Monday, November 20, 2017

College Football Week 13 – UCLA fires Jim Mora

A weekend of Grand Guard, Cupcakes and Coaching Rumors

Swamp Mama and I left home around noon on Thursday. We were on our way to Gainesville. It was going to be a big weekend for Swamp Mama. When you reach your 50th anniversary of graduating from the University of Florida, you are invited to join the Grand Guard Society.

I can’t tell you how many years Swamp Mama has been waiting for this. She has talked about it for a long time. Finally, her time was here.

The weather was perfect as we drove to Gainesville – pleasant, sunny skies. That’s the way it remained all weekend – pleasant days, cool nights and sunny skies.

Once we were in Gainesville, we headed straight for our hotel. The first item on the itinerary of the Grand Guard weekend was a reception and cocktail party Thursday evening. It was being hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine.

As I was checking us into our hotel, there was a lady to the right of me checking in with another hotel desk clerk.

She kept looking over at me. Finally, as she was looking at me again, the lady said, “Are you 72?”

I looked at her and replied, “I beg your pardon. I’m still 70.”

The lady said, “Oh, I thought you were checking in for the Grand Guard weekend like me.”

I said, “My companion is. I’m just her cabana boy.”

The lady said, “How much do you charge?”

I said, “I’m expensive. I also cook the meals.”

The lady said, “I can pay for that.”

About that time, a hand came from out of nowhere, grabbed me by the arm and jerked me away so fast my feet almost came off the floor.

And so the Grand Guard weekend began.

That evening at the reception and cocktail party, I saw the lady again. She was standing about 15-20 feet away. As I saw her, I said to Swamp Mama, “Oh there’s the lady who was checking into the hotel when we were. I’m going over and say hello.”

I mean to tell you Swamp Mama’s fingers wrapped around the upper part of my arm so fast. She dragged me away in the opposite direction from the lady. For the rest of the evening, whenever I saw the lady, I never opened my mouth. I was tempted to. But I knew better.

Friday morning, the Grand Guard crew and spouses gathered at the Emerson Alumni Hall for an awesome buffet breakfast. No, there weren’t any chili dogs, cold pizza and beer, but it was an outstanding breakfast all the same.

During breakfast, Swamp Mama’s classmates took turns standing and telling stories – mostly humorous – from their days at UF. One guy reminisced about having a date to a football game, but being so broke, he had to first go give blood to get money to buy a bottle of gin. But he said he learned a lesson. Never give a pint of blood just before you drink a pint of gin.

Following breakfast, several speakers addressed the group, including Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. As Stricklin began, he said, “I apologize, but I don’t have the news you’re waiting to hear.”

I felt like yelling out, “Oh, we know it’s Chip Kelly.”

But I didn’t.

We also heard from Ilaria Capua (Google her) an internationally known virologist from Italy who is currently a professor at Florida. She is an amazing woman.  

The day continued with a tour of the College of Journalism and Communications – Swamp Mama’s school – followed by lunch at the school. The afternoon culminated with a bus tour of the campus. 

Friday night was the feature occasion – the induction of the 1967 grads into the Grand Guard Society. It was preceded by a cocktail party and dinner. The program was impressive. The induction was followed by a dance. The music for the dance was a tape of songs that were on the charts from 1963 to 1967 – good dancing music.  

Saturday morning, Swamp Mama had to get her fix. We drove over to Trenton, Florida, to the Suwannee Valley Quilt Shoppe. Once she bought some fabric, she was good to go. Yes, the shop had a husband chair.

From Trenton, we drove back to Gainesville to the Emerson Alumni Hall for the group tailgate party – barbecue. We shared lively conversation, while watching a number of college football games – the 12 noon starts – on several large screens. From the balcony of the alumni hall, we watched the Florida football players take part in the pregame “Gator Walk.”

Before long, it was game time – UAB and Florida, a 4 p.m. start. The stadium was a short walk from the alumni hall. The Grand Guard had a block of seats. Coming into the game, the Gators were riding a four-game losing streak. We didn’t know what to expect – not even against a cupcake like UAB.

Florida won, 36-7. The losing streak was over. The Grand Guard brought the Gators luck.

Yes, the media labeled it “cupcake week.” That week before Thanksgiving every year when so many of the big teams play cupcakes.  Saturday was definitely a cupcake day. Who were the cupcakes? There were a variety of them – Mercer, The Citadel, Kansas, Louisiana-Monroe, Illinois, Wofford, Delaware State, UAB and Western Carolina. And they all tasted good.

Who devoured the cupcakes? Who licked the icing? How about Alabama 56, Mercer 0, or Clemson 61, The Citadel 3. Then there were Oklahoma 41, Kansas 3, and Auburn 42, Louisiana-Monroe 14. The cupcake games continued with Ohio State 52, Illinois 14, and South Carolina 31, Wofford 10.  It finally ended with Florida State 77, Delaware State 6, and North Carolina 65, Western Carolina 10. Does that satisfy your appetite? It doesn’t mine.

It’s okay for the Power Five teams to play a cupcake team the first or second weekend of the season – but not the next to last weekend of the season. We could get rid of a lot of these cupcake games if only the ACC and the SEC would play a nine-game conference schedule, like the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 do. Come on ACC and SEC – start playing a nine-game conference schedule. Get on par with the rest of the Power Five conferences.

In spite of the cupcake games, there were a lot of big boy games and a lot of them were good too. The Big Ten had four amazing games. Wisconsin remained undefeated, beating Michigan, 24-10. Northwestern won its sixth-straight game, beating Minnesota, 39-0. The Wildcats improved to 8-3.

Purdue stunned Iowa in Iowa City. The Boilermakers beat the Hawkeyes, 24-15. And finally, in a shootout in University Park, Penn State held off Tanner Lee and Nebraska. The Nittany Lions downed the Cornhuskers, 56-44. Huskers’ quarterback – Lee – passed for 399 yards.    

In the Big 12, Kansas State surprised Oklahoma State. The Wildcats beat the Cowboys, 45-40. Will Grier broke his finger and West Virginia proceeded to lose to Texas, 28-14.

Down south, Mississippi State rallied to come from behind and beat Arkansas, 28-21.

In the ACC, Virginia gave Miami a scare. But the Hurricanes held on and beat the Cavaliers 44-28. Wake Forest gave NC State more than a scare. The Demon Deacons downed the Wolfpack, 30-24.

Out west, USC defeated cross-town rival UCLA. The Trojans won, 28-23. In the MWC, Fresno State took care of Wyoming, 13-7.

Among the AAC teams, UCF remained undefeated. The Knights beat Temple, 45-19. Memphis outscored SMU, as the Tigers beat the Mustangs, 66-45. Navy lost a close one to Notre Dame. The Irish beat the Middies, 24-17.

And finally, the little-big game in Florida, Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic squad beat Butch Davis’ Florida International squad, 52-24. FAU improved to 8-3, winning its seventh-straight game.

The coaching carousel heated up more during the week. Florida AD Scott Stricklin told the Grand Guard group that he didn’t have the news they wanted to hear, but there was a lot of news coming out of Gainesville. First there were reports that Stricklin had made a decision to hire Chip Kelly. Further reports said that Kelly had agreed in principle to become the Florida coach.

The Stricklin-Kelly romance was followed by reports that Steve Spurrier and former Florida AD Jeremy Foley had intervened to stop Stricklin from hiring Kelly. Apparently Spurrier and Foley want Scott Frost, or so the reports claim. I still think if Frost goes anywhere, he’ll go to Nebraska.

Meanwhile, in Knoxville, reports say that Tennessee is headed towards hiring Jon Gruden. And like Kelly at Florida, Gruden has agreed in principle to become the coach of the Vols.

Florida and Tennessee are two of several SEC schools looking for coaches or soon to be looking for coaches. Ole Miss is still looking for a coach to take over from interim coach Matt Luke. Arkansas and Texas A&M are still expected to fire Bret Bielema and Kevin Sumlin respectively.

Some Auburn people believe that if Auburn loses to Alabama either Gus Malzahn will be fired or he will leave Auburn on his own for employment elsewhere. And where might that be – Arkansas so they say.

Once in trouble, Missouri’s Barry Odom appears to have saved his job in Columbia. The Tigers have gone from 1-5 to 6-5. Missouri has a five-game winning streak going and is bowl eligible. Who knows what Vanderbilt will or won’t do with Derek Mason? They should get rid of him, but does Vanderbilt really care?

In the Pac-12, UCLA fired Jim Mora yesterday. In six seasons with the Bruins, Mora was 46-30 – 5-6 this season, with one game remaining. And who knows what Arizona State may or may not do with Todd Graham? 

In the Big Ten, Nebraska is sure to fire Mike Riley next week. Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury and Kansas’ David Beaty are on thin ice in the Big 12.

Like Missouri’s Barry Odom, Boston College’s Steve Addazio appears to have saved his job. The Eagles began the season 2-4, but have improved to 6-5. Addazio was the only ACC coach in trouble, that is, unless North Carolina and Larry Fedora have a falling out.  

The third edition of this season’s college football playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday evening. My Top 10 this week – no change from last week – are: (1) Alabama, (2) Clemson, (3) Oklahoma, (4) Miami (Florida), (5) Auburn, (6) Wisconsin, (7) Georgia, (8) Notre Dame, (9) USC, (10) Ohio State.

But with Alabama-Auburn, Clemson-South Carolina, Ohio State-Michigan and Notre Dame-Stanford on tap this week, there will be some changes and potential changes next week.

Oklahoma, Miami (Florida), Wisconsin and Georgia have easy games this week. USC has completed its regular season. The Trojans are waiting for either Stanford or Washington State in the Pac-12 title game.

My best of the Group of Five are UCF (10-0), Memphis (9-1), South Florida (9-1), Boise State (9-2) Florida Atlantic (8-3), Toledo (9-2), North Texas (8-3), San Diego State (9-2), Northern Illinois (8-3) and Fresno State (8-3).

Good games in the Group of Five this week are South Florida-UCF, Boise State-Fresno State, Northern Illinois-Central Michigan and Western Michigan-Toledo.

It was good to hear from Fern Musselwhite last week.  

Happy Thanksgiving, college football fans. Have a good week!

Yeah, I’m expensive. I also do the cooking.

Touchdown Tom
November 20, 2017


Weekend Recap

GAME OF THE WEEK:  Badgers for real – Wisconsin 24, Michigan 10 (Touchdown Tom said: Wisconsin 28, Michigan 22). The Wolverines kept it close for most of three quarters. Wisconsin only led by four points – 14-10 – with less than a minute to go in the third. Neither team had a lot of offense, but Wisconsin did have 182 yards rushing to only 58 for Michigan. The Badgers Jonathan Taylor rushed for 132 yards. Attendance in Madison: 81,216

RUNNER UP:  Back in the saddle again – Georgia 42, Kentucky 13 (Touchdown Tom said: Georgia 30 Kentucky 21). Georgia bounced back from its loss to Auburn to a big win over Kentucky. The Dawgs racked up 504 total yards. Nick Chubb rushed for 151 yards. Attendance in Athens: 92,746

REST OF THE BEST:  Still perfect – UCF 45, Temple 19 (Touchdown Tom said: UCF 32, Temple 25). After a bit of a shaky start – Temple led 10-7 in the second quarter – UCF pulled away, holding the Owls to 6 points in the second half. Temple was pretty even with the Knights in the stats, except for turnovers. Temple had 5 and UCF had none. Attendance in Philadelphia: 25,877

Kings of L.A. – USC 28, UCLA 23 (Touchdown Tom said: USC 33, UCLA 24). UCLA kept the game close throughout, but USC was always in control. The Bruins Josh Rosen passed for 421 yards. The Trojans Ronald Jones rushed for 122 yards. Attendance in Los Angeles: 82,407

North Texas 52, Army 49 (Touchdown Tom said: Army 30, North Texas 22). It was a shame anybody had to lose this contest. The game was tied 5 times. Army had 534 rushing yards. Ahmad Bradshaw was responsible for 244 of those yards. North Texas’ Mason Fine passed for 386 yards. Attendance in Denton: 26,392

So close – Notre Dame 24, Navy 17 (Touchdown Tom said: Notre Dame 34, Navy 21). Touch and go game – 10-10 at the break, 17-17 at the end of three. Amazingly, Navy controlled the clock for more than 42 minutes. Attendance in South Bend: 77,622

Basketball game – Memphis 66, SMU 45 (Touchdown Tom said: Memphis 32, SMU 26). Close for three quarters, Memphis ran away from SMU in the fourth – outscoring the Mustangs, 21-7. The teams combined for 1,141 total yards. Memphis’ Riley Ferguson passed for 320 yards and the Tigers Darrell Henderson rushed for 147 yards. SMU’s Xavier Jones rushed for 175 yards.  Attendance in Memphis: 35,329

Deacon power – Wake Forest 30, NC State 24 (Touchdown Tom said: NC State 38, Wake Forest 33). Another close contest throughout – the game was tied 4 times. State dominated the stats. The Wolfpack even dominated the clock for more than 41 minutes. But State also dominated the turnovers – 3-1. State’s Ryan Finley passed for 327 yards. Attendance in Winston-Salem: 31,803

Surprise – Kansas State 45, Oklahoma State 40 (Touchdown Tom said: Oklahoma State 35, Kansas State 27). K-State led 45-20 early in the fourth quarter. Then the Cowboys went on a rampage, scoring 20 points – 3 touchdowns – in less than nine minutes. Okie State’s Mason Rudolph passed for 425 yards. Attendance in Stillwater: 56,790

Frog defense – TCU 27, Texas Tech 3 (Touchdown Tom said: TCU 29, Texas Tech 25). TCU has the best defense in the Big 12. When was the last time Texas Tech was held to 3 points?  Attendance in Lubbock: 51,278

Jake the Snake – Washington 33, Utah 30 (Touchdown Tom said: Washington 30, Utah 18). Close throughout, neither team led by more than 7 points. Washington kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to win. Washington’s Jake Browning passed for 354 yards. Attendance in Seattle: 65,767

Fingerless in Mo’town – Texas 28, West Virginia 14 (Touchdown Tom said: West Virginia 31, Texas 23). Will Grier broke his finger and that was all she wrote for WVU. The Mounties only had 56 yards rushing. Texas balanced its rushing and passing. Attendance in Morgantown: 53,133



Devin is heaven – Florida Atlantic 52, Florida International 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Florida Atlantic 40, Florida International 31). FAU took control from the start and never trailed in the game. The Owls had 572 total yards. FAU’s Devin Singletary rushed for 164 yards. Attendance in Boca Raton: 24,116



Eddy! Eddy! – Florida 36, UAB 7 (Touchdown Tom said: Florida 27, UAB 23). Florida had 25 first downs to eight for UAB, 409 total yards to 180 for UAB and 257 yards rushing to 3 for UAB. The Gators also controlled the clock for more than 42 minutes. Florida’s placekicker Eddy Pineiro was responsible for 18 of the Gators 36 points – 5 field goals and 3 extra points. Pineiro kicked two 50-yard field goals. The Blazers were plagued by 4 turnovers. Attendance in Gainesville: 84,649

Too little, too late – Penn State 56, Nebraska 44 (Touchdown Tom said: Penn State 39, Nebraska 18). Penn State outscored Nebraska, 42-10, in the first half. Then Nebraska outscored Penn State, 34-14, in the second half. Early in the fourth quarter, the Lions led the Huskers 56-24. Nebraska scored three touchdowns – 20 points – in the final 6:32 of the game. The teams combined for 1,075 total yards – 609 total yards belonged to Penn State. Nebraska’s Tanner Lee passed for 399 yards. Penn State’s Trace McSorley passed for 325 yards. The Lions Saquon Barkley rushed for 158 yards. Attendance in University Park: 106,722

Dookies go wild – Duke 43, Georgia Tech 20 (Touchdown Tom said: Georgia Tech 31, Duke 19). The Dookies could do no wrong. They held Georgia Tech scoreless in the second half. The Dookies had 500 total yards.  They had 30 first downs to 15 for Tech. Attendance in Durham: 20,141

Well, look here – Purdue 24, Iowa 15 (Touchdown Tom said: Iowa 27, Purdue 17). Iowa led 9-7 at the break. It was all Purdue in the second half. Iowa never scored again until 1:04 left in the game. Neither team could run the ball – 82 yards rushing for the Boilers and 65 yards rushing for the Hawkeyes. Attendance in Iowa City: 60,554

Week 12 Results:  11 correct picks, 6 fumbles (64.7 percent)
For the Season:    138 correct picks, 56 fumbles (71.1 percent)



South Florida 27, Tulsa 20 – Attendance in Tampa: 26,195
Florida State 77, Delaware State 6 – Attendance in Tallahassee: 70,599

Miami 44, Virginia 28 – Attendance in Miami Gardens: 63,415
Bethune-Cookman 29, Florida A&M 24 – Attendance in Orlando: 47,819
Drake 52, Jacksonville U. 7 – Attendance in Des Moines: 1,487



Impressive Passers:  

Western Kentucky’s Mike White – 39-54-0 for 485 yards; East Carolina’s Gardner Minshew – 31-45-0-444; Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph – 32-53-2-425; UCLA’s Josh Rosen – 32-52-1-421, and Nebraska’s Tanner Lee – 26-41-0-399.

Also, North Texas’ Mason Fine – 24-36-1 for 386 yards; Virginia’s Kurt Benkert – 28-37-1-384; Washington’s Jake Browning – 26-35-0-354, and Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson – 16-28-1-350.

Impressive Rushers:  

Army’s Ahmad Bradshaw – 244 yards; San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny – 222 yards; Boston College’s A.J. Dillon – 200 yards; UNLV’s Armani Rogers – 193 yards; Toledo’s Terry Swanson – 192 yards; Northern Illinois’ Jordan Huff – 185 yards, and Louisville’s Malik Williams – 180 yards.

Also, SMU’s Xavier Jones – 175 yards; Northwestern’s Justin Jackson – 166 yards; Ohio’s Nathan Rourke – 165 yards; Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary – 164 yards; New Mexico’s Tyrone Owens – 164 yards; Tulsa’s D’Angelo Brewer – 163 yards; Penn State’s Saquon Barkley – 158 yards, and Southern Miss’ Ito Smith – 153 yards.

Also, California’s Patrick Laird – 153 yards; Georgia’s Nick Chubb – 151 yards; Indiana’s Morgan Ellison – 149 yards; Memphis’ Darrell Henderson – 147 yards; Michigan State’s L.J. Scott – 147 yards; Ole Miss’ Jordan Wilkins – 147 yards; Arkansas State’s Warren Wand – 145 yards, and New Mexico’s Daryl Chestnut – 145 yards.


Quotes of the Week:

“That’s just totally false. I haven’t paid any attention to all these whirlwind rumors and everything, and I’m not going to. I’ve got an unbelievable team I’m coaching and I can promise you that no decision has been made,” UCF coach Scott Frost, on reports that he was nearing a seven-year, $35 million deal with Nebraska. 


Touchdown Tom’s predictions for

This Week’s 12 Biggest and Most Intriguing Games…and then some

GAME OF THE WEEK:  1. Alabama (11-0) at Auburn (9-2) – (SEC vs. SEC) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, CBS – This one is for all the marbles in China – well, for all the marbles somewhere. The winner wins the SEC West, remains in the playoff picture and goes on to the SEC title game to play Georgia. The loser is out of the playoff picture. The loser will hope to land a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. Auburn last beat Alabama in 2013. Since then, the Tide has won three straight. It won’t be four straight – Auburn 27, Alabama 26.

RUNNER UP:  2. South Florida (9-1) at UCF (10-0) – (AAC vs. AAC) – 3:30 pm ET, Friday, ABC – This one is for all the marbles in Florida. Do they have marbles in Florida? With Florida at 4-6 and Florida State at 4-6, UCF and South Florida have been the two premier teams in the Sunshine State this season. The winner of this game wins the AAC East Division, remains in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl and goes on to play Memphis in the AAC title game. South Florida has won the last two games in the series. UCF won the two games before that. The Knights get the marbles – UCF 30, South Florida 24.

REST OF THE BEST:  3. Washington State (9-2) at Washington (9-2) – (Pac-12 vs. Pac-12) – 8 pm ET, Saturday, FOX – This is the Super Bowl of the Northwest. Washington State still has a slight chance of making the playoffs. The Cougars would have to beat Washington, then beat USC in the Pac-12 title game and then hope for the best. If Washington wins, the Huskies would get the Apple Cup, but that’s about all. Washington can’t win the Pac-12 North Division. The North Division title goes to Stanford if Washington wins. Stanford beat Washington, but lost to Washington State. The Cougars last beat Washington in 2012. The Huskies have won the last four games in the series. Make if five – Washington 32, Washington State 30.

4. Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3) – (ACC vs. SEC) – 7:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN – Regardless of the outcome, Clemson is the ACC Atlantic division champion with a date to meet Miami for the ACC championship. However, if Clemson loses, the Tigers are out of the playoff picture. Regardless of the outcome, South Carolina can still say it is the second-best team in the SEC East. If the Gamecocks win, they can say they are champions of the Watermelon State. Clemson has won three straight in this series. South Carolina won five straight before that. Make it four straight for the Tigers – Clemson 26, South Carolina 23.

5. Ohio State (9-2) at Michigan (8-3) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, FOX – First of all, there is nothing in this game for Michigan, except pride. The Wolverines can’t win the Big Ten East Division. Ohio State has already won the Big Ten East and has a date with Wisconsin for the Big Ten championship. However, the Buckeyes must win to remain in contention for the playoffs, remote as their chances are. Ohio State has won 12 of the last 13 games against Michigan and 14 of the last 16 games. The Wolverines last won in 2011. Make is six straight for the Buckeyes – Ohio State 28, Michigan 24.

6. Notre Dame (9-2) at Stanford (8-3) – (Ind. vs. Pac-12) – 8 pm ET, Saturday, ABC – This is the last regular season game for Notre Dame. The Irish are out of the playoff picture and just have to hope for the best bowl they can get. Beat Stanford and ND will get a darn good bowl. This may or may not be Stanford’s last game before a bowl. If Washington beats Washington State, then Stanford will play USC for the Pac-12 championship. The Trees flourish – Stanford 28, Notre Dame 24.

7. West Virginia (7-4) at Oklahoma (10-1) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) 3:45 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN – After West Virginia, Oklahoma will most likely play TCU in a rematch for the Big 12 championship. Win out and OU is in the playoffs. WVU’s chances of knocking off the Sooners went down the drain when Will Grier broke his finger early in the Texas game. Grier is out for 4-6 weeks. Mayfield has a heyday – Oklahoma 35, West Virginia 20.

8. Boise State (9-2) at Fresno State (8-3) – (MWC vs. MWC) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, CBSSN – Well this is interesting. Boise State has won the MWC Mountain Division and Fresno State has won the MWC West Division. These two teams will meet again next week in the MWC championship game. So this is a warm-up game. The game is important for the Broncos because Boise State still has a shot at finishing the season as the highest-ranked Group of Five team. That would put them in a New Year’s Six bowl. Fresno State has been a surprise team this season under first-year coach Jeff Tedford. At preseason, the Bulldogs were picked to finish at or near the bottom of their Division in the MWC. Broncos toss the Bulldogs – Boise State 29, Fresno State 27.

9. Texas A&M (7-4) at LSU (8-3) – (SEC vs. SEC) – 7:30 pm ET, Saturday, SECN – In all likelihood, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is going to get fired after this game. But if the Aggies can manage to win, who knows, that could save his job. LSU coach Ed Orgeron was on the hot seat earlier in the season, but he seems to have turned that situation around. A Tiger win will give LSU sole position of third place in the SEC West. Mike bids Kevin farewell –  LSU 27, Texas A&M 25.

10. Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4) – (ACC vs. SEC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, SECN – This one is for the Governor’s Cup. The rivalry has been a series of streaks. Louisville won five straight. Then Kentucky won four straight, followed by Louisville winning five straight. Kentucky won last year. Was that the beginning of a new streak? No – Louisville 30, Kentucky 25.

11. Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5) – (SEC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ABC – Georgia has either Alabama or Auburn coming up in the SEC title game. So the Dawgs can’t overlook the Yellow Jackets. That would put a big damper in their playoff plans. Tech has won two of the last three games in this series. But let’s make it two of the last four – Georgia 32, Georgia Tech 19.

12. Virginia Tech (8-3) at Virginia (6-5) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 8 pm ET, Friday, ESPN – This has been an embarrassing series for Virginia. Tech has won the last 13 games in this series and 17 of the last 18 games. You can’t even call this a rivalry. The Cavaliers have improved throughout this season. They’ll give the Hokies a few headaches. But not migraines – Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 20.



13. Iowa State (7-4) at Kansas State (6-5) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN2 – K-State is on its third quarterback. He found himself last week against Oklahoma State. Iowa State is an improving team too. This could end up being one of the most exciting games of the weekend. The Wildcats enjoy the excitement – Kansas State 27, Iowa State 23.



Florida State (4-6) at Florida (4-6) – (ACC vs. SEC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ESPN – One thing is for sure – the loser of this game won’t be playing in a bowl game. The Gators may not be playing in a bowl even if they win. Who, in their wildest mind, would have thought at preseason that these two teams would have losing records in November? The Noles have won the last four games in the series and six of the last seven games. Before that, the Gators won six straight. The Noles don’t make it five straight. Shannon finds a spark – Florida 24, Florida State 23. 

Iowa (6-5) at Nebraska (4-7) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 4 pm ET, Friday, FS1 – Iowa is going to a bowl game and Nebraska isn’t. That’s about all you can say about this game. The Hawkeyes have won three of the last four games in this series. Before that, the Huskers won five in a row over the Hawkeyes. Sometime after this game is over, Nebraska will announce that Mike Riley is stepping down. Will Scott Frost be Nebraska’s next coach? The Hawkeyes don’t care, not this year – Iowa 27, Nebraska 26.

Duke (5-6) at Wake Forest (7-4) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, FSN/ACCN – Both teams are coming off big wins. Duke over Georgia Tech and Wake over NC State. This has been an interesting year for the two teams. Both began the season 4-0. Then Duke lost six –straight games, before beating Georgia Tech. Wake has been up and down, but the Deacons are currently on a two-game winning streak. Make it a three-game streak – Wake Forest 28, Duke 21.

Texas Tech (5-6) at Texas (6-5) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) – 8 pm ET, Friday, FOX – Tech ain’t A&M, but the Raiders will have to do for Thanksgiving. Actually, they have done very well for Texas. The Longhorns have won 14 of the last 17 games in this series. Tech needs the win for a bowl bid, but the Raiders don’t get it – Texas 33, Texas Tech 22.

Indiana (5-6) at Purdue (5-6) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ESPN2 – Indiana is riding a four-game winning streak in this series. Purdue last won in 2012. Both teams have had some bright moments this season. They also have had some bad moments too. The winner gets a bowl bid. The Hoosiers are going bowling – Indiana 28, Purdue 27.



Miami (10-0) at Pitt (4-7) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Friday, ABC….
Western Kentucky (6-5) at Florida International (6-4) – (C-USA vs. C-USA) – 7 pm ET, Friday….

Florida Atlantic (8-3) at Charlotte (1-10) – (C-USA vs. C-USA) – 2 pm ET, Saturday
Jacksonville U. (7-4), Bethune-Cookman (7-4) and Florida A&M (3-8) have completed their seasons.

Touchdown Tom


Not directly college football related, but as the regular season was coming to a climax and Thanksgiving turkeys and pumpkin pies were almost in the oven, the number one song in the country…

…75 years ago this week in 1942 was “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

…70 years ago this week in 1947 was “Near You” by Francis Craig and His Orchestra

…65 years ago this week in 1952 was “It’s In The Book (Parts 1 & 2) – by Johnny Standley

…60 years ago this week in 1957 was “Jailhouse Rock”/”Treat Me Nice” by Elvis Presley and “Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers

…55 years ago this week in 1962 was “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons

…50 years ago this week in 1967 was “Incense And Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock

…45 years ago this week in 1972 was “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash

…40 years ago this week in 1977 was “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

…35 years ago this week in 1982 was “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes

…30 years ago this week in 1987 was “I’ve Has The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

…25 years ago this week in 1992 was “How Do You Talk To An Angel” – by The Heights


Not exactly college football related, but sadly there were four passings of note last week – Bobby Doerr, Paul Buckmaster, Mel Tillis and Pancho Segura.

Bobby Doerr, the Hall of Fame second baseman who was an immensely popular player through 14 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, died last week in Junction City, Oregon. He was 99 and was the oldest living former major league baseball player. He began his career with the Red Sox in 1937. Playing in Fenway Park into the early 1950s, except for one year in the Army during World War II, Doerr was a nine-time American League All-Star. Robert Pershing Doerr was born in Los Angeles on April 7, 1918.

Paul Buckmaster, whose orchestral arrangements brought power and poignancy to signature songs by David Bowie, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon and countless other rock, pop, country and jazz stars, died last week at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71. Buckmaster established himself early in his career when he arranged “Space Oddity,” the eerie 1969 Bowie song that begins with the lyric “Ground control to Major Tom.” He did the arrangements on Elton John’s second album “Elton John” in 1970. It contained the hit “Your Song.” Over the next 47 years, Buckmaster worked with rockers like Guns N’ Roses and country stars like Faith Hill. Paul Buckmaster was born on June 13, 1946, in London, England. His arrangements, often heavily reliant on strings, can be heard on songs as different as the Rolling Stones’ “Moonlight Mile” and Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

Mel Tillis, whose career as a country singer and the writer of songs like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and who was equally well-known for his stutter, died yesterday in Ocala, Florida. He was 85. Tillis stuttered only when he spoke, not when he sang. He had upward of 70 Top 40 country hits – six No. 1 hits. He also wrote songs for Patsy Cline and Bobby Bare. Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born on August 8, 1932, in Tampa, Florida. He served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955. He had minor roles in films like “Smokey and the Bandit II” (1980) and “The Cannonball Run” (1981).  

Pancho Segura, who rose up from Ecuador to become one of the world’s leading tennis players in the mid-20th century, died Saturday at his home in Carlsbad, California. He was 96. Segura was a mentor to and coach of Jimmy Connors in the 1970s. He played tennis for the University of Miami and won the NCAA singles tennis championship from 1943 to 1945. Segura turned pro in 1947. He barnstormed around the world with players like Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Bobby Riggs, Tony Trabert and Ken Rosewall. Francisco Olegario Segura was born on June 20, 1921 in Ecuador.

On another note, Charles Manson died yesterday. He was 83. Nuff said.


Monday, November 13, 2017

College Football Week 12 – Butch Jones finally fired

Shakeup on Showdown:
Two still in, two out
and three eliminated

They called it “Showdown Saturday.” The Top 10 teams in the CFP rankings – the only teams still in the running for the playoff – were all playing crucial games against dangerous opponents. In fact, six of the teams were playing other teams ranked in the Top 10.

The Shakeups: Auburn 40, Georgia 17; Miami (Florida) 41, Notre Dame 8; Oklahoma 38, TCU 20, and Stanford 30, Washington 22.

Breathing a sigh of relief: Alabama, after edging Mississippi State, 31-24.

Breathing a little easier: Clemson, after beating Florida State, 31-14, and Wisconsin, after downing Iowa, 38-14.

The two still in the CFP Top 4: Alabama and Clemson.

The two out of the CFP Top 4: Georgia and Notre Dame.

The three eliminated from the CFP picture: Notre Dame, TCU and Washington.

The shakeup began on Friday night, when Stanford knocked off No. 9 Washington, 30-22. The Huskies started out on the right track, leading Stanford through the first two and a half quarters of the game. But in the third quarter, the Cardinal grabbed the lead for the first time and never looked back.

The loss booted Washington (8-2) out of contention for the CFP playoff. In fact, no team from the Pac-12 will be in the playoff this season.

The shakeups continued Saturday. First, No. 10 Auburn stunned No. 1 Georgia, 40-17. The Bulldogs scored first and led the Tigers 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. But Georgia never scored again until late in the third quarter. By then it was too late. Trailing Auburn 30-7, the Dawgs kicked a field goal with 5:23 left in the third. Georgia (9-1) will fall from the Top 4 but remain in the Top 7 of the CFP rankings.    

Georgia still controls its own destiny. If the Dawgs win out, they will be one of the playoff teams. Georgia has regular season games remaining against Kentucky and Georgia Tech, and the SEC championship game against either Alabama or Auburn.

Likewise, Auburn (8-2) controls its own destiny. If the Tigers win out, they will be a Top 4 CFP team. Auburn has games remaining against Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama and the SEC championship game in a repeat against Georgia, if the Tigers beat Alabama.  

The last two of the shakeups occurred Saturday night when No. 7 Miami (Florida) blew past No. 3 Notre Dame, 41-8 and No. 5 Oklahoma beat No. 6 TCU, 38-20. With leads of 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 27-0 at halftime, Miami never gave the Irish a chance. The Canes were all over Notre Dame.

The win should propel Miami (9-0) into the CFP Top 4 this week. Win out and the Canes are definitely in the playoff. Miami has regular season games remaining against Virginia and Pitt and the ACC title game against Clemson. Notre Dame (8-2), on the other hand, is totally out of the CFP picture. No playoff for the Irish.

In the other shakeup game Saturday night, Oklahoma’s win should boost the Sooners into the CFP Top 4, while knocking TCU (8-2) out of any possibilities for the playoff. Oklahoma built up a 38-14 first half lead in its win over the Horned Frogs. The Sooners went into cruise control in the second half. Like Auburn, Georgia and Miami, Oklahoma controls its own destiny. Win out and the Sooners are playoff bound.

OU (9-1) has regular season games remaining against Kansas and West Virginia and the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma State, TCU or West Virginia. Oklahoma is the Big 12’s only chance of putting a team in the playoff. Should the Sooners lose in their next three games, there will be no Big 12 teams in the playoff.

It wasn’t a shakeup, but it was close. No. 2 Alabama was lucky to get out of Starkville alive, edging Mississippi State, 31-24. The Tide never led the Bulldogs until early in the third quarter when Alabama went up 17-14. But that lead was short-lived, as Miss State went back up 21-17. Then the Bulldogs added a field goal to improve on their lead, 24-17.

But that was it for Miss State. Alabama scored two touchdowns in the final 9:49 of the game, the second coming with 25 seconds left, to beat the Bulldogs by a touchdown. The Tide controls its destiny. Win out and Alabama (10-0) is a playoff team. Lose in the SEC championship game and the Tide could still be a playoff team.

Clemson and Wisconsin won a little easier Saturday, but both teams had their moments. Clemson jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Florida State. But with 8:53 to go in the fourth quarter, the Seminoles had closed the gap to three, trailing the Tigers 17-14. For a while it was tense. Then in the final 3 minutes of the game, Clemson scored two touchdowns and won going away, 31-14.

Clemson (9-1) has games remaining against The Citadel and South Carolina and the ACC title game against Miami. Win out and the Tigers are returning to the playoff.

Until about six minutes to go in the third quarter, the Iowa-Wisconsin game was tight. The Hawkeyes led at the end of the first quarter. The Badgers took the lead in the second quarter, but the game remained close until midway through the third quarter. Wisconsin scored 21 unanswered points in the final 21 minutes of the game. The Badgers went on to win 38-14.     

Wisconsin (10-0) has games remaining against Michigan, Minnesota and, most likely, Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Win out and the Badgers will be a Top 4 CFP team. Wisconsin is the Big Ten’s only chance to put a team in the playoff.

Seven teams remain alive for the playoff – Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Miami (Florida), Oklahoma and Wisconsin. When Alabama and Auburn meet on November 25, the loser will be eliminated. Down to six teams.

When Alabama or Auburn meets Georgia on December 2 in the SEC title game, the loser will be eliminated. Down to five teams. That is unless Georgia beats Alabama. In that case, the Tide could still be alive.  

When Clemson meets Miami in the ACC title game on December 2, the loser will be eliminated. Down to four teams. Well, maybe not. If Clemson loses, the Tigers are out. But if Miami loses, the Canes could remain in contention.

And what happens if Oklahoma State and/or Wisconsin get knocked off along the way?

Some people say we need an 8-team or 16-team playoff. We already have it. The playoff began Saturday. Notre Dame, TCU and Washington were eliminated. We’re down to seven teams. The playoff will continue for the next several weeks. Stay tuned! It’s going to be fun.

Along with the playoff, the other big topic every year at this time of the season is the coaching carousel – who’s been fired, who’s going to get fired, who’s on the hot seat, who’s going to be the new coach here, who’s going to be the new coach there.

Yesterday, Tennessee fired Butch Jones. I should say Tennessee finally fired Butch Jones. It has been expected for weeks. Paul Finebaum called Tennessee athletic director John Currie a “wimp.” I guess Currie finally worked up the courage. Defensive line coach Brady Hoke was named Tennessee’s interim coach for the rest of the season.

In his fifth season, Jones was 34-27 at Tennessee. He was making $4.11 annually. His buyout is $8 million. The new coach will be the Vols’ fifth in the last 11 years. Prior to that, Tennessee went 32 years with just two coaches – John Majors and Phillip Fulmer.

There has been speculation that Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen will leave Starkville to take the Tennessee job. But that is pure speculation. Mullen has been mentioned for the Florida opening too. But that seems unlikely, after Mullen’s wife Megan came out and trashed Gators fans and Gainesville. I can’t imagine Mullen taking the Florida job unless Megan has a sudden and unexpected change of heart.   

There are going to be more firings. We could have as many as seven or eight openings in the SEC alone. And there are only so many hot-shot coaches out there – Scott Frost, Matt Campbell, Mike Norvell, Chad Morris, etc.

Whether he is or isn’t, Frost is listed as the No. 1 candidate on Florida’s list. But if Nebraska is going to be looking for a coach – one assumes that Mike Riley will be fired – isn’t it only logical and likely that Frost would go back to his alma mater in Lincoln?

Butch Jones is the fifth FBS coach to be fired this season.

In addition to the so-called “playoff” games, there were some other interesting games played Saturday. Ohio State, after its embarrassing loss to Iowa last week, bounced back and embarrassed Michigan State, 48-3. The Buckeyes’ Mike Webber rushed for