Steveo’s Salvos – September 30, 2015

Last week, teams on our schedule this year won 13 and lost 5.  Five did not play. We decided to drop our Nov. 7 game plan to see either Lafayette or Lehigh based on who had the more competitive game that day against Colgate or Holy Cross respectively. Both teams are looking feeble thus far as are their guests. Lehigh is 2-2 while the other three are 1-3 and going nowhere. Fordham (3-1) looks like the cream of the Patriot League this year. The last two Saturdays, Princeton defeated Lafayette, 40-7, and Lehigh, 52-26. Neither team is going anywhere. We may decide to go to a D-3 game that could feature two undefeated teams vying for a conference championship and an automatic playoff if we see Franklin and Marshall at Johns Hopkins. New venue and more competitive contest than other higher division games we’re contemplating…

Since Lafayette and Lehigh have already stumbled this season, we don't have any plans to see them this year. Last year we saw them play the 150th game against one another at Yankee Stadium.

Since Lafayette and Lehigh have both already taken too many tumbles this season, we cancelled plans to see them this year. Last year we saw them play the 150th game against one another at Yankee Stadium.

This week’s game is under the duress of Hurricane Joachim crawling up the east coast. We’re keeping a close eye on it. This would be a huge disappointment to miss as it’s our only weekend planned in Annapolis which we love to go to every year. Besides, it’s undefeated Navy (3-0) hosting archrival Air Force (2-1). Don’t think this game means anything to these schools? In preseason practice interviews, Navy co-captains NT Bernard Sarra and QB Keenan Reynolds were asked by pundits if the new membership in the American Athletic Conference meant that their priority now was winning the conference. Both, interviewed separately, answered that the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy was still their team’s top priority. Supremacy over the other two academies still takes precedence for Navy, Air Force, and Army. Not only will it be a great game, but Keenan Reynolds has already scored nine TDS in the first three games. That brings him to a total of 422 career points, 78 short of Wisconsin RB Montee Ball’s all-time record of 500. He’s still got nine regular season games ahead of him and possibly two more with a conference championship game and a bowl game. Maybe Navy can send some ships to sea to escort Joachim away from the east coast this weekend…

Junior Toneo Gulley (22) returns among a stable of slotbacks in Navy's offense this year.

Junior Toneo Gulley (22) returns among a stable of Slotbacks playing for Navy’s offense this year.

Just when we thought pollsters were waking up to reality, they fooled us again. When will they learn? Auburn drops out of the polls with an overtime win over FCS Jacksonville State, a loss to LSU, and a loss of confidence in their QB Jeremy Johnson who was all their rage before the season. He got benched against Mississippi State. State had been bounced the previous week from the Top 25. A loss to LSU and a waste of a blowout against FCS Northwestern State dropped them. So they beat Auburn 17-9. Not only do they climb back in, but they leap past teams with more impressive resumes like Michigan, Cal, and yes, even SEC foe Florida. This week they play No. 14 Texas A&M. They win and they both stay in. They lose, who knows what the pollsters will do? This SEC love affair is sickening. Half of the teams in the American Athletic Conference already have more impressive wins than MSU does, and they are only in the “also receiving votes” category. That may change soon… Last week, Rutgers defeated Kansas at home in what many considered a game between the two worst teams among the Power Five conferences. Luckily for RU, it was home game as KU continued on a 32-game road losing streak. Unluckily for Rutgers that now has seven players suspended for various criminal activities, their upcoming schedule looks like this starting on October 10: No. 2 Michigan State, at Indiana (4-0 now and facing reality this week against Ohio State), No. 1 Ohio State, at No. 19 Wisconsin, at No. 22 Michigan, at Nebraska. Talk about losing streaks…Then they meet in our Game 500 against Army at West Point. Army (1-3) won last Saturday at Eastern Michigan, 58-36. The Black Knight defense was playing better up until this one. By the time Rutgers shows up, they could be slightly dinged up coming into Michie Stadium. The Black Knights with their triple option may be more formidable than RU thinks. They rushed for 566 yards and seven TDS against the Eagles (1-3)…We decided to keep our DH Saturday of October 10 intact. In a noon start, we will see Army host Duke who had a key win over Georgia Tech last week, 38-22. The Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0) face Boston College this weekend and could take a second significant step to challenge for the Coastal Division title. QB Thomas Sirk mixes up the run and pass well. After this game is over, we head down to Jersey on I-287 expecting to see No. 2 Sparty thrash around Rutgers…

Army practiced hand-to-hand combat in their spring game to get ready for the likes of Duke, Rutgers, andNavy, who we will see them all play this season.

Army practiced hand-to-hand combat in their spring game to get ready for the likes of Duke, Rutgers, and Navy, who we will see them all play this season.

The alma mater, Juniata College, faltered this last week to 1-3,0-3 with a 24-7 loss to Franklin and Marshall. Next up for them is D-3 No. 10 Johns Hopkins averaging 52 points per game. It made us note both F&M and JHU are undefeated and could be on a collision course for the Centennial Conference Championship. The game is at Hopkins which we hear has top rate facilities based on funding from its D-1 Lacrosse program…My move to get Ohio State at Michigan tickets this year looks better than I thought. Jim Harbaugh’s got the Wolverines at 3-1 with a 31-0 win over BYU who was ranked last week. He’s got them playing nasty again. That’s going to be some game at Ann Arbor. I picked the right year for that rivalry! Kicking around USC vs. UCLA next year…Charlotte and Old Dominion both are coming down to earth now at 2-2. We see them play in Norfolk on October 17. We see that Appalachian State whipped ODU, 49-0. What scares us is that we saw Appy beat Georgia State a year ago, 44-0. We thought the Monarchs would be much better than GSU this year. GSU fell to the 49ers, 23-20. The lost to Middle Tennessee, 73-14! As we suspect, there will be lot of points scored by these two teams when we see them play at Foreman Field. We go with the primary intention as adding Charlotte as our 129th team to maintain our goal “to see ’em all!”…Notre Dame (4-0) stomped struggling UMass last week, 62-27. Now the Irish visit 4-0 Clemson in what some people consider a playoff game into the CFP. Even if the Irish win, they have Navy and USC after the Tigers, but we look forward to October 31 now as we plan to see the Irish visit Temple in The Linc in Philly where both teams could be undefeated. TU only beat UMass by two points two weeks ago. After a bye last week, it was probably a good time to have off to reflect on where they are now. Their schedule leading up to the Irish is not as formidable starting at Charlotte, Tulane, UCF, and then at ECU. The game in Philly is already close to sold out. Temple fans showed up faithfully for their win over Penn State. It should be raucous if both show up undefeated…


ND’s defense suffered many injuries prior to last season’s Music City Bowl victory, but they are healthier and better this season to take on Clemson this weekend.

No one in the AAC is ranked yet, but among Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Temple, we might see one of these challenging for that non-Power Five team in the CFP this year. Also, look for some of their head coaches to become hot items when Power Five schools are looking to replace their fired Head Coaches at the end of this season –particularly Justin Fuente of Memphis and Tom Herman of Houston…Colorado (3-1) defeated Colorado State to finish 3-1 in very weak non-conference games. Now the fun begins before we see them host USC on November 13. Picked to finish last in the PAC 12 South, they next play Oregon, at Arizona State, Arizona, at Oregon State, at UCLA, and Stanford. I say there are a few upsets in that mix…Other scores of note: after a 17-10 loss to Ohio State, Northern Illinois fell at Boston College, 17-14. NIU is no slouch when it comes to competing with Power Five teams. QB Troy Flutie threw a TD pass for BC…Buffalo is 2-2 after a loss to Nevada. John Massimilla saw the Bulls loss to Penn State, 27-10. He said to me last week, “Watch out for Buffalo.” We said this from the beginning. New HC Lance Leipold looks like he will do wonders there after winning six D3 championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He’s hardly had a chance to recruit yet. Success this season will prove he can coach. Next up for the Bulls is 2-2 Bowling Green. The two wins came over Big Ten Bottom feeders Maryland, 48-27, and Purdue, 35-28. We think Leipold will eventually find a home in the Big Ten and do great things…East Carolina had a big non–con win for the AAC beating Virginia Tech for the second year in a row, 35-28…Central Florida is struggling at 0-4 including one-point losses to Florida International and to FCS Furman. George O’Leary’s squad has nothing but AAC games left including Temple, Houston, Cincinnati, and ECU…In D3, No. 2 Mt. Union marinated Marietta, 61-0 while UW Whitewater got by D-2 NAIA Morningside, 33-30. The Mustangs of Sioux City, Iowa were 3-0 with an average score of 70-9 coming in before it fell to the defending D-3 national champ. They were selected as the preseason Top NAIA team by The Sporting News. Wesley College in Delaware ,now of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, defeated North Central of Illinois in a battle of perennial Top 25 teams (64-6 in ten years 10 conference play), 50-49. On the opposite end of the spectrum, two other new schools in the NJAC met, Salisbury State thrashed Southern Virginia, 91-3. It just doesn’t seem right. Craig Bohl is taking his lumps in his second year at Wyoming after three straight FCS championships at North Dakota State. New Mexico beat his Cowboys, 38-28, to fall to 0-4… In the FCS, our plans to see Villanova or New Hampshire in this year’s playoffs look sketchy. Both are unexpectedly 2-2. Last week, Nova was beaten for the first time in 14 tries by the Penn Quakers, 24-13. The Wildcats got stoned at Stony Brook by the Seawolves, 31-6. The good news though is that the James Madison Dukes look to sit atop the Colonial Athletic Conference. If we attend the D-3 Championship on Friday night, December 18 in Salem, VA, we may be able to see the Dukes play in a semi-final the next day in Harrisonburg right up I-81…Who’ll stop the rain, Joachim? Blow out to sea as we have an appointment for a big game in Annapolis this Saturday. Go Navy!

