History is made! Collegefootballfan.com attends its 500th game!

Rutgers outlasts Army at Collegefootballfan.com’s 500th game, 31-21



West Point, NY – Rutgers (4-7) jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, but Army fought back to close it to 24-14 by halftime, and the Scarlet Knights held off the Black Knights along the Banks of the Hudson during the second half to win it, 31-21. Along the banks of historic West Point, Collegefootball.com and about 120 guests celebrated the 500th NCAA college football game we’ve attended since we started keeping count of all the games starting back in September of 1979. It was a gala celebration on a “too beautiful to be asked for” November Saturday.. The game was played between two teams that have struggled all season, but our crowd among the 30,113 enjoyed the festivities and gathering of friends in the magnificent setting.


Surprisingly, Army (2-9) on a fourth and one at RU’s 25 attempted a field goal on its first series and Rutgers recovered at the 40. I say surprising because Army’s triple option brethren, namely Navy and Air Force, would have considered this as fourth down territory and gone for the first down to play for a touchdown. Rutgers drove 60 yards after the block and Paul James ran it in from seven yards for the Scarlet Knight lead. Two series later, James (18 carries, 116 yards, 3 TDs) went in from the one. Army needed an answer to avoid what looked could be a blow out. Even the Corp of Cadets seemed to have lost interest in the contest on the field. I have to say that I’ve been disappointed in the spirit shown by the Corps this season – no organized cheering, chanting, singing, pride, or genuine spirit displayed whatsoever. Granted the team is not very competitive (yet), but we used to see even the top brass get out in front of the Corps to lead cheers. They used to have a head cheerleader on a microphone rousting the Corps at critical times. The spirit that Army always had even when their teams struggled in the past like this one has seems completely non-existent. They need to get that back. And I don’t mean just when they play Navy despite the underdog role they will be playing on December 12.

Army QB Chris Carter held to a short gain by RU defense.

Army QB Chris Carter held to a short gain by RU defense.

Led by third string QB, Freshman Chris Carter (20 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD/ 4 of 6 passes, 1 TD, 1 INT), the Cadets hacked away at the Scarlet Knight defense until RB Aaron Kemper broke through the middle for a 38-yard TD run to give the Black Knights a boost. The Scarlet Knights put together a subsequent scoring drive as QB Chris Laviano used his two RBs James and Robert Martin (17 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD) efficiently with runs and short passes until the latter rushed the final five yards to extend Rutgers lead, 21-7. The Black Knights needed to pull that dagger out and fight back. Carter gave his Knights a needed jolt as he ran 45 yards on Army’s next possession to get to RU’s 35. The option plays chipped away at the RU defense and on fourth and goal at the one, Carter got the Army back to within seven, 21-14, with 1:08 remaining.   RU QB Chris Laviano (13 of 21 passing for 105 yards) passed for short gains using the clock well enough to set up Kyle Federico for a 40-yard FG as time in the first half expired and Rutgers enjoyed a 24-14 lead at the half.

Rutgers' Robert Martin (7) scores from the five for a 21-7 lead.

Rutgers’ Robert Martin (7) scores from the five for a 21-7 lead.

As the second half was coming to a close, the shadows formed by the pre box over us made our seat section in the upper deck ( U-14) somewhat chillier. Our friends and fans joining us from SEC country had a difficult time not being used to that. Al lot of the crowd overall seemed to disperse after halftime because of the chill had headed to sunnier spots in Michie Stadium or even back out to tailgate. The U.S. Army band and Rutgers Marching Band combined at halftime for a musical tribute. As the game would draw to an end, once again drastically drawn out by lengthy commercial time-outs killing momentum and interest for many in the stands, it seemed like by the end of the game it would be a small contingent of our tailgate party, the beleaguered Corps of Cadets and the Rutgers band as among the last in the stands remaining.

United States Army and Rutgers Marching bands perform together at halfime.

United States Army and Rutgers Marching bands perform together at halftime.

Rutgers started after the second half kickoff from their 32 where James got them off to a quick start with a 54-yard jaunt to the Army 14. He took it in for his third TD of the day from the one to extend the Scarlet’s lead, 31-14. Army’s team did not give up despite the uninspiring spirit of the Corps. Army later forced Rutgers to punt. On a play worthy of Sport Center’s Top Ten plays of the day which I predicted and became true at Number Five, Army WR Edgar Poe hauled in a pass from behind his defender’s helmet, turned up field, stiff-armed his would be tackler who tried to force him out of bounds, and fought his way down field to keep his feet in bounds for a 65-yard TD. Of course, TV had to stop to review what was clearly a touchdown for several minutes before confirming. That process is also abusing the game for the spectators. Army closed the gap to 31-21 with a quarter left to play. They seemed ready to make a game of it.

Rutgers Vance Johnson catches a pass in the flat for a nine-yard gain.

Rutgers Vance Johnson catches a pass in the flat for a nine-yard gain.

Army’s defense forced Rutgers to punt from their 26 to hopefully get good field position to try for another scoring drive, but a roughing the kicker penalty kept the Scarlet offense on the field. RU’s eventual punt later went for a touchback before taking time of the clock, and the Army offense started from the 20.   Carter had his offense clicking getting down to RU’s 21. On second down to change things up from the triple option, Carter threw a pass over the middle and into the end zone where RU’s converted RB Josh Hicks made the move to safety to help the depleted Scarlet Knight secondary and out fought the Black Knight receiver for the football for an interception in the end zone to kill the Army rally. With 7:20 remaining, Army took over and effectively ran the ball and eventually ran out the clock. HC Jeff Moncken’s futile time-outs toward the end event seemed to rankle the Corps of Cadets who didn’t seem to want to agonize there any longer. RU took a knee at the 29 as time expired and our 500th game was recorded in the books with a Scarlet Knight victory over the Black Knights, 31-21. Our remaining stalwarts in the cold shadows of Michie gathered afterward an walked up and down hills on the beautiful campus as the sun began to set to get back to our tailgate. It didn’t take us much longer than had we waited to get on school buses to take us back instead.

Cadet 2nd class Matthew McKee of Kansas City met with me and Bob Jones during the second half.  Bob worked with Matt's father in the past and he came by to say hello. He is considering the Infantry as his service when he makes his choice his First Class (senior) year.

Cadet 2nd class Matthew McKee of Kansas City met with me and Bob Jones during the second half. Bob worked with Matt’s father in the past and he came by to say hello. He is considering the Infantry as his service when he makes his choice his First Class (senior) year.

Rutgers (4-7, 1-6) next hosts Maryland (2-9, 0-7) to finish off an unspectacular season to say the least, and yet they still hope to attain a bowl bid with a win and a losing record. This bowl system stinks. Don’t ever let a team measure its competence by saying how may bowl teams were on its schedule. Being a bowl team is no longer the mark of competence. As for Army, it has three weeks to practice for No. 15 Navy on December 12 while the Mids play for the American Athletic Conference West Championship this Friday at Houston. If the Mids triumph, they will be hosting Temple or South Florida in their quest to represent the Conference of Five champs to play in one of the Big Six Bowl games. And if it does, don’t think the Midshipman will be looking past Army. They may want to beat them more than ever for the 15th straight time. As for CFF.com, we thought Game # 501 would be between Toledo (9-1, 6-1) and Western Michigan ( 6-5, 5-2) for a Mid-American head knocker until we found out that this game is now on at noon instead of a night game as we anticipated. Instead, we’ll go right into the fire as game # 501 will be a bloodbath with some if its luster was lost after Ohio State fell to Michigan State on Saturday, 17-14. Game No. 501 will be one of the most intense rivalries we’ll be attending when No 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1) hosts No. 8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1). If Penn State upsets division leader Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday; these two will be playing for the Big Ten Eastern division title. If not, we may see one of them on New Year’s Day in Florida.   What a crazy football season! Urban Meyer coaching against Jim Harbaugh? It’s going get crazier this weekend! What a way to start our second 500 games!

West Point scene from our seats in the upper deck of Michie Stadium.

West Point scene from our seats in the upper deck of Michie Stadium.


Extra Points: Special thanks to our two Lakeland Bus Drivers this weekend, Sean and Marvin. Nice guys who did a great job for us! Sean even came back to the hotel to bring back a phone one of our friends left on the bus.

The West Point parking attendants we very accommodating giving us some extra space alongside our two buses to set up tables and coolers for our tailgating experience. They also had extra buses come to pick us up in time to get us to Michie Stadium for the pre-game ceremonies which are great to see. Cousin Vickie Scarpa provided two excellent banners made by her students at Passaic Tech High School in Wayne, NJ. One depicting our gala 500 celebration which I’m going to present to our Knights of Columbus Council 1954 in Boonton, NJ to celebrate the game played between Knights and as a Knights of Columbus fundraiser. The other one was for signatures to commemorate the event as a keepsake for yours truly. It was great day (Thank the Lord for the great weather at West Point in November)! Thanks to everyone who brought great stuff to eat and special thanks to Grill Master Frank Scarpa who barbequed the pork and re-heated it at the game for spectacular sandwiches. It was all enjoyed by everyone as it was finished before we went to the game. Everyone there that attended had a great time meeting with others – friends old and new, tailgating, attending the game, watching the pre-game festivities, seeing some of West Point as some of us walked back overlooking the Hudson River after the game, tailgating some more after, the bus rides to and from, hanging around the bar at the Hilton that evening. Bob Jones, a friend of about 20 years, a fellow Penn State fan, and a former Slippery Rock mascot when he attended SRU, presented me with trophy of sorts found by his mother who got it when she thought of me specifically when she saw it. Tremendous! See below. It was a fantastic celebration with a lot of fun that brought back memories and started some fantastic new ones!

