Monday, January 16, 2017

College Football Week 21 – Stanford-Rice in Sydney, Aug. 26, 2017

Memories, light the corners of my mind

“Misty colored memories
Of the way we were”
Time flies, especially during college football season. It seems like it was only yesterday when Tim Tebow announced he was trying out for major league baseball and the Big 12 Conference announced it was looking into expansion. 
Tennessee fans were all giddy and excited about the start of a new football season. Vols fans acted like the opening game against Appalachian State was going to be the biggest game in Tennessee football history.
Baylor was about to start its season without Art Briles, while Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss were about to start their season, facing 14 major rules violations.
Well, the New York Mets signed Tebow and sent him to their fall camp in Arizona. His performance was so bad that Fox Sports said, “It’s time to end the Tim Tebow baseball experiment.” After batting .156, Tebow got a brutal assessment from baseball scouts – “Awful.” “Stinks.” “Ugly,” they said. But in spite of it all, Tebow is going to spring training with the New York Mets. Stay tuned!
I guess you could say Tebow fared better with his expansion than the Big 12 did with theirs. After inviting every school in the country, including Arkansas State, to apply, the Big 12 announced that 10 schools were finalists. And after putting those schools through tryouts with videos and verbal presentations, the Big 12 ultimately said, “We’re not going to expand.” So what was that all about?
Meanwhile, in Knoxville, the Appalachian State-Tennessee game turned out to be one of the Vols biggest games. It almost turned out to be one of Tennessee’s biggest losses. Appalachian State led the Vols 13-3 at the half and 13-6 at the end of three. The game ultimately went into overtime before Tennessee could subdue Appalachian State, 20-13.
Baylor got off to a great start without Art Briles. Under interim coach Jim Grobe, the Bears jumped out to a 6-0 start on the season. Then disaster struck, as Baylor lost its next six games. The Bears bounced back with an impressive 31-12 win over Boise State in their bowl game. Briles, on the other hand, never bounced back. At the end of the season, he applied for some of the head coach openings and was turned down by all. More recently, Gus Malzahn refused to interview Briles for the offensive coordinator opening at Auburn.
Meanwhile in Oxford, Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze are still waiting for the NCAA to hand down a decision. All the while, the wait appears to be having a negative effect on
Ole Miss’ recruiting. Stay tuned!
“Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind”
Yes, back in August, California and Hawaii got the season started a week early in Sydney, Australia. The Golden Bears beat the Rainbow Warriors, 51-31. But little did Cal coach Sonny Dykes know at the time that he would be fired at the end of the season.
The following week, Steve Sarkisian joined the Alabama coaching staff, as an offensive consultant.
In Week 2, Louisville beat Syracuse, 62-28. The Cardinals racked up 845 total yards in the game. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was responsible for 610 of those yards – passing for 411 and rushing for 199. It was stats like these early in the season against weaker competition that made Jackson the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. So much so, that in spite of weak stats and poor performances against stronger competition at the end of the season, Jackson still won the Heisman Trophy.  
Week 4, LSU fired Les Miles. In what was labeled the “Hot Seat Bowl” between LSU and Auburn, the Auburn Tigers beat the LSU Tigers, 18-13. The game had a controversial ending, because it appeared that LSU beat Auburn 19-18 on the final play of the game. But after a review, it was determined that LSU did not get the ball snapped before the clock expired. Miles was fired after the game.  
Week 5 (late September/early October), Swamp Mama and I had a great week in Nebraska, visiting with friends Dave and Sue Brolhorst and also Rory and Randi Zink. Along with Dave and Sue, and thanks to Rory, we attended the Illinois-Nebraska football game. The Huskers won, 31-16.
I got to check off two things on my bucket list during the trip. Going to a Nebraska football game in Lincoln was one. The other was visiting the Big Red Meat Wagon tailgate site before the game. I managed to lay back on the gurney and get my vodka IV. Thank you Dan Kleinbeck, Mike and Rick.   
That was the same weekend that Clemson beat Louisville, 42-36, and Tennessee beat Georgia, 34-31, on a 43-yard Hail Mary pass as the game clock expired.
The next week, Hurricane Matthew disrupted the football scene in Florida. Instead of going to the LSU-Florida game in Gainesville, Swamp Mama and I evacuated to Punta Gorda, while Bootsie and Rockledge Gator evacuated to Georgia. The LSU-Florida game was postponed.
That was the same weekend that Tennessee, after its incredible win over Georgia the week before, lost to Texas A&M in two overtimes, 45-38.
Week 7, halfway through the season, Clemson barely escaped defeat, beating NC State, 24-17 in overtime. As time expired at the end of regulation, NC State missed a 37-yard field goal that would have given the Wolfpack a 23-17 upset win over Clemson.
In other news that weekend, Purdue fired Darrell Hazel.
The following week, Penn State knocked off Ohio State, 24-21, handing the Buckeyes their one and only loss during the regular season. In the game, the Buckeyes led the Nittany Lions 21-7 early in the fourth quarter.
As much as I hate Saturday weddings during college football season, Swamp Mama and I flew to Houston for a wedding during Week 9. But I must admit I had a good time. We had lunch with my ole friend from work, Terry Conner and we had dinner with my cousins (who are twins) Florence Rutherford and Frances Jones.
The wedding took place on the same afternoon as the Florida-Georgia football game. Those of us who flew in from Florida for the wedding all had our cell phones out, following the Florida-Georgia game during the service. None of us had guilty consciences as we had permission from the groom’s mother. The Gators beat the Dawgs, 24-10.
On the same weekend, Clemson beat Florida State, 37-34.
Two weeks later, Bootsie, Rockledge Gator, Swamp Mama and I celebrated our 25th anniversary of attending Florida football games together. We were in Gainesville for the South Carolina-Florida game – the return of Will Mustake to The Swamp. Florida won 20-3. Our thrill of the game was watching Eddie Pineiro kick a 54-yard field goal for the Gators.
Week 12 Charlie Strong was fired after Texas lost to Kansas, 24-21 in overtime. It was the Longhorns’ first loss to Kansas since 1938. Meanwhile, in the game that was postponed from October 8, Florida beat LSU (in Baton Rouge), 16-10. Florida’s defense provided a spectacular goal-line stand for four plays at the end of the game.
Michigan State failed on a two-point conversion attempt and ultimately lost to Ohio State, 17-16. Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist John Adams wrote that the SEC should trade Missouri to the Big 12 for West Virginia. 
The same weekend, USC handed Washington its first and only loss (until the playoffs). The Trojans beat the Huskies 26-13. Also, losing its only game of the season was Clemson. The eventual national champions lost to Pitt, 43-42. Iowa knocked off Michigan, 14-13, on a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
Week 13 and Swamp Mama and I entertained 11 people for dinner. Yes, it was Thanksgiving Week and I cooked the turkey. I’m not being facetious. But in Columbus, Ohio, Jim Harbaugh was a turkey. Harbaugh blamed the officials for Michigan’s 30-27 double overtime loss to Ohio State. Yes, the officiating was atrocious, but Wolverines’ quarterback Wilton Speight lost the game for Michigan.
Alabama and Western Michigan became the only two FBS teams to finish the regular season undefeated. The Crimson Tide beat Auburn, 30-12, and the Broncos beat Toledo, 55-35. Kentucky knocked off Louisville, 41-38, and out west, Colorado won the Pac-12 South Division, beating Utah, 27-22.
Week 14 was championship week, but winning the Big Ten was meaningless this season. Penn State won the Big Ten, beating Wisconsin, 38-31 in the title game. However, in the final College Football Playoff Poll, Ohio State, not Penn State, was chosen for the four-team playoff. The other three were Alabama, Clemson and Washington. The Nittany Lions finished 5th in the poll.
Oregon fired Mark Helfrich, Indiana fired Kevin Wilson and Cincinnati dumped Tommy Tuberville.
The next week Army beat Navy for the first time in 14 years. The Cadets beat the Middies, 21-17. In New York, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy. Jackson beat out Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the voting.
