Collegefootballfan.com Week in Review #15

For the tenth year in a row, the D-III champs will be wearing purple - either the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks above. or the Mount Union Purple Raiders below.

For the tenth year in a row, the D-III champs will be wearing purple – either the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks above, or the Mount Union Purple Raiders below.

mount-union-121714

So much for my picking prowess (that’s why I don’t bet – too much heart and not enough brain). Well, we admitted the FCS playoffs were picked selfishly so that Villanova could meet Coastal Carolina about a two-hour drive from home on Friday night so we could add another game to our schedule this year. By the way, with five bowl games lined up, CFF.com is already on record pace to attend 26 NCAA college football games this year. Our current record is 24 games attended back in 2006.  We are happy to see that No. 1 New Hampshire defeated Chattanooga last Friday at home, 35-30, to keep rolling along. Like the Wildcats, all the quarter final winners won very competitive games. Illinois State went out to Eastern Washington and beat the Eagles on their wretched red turf, 59-46. UNH will host ISU Saturday at 2 pm. In the other half of the bracket, unseeded Sam Houston State (11-4) knocked off No. 6 Villanova on the road, 34-31. Three-time defending champ North Dakota State (13-1) got by No. 7 Coastal Carolina (12-2), 39-32. Instead of heading down to Villanova this Friday night to see the Wildcats host CCU as we had hoped, we will be home putting up the Christmas tree and watching Sam Houston and ND State go at one another in what looks to be a good one. The winners of the two games this weekend will meet on January 10 at 1 pm in Frisco, Texas for the FCS championship…

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti scored another TD in last week's Wildcat win over UT Chattanooga.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti scored another TD in last week’s Wildcat win over UT Chattanooga.

And whoever picks Division III games anyway? Although I admit there were no points involved, I picked the biggest loser of the weekend. In Division III action, surprise, surprise…not! Mount Union (14-0) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0) will play each other for the national championship for the ninth time in ten years. The No. 1 seed UWW Warhawks have won five of the eight titles including the last four. UWW won against Linfield of Oregon in their game. An 80-yard drive starting with 8:40 left in the game was finished off by a 33-yard TD run by Jordan Ratliffe. The Warhawks won 20-14 to move on to this Friday’s finale in Salem, VA. The game kicks off at 7 pm EST on ESPNU. We predicted the No. 4 Wesley Wolverines would pull the upset over the No. 2 Purple Raiders of MU. Upset? We were more upset about our prediction. The Raiders won, 70-21, and the game was not as close as it sounds. It was 56-0 at halftime and 70-0 before Wesley scored three TDs in Q4. Raider QB Kevin Burke completed 26 of 41 passes for 415 yards that included seven TD passes. He ran for another. Wesley QB Joe Callahan‘s stats see somewhat impressive until you note his four INTs. He threw for 440 yards and one TD…Congratulations to Fordham Freshman RB Chase Edmonds who won the Jerry Rice Award as FCS Rookie of the year. He ran for 1,539 yards on 252 carries, recorded 21 rushing TDs, and tallied over 100 yards in nine games. He finished eighth in the FCS with 128.3 rushing yards per game and eighth again in average all-purpose yards with 165.5 per game. We got to see him play three times this year. In those games, he rushed for 542 yards and seven TDs; against Rhode Island, a frosh record of 231 yards and four TDs; against Bucknell in the Patriot League clincher, he ran for 103 yards and two TDs; and in the second round playoff game at No. 1 New Hampshire, he ran for 208 yards and a TD in a losing cause. What a season for Chase Edmonds. We hope to seen him play again in the future…

Chase Edmonds gallops 91 yards on a touchdown jaunt against New Hampshire.

Chase Edmonds gallops 91 yards on a touchdown jaunt against New Hampshire.

Also, congrats to UNH HC Sean McDonnell of the No. 1 Wildcats. He was honored with the Eddie Robinson Award as the Coach of the Year in the FCS. We saw his team defeat Fordham, 44-19, in their second round game… More great stuff coming up including the AP All-Americans we saw and will see play through the balance of the season. We can’t believe how many we got to see this year! Also, we will preview the Poinsettia Bowl between Navy and San Diego State scheduled for next Tuesday night. We won’t be going, but we have insight from a very special guest analyst.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has 21 TDS this year including one against Army last week in their 17-10 win over Army. Navy will be the second triple option team SDSU will play this year.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has 21 TDS this year including one against Army last week in their 17-10 win. Navy will be the second triple option team SDSU will play this year.

Navy bests archrival Army for 13 straight win in 115th game of storied rivalry

Baltimore (December 13) – The Midshipman of Navy (7-5) took the 115th edition of its storied rivalry against archrival Army, 17-10, for their 13th consecutive win in the series. The Mids now lead Army all time, 59-49-7, and continue the longest win streak in the rivalry started in 1890. The second longest win streak in the series is shared between both at five. The two rivals mirror each other in play calling and in the triple option offense. Had you exchanged uniforms between the two teams, it would have been difficult to tell which team was which. Both squads are coached by former fellow assistant coaches who met each other 25 years ago at the University of Hawaii learning the triple option under former Hawaii and Navy mentor Paul Johnson, who continues to run the same attack at Georgia Tech. With the Navy victory, HC Ken Niumatalolo became the winningest HC in Navy football history with his 56th win in seven seasons (56-35). Navy QB Keenan Reynolds led his team to the win with a touchdown run and a touchdown pass. The game was hard-fought as usual. Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Frank Scarpa contributed heavily to the review of the game below as both teams used similar offensive strategies throughout the game played in front of 70, 935 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Josh Jenkins returns opening kickoff against Navy to the Army 23.

Josh Jenkins returns opening kickoff against Navy to the Army 23.

Following the kickoff to Army: run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Army’s DB Josh Jenkins blocked Navy’s punt and WR Xavier Moss picked it of the surface and ran it over the goal line from seven yards away to give Army a 7-0 lead. The Corps of Cadets exploded and wished the game was over right then and there to end their long drought in the rivalry. Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. End of first period.

Run, run, run, run, run, run run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Navy passed for 34 yards. Run. Pass for 12 yards. Run, run. QB Keenan Reynolds ( 26 carries for 100 yards rushing, 6 of 8 passing for 77 yards and one TD) fired a low strike into the end zones to WR Jamir Tillman who turned to catch the ball at his knees for a nine-yard touchdown reception to tie the score , 7-7, with 18 seconds left in the half. Army’s O had not yet recorded one passing yard at the end of the half.

Navy FB Chris Swain (37) gains yardage against Army defenders.

Navy FB Chris Swain (37) gains yardage against Army defenders.

Navy’s Drum & Bugle Corps performed celebrating its 100th anniversary since its formation. Prior to the kickoff to start the game, Navy Leap Frogs and Army Gold Knights parachuted on to the M&T turf with the traditional game balls. Soon after, flyovers were performed by Army Apache helicopters and Navy YF16s. It was awesome as usual to feel and see the power and dedication of our armed services that protect our freedom. Go Navy! Go Army!

Navy had deferred to receive the opening kickoff in the second half and it paid off as Ryan Williams returned the ball 41 yards to the 50. Run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Navy’s Austin Grebe made good on a 45-yard FG to give Navy a 10-7 lead. Run, run, run, run, run, pass, run, run, run, pass, run, run, run. End of third period.

Army Golden Knights descend into M&T Bank Stadium.

Army Golden Knights descend into M&T Bank Stadium.

Army Apache Helos fly over M&T prior to kickoff.

Army Apache Helos fly over M&T prior to kickoff.

Run, run, run, run, run. Navy scored on a one-yard keeper by Reynolds who will continue to build on his record breaking career mark for rushing TDs by a quarterback as he finishes up his junior season with one more game to play this season. The play was reviewed and confirmed, but how the side judge who signaled for the touchdown ever saw the ball cross the plane, we’ll never know.

Somehow under this pile, Keenan Reynolds crossed the goal line to give Navy a 17-7 lead.

Somehow under this pile, Keenan Reynolds crossed the goal line to give Navy a 17-7 lead.

Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, and fumble by Army. Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, and fumble by Navy. Army replaced QB Angel Santiago with A.J. Schurr. Pass, run, pass, sack, pass, pass, pass, run, sack. Army Kicker Dan Grochkowski booted a 52-ayrd FG to cut the Navy lead, 17-10. On sides kick – recovered by Navy. A 19-yard run by Reynolds resulted in a first down with less than a minute to play. The Mids went into victory formation. The Brigade celebrated much to the chagrin of the Corps and the two coaches who started their careers together back in 1989 met at midfield and embraced out of respect, mutual admiration, and friendship knowing that they will likely meet under these circumstances again for years to come. The Corps and Brigade joined en masse for the time-honored tradition of singing their respective alma maters. The Mids sang second for the 13th consecutive year. Army HC Jeff Moncken and his staff will go back to work this week to start planning the termination of that streak on December 12, 2015. Army finished its first season under Monck at 4-8. With Navy’s 7-5 record, Ken Niumatalolo takes his staff and team back to Annapolis to get ready for San Diego State (7-5) at the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl on December 23 at QUALCOMM Stadium. This is Navy’s last season as an FBS Independent. Next season will be its first in the American Athletic Conference in its Western Division. Should the Mids win that division, it may be possible that they will be playing in a championship for their conference one week before their 116th game against Army. That would be different for the Navy football program which, like Army, sometimes has two or three open Saturdays before playing one another in their biggest game of the season.

Mids savor victory singing their alma mater, "The Navy Blue and Gold".

Mids savor victory singing their alma mater, “The Navy Blue and Gold”.

For CFF.com, this game was our 480th since we started this in 1979. It was our 10th Army-Navy game. Navy has won the seven of the ten meetings including the last five we attended (’93, ’96, ’12-‘14). With Christmas fast-approaching, we have our first bye weekend planned to get ready for The Holiday. Two days after Christmas, we will be attending the first of our five bowl games to finish up our 2014 season. On December 27, we will head over to Yankee Stadium for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between Penn State (6-6) and Boston College (7-5). Check back for our updates and more college football action and musings as we wind down through the bowls we attend right up to the first ever college Football Playoff! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!

Navy Leap Frogs enter M&T from above prior to the game.

Navy Leap Frogs enter M&T from above prior to the game.

Navy flyover!

Navy flyover!

 

 

Collegefootballfan.com Week in Review #14

If any programs learned anything from the plight of Baylor and TCU being ousted from the Football Four in the final weekend of their seasons, I have not seen anyone scrambling to shore up any weak 2015 non-conference schedules. We will give it time, but we’re not expecting mad dashes to the phones by many ADs to schedule fellow Power Five conference foes. Baylor and TCU supposedly are banking more on the notion that they’ll need a Big 12 playoff game to get major consideration when one good team finishes with a big victory over another top-ranked team. However, when it comes down to significant non-conference victories, forget about it! SMU, Lamar, and Rice get the Bears started next season. Those were Texas A&M’s first three games after slamming South Carolina with the Swiss cheese defense. A&M started their season 4-0 with that set of games to climb up the polls to number six. What a joke. The Aggies were exposed when they started playing teams their own size. They went 3-5 the rest of the season when they played legitimate competition not including their win over 4-8 UL-Monroe in their SEC safety valve game. TCU plays at Minnesota next year for a decent game, but they also load up on SMU and FCS member Stephen F. Austin. Get real! We hope these two who supposedly learned a valuable lesson are flexible to get out of at least one waste of a game and seek a win that can put them over the fifth and sixth spots next season. Texas among the Big 12 teams looks well prepared to meet the criteria if Charlie Strong can get him to the top of the pack in his second season with the Horns. His team opens with Notre Dame, Rice, and California. Two out of three ain’t bad. As a matter of fact it’s much better than most other Power five teams. Mississippi State (again): Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, and Louisiana Tech. Alabama plays Wisconsin at a “neutral” site down in Texas of course (why not play in Chicago to start the season?), and then Middle Tennessee, UL Monroe, and FCS Charleston Southern. How about getting Baylor or TCU in a home and home series? Michigan lost Notre Dame in a traditional non-con, but they play Utah, Oregon State, UNLV, and BYU. Three out of four is pretty good. Not bad for bowl consideration. Penn State plays Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State, and Army. C’mon James Franklin! Get Pitt on the slate every year home and home and play someone to get excited about beating like we used to – USC, Miami, or WVU. It’s time for everyone to challenge the rest of the country and not just your own conference…We’re picking Jameis Winston, definitely not a favorite of ours, to find a way to lead Florida State to its second straight national title…

We think Jameis Winston cannot be stopped when it's time to make a comeback.

We think Jameis Winston cannot be stopped when it’s time to make a comeback.

We’ll be attending the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando seeing Missouri (10 -2) play Minnesota (8-4). With the same start up time a few hours west in Tampa, Wisconsin (10-2) plays Auburn (8-4). I got an idea: I know the Badgers played on New Year’s Day in Orlando last year, but why not send the SEC team with the 10-2 record out to Tampa to play Wisconsin, and send the 8-4 SEC team to Orlando to play the 8-4 Big Ten team. I think both matchups would be interesting, especially Wisconsin versus Missouri, runners-up in two major conferences. Heck, Mizzou fell to last place Indiana of the Big Ten, now they should show everybody what they can do against the B1G western division champ…

On January 1, the NCAA should load Nick Marshall and his Auburn teammates (8-4)  on the bus in Tampa and send them to Orlando to play Minnesota (8-4) in the citrus bowl instead of the Outback bowl.

On January 1, the NCAA should load Nick Marshall and his Auburn teammates (8-4) on the bus in Tampa and send them to Orlando to play Minnesota (8-4) in the Citrus bowl instead of the Outback bowl.

We will be in Baltimore this Saturday for the 3:30 kickoff in the last regular season game of the year for the FBS when Navy (6-5) and Army (4-7) square off for the 115th time in their classic rivalry. Navy goes for its 14th straight win in the series now leading 58-49-7. The Mids are fourth in the nation in rushing averaging 357.8 yards per game. Army is eighth averaging 305.5 per game. Larry Dixon is Army’s leading rusher with 1,012 yards and nine TDs followed by QB Angel Santiago with 793 and 10 TDs. Navy QB Keenan Reynolds is twelfth in the nation in scoring with 20 TDs. Respectively, Navy is 127th in the nation in passing while Army follows at 128. If it weren’t for TV timeouts, this game would be over in an hour and a half instead of three and a half thanks to CBS TV. Army runs the triple option as does Navy. New Army HC Jeff Mocken used the same offense and learned it well in Annapolis under the triple option guru, Paul Johnson. Among common foes, both lost to Western Kentucky and to Commander in Chief Trophy winner, Air Force. We will give the edge here to Navy for two reasons. We saw them defend Georgia Southern running the triple option to win 52-19 several weeks ago. We give a big edge to the Mids with QB Keenan Reynolds over Angel Santiago. Go Navy!…

The long, gray lines of Army have not seen their team beat Navy for 13 straight years.  We predict it will be fourteen straight after this weekend.

The long, gray lines of Army have not seen their team beat Navy for 13 straight years. We predict it will be fourteen straight after this weekend.

Speaking of which, the Mids will be heading out to the West Coast on December 23 for a 9:30 EST game in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to play the San Diego State Aztecs (7-5), winners of the MWC West. An opportunity is open to all fans is to donate a ticket to a Sailor or Marine stationed out in San Diego to attend the game. It’s a great chance to do something for our men and women still on watch for Freedom away from their families over the holidays to have some time off and enjoy a game. The tickets are $55 each and your donation is tax deductible. It’s a nice gift to give for those serving in the Armed Forces during the holidays. It’s nice to see a lot of the seats filled for these bowl games as well. Click here to see how to make a donation…

Happily for our family, our son Eric will be home for Christmas and joining us at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium when Penn State plays Boston College.

Happily for our family, our son Eric will be home for Christmas and joining us at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium when Penn State plays Boston College.

In the FCS playoffs this weekend, we’re rooting for No. 6 Villanova (11-2) to defeat Sam Houston State (10-4) and for No. 7 Coastal Carolina (12-1) to pull the upset over No. 2 and three-time defending champ North Dakota State (12-1). Reason: Villanova would host the Chanticleers in a home game. They both play this Saturday while No. 1 New Hampshire hosts UT Chattanooga this Friday night. We figure if UNH and Nova win, Nova will get the Friday night slot at home December 19 , and we will go! My kids will be home (Alex back from U. of South Carolina and Petty Officer 3c Eric back up from Norfolk) for the holidays and we need to get some Christmas decorations up on Saturday, so that would be perfect as the Wildcats play only two hours from where we live. I may go through withdrawals if I can’t go somewhere despite five bowl games planned after Christmas…OK, so Bo Pellini could only win a maximum of nine game each season while at Nebraska. The Huskers whisked away Mike Riley for Oregon State who compiled a record of 93-80 over fourteen seasons at Corvallis. That’s an average of 6.6 wins per year. He’s the right choice? Frank Solich did as well as Pellini, and he didn’t last long. If I was going to can Pellini because of the win total, I’d have been sure I was going to hire someone with a better track record than this…

Check us out this Saturday before 10:30 am to listen to us live to talk about Army-Navy with Pete Spadora on Sports.  Click here.

Check us out this Saturday before 10:30 am to listen to us live to talk about Army-Navy with Pete Spadora on Sports. Click here.