Bob Jones presents my with a great gift to celebrate Game 500 !

Bob Jones presents me with a great gift to celebrate Game 500 !

One of my cousins, David Schember, a big fan of pro football, was a little confused about my celebration. In a conversation with Sharon Klein –Duggan, he called me over to settle a debate. He thought he was there to celebrate the 500th game played by Rutgers! He even told his boss, an RU grad, that that was why he was going to the game this weekend. He now knows why he never received a response back for his text he sent him. He couldn’t believe it was for MY 500th game. I told him to check out this web site. I hope he does.

The Knights of Columbus had such a great time. They already suggested doing Syracuse versus Notre Dame at the Meadowland next fall .- a venue reminiscent of huge tailgate parties we held back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sounds like a plan!

Santa sent one of his Elves to West Point to deliver the game ball for the last home game of the season. Three weeks now to get ready for Navy in Philadelphia.

Santa sent one of his Elves to West Point to deliver the game ball for the last home game of the season. Three weeks now for Army to get ready for Navy in Philadelphia.

We ran 50/50s on both buses for tips for our great bus drivers and for a K of C contribution. Thanks to Les and Don Di Vite for collecting on Bus 1 and to Bob ‘”Cat” Marcello and my cousin Kathy Graper for doing the same on Bus 2. It went very well. Kim Reigel (the most worthy Pitt alum I know because she at least married Darryl, fellow Juniata alum) was the winner on our bus as my wife, known as St. Laurie, Patron Saint of College football fans picked out the winning ticket on our bus. Afterward, we raffled off prizes on both buses including Collegefootballfan.com baseball caps, copies of my book, and a few CDs my daughter Alex helped organize and burned entitled, “Collegefootballfan.com’s Favorite Fight songs!”

Those who gathered at the Hilton/Hampton bar in Parsippany, NJ where many stayed over for the evening after such a great day, watched games, and saw the football season unravel as five undefeated teams fell. Like I said, it’s been a crazy season, and it’s going to get crazier! We are thrilled to have a front row seat of sorts to all this madness and I realize it no longer waits until March. I don’t know if it’s totally by design, but most of the conferences seem to have saves their best game for last except for the SEC. Come on! Alabama versus Charleston Southern, Auburn versus Idaho, Florida over Florida Atlantic in a squeaker, Kentucky over Charlotte, and South Carolina losing to the Citadel (thanks for the memories Steve Spurrier)? Those are supposed to e early season opponents to get the team ready for the tough games a the end. These seem like patsy games to get these teams over the hump if a winning record is out of reach. They might learn something from Rutgers. Winning seasons don’t matter anymore if you want to get to a bowl game. So you might as well pick on somebody your own size.

SEC fans and alum who joined us at our Game 500 celebration!

SEC fans and alum who joined us at our Game 500 celebration!



Steveo’s Salvos – November 20, 2015

It’s here!  This is it!  It’s the weekend we’ve been waiting for and we’re PUMPED!!!  It’s not Ohio State at Michigan (yet) or a Conference championship with Navy in it (yet), or a CFP Bowl game (yet), but it is the 500TH GAME IN COLLEGEFOOTBALLFAN.COM HISTORY!!! I started this back in September 1979 visiting my sister Mary Kay and future brother-in-law Gunther at the University of Rhode Island.  We watched URI host Delaware that day, coached by the Legendary Harold “Tubby” Raymond, to lose, 49-14.  UD went on to win the D-2 National Championship that year.  QB Scott Brunner of the Fighting Blue Hens went on to play for the NY Giants.  The most memorable play was an onsides kick by URI to start the second half.  It was kicked as a perfect spiral and the left end caught it down field over his shoulder for the most perfect onside kick I’ve seen until this day.  On the next play, the URI TB ran over 40 yards for a TD, but like I said, they got clobbered.  I bought a Meadowlands season ticket package that season with Bob “Cat” Marcello and Kenny Gallagher to see two Syracuse home games while the Carrier Dome was being built on their campus way upstate. SU assistant coaches included Tom Coughlin and Nick Saban.  I wonder what ever happened to those two?   I saw them play Penn State for what turned out to be my first of 96 games now played by the Nittany Lions. Who knew I would meet John Massimilla, a recent PSU grad at the time, working out at the same YMCA and end up getting together with him, his wife Kelle, their kids, and a lot of good friends to continue to do this right up to this year.  I also saw the Orange  face West Virginia whose QB was a guy named Oliver Luck.  His son now happens to play QB for the Indianapolis Colts.  I  went down South on vacation from my first job for Thanksgiving week to visit my Auburn buddy, Charlie Murren. I also met Charlie at the same Y near home where I met John.   I had been down to “The Plain” the year before to see the Tigers host Georgia in the only tie, 22-22, that I ever witnessed at the D-1 level (now FBS).  This vacation though was centered around the Iron Bowl – Auburn vs. Alabama at Legion Filed in Birmingham.  I got to sit in the student section with Charlie and  watch the Bama players stroll down the field in civvies to check out the turf. The Auburn voices were in fine shape. “If you can’t go to college, go to Alabama!”  From across the field, the Crimson Tide band played and their fans cheered and sang in unison, “Hey Auburn!  Hey Auburn! We’re gonna beat the hell out of you!”  Oh yeah? The retort was fired back musically as well, ” Around the bowl and down the hole, roll, Tide, roll”  I was hooked. Then as the Tide players strolled back the other way down the field, one loan figure stood with his hands behind his back leaning against the goal post with his trademark Houndstooth hat on.  He seemed to watch his players with pride and with anticipation of how he would expect them to play against their hated rival that afternoon.   Finally, a voice from the Auburn student section rose above all the others, “Hey look at him! He’s so drunk he has to lean up against the goal post!”   War Eagle!  Large schools, small, whatever, that season motivated me to do what the great ABC Sportscaster Chris Schenkel always used to say and I always loved to hear him say it, “College Football!  What better way to spend an Autumn afternoon!”  Since that first game in 1979, I’ve been to 499 college football games, 120 + stadiums, big ones ,small ones, neutral sites, and going with friends or meeting new ones across the country, it’s been a fantastic trip.  My book, Tales from the Tailgate, captures the first time I had seen each of  the 119 FBS teams in existence up to 2007 play for the first time.  I take pride in that I started the project and I finished it. I just wish I had had the time to promote it, but a career  to support my family was the priority.  Now I’m up to all 129 FBS teams with the addition of Charlotte when they played at Old Dominion this year.  The games are exciting most of the time, the fans are great to be around, the tailgating is good wherever I go, the spirit and passion is fantastic, travel experiences are an  adventure, getting to visit various parts of the country for the first time are awesome,  and the memories are worth all the time, effort, and money I’ve put into this, and I don’t have one regret.  Of course, I’ve had great support from my wife Laurie to continue this adventure that I started before I knew her.  She’s had some great experiences and some laughs along the way with me and at me.  And my kids grew up enjoying the game and traveling to places a lot of kids haven’t gotten a chance to see while growing up.  There were a lot of side trips along with going to games.  Alex even selected the University South Carolina where she went to college with the admission one day that I had actually influenced her to go to a school with a big football program. She wouldn’t have it any other way.  Our son Eric, now in the Navy, played four years of high school football, and though I continued to go to college games, I never missed one of his.  And he had a great experience playing in the high school program at Lenape Valley Regional here in NJ. That experience taught him things like working hard and how to be part of a team which is making him successful in what he does today.   Saturday will not be comparable to any of the aforementioned games we also cannot wait to attend later this season.  This one will be played between two disappointing teams:   3-7 Rutgers and 2-8 Army.

I think I'm rooting for Army this weekend.

I think I’m rooting for Army this weekend.

The irony of this is that my two favorite teams are Penn State and Navy!  However, I will still enjoy this one. This is the type of game I generally look for, two comparably skilled teams who will play a close game for three or four quarters. I enjoy that and the diversity of college football.  There  are so many teams, so many campuses, different style offenses , rosters the change completely almost every four years, new coaches the come on board, some who figure out how to survive, new teams on schedules every year.  For coaches it’s work. For me it’s a lot of fun.  The seasons go fast, and it seems like it takes forever for each fall to get here, but it’s all worth the anticipation and planning and the fun it all brings.  That fun in particular comes along with the many friends I’ve brought to games and even made along the way.  It’s a tribute this Saturday that I actually have two busloads of friends coming up to West Point to celebrate with me. It means more than anything to me as many come from long distances for this unique celebration of a 500th football game.   I wish I could have had enough for two more busloads, but for various reasons other couldn’t make it.  No problem. Bob Marcello and Charlie Murren and my sister Mary Kay and Gunther will be there to enjoy the festivities.  John Massimilla and company are excused. Penn State hosts Michigan tomorrow.  I won’t quit doing this for as long as I can, and if there’s a chance to go meet up with a friend who lives some place near a game I want to see, we’ll hopefully be able to get together. I’ve know some of my friends since I was in grade school, and others I’ve met the past few years.  This is going to be a great time.  I’m really looking forward to it.  This is the true highlight of my season.  You’ll probably read a brief Game Review here on Sunday, but I hope what I’ll really have  a lot of pictures of memories not only for this weekend , but also a lot of good memories about all the good times I’ve had doing this for the past 36 years.  What a great ride this has been…Navy has to win this week and next to host the AAC Championship…D3 starts its playoffs this weekend. 32 teams. And the Big Boys can’t get eight spots for the 129 competing at their level.  Something’s wrong here.  I got a feeling it won’t be the traditional Mt. Union – Wisconsin -Whitewater Invitational this year.  We’ll be checking the results on Sunday.