Week 16, LSU made interim coach Ed Orgeron the full-time coach, and Texas hired Tom Herman.   
One week later, Christmas was near. A former Wake Forest player and assistant coach was caught passing playbooks and game plans to the Demon Deacons’ opponents – an activity that had been going on for two or three seasons. Meanwhile, the coaching vacancies were filling up. Oregon hired Willie Taggart, South Florida hired Charlie Strong, Baylor hired Matt Rhule, Florida Atlantic hired Lane Kiffin and Cincinnati hired Luke Fickell. It seems like everybody got hired but Les Miles and Art Briles.
The first five bowl games were played. Most notable among the games – San Diego State beat Houston, 34-10 in the Las Vegas Bowl.   
The next week, Swamp Mama and I made the trek to Florida’s panhandle for Christmas with Princess Gator, Bama Gator, Gator Gabe and Gator Babe.
The day after Christmas, Connecticut fired Bob Diaco. A day later, Carrie Fisher died.
Twenty more bowl games were played. Most notable – Wake Forest beat Temple, 34-26, in the Military Bowl, and Minnesota surprised Washington State, 17-12, in the Holiday Bowl.
Debbie Reynolds died.
Week 18, New Year’s Week, and the best of the bowl games by far were the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. In the Rose, Penn State rallied to take a late lead over USC, only to have the Trojans rally in the fourth quarter and win the game on a 46-yard field as time expired. USC beat Penn State in a thriller, 52-49.
In the Orange Bowl, it was similar to the Rose. Michigan rallied in the fourth quarter to take a 30-27 lead over Florida State. Then in a frantic final two minutes, Florida State retook the lead and beat the Wolverines in a thriller, 33-32. In a thriller before the game, Florida State’s Renegade, the horse, fell down and Chief Osceola fell off Renegade.
In the semifinal games of the College Football Playoff, Alabama beat Washington, 24-7, in the Peach Bowl, and Clemson beat Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl.
Connecticut hired Randy Edsall.  Nick Saban fired his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, just seven days before the national championship game. Most notable among some of the other bowl games – Kansas State beat Texas A&M, 33-28, in the Texas Bowl, Virginia Tech beat Arkansas, 35-24, in the Belk Bowl, Oklahoma State beat Colorado, 38-8, in the Alamo Bowl and Oklahoma beat Auburn, 35-19, in the Sugar Bowl.
The following week, the season came to an end when Clemson won the national championship, beating Alabama for the title, 35-31. It was a thriller.
“If we had a chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?”
Minnesota fired Tracy Claeys and hired P.J. Fleck, while California fired Sonny Dykes.
A few days after the national championship game, California hired Justin Wilcox to be the Golden Bears new coach. Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Western Michigan replaced P.J. Fleck with Tim Lester. Lester, a former WMU quarterback, was the quarterbacks coach at Purdue.
And Les Miles was snubbed yet again. Maybe ole Les should just open a stand on a street in Baton Rouge and sell po’ boy sandwiches. Or maybe he and Art could start a consulting firm, calling it Briles with Miles, or perhaps Miles with Briles.
Mississippi State and Louisville executed an end of the season trade, if you will. The Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is the new DC at Miss State, while the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon is the new DC at Louisville. That was convenient.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee left the Tigers’ program to become the OC at Connecticut. Nebraska coach Mike Riley fired his defensive coordinator Mark Banker and hired former Connecticut coach Bob Diaco as Banker’s replacement.
So with the coaching carousel all wrapped up, 21 schools will begin the 2017 season with new head coaches.  
“Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What’s to painful to remember
We simply choose to forget”
That brings up the question: What coaches will enter the 2017 season on the hot seat? As I see it, nine coaches from the Power 5 conferences will begin 2017 on the proverbial hot seat.
Four of those coaches reside in none other than the SEC. They are Butch Jones of Tennessee (9-4 in 2016, 30-21 overall in 4 years with the Vols), Gus Malzahn of Auburn (8-5 in 2016, 35-18 in 4 years with the Tigers), Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M (8-5 in 2016, 44-21 in 5 years with the Aggies) and Bret Bielema of Arkansas (7-6 in 2016, 25-26 in 4 years with the Razorbacks).
Now at most schools only Bielema, of those four, would be in trouble. The other three – Jones, Malzahn and Sumlin – would be praised as good coaches. But not in the SEC and especially not at Tennessee, Auburn and Texas A&M. The expectations are higher. Unless Jones, Malzahn, Sumlin and Bielema have outstanding – I mean outstanding – seasons in 2017, they will be ousted. Not even Jennifer can save Bret this time.
The Pac-12 has three coaches who will definitely be on the hot seat as the 2017 season begins. They are Todd Graham of Arizona State (5-7 in 2016, 39-26 in 5 years with the Sun Devils), Jim Mora of UCLA (4-8 in 2016, 41-24 in 5 years with the Bruins) and Rich Rodriguez (3-9 in 2016, 36-29 in five years with the Wildcats).
To save their jobs, all Graham, Mora and Rodriguez need to do in 2017 in have a winning record and get to a bowl game. They don’t need to have outstanding seasons.
In the Big 12, only one coach is in trouble. That would be Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech (5-7 in 2016, 24-26 in 5 years with the Red Raiders). Like the three Pac-12 coaches, all Kingsbury needs to do in 2016 is have a winning record and get to a bowl. That would be enough to save his job. Anything less is curtains.
None of the ACC or Big Ten coaches should be on the hot seat when the 2017 season begins. But the lone Power 5 Independent coach is in trouble. That would be Brian Kelly of Notre Dame (4-8 in 2016, 59-31 in 7 years with the Irish). Kelly needs to win big in 2017.
Among the Group of 5 conferences, nine coaches will enter the 2017 season on the hot seat.
Four of them reside in Conference USA. They are Brad Lambert of Charlotte (4-8 in 2016, 16-30 in 4 years with the 49ers), Doc Holliday of Marshall (3-9 in 2016, 53-37 in 7 years with the Herd), Sean Kugler of UTEP (4-8 in 2016, 18-31 in 4 years with the Miners) and David Bailiff of Rice (3-9 in 2016, 56-69 in 10 years with the Owls). Those four just need to have winning seasons in 2017.
Three coaches from the Mid-American Conference will be on the hot seat as the 2017 season begins. They are Terry Bowden of Akron (5-7, 24-37 in 5 years with the Zips), Paul Haynes of Kent State (3-9 in 2016, 12-35 in 4 years with the Golden Flashes) and Rod Carey of Northern Illinois (5-7, 36-19 in 4 years with the Huskies). The three of them just need winning seasons in 2017. 
Only one coach in the Mountain West Conference is sitting on a hot seat. He is Matt Wells of Utah State (3-9 in 2016, 28-25 in 4 years with the Aggies). Wells needs to be a winner in 2017.
No coach in the Sun Belt Conference appears to be on the hot seat in 2017. But a Group of 5 Independent coach is in trouble. He would be Mark Whipple of Massachusetts (2-10 in 2016, 57-54 in 9 years with the Minutemen).
And speaking of the conferences, there will be only one change in the membership of the FBS leagues next season. Coastal Carolina steps up to the FBS level, joining the Sun Belt Conference as a full-fledged member. The addition of Coastal Carolina will make the Sun Belt a 12-team league in 2017.
As mentioned earlier, the Big 12 did not expand in 2016, however as a 10-team league, the Big 12 will have a championship game next season. Stay tuned!
Keep an eye on three elements of the game during the off-season – targeting, kickoffs and time.  Watching the games on television this past season, you probably noticed that many of the game commentators and analysts complained about the targeting rule. Whenever targeting was called, most seemed to think it wasn’t targeting – whether it was or wasn’t. And most of the commentators outright said that the targeting rule should be eliminated.
“Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time rewritten every line?”
I’m not sure that I agree with them, in fact I probably don’t. And I’m not sure how most coaches feel about the matter. But it will be interesting to see if the NCAA football rules committee makes any changes to the targeting rule during the off season.
Supposedly, many injuries occur on kickoffs. To help reduce the number of injuries, kickoffs were changed from the 30 to the 35-yard line five years ago. And a touchback on kickoffs placed the ball on the 25-yard line – a change from the 20-yard line. This change was made to reduce the number of runbacks on kickoffs.