The D3 semi-finals this week feature No. 1 Wisconsin-Whitewater (13-0) hosting Linfield of Oregon (11-1) and No. 2 Mt. Union (13-0) hosting No. 4 Wesley (12-1). UWW and MU could be on a collision course for their ninth meeting in the grand finale for the D-3 national championship. However, both teams had tough times last week with their foes as UWW defeated a staunch Wartburg team, 37-33. The MU Purple Raiders got by their fellow conference foe John Carroll in another close one, 36-28. Linfield and Wesley won handily respectively 45-7 over Widener and 41-13 over Hobart. Wesley’s only loss this year was to FBS transitional team Charlotte, 38-33, who we will plan to see play next year. We predict the Wolverines will upset tradition by beating the Raiders this weekend to meet the UWW Warhawks in Salem, VA on Friday, December 19 for all the marbles…In the D-2 Semis this weekend, Pueblo state of Colorado hosts West Georgia while Minnesota State hosts Concord of West Virginia. Unlike D-3, D-2 seems to have new teams battling it out with a different Final Four every year…Three of my five bowl teams this year will feature matchups between teams I’ve seen play one another before: Penn State vs. Boston College in the Pinstripe; Notre Dame vs. LSU in the Music City (read below), and Iowa vs. Tennessee in the Taxslayer. Also, I’ve seen six of the ten play in bowl games before: Penn State, Boston College, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee.

We think this year's Orange bowl will be better than the last we attended when Alabama stomped Notre Dame. We hope the Irish will play better this year in the Music City what we'll attend as well.

We think this year’s Orange bowl will be better than the last we attended when Alabama stomped Notre Dame. We hope the Irish will play better this year in the Music City that we’ll attend as well.

 

2014 Music City Bowl : Notre Dame vs. LSU

We plan to attend this year’s Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville for the second year in a row.  Great, fun-loving  city!  Can’t wait to go back! This year,  Notre Dame (7-5) will face off against LSU (8-4).    However, it will not be the first time we’ve seen these two play one another.  In my book, Tales from the Tailgate: From the fan who’s seen ‘em all!, I reminisce in a chapter about the first time I’d seen LSU play (Team #16) and my first time I attended a Notre Dame game when they played one another in South Bend.  The circumstances were quite different in 1981 when that it was not the last game of the season for each, but an early season game for both with much anticipation for success.  Below, I provide you with the chapter about the experience 33 years ago.  If you enjoy the story, there’s plenty more where that came from in the book which can be ordered on Amazon.com.  Please click here to check purchase the book and read more about it on the amazon website.  Enjoy!

Guinea Pigs at “The Bold Experiment”!

(16) Louisiana State at Notre Dame

September 12, 1981

South Bend, Indiana – Tony Lagratta transferred to Juniata College my senior year to become one of eight rooming together in 201 Flory in the dorm complex know as East Houses. We all got along together fabulously as we all shared common interests—drinking beer, playing sports, watching sports, partying, and harassing one another. That’s all it took. Oh, we went to classes and studied once in a while, too.

Tony was a die-hard Notre Dame fan. Before my graduation in ’79, we made an agreement to plan for a big tailgate party when the Irish were scheduled to play Navy at The Meadowlands in the fall of 1980. With about 60 other Notre Dame fans that came to tailgate in Lot 17B of the Meadowlands on November 1, 1980, Tony brought along his contingent of Notre Dame die-hards. They came to Jersey to join the festivities and stayed at my family’s house in Boonton, NJ, the same town where two years earlier future Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis started his football coaching career.

Missing from among Tony’s entourage that day was one Dane Taylor. Tony’s old classmate from Cumberland, Maryland actually followed his dream to not only matriculate at Notre Dame, but to also serve the program he loved by becoming lead student equipment manager for the Irish during his senior year. In 1977, Tony had the opportunity to attend the Notre Dame-USC game as Dane’s guest when Dan Devine sparked the Irish faithful by suddenly replacing traditional blue home jerseys with new, green, game jerseys before the Irish took the field. The Fighting Irish stomped the hated Trojans, 49-19, on their way to the national championship. Tony particularly cherished a photo of himself grinning in a picture posed among the visiting USC “Song Girls” before the game.

It was not until 1981 that I paid my first visit to the hallowed grounds of the Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne, and Touchdown Jesus at the invitation of Tony and Dane. Several of us met at Tony’s house in Lansdale, Pennsylvania to board our mobile home-away-from-home, and picked up some more guys on the way to South Bend. By mid-morning Friday, we parked in an RV lot on the Notre Dame campus, ready to experience the historical culture of a Notre Dame, football weekend. For our contingent, this Notre Dame game presented the opportunity to witness a much anticipated historical event in the annals of Fighting Irish football. We were in South Bend to help usher in “the Bold Experiment,” the first game ever under new head coach Gerry Faust. Faust, the highly acclaimed high school football coach from Cincinnati’s nationally-known, powerhouse oft times referred to as the “Moeller Steamroller,” came on board to keep the loyal sons marching onward to victory. In his 18 years at the helm of Moeller, his Crusader teams won 174 games and lost only 17. How could such a coaching juggernaut be stopped? He would do no wrong, so it seemed. Despite no collegiate coaching experience, the Notre Dame administration and faithful followers expected Faust to produce the same magical results at the highest level of NCAA football. He was undoubtedly their man, so it seemed.

We visited Notre Dame Stadium, the school library featuring “Touchdown Jesus,” the Golden Dome, the campus bookstore, The Convocation Center, the Chapel, and even some of the dorms where players lived. We walked all over the place. We all looked forward to the traditional Notre Dame pep rally that evening. During one of our forays across the green, well-groomed campus, our group literally crossed paths with none other than the man who would definitely lead Irish football to new heights. Smiling, happy, affable Gerry Faust led his freshman players to some event across campus, but he stopped, shook all our hands and chatted for several minutes. One of the die-hards declared later that it was “like meeting the Pope!”

That chance meeting left me with a memory more enduring than Faust’s eventual, five-year career at Notre Dame. While some of the guys hobnobbed with the new mentor of the Fighting Irish football program, I eyeballed his group of freshman Irishmen. My thought: which, if any of these guys would go on to eventual stardom? It happens in every program. Some guys rise to the top and others will eventually “wash-out” quickly, never to be associated with football lore again. I noted the one freshman closest to me. This “roly-poly” kid, who looked like he never picked up a razor blade before, had this big, quiet, goofy, just happy-to-be-here smile across his face. He didn’t strike me as athletic, but he was a big kid, definitely a lineman. I thought let me find out who this guy is and see if he ever makes anything of himself, or if he just becomes a footnote in the annals of Notre Dame, football history. When I bought the Notre Dame vs. LSU Official Game Program the next day, I perused pictures of the Notre Dame roster to identify him for future reference. Found his picture—“82 Mark Bavaro TE/DL—Freshman.” I made a mental note of it. Could I pick out football talent or what? Not only did Mark Bavaro achieve All-American honors his junior and senior seasons at Notre Dame, he became an All-Pro TE twice with the New York Giants during a 9-year NFL career.

That evening, we stood in the middle of the renowned Notre Dame pep rally with a clear view to the speakers on the stage. For Gerry Faust and me, it was our first. As he spoke, the crowd continuously cheered. I couldn’t hear a word he said, and I doubt anyone else did, or even cared. The Irish fans were pumped up! Whatever Gerry said didn’t matter. He was going to do everything right for Notre Dame. No team could stop the Fighting Irish now, not with Faust! He coached the Gold and Blue and proved his prowess based on a lifetime, high school record of 174-17. Irish eyes envisioned national championship after national championship. Irish eyes have seen Leprechauns with pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, too!

The game against Louisiana State reinforced Irish hopes. An LSU fumble on its first series resulted in a 7-yard Notre Dame TD pass from Blair Kiel to Larry Moriarity. Phil Carter and Tony Hunter followed with one-yard TD runs in the first and second quarters for a 20-0 ND lead at halftime. Tim Koegel threw a six-yarder in the third to Dave Condemi. Both players played for Faust at Moeller. Faust shuffled in 65 players during the course of the game. LSU eventually put up the final six points with 23 seconds remaining. A two-point conversion failed. Despite the late TD by LSU to make the final 27-9, the ND crowd turned up its chants of “Gerry!Gerry!Gerry!”

The partisan crowd cheered the Irish and their 1-0 coach. They believed they had witnessed the beginning of what they anticipated. Fans were thrilled. Players were thrilled. Gerry Faust was thrilled, but not seemingly concerned about 100+ yards in penalties, or numerous turnovers on offense, especially two INTs among Blair Kiel’s six passes. The new coach overlooked these nuances and focused only on the success of his final score over a now 0-2 opponent. Gerry Stovall’s Tigers would end the season 3-7-1. With No. 1 Michigan’s 21-14 upset loss at the hands of Wisconsin that day, all was right for the Irish. They vaulted to No. 1 in all the polls the following Monday. The cheering didn’t last long though.