Would the Knights show up this evening to give the No. 4 Spartans a real challenge?

How can you root for a guy who looks like this?


Collegefootballfan.com Countdown to Game # 500: Game 499

Air Force seals win with a pass breakup on final play to beat Utah State, 35-28

The Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue Sky Diving team honors and mourns France in its pre-game parachuting ceremony.

The Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue Sky Diving team honors and mourns for France in its pre-game parachuting ceremony.

Colorado Springs, Colorado ( November 14) – The vaunted Air Force ground attack came up with an unexpected air attack to stay a step ahead of the Utah State passing attack for a well-played 35-28 victory. The USAFA’s win was not assured until Safety Weston Steelhammer broke up Kent Myer’s 18-yard pass attempt into the end zone on fourth down with 36 seconds left to secure the win over its Mountain West division foe, Utah State. For CFF.com, this was our 499th college football game since 1979 – first ever at the Air Force Academy and last of the five locations where we’ve attended a game among the five federally funded US military academies. We added Falcon Stadium to the other stadiums including Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and The Merchant Marine Academy. It was also the second very competitive football game we attended within 24 hours in the great state of Colorado.

On a beautiful, bright, sunny, clear day with a noon kickoff, the Air Force Falcons started the game scoring with their first drive of 79 yards polished off with a 31-yard touchdown run by FB D.J. Johnson (13 rushes, 79 yards, 1 TD) for an early 7-0 lead. Utah State kept up with the Falcons on its next possession as Myers lofted a high 40-yard pass to WR Hunter Sharp to tie it up. A timely end around play off the triple option and a 20-yard pass to Garrett Brown put Air Force at the two from where Jacobi Owens scored for another Air Force lead. Not to be outdone, the Aggies scored with their same combination as the first when Sharp caught a 48-yard pass carrying a defender on his back for the last five yards into the end zone. The quarter ended with the most scores seen by CFF.com that early in a game this season to tie it at 14-all.

USAFA FB DJ Johnson crosses the goal line to start the game's scoring finishing his 31-yard TD run.

USAFA FB DJ Johnson crosses the goal line to start the game’s scoring finishing his 31-yard TD run.

Both defenses made adjustments that paid off in the second period until late in the frame. Starting from the 15, the Cadets in blue drove the length of the field and QB Karson Roberts took in over on the right side for a six-yard run with 40 seconds left, and that’s how the first half ended, 21-14, in favor of the home team.

QB Karson Roberts follows his blocking to score before the end of the first half.

QB Karson Roberts follows his blocking to score before the end of the first half.

Like Army and Navy, Air Force has its unique traditions. It started before the game with some aerial acrobatics in a glider piloted by a Cadet with streams of white smoke trailing from its wing tips. Like Navy and unlike Army, the entire Wing of the Academy marched on to the field before the game – much more fitting than Army marching only six companies on to the Michie Stadium surface when they play games at home. The full command is much more inspiring in sight and sound and it displays unity between the team and the other Cadets. Air Force’s parachute team, The Wings of Blue, sky dives down to deliver the game ball and features appropriate flags. Included on this day was the flag of France to show solidarity and mourning for the fiendish attacks in Paris by terrorist the night before. Right before kickoff, a single B52 Bomber flew over Falcon Stadium roaring by with awesome power. At halftime, an actual Air Force falcon mascot swooped down from the press box to catch bait swung from a tether by a Cadet falconer standing near midfield. After the show on this day, an American bald-headed eagle soared over the stadium. An Air Force fan and season ticket holder sitting behind me at our 50-yard line seats (got mine from Stubhub) saw me watching it through my binoculars and wondered aloud if it showed up to eat the Falcon. I think the Falcon is much quicker in the 40. In the first half, both teams had eaten up a lot of yardage already although through totally different attacks. Air Force gained 212 of 309 yards via the running game – pretty typical – while the Aggies generated 197 of 209 through the air lanes. Would both teams maintain their game plans through the second half?

An Air Force Cadet Falconer works  her Falcon during the halftime performance.

An Air Force Cadet Falconer works her Falcon during the halftime performance.

The Falcons started the second half from the 25 following a touchback. After gaining a yard, they pulled off the surprise. Roberts (11 of 17 passing for 271 yards, 1 TD) took a page from the USU play book and lofted a high pass to 6’4” WR Jalen Robinette who leaped high in the air at midfield with a defender on his back and left him on the ground for a 74-yard catch and run TD and a sudden, shocking two score lead of 28-14. About ten minutes later in the period, the Aggies got back on the scoreboard through the air from Myers to Sharp (13 catches for 193 yards, 3 TDs) for their third scoring connection of the game. Like the first quarter, both teams scored two TDs before the period ended. Air Force drove 75 yards to retain a 14-point edge on Owens’ scoring run of three yards with 1:28 remaining. Myers connected for a 44-yard TD pass to a different WR, Devante Robinson, for his only reception of the game to settle the score at 35-28 as the third period came to an end.

WR Jalen Robinette made an unusual play for the Air Force turning this catch into a 74-yard touchdown.

WR Jalen Robinette made an unusual play for the Air Force turning this catch into a 74-yard touchdown.

Air Force started again after another touchback and went for a TD on fourth and goal where the Aggies stopped Owens at the ten, but they only got out to the 27 before punting the ball back. The Aggie D held Air Force to punt from their 39, but a roughing the punter call allowed Air Force to maintain possession and eat up more clock as time was running down. Utah State got the ball back at their 20 with 2:45 left in the game. On a fourth and two, Myers connected with his go-to guy Sharp who snared it for a first down at the Falcon 45 with 1:44 left. A 21-yard run by Myers and a 13-yard completion to Wyatt Houston moved the Aggies to the 11 for a first down. USU lost seven yards on a sack by DE Alex Hansen. Following an incompletion, Utah State went for the score with a fourth and 17 from the 18. Myers fired the ball to his receiver in the end zone and Steelhammer, who picked off an INT earlier, knocked it down to settle the final score for the birds’ victory in an exciting, well-played game right down to the finish. In the end, the Falcons tallied 580 total yards, 309 on the ground and unexpectedly 271 through the air. The Aggies rushed for 75 yards and threw for 364 for a total of 439 yards. They overwhelmingly controlled time of possession – 37:08 to 22:52. The Air Force scores came on some quick, long strikes..

Kent Myers and Hunter Sharp combined on this play for their second of three TD passes on the day with this throw.

Kent Myers and Hunter Sharp combined on this play for their second of three TD passes on the day with this throw.

State (5-5, 4-2) returns home to Ogden next week to host MWC opponent Nevada, and then it hosts now non-conference in-state rival BYU the following week. They have to win while Air Force has to knock off Boise and then lose to New Mexico to still have a shot at the division title.   Air Force (7-3, 5-1) flies to Boise State this Friday with the Mountain Davison title up for grabs as the two teams are currently  tied for first. Boises’s loss came at the hands of Utah State, 52-26. Most likely the winner will go on to play the West Division champion on December 5. San Diego State (7-3, 6-0) leads that division now with two games remaining. This was the last home game for the Falcons this season (winners of their last 12 home games). If they defeat Boise which they did last season at home, New Mexico stands in their way as their final conference foe for this season. As for CFF.com, you close followers already know that we head to West Point to celebrate our 500th college football game since we started all this back in September of 1979. With two full busloads of football friends and a few carloads, we will see Army (2-8) host Rutgers (3-7). Both teams have struggled this season to say the least which we hope bodes well for another competitive game to add what’s already been a fantastic 2015 500th game anniversary season. Go Knights (Scarlet or black, we don’t care. We’re going to win the tailgate)!

Air Force's pre-game festivities were enjoyable to watch as the Dance Team performed.

Air Force’s pre-game festivities were enjoyable to watch as the Dance Team performed.


Extra points: Check back with us tomorrow.

Only at the Air Force Academy.

Only at the Air Force Academy.


Collegefootballfan.com Countdown to Game # 500: Game 498

Trojans come back and corral Golden Buffaloes to avoid upset, 27-24

Buffs run USC QB Cody Kessler out of his pocket.

Buffs run USC QB Cody Kessler out of his pocket.