Despite the return QB Sean Goldrich at UNH, the Wildcats have struggled early this season.

Despite the return of Senior QB Sean Goldrich at UNH, the Wildcats have struggled early this season.



Count down to Game # 500; Game #490

71-yard fumble return puts Penn State past San Diego State,  37-21

State College, PA – Penn State’s 323-lb DT Austin Johnson picked up a fumble by San Diego State QB Max Smith forced by DE Carl Nassib and rambled, somewhat slowly, for a 71-yard TD run to give the Lions a 13-point cushion to hold off the SDSU Aztecs (1-3) for a 37-21 win.  Despite continued accuracy problems by PSU QB Christian Hackenberg (21 for 35, 296 yards, 3 TDs), he connected for some long passes and three TDs all in the first half.  A personal highlight for was to meet our good friend and the all-time No. 1 fan of San Diego State football, Tom Ables and his son Ken, right before the game.  Tom was attending his 761st SDSU game ever. The last Aztec game he missed was back in 1964.  Today was his 591st SDSU game in a row since then! He’s still travelling wherever his team goes, and he’s battled the elements including snow storms in Wyoming to get to see them on several occasions.  Now that’s dedication.

Tom and I meet before the game as his son Ken and Mike Ford, next to me, look on.

Tom and I meet before the game as his son Ken and Mike Ford, next to me, look on.

Penn State (3-1,1-0) drew first blood as RB Saquon Barkley took a middle screen pass and dove over the goal line for a 22-yard score.  The lead was quickly knotted at seven all when Rashaad Perry of the Aztecs returned the kick off starting from his end zone to the center of the field, picking up some blockers, and racing untouched down the right sideline for a 100-yard score.  On a 34-yard run by Barkley and two consecutive completions by Hackenberg, the Lions got into position to tack on three more points on a 40-yard FG by frosh Joey Julius to lead, 10-7, going into the second quarter.

After a three-and-out by the Aztecs, the Lions got into field goal range again with key plays on a 42-yard completion to Saeed Blacknall and a 21-yard run by Barkley. Jones made his kick good from the 24 to lead, 13-7.  A 55-yard run by Perry brought SDSU to the 20. QB Max Smith fired to WR Mikah Holder in back of the end zone in the left corner for a great catch to give the visitors a 14-13 advantage. The Tec’s defense next blocked a 55-yard FG attempt by Jones and took over at their own 38 but could not capitalize.  They forced the Lions to punt from the 29, but returner Lloyd Mills fumbled and Chris Goodwin recovered to set up a new drive for the Lions at SDSU’s 27.  At the 13, “Hack” hit RB Mark Allen in the left flat and he crossed the goal line for a 20-13 lead with 1:03 left in the second.  The Aztecs took over and DE Garrett Sickels forced a fumble by Donnel Pumphrey that was recovered by PSU DT Anthony Zettel.  Penn State took advantage as Hackenberg threw his third TD pass of the first half from 11 yards to Chris Godwin for a 27-14 halftime lead.

It was a great day for tailgating. Besides Tom and Ken Ables coming out to State College from San Diego for the first time, I also brought along a couple of other first-timers to Beaver Stadium as well.  Dave Headden ( Ohio Wesleyan) and Mike Ford (Providence College) came to enjoy great weather and great tailgate food including beef brisket served  up by John and Kelle Massimilla as part of the pre-game tailgate festivities. My daughter, Alex, a disappointed South Carolina Gamecock graduate with her alma mater struggling so far this season, also joined up as she had enjoyed many visits to State College since she was a little kid. Also meeting up with us a little while before the game was long-time CFF fan “Seton (Hall)” Fred Bacchetta and his sons Mark (Delaware) and Stephen (Montclair State).  Living in Roxbury, NJ, they’d come to see their good friend Angelo Mangiro start at center for the Nittany Lions. “Evan Williams” and “Jeremiah Weed” also made guest appearances.  It was a great time and a good game with a lot of memorable plays according to Mike Ford.  He and Dave said they’d like to do it again and possibly see the Lions play a Big Ten opponent in the future.  Mike wants to still try to figure a way he can bring down some lobsters from Rhode Island next time he joins to add to our tailgate.  We convinced him this time that it would be too difficult to get a boiling pot to cook them right this time. Mike couldn’t leave after the game without finding a PSU “Happy Valley” shirt that he purchased after the game to wear back in his native Rhode Island.  He remembers way back when Penn State defeated Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl.  It made his late father very happy that a team from the east was making a mark for itself showing that a program from out here could beat the best from anywhere else.

John, me, Dave, Mike, and Alex with Mound Nittany in the background.

John, me, Dave, Mike, and Alex with Mount Nittany in the background.

Like PSU in the first half, San Diego State punted and PSU fumbled where the Aztec’s Luke Bussey recovered at the Lions’ 21.  Donnel Pumphrey (18 carries for 56 yards, 1 TD) brought SDSU to within 27-21 on a one-yard TD run.

In the final period, Nassib’s tackle and Johnson’s rumble gave the Lions a 34-21 lead for more cushion with 13:44 remaining.  The next PSU possession resulted in Jones’s 26 -yard FG to finalize the days’ scoring and neither team mounted any sustainable drives afterward.  The Lions made the valley happy, 37-21.

The Lions will host their fourth of five consecutive home games when Army (1-3) off their first victory of the season this past Saturday when they defeated Eastern Michigan, 58-36. The Cadets and Lions will be playing each other for the first time since 1979 when PSU triumphed at Beaver Stadium when it had a much smaller capacity of about 60,000, 24-3.  It is sold out and it will be appropriately celebrated as Military Day.  The Aztecs with Super fan Tom Ables return to Qualcomm Stadium to start Mountain West Conference play against Fresno State (1-3,0-1). will be having a Military day of our own when we head to Annapolis, Maryland to see Air Force (2-1) visit Navy (3-0, 2-0) for the first round of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Last season, Air Force won the hardware starting with a 30-21 win over the Mids in Colorado Springs.  This should be a classic in the series.  Navy QB Keenan Reynolds has nine TDS this year already.  The Air Force gave No. 2 Michigan State a pretty good game two weeks ago falling, 35-21.

Extra points : Our condolences to PSU DT Anthony Zettel (7 tackles yesterday) and his family who lost their father, Terry, after a long battle with cancer. He was only 46. God bless him.

Official attendance recorded 95,107 seats sold.  15,000-20,000 of those sold were empty.  Many PSU fans including  students took a break for a weekend sandwiched between four other home games.  Tom and I would never do that!

This was our 96th Penn State game ( our last regular season game for this year). Under our watch, the Lions are 74-22. This was our second San Diego State game. They are 0-2. We saw them lose to UTEP the first time back in 2006. Only 759 games behind Tom!

Post game with the Penn State Blue Band.

Post game with the Penn State Blue Band.


Steveo’s Salvos – September 24, 2015

Aztec super fan Tom Ables’ assessment of his San Diego State team visiting the Nittany Loins in Happy Valley this Saturday: “We are a better team overall than we have shown, but our new QBs just are not getting it done, and opponents have stacked the line to stop Donnel Pumphrey. When we get our passing game going, we will be tough.”  A lot of the same can be said about Penn State’s season thus far.  No long passing game because the O-line can’t pass block.  The short game could work if Christian Hackenberg could throw the ball more accurately. Right now he can’t hit the broad side of the barn 50% of the time.  The good news is that the line is opening holes big enough for frosh phenom Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch to run through.  Also, the defense is good and improving.  Tom thinks the betting line is a little short this weekend.  We’re not saying the passing game for the Lions will improve, but if they focus on what they can do well, they should be able to score on the ground and stop the SDSU offense on the ground and through the air…And then there were five – SEC Top 25 teams that is.  It’s not surprising to us that five have fallen out and should have,  but that the voters could actually identify teams outside the SEC to replace them is as astonishing.  Surprisingly,  Mississippi State trounced Northwestern State, 62-13, but the voters didn’t bite.  Maybe they are catching on to the SEC scheduling strategy…

Mississippi State and QB Dak Prescott (with the ball)  were dominated by Georgia Tech in last year's Orange Bowl.  That's why the don't play competitive teams in the regular season.

Mississippi State and QB Dak Prescott (with the ball) were dominated by Georgia Tech in last year’s Orange Bowl. That’s why the don’t play competitive teams in the regular season.