Extra point: After witnessing the initial success of the “Bold Experiment”, our excited but weary band of tailgaters headed home in our rented, mobile home from that memorable, “historic” weekend. Along Route 80 before we even left Indiana, a loud, deafening roar started from beneath the vehicle followed by a loud explosion! We pulled over to find that a rubber retread let loose from one of the tires. Luckily, we had double axles and four tires on each. Another exploded and let loose in Ohio. It happened again in Pennsylvania. We left remnants of rubber retreads in each state on our way back. Luckily, we made it through our ordeal in one piece. The same could not be said for a formerly, successful, high school coach applying his skill at one of the greatest, traditional powers in college football. Faust and the Fighting Irish lost the very next week to Michigan, and it got worse after that. The Irish finished the season at 5-6. “Oust Faust!” eventually became the cry in South Bend over the next few years, but the administration lived up to its five-year commitment to the beleaguered head coach who was eventually fired in 1985. In retrospect, we were the first witnesses to the “Bold Experimental Failure.” A 30-26-1 record, two minor bowl games, and no national championships were not the intentions Notre Dame bargained for when Gerry Faust signed up. After his team’s win over LSU, the wheels on our “bus” never came off. The same couldn’t be said for Gerry Faust’s career at Notre Dame.

With apologies to LSU fans, there’s not much to dwell on here from the Tigers’ perspective, but I did make it down to Baton Rouge in 2008 for their 34-24 win over Mississippi State. I found the tailgating there is what it’s all cracked up to be. Special thanks to Mike and Carol Barish for inviting me to tailgate with their friends and family at the mobile home called the G&G Express, also affectionately known as “Stinky”.

I met some fantastic fans at the LSU -Mississippi state game at "Old stinky".

I met some fantastic fans at the LSU -Mississippi state game at “Old stinky”.

LSU fans_small

 

 

Collegefootballfan.com announces its 2014-2015 Bowl Schedule

December 27,  New Era Pinstripe Bowl:  New York City,  4:30 pm –  Penn State vs. Boston College

Penn State will rely on its defense to make breaks ups like this one by Jordan Lucas to defeat Boston College

Penn State will rely on its defense to make breaks ups like this one by Jordan Lucas to defeat Boston College

December 30, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Nashville, TN, 3 pm – Notre Dame vs. LSU

We saw the LSU Tigers play  in the Grove last season when they fell to Ole Miss.

We saw the LSU Tigers play in the Grove last season when they fell to Ole Miss.

Note: We saw the Tigers open against he Irish in 1981 when Gerry Faust debuted as the Irish coach. Notre Dame won 27-9 to jump up to No. 1.  A loss a week later to Michigan and it was all downhill from there for Faust and the Irish for five long years.

December 31, Capital One Orange Bowl: Miami Lakes, FL, 8 pm – No. 7 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech

Last season we saw Georgia Tech fall to Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. Now we follow them to Miami to see the other half of the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State.

Last season we saw Georgia Tech fall to Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. Now we follow them to Miami to see the other half of the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State.

January 1, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL, 1 pm – Missouri vs. Minnesota

We saw the SEC East champ Missouri defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks in a 21-20 win at Parent's weekend in Columbia, SC this year.

We saw the SEC East champ Missouri defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks in a 21-20 win at Parent’s weekend in Columbia, SC this year.

January 2, TaxSlayer (Gator)  Bowl: Jacksonville, FL,  3:20 pm – Iowa vs. Tennessee

We saw these two play an exciting game in the 1987 Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands won by the Vols, 23-22.

No. 1 New Hampshire sacks Fordham in FCS second round

New Hampshire's defense recorded nine sacks of Fordham QB Mike Nebrich to shut down a potent Ram passing attack.

New Hampshire’s defense recorded nine sacks of Fordham QB Mike Nebrich to shut down a potent Ram passing attack.

Durham, NH (December 6, 2014) – The No. 1 seeded New Hampshire Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Fordham Rams early in their second round game of the FCS playoff aided by a 51-yard TD run by RB Jimmy Owens (West Deptford, NJ) on their first play from scrimmage, an eight-yard TD run by QB Sean Goldrich on their second possession, and courtesy of six sacks of Ram QB Mike Nebrich (12 for 30, 161 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) by their front seven on the first three Fordham possessions. The Rams climbed back into the game to trail 14-12 in a 91-yard TD burst by Patriot League Rookie of the Year Chase Edmonds (18 carries for 208, 1 TD) sandwiched between two Michael Marando FGs. Four touchdowns later by Wildcat RB Nico Steriti (Toms River, NJ) and three more sacks of Nebrich, UNH moved on convincingly to the quarterfinals with a 44-19 victory. Senior DT Matt Kaplan got credit for 3.5 sacks. In the second period, Steriti (14 carries for 110 yards, 4 TDs) ran it in from the 11 to extend the Cats’ lead, 21-12. Brad Pasky’s 30-yard FG gave UNH a 24-12 halftime lead.

Teddy Owens (32) of UNH) sweeps right for a 51-yard TD on the Cats' first play to get the scoring started.

Teddy Owens (32) of UNH sweeps right for a 51-yard TD on the Cats’ first play to get the scoring started.

Cff.com drove to Rhode Island the night before through steady and hard-driving rain and did more the next morning on the way to Cowell Stadium in Durham, NH. Our “tailgate” was held at the friendly confines of Libby’s Bar on Main Street about three blocks from Cowell on the other side of the New Hampshire campus. The rain subsided around the end of the first quarter and started up early again in the fourth, but it had more effect on my travels as opposed to the game action on the field.

Anatomy of a Chase (Edmonds): he takes the hand off.

Anatomy of a Chase (Edmonds, # 22): he takes the hand off,…

...he burst through the line,...

…he bursts through the line,…

...and the Chase is gone!

…and the Chase is gone!

Steriti scored from the seven twice in the third period. After his first, Nebrich tossed a five -yard TD to WR Brian Wetzel three plays after a fumble recovered at the UNH 12. UNH led 37-19 heading into the final period before Steriti finished the scoring for the day with a 24-yard run. Goldrich completed 22 of 37 attempts for 240 yards. Owens carried only three times for 71 yards and left the game with a leg injury before being seen later along the sideline on crutches.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti had a career high 118 rushing yards and four TDs in the Wildcat FCS playoff victory.

Wildcat RB Nico Steriti had a career high 118 rushing yards and four TDs in the Wildcat FCS playoff victory.

The UNH Wildcats next host No. 8 UT Chattanooga who defeated Indiana State Saturday, 35-14. All the seeded teams won on Saturday except for No. 3 Jacksonville State who fell to Sam Houston State (9-4), 37-26. No. 5 Illinois State (11-1) will visit No. 4 Eastern Washington (11-2) in the upper part of the FCS bracket that includes UNH and UT-C. In the lower half, Villanova got by Liberty, 29-22, and will host Sam Houston. Three-time defending champ North Dakota State defeated South Dakota State in a close one, 27-24. The Bison will next host No. 7 Coastal Carolina (11-1).  If No. 6 Nova and No. 7 Coastal both win next week, we could consider going to the game between the two winners to be hosted by the higher-seeded VU Wildcats on December 19th or 20th.  In the meantime next week, CFF.com heads to Baltimore for the traditional final regular season game of 2014 where Navy (6-5) goes for its 13th straight win over an improved Army team (4-7) under first-year HC Jeff Moncken, former Navy assistant, in the greatest rivalry in all of college football. It will be our 10th game in the series being played for the 115th time. Navy leads the storied series, 58-49-7.

UNH has its defenses ready at Cowell Stadium as it will have home field advantage to get to the FCS championship in Frisco, Texas on January 10.

UNH has its defenses ready at Cowell Stadium as it will have home field advantage to get to the FCS championship in Frisco, Texas on January 10.

Extra points: We attended three Fordham games this season, and each was held at a new venue for us for the first time. The first was at Fordham in The Bronx where they decimated Rhode Island, 57-7. The second was at Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA where they clinched the Patriot League with a 30-27 win in OT and earned their FCS bid. And then there was yesterday’s second round FCS game held in Durham where we’d like to plan some more time checking out the Portsmouth-Durham area.

Charles “Chip” Kelly, current HC of the Philadelphia Eagles, coached as an assistant at UNH from 1994- 2006. For the last seven years there, he was the Wildcat offensive coordinator before heading out west to take over the same position at Oregon where he eventually became HC. From there he moved on to the pros, and quite successfully we may add. From 2004 through 2014, UNH has reached the FCS playoffs. Kelly helped get that started. In 2004, we remember UNH pulling the upset on Rutgers, 35-24, a week after RU beat Michigan State.