Boulder, Colorado (Friday, November 13) – Despite losing starting QB Sefo Liufau to a leg injury late in the first period, Colorado led the favored USC Trojans by as much as 17-3 in the first half, but a fumble recovery by the Trojans in the third period resulted in a lead change as the visitors from “Troy” halted the final Buffalo drive to secure a closer than expected victory, 27-24. CU Frosh QB Cade Apsay started adequately in Liufau’s place, but struggled later in the game. Christian Powell’s fumble recovered by Trojan DL Antwan Woods at the Colorado 34 resulted in Cody Kessler’s scoring strike to Taylor McNamara in the back of the end zone for a 20-17 USC lead. For CFF.com, it was our first game at Colorado’s Folsom Field thanks to Colorado Sports Information Director Dave Plati who invited me to watch the game from up in Press Row. It was only the second time attending a CU game since last time Dave invited us out to add both the Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams back in 2006 when we saw the two square off in The Rocky Mountain Showdown held at then Invesco Stadium (now Sports Authority Stadium we noted on our trip to Colorado Springs this weekend), and the fifth time we saw the Trojans but first time we saw them play somewhere other than The Meadowlands or at Penn State ( a USC-UCLA game is as a must-see at LA Coliseum some time in CFF’s future).

     USC got on the board first with Alex Wood’s 22-yard Field goal. The Buffaloes pressured Kessler (17 of 27 for 204 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT) to stifle the next Trojan possession. A 20-yard pass from Liufau to Patrick Carr put the Buffs in position for Phillip Lindsay’s four-yard TD run to give CU a 7-3 lead. Liufau (6 of 8 for 94 yards) completed a 36-yard pass to Nelson Spruce (7 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD) who hauled it in at the SC 29. Two plays later, Liufau was sacked and the first period ended, but little did anyone know that we’d seen the last of Liufau for the evening.

Colorado on the move in the first quarter.

Colorado on the move in the first quarter.

     The drive continued nowhere to start the second period as Apsay was sacked on his first play before CU punted. However, a Jered Bell interception of a Kessler pass returned 19 yards put the Buffs back on offense at the USC 26. From the nine, Apsay drilled a pass to the diving Spruce on a slant pattern over the middle to give the senior wide receiver his 22nd career TD to tie a school record and give the home team a surprising 14-3 lead. Inspired, DE Jimmie Gilbert sacked Kessler on SC’s next series and forced another Trojan punt after a three-and –out. A shovel pass to Donovan Lee provided CU a key first down to continue a drive that resulted in Diego Gonzalez’s 28-yard FG to put the Buffs up 17-3 with their second team QB seemingly in control. At Denver Metro Airport earlier that day, we heard locals laughing and telling arriving USC fans that their team wasn’t going to get much of a game from the Colorado Buffaloes.   Maybe some more of the locals should fill the empty seats among the 37,905 in attendance and see what’s going on with the Colorado University football program under Mike McIntyre. The third-year HC seems to be making some positive progress. According to Saturday’s Denver Post, CU Athletic Director Rick George confirmed McIntyre will be back next season despite 10-24, 2-22 overall and conference records. The coach, however, committed a faux pas of his own making right before the first half ended. The Trojans attempted a 46-yard FG and the Buffs blocked it – all for naught! McIntyre called time-out just before the ball was snapped! To this day, it’s a horrible strategy for one reason. He gave the Trojans a second chance and Wood converted as time expired. The Buffs led at halftime, 17-6, instead of 17-3. Had the block stood it would have been demoralizing for the Trojans rather than giving them three more points to build on. Would the game have been played differently in the second half had the score been different. Hard to say, but it would have at least killed any small amount of momentum the Trojans picked up from it. Would it make a difference in the final score?

     It was a cool, pleasant, windless night. Could’ve been anywhere, but at halftime I realized I had to be in Colorado! After the CU band performed, for the first time ever, I watched snowboarding as halftime entertainment! A short, snow slope with a rail from the end zone stand to my right were rigged up to watch young athletes purposely fall on their heines! The only one who seemed charged up by all the performers falling on their backsides was the over-exuberant announcer hosting the performance. I was somewhat disappointed that the USC Trojan Marching Band, who accompanied the team, did not perform after Colorado’s Marching band. No, I wasn’t charged up to hear them play “Fight on!” though I admit that song does fire me up against them from memories growing up a Notre Dame fan. I was disappointed because they brought along their dancing Song Girls and I couldn’t get a good view of them from where I sat down to my far left. I could have gotten a much better view from Row 2 in Press Row sitting high above the 45 yard line had they come out to do some of their routines at midfield. There are some college football traditions that are must-see whether you’re a fan of a particular team or not! Snowboarding? Where are our college football priorities going?

I didn't get to see the Song Girls as I had wished, but the CU Dance team was enjoyable to watch!

I didn’t get to see the USC Song Girls, but the CU Dance team was definitely enjoyable to watch!

     A sack of Apsay on CU’s first series showed where the momentum was swinging as the loss of ten yards forced a quick Colorado punt. The Trojan’s got the running game going with the one-two punch of Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis getting them down to the CU seven before a Buffalo offsides penalty. Kessler threw a four-yard TD pass to Jahleel Pinner on the right side of the end zone to cut the CU lead down, 17-13. Lee’s return out to the 37 seemed like a good starting point for the Buffs to mount a new scoring drive. However, Powell’s fumble gave SC the ball back for their subsequent lead-changing score.

Trojan LB Scott Felix levels Apsay on a short gain.

Trojan LB Scott Felix (47) levels Apsay for a sack.

     Trailing 20-17 in the last period, CU attempted a 52-yard FG, but the Trojan’s Adoree ‘ Jackson blocked it and recovered it at Colorado’s 35. Two plays later, Kessler threw a 36-yard TD pass to Juju Smith-Schuster (3 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) for a 27-17 lead. Apsay could not get the Buffs driving again, but CU’s defense also held USC in check and forced a punt after stalling on its nine. Spruce returned the punt 45 yards to the four and two more were tacked on for a late hit out of bounds. Apsay connected with George Frazier with a pass from the one to get back to within 27-24. A big hit on Justin Davis by LB Grant Wantanabe stopped the next Trojan drive from finishing in the end zone. CU took over from its 21. A 10-yard pass to Shay Fields gave the Buffs a first down at their 32. However, Apsay couldn’t get his team beyond their 43 where his fourth down pass fell incomplete with 1:22 left. The Trojans took over on downs and efficiently ran the clock down to preserve a tougher than expected win.

Grant Wanatabe's break up of this pass stopped the Trojan drive to force a punt for CU's last chance to at least even the score.

Grant Wanatabe’s break up of this pass stopped the Trojan drive to force a punt for CU’s last chance to at least even the score.

     Next up for USC (7-3, 5-2) is Oregon before UCLA comes calling to the LA Coliseum for their traditional season-ending slugfest. For Colorado (4-7, 1-6), this was their final home game of the season. They honored their seniors who will play their final two games at Washington State and at Utah. The college football regular season sure does seem to come and go quickly after much off-season anticipation. For CFF.com, I walked off the campus and down South Broadway in Boulder to go back to my rented “mini-van” and take a short drive back to the Days Inn Hotel. I looked forward to an early start the very next morning with a 70-mile trip to Colorado Springs for another first time venue to see Air Force host Utah State for our 499th game leading us up to our Big 500 a week later.


Extra points:  Thanks to Dave Plati again for inviting me to Folsom Field. He even told me that the buffet in the press box was in my honor!  It was great despite no alcoholic beverages allowed.  News guys are always pretty good at finding the favorite local watering holes any way ( I found two quickly – The Southeastern Sun and SIP).  Mountain Dews and big chocolate chip cookies for desserts enticed me the most.  Dave included me in his “Welcome” section of the Pregame information brochure handed out to all the media guests.  It highlighted my visit as my 498th game.  I really appreciated the Buffaloes hospitality to Collegefootballfan.com!

I had an assigned Seat # 21. When I went there to sit in my supposed seat in the front row, at first I thought the card there read “Joe Tessatorre”. What ? Was I supposed to be on ESPN all of a sudden?  Instead upon second look, it read “Joe Tessalore.” Oh, USC Sports Information Director. And he was supposed to be sitting next to USC AD Pat Haden. I found out that I was in the wrong row – one flight up and to their left.  I never saw either one of them sitting in those seats.  I was too busy watching a good game and going back to the buffet.  I still wished the Song Girls had gotten closer though!

According to Dave’s report, there were 19 NFL Scouts visiting there to watch the game including my old neighbor in Florham Park, GM Mike Maccagnan of the NY Jets.  I figured like others, he’s getting a close look at USC QB Cody Kessler.  I’d have reminded Mike if I’d seen him that the last Trojan QB the Jets drafted last didn’t work out so well – Mark Sanchez.  I would have invited him to join me on my schedule and I’ll help him find some prospects.  Heck, I’m going to Ohio State at Michigan in two weeks.  There will be at least four prospects for him to look at there.

I stopped for a visit with Ralphie whom I hadn't seen in nine years. She still prefers running around with Cowboys.

I stopped for a visit with Ralphie whom I hadn’t seen in nine years. She still prefers running around with Cowboys.