Mizzou hangs on at No. 25 with a paltry 9-6 win over UConn.  Let’s see what the Huskies do against Navy’s triple option in East Hartford this week.  The Mids made their American Athletic debut over an East Carolina team that challenged the Florida Gators the week before losing, 31-24.  Just ask Gator HC Jim McElwain who was upset about his team for several reasons (and rightfully so)…We’re in for Notre Dame at Temple on Oct. 31.  We just have to figure what game we’re going to skip to make sure we are on course for Game No. 500 on November 21.  We have to wait for a game time announcement to think about axing Duke at Army on a DH weekend on Oct 10, or skipping USF at Navy in a noon time start on Oct 31.  If TV sets the time between 7-8 pm, we may make it a DH weekend…Temple just squeaked by UMass, 25-23. Mark Whipple’s squad started making some improvements losing so many close games last season.  They are still trying to build on what he’s putting together there up in Amherst where they are actually playing home games again. Temple’s next three games are quite winnable – at Charlotte, Tulane, and Central Florida.  ECU on the road could be a challenge. They could possibly face the Irish undefeated.  Notre Dame stepped up against s big challenge, as we had thought, last week with a solid 30-22 win over Georgia Tech.  The Irish face a few challenges ahead of Temple with UMass, at Clemson, Navy, and USC. It will be our second of three games now at the Linc in Philly this season…Like a lot of years, Rutgers fans like to count their wins before they happen.  They look at Kansas (0-2) coming in for homecoming this week and they not be too confident even about this one.  On the other hand, Army is plodding along at 0-3 with three close losses (Fordham, UConn, Wake Forest). QB Ahmad Bradshaw, as RU fan Frank Scarpa witnessed says that he was impressed, runs the triple option effectively. Army’s defense, like most defenses in college football this year, has a lot of room for improvement according to Frank. He saw them lose to Fordham, 37-35, but their last two games they held their foes to 22 and 17 respectively. If RU doesn’t win this week, the battle between the Black Knights of the Hudson and the Scarlet Knights of the Raritan is going to be much more competitive than we thought when we booked this game as our 500th!…Frank reported Army’s Bradshaw looks as good as Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.  That is saying a lot, but he’s got a long way to go.  Reynolds scored five TDs last weekend in the win over ECU.  That’s 30 points in two games so far bringing him up to 398 career points.  He’s got at least ten more games to challenge Wisconsin’s Montee Ball’s career record of 500 points…Speaking of the Badgers, they are ranked No. 22 at 2-1.  Will they stay ranked for long? Wonder how former HC Bert Bielema feels about his move to Arkansas where his 1-2 Razorbacks are one of those hyped up SEC teams fallen from the ranks…Colorado (2-1) beat rival Colorado State in OT, 27-24, last week.  In two weeks they start PAC-12 play with Oregon followed by Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, and Stanford before we see them play USC who is also 2-1 now after falling to Stanford, 41-31. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the Buffs make this a game. We certainly hope so!…Air Force didn’t wilt against now No. 2 Michigan State last week falling to 35-21.  We will see them play Navy the week after next. They are off this week.  This game will be big. Glad we’re going.  We will see the Falcons again on our Colorado DH weekend when the host Utah State (1-2) out in Colorado Springs…Memphis just beat Cincinnati, 53-46. Cincy QB Gunner Kiel left the game early with a head injury.  Hope that he will be alright. However, what does it say for college football when a second teamer can come off the bench and keep his team in a game like this.  Good for the back up and his teammates, but it still says something about a lot of development of the offenses and the lack of good, tough, heads up play by the defenses…Happy Tailgating this weekend! Supposedly our first time Guest Game Analyst Mike Ford is coming down from Rhode Island and bringing us up some lobsters.  That’ll be a first for any tailgate we’ve been to!…Check out our Penn State-San Diego State Game Review on Sunday night.

Going back to see Penn State do some twirling again this weekend!

Going back to see Penn State do some twirling again this weekend!

Tom Ables coming Penn State game, his 761st

Our friend Tom Ables is traveling out from San Diego to see his alma mater/favorite team meet the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.  We are planning to catch up with him for a visit, but we’re not sure if we can ever catch up with his record-setting game pace!

When San Diego State meets Penn State Saturday, it will be the first time they’ve ever met. But it sure won’t be a first game for Aztec fan Tom Ables, who will be on the sideline with the team to see his 761st Aztec football game.
The 89-year-old alum saw his first game as a freshman in 1946, when he was just one month out of the main engine room of the battleship USS Alabama BB-60. Since then, he has missed only two games, home or away, and it’s been 51 years since he missed a road trip in 1964 — 591 in a row.

We're hoping to catch up in State College with San Diego State's No. 1 fan, Tom Ables, who has only missed two Aztec games since 1946!

We’re hoping to catch up in State College with San Diego State’s No. 1 fan, Tom Ables, who has only missed two Aztec games since 1946!

Last year, when the Aztecs played at North Carolina, an inquisitive sports writer did some research and found that among active longtime college football fans, Ables is now #1 in America.

Trips have taken the Aztecs many places, but none farther or more unique than the trip to Japan in 1981. They played Air Force in what was called the Mirage Bowl in Olympic Stadium with a crowd of 80,000 watching.
With his unique perspective, Ables has written a book about the history of Aztec football since World War II. An updated, second edition of GO AZTECS! has just been published at the start of the new season.


Countdown to’s Game # 500; Game 489

Penn State runs past “rival” Rutgers, 28-3

State College, PA – Penn State freshman RB Saquon Barkley rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and fellow senior running mate Akeel Lynch added 120 yards and a TD on 10 carries to lead the Nittany Lions, 28-3, in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Rutgers insists that this is their “rivalry” while Penn Staters evidently don’t see it that way. A review of the game’s final statistics would be misleading upon first glance. Rutgers amassed 20 first downs compared to 17, 251 passing yards to 141, and they led time of possession 32:39 to 27:41, but long gains of 75 and 54 yards by Lynch and Barkley respectively paced the Lions to shorter times of possession and a dominant ground game of 330 yards to RU’s meager 43. The Penn State line opened some huge holes through the RU defensive front which Barkley hit particularly quick. His QB Christian Hackenberg (10 of 19 for 141 yards and 1 INT) continued to misfire on multiple occasions with little pressure applied as he had done when we saw him play against Temple in this year’s opener. He was not sacked as the Knight defense was nowhere as quick or as dynamic as Temple’s. Aside from “Hack”, however, the Lions seem to be headed in the right direction with the insertion of Barkley in their backfield since.

Saquon Barkley (26)amassed 195 rushing yards against Rutgers.

Saquon Barkley (26)amassed 195 rushing yards against Rutgers.

Penn State got off to an inept start during its first series with two false starts and a chop block impeding their progress and forcing a punt. The defense played aggressively and held the RU offense in check forcing punts on their first five possessions of the first half.

Early in the second period, the Lions drove 80 yards with WR DeAndre Thompkins taking a hand off on a sweep from the right all the way around left end for its initial lead of 7-0. Like the Temple game, PSU confirmed it was conceding that it could not protect Hackenberg adequately to implement a long passing game. It relied solely on short out passes mostly into the flats, but his accuracy has a lot to be desired. Guest Game analyst Frank Scarpa (Rutgers –Newark) noted the Scarlet Knight secondary was allowing some big cushions for the Lion receivers. Eventually, PSU noted the same and took advantage from its own ten as Hack connected with WR DaeSean Hamilton on a quick slant out for a 48-yard gain to the Scarlet 42. Moving down to the 15, Barkley avoided several tackles after hitting a hole quickly for a 15-yard TD run to extend the home team lead, 14-0, with 2:00 left in the first. The Lions took over after an RU punt with 1:04 remaining. A huge hole opened on the left side and Lynch burst through to take it all the way for a 75-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead. The Lion ground game looked as it had early against Temple when it had a 10-0 lead in the opener, but as this game progressed, the running game looked to be building some more momentum. Going into this game, the expectation was that PSU would be able to take advantage of replacements in the Knight secondary filling in for starters kicked off the team recently for criminal activities, but instead the Lions’ O-line seemed to be able to dominate along the front to give the Lion running game the push that they needed. An interception by Lion CB Grant Haley finished the first half shut out by the Nittany Lion D.

DT Anthony Zettel (98) defends against a Chris Laviano pass.

DT Anthony Zettel (98) defends against a Chris Laviano pass.

In the third period, the teams exchanged punts, and State thwarted the next RU drive on a tipped pass intercepted by CB John Reid who returned it to the Rutgers 35. Some offensive ineptitude by PSU turned this one over on downs. After a sideline interference penalty to start the drive at the 50, on a third and one at the RU 41, Hackenberg threw a pass into the ground on a long pass left at the feet of his intended receiver Saeed Blacknall. On the ensuing fourth down, Hack made a futile attempt on a QB sneak. Instead of surging forward, he seemed to go straight down to come up significantly short of the first to turn the ball over. The score remained unchanged entering the final period. The Scarlet Knights were on the move entering the final period with a drive starting from its 13.


PSU picks up yards on a short out pass.