Wildcat Winter Wonderland Win! Note the years that UNH competed in the FCS playoffs.

Wildcat Winter Wonderland Win! Note the years that UNH competed in the FCS playoffs.

Collegefootballfan.com Week in Review #13

With this plunge, SEC East champ Missouri defeated Spurrier's Gamecocks in the final minutes of play, 21-20.

With this plunge, SEC East champ Missouri defeated Spurrier’s Gamecocks in the final minutes of play, 21-20.

Last Friday was a pretty significant day for three schools we saw play this year. No. 16 Missouri (10-2, 6-1) defeated Arkansas to win the SEC East and will play Alabama this weekend in Atlanta to see if the east can upset the west. Funny how the worst team in the B1G, Indiana (4-8, 1-7) beat an SEC champ on the road, 31-27. Navy became bowl eligible by beating South Alabama, 42-40, to become eligible and relieve some pressure in their big game on December 13 against Army (4-7) in Baltimore where the Academies will wrap up the regular season for us. South Alabama tied the score with 39 seconds left and went for two on the extra point.   An illegal receiver down field on the first attempt set them back five yards and a holding call resulted in no points to give Navy the win (6-5) and an invitation to the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl on December 23 against a Mountain West team. And then undefeated Marshall lost their first of the season to Western Kentucky, 67-66, in OT as the Hilltoppers’ Brandon Doughty threw his eighth TD pass of the day and then threw for the two in OT to outduel the Thundering Herd (11-1, 7-1) as Rakeem Cato tossed seven TDs. Cato threw TD passes in every game he played in to set the record for most consecutive games for an NCAA record of 44…

WR Deon Tay McManus hauls in a TD pass from Rakeem Cato against Old Dominion.

WR Deon Tay McManus hauls in a TD pass from Rakeem Cato against Old Dominion.

If Baylor wins a solid game against Kansas State this week, I just don’t see why TCU should get the nod over the Horned Frogs for one of the four top positions on December 7. And the thing is I have always liked the TCU program better than Baylor, but when I look at the head to head victory and compare everything else, I have to give the Bears the edge. TCU averages 46.1 ppg and allows 21.9. Baylor averages 49.8 and allows 23.9. The Horned Frogs have a better non-conference win than does Baylor with a 30-7 win over Minnesota. Both had lopsided shut-out wins over SMU (who didn’t?). But if you compare results among the common conference foes, I have to go with Baylor’s work: TCU beat Oklahoma, 37-33, and BU beat the Sooners, 48-14. Baylor suffered a 41-27 setback at West Virginia, but TCU just edged WVU, 31-30; TCU beat lowly Kansas, 34-30 while the Bears manhandled them, 60-14. OK, so the Christians whipped the Red Raiders 82-27 while the Bears got by 48-46. If the Bears can beat KSU by a comparable or better score of 41-20 this weekend, I tell you I don’t see how TCU has a better resume than Baylor especially since they won that crazy 61-58 game. The system still isn’t working if that’s the case…I saw 14 teams play this year that are bowl eligible and another with a conference championship and nine wins and not going to any bowl game! Granted, I saw Georgia Southern (9-3, 8-0) whipped by Navy, 52-19, but two other losses – one point to NC State, a four-point loss to No. 11 Georgia Tech – and an 8-0 sweep of the Sun Belt make the Eagles more deserving than 6-6 South Carolina, 6-6 Old Dominion, 6-6 Penn State, or 7-5 Rutgers from what I saw in person. Because it’s Georgia Southern’s first year in the FBS they’re not eligible, yet three other teams they beat in their conference can go with worse records? Why can’t the NCAA even consider that GSU beat the Florida Gators in the Swamp last year when they were an FCS team? Shouldn’t that count for something? Another BS decision by the NCAA…

The Eagles made it look easy on their first drive as LA Ramsby took it over from the one to open up the scoring.

The Eagles made it look easy on their first drive against Navy, but their lead didn’t last long.

We will be on our way to Durham, NH this Friday night for the 1 pm contest on Saturday between the No. 1 New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1) and the Fordham Rams (11-2), champions of the Patriot League. The Rams beat Sacred Heart, 44-22, in the opening round last week. Mike Nebrich of Fordham started at QB in that game. He completed 29 of 50 passes including four TDs. WR Tebucky Jones caught eight for 139 yards and two TDs and Brian Wetzel snagged eight for 166 yards and two TDs. Fordham’s biggest loss of the year was to the second highest ranked CCAA team, Villanova, seeded No. 6 in the FCS Tourney. Those Wildcats tore apart the Rams, 50-7. We’re hoping not to make a six-hour trek to Durham to see the same. Villanova hosts Liberty (9-4), co-champions of the Big South. Coastal Carolina (11-1), the other co-champ, who fell to Liberty late in the season, 15-14, hosts another CCAA team this weekend, Richmond (9-4). Defending three-time champ North Dakota State (11-1) hosts South Dakota State (9-4). Montana (9-4), a winner over San Diego last week, is coached by former Juniata (The Alma Mater)  HC Rob Ash. His team faces No. 4 seed Eastern Washington on that red, eyesore turf they have out there that I can’t bear to watch! We love this entire 24-team scenario to pick a football national champ, however…

We'll see New Hampshire host Fordham this week as the No. ! seed in the FCS

We’ll see New Hampshire host Fordham this week as the No. 1 seed in the FCS.  We saw the Wildcats in action last year at Lehigh.

Five teams we saw this year are in the latest CFP Top 25 poll. No. 4 Florida State, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 16 Missouri, and No. 19 Auburn. We saw all five win this year…The University of Alabama at Birmingham has decide to terminate its program. Despite it 6-6 season this year, their first bowl eligible year since 2004, they determined they just can’t hack it financially. Maybe they should consider a lower division. I believe the huge financial obstacle for them is another team not too far from them in Tuscaloosa. They just can’t seem to drum up as much interest…Good-bye to Brady Hoke said the University of Michigan. I thought he was the right choice when he was selected based on his winning experience building lesser programs like Ball State and San Diego State. After his first team made it to the Sugar Bowl, it was all downhill from there. Others will be joining Hoke soon and we think someone else will give him a second chance outside the Power Five conferences. There just doesn’t seem that there are a lot of fresh candidates waiting out in the wings…Waiting for someone to give Greg Schiano a shot again though we think nothing of him as a game coach…In D-3 last week, No. 2 Mt. Union and No. 3 Wesley flexed their muscles over Washington and Jefferson and MIT respectively, 67-0, and 59-0. No. 1 Wisconsin Whitewater defeated Wabash, 38-14, but No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor took it on the chin from Linfield of Oregon, 31-28. In 2004, Linfield defeated MH-B, 28-21, in the National Championship game for D-3. As for the defending national champion UWW Warhawks, HC Lance Leipold announced he will leave the program after the season to become HC at the University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference. With a 106-6 record at Whitewater and six national championships, it sounds like the coach was ready to move on to a greater challenge. He certainly did. We wish him the best of luck and have to catch one of his games as he leads the Bulls on a successful path forward… UWW (12-0) will be hosting Wartburg (12-0). Linfield (10-1) will be visiting Widener (12-0). Wesley will be hosting Hobart (12-0), and in a rematch for two teams that played only three weeks ago, No. 2 Mt Union will host 11-1 John Carroll, a conference foe that played them tough in their only loss, 31-24. There are some great D-3 match-ups this weekend on the road to Salem.

Fordham will find New Hampshire much more challenging this week than was Rhode Island, the doormat of the Colonial Athletic, back on September 13.

Fordham will find New Hampshire much more challenging this week than was Rhode Island, the doormat of the Colonial Athletic, back on September 13.

No. 10 Michigan State ends Penn State’s Big Ten misery, 34-10

Sparty rallies his team before the Lions enter the arena.

Sparty rallies his team before the Lions enter the arena.