Steveo’s Salvos – November 11, 2015

“On the road again!”  After our bye week where we settled in to enjoy seeing Navy dominate Memphis on the tube in a 45-20 victory that catapulted the Mids to No. 20 in the CFP poll, we look forward to getting on the road for our farthest trip of 2016 to attend our games # 498 and # 499.  Friday, we head out to Boulder, Colorado for the Friday night clash at CU’s Folsom Field to see the Trojans of USC (6-3, 4-2) tussle with PAC 12 South foe Colorado sitting at the bottom of the conference (4-5,1-5).  We’re not predicting upset in this one, but we’re sure hoping for one!  CU got belted by No. 11 Stanford last week, 42-10, but had been showing signs of improvement earlier with some closer scores against stiff competition as they did vs. UCLA in a 35-31 loss.  QB Sefo Liufau leads a rushing attack of six ball carriers who each have over 280 yards so far this season.  The home field might give them some advantage with temperatures dipping into the 30s.  USC comes in on a three-game winning streak under interim HC Clay Helton who stepped in after the ouster of Steve Sarkasian before the Notre Dame loss.  The Trojans won close games in their last two outings at Cal, 27-21, and at home against Arizona, 38-30.  We think the Buffs can make this a competitive game with the ESPN spotlight on them.  Their key defensively is to try to slow down Troy QB Cody Kessler who’s thrown for 2,511 yards, 20 TDs, and five INTs.  His favorite target is WR JuJu Smith-Schuster who’s caught most of his completions for 1,094 yards and nine TDs.  RB Ronald Jones II is the leading Trojan ground gainer with 710 yards and six TDs.  You know there will be some talent on the field as I’m told at least 16 NFL scouts will be in attendance in the press box. I know because I’ll be up there with them out of the cold for this one.  CU SID Dave Plati who invited me out several years ago to add CU and Colorado State to my goal to “See ’em all!” is my gracious host for this game out in Colorado once again.  I told Dave I really appreciated the last opportunity when the Buffs and Rams met at Invesco Field at the time, but I really wanted to catch a game on campus with that brown-brick façade at Folsom Field!  I’m really looking forward to this. What great timing a week before we celebrate Game 500.  Go Buffs!…Of course taking such a road trip would be in vain on a Friday night if we didn’t find something fairly local to attend on Saturday.  Game # 499 worked out neatly.  The next morning, we head down to Colorado Springs for our first game ever at the US Air Force Academy.   We’ve been to West Point and Annapolis many times including this year’s game when Air Force fell to Navy, 33-11.  We love the traditions we’ve seen numerous times at Army and Navy, so we look forward to Air Force traditions such as the pre-game flyover and other festivities.  The Falcons (6-3, 4-1)  will host Mountain West Mountain division foe Utah State (5-4, 4-2).  The Aggies big win this season came over Boise State, 52-26.  They’ve scored 50 points plus in three of their last five games but hit a bump in the road last week at New Mexico, 14-13.  The Lobos halted the vaunted USU running attack holding it to 78 yards on 37 carries. Until then, it ran with potency.  Leading rusher Devante Mayes with 615 yards and seven TDs will try to get the running attack back on track.  QB Kent Myers stepped in for Chuckie Keeton who is sidelined for his third season in a row.  Myers has 1,106 yards passing for 10 TDs and one INT while rushing for 318 yard and three TDS.  We will see USAFA QB Karson Roberts lead his team a second time this season as he’s thrown for 694 yards while rushing for 410 and seven touchdowns.  RB Jacobi Owens is second in ground gains with 615 yards and four TDs.  Six players have rushed for 285+ yards.  With their 20-3 win over Army last week, the Falcons will focus on the MWC title again.  USU will be looking to even their conference record, but we think the Air Force will have some thruster power to keep the Aggies off balance.  This could be a trap game for the Air Force though as it reckons with Boise on the road the following week  A win here is  a step in the direction to take the Mountain division.  In the title game, the winner will probably take on San Diego State whom we saw get beat by Penn State early this season in State College.  We think this will be a tight game down to the wire game that will possibly go into overtime.  We think this will be another good one in what’s already been a fantastic season for collegefootballfan.com….

Air Force QB Roberts stopped for no gain.

Air Force QB Roberts (16) will have to get the triple option rolling to keep pace with the Aggies this Saturday.

Navy’s win last week really makes things exciting for us in the American Athletic Conference.  The Mids play SMU and Tulsa next.  If they win those two, it will most likely be a showdown with The Houston Cougars who are 9-0 right now.  But hold everything!  No. 24 UH plays No. 21 Memphis this Saturday reeling from their loss last week to No. 20 Navy, ranked for the first time since 2004.  The week after, Memphis travels to No. 22 Temple.  There are lot of big clashes in the AAC West the next few weeks.  Most likely, the champ of the West will play Temple.  Highest seed gets home field advantage.  If Navy wins out, we could go to the championship game in Annapolis.  If not, we could see Temple for the third time this year host a game at the Linc.  We are really looking forward to see how this conference unfolds, but Go Navy!  If Navy wins the AAC Championship, it looks like they could be the Group of Five rep in a major bowl this season.  It could be the Peach Bowl.  Too bad we have our Orange Bowl playoff ticket already. It’s seven hours away on the same day…

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds (19) scores his first TD of the game and 76th of his college career.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds’ unselfish play by forgoing a scoring record thus far ahs the Mids full speed ahead for a shot a AAC Championship as a member in its first season.

Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame in that order in the CFP.  We can agree with the final four, but in that order?  Bama lost to Ole Miss who lost to Memphis who lost to Navy.  So much for the body of work.  However, things are always apt to change.  Among three of the four teams here, rivalry games could be their undoing. You never know.  Clemson has South Carolina, but SC is tumbling.  Dabo Swinney will have his Tigers up for this one in memory of the Old Ball Coach, his antagonizer who quit on his team at mid-season.  Bama has Auburn, never mind Mississippi State.  The Iron Bowl?  You never know. That’s got potential though.  Ohio State Michigan at the Big House – this is the one to watch and we’ll be there! Of the three rivalry match-ups, this will be a blood bath. We get to see this game in the right year.  Despite Michigan’s two losses, the opener at tough Utah and the punt miscue that did them in against Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are going to be charged up. And if Ohio State isn’t, this could be the Big Ten’s ouster for the CFP.  Of course , the Irish have Stanford to contend with out in Palo Alto.  The Cardinal will be looking to gain some respect for the PAC 12…

The Irish and the Temple Owls have their sights set on great endings this football season.

The Irish and the Temple Owls have their sights set on great endings this football season.

Other games of consequence leading to the bowl make up – Florida State at Florida. I wouldn’t want the Noles as my opponent as a “spoiler”.  TCU at Baylor?  What about Oklahoma State finishing at home to Baylor and Oklahoma with TCU as a victim already.  A successful finish by the Cowboys is going to make it hard to keep them out of the CFP.  One last note about arch rivals.  If Navy wins on December 5 to take the AAC crown to compete in a major bowl, they still have to play Army!  Crazier things have happened, but Naah!  No way the Mids will look past that game even under those circumstances…Iowa ranked No. 5 in the CFP?  Last year in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Tennessee beat them like they were standing still – literally!  It was the slowest football team I’d ever seen at the FBS level. I just can’t believe they changed that much in one season.  I have to see them to believe there’s been that much improvement since that game…We’re not sure what FCS games if any are going to come in our direction this season.  With the potential of attending the AAC Championship on December 5 followed by army-navy a week later, that leaves December 19.  We have family plans on Saturday, but the D-3 championship is on Friday night.  The top four right now are Mt. Union  as usual), Linfield, UW-Oshkosh (UW Whitewater is No. 6),  and St. Thomas of Minnesota.  Others looming are No. 8 Johns Hopkins and No. 11 Wesley who fell to Salisbury State last week, 38-35.  Playoffs start in two weeks.  Like the FBS, a lot is going to happen before two teams reach the Stagg bowl in Salem, Virginia, but we want to get down there for that one, too….A lot of great football on its way over the next few weeks. We love this!

Navy didn't dominate army in Baltimore a year ago winning.  17-10.  Army is due, but...

Navy didn’t dominate Army in Baltimore a year ago winning, 17-10. Army is due, but…

Steveo’s Salvos – November 6, 2016

Only two weeks away from our Game 500 Celebration!  Can’t wait! Two full buses of tailgaters heading up to West Point For Rutgers at Army.  Go Knights!  We’re looking forward to a good time for what has been a tremendous season of college football – for the sport in general and for us in particular…With the announcement of the College Football Playoff Rankings, it shows we’ve seen some quality football teams this season.  We’ve seen # 3 Ohio State,  #5 Notre Dame, #7 Michigan State, # 16 Florida State in a huge, exciting upset loss to Georgia Tech, we will see #17 Michigan at OSU the week after Game # 500, #22 Temple twice already and maybe a third time in the AAC championship game, and we’ll see #24 Toledo the night before OSU and Michigan tear each other apart.  Add some other “also receiving votes” teams  like Duke, USC, Penn State, Washington State, and Navy, we’re seeing some good competitive football games. All we say though is don’t get too excited about the CFP rankings.  Things are going to change.  There are a lot of critical games between now and December 13 for all that matters…

The Owls put pressure on the Iris last week, but ND is still the highest ranked team we've seen this year at No. 5.

The Owls put pressure on the Irish last week, but ND is still the highest ranked team we’ve seen this year at No. 5.

Last week was the first time this season all the teams we are seeing during this regular season had a combined losing record (9-11).  It shows that teams are getting into the meat of their schedules…Washington State who we saw beat Rutgers, 37-34, early in the season is in a funny predicament.  They’re 5-3 overall and gave No. 11 CFP Stanford a tussle last week missing a last second FG to fall, 30-28.  The polls have been holding them out even before that. Why? Their first loss of the season was to FCS Portland State (7-1)  ranked at No. 10 in that division.  How do you rank an FBS school that lost to an FCS school ranked No. 10?  You’d have to place FCS #1-10 among the top teams in the FBS!…

WR River Cracraft and the other Washington State Cougars beat Rutgers and four other FBS schools, but couldn't notch a win over Portland State of the Fcs.