The Knights drove to PSU’s 11 before a delay of game penalty set them back five more yards. Temporary HC Norries Wilson, former Columbia HC now Associate HC at Rutgers, taking over for suspended HC Kyle Flood for not adhering to university guidelines regarding contacts with professors, decided to settle for three points. Kyle Federico converted to avoid the shutout, 21-3. The Lions’ next drive into Scarlet Knight territory ended in futility with Hackenberg floating a pass well beyond his intended receiver that was picked by S Anthony Cioffi with a leaping catch. RU’s next possession was stopped by three consecutive PSU sacks of Laviano by DE Carl Nassib, SS Jordan Lucas, and DT Austin Johnson for a total of -29 yards. Around this time, the “striped” Blue and White stands led by the student PSU section had begun chanting, “We’re not rivals…We’re not rivals…” indicating their disdain for another program that thinks this is a rivalry and only defeated the Lions twice in  their sporadic history, the last win back in 1988 (does PSU consider Temple a rival now?). Even RU fan and GGA Frank Scarpa said that if the Knights want to make this a rivalry, they should start winning some games to show they are worthy of being considered one. PSU took over from their 30. Barkley bolted for a 54 yard gain before being forced out of bounds, and he carried again for the 16-yard TD to finish the scoring for the day, 28-3. Penn State takes a 2-1, 1-0 record into next week while RU falls for the second week in a row to 1-2, 0-1.

"We're not rivals!...We're not rivals!..."

“We’re not rivals!…We’re not rivals!…”

Next week Rutgers hosts Kansas (0-2) in a game that was scheduled during Charlie Weiss’s tenure in Lawrence in a game that was probably arranged to help the NJ native do some potential recruiting in the Garden State. He’s no longer coaching at KU since he was released last September. We’re unaware if he’s moved on to some other coaching position yet. The Jayhawks are 0-2 with losses to FCS South Dakota and up and coming Memphis. The winner of this one will be taking home one of a few they have a chance if winning for the balance of this season. We return to State College this Saturday for our last trip there this season to see the Lions face San Diego State (1-2) for a 3:30 pm kick off. We look forward for a chance to catch up with our good Aztec friend Tom Ables, the greatest Aztec fan of all time. Tom’s has missed only two SDSU football games since 1946! He’s our idol. Tom tells us that RB Donnel Pumphrey is the key to the San Diego State offense. On 68 carries thus far, he has 249 yards and two TDs – not as good as had been hoped for.

Customized tailgate Ambulance - our new tailgate friend, Josh, customized this ambulance as his newfangled tailgate transport. He'll transport your favorite libations in, and he'll transport you out if necessary.

Customized tailgate Ambulance – our new tailgate friend, Josh, customized this ambulance as his newfangled tailgate transport. He’ll transport your favorite libations in, and he’ll transport you out if necessary.


Steveo’s Salvos – September 17, 2015

Interesting game that we will be attending this weekend will be between Penn State, one-year off of sanctions resulting from the hideous actions by an ex-coach who had access to football facilities to take advantage of young boys and now is trying to rebuild, and Rutgers who comes to Happy Valley without their HC Kyle Flood who the university suspended for three games and a $50,000 fine. Associate HC Norries Wilson will take his place during his suspension. Flood was suspended for the next three games (PSU, Kansas, and Michigan State) and $50,000 for illicitly contacting a professor directly about how his player could change his grade and actually helping that player edit his paper. The suspension has nothing to do with that player and the five others facing criminal charges who have been suspended from the team. We will see if Flood will still hold this position at the end of the season whether he wins most of his games or not. The incidents that have occurred indicate that he and his staff have little control of this team. Recruiting and financial support will take a hit from these incidents. The blemish on the university will dictate that he won’t be there beyond this year if it truly wants to compete in the FBS…The last player suspended, All-conference WR Leonte Caroo, was suspended indefinitely for domestic violence right outside the locker room committed after Saturday’s loss to Washington State. Rutgers comes into Beaver Stadium without its top receiver and several starters from their secondary. The inexperienced players in the RU secondary are taking this season on as a learning experience. DE Darius Hamilton has not yet played and without him last week, we saw that the pass defense was of no consequence (one sack). Penn State replaced junior OT Paris Palmer after the Temple game (10 sacks) and shifted some other players on the O-line to positions each was supposedly better suited for. They defeated Buffalo and improved last week winning, 27-14. We look for Penn State to throw the short passes for long pick-ups which Washington State did so successfully last week against RU. The question is if QB Christian Hackenberg is suited for this offense. He has not impressed with any accuracy so far this year. We give the Lions an edge here though as the 100,000 Blue and White faithful will be looking for some continuous improvement since the first game. A couple of first year RBs were effective last week. Saquon Barkley carried 12 times for 115 yards and 9-yard run for a TD. Brandon Polk carried only three times for 45 yards and a 22-yard touchdown. With improved line play, PSU should dominate the decimated defense that RU will throw at them. If they can’t, HC James Franklin needs to stop recruiting better players and make the ones he has play better…

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to shore up their defensive secondary against Penn State.

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to shore up their defensive secondary against Penn State.

We are considering some schedule changes to improve the quality of the games we will see as we monitor the results of certain teams we penciled in prior to the season. Rivals Lafayette (0-2) and Lehigh (1-1) aren’t themselves this year. The Leopards fell to Delaware, 19-9. The Mountain Hawks were crushed last week by James Madison, 55-17. We will keep an eye out for their two games we considered as options on November 7, but we will now also consider Princeton at Penn, NC State at Boston College, and the alma mater, Juniata, at Moravian who we saw play last season. Duke at Army is looming as a bust. We may cancel that one out and look at going to Notre Dame visiting Temple at the Linc on Oct. 31. If it’s a night game, we can still possibly see USF at Navy in Annapolis since it’s scheduled at noon.   If the game at the Linc is earlier, we may look into East Carolina at UConn of Friday night. We’re watching some key results among these various teams over the next few weeks to come up with the most interesting and competitive games possible …

We’re interested in the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game this weekend as we selected the Yellow Jackets as our “dark horse” final four team. ND is already going through the injury bug but on the offensive side instead of the defensive side this year. Tech scored 66 points and 65 points in their first two game respectively albeit they scored them against Alcorn State and Tulane, neither on par with Notre Dame’s defense. However, GT’s HC Paul Johnson has gone up against the Irish before while at Navy. In 2007, he snapped ND’s 44-game winning streak against Navy. He had some close games as well in the previous seasons that resulted in losses, but two of the three years after he left, the triple option he left behind in the capable hands of HC Ken Niumatalolo defeated the Irish twice. With better athletes at Georgia Tech and with skillful Justin Thomas running his offense at QB, we’re looking for Tech to win this one. One week of preparation is sometimes not enough to be prepared for this offense, and with some key offensive players sidelined for the Irish, the odds look to be in the Yellow Jackets’ favor…Boston College set a scoring record las week against Howard, 76-0. Duke and UNC also pummeled in-state HBC rivals NC Central and NC A&T 55-0 and 53-14 respectively. These results combined with the average scores of the FBS vs the HBCs (61-7) the weekend before indicate the demise of these FCS programs and that it makes no sense to schedule such games for either group’s benefit in the future. Oh, excuse me. I forgot about those little pay days that the HBCs are guaranteed…

The Georgia Tech line returns some experience after their Orange Bowl victory last season.

The Georgia Tech line returns some experience after their Orange Bowl victory last season.

For the second year in a row Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt suffered an early season injury putting him out of action. In the Orange’s 30-17 victory at home against Wake Forest, Syracuse freshman quarterback Eric Dungey was named ECAC rookie of the week for his first collegiate start. Dungey completed 8-of-13 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He stepped in successfully against FCS Rhode Island the previous week when Hunt was lost for the game. The Orange stand at 2-0 and will host Central Michigan followed by LSU the next two weeks… We thought Fordham (1-1) would be struggling in their start this year and that Chase Edmonds would not have the support around him that got him off to such a great start his freshman year as the Rams won the Patriot League and made the FCS playoffs. The win over Army disproved this enough in their opener, but their 14-7 loss to No. 3 FCS Villanova is even greater proof that the Rams are on their way to another successful season. Last year, they lost to the Wildcats, who return many key players to make a run at this year’s national championship, by a score of 50-7! The Rams look like they will dominate a weakened Patriot League this year despite all schools now awarding football scholarships. Credit the Cats defense though for holding Edmonds to 74 yards and no TDs on 16 carries…Charlotte won its second game as an FBS team though it was against D-2 Presbyterian, 34-10. Next up is Middle Tennessee fresh off a loss to No. 2 FBS Alabama, 37-10…All four teams we saw the first week won the second week including Delaware over Lehigh, Jacksonville over Newberry, and Penn State over Buffalo. But Temple came up with the biggest win overall defeating AAC favorite Cincinnati on the road, 34-26. They look good to win over their next three opponents before hosting Central Florida and then visiting ECU. If they can run the table to that point, that’s why we are thinking of going to Philly the following week to see what they will do against the Fighting Irish…

The 2-0 Temple Owls impressed us against Penn State. We may go see them again when they host Notre Dame.