State College, PA (November 29) – After the announced Penn State crowd of 99,902 paid tribute to 17 seniors who stayed true to dear Old White and Blue through the leanest years of extreme sanctions they had to pay due to the Jerry Sandusky crimes that laid waste to the venerable program, No. 10 Michigan State’s R.J Shelton grabbed the opening kickoff and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to take a super-quick 7-0 lead. The Spartans never looked back as it rolled to a 34-10 win over a Nittany Lion team (6-6, 2-6) that has a lot of improving to do to cut the bindings that holds it back from reaching the heights of the former program it once was. First-year HC James Franklin has to forgo the talk now and do some creative coaching, effective recruiting, and toughness developing to bring this program back to where it needs to be. Sorry to say it’s not going to happen any time soon based on what CFF.com saw at the game on Saturday. The Spartans (10-2, 7-1) in the meantime have become formidable under fifth-year HC Marc D’Antoni and may end up as one of eight teams that will compete in a CFP bowl or at least a significant New Year’s Day game. CFF.com may see them in one of the bowl games we’ve planned to attend at the end of the year. As for Penn State, the feeble loss, one of several this year, and the upset of Rutgers over Maryland, may just knock them to the bottom of the list of B1G schools in the bowl game pecking order. Six of their last seven conference games resulting in losses show them going out with a whimper instead of a bang. Will the Blue and White faithful follow them to wherever they may possibly end up in the post-season? Even more questionable, is this team capable of even giving their fans a better effort than what they’ve shown them during the last half of the 2014 season? It’s hard for us to imagine after watching some of the worst offensive line play we’ve ever seen, non-confident quarterbacking, and questionable play-calling from the sideline. There is definitely a lack of chemistry as has been witnessed all season on the offensive side of the football. If not for a pretty good defense with their backs to the wall on numerous occasions, the Spartans could have won by a lot more.

The Lions entered the Stadium hoping to send their seniors out on a high note.

The Lions entered the Stadium hoping to send their seniors out on a high note.

Penn State’s reply to the opening Spartan score was 50-yard FG that failed. MSU’s Michael Geiger converted FGs of 36 and 39 yards on their next two possessions before the first period ended for a 13-0 lead. In the second, PSU twice crossed the 50 but never got in range for a field goal attempt. PSU frosh P Dan Pasquariello effectively placed his punts on the two and on the 11 on consecutive possessions, and the Lion defense held before the O took possession again on the MSU 40. Sam Fincken put points on the board for the home team with a 41-yard FG. The defense gave the Lions great field position again as quick handed DT Anthony Zettel picked off a tipped pass to put the Lions at the Spartan 36 with 43 seconds left in the half. With the time remaining for a score, even a FG would have given the Nittany Lions some momentum going into the second half. Instead of putting a together a semblance of plays to take advantage of the turnover, the call was made for Hackenberg (21 for 45, 196 yards and one INT) struggling with his accuracy to throw the ball on second and ten into the end zone. He forced his pass into tight coverage that was bobbled and DB Trae Waynes took the ball away for a wasted opportunity. With weak run blocking and an unimaginative passing game, the Lions just seemed to give away a chance to come up with any points. Without some timely PSU defense, the Lions would not have remained within striking distance down at the half, 13-3. With an offensive line that could neither run nor pass block (three sacks on the day) the Lions found point production difficult.

Spartan pressure caused Hackenberg to overthrow on this pass to an open receiver.

Spartan pressure caused Hackenberg to overthrow on this pass to an open receiver.

GGA Steve Ciesla and I talked a lot about PSU on the way up to the game that morning. Successful offensive football teams seem to build their offenses around strong offensive line. Look at recent NFL drafts. Linemen are key first round selections followed by QBs and defensive backs. A few receivers will enter into the early rounds and RBs seem to have fallen into the “dime a dozen” category. Granted the Lions faced sanctions and lost some key players, but previous HC Bill O’Brien seemed to leave the offensive line cupboard bear and when James Franklin came in, he seemed focused mostly skill position players. With this line and a lack of depth coming back, it will seem difficult to recruit immediate upfront talent that is going to step in effectively next season. This current line lacks firepower, strength, chemistry, and quickness as well as some good old toughness and a little nastiness to control the line of scrimmage. How they are going to improve this year and next is going to be a major question. Line coach Herb Hand had supposedly done an outstanding job of building an offensive line at his previous stop at Vanderbilt under James Franklin, but to be honest, we saw last spring that improvement there needed to take place. Since the beginning of this season, this group has regressed. Some PSU fans say they need to go to a bowl game to get this group some more practice. I don’t see any significant improvement since last spring, so I’m not sure what three weeks in December is going to do to turn things around. Maybe PSU will go the JUCO route for a short-term fit if it can. I’m not sure they ever recruited from JUCOs before, but I just don’t see several freshmen coming in at once to make line improvements so quickly. Without bringing in some new talent ready to step in or improving block skills or strength or toughness among the bodies returning, I’m not sure how this squad is going to turn things around a year from now. Something’s got to change. I think many Nittany Lion fans thought this would be the toughest year of the sanctions with incentives for upcoming recruit to get the program back into the national championship conversations, but without a strong core of offensive linemen, it might take a while to regain such desired stature. We will be monitoring the off season movement closely.

PSU CB Jordan Lucas broke up this pass to eventually force a Spartan FG.

PSU CB Jordan Lucas broke up this pass to eventually force a Spartan FG.

Penn State punted after a three and out doing nothing to negate the deferral that led to MSU’s opening kickoff return. Michigan State got the offense into gear right away and drove 63 yards culminating in a three-yard TD run by TB Jeremey Langford (30 carries for 122 yards and two TDs). DE Marcus Rush sacked Hackenberg on the first play of PSU’s next possession resulting in a recovery at the PSU 18. QB Connor Cook (13 for 25, 180 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD) found WR Tony Lippett in the end zone with a 10-yard scoring pass to put the Spartans in control, 27-3. Hackenberg finally developed some rhythm with his receiving corps completing five passes with three different receivers on a drive starting for the 21. Akeel Lynch crossed the goal line from the three to now trail, 27-10.

Michigan State’s next drive resulted in a 44-yard FG attempt that failed. PSU could do nothing and Pasquariello’s rugby-style punt put Sparty on his three. Their subsequent punt from their 30 gave the Lions the ball at their 20. The Lions got as far as the 30 until incompletions and two consecutive holding calls (one declined) put them back on their 20 where the offense turned the ball over on downs. With great field position, MSU opened the holes like Penn State couldn’t and Langford took it in for a six-yard scoring play for a 34-10 lead with 2:14 left, and the game was history. With the opening kickoff, a fumble by Hackenberg on his 18, and a turnover on downs at the 20, the Spartans took advantage to tally 21 points. On the day, the stout PSU defense only allowed 298 total yards against an offense that averaged 514 yards per game. No consolation of course, but a defense leading the nation in rushing defense with a 6-6 record can only be such when its offense cannot keep them off the field longer and cannot put enough points on the scoreboard. Hackenberg was sacked over 40 times this season , hurried consistently, and threw 15 INTs on the season. Under Bill O’Brien, an experienced QB coach, he flourished. Under Franklin, who clearly has sites on changing the PSU offense, he’s done the program no favors this season. Sometimes a coach has to adapt to the talent he has to win rather than trying to figure how to put a square peg in a round hole. If the chemistry wasn’t in place this hear, I’m not sure how it’s going to work next year. If the offensive line shows no significant improvement next season, it won’t make much difference what offensive system is run.

The media says that the Lions will have a meeting on Sunday while they await a bowl invitation. They may be waiting longer than they think. They may be waiting beyond 2015. Michigan State’s bowl prospects hinge on the outcome of next week’s Big Ten Championship game between Ohio State (11-1, 8-0) and Wisconsin (10-2, 7-1). If OSU can win and the CFP committee looks favorably upon them despite the loss of QB JT Barrett lost to injury, they could possibly enter the Final Four. But if they lose to the Badgers or the committee selects four teams ahead of them, the Buckeye decline will determine if the Spartans are considered among the twelve CFP teams to play in the six major Bowls. If not, they could end up in the BWW Citrus Bowl or the Outback Bowl against an SEC opponent on New Year’s Day. As for Collegefootballfan.com, we know our next game is an FCS playoff game. We will take our first trip to Durham, NH where we will see the top team in that division, the New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1) host Patriot League Champ Fordham (11-2) on Saturday at 1 pm in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Extra points: PSU Senior LB Mike Hull had 13 stops for the Lions. He kept the “Linebacker” in Linebacker U this season.

With snow covered parking areas due to a big snowstorm on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we parked at nearby State College HS where we tailgated and took a shuttle bus to Beaver Stadium.   GGA Steve Ciesla did the driving as I was radio man on the way home keeping us in touch on various radio stations on AM and FM to keep up with all the scores on rivalry weekend. All my predictions on this week’s preview came up as I had called – ACC 4-0 versus SEC, Mississippi over Mississippi State, and Auburn seemed to be in control of Alabama. Of course, that changed when we got home to see the last quarter on TV.