This past season, in Ivy League games, the teams kicked off from the 40-yard line to help further reduce the number of runbacks. I have not seen the results, but I suspect it did. Anyway, this is an area where coaches are concerned and the rules committee could make another change during the off-season.
And finally, are college games taking too long? The average game this past season was 3 hours and 24 minutes. The national championship game between Clemson and Alabama took 4 hours and 8 minutes.
I say, “Well, duh!” What do you expect with the increasing number of commercials, the length of the commercials and the increasing number of timeouts for the commercials? Add to this the increasing number of on-field injuries during the game, not to mention the number of times the game is stopped to review a call.
But some people think the quarters should be reduced from 15 minutes to 12 minutes, even 10 minutes. Balderdash! That would ruin the game. Maybe if the players would stop targeting, that would make for less injuries and less calls being reviewed. There has to be a solution without altering the length of the quarters.
Maybe they should just let the clock run during injuries and add stoppage time at the end of the game like they do in soccer. No, just kidding.
Some things may change between now and the start of the 2017 season. However, one thing that apparently won’t change according to the forecasters is the Top 10 teams from 2016 to 2017.
The “Way Too Early” polls for 2017 are out. Here’s the consensus Top 10 from 14 of those polls – legitimate ones: (1) Alabama, (2) Florida State, (3) Ohio State, (4) USC, (5) Penn State, (6) Clemson, (7) Oklahoma, (8) Washington, (9) Michigan, and (10) Oklahoma State.
Do you realize that is pretty much the same Top 10, in a different order, from this past season? Missing from the 2017 list is Wisconsin, but replacing the Badgers is Oklahoma State. And the Cowboys finished 11th this season. Looks like a monopoly to me. Stay tuned!
If these polls are correct, then we are going to start off with a bang next season. Opening weekend (September 2), Alabama plays Florida State in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
In some other interesting games on opening weekend, West Virginia and Virginia Tech meet at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and Florida plays Michigan at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Both of those games are on September 2. Then on Labor Day night (September 4), Tennessee meets Georgia Tech in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Week 2 this past season was dull, but Week 2 in 2017 will be just as exciting as Week 1. On September 9, Oklahoma plays Ohio State in Columbus, Auburn plays at Clemson, Georgia meets Notre Dame in South Bend, Nebraska plays Oregon in Eugene and Pitt tangles with Penn State in University Park.
“So it’s the laughter
we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were”
Well, that was a quick review of the past season and a brief peek into next season. With that in mind, remember the Moody Blues’ song “Go Now?” I think I better go now, go now, go now. Before you see me cry.
It was good, as always, to hear from Bob Darden, Garry Morris, Jan Fields, Leland Wells, Ken Burger and Tim Muth last week. Thank you for the kind comments.
Until August, I gotta go now.
Touchdown Tom
January 16, 2017
Quotes of the Week
“The guy that called us a fraud? Ask Alabama if we’re a fraud. Was the name Colin Cowherd? I don’t know him, never met him. Ask Ohio State if we’re a fraud. Ask Oklahoma if we’re a fraud. The only fraud is that guy, because he didn’t do his homework,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
“I owe him (Dabo Swinney) and my audience honesty. And I honestly thought for two months Clemson was a very average team. But I do owe them honesty and honestly I was wrong. But I don’t apologize for strong opinions and what I said at the time I strongly believed,” Colin Cowherd, responding to Dabo Swinney.
“If they had been kicking my butt up there every year, those people would have been clapping,” Steve Spurrier, on the Clemson fans booing him during the pre-game ceremonies at the national championship game in Tampa.
Quote from the Past
“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it,” Lou Holtz.
And finally, notables from the football nation who left us during this past football season included Bill Dooley, 82 (former North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest coach); John Saunders, 61 (ESPN and ABC sports host and commentator); Bill Lenkaitis, 70 (Penn State and New England Patriots lineman); Dee Dowis, 48 (Air Force quarterback); Cary Blanchard, 47 (former NFL place-kicker), and Quentin Groves, 32 (Auburn football player).
Also, Dennis Byrd, 50 (New York Jets defensive lineman); John Hicks, 65 (Ohio State and New York Giants football player); Bob Gain, 87 (Cleveland Browns defensive lineman); Rashaan Salaam, 42 (former Colorado running back and Heisman Trophy winner); Dave Edwards, 76 (former Auburn and Dallas Cowboys player); James Elrod, 62 (Oklahoma football player), and LaVell Edwards, 86 (former BYU football coach).
Touchdown Tom
Not exactly college football related, but in mid-January as college football fans were about to put the lid on another great season and shift their attention to college basketball, the number one song in the country…
…75 years ago this week in 1942 was “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
…70 years ago this week in 1947 was “The Old Lamplighter” by Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra
…65 years ago this week in 1952 was “Cry” by Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads
…60 years ago this week in 1957 was “Singing the Blues” by Guy Mitchell
…55 years ago this week in 1962 was “The Twist” by Chubby Checker
…50 years ago this week in 1967 was “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees
…45 years ago this week in 1972 was “American Pie” by Don McLean
…40 years ago this week in 1977 was “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer
…35 years ago this week in 1982 was “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
…30 years ago this week in 1987 was “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott
…25 years ago this week in 1992 was “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd
Not exactly college football related, but notables from other sports who left us during this past football season included Ed Temple, 89 (women’s track coach); Arnold Palmer, 87 (golfer); Fred Slaughter, 74 (UCLA basketball player); Ralph Branca, 90 (Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher); Harry Flournoy, 72 (member of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team); Craig Sager, 65 (television sportscaster), and Milt Schmidt, 98 (Boston Bruins player and coach).
Not exactly college football related, but notables from the entertainment world who passed away during the 2016 football season included Glenn Yarbrough, 86 (singer/songwriter); Arthur Hiller, 92 (movie director); Jack Riley, 80 (character actor);
Steven Hill, 94 (actor); Gene Wilder, 83 (actor); Fred Hellerman, 89 (singer, guitarist and songwriter); Hugh O’Brian, 91 (Wyatt Earp on television); John D. Loudermilk, 82 (singer/songwriter), and Jean Shepard, 82 (country music singer).
Also, Joan Marie Johnson, 72 (member of the Dixie Cups); Don Ciccone, 70 (singer/songwriter); Eddie Applegate, 81 (actor); Rod Temperton, 66 (songwriter/musician); Bobby Vee, 73 (singer); Tammy Grimes, 82 (singer and actress); Curly Putman, 85 (songwriter); Kay Starr, 94 (singer); Leonard Cohen, 82 (poet, novelist and songwriter); Robert Vaughn, 83 (actor);  Leon Russell, 74 (songwriter and musician), and Holly Dunn, 59 (country singer/songwriter).
Also, Al Caiola, 96 (guitarist); Florence Henderson, 82 (singer/actress); Ron Glass, 71 (character actor); Van Williams, 82 (actor); Greg Lake, 69 (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer); Alan Thicke, 69 (singer, songwriter and actor); Bernard Fox, 89 (TV character actor); Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99 (actress); Fran Jeffries, 79 (singer and dancer); George Michael, 53 (singer); Carrie Fisher, 60 (actress/author); Debbie Reynolds, 84 (actress/entertainer); William Christopher, 84 (Father Mulcahy on “M*A*S*H”), and Buddy Greco, 90 (singer).
Not exactly college football related, but well-known folks from other walks of life who passed away during the 2016 football season included Edward Albee, 88 (playwright);
William P. Kinsella, 81 (author of “Shoeless Joe”); Shimon Peres, 93 (former prime minister of Israel), and Tom Hayden, 76 (civil rights/anti-war activist and lawmaker).
Also, Janet Reno, 78 (U.S. attorney general); Gwen Ifill, 61 (journalist); Melvin Laird, 94 (former Secretary of Defense); Fidel Castro, 90 (Cuban leader); Grant Tinker, 90, (CEO of NBC); John Glenn, 95 (astronaut and U.S. Senator); Ken Hechler, 102 (former U.S. Congressman from West Virginia); William Peter Blatty, 89 (author of “The Exorcist”), and Anthony Armstrong-Jones, 86 (photographer and former husband of Princess Margaret).