The 2-0 Temple Owls impressed us against Penn State. We may go see them again when they host Notre Dame.

Another good win for the 12-team American Athletic Conference was Houston’s’ 34-31 win over Louisville. HC Tom Herman, Ohio State’s coordinator last year will have his Cougars in a fight with Memphis and Navy to win the West. Memphis has a key game this week against Bowling Green who played Tennessee tough at Neyland and beat up Maryland at Byrd Stadium, 48-27. They will play Cincinnati the week after. This conference has some great coaches to consider for bigger programs in the near future…The Military Bowl to be played in Annapolis give home team Navy the automatic bid if it achieves a winning record and is not invited to play as the mid-major rep among six CFP games. We will get tickets soon figuring we can see Navy play again in a bowl game we are already planning to see… With a loss to BYU, 35-24, Boise is probably out of the picture for that particular honor to play in the CFP. BYU could be considered now as an FBS independent. Key games ahead for them are at UCLA this weekend, at Michigan the week after, later at East Carolina, and against Missouri on November 14… Overall last Saturday, teams on our schedule this year went 16-7. Navy had a week off to prepare for its first ever AAC/conference game at home against East Carolina. Air Force (2-0) plays at No. 4 Michigan State (2-0) this Saturday in East Lansing. We will see these teams both play later this season. ODU is 2-0 after defeating local rival Norfolk, 24-10. The Monarchs step up a few notches to host NC State at Foreman Field this Saturday…Hapless Eastern Michigan dumped Wyoming, 48-29. That seems like a setback for Craig Bohl who stepped up to take over an FBS program after leading North Dakota State to three national FCS championships…Toledo who we will see late this season pulled off the biggest upset of the week beating Arkansas in Little Rock, 16-12. Did I hear someone on ESPN say what a detriment it is for the Razorbacks to be playing in Little Rock instead of Fayetteville? Boo-hoo! We plan to see the Rockets host Western Michigan (0-2) who fell to Georgia Southern down in Statesboro, 43-17. It’s one thing to lose to now No. 4 Michigan State the Saturday before, but GSU got whacked by West Virginia in their opener, 44-0…In D-3, the season is off to a typical start. No. 1 Wisconsin-Whitewater nuked Belhaven, 62-6. They play football newcomer Finlandia this week. No. 2 Mount Union (1-0) had a week off and open their Ohio Athletic Conference play against Muskingum. Typical D-3 challengers to the unofficial Big Two follow: Linfield, May Hardin-Baylor, Wesley, etc…On to Happy Valley!

Navy may get another "home game" this season with a bid to play in this year's Military Bowl.

Navy may get another “home game” this season with a bid to play in this year’s Military Bowl.

Countdown to’s Game # 500; Game No. 488

Washington State flips Rutgers in a seesaw battle, 37-34

New Brunswick, NJ: The Birthplace of College Football – After 59 minutes of poor defense, costly penalties, turnovers, explosive special teams play, no pass rush by RU, and coaching wonders and blunders, Washington State QB Luke Falk tossed an eight-yard TD pass to WR River Cracraft with thirteen seconds left to play to take its first victory of 2015 back to Pullman, Washington, 37-34. Rutgers attempted a rugby-like comeback on the final kickoff that almost resulted in a safety before the final ball carrier flipped the ball forward for a penalty as no time remained on the clock. This non-conference game would be the most difficult for the Scarlet Knights to gauge how they will possibly withstand the upcoming Big Ten schedule that starts next week at Penn State. Many Rutgers faithful came away trying to determine if the Knights would have a shot at its tenth bowl game in eleven seasons. After this loss, few seemed optimistic.

The Birthplace

Facing the pass-happy Cougars coached by Mike “ I refuse to punt” Leach, who we’d seen coach previously with the same mantra during his tenure at Texas Tech, RU’s secondary decimated by scandalous crimes allowed Luke Falk’s’ first of four TD passes, this one to Dom Williams, for a seven-yard score to polish off a 75-yard opening drive. The Knights punted after their first possession and WAZU’s Kyrin Preister took it out of the end zone for a short return to the 13. What was he thinking? The Cougs drove down to the RU 12. Typical of Leach as seen in the past, he decided to forgo an attempt for three to extend his early lead, and RU stopped a sneak by Falk to take the ball back on downs.

Luke Falk (4) completes one of his many passes to Tavares Martin (12).

Luke Falk (4) completes one of his many passes to Tavares Martin (12).

In the second period Rutgers starting QB Chris Laviano came up limping and threw an INT to Marcellus Pippins who made a leaping over the head grab. Starting at The Scarlet Knights’ 34, the Cougars capitalized with a 46-yard FG by Erik Powell for a 10-0 State lead. Many RU fans anticipated a timely QB change by HC Kyle Flood to bringing in Hayden Rettig who had started well the week before against Norfolk State, but he stuck with his starter throughout the entire game. It paid off right away somewhat with a 37-yard FG by Kyle Federico. However, Falk (47 for 66, 478 yards, 4 TDs) continued connecting until his next drive stalled at RU’s 30. Leach’s head cleared again and Powell added another three instead of attempting to go five yards on a fourth down with 52 seconds left. But the Knights gave it a shot of their own as Laviano completed five consecutive passes to the WAZU 25. An illegal formation pushed them back five, and Federico booted a 48-yard FG to close out the first half scoring, 13-6, in favor of the visitors.

RU’s opening drive of the second half resulted in a fumble by Laviano who reached back to throw as it slipped out of his hand to have it recovered by DL Destiny Vaeao at his team’s 36. Falk threw his second TD of the day to RB Keith Harrington from the five extending State’s lead, 20-6. On Rutgers’ ensuing drive, Flood decided go for a first down on 4th and six at the 36, and it paid off with a 20-yard gain on a pass to Janarion Grant to the 16. RB Robert Martin (9 rushes for 61 yards, 1 TD) slithered his way through the Cougar defense for a 15-yard score. Washington State blocked the extra point to keep the margin at eight. RU pooch-kicked for some unknown reason, and the Cougs started from their 37. The drive died at the RU 32 on fourth and three when Falk’s pass attempt to Cracraft (8 catches for 121 yards, 1 TD) fell incomplete.   The Knights started their drive from that spot and ran the ball successfully to get to their one when time expired in the third.

Rutgers Josh Hicks (8) runs the sweep to the right for a gain.

Rutgers Josh Hicks (8) runs the sweep to the right for a gain.

On the first play of the final period, Laviano connected to the right side to TE Mike Flanagan (Mendham, NJ) to get within two. He followed up with a pass for the two-point conversion to WR Leonte Caroo (4 catches, 52 yards, 2 points) who came open late crossing the back of the end zone on the play. The score was deadlocked now, 20-20. State’s next drive resulted in a 37-yard FG by the strong-legged Powell. Note that on the drive, RU burned its third and final time-out. Two including the third seemed wasted. In any case, having no time outs would be critical in a close, high-scoring game. The Cougars three-point margin did not last long as Scarlet Knight returner Janarion Grant caught the kickoff in the end zone, started up the right sideline, cuts across the field, found blockers and a seam, and ran down the left sideline for a 100-yard TD return. The home crowd celebrated its first lead, 27-23. Plenty of time remained, however, with 12:30 remaining for both teams to continue to light up the scoreboard. The Cougars had three time-outs left to RU’s none.   State did not disappoint their small turn-out (I saw two in a liquor store by my house before the game) 3,000 miles from Pullman. Falk hit Gabe Marks (14 receptions, 146 yards, 1 TD) with an out pass for a 23-yard TD to go back in front, 30-27. Marks grab looked short of the goal line from where Frank Scarpa and I sat with his fellow RU alum, Phil, in section 108, but Marks’ foot hit the pylon and the TD stood. The ball did not look like it broke the plane of the end zone. State also kicked the ball short, and RU started from the 48. RB Josh Hicks (16 carries for 91 yards) caught the ball out of the backfield, but Peyton Pueller stripped the ball away and Isaac Dotson recovered at the 32. The Cougs drove to the RU 39, and on fourth and six, Mike Leach handed the Knights a gift as Falk’s pass fell incomplete to give the Knights the ball with great field position. One RU fan nearby said, “The Washington State coach is an imbecile.” We agreed. The teams exchanged punts – yes, with a 4th and six from his own 24 even Leach decided not to go for it. He might as well have though. Janarion Grant was on the receiving end and took it 55 yards for a 34-30 lead. With 1:31 remaining and two time-outs left for Washington State, everyone in High Point Solutions Stadium among the 45,536 fans still remaining knew that Rutgers had scored with too much time left on the clock. Falk went to work again with his short passing game eventually converting on a fourth and five at Rutgers’ 38 for a 12-yard pass to Robert Lewis to keep the drive alive before the game-winning score to Cracraft (8 catches for 121 yards, 1 TD). An exciting finish to a crazy game, but a resounding one for the die-hard Rutgers fans.

The Cougars' River Cracraft (21) in the open for a big gain against Rutgers.

The Cougars’ River Cracraft (21) in the open for a big gain against Rutgers.