Collegefootballfan.com Week in Review # 12

Congrats to Harvard (10-0, 7-0) who won the Ivy League outright with their 31-24 win over dreaded rival Yale (8-2, 5-2) in The Game. As much as we’d like to see how the Ivy champs would perform against other teams in the FCS playoffs, the more we see the crap going on in the FBS to determine a champion, maybe the Ivies have it right. Play all your seven conference foes and three teams of comparable talent outside, play ten straight weeks, build up your rivalries, play your ten games, and come out with one champion or possibly co-champs. Season over. It’s a pretty simple model without all the FBS BS …Last week, we saw Lafayette College RB Ross Scheuerman rush for 304 yards and three TDs against arch-rival Lehigh in their historic 150th meeting played at Yankee Stadium. For his accomplishments in the 27-7 Lafayette Leopard win, Scheuerman was named Sports Network Offensive Player of the Week and Patriot League Player of the Week. His 304 rushing yards were the most by an FCS running back in a game this season. He also had 57 receiving yards…

Lafayette FB Dan Dellovade picks up big yards on a pass reception against Lehigh.

Lafayette FB Dan Dellovade picks up big yards on a pass reception against Lehigh.

QB Ward Udinski of Juniata (5-5), the Alma Mater, whom we saw play in a loss a few weeks ago against Moravian, was named Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year…To heck with all the politically correct answers regarding the outcomes of this weekend’s FBS games. Here is what will happen in the FBS that will impact the selection committee two weeks from now when it counts on December 7 (by the way, did you notice ESPN has a show now breaking down the top teams in NCAA basketball ? Who cares!? Wait until March! We never needed this before): Auburn can beat Alabama. We think Bama’s offense is over-rated and that Nick Marshall and company can go toe to toe with anybody. What decent team has Bama played this season that they overwhelmed? And don’t tell us Texas A&M. We said “decent team”. Georgia Tech has only defeated Georgia once since 2000. There have been some close ones over the years including last season’s 41-34 loss. The Yellow Jackets have QB Justin Thomas who runs Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense better than previous QBs such as Vad Lewis. With a 9-2 record and Thomas running the triple option to the tune of 827 yards on the ground for five TDs and 1,356 yards through the air with 15 TDs and only four INTs, this is Tech’s year to beat the Dawgs. Knock off Georgia and Alabama along with Mississippi State’s loss at Oxford this upcoming weekend and the SEC Championship game becomes a moot game regarding the national championship. Every SEC team will have two or more losses. If Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor (or TCU) win outright for the balance of their seasons and win their conferences, you have your 2014 Football Four. On New Year’s Day, No. 1 Oregon will face No. 4 Baylor in the Rose Bowl, and No. 2 Florida State will play No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. You heard it here first before all the ESPN guys put their spin on the outcome on December 7…

Auburn QB Nick Marshall will give Alabama fits this Saturday.

Auburn QB Nick Marshall will give Alabama fits this Saturday.

This weekend we see Penn State (6-5, 2-5) hosting No. 10 CFP Michigan State (9-2, 6-1). Due to a scheduling snafu on our part, it’s the latest home game we’ll ever attend in State College in 35 years. PSU’s offensive line has struggled all season long and we don’t see a significant chance for them to win, but in the past, generally the Nittany Lions get fired up for Senior Day. Two years ago we saw them pull off the upset against Wisconsin, but they had an effective offensive line in 2012. Their strength is on defense, and we look forward to seeing LB Mike Hull, seventh in the nation in tackles with 121 leading the defensive charge with 16 fellow seniors to give a great effort for their regular season finale. We expect to see PSU on December 27 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Boston College. No way will it be against Louisville as ESPN predicts. The Yankees want to sell tickets to Yankee fans in the northeast. That’s all this bowl is all about…

We predict Penn State will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl instead of Big Ten Newcomer Rutgers who played there a year ago.

We predict Penn State will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl instead of Big Ten Newcomer Rutgers who played there a year ago.

The Road to Frisco, as the 24-team FCS tournament is nicknamed, kicks off this Saturday. FCS teams seeded 9-24 will play for the privilege to play the second round against the top eight teams in the division. The champs will meet in Frisco, Texas on January 10 for the FCS 2014 title. We’ll have an eye on the game this Saturday between Sacred Heart of Connecticut (9-2, 5-1), champs of the Northeast Conference, visiting Patriot League Champ Fordham (10-2, 6-0) whom we saw win games this year against Rhode Island and Bucknell.   They fell last Saturday to Army (4-7), 42-31. Fordham goes into the tourney with QB Mike Nebrich recognized as the PL’s Offensive Player of the Year and RB Chase Edmonds as the conference’s Rookie of the Year. We’ll give the Rams the edge over Sacred Heart. The following week, we plan to see the winner of this game head up to Durham, NH to see them face the No.1 overall FCS seed, the New Hampshire Wildcats (11-1). We had no games during 2014 up in New England, so we look forward to that and to our first trip ever to see a game at Durham. Three-time defending FCS champ North Dakota State (11-1, 8-1) finished as the second seed nationally. If UNH survives the second round and then the following week when we’ll be in Baltimore for the Army-Navy Game, we may head back up to Durham on December 20 for the semi-final game on the way to Frisco. We’ll see what happens. Among other games of interest to us is No. 6 Villanova (10-2, 7-1) of the Colonial Athletic waiting in the wings for a game against the winner of Liberty (8-4, 4-1), champs of the Big South, and James Madison (9-3, 6-2) also of the Colonial. North Dakota State waits for the winner of Montana State and South Dakota State…

Which QB will lead Fordham into the playoffs? Pet Maetzold who we saw  start in the win at Bucknell, or Mike Nebrich who won Patriot League Player of the Year honors?

Which QB will lead Fordham into the playoffs? Pet Maetzold who we saw start in the win at Bucknell, or Mike Nebrich who won Patriot League Player of the Year honors?

On Friday, Navy (5-5) visits South Alabama (6-5) in Mobile, Alabama at 3 pm EST to go after its sixth win to become Bowl eligible to head out to the Poinsettia Bowl on December 23 against a Mountain West Conference team. We’re thinking 9-3 Utah State for an interesting test for both squads. Last season, the Mids beat USA at home, 42-13. Of course Army (4-7), somewhat improved under Jeff Moncken offensively, will be fired up for the meeting on December 13 in Baltimore. If the Georgia Southern game we attended was any indication (a 52-19 USNA win), the Mids know how to defend against their own triple-option offense. GSU handled USA earlier this season, 28-6. Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo will be going for his 55th career win this weekend as Navy’s HC to tie all-time Academy leader George Welsh. We think the current HC will be there a lot longer to shatter this Navy coaching standard. Go Navy!…

Navy looks to beat South Alabama for bowl eligibility before playing Army for the game that means the most to both teams to close out the 2014 regular season for FBS football.

Navy looks to beat South Alabama for bowl eligibility before playing Army for the game that means the most to both teams to close out the 2014 regular season for FBS football.

We haven’t paid much attention to D2 this season since we didn’t attend any games. Their tourney opened last weekend and the top seeds will be entering action in the second round this weekend. West Chester State (11-1) of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference defeated fellow conference foe, Slippery Rock, 46-20. They next face the East’s No. 1 seed Concord of West Virginia. No. 2 East seed Bloomsburg (11-0), champs of the PSAC, hosts Virginia State. We’ll see if any of these teams can break a stretch they haven’t overcome in a long time to win over teams from the other regions…Interesting stuff from the last week’s opening round in D3 where all 32 teams play in the first round. Three of the top four seeds crushed their opponents. Wisconsin Whitewater defeated Macalester, 55-2; Mount Union defeated Adrian, 63-3; and Wesley belted Hampden Sydney, 52-7. Mary Hardin-Baylor, in a game delayed into Sunday because of lightning storms on Saturday, beat Texas Lutheran by the close score of 27-20. For TLU (9-2), they must have made significant improvements during the season. Their first loss during the regular season was to MH-B by a score of 72-16. The MH-B Crusaders, known as “The Cru”, faces a tough foe next when Linfield of Oregon comes to Seguin, Texas. MIT won its first playoff game ever over Husson of Maine in overtime, 27-20. They will travel to No. 4 Wesley in Delaware next. In a game between two Pennsylvania schools, No. 10 Widener defeated No. 22 Muhlenberg, 36-35, with a 32-yard FG with only 10 seconds remaining.  Another Pennsylvania team, Delaware Valley, blew a 19-point lead and fell to Christopher Newport of Virginia on a 38-yard FG as time expired. CNU will travel to Widener this weekend to meet The Pride in the second round… After the Pinstripe Bowl, we’re heading to Nashville and then three cities in Florida for our bowl season. Here are ESPN’s projections about who will play, and then we will tell you who we think we’ll see and why. We’ll see who’s right: for the Music City, ESPN selected Tennessee and Louisville. UT is a home favorite, but we think this bowl will go for a better draw, and get LSU to play Louisville. It’s centrally located for both, the teams will have comparable records, and it will draw out of towners who love country music. Tennesseans can see the Vols anytime. At best, it’s a short drive and a trip home right after the game. The Music City would love to have an SEC West team in town and Cajuns love the Nashville scene; ESPN has the Capital One Orange Bowl with Georgia vs Georgia Tech. That makes no sense because they play each other this weekend. Bo-ring! After the SEC doesn’t get a bid to the Football Four, Mississippi State will get one of the CFP Bowls and at 10-2 this will make the most sense (Alabama will play Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Peach). Michigan State will beat PSU this weekend to finish 10-2. MSU fans in the Midwest will fly or head down I-75 for warmer climes for a Thursday night game to spend the New Year’s weekend; for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, ESPN selects Ole Miss versus Wisconsin. We agree. Great match-up! ; Taxslayer they picked Florida and Nebraska. We don’t think the Big Ten will send the Huskers there. We see the Gators renewing an old rivalry against Miami. SEC vs. ACC. We think this will stir some interest in Florida where these two teams have been ignoring one another for years now…Our other two College Football Playoff Bowl projections: UCLA and TCU will play in the Fiesta Bowl and Boise State will meet Arizona State in the Cotton Bowl…Happy Thanksgiving!!! Enjoy your turkey and your football. Hey this Saturday, come back here before 10:30 am to link on to our interview with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1130 am, Watertown, NY.