Monday, January 9, 2017

College Football Week 20 – Clemson reigns

Who said it was the year of the Big Ten?

It was the year of the ACC!

Clemson 35, Alabama 31. Need I say more?
Trailing Alabama 14-7 at halftime, Clemson outscored the Tide 28-17 in the second half – 21-7 in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t easy for the Tigers. As the fourth quarter began, Clemson trailed Alabama 24-14. One minute into the final quarter, the Tigers scored on a 4-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to Mike Williams. After the PAT, Alabama’s lead had been cut to three points – 24-21.  
Almost 10 minutes later, Clemson took its first lead in the game at 28-24. The Tigers’ Wayne Gallman scored on a one-yard run with 4:38 on the clock. Alabama, however, wasn’t finished. The Crimson Tide only needed a little more than two minutes to retake the lead at 31-28. With 2:07 left in the game, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts scored on a 30-yard touchdown run.
Clemson had two minutes and seven seconds to either tie the game and put it into overtime or, better yet, win the game. The Tigers drove down the field in the final two minutes. With only six seconds left in the game, Clemson had the ball on the 2-yard line of Alabama. On the next play, Watson hit Hunter Renfrow in the end zone. Touchdown Clemson with only 0:01 on the clock.
The Tigers recovered their on-side kick and won the national championship over the reigning national champion, 35-31.
By all rights, with 31 points, Alabama should have won the game. After all, the Tide’s defense held opponents to only 11 points a game during the season. Alabama’s defense was No. 1 in the country. But in the end, it was Alabama’s defense that failed. The Alabama defense finally met an offense it couldn’t stop.
Clemson’s offense racked up 512 total yards. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was responsible for 463 of those yards. Watson was 36-56-0 for 420 yards passing, and he rushed for 43 yards.  
The Tigers had 31 first downs to 16 for Alabama. Clemson controlled the clock too, maintaining the ball for almost 35 minutes. Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts only completed 42% of his passes – 13-for-31. Alabama suffered a setback in the third quarter when running back Bo Scarbrough left the game with an injury. The Alabama back had rushed for 93 yards before departing the game.
But Clemson suffered its own setbacks with two turnovers – both fumbles. Alabama had no turnovers. The Tigers, however, managed to overcome their setbacks. Bama didn’t.
It’s ironic that Clemson scored 35 points. It was 35 years ago when the Tigers won their only other national championship. That one came under coach Danny Ford when undefeated Clemson beat Nebraska 22-15 in the Orange Bowl. And it’s ironic that only yesterday Danny Ford was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
A crowd of 74,512 attended the Clemson-Alabama game in Tampa. The two teams both finished the season with identical 14-1 records. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is now 89-28 in 8 plus years coaching the Tigers. And it’s ironic too that Swinney is an Alabama graduate.
Deshaun Watson should have won the Heisman Trophy. But after all is said and done, I’m sure Watson is much happier winning the national championship. Well done, Clemson!   
Yes, the 2016 season was called the year of the Big Ten, largely because Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin all finished among the top 8 teams in the final College Football Playoff Poll. Ohio State was 3rd, Penn State was 5th, Michigan was 6th and Wisconsin was 8th. None of the other Power 5 conferences placed more than one team among the top 8.
But placing four teams in the Top 8 was the Big Ten’s only hurrah in 2016. After Wisconsin at 8, none of the other Big Ten teams even placed in the Top 25 of the final College Football Playoff Poll. After Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin, the caliber of football dropped off considerably in the Big Ten.
The next best teams – Nebraska and Iowa – not only didn’t finish in the Top 25, but both were blown out in their bowl games – Nebraska by Tennessee and Iowa by Florida. And speaking of bowl games, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan all lost too. Granted, the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines had nothing to be ashamed of in their losses. Can’t say so much for the Buckeyes.
Among the Top 4 Big Ten teams, Wisconsin was the only winner in a bowl game. Overall, the Big Ten finished a shameful 3-7 in bowl appearances. The only two bright spots were Northwestern (over Pitt) and Minnesota (over Washington State). Other than that, the conference was pretty sad. And talking about pretty sad, there was nothing sadder during the season than the performances or lack thereof by Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers. Those four schools only won 11 games between them. They only won seven games against FBS (Division I-A) teams.  
After Clemson’s win over Alabama last night, I’m convinced the ACC was the best conference in 2016 – hands down. The national championship team was from the ACC. The winner of the Heisman Trophy was from the ACC – Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. In fact the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy was from the ACC – Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. The ACC at 8-3 had the best bowl record among the Power 5 conferences.
The ACC placed 5 teams in the final College Football Playoff Poll. No other Power 5 conference placed more than 5 teams in the poll. In the annual end of the season battle with the SEC, the ACC won three of the four games – Clemson beat South Carolina, Florida State beat Florida and Georgia Tech beat Georgia. Only Louisville was a loser. The Cardinals lost to Kentucky. But Georgia Tech made up for that. The Yellow Jackets beat Kentucky in their bowl game.
In fact the ACC was 3-1 against the SEC in bowl games. In addition to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech beat Arkansas and NC State beat Vanderbilt. Only Louisville was a loser. The Cardinals lost to LSU.
Looking back on the bowl games, among the Power 5 conferences, after the ACC at 8-3, the Big 12 came in second with a 4-2 record. The SEC and Pac-12 finished 6-6 and 3-3 respectively. And of course, as previously mentioned, the Big Ten was 3-8.  
Among the Group of 5 conferences, the Sun Belt at 4-2 finished with the best record in the bowl games. C-USA and the MWC each finished above .500 with 4-3 records. The MAC was downright awful at 0-6 and the AAC wasn’t much better at 2-5.   
In addition to Clemson (5-straight wins), the hottest teams at the end of the season among the Power 5 conferences were Oklahoma (10-straight wins), USC (9-straight wins), Stanford (6-straight wins), Florida State (5-straight wins), Miami (Florida) (5-straight wins), Georgia Tech (4-straight wins), Kansas State (4-straight wins), and Penn State (9-straight wins, before its 3-point loss to USC). And until the final game, Alabama was simply hot all season.
The hottest teams among the Group of 5 at the end of the season were Western Kentucky (8-straight wins), Old Dominion (6-straight wins), Air Force (6-straight wins), South Florida (5-straight wins), BYU (5-straight wins), Idaho (5-straight wins), Tulsa (3-straight wins) and Army (3-straight wins).
The preseason pollsters were almost right on target this season. They just had the two teams reversed. The consensus of all the preseason polls had Alabama first and Clemson second. You can't predict it much better than that.
But while they were nearly spot on with Alabama and Clemson, they were way off on some of the other predictions, noticeably Notre Dame (4-8), Ole Miss (5-7), Michigan State (3-9), TCU (6-7), Baylor (7-6), UCLA (4-8) and Oregon (4-8). All but Oregon were in the Top 20 at preseason. The Ducks were in the Top 25. Notre Dame was 10th. 
And the preseason forecasters were way off on some other teams too who finished much better than predicted. In the consensus of the preseason polls back in August, Wisconsin was 30th, Auburn was 31st, Penn State was 39th, Virginia Tech was 40th, West Virginia was 42nd, Western Michigan was 54th and Colorado was 68th.
Surprise, surprise, two more coaches got fired during the past week. Minnesota became the 19th school to make a coaching change. The Gophers fired head coach Tracy Claeys. Claeys went 11-18 after taking over from Jerry Kill in October 2015. Kill, by the way, blasted Minnesota for firing Claeys, saying he would never again have any involvement with Minnesota.
No more than two days after Minnesota fired Claeys, the school named Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck to be the Gophers new coach. Fleck was reported to be Minnesota’s first choice. Had the Gophers failed to lure Fleck, Minnesota’s next choices supposedly were North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman and Boise State coach Bryan Harsin. Les Miles was reported to be interested in the job. But obviously, Minnesota wasn’t interested in him. Poor Les.
Then just two days ago, on January 8, California fired head coach Sonny Dykes. Dykes was 19-30 in four seasons at Cal – 5-7 this past season. Supposedly, Cal was pissed at Dykes because he had been seeking other head coach openings for the past three years. Dykes applied for the Baylor job last month.
So the door is open again for Les Miles. Stay tuned.
There are five openings in the NFL. It is not impossible that one or more other head coach jobs could open up should someone decide to leave the college ranks for the pros.  
Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck has left the Buckeyes to join Tom Herman at Texas as the Longhorns new OC. Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord has left Tennessee to take same position at Indiana.  Florida promoted Randy Shannon to defensive coordinator. The last two seasons he was co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Gators.
Former Florida quarterback Treon Harris will play quarterback for FCS (Division I-AA) Tennessee State next season. Harris, who was suspended from the Florida team on three separate occasions in less than a year, left the Gators’ program last summer.  
Named to the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame class, announced yesterday, were former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, former Clemson and Arkansas coach Danny Ford, former San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk, former Michigan State receiver Kirk Gibson, former New Mexico defensive back Brian Urlacher, former Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart, former Texas offensive tackle Bob McKay, former Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen, former Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson, former Boston College nose guard Mike Ruth and former Mount Union coach Larry Kehres. The induction ceremony will be December 5, 2107, in Atlanta, Georgia. Spurrier is already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as a former quarterback from Florida.
Whenever a week goes by that I don’t hear from Tim Muth, I get concerned. Tim, an avid Florida State fan (and Wake Forest fan) rarely fails to respond to my weekly blog. Well, it was good, as always, hearing from Tim last week. I’m not sure what Tim was on, but after the bowl wins by both Florida State and Wake Forest, he was pretty high. And, by the way, Tim predicted Clemson would beat Alabama in the national championship game, 31-21. Not bad, Tim.  
And did I tell you? Swamp Mama has dropped Kliff Kingsbury for Chris Petersen. She’s going for a little older man these days. Swamp Mama’s not the cougar she used to be.
Enjoy your week! I know Clemson fans will.
Touchdown Tom
January 10, 2017
Note: The final CFW of the season – College Football Week 21 – will be posted next Monday, January 16.
Weekend Review
FCS (Division I-AA) Championship Game
James Madison 28, Youngstown State 14
……..Attendance in Frisco, Texas: 14,423
Quotes of the Week
“We will become a good passing team. We will. Next year,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
“We’ve done it all year to mess with players. No one has done it as aggressive as Christian did. We try to be more discreet about it. He grabbed a handful,” Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware, on his fellow teammate defensive lineman Christian Wilkins grabbing the groin of Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel during the Fiesta Bowl. 
“I was just being silly. It’s stuff you do when you’re competing,” Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, on why he grabbed Curtis Samuels in the groin during the Fiesta Bowl.
“My sole focus is UCLA and UCLA football. I love it here. I hope I can stay here the rest of my career. I hope I can win enough games to be worthy of staying here the rest of my career. I love it here,” UCLA coach Jim Mora, on speculation he might leave UCLA for one of the NFL openings.
“I’m not here to change the tradition. I’m here to change the culture,” new Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck.
Quote from the Past
“The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb. To be a back, you only have to be dumb,” Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne.
Touchdown Tom
Not exactly college football related, but sadly there was one passing of note last week – Milt Schmidt.
Milt Schmidt, a Hockey Hall of Fame center who propelled the Boston Bruins to two Stanley Cup championships, died last week in Needham, Massachusetts. He was 98. Schmidt, who was the National Hockey League’s oldest living player, spent 16 seasons with the Bruins before serving as the team’s coach and general manager. Milton Conrad Schmidt was born on March 3, 1918, in Kitchener, Ontario. During World War II, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Schmidt retired as a player in December 1954 when he was named the Bruins’ coach. He coached the Bruins until 1966 when he moved into the front office. In 1974, Schmidt became general manager of the Washington Capitals.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

