penn State is still in the hunt, of course), but the competiveness and anticipation of Jim Harbaugh returning to head up his Wolverines at home in Ann Arbor make this year’s 112th edition a must-see! He’s bringing his coaching prowess back to his alma mater which will undoubtedly instill the pride, the passion, and the toughness that Brady Hoke so desired to bring back to Michigan football. We’re feeling the blood broiling already in this one. I don’t even have a preference as to who wins, at least not right now. Put the defending National Champs who are heavily favored to repeat and unleash them against its most hated rival on Big Blue’s turf and this will be a hard-hitting, smash-mouth game for pride if nothing more. And there’s plenty more at stake.  I’m feeling it? What about fans from both teams? Today (July 22), 13 Action News in Ohio reported that two couples physically clashed on a Jet Express ferry ride near Port Clinton, Ohio Sunday ignited by their rampant Michigan-Ohio State fan allegiances and their hatred toward each other’s.  The two women began by pulling hair and their two male companions exchanged punches. Two arrests were made for assault. The game is four months away. We haven’t even gotten into the parking lot yet! We picked a good one for our 502nd game. 502nd you ask? You don’t think I’m traveling 700+ miles for just one game, do you? On Friday night, I plan to attend Western Michigan at Toledo in the Glass Bowl – a first time venue for CFF.com. Holy Toledo! It’s also looking like an important game in the Mid-American, at least one between two of its top teams. It may help me keep my mind off the war anticipated on Saturday…

At our first trip to the Big House, we watched Penn State drop the Wolverines in 2009, 35-10.

At our first trip to the Big House, we watched Penn State drop the Wolverines in 2009, 35-10.

A review of our history over the years has paid off in that we are able to say that we’ve definitely seen THE TOP performers in the history of college football play. Passing yards? We saw Case Keenum throw for some of his 19,217 when we saw his Houston Cougars fall in the 2007 Texas Bowl to TCU, 20-13. The winning QB? A freshman named Andy Dalton who eventually made it to the Cincinnati Bengals. Keenum also leads in career TD passes with 155. In all, we’ve seen seven of the top ten career leaders compete. That included No. 2 Kellen Moore of Boise in 2010 leading the Broncos to a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech, and No. 3 Graham Harrell of Texas Tech in the Red Raiders 2007 defeat at Oklahoma State in a 45-42 shoot-out. His last gasp pass into the end zone deflected off the shoulder pad of WR Michael Crabtree. RB Monte Ball of Wisconsin leads all FBS scorers with 500 career points. We saw Penn State shut him down in the final regular season game of 2013. This year we will see Navy QB Keenan Reynolds play in two or three games to take a crack at his record. With 368 points over three years, his average of 122 points per season can get him close or at least put him at No. 2 over Travis Prentice of Miami (O) who holds that place now. We saw Prentice score in a 14-13 win over Army in 1998. Another Wisconsin RB still holds the mark for total career rushing yards with 6,397. We saw Heisman winner Ron Dayne have a tough day against Syracuse for a paltry 46 yards in a 34-0 loss to Syracuse in the 1997 Kickoff Classic. WR Justin Hardy of East Carolina leads the pack all-time with 387 pass catches. Drafted this year by the Atlanta Falcons, we saw Justin and the Pirates defeat Navy his freshman year in an exciting game in Annapolis as the Pirates defeated the Mids, 38-35. Behind him ranked No. 2, 3, and 4 respectively are Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma, Taylor Stubbefield of Purdue, and Tommy Shuler of Marshall. We saw Broyles in the Fiesta Bowl win over UConn, Stubbefield catch passes thrown by Drew Brees for Purdue against Penn State, and Shuler play the past two seasons in games against Maryland and ODU. It just goes to show that if you do this long enough and get out and see some diverse competition from year to year, you’ll get to see players making history. Evidently, a lot of it…

Freshman QB Andy Dalton led the TCU Horned Frogs over Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars in the 2007 Texas Bowl.

Freshman QB Andy Dalton led the TCU Horned Frogs over Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars in the 2007 Texas Bowl.

Our regular season schedule has us seeing five teams playing more than once. Penn State and Navy look to have three each while Army, Air Force, and Rutgers will all be seen twice. Penn State, Air Force, and Rutgers will be seen both at home and on the road. The other two, Army and Navy, will be seen at a neutral site, of course, as well as at home. I encourage every college football fan to attend one game at West Point and at Annapolis at least once. This year they will return to “the Linc” in Philadelphia after having played in Baltimore last year…Our late season playoff options have us anticipating a second round FCS game, a quarterfinal D3 game, or a quarterfinals D2 game on December 5. On December 18-19, the possibilities are between the FCS semi-finals or the D3 Championship to be held in Salem, VA. Most experts predict another Mt. Union vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater finale. We predict that UWW will go through too big a change with a familiar but less experienced coaching staff, and that a traditional contender between Linfield (Oregon) or Mary Hardin-Baylor will knock off the Purple Raiders of MU before they reach Salem. Our choice of game that date will be dictated by where and when our choices will be played…We say it every year and we mean it every year; this is going to be a great season for collegefootballfan.com!

Eight years after seeing air Force fae Cal in the Armedd Forces Services Bowl, the Falcons still run the triple option under HC Troy Calhoun. We will see his team play twice this season.

Eight years after seeing Air Force face Cal in the Armed Forces Services Bowl, the Falcons still run the triple option under HC Troy Calhoun. We will see his team play twice this season.