11-0 Marshall finally got recognized in the CFP poll this week. Can they beat out Boise State for the 12th bid for a CFP bowl bid?

11-0 Marshall finally got recognized in the CFP poll this week. Can they beat out Boise State for the 12th bid for a CFP bowl bid?

Lafayette levels Lehigh in historic 150th meeting

The historic 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh was played at historic Yankee Stadium.

The historic 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh was played at historic Yankee Stadium.

The Bronx, NY (November 22) – In front of an announced crowd of 48,256 at Yankee Stadium, the Lafayette Leopards (5-6, 3-3) defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (3-8, 2-4), 27-7,  in the 150th game played between the two FCS, Patriot League schools, the most-played rivalry in college football. Senior Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman (Allentown, NJ), pronounced “Sherman”, led the Leopards offense with a career high of 304 rushing yards and scored the game’s first three touchdowns. The final score does not indicate the total dominance of Lafayette in this historic contest. The rivalry started in Easton, Pennsylvania, home of Lafayette, in 1884. The two schools met one another at least twice from 1884-1901 including three times in 1891, but skipped playing in 1896 due to a contested player’s ineligibility dispute. Lafayette now leads the series, 78-67-5. For Collegefootballfan.com, this was the fifth time we were able to attend this rivalry, and it was the first time the Leopards came out on top. For Lafayette, it was their second win in a row over their long-time and nearby neighbor situated about 15 miles to their west in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Our first Lehigh-Lafayette game was won by QB Phil Stambaugh and the "Engineers" over Lafayette in 1999, 14-12.

Our first Lehigh-Lafayette game was won by QB Phil Stambaugh, pictured here on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard,  and the “Engineers” over Lafayette in 1999, 14-12.

Lafayette went to work on its second possession starting from its seven-yard line. A 27-yard pass to Scheuerman out of the backfield (3 catches for 54 yards) from QB Zach Zweizig who started for the first time since September 2013, put LC at the LU one. From there, Scheuerman took it over for a 7-0 lead.

Early in the second period on the Leopards next series following a Mountain Hawk punt, a 28-yard pass from Zweizig (13 of 23 passes, 166 yards, 1 TD) to WR Justin Adams (West Amwell, NJ; Notre Dame HS) put the ball once again at the Lehigh one, and once again Scheuerman finished his team’s business with a one-yard run to lead, 14-0. Another Lehigh punt put Lafayette deep in their territory at the 13. Scheuerman carried for eight on the first play, and on the second he raced 79 yards for a TD and a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:43 left in the half, and that’s how it ended before the teams left the faded green playing surface to make way for a halftime celebration.

Lafayette's Justin Adams makes a grab to set up Ross Scheuerman's second one-yard TD run of the game.

Lafayette’s Justin Adams hauls in a pass to set up Ross Scheuerman’s second one-yard TD run of the game.

Guest Game Analysts Bob “Polecat” Marcello, Stash Greshko, and Charlie “Pitcher” Roberts (Lehigh class of ’81), Yankee fans all, were pleased to find out I had reserved a parking space at a garage on 162nd Street just around the corner from a favorite Yankee fan hangout, The Dugout. It was packed with Lafayette and Lehigh fans since tailgating around the neighborhood isn’t convenient. For four dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons, it was a perfect pregame meeting place right across the street from the first base side of the stadium. We sat in the upper deck in Section 416. Sitting in the upper deck probably provides the best line of site looking out to centerfield of the ball park as the football playing field goes from end zone to end zone from home plate to dead center. We’ll be sitting in the left field corner on the end zone when we head back for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 27 (our prediction – Penn State vs. Boston College). Lehigh’s Marching 97 and Lafayette’s pep band, combined with their dance teams and glee clubs, entertained together for the halftime festivities. Scoreboard videos and PA announcements celebrated the success of alumni from both schools from original founders of IBM to inventors of cortisone to researchers battling Ebola to Joe Maddon, newly named manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lafayette class of ’76. Speaking of pinstripes, the Mountain Hawks in visiting white jerseys had brown pinstripes adorned to commemorate the tradition of the team whose field they were playing on. It was a great celebration for the two long-time rivals, but as usual, CSTV prolonged the game and ruined the flow with excessive TV time-outs to assure the network’s air time was utilized until 7 pm. Lehigh grad Roberts claimed afterward it was a good time – except for the final score. Charlie had attended the last three Lehigh victories over Lafayette with me. First half stats revealed total dominance by the Leopards with 333 yards in total offense compared to the Hawks’ 57. Surprisingly, the dominance wasn’t more substantiated by the score. Neither team had committed a turnover up to this point in the game.

Lafayette and Lehigh bands, dance teams, and choirs pay tribute to their hosts to finish halftime with their rendition of "New York, New York."

Lafayette and Lehigh bands, dance teams, and choirs pay tribute to their hosts to finish halftime with their rendition of “New York, New York.”

The two teams traded punts until 2:36 remained in the third before Lehigh Freshman RB Chris Leigh swept around left end and down the sideline for a 70-yard TD run to cut the Lafayette lead, 21-7. As dominant as the Leopards had been in the first half, the Mountain Hawks were still within striking distance if they could build on the long run that brought them some short-term momentum.

In the fourth, a Lafayette FG attempt was blocked. Lehigh’s subsequent drive was followed by Austin Devine’s 53-yard punt that bounced perfectly sideways to stop on the one-yard line. Devine (Oradell, NJ; Bergen Catholic) averaged 40.8 yards on eight punts and put three inside the Lafayette 20 or got the Hawks deep out of their own territory to impress all day. After a three and out for Lafayette deep in their own territory, Lehigh still had hope and some momentum from their defense to come back starting on their own 46. After a short drive, a loss of three by QB Nick Shafnisky (8 of 19 passes for 81 yards and an INT) gave Lehigh its last gasp chance for a potential comeback on a fourth and nine at the 25, but a sack by frosh LB Brandon Bryant (Cherry Hill, NJ) snuffed it with 7:35 left. Runs by Scheuerman got Lafayette down to the Lehigh 12, but a holding call set Lafayette back 15 yards. On fourth and 21 at the 23, HC Frank Tavani decided to forgo a FG attempt. A swing pass right to WR Matt Mrazek was caught in the flat and he raced the entire distance for a 23-yard score to extend the Leopard lead. The PAT failed and MLB Mark Dodd intercepted Shafnisky’s last pass to assure the Leopards the win in the 150th game in the most-played rivalry in college football, 27-7.

Lehigh blocks Ryan Gralish's FG attempt.

Lehigh blocks Ryan Gralish’s FG attempt.

Neither team will participate in the post-season. They’re done. College football’s regular season goes so fast! Scheuerman undoubtedly took home the MVP award. His 304 totals rushing yards on the day were the most in an FCS game this season. The Leopards took home another piece of hardware to mark the victory in the 150th game of this historic rivalry. We look forward as always to check out both schools’ schedules for next season since they are both within easy driving distance for Collegefootballfan.com. Both seem to have some promising young players, and Lehigh is in a rebuilding mode. Its complex at Goodman Stadium is one of our favorite FCS venues to watch a game. Maybe when the two meet for their 151st game next year at Goodman, we can consider celebrating our 500th game since 1979. It’s definitely a game and venue to consider. Next Saturday, CFF.com will travel to take our first and only trip to State College this season (a rarity) to see Penn State (6-5, 2-5) host No. 11 CFP team Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) in the Big Ten regular season finales for both. Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and fans!

MVP RB Ross Scheuerman takes a hand off deep in Lafayette territory to get the Leopards some breathing room.

MVP RB Ross Scheuerman (29) takes a hand off deep in Lafayette territory to get the Leopards some breathing room.