College Football Week 19 – Alabama-Clemson rematch
The bowls confirmed 2 things: Deshaun
Watson should have won the Heisman, and
Ohio State had no business in the playoffs

And while we’re at it, how ’bout those Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl games? It doesn’t get any better than that.

Yeah, Holiday Week 2 was both revealing and exciting. After a poor performance for a third-straight game it became more and more apparent that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson should not have won the Heisman Trophy. Runner-up, okay, but not the winner.

After leading his team to four-straight wins at the end of the season and a spot in the national championship game, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson should have won the Heisman Trophy. But then Christian McCaffrey should have won the Heisman Trophy last year.

And after Ohio State’s dismal performance in the Fiesta Bowl, it was obvious that the Buckeyes had no business being in the playoffs. Talk about overrated. More later.

Of the 20 bowl games played during the past seven days, some were exciting and some weren’t. Some were okay, some were so-so and some were dull. But the best and the most exciting of all were the Orange and Rose Bowls. Nothing else came close. The final quarter in those two games was about as thrilling as it gets in football.

Holiday Week 2 began with news that former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall is the top candidate to become the Huskies’ coach – again. Edsall coached Connecticut for 12 seasons from 1999 to 2010. Then, after the 2010 season, he ran out on the Huskies for the job at Maryland. Edsall coached the Terrapins from 2011 to 2015. He was fired after a few games into the 2015 season. Edsall was 74-70 at UConn and 22-34 at Maryland.

The first game of Holiday Week 2 was the Pinstripe Bowl between Northwestern and Pitt. Played in Yankee Stadium, the Wildcats beat the Panthers, 31-24. Pitt couldn’t stop the running of Northwestern’s Justin Jackson. He rushed for 224 yards.

Later the same day, West Virginia lost to Miami (Florida) in Orlando’s Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-14. WVU finished its season at 10-3. The Mountaineers beat 10 teams who were mediocre to bad. They lost to three teams who were good. Dana Holgorsen has problems beating good teams.

Also on December 28, Utah slipped by Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl, 26-24. The Hoosiers couldn’t stop the running of Joe Williams. He rushed for 222 yards. After the game, one of Utah’s assistant coaches announced his retirement. His name is Dennis Erickson. Remember him? He coached the Miami Hurricanes to two national championships.

Erickson may have been the head coach of more teams than anybody else. From 1982 to 2011, he was the coach of Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami, Oregon State, Arizona State, the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. Most recently, Erickson was an assistant at Utah, helping the Utes with their offense.

In the nightcap, Kansas State surprised Texas A&M, 33-28, in the Texas Bowl. Kevin Sumlin will definitely enter the 2017 season on the hot seat. Stay tuned!

So, who says you can’t go home again? Obviously, Randy Edsall can. On December 29, Edsall was named the new head coach at Connecticut. Les Miles was shunned again. Maybe next year, Les.

Would you believe there is talk about creating a playoff for the Group of 5 schools? Well, believe it. The Group of 5 is made up of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences, along with Independents Army, BYU and Massachusetts.

Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier is pushing for the playoff. Frazier envisions an 8-team playoff, consisting of the five conference champions and three at-large teams or Independents. He has allies.

But some Group of 5 conference commissioners and athletic directors are opposed to the playoff. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is one. He and others have no interest. Currently, the highest-ranked champion from a Group of 5 conference is automatically placed in one of the New Year’s 6 bowls.

South Florida beat South Carolina in overtime, 46-39, in the Birmingham Bowl. The Bulls had a big lead over the Gamecocks, but the Cocks rallied to tie the game at the end of regulation. South Carolina has a promising freshman quarterback. His name is Jake Bentley. Stay tuned!

There is talk that the 2017 season will be the year of the quarterback in the SEC. Stay tuned!