Next week, Rutgers (1-1) travels to State College to take on the Nittany Lions (1-1) in their Big Ten opener. We will be there for the 8 pm kickoff. RU has this game circled since last season’s 13-10 loss in their Big Ten Debut. One hundred thousand PSU fans will be there to see that Penn State stays on course to improve upon its season after a loss to Temple and a 27-14 win over Buffalo last week. Against Temple, PSU used a short passing game that did not work against the tight coverage Temple gave them. The RU secondary struggles, but so does the offensive line of Penn State. It will be a matchup to determine whose weakness is worse, or who can make the adjustments to improve to right themselves for the balance of the season.

Extra points: RU fans though t this would be a win. Now they only consider Kansas (0-2) and Army (0-2) as their best bets for wins. Indiana is away and Maryland is at the far end of the season. Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska will visit Piscataway. PSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin loom as road games.

Frank Scarpa grilled us some great cheese steak sandwiches before the game, but fresh venison was delivered to the parking lot just in case.

Frank Scarpa grilled us some great cheese steak sandwiches before the game, but fresh venison was delivered to the parking lot just in case.

Steveo’s Salvos – September 11, 2015

Please remember those in your prayers who passed away violently on this day in 2001 and their families.

Click on the arrow below to hear last Saturdays’ radio interview with Pete Spadora on “Spadora on Sports” on WNER 1430AM. It includes a little preview of the game we will be attending this Saturday when Washington State visits Rutgers at 3:30 pm EST for Game # 487.


Congratulations to LB Cole Farrand, son of George Farrand, a fellow classmate from Boonton (NJ) High school. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Cole signed as a free agent with then New York Giants and is assigned to the team’s practice squad. Cole achieved a most likely “first” during his college football career. In 2013, Cole tallied 23 tackles in the Terps game against Clemson and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week. A year later, he wrapped up 19 times against the Indiana Hoosiers to be named The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. There can’t be too many others who have garnered such an honor in two different major conferences. Good luck to him in his pro career. We hope to see him get into some action when he’s called on if he gets a chance later this season….

Maryland LB Cole Farrand  is now a New York Giant.

Former Maryland LB Cole Farrand is now a New York Giant.

When the season opens, we like to see what FCS teams pull off the upsets over the big boys. One victim was the PAC 12 team we will see come east this weekend. The Washington State Cougars fell to FCS Portland State, 24-17.   QB Luke Falk competed 27 of 41 passes for 289 yards and two TDS in their losing cause. He will have a chance to increase those numbers against a Rutgers secondary decimated by players kicked out of school for criminal charges…Another team we will see play this season that fell to an FCS foe was Army who will be hosting our Game 500. They lost to Fordham, 37-35. Ram RB Chase Edmonds picked up where he left off last year rushing for 250 yards and three TDs. Our scouting reports say that Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw ran the triple option very well and throws a really nice pass. However, the Army defense needs a lot of improvement…South Dakota State knocked off the hapless Kansas Jayhawks, 41-38. The ‘hawks visit Rutgers in two weeks probably compliments of NJ native Charlie Weis who was let go as HC of KU after being bounced out of Notre Dame…Utah State who we will see play at Air Force later this season, edged Southern Utah, 12-9. This is somewhat of a shocker as the Aggies are expected to challenge for the Mountain West this season with the return of Chuckie Keeton to QB. He only threw for 110 yards against Thunderbirds. A late punt return for 88 yards gave the Aggies the win…

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

Fordham’s Chase Edmonds gallops 91 yards on a touchdown jaunt last season against New Hampshire.

FCS North Dakota defeated Wyoming, 24-13. Most ironic about this game is that Cowboy HC Craig Bohl is in his second season at Laramie after leading North Dakota state to three consecutive FCS championships. However, the NDSU Bison, members of the Missouri Valley Conference, and the Fighting Sioux of the Big Sky Conference, have not been able to resume their 110-game series since they last met in 2003. That was Bohl’s first season as HC of the Bison. The Sioux knocked off the Bison in that game, 28-21. If Bohl was looking to even up his personal record with UND, it evidently backfired…Speaking of the four-time current defending FCS National Champ, North Dakota State, they fell in their first game of the season on August 29 to Montana, also a Big Sky member, 38-35. A week later, the upset by the Grizzlies was somewhat tarnished as they fell at home to Cal Poly, 20-19….Check out the FCS second week ratings. Twelve of the Top 25 teams have 0-1 records courtesy of the FBS including teams ranked Nos. 2-5. No. 1 Coastal Carolina topped Furman, 38-35. Maybe it shows that you should pick on people your own size. We still love going to FCS games though… Further breaking down the FCS, Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) aren’t what they used to be when it comes to being competitive in college football. Great pro players such as Walter Payton, Buck Buchanon, Steve McNair, and Jerry Rice played their collegiate ball at Jackson State, Grambling, Alcorn State, and Mississippi Valley State respectively. This past week, their four alma maters combined with six other HBCs – Alabama A&M, Bethune-Cookman, Howard, Morgan State, Norfolk, and Savannah – all opened against FBS competition. The combined scores of these ten games: FBS 615 – HBCs 77. Scouting and media exposure as well as the great talents among the black athletes they used to be able to recruit have escalated most up to the FBS level. Those gems previously “hidden” and competing for the HBCs are now playing among all the best of the FBS and other FCS teams…The two newest entries into the FCS opened their inaugural season last Saturday against one another. Kennesaw State (Georgia) defeated East Tennessee State (last season played was in 1999), 56-16, at Steve Spurrier Field at Kermit Tipton Stadium in Johnson City, Tennessee. KSU is a member of the Big South Conference, and ETSU will join the southern conference next season…The latest and only new team to join the FBS, the Charlotte 49ers, won its first FBS game ever with a 23-20 win over second year program Georgia State. GSU’s Panthers evidently played better than when we saw them lose big last year to another inaugural FBS team, Appalachian State, 44-0. We will add the 49ers as our 129th team on October 17 when they play at Old Dominion in Norfolk. The Monarchs won their opener defeating everyone’s favorite patsy Eastern Michigan, 38-34…

The Appy State O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards against Georgia State last season.

The Appy State O-line provided the push all day to total 469 rushing yards against Georgia State last season.

In D3, Mount Union started its season with a typically lopsided win over Bethany, 47-0. Juniata College, the alma mater, knocked off Grove City, 26-13. Wisconsin Whitewater, defending National Champ opens this weekend against a new program, Belhaven, in Jackson, Mississippi…Two years ago, Dave Headden and I started off our season seeing Norwich Academy play RPI in Troy, NY. A friend of my family’s, Jimmy LaBell, was playing LB for Norwich. Dave’s late father and older brothers all graduated from RPI. The RPI kicker for the Engineers, Andrew Franks, graduated this spring and will be the starting kicker for the Miami Dolphins this weekend. We can’t wait to see what he does at the highest level. reported about his efforts during the current pre-season:” Franks was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, the longest at 51 yards, and 4-for-4 on extra points. He put eight of his 10 kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. Franks was a two-time first-team All-America selection.” Fantasy football pick? This definitely has to be fantasy football for a Biomedical Engineering major from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute…Had we followed’s proposed road trip to see four games during Week One, we would have seen some pretty good games: Coast Guard 34 – Anna Maria 6; Worcester Poly 31 – MIT 28; SUNY Maritime 30 – Maine Maritime 0; and Moravian 21 – King’s 17. Had we followed our own advice to change that third game, we’d have seen Cortland defeat the Heidelberg Student Princes, 26-24!…

Hail Juniata, Alma mater!

Hail Juniata, Alma mater!

Former Wisconsin Whitewater HC Lance Leipold with six national championships in D3 over the last nine years, coached his Buffalo Bulls to his first FBS victory impressively over FCS Albany, 51-14. This Saturday, the Bulls will play his first FBS competition ever when they go to Happy Valley to play Penn State…Of the 27 teams on our schedule this year, they started 17-9. Two games included the four teams we saw play one another, and Toledo’s game versus Stony Brook was cancelled due to severe weather…Navy’s QB Keenan Reynolds added one TD in pursuit on Montee Ball’s record of 500 career points in the Mids 48-10 rout of Colgate… Duke won handily over Tulane. Junior QB Thomas Sirk threw for 289 yards and two TDs for the win…Colorado lost its opener in Hawaii. Michigan fell to Utah in Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Michigan State defeated Western Michigan, 38-24 in a game between two teams we will see play later this year. MSU will visit Rutgers, and WMU will visit Toledo the night before we go to see Ohio State at Michigan.

Whether he's right or wrong, only HC Kyle Flood of Rutgers  is the one with his job on the line.

We stay local to see RU face WAZU this week. Will Kyle Flood be running the team for the rest of this season?

Countdown to Game # 500; Game No. 487

Tough Temple triumphs over Penn State to end drought started since WWII

The Owls charge on to the field led by QB P.J. Walker, No. 11.

The Owls charge on to the field led by QB P.J. Walker, No. 11.