WR River Cracraft and the other Washington State Cougars beat Rutgers and four other FBS schools, but couldn’t notch a win over Portland State of the FCS.

We have a bye week this weekend and our timing is great with some great games on TV. These include Alabama vs. LSU and TCU vs. Oklahoma State in a game of unbeatens.  But we’re really excited to be able to watch Navy play at Memphis in a Western Division American Athletic Conference game.  It will be Navy’s triple option against Memphis with high-powered QB Paxton Lynch.  The Tigers have the big win over Ole Miss, and are favored at home.  The key to Navy winning is ball control and keeping Memphis on the field to a minimum.  Can they put pressure on Lynch and cover tight will be the big questions.  It will be tough for Navy to win this one, but we’d like to see them make things interesting with another game against undefeated Houston also in their division a few weeks from now. Winner among those three West teams looks like they will be playing against Temple for the championship. Temple hosts Memphis on November 21.  It would be great to see that AAC championship game on December 5 if it ends up in Philly or Annapolis.  We’re watching this AAC situation rooting for the Mids!…

Navy's ground attack will have to be at its best to beat Memphis with some tough defense against an awesome aerial attack.

Navy’s ground attack will have to be at its best to beat Memphis with some tough defense against an awesome aerial attack.

After seeing Georgia Tech two weeks ago with that exciting win over FSU on the last play of the game, the Yellow Jackets could not build any momentum. They fell to Virginia last week, 27-21.  FSU has Clemson this week. That looks to be the Tiger’s greatest challenge to stay in the CFP. WAs FSU QB Sean Maguire the real deal for FSU last week in their win over Syracuse. We hear he looked pretty good …

At least Georgia tech had something to cheer about when they beat Florida State.

At least Georgia tech had something to cheer about when they beat Florida State.

Rutgers was humbled in another Big Ten game last week falling to Wisconsin easily, 48-10.  They are at Michigan this weekend and you know Jim Harbaugh will show no mercy.  As a matter of fact, he’s trying to ramp up recruiting in the Garden State.  The Scarlet Knight play a struggling Nebraska team at home a week later.  The question is what kind of shape are the Scarlet Knights going to be in a after their visit to Ann Arbor…Our other Game 500 combatant Army is at arch-rival Air Force this week.  The Falcons return home after devastating Hawaii last week, 58-7. Maybe the Falcons will be tired from their long flight back to give Army a slight chance.  Nah! The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is on the line…When we see Air Force play Utah State on November 14, the game will possibly have championship ramifications for the Mountain West Conference.  Both teams are tied for first in the Mountain division. Utah State beat Boise State, 52-26.  Air Force will go into that game with a conference record of 4-1 after they play Army.  USU plays at New Mexico this week.  The week after we see Air Force and Utah State play, the Falcons play at Boise.  Utah State’s conference loss is to West Division leader, San Diego State, Tom Able’s team who we saw fall to Penn State this season.  We’re going to see some significant action when we’re in the Rockies…And by the way, we think Colorado is going to surprise USC.  They gave UCLA a tough game in a 35-31 loss.  What a great season, and a lot more is on the way!…

Air Force has rival Army this week followed by critical MWC game against Utah State and Boise. What a great schedule we put together this year!

Air Force has rival Army this week followed by critical MWC game against Utah State and Boise. What a great schedule we put together this year!

Enjoy the games this weekend.  Things are going to start shaking out!…The injury to James Madison QB Vad Lee who we saw play QB at Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl two years ago has set the Dukes back. They lost their second game in a row to William and Mary,  44-41…Harvard defeated Dartmouth , 14-13, last Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Ivy league…The crimson’s archrival Yale fell to lowly Columbia, 17-9 for a major setback…Colgate defeated Fordham to take sole possession of the Patriot league with a surprising 3-0 record…Charleston Southern upset Coastal Carolina last week 33-28.  Both teams have the same record of 7-1.  the Buccaneers are 4-0 in conference play while the Chanticleers are now 2-1.  CCU is ranked No. 8 and SCU is ranked No. 15?  Go figure!…In D-3, Mt. Union remains No1, followed by Linfield, UW-Oshkosh, and then Wesley. Only two games left in the season before they start the playoffs.  We are hoping to get to the Championship on December 18, a Friday night.  We’re hoping to see two team other than Mount Union and Wisconsin -Whitewater, but we’ll see.

Collegefootballfan.com Countdown to Game # 500: Game 497

Late Notre Dame TD overcomes tough, unbeaten Temple, 24-20

Philadelphia – Following a fourth quarter, 36-yard FG by Temple’s Austin Jones, Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer led his team on a 76-yard drive completing a 45-yard pass to Alize Jones to get to the Temple 8. Two plays later from that distance, he connected with Philadelphia native Will Fuller who kept his feet in the end zone to haul in the game-winning catch with 2:09 remaining for a 24-20 lead. No. 8 Notre Dame (7-1) slammed the door shut on the upstart, No. 23 Owls (7-1, 4-0) when CB DeiVarae Russell picked off P.J. Walker’s pass at the ND 35 to ice the score to finish off the Irish victory in a game well-played by both squads. For Collegefootballfan.com, it was our second game of this Saturday driving up after the Navy vs. USF game played at noon in Annapolis. We parked in a lot within walking distance from Lincoln Financial Field and walked past day –long tailgate parties coming to an end and passed out college students in the now lighted parking lot on the way into the long lines security lines heading into the stadium. It was well worth the effort to see this game played between a traditional college football power and an up and coming new “beast of the East”, the well-coached Temple Owls. After the close game, the Irish jumped to No. 8 from No. 9 while the Owls remained in the Top 25 falling from No. 21 to 23 attesting to the quality of both teams. Both still have their sights set on major bowl bids at the end of this season.

Here come the Irish!

Here come the Irish!

The Irish wasted no time scoring after the opening kickoff. Kizer (23 for 36 passing, 299 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs; 17 carries for 143 yards and 2 TDs) mixed the pass and run effectively finishing off a 74-yard drive with a four-yard TD run for the early lead. ND’s next possession went for three and out. A 27-yard punt started the Owls from their 42. A 14-yard pass from P.J. Walker ( 13 for 30, 188 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) to Venlett Bryant (6 catches for 91 yards) on a third down followed by a 22-yard completion to Robby Anderson were key plays for Austin Jones to put three up on the board with his 41-yard FG cutting the ND lead, 7-3.

QB DeShone Kizer looks for running room on the way to Notre Dame's first touchdown.

QB DeShone Kizer looks for running room on the way to Notre Dame’s first touchdown.

After an exchange of punts in the second period, the Irish drove to the Owl 17. Then after calling for timeout by HC Brian Kelly, LB Praise Martin-Oguike intercepted Kizer’s pass and TU took over from its six. A 39-yard run by Jahad Thomas (21 rushes for 82 yards, 1 TD), a 26-yard pass to Bryant, and a pass interference by ND put Temple on the ND 9. Backed up three yards, Walker fired a pass over the middle to WR Brandon Shippen with his back to the defender who he made contact with and fought this way over the goal line falling over for the TD to grab a 10-7 lead for the Owls. A holding call on the ensuing kickoff set the Irish on its 12. Kizer broke through the right side and once past the defenders in the box against a short yardage situation he raced 79 yards into the end zone to regain the lead for the Irish, 14-10. The Irish forced Temple to a three and out on its next series, and took control back on its 15. The Irish moved down field with some key plays for big gains. On third and six at the Temple 26, Kizer threw a 15-yard completion to Chris Brown (six for 72) for the first down. On third and ten knocking on the door at the 11, All-AAC LB Tyler Matkevich picked off Kizer’s pass over the middle and returned it to the 26 with one minute left to play in the half. The teams went to their respective locker rooms with the Irish up by four.

DL Matt Ioannidis halts Kizer near goal line to eventually force a Justin Yoon FG.

DL Matt Ioannidis halts Kizer near goal line to eventually force a Justin Yoon FG.

The Temple Owl Marching Band celebrated Halloween at halftime in front of the sell-out crowd of 69,696. They put on an entertaining “Thriller/Time Warp Show” with the appropriate tunes for the occasion by Michael Jackson and from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” On a very comfortable, seasonably cool evening, I looked forward to the second half not rooting for either team in particular this half. I like both teams. ND was my favorite growing up as a kid, but they were set aside based on my personal affiliations with Penn State and Navy over the years. For Temple, I now have lot of respect for what I’ve seen Matt Rhule, former Nittany Lion LB, do with this program in his third year as Head Coach. The Owls impressed when I saw them beat PSU in the season opener for both schools. From what I’ve seen in person and the program’s results, I think Rhule will be coaching in the Big Ten in the near future, Rutgers or Maryland. He does a great job recruiting in the northeast at Temple which will bode well for him at either aforementioned school. But, I’m most impressed with his game preparation and the execution of his team’s play on the field in all facets. He has surrounded himself with a good staff. He evidently has good organizational and leadership skills to take over a bigger program.

The Temple Band's 'Walking Mummy" performs at halftime.

The Temple Band’s ‘Walking Monster” performs at halftime.

In the third period, the Irish drove to Temple’s six where the Owls held, and PK Justin Yoon kicked a 23-yard FG for a 17-10 Notre Dame lead. Both defenses held to three and outs. Temple was driving at the ND 43 as the third period ended.