Virginia Tech beat Arkansas, 35-24, in the Belk Bowl. The win for the Hokies was pretty amazing, considering they were trailing the Hogs 24-0 at halftime. I think Tech coach Justin Fuente is pretty amazing.

Arkansas totally self-destructed in the second half. Like Kevin Sumlin, Bret Bielema will enter the 2017 season on the hot seat. Some are already predicting that Bielema won’t be at Arkansas after next season. Maybe Jennifer will come to his rescue. Stay tuned!

Talk about stupid, before the game, Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle was suspended from playing in the Belk Bowl. Now get this – Sprinkle was suspended for shoplifting at a Belk’s department store. And even more stupid, as one of the bowl perks, Sprinkle and each his teammates had been given a $450 gift card to spend at Belk’s. Sprinkle, it turns out, attempted to shoplift eight items worth $260.

In the nightcap on December 29, Oklahoma State looked good, walloping Colorado, 38-8, in the Alamo Bowl. It was a disappointing ending to a sensational season for Colorado.

In the first of five games on December 30, Georgia beat TCU, 31-23, in Liberty Bowl. They say watch out for the Dawgs next season.

In an exciting finish, Stanford got by North Carolina, 25-23, in the Sun Bowl. The Tar Heels failed on a two-point conversion at the end of the game. Christian McCaffrey did not play for Stanford.

Back in Tennessee – Memphis to Nashville – Tennessee beat Nebraska, 38-24, in the Music City Bowl. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was a one-man show for Vols offense.

In the least-known of all the bowls, Air Force flew by South Alabama, 45-21, in the Arizona Bowl. Least-known because it wasn’t on national television – the only bowl game that wasn’t.

They definitely saved the best for last on December 30. In a donnybrook, Florida State beat Michigan, 33-32 in the thrilla from Manila…..I mean…..the thrilly from Miami – actually, Miami Gardens. In the Orange Bowl, three touchdowns were scored in the final five minutes of the game. And to add to the thrilla…..I mean…..the thrilly, an additional two 2-points were scored in that final five minutes off of a missed PAT return. What an ending!

Fortunately, for Florida State, what happened before the game turned out not to be a bad omen for the Seminoles. When mascot Chief Osceola rode out to plant his flaming spear in the ground, Renegade, the horse, fell down. I thought maybe Renegade had too much to drink. After all, it was the holidays. As the horse fell, the ole Chief fell off Renegade. Maybe he’s the one who had too much to drink. But, just like in most movies, there was a happy ending. Both Renegade and the Chief got up. And the flaming spear made its way into the ground.

Speaking of movies, Saturday morning, December 31, Swamp Mama and I took a break from football and went to see “La La Land.” It was a winner – good story and very entertaining.

First up on New Year’s Eve, Georgia Tech downed Kentucky, 33-18, in the TaxSlayer Bowl from Jacksonville, Florida. You used to know it as the Gator Bowl.

About the same time that Kentucky was being slayed, the other team from Kentucky – Louisville – was being picked apart in Orlando. LSU beat Louisville, 29-9, in the Citrus Bowl. The Cardinals never scored a touchdown. Louisville ended its season, losing its last three games. Two of the three losses were to Houston and Kentucky who both lost their bowl games. Lamar Jackson had no business winning the Heisman Trophy. Against mostly bad teams, Jackson was good early in the season. But he was worthless late in the season.

Then, in the first of the two playoff games, Alabama blasted Washington, 24-7, in the Peach Bowl. The Huskies stayed in the game for all of one quarter. After that, Bama running back Bo Scarbrough had his way with the Dogs. Scarbrough rushed for 180 yards. It was good that he did, because quarterback Jalen Hurts only passed for 57 yards.

In the second playoff game, well, need we say it, Clemson pulverized Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. The game was a great showing for Clemson and an awful performance by Ohio State. So awful, that the Buckeyes really had no business being in the playoffs. To make matters worse, Ohio state coach Urban Meyer was shutout for the first time in his head coaching career. Goodbye Columbus!

New Year’s Day, I took a break from college football and went to the Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Bucs game in Tampa with Ron Hoke, an ole Navy buddy. That morning, I drove over to Ron’s house in Lakeland. From there, the two of us proceeded to Raymond James Stadium for the Bucs game.

Ron is a season ticket holder to the Bucs’ games so he has all the pre-game logistics down pat. We stopped for lunch, and then drove to a parking spot near the stadium without any hiccups. The Bucs beat the Panthers, 17-16. Carolina failed on a two-point conversion at the end of the game.

We drove to a nearby restaurant after the game to get a bite to eat, while the traffic exiting Tampa settled down. Then we made our way back to Lakeland. I bid farewell to Ron and drove back to Indialantic. I was home at 9 p.m. I carried out the venture so smoothly, I’m not sure that Swamp Mama knew I was gone.

January 2 and four more bowl games to go – the last ones. But first, word broke that Alabama coach Nick Saban fired his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Well, he essentially fired him.

Kiffin won’t be coaching the Alabama offense in the national championship game against Clemson. That responsibility, instead, will be handled by Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian, the former Washington and USC head coach, has been a consultant to Alabama this season.

Supposedly, Kiffin and Sarkisian are very similar in their approach to offense and Sarkisian knows the Bama offense well. Nothing should change for Alabama on offense. Well, perhaps one change – Jalen Hurts’ verbal snap count will now be “Budweiser 15,” “Coors 11” and “Miller Lite 20.”

Among the first of the final four games yesterday, Florida recovered from two-straight losses, beating Iowa, 30-3, in the Outback Bowl. Didn’t I just sit in that same stadium the day before? That’s a happy ending for the Gators and hopefully a good start for next season.

Meanwhile, does Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz ever win bowl games?

In the Cotton Bowl, Wisconsin took care of the Group of 5 team, beating Western Michigan, 24-16. After all, two Group of 5 teams – Boise State and Houston – have won the past two years.

Then, in what was the other best and most exciting bowl game, along with the Orange Bowl, USC rallied to beat Penn State, 52-49, in the granddaddy of them all – the Rose Bowl. Actually, there were two rallies in the game. After USC was dominant in the first half, Penn State rallied in the third quarter to take its first lead in the game. And the Nittany Lions built it into a good lead too – 49-35. Then the Trojans rallied to score 17 points in the final 8 minutes of the game. Their final three points came as time expired to give USC the win. What a game!

But unlike the Orange Bowl game, USC’s Traveler didn’t fall down, nor did Tommy Trojan fall off Traveler during the pregame activities at the Rose Bowl. They were sober.

In the finale last night, Oklahoma took care of business against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners blasted the Tigers, 35-19. The game wasn’t as close as the score would assume. Auburn, down 35-13, scored its last touchdown as time expired at the end of the game. Bob Stoops is back on the wagon, again.

That’s a wrap on Holiday Week 2. Stay tuned for the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson on January 9.

Enjoy your week, and

Happy New Year!

Touchdown Tom
January 3, 2017

Note: The next CFW – College Football Week 20 – will be posted on Tuesday, January 10.