Philadelphia (Sept. 5) – As a Penn State fan for many years, let me say this first of all: Temple has a very good football team this year and the players are well-coached. The Owls overcame a first half 10-0 deficit over a Nittany Lion team that had a lot to prove coming into this season with the sanctions they played under for the past three years, and they dominated the Nittany Lions the rest of the game for an outstanding 27-10 victory. Over the years since 1979, we saw PSU defeat the Owls seven times – a couple of close ones as a matter of fact. Their last win in this series occurred on October 18, 1941. We went to this game mostly interested in seeing how well the Lions had improved their Offensive line to protect QB Christian Hackenberg and to revive a strong Nittany Lion running game. We knew the Owls would provide a tough chore defensively, but we weren’t sure what they could muster offensively against PSU’s defensive strength. It seemed like we were seeing what was expected during the first period despite some early miscues by the Lions. But stunts by the Owl front seven and very tight pass coverage by a very skilled secondary gave Penn State more than we anticipated for the balance of the game. When a Penn State receiver was open, however, Hackenberg usually misfired, but more often than not, tight coverage did not allow him to throw to his prime receiver before he could release the ball. Temple sacked “Hack” like they invented the game “Hacky-sack”. They sacked him whether it was off a linebacker stunt through an open seam or with a two-man bull rush against the entire O-line. Despite knowing TU’s defense was strong coming in, on the other hand like many State fans, we wondered if there was any significant improvement up front on the O-Line at all. HC James Franklin and OL Coach Herb hand have some quick fixes to make for their upcoming games, and we’re not just talking about Big Ten games. Last season Hackenberg was sacked 44 times. In this first game, Temple took him down ten times already. We will be at home games against Rutgers and San Diego State in the coming weeks. We are eager to see what they are going to do in this short time frame after having worked on it during the entire off season. No doubt though that Temple’s D was good last year, and it’s even better this year.

The Owls swarmed the Lions defensively from the second period on.

The Owls swarmed the Lions defensively from the second period on.

PSU scored on its first drive starting from the 30 and culminating with a 34-yard FG by frosh PK Joey Julius, himself a big question mark literally and figuratively entering his first season and weighing in at 6’-1”, 261 lbs. On this drive, WR Geno Lewis had two passes slip right through his fingers. TU’s offense stalled after three plays again on its second possession and the Lions’ offense went back to work from their 25. At the TU 42, Akeel Lynch (10 carries for 78 yards, 1 TD) burst through a hole in the left side for a Nittany TD and a 10-0 lead. Maybe the Lions line had improved from what we saw on that particular play. The D looked dominant as anticipated well into the second period. TU showed no signs of overcoming them at this point. PSU’s Dan Pasquariello’s punt set Temple back on their seven yard line midway in the second. Former Elizabeth, NJ HS teammates, Temple QB P. J. Walker and RB Jahad Thomas combined for the 93 yards on the ground and through the air to get the Owls into the end zone on the ensuing drive. A fake handoff and a quick pitch out to Thomas around the left side put him in the end zone unscathed to put Temple within three, 10-7, with 2:25 remaining in the half. The score stood into half time.

The Lion defenders stopped Jahad Thomas early in the game...

The Lion defenders stopped Jahad Thomas (No. 5)  early in the game…

I kepyt my long-time PSU connection and die-hard alum John Massimilla closely informed by text about highlights through the first half as he attended a wedding in Atlanta this afternoon.   He asked me for my prediction for the second half as the wedding was about to start. I figured 24-7, PSU. The defense let up a score, but I had noted that players had been interchanged defensively through the half and that PSU would play the balance of the game with their first teamers that dominated TU‘s offense early. I also figured that Franklin would make some offensive adjustments and have Hackenberg finding some open receivers down field. My mind was picturing the wrong locker room at halftime. PSU did neither in the second half. Temple’s D was just warming up, and HC Matt Rhule and OC Marcus Satterfield saw some chinks in the Lion defense and would take advantage. On several critical situations in the second half, they used tight crossing patterns across the middle for big gains. Walker connected with Ventrell Bryant on one for 25 yards during the first half scoring drive.

PSU received the opening kick of Q3 out at the 35 when it was booted out of bounds. They netted only 19 yards before punting it away. Hackenberg terribly misfired on a third down passing attempt. All his passes seemed of the short out or over the middle variety. Rarely did he look long. You had to question the confidence the team had in their offensive front to give him adequate protection. Temple noted it, too.   Two series later, Temple’s PK Austin Jones sailed a 40-yard FG through the uprights. Temple was in this game to stay tied now at 10-10. Geno Lewis brought the kick out to the 35. A run for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a sack on a stunt by LB Tyler Matkevich (seven tackles including three sacks) forced another PSU punt. It was ruled a touchback, and PSU fans sitting with us up in section 235 right above the end zone were relieved as it looked to skip out at the one-foot line. We figured it was break. It didn’t matter for what was to come. After a completion of eight yards on an out pattern, Hackenberg threw toward the right sideline and DE Sharif Finch snagged it off his hip and ran it back to the PSU two after originally being ruled a touchdown. Following a defensive pass interference call in the end zone, Walker faked even me out from way above in my seat as his handoff went one way and he darted to his left untouched for a one-yard TD and a surprising 17-10 Owl lead. A minute remained in the third period.

Entering the final stanza, it was evident that the “great recruiter”, James Franklin, was being outcoached by former PSU Linebacker Matt Rhule. After another sack of hack by LB Nate Smith, Temple took over from its 49. At the PSU 24, Thomas (29 carries for 135 yards, two TDS) veered around the left end , stiff armed a would-be tackler, and continued to drift to the left pylon until he got into the end zone for an unexpected 24-10 Temple lead. Many Penn State fans had seen enough and headed to the exits. Their Lions didn’t seem to play with any sense of urgency. Lynch ran for four yards, Hack got sacked again, and Lynch caught a pass for a three-yard loss. They punted. What were the Lion coaches waiting for? They seemed to be throwing in the towel. Walker and Thomas teamed up again passing and running to set Jones up for a 30-yard FG attempt. With 5:41 left, Temple led 27-10. PSU played like it was already over. Three incompletions and a sack by DT Matt Ioanndis (Ringoes, NJ/ Hunterdon Central HS) on four consecutive plays sealed the game for TU. Temple had triumphed over PSU for the first time in 74 years during which they floundered with a 0-38-1 record. The way the Owls played on this day, it was well deserved. For PSU, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board, or more like the film room according to James Franklin during his post-game press conference. Maybe he and his team are spending a little too much time watching film together. Perhaps they should be out on the practice field some more where they should instill some more toughness amongst all this talent they are supposedly recruiting. I’d never seen a PSU team give up so early in a game before.

...but they didn't stop Thomas ( No. 5) later or often.

…but they didn’t stop Thomas ( No. 5) later or often.

Next week, TU has an important early American Athletic Conference East duel with Cincinnati (1-0), the favorite to win the division. The Owls will face QB Gunner Keil, the all-conference preseason QB selection. The Bearcats beat up on Alabama A&M in their opener, 52-10. That was like shooting fish in a barrel compared to what the Owls will bring with them defensively to Nippert Stadium. PSU heads home to hopefully friendly Happy Valley to host Buffalo of the Mid-American, 51-14 winners over FCS Albany last Saturday. HC Larry Leipold who now coaches the Bulls in his first season after leading D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater to six national championships in nine seasons may be bringing Bulls of different horns than what PSU was expecting when they booked this game. We will be heading to the Birthplace of College Football in New Brunswick, NJ to see Rutgers (1-0) with a depleted secondary facing pass-happy Washington state (0-1) who lost their opener to FCS Portland State, 24-17, despite 411 yards of total offense by the Cougars. The week after, we see RU visit PSU in their Big Ten openers. Lots of question marks abound for both programs between now and then.

Extra points: The parking situation at the Linc was the worst I’d ever experienced. We had tough experiences there in the past for Army-Navy, but this was totally out of hand as PSUers in particular hoarded multiple spots for all their gear and to hold for late arriving guests. That’s why up in State College, tailgaters are guided into parking spaces one-by-one where they eventually set everything up until the line is full and they are no longer blocking any traffic. It wasn’t the case here in Philly. After paying $20 and searching 45 minutes for no available spaces, I exited the lot and found free parking on the street in a safe neighborhood not far from Citizens Bank Park where I will suggest that we and our cohorts meet at this year’s Army-Navy game, our last regular season game this year. It was less than a mile walk from where we parked and after a vacation week of eating, drinking, and hanging on the beach, it was welcomed. We missed out on tailgating, but they were serving beer at The Linc for $9 each with vendors carrying trays up and down the stairs. It was worth a few bucks for St. Laurie and me.

P.J. Walker completed 15 of 20 passes for 143 yards among nine receivers. He was also tied for the lead in receiving yards with 25 as he hauled in an option pass from WR John Christopher for a big gain.

Attendance was announced at 69,176 for the largest Temple home crowd in its history. And surprisingly, the Temple fans weren’t outnumbered as expected. They had a pretty good showing. We’ll be interested to see how many will buy tickets for October 31 when they also host Notre Dame who won big over Texas this past weekend. I’m also hoping that the Owls can win the AAC East and that Navy will win the AAC West so the two will square off for the championship on December 5, the weekend before we’re back at the Linc of Army-Navy. That would be great!