Continuing the drive, on fourth and four, Walker completed a 31-yard pass to Robby Anderson who took it to the Fighting Irish seven. Aided by a personal foul, TU picked up a first down and Jahad Thomas banged it over from the one to make the score even between the two ranked teams. Next time the Owls had the ball, they moved 42 yards in eight plays for Jones to convert his second field goal to go ahead of the Irish, 20-17, with 4:45 left to play. At that point, it was Kizer’s arm and his legs that put the Irish in the lead for good to seal the win in a great, entertaining game played by both teams. We’re hoping for the best for both programs through the end of this season.

Temple defense closes in of RB CJ Prosise.

Temple defense closes in of RB CJ Prosise (20).

The Irish will next visit another improving team in the East when they meet ACC opponent Pitt (6-2, 4-1), also a long-time rival of Notre Dame’s. No. 9 Stanford of the PAC 12 looms in the future out in Palo Alto for a key contest that could possibly land either team in the College Football Playoff with a win in that game. Temple travels to SMU in Dallas next weekend. They need to avoid a letdown a week after their first loss. This is a so-called “trap “a game for them as the following week they will host AAC West foe Memphis (8-0,4-0) currently ranked No. 15 in the nation. This could probably also be a prelude to the AAC Championship game (although we’re hoping Navy has something to do with that this weekend). Wins for the Owls the rest of the regular season could bring the AAC championship game right back here to “The Linc” on December 5 (and again we hope Navy…) and if so, we’re going! As for Collegefootballfan.com this weekend, we’ve declared it as our first official BYE week of this season. Not only is it time to rake leaves, take old paint cans to the County Recycling center, and watch some big impact games on TV (Navy-Memphis, LSU-Alabama, ND- Pitt, et al), but we’ve got to finalize some plans for our gala Game # 500 two weeks later on November 21 at West Point when we celebrate at the Rutgers- Army game with two busloads of friends coming along for the festivities. The week before, we will be seeing Games 498 and 499 for our longest regular season trip of this season when we fly out to Colorado. On the evening of Friday, November 13, we will be at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado for the game between the USC Trojans and The Colorado Golden Buffaloes (Go Buffs!). The next day, we will head from there to Colorado Springs for our first Air Force home game when the Falcons host the Utah State Aggies.

Everything is going as planned for what we had hoped would be a great season for CFF.com, and so far it’s been just that! Keep coming back to check out our site for the latest.



Collegefootballfan.com Road to Game #500: Game #496


Navy sails past South Florida late to win, 29-17; Reynolds ties NCAA TD rushing record

Annapolis, MD – The Navy Midshipman (6-1, 4-0) sustained an 80-yard scoring drive in the final period and followed up with a turnover for a second to take the lead and then distance themselves from the South Florida Bulls (4-4, 2-2) to win the American Athletic Conference game, 29-17. Both scores came on one-yard runs by Navy QB Keenan Reynolds ( 26 rushes for 125 yards and two TDs) for his 76th and 77th career rushing TDs tying the NCAA record held by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball established in 2012. For Collegefootballfan.com, we tailgated before the noon kickoff in Annapolis with our good friend and Navy season ticket holder Brian Donnelly who brought along his girlfriend Laurie (his “St. Laurie” he calls her) and some of his other family members for a pre-game tailgate get-together. The noon kickoff at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium offered CFF.com an opportunity to also attend the 8 pm kickoff this evening up at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia between No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 21 Temple. We had a big football Saturday planned. This would be our second Saturday double-header of 2015.

There was a lot to cheer about for Navy on this beautiful Saturday when they took on the USF Bulls for their first meeting in the new two division AAC.

There was a lot to cheer about for Navy on this beautiful Saturday when they took on the USF Bulls for their first meeting in the new two division AAC.


On a beautiful fall, Halloween afternoon in front of an unusually sparse crowd at Navy-Marine Corps (26, 766 announced), the Bulls lit up the scoreboard right away as WR Rodney Adams took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a TD and a quick lead for the Bulls who came to town riding a three-game winning streak. The Mids came right back to cut the score 7-3 on its initial possession with Austin Grebe’s 30-yard FG. The Bulls came out again on the move getting to the Navy four after starting from its 25. LB D.J. Palmore stopped QB Quinton Flowers (12 for 20 passing, 208 yards) for a three-yard loss before Emili Nadelman’s FG attempt from 25 was good. USF converted three third down situations on the drive until that final looking like they’d be tough for the Mids to stop. Navy started a drive from its 24 heading into the second period.

USF QB Quinton Flowers looks for a receiver down field.

USF QB Quinton Flowers looks for a receiver down field in front of the Brigade.

FB Chris Swain (23 carries, 131 yards, one TD) broke a few tackles and headed up the right side for a 24-yard TD to even the score at 10 for each. The Bulls got into position to attempt a 46-yard FG, but Nadelman’s kick missed. Later in the period, a USF punt sailed out of bounds for a short 15 yards to put Navy at its 49. With 33 seconds left in the second, Grebe booted a 26-yard FG for a USNA lead of 13-10 at halftime.

FB Chris Swain gives Navy the power in their triple-option attack.

FB Chris Swain gives Navy the power in their triple-option attack.

At the half, the Navy D&B Corps performed as well as did the official Marching Band of the Washington Redskins. Established in 1937, it’s the only marching band of an NFL team, most widely known for its rendition of “Hail to the Redskins.” Brian came down to our seats in section 26 in the lower section to invite his sisters Eileen, Patsy, her husband, Barney, and me to join him in the upper deck during the second half. The stadium was not as crowded as it has been at most games we’ve attended during the past few years, and plenty of seats were available on a beautiful day for an important conference game in Navy’s first season in the AAC. I wondered why Navy fans wouldn’t be there to see the Mids compete in a conference game, something they never had a chance to do in the past. However, Barney pointed out that a lot of fans with young kids were probably out enjoying Trick or Treating with their families this day. He was probably right. We moved up to the upper deck to sit with Brian proudly wearing his yellow foam Navy ship hat. He looked ready to go trick or treating himself.

Before the game for a little tailgating with Barney, Patsy, myself, Dan with his Navy ship hat, Laurie, and Eileen.

Before the game for a little tailgating with Barney, Patsy, myself, Dan with his Navy ship hat, Laurie, and Eileen.

In the third, a 35-yard USF pass to Chris Barr put the Bulls at the one, and Marlon Mack carried it over from there to give the visitors the lead, 17-13. A 28-yard FG by Grebe pulled the Mids to within one, 17-16, heading into the final 15 minutes of play.

Flowers completed a 40-yard pass to Adams (3 catches for 86 yards) to Navy’s 29. On a third and four, DE Will Anthony caught Flowers from behind for a one-yard gain to cause USF to set up for a field goal attempt, but the Mids jumped offside and the Bulls got a fresh set of downs. A pass to Adams was caught out of bounds for an incompletion on third down. Nadelman’s attempt missed wide left, and Navy took over from its 20. The Mids cruised down field on nine rushes with Reynolds carrying the last six with the final one over left guard from the one to give USNA the lead, 22-17. A failed two-point conversion kept the lead at five, giving USF the opportunity to take the lead with a TD as 6:58 remained. Adams returned the kickoff to about the 40, but Myer Krah caused and recovered a fumble the give the Mids possession again at USF’s s 42. Reynolds carried for three yards, but his head was slammed hard into the turf and he came up woozy. He headed to the sideline. His backup Tago Smith took over and drove Navy to the USF 11 before Reynold’s re-entered the fray. FB Chris Swain carried seven yards to the one, and Reynolds drove it in from the one over left guard again to give the Mids a 29-17 lead with only 1:49 left. With that touchdown, he tied the NCAA record and still has five regular season games remaining for a chance to smash the record, a fine one that he will surely give full credit to his teammates.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds (19) scores his first TD of the game and 76th of his college career.

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds (19) scores his first TD of the game and 76th of his college career.

USF gave the ball up after four downs on its 18. Their early perceived, offensive domination was adjusted well to by Navy who outgained them on the day, 444 yards to 270 with only 62 of USF’s on the ground. The game was history for both schools and CFF.com. The Mids achieved bowl eligibility with their sixth win, their twelfth in thirteen seasons. They could be playing again in Annapolis on December 28 with a bid to the Military Bowl (we will be there), but if things go better than most expect and they can go on to win the AAC championship on December 5, the bowl bid could be set on a much larger stage with a bid going to the top team among what is called The Group of Five as compared to the Power Five conferences in FBS football.

That opportunity starts next week when the Mids travel to play in the Liberty Bowl to take on the No. 15 Memphis Tigers (4-0, 4-0) with a recent 37-24 win over Ole Miss. A West Division foe with whom the Mids are in a three-way tie with along with Houston, they will have to use their solid running game to score and to keep QB Paxton Lynch and their passing game off the field to get an edge. When was the last time the Tigers faced a triple option? Probably not in a very long time. The game is slated for 7 pm. USF heads out to play East Carolina (4-5, 2-3) for an East Division AAC game with both vying for eventual bowl eligibility. CFF.com headed up I-95 North after this game to Philly to see No. 9 Notre Dame face an unexpectedly ranked No. 21 Temple at Lincoln Financial Field. (Come back after tomorrow night to check out our game report on this one). The Owls could be the team for the winner of the West to contend with for the AAC championship game. After this one, there will be two more games for Collegefootballfan.comto attend before our Tailgate Extravaganza to celebrate Game 500 on November 21!