Review of the Bowls

Going down to Jackson – (in the Pinstripe Bowl) – Northwestern 31, Pitt 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Pitt 32, Northwestern 30). This was a close game throughout from start to finish. At one point in the second quarter, Northwestern had an 11-point lead at 14-3. But Pitt scored less than a minute later and Northwestern’s lead was reduced to four points. From that point on, no one led by more than four points until midway through the fourth quarter when the Wildcats went up 31-24. With Northwestern’s Justin Jackson running for 224 yards, the Wildcats controlled the clock for more than 35 minutes. Northwestern finished its season with a 7-6 record. Attendance in New York City: 37,918

The Mounties weren’t very athletic – (in the Russell Athletic Bowl) – Miami (Florida) 31, West Virginia 14 (Touchdown Tom said: West Virginia 27, Miami 26). West Virginia looked good early in the game. The Mountaineers scored midway through the first quarter and still held a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Then Miami took charge and scored 21 unanswered points in the final six minutes of the second quarter to take a 21-7 halftime lead. To make matters worse for WVU, Miami scored early in the third quarter to extend its lead to 28-7. The Miami defense totally shut down the WVU’s offense – running and passing. The Hurricanes finished their season winning 5-straight games, with a record of 9-4. Attendance in Orlando: 48,625

Field goal farm – (in the Foster Farms Bowl) – Utah 26, Indiana 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Utah 28, Indiana 20). A close game, it was tied at halftime 17-17. Then in the second half, Utah kicked three field goals, while Indiana added one touchdown. Nine points beats seven points. The Utes kicked four field goals in the game. Utah outrushed Indiana 256 yards to 117 and that was the difference in the game. The teams were even in passing. The ground attack enabled the Utes to control the clock for more than 35 minutes. Utah’s Joe Williams rushed for 222 yards. Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow only completed 36% of his passes – 14 for 39. Utah ended its season at 9-4. Attendance in Santa Clara: 27,608

Kevin didn’t bring home the bacon – (in the Texas Bowl) – Kansas State 33, Texas A&M 28 (Touchdown Tom said: Texas A&M 29, Kansas State 27). This game stayed pretty close throughout, until Kansas State went up 33-21 with 9 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. But just 70 seconds later, Texas A&M came back and scored to pull within 5 points at 33-28. Neither team could punch it in during the final 7:50 of the game. The Aggies dominated the passing game, while the Wildcats controlled the rushing game. A&M quarterback Trevor Knight passed for 310 yards. Attendance in Houston: 68,412

Mustake Bowl – (in the Birmingham Bowl) – South Florida 46, South Carolina 39 (OT) (Touchdown Tom said: South Florida 34, South Carolina 26). South Florida outscored South Carolina 15-0 in the first quarter. South Carolina outscored South Florida 15-0 in the fourth quarter. In between, the teams tied. Near the end of the third quarter, the Bulls had a commanding 39-21 lead over the Cocks. But the Bulls never scored another point in regulation. The Cocks did. The teams were pretty even in first downs, total yards and time of possession. But South Carolina lacked a running game – only 91 yards. South Carolina freshman quarterback Jake Bentley passed for 390 yards. South Florida finished its season on a 5-game winning streak and record of 11-2. Attendance in Birmingham: 31,229

Bret, you got some splainin to do – (in the Belk Bowl) – Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Virginia Tech 32, Arkansas 26). But I’m sure Jennifer will smooth things over for you. Arkansas led Virginia Tech 24-0 at halftime. Virginia Tech outscored Arkansas 35-0 in the second half. The hogs simply disintegrated in the second half. The Hokies defense held Arkansas to just 36 yards rushing. Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen threw three interceptions. Virginia Tech finished its season at 10-4. Attendance in Charlotte: 46,902

Rhinestone Cowboys – (in the Alamo Bowl) – Oklahoma State 38, Colorado 8 (Touchdown Tom said: Colorado 30, Oklahoma State 29). Late in the third quarter, Okie State led Colorado, 31-0. The Cowboys racked up 527 total yards. Colorado only had 62 yards rushing. Okie State quarterback Mason Rudolph passed for 314 yards. Oklahoma State won 8 of its last 9 games and finished the season with a 10-3 record. Attendance in San Antonio: 59,815

Smart ball – (in the Liberty Bowl) – Georgia 31, TCU 23 (Touchdown Tom said: TCU 27, Georgia 25). A close game through three quarters, TCU gave up in the fourth quarter. Georgia outscored the Dawgs 10-0 in the final period. The running of Nick Chubb (143 yards) and Sony Michel (87 yards) made the difference for Georgia. The Frogs offense was stagnant and their defense was pooped in the fourth quarter. Georgia finished its season with a record of 8-5. Attendance in Memphis: 51,086

Tree tops – (in the Sun Bowl) – Stanford 25, North Carolina 23 (Touchdown Tom said: Stanford 26, North Carolina 24). This was a close game right to down to the wire. North Carolina failed on a two-point attempt at the end of the game. The Tar Heels dominated the stats – 26 first downs to 16 for Stanford and 398 total yards to 283 for Stanford. The Heels even dominated the turnovers – 3 for UNC and 0 for Stanford. Stanford completed its season with a 10-3 record. Attendance in El Paso: 42,166

A little Dobb will do ya – (in the Music City Bowl) – Tennessee 38, Nebraska 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Tennessee 30, Nebraska 28). Every time it looked like Tennessee had put Nebraska away, the Huskers came fighting back. The Vols led Nebraska 31-14 with 14:09 on the clock in the fourth quarter. But just four minutes later, Tennessee only led the Huskers 31-24. Then, less than two minutes after that, the Vols were back up 38-24. In the final 8:45 of the game, Nebraska had nothing left in its repertoire. Tennessee racked up 521 total yards, while holding the Huskers to only 61 yards rushing. The Vols quarterback Joshua Dobbs was a one-man wrecking crew for Tennessee. Dobbs passed for 291 yards and rushed for 118 yards. Tennessee ended the season with a 9-4 record. Attendance in Nashville: 68,496

Worth it – (in the Arizona Bowl) – Air Force 45, South Alabama 21 (Touchdown Tom said: Air Force 31, South Alabama 21). With 10:41 to go in the second quarter, South Alabama led Air Force, 21-3. Then the Falcons proceeded to score 42 unanswered points. Air Force had 24 first downs to 13 for South Alabama, and 460 total yards to 313 for the Jaguars. The Falcons controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes. The Air Force defense held South Alabama to 68 yards rushing. Falcons quarterback Arion Worthman passed for 207 yards and ran for 71. Air Force won its last six games and finished its season with a 10-3 record. Attendance in Tucson: 33,868

Cooked – (in the Orange Bowl) – Florida State 33, Michigan 32 (Touchdown Tom said: Michigan 32, Florida State 23). In what began as a rout for Florida State ended up being a game that the Noles counted their blessing that they won. Before the first quarter was over, FSU led Michigan, 17-3. With 11:38 to go in the game, The Noles were still up, 27-15. But the Wolverines came fighting back and took the lead for the first time in the game with 1:57 to go in the fourth quarter. Michigan led 30-27. Then it became frantic. Thanks to a great kickoff return, FSU scored a touchdown on a 12-yard pass. But the Noles PAT was blocked and Michigan returned it for 2 points. The Wolverines had 36 seconds and three timeouts to get within field goal range, but they couldn’t do it. In spite of only 89 yards rushing, Michigan controlled the clock for more than 34 minutes. FSU’s Dalvin Cook rushed for 145 yards and had 62 yards receiving. Florida State completed its season on a 5-game winning streak and a 10-3 record. Attendance in Miami Gardens: 67,432

Lamar who? – (in the Citrus Bowl) – LSU 29, Louisville 9 (Touchdown Tom said: Louisville 30, LSU 27). LSU’s defense held Louisville to three field goals, as the Cardinals failed to score a touchdown in the game. The Tigers had 20 first downs to 11 for Louisville and outgained the Cardinals 394 yards to 220. Louisville only had 67 yards rushing. LSU controlled the clock for more than 35 minutes. LSU’s Derrius Guice rushed for 138 yards. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson only completed 37% of his passes. LSU finished its season at 8-4. Attendance in Orlando: 46,063

No honey for the Wildcats – (in the TaxSlayer Bowl) – Georgia Tech 33, Kentucky 18 (Touchdown Tom said: Georgia Tech 27, Kentucky 25). Late in the third quarter, Georgia Tech had a 23-3 lead over Kentucky. Then the Yellow Jackets held on in a busy fourth quarter as Kentucky outscored Tech in the final period 15-10. The Jackets kicked four field goals in the game. Tech’s Dedrick Mills rushed for 169 yards. Georgia Tech finished its season on a 4-game winning streak and a final record of 9-4. Attendance in Jacksonville: 43,102

The Huskies got scrubbed – (in the Peach Bowl) – Alabama 24, Washington 7 (Touchdown Tom said: Alabama 28, Washington 26). Washington briefly looked good in the first quarter when the Huskies held a 7-0 lead over Alabama. But before the quarter was over, the Tide evened the score at 7-7 and then it was all Bama for the rest of the game. Washington couldn’t get anything going. The tide held the Huskies to 194 total yards and only 44 rushing yards. Bama’s Bo Scarbrough rushed for 180 yards. With a 14-0 record, Alabama is moving on to the national championship game. Attendance in Atlanta: 75,996

Buckeyes didn’t belong – (in the Fiesta Bowl) – Clemson 31, Ohio State 0 (Touchdown Tom said: Ohio State 31, Clemson 27). Clemson jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead over Ohio State. Then the Tigers proceeded to add a little more pain to the Buckeyes wound, adding 7 more points each quarter for the remainder of the game. The Clemson defense totally shutdown the Ohio State offense, holding the Buckeyes to 215 total yards – only 88 rushing yards. Meanwhile, the Tigers racked up 470 total yards, equally balanced between the passing and the running. Clemson went on to dominate the stats with 24 first downs to 9 for the Buckeyes, and controlling the ball for 36 minutes. With a record of 13-1, Clemson is moving on to the national championship game. Attendance in Glendale: 71,279

Albert gets the bloomin’ onion – (in the Outback Bowl) – Florida 30, Iowa 3 (Touchdown Tom said: Iowa 23, Florida 20). Iowa kicked a field goal with 8:56 to go in the first quarter and never scored another point for the rest of the game. Neither team was particularly strong on offense. Together, they only managed 557 total yards. Florida took advantage of three interceptions thrown by Iowa. The Hawkeyes only had 55 yards passing. The Gators finished their season with a 9-4 record. Attendance in Tampa: 51,119

Badgers stop the MAC attack – (in the Cotton Bowl) – Wisconsin 24, Western Michigan 16 (Touchdown Tom said: Wisconsin 28, Western Michigan 26). Wisconsin took a 14-0 first quarter lead and then basically held on to subdue Western Michigan. Neither team generated much offense. Combined, they only had 642 total yards. The Badgers didn’t pass a lot, but when they did they were good, completing 13 of their 14 throws. Wisconsin ended its season with an 11-3 record. Attendance in Arlington: 59,615

What a game! – (in the Rose Bowl) – USC 52, Penn State 49 (Touchdown Tom said: USC 30, Penn State 29). USC led throughout the entire first half, but never by more than two touchdowns. The Trojans were up 27-20 at the break. Penn State came roaring back in the third quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points to take a 42-27 lead, with 10:26 to go in the quarter. The Lions scored the three touchdowns in less than three minutes. With 1:55 to go in the third quarter, Penn State led 49-35. Then USC scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The final three points came on a 46-yards field goal by Matt Boermeester as time expired. The Trojans dominated the game – 33 first downs to 23 for Penn State, and 575 total yards to 465 for the Nittany Lions. USC also controlled the clock for more than 33 minutes. Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold passed for 453 yards. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards. Lions quarterback Trace McSorley threw three interceptions. USC ended its season with a 9-game winning streak and a 10-3 record. Attendance in Pasadena: 95,128

Bob was on bass and Gus was on fiddle – (in the Sugar Bowl) – Oklahoma 35, Auburn 19 (Touchdown Tom said: Oklahoma 31, Auburn 30). A close game at halftime, Oklahoma only led Auburn by one point – 14-13. Then the Sooners came out in the second half and dominated the Tigers, building up a 35-13 lead. Oklahoma controlled the stats – 28 to 22 in first downs and 524 to 339 in total yards. The Sooners dominated both passing and rushing, and controlled the clock for more than 33 minutes. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 296 yards. Oklahoma finished its season on a 10-game winning streak a final record of 11-2. Attendance in New Orleans: 54,077

Last 20 Bowl Game Picks: 11 correct picks, 9 fumbles (55 percent)
Total Bowl Game Picks: 22 correct picks, 18 fumbles (55 percent)


Impressive Passers:

USC’s Sam Darnold – 33-53-1-453; South Carolina’s Jake Bentley – 32-43-2-390; Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph – 22-32-0-314, and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight – 30-48-1-310.

Impressive Rushers:

Northwestern’s Justin Jackson – 224 yards; Utah’s Joe Williams – 222 yards; Penn State’s Saquon Barkley – 194 yards, and Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough – 180 yards.

Georgia Tech’s Dedrick Mills – 169 yards; Florida State’s Dalvin Cook – 145 yards; Georgia’s Nick Chubb – 142 yards, and LSU’s Derrius Guice – 138 yards.

Quotes of the Week

“It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5 schools,” Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier.

“The answer is an emphatic no. We compete for national championships like anyone else in FBS, including the Power 5, and have no interest in any kind of separate championship,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco.

Quote from the Past

“I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game,” Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

Touchdown Tom


Not exactly college football related, but as college football fans were discussing the results of the bowl games and celebrating the New Year, the number one song in the country…

…75 years ago this week in 1942 was “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

…70 years ago this week in 1947 was “The Old Lamplighter” by Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra

…65 years ago this week in 1952 was “Cry” by Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads

…60 years ago this week in 1957 was “Singing the Blues” by Guy Mitchell

…55 years ago this week in 1962 was “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens

…50 years ago this week in 1967 was “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees

…45 years ago this week in 1972 was “Brand New Key” by Melanie

…40 years ago this week in 1977 was “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.

…35 years ago this week in 1982 was “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John

…30 years ago this week in 1987 was “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles

…25 years ago this week in 1992 was “Black or White” by Michael Jackson

Not exactly college football related, but sadly there were three passings of note last week – Debbie Reynolds, LaVell Edwards and William Christopher.

Debbie Reynolds, the wholesome star of 1950s films like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Tammy and the Bachelor,” died last week, a day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. She was 84. She was just 19 when the movie “Singin’ in the Rain,” with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, was filmed in 1952. She made “Tammy and the Bachelor” five years later in 1957. She married pop singing star Eddie Fisher in 1955. The marriage ended in 1959 when Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Her family moved to California when Reynolds was seven. She appeared in her first movie in 1950. In 1955, Reynolds was in “The Tender Trap” opposite Frank Sinatra. In 1956, she starred with her husband Fisher in “Bundle of Joy.” After her divorce from Fisher, Reynolds movies included “The Gazebo” (1959), “How the West Was Won” (1963), “The Singing Nun” (1966) and “Divorce American Style” (1967). Reynolds best role in the 1960s was in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1964) for which she received a best-actress Oscar nomination. In 1969, she had a television sitcom “The Debbie Reynolds Show.” She made her Broadway debut in 1973 in “Irene.” Reynolds made her last Broadway appearance in 1983 in “Woman of the Year.” She became a fixture in Las Vegas in the 1970s and 1980s. Reynolds made two movies in the 1990s – “Mother” (1996) and “In & Out” (1997). In 1999, she made appearances on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace.”

LaVell Edwards, who took over a lackluster BYU football program in 1972 and coached the Cougars to the 1984 national championship, died last week at his home in Provo, Utah. He was 86. Edwards, who was BYU’s defensive coordinator before 1972, coached the Cougars for 29 seasons. He coached a string of strong quarterbacks, including Gary Sheide, Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer and Steve Sarkisian. Detmer won the Heisman Trophy in 1990. Edwards compiled a record at BYU of 257 victories, 101 losses and 3 ties. He was a two-time national coach of the year. Reuben LaVell Edwards was born on October 11, 1930, in Orem, Utah. He played college football at Utah State.

William Christopher, the actor best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s sitcom “M*A*S*H,” died at his home in Pasadena, California. He was 84. Christopher began his acting career on Broadway and then moved to television. He appeared on a number of popular TV shows, including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Love Boat.” But he will always be known for his Father Mulcahy role. “M*A*S*H” ran from 1972 to 1983 on CBS. Christopher reprised the Father Mulcahy role in “After M*A*S*H,” a spinoff that ran from 1983 to 1985. William Christopher was born on October 20, 1932, in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, with a bachelor’s degree in drama.