I witnessed the most horrible half time activity ever created. Two TU students played “Cyber Soccer” on computers and they simulated kicking a soccer ball into a goal on the big screen. First of all, a soccer contest at a football game doesn’t belong. Secondly, they can’t get out on the field and kick field goals or do something physical? No one in the stands reacted at all in the after the final outcome. No one cared. Soccer and computer simulated games are two things I can definitely live without. Don’t bring them to a football game! Anyone can sit and play video games. Now we have to watch?

Countdown to Game # 500; Game No. 486

Struggling Jacksonville struggles past struggling Delaware in our opener, 20-14

Let the season begin!  Jacksonville returns the opening kickoff against Delaware.

Let the season begin! Jacksonville returns the opening kickoff against Delaware.

Newark, Delaware (Sept. 4) – In the opening game of the season, we watched two FCS teams struggle throughout the game to put together a sustained offense relying primarily on both punters to keep their opponents out of scoring position and their defenses and their own ineptitude to keep them just as far. Late long field goals by Brandon Behr and turnovers by both teams gave the Dolphins the final margin in their 20-14 victory. It was not a well-played, exciting game, but the final score was not settled until late in the final period. At game’s end, Delaware totaled only 163 yards in total offense. Jacksonville fared better with only 70 on the ground, but Dolphin QB Kade Bell threw for 269 yards through the air. However, after the initial drive of the game, his passes could not get the Dolphins anywhere near the end zone.

JU's Andy Jones hauls in a pass the Dolphin's opening drive.

JU’s Andy Jones hauls in a pass during the Dolphin’s opening drive.

The much more experienced Dolphins with 20 seniors and a penchant for revenge after falling to UD two seasons ago here clicked right away driving 85 yards on its first possession for a 22-yard scoring pass from Bell to WR Andy Jones (9 catches for 118 yards and 1 TD) for a quick 7-0 lead. With QB Junior Blake Rankin (transfer from Rutgers) and Junior RB Jalen Randolph starting, the Blue Hens failed to sustain any scoring drives midway through the second period.

Early in the second, a fumble by Delaware RB Wes Hills gave Jacksonville the ball at their own 13, but like UD, the Fins could not effectively move the ball. UD HC Stan Brock replaced his two prime starters with red-shirt Freshmen QB Joe Walker and RB Thomas Jefferson (Passaic Tech, NJ). The combo moved the ball to the JU 21. With 1:20 left in the half, Walker lateraled wide left to split end Diante Cherry who fired the ball into the end zone to Randolph who was back in the game to finally put the Hens on the board to tie the score going into half time.

Despite the return of 20 experienced players returning from Jacksonville, they struggled throughout executing their offensive game plan as much as did the Blue Hens with many freshman and redshirts playing in their first collegiate game of their careers. The Fins are hoping to get into this year’s playoffs as an at-large team as they are now not eligible to win the Pioneer Conference based on a self-imposed suspension. It turns out that as the only remaining non-scholarship conference with an automatic FCS bid, they found that 30 players had received Academic Freedom Scholarships, evidently very questionable for a team in a non-scholarship conference. Since punishment was self-imposed and accepted by the NCAA, they are still eligible for playoffs the “harder “way.

The UD Dance Team

Three members of the UD Dance Team

Neither team gained a first down on the first three possessions of the second half. When Jacksonville did, they gained 34 yards to get to UD’s 25. From there, Brandon Behr booted a 42-yard FG to give Jax the lead once again, 10-7. In the final period, Walker replaced Rankin again to get thing going, but the Hens still stalled out after a 39-yard run by Hills before being forced to punt after Walker was sacked by Malik Slater at his 39. Terrence Bryant returned the punt better than expected for a 34-yard run to UD’s 46. Bell could not get his team close enough once again, and Behr came in once again to settle for a 41-yarder through the uprights to lead, 13-7. Hills returned the ensuing kick to the 34 to seemingly provide some spark for the Blue Hens, but it fizzled resulting in another Eric Enderson punt (8 for 43.1 avg. and 2 inside the 20). It was still either team’s game to be won despite their struggles.

Jacksonville's QB Kade Bell scrambles out of Blue Hen pressure.

Jacksonville’s QB Kade Bell scrambles out of Blue Hen pressure.

Either way, either team would need a big play or two. Even with Jacksonville’s next series starting at the Delaware 48, they could not capitalize as UD DB Ray Torsza made a diving INT in front of Bell’s intended receiver going out at his own three-yard line. Despite his effort, with 2:47 left and two time-outs left for the Blue Hens, they immediately squandered the comeback opportunity. On second down, DL T.J. Jenkins sacked Walker knocking the ball loose in the end zone where LB Justin Horton recovered it for a touchdown. Behr’s conversion gave the Fins a 20-7 advantage with 2:09 to go. An unsportsmanlike penalty after the score forced Jacksonville back 15 on the following kickoff. Delaware’s Ray Jones returned it to the JU 46. On a second and eleven at the 32, Walker (combined with Rankin they completed 9 of 19 for 112 passing yards) connected with TE Ryley Angeline on a 31-yard pass to the one-yard line. Randolph took it on the next play with 1:20 remaining to cut the lead, 20-14. The ensuing onsides attempt was touched before going ten yards, and Jacksonville ran out the clock to prevail in the first game for both teams where the score stood.

It was a sloppy, ineffective and somewhat dull game as pointed out by my guest game analysts pictured below. Most of them are 2015 Delaware grads.

Our UD tailgate party (L to R): Emily (Bryant grad), yours truly, our niece Kassie, St. Laurie, Megan, Tucker, and Cassie also known at "Turtle." (photo by Josh)

Our UD tailgate party (L to R): Emily (Bryant grad), yours truly, our niece Kassie, St. Laurie, Megan, Tucker, and Cassie also known as “Turtle.” (photo by Josh)

Both teams will try to gain from the experience of their first game to move on and make adjustments for improvement. It’s probably the toughest learning experience for them and their coaching staffs. I always say that unlike the pros, the college teams don’t get the benefit of an exhibition season (thank the Lord) and have to develop from that first game experience. Happens every year. With that, the Hens host Lafayette (0-1) who fell hard to William and Mary, 34-7, in their opener. JU travels to D2 Newberry (1-0) (I found I was incorrect in my game preview. Pioneer teams now play three non-conference games each year. I assume the coast to coast nature of this conference puts a big strain on their travel budgets. Campuses range from New York to Florida to California to Iowa). We stayed over in Newark on our way back from a restful, fun, and needed vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It worked well for us before heading up to Philadelphia the next day where we would see Penn State play at Temple for our second game of Game 500 season.

Dolphin D holds Wes Hill to a short gain.

Dolphin D holds Wes Hill to a short gain and eventual fumble on this play.

Extra points: Despite the son of a former NFL and Florida Gator QB Kerwin ( also his HC), Kade Bell did not impress with his arm strength. He short-arms his passes. He gets the ball to his receivers, but they are mostly wide open. His stats from last year (3,181 yards and 31 TDs) are impressive, but his arm wasn’t.

JU Punter Ryan Giaratano outshone UD’s Ednerson this evening with seven punte averaging 47.6 yards ( one misplayed for 62 yards) but more effectively five finishing inside the 20.

Teams of the Colonial Athletic Conference, known as one of the toughest in the FCS, went 2-11 in their first weekend of play. Stony Brook did not play. Of the 11 losses, eight were to FBS teams. Top contenders Villanova and New Hampshire lost to UConn (20-15) and San Jose (43-13) respectively. Only James Madison and William and Mary won versus Morehead State and Lafayette respectively.

If UD HC Stan Brock does not see some significant improvement over the course of this season, if he’s not on the hot seat by then, he will be by next season. UD is not a program that can tolerate losing for long. Dave Nelson coached there from 1951-1965 to an 84-44-2 record. Legendary Harold “Tubby” Raymond had a 300-119-3 career record from 1965 to 2001. It included a D2 national championship in 1979 and many playoff bound seasons. His former LB on that championship team, K.C Keeler, took over in 2002 and led the Blue Hens to the FCS championship in 2003. That and an 86-52 mark over ten season weren’t good enough to keep him there. It’s been four years since the Blue Hens made the playoffs. The announced crowd of 17,472 had to include no-shows from what we saw. I’ve attended openers on weekday nights and playoff games on cold November days at Delaware Stadium where just about every seat was filled. The young alum who attended with me today couldn’t fathom that as they started school in 2010 after the last UD playoff team graduated. Despite being dedicated Frisbee Club team players, school is always memorable when you unite with the entire student body to root for your competitive football team.

Our niece Kassie graduated this past spring from UD and tailgated with us is now living and working in the area close to her alma mater. Her connection to the Delaware football program is truly memorable for her. She and one of her close friends were in a required freshman workshop and teamed arbitrarily with a third student to do a project. The other student was former UD tight end Nick Boyle (Sussex, High Point HS, NJ). Nick earned honors at Delaware as co-captain his senior year along with All-American Honors. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and will be playing in the NFL this season.