"Hey you Plebes! Drop and give me 29!" (as in the total number of points scored)

“Hey, you Plebes! Drop and give me 29!” (as in the total number of points scored) “All the way down, Mister! I mean Miss!”


Highlight from last weekend!

I thought I saw an amazing play last weekend (and I did)  when Georgia Tech blocked a field goal last week with six seconds remaining and returned it 78 yards  for a TD to shock No. 9 Florida State as time expired, 22-16.
  This video below was sent to me Monday by my friend and work colleague Bill Lombardi who coaches Pee Wee football.
  End of 1st half, ~ 40 seconds remaining.
# 32 on Freehold (blue jersey) is Yahsin Calhoun, cousin of MSU DE All American Shalique Calhoun.
Could be the greatest individual effort I’ve ever seen at any level of football….from an 11 year old

Countdown to Collegefootballfan.com Game # 500: Game # 495

Bedlam at Bobby Dodd Stadium: Georgia Tech upsets No. 9 Florida State on final play, 22-16

Georgia Tech fans rushed the Field at Bobby Dodd stadium after Lance Austin's 78-yard TD rune tow win the game as time expired.

Georgia Tech fans rushed the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium after Lance Austin’s 78-yard TD run to win the game as time expired.

Atlanta, Georgia – Chris Harken (Miami, O.), Ron (LSU), and I were overwhelmed by a crush of white-out wearing Georgia Tech fans as Yellow Jacket DB Lanced Austin returned a blocked FG attempt by Robert Aguayuo and returned it 78 yards on the last play in regulation for the game-winning touchdown to upset No. 9 Florida State, 22-16. The three of us lost track of each other though standing next to one another ten rows off the end zone where Austin crossed the goal line in a shocker of a play. Chris’s new cell phone was broken and lost briefly in all Georgia Tech exuberance. After the game, Ron commented, “You know, we were probably a broken arm away from spending the rest of the evening together in some emergency ward!” Aside from Chris’s broken cell phone that bounced into a bag of souvenir shirts and he eventually found under the seats of fans in front of us, we survived the deserved, unexpected, explosive mayhem around us. After the frenzy, we were astonished and amazed to have witnessed such a comeback victory by the Rambling Wrecks, very reminiscent of the Auburn field goal return in their big win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl two seasons ago. Tech (3-5, 1-4) knocked FSU (6-1, 4-1) off its unbeaten pedestal and out of the Top Ten to No. 17. What Collegefootballfan.com picked as a game to attend before the season started figuring it would have a bearing on both squads trying to qualify for the 2015 College Football Playoff did not live up to that anticipation. Instead, for what some pundits dubbed as “Upset Saturday”, we had 10th row seats along the end zone to see that become reality right in front of us when Austin amazingly crossed the line for the final score. What sport is more exciting during its regular season than the short, hard-fought season of college football?

FSU PK Robert Aguayo, who fell victim of to the ultimate block of his 55-yard scoring attempt, posted State with a 3-0 lead in the first period with his 20-yard FG following an interception of a tipped Justin Thomas pass by Freshman DE John Sweat at GT’s 19. On Tech’s ensuing possession, Harrison Butker impressed with a 53-yard FG to tie the score before moving on into the second period.

The Yellow Jacket defense swarmed over Dalvin Cook (4) early to force Aguayo's field goal to hold FSU to a 3-0 lead.

The Yellow Jacket defense swarmed over Dalvin Cook (4) early to force Aguayo’s field goal to hold FSU to a 3-0 lead.

After Tech HC Paul Johnson called his team’s second time-out of the half early in the second period, it seemed to be a waste as Thomas’s pass on the next play was intercepted by DB Lamarcus Brutus who returned it 57 yards to Georgia Tech’s two. Dalvin Cook (17 carries for 82 yards, 1 TD) scored from there on the next play for a 10-3 Florida State Seminole lead. Aguayo tacked on three more with a 27-yard FG. Tech returned the kickoff out to the 36, but an illegal block set them back on their six. Thomas (4 of 10 passing, 67 yards, 2 INTs; 67 yards rushing) connected to WR Ricky Lejeune for his only catch of the day for 33 yards. From the 40, Thomas ran the option right and raced around the Seminoles basically untouched for a 60-yard TD, the break through the Georgia Tech Homecoming crowd was waiting for. Tech trailed, 13-10. Under pressure from DT Antonio Simmons, FSU QB Everett Golson (20 for 30, 210 yards, 1 INT) threw an incomplete pass to force a field goal attempt. With six seconds remaining in the half, Aguayo split the uprights to give the Seminoles a 16-10 lead at the intermission.

Tech's defense pressured Everett Golson in several critical passing situations.

Tech’s defense pressured Everett Golson in several critical passing situations.

Georgia Tech celebrated its Homecoming at halftime. We realized that for the second season in a row, we attended a Homecoming game with Florida State visiting as a ranked and undefeated nemesis! Last year, we saw them defeat Syracuse as their Homecoming opponent. Generally in the past, the Homecoming opponent was normally some struggling, long-time patsy to invite for the Homecoming “feast”. With midseason conference play well under way, those games are fairly too elusive to schedule, unless it’s in the SEC where Vanderbilt is usually on call (see Mizzou vs. Vandy yesterday) if not some FCS team or Sun Belt alternative.

With a five-game losing streak entering the game against No. 9 Florida State, the Yellow Jackets were playing with fire, and won!

With a five-game losing streak entering the game against No. 9 Florida State, the Yellow Jackets were playing with fire, and won!

In the third period the Yellow Jackets controlled the clock on its first possession (as it did the entire game 34:51 to 25:09), and Butker, who booted every kickoff for a touchback, finished the drive with a 40-yard FG. Tech drove the ball down to the FSU 28 as the third period expired trailing now, 16-13.

After Tech punted, the Seminoles started its drive from the 26. Down to the ten yard line on a third and goal, Golson fired a pass over the middle where DB Lawrence Austin tipped it up and Jamal Golden picked it off in the end zone for a touchback. Following exchanges of punts, Tech started again from its 37. On fourth and six from Tech’s 41, Thomas completed a 36-yard pass along the right sideline to Freshman WR Brad Stewart for his only catch of the day and a key first down. With: 54 left remaining in regulation, Butker tied the score, 16-16 with a 35-yard FG. As usual, the ‘Noles started from the 25 thanks to another Butker touchback. FSU worked the sidelines and the clock to get to Tech’s 38. An incompletion near the sideline brought Aguayo out to attempt his 55-yarder. DB Corey Griffin knocked the ball out of mid-air. Lance Austin hesitated to pick it up on the right hash mark at his 22, sprinted left, picked up some great blocks, and brought bedlam to Bobby Dodd Stadium as time expired for an exciting 22-16 last second victory. College football doesn’t get any better than this (unless you’re from Florida State, of course)!

Georgia Tech's Harrison Butker kicked a 35-yard field goal with 54 seconds left to tie FSU, 16-16.

Georgia Tech’s Harrison Butker kicked a 35-yard field goal with 54 seconds left to tie FSU, 16-16.

Next week, HC Paul Johnson vows to run the table starting the rest of the season next week with Tech heading to play Virginia (2-5, 1-2) in Charlottesville. FSU will host Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) at noon in Tallahassee. CFF.com has a great “double-header Saturday” lined up. At noon, we will be in Annapolis after an early tailgate with Brian Donnelly and company to see Navy (5-1, 3-0) host South Florida (4-3, 2-1) for our first American Athletic Conference game we will see the Mids play in. We hope to see Navy QB Keenan Reynolds also make some progress to catch Montee Ball’s NCAA scoring record of 500 points. After that game, we head a couple of hours north to Philly to see now No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) visit No. 22 Temple (7-0, 4-0) for an 8 pm battle royale at “The Linc” to gain more respect for each in the polls of the upcoming CFP rankings. It’ll be a big weekend preceding our recently announced bye week on November 7. These two games and two more on November 13-14 lead us up to our Game 500 weekend when Rutgers visits Army. The season is speeding along to capture some more thrilling college football moments.

GT mascot "Buzz" posed with fans for photos during halftime.

GT mascot “Buzz” posed with fans for photos during halftime.


Extra points: met up with Chris and Ron close to the Georgia Tech campus at The Yard House. Great food! Terrible table service and poor management of the screens showing all the games. We thought Auburn – Arkansas was over and the Tigers had won until we saw highlights during another game. And in Atlanta on a college football Saturday, no less.

This was Collegefootballfan.com’s first game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Didn’t get to catch up at any tailgates which are strewn throughout the campus. But thought the Stadium itself and of course the atmosphere there were first-rate.

Three players on the Seminole roster hail from our area in Sussex County, NJ. Back-up QB Sean Maguire of Sparta who played at Seton Hall Prep; starting Junior OT Chad Mavety of Sparta who played for Pope John HS; and redshirt Freshman TE Ryan Izzo from Highland Lakes who also play for PJ. He caught two passes for 27 yards.

Ron, the LSU fan, claims that the “real national championship” will be played on November 7 when LSU plays Alabama. We don’t agree, but we look forward to watching that one on our bye week along with Navy at Memphis in a key AAC Western Division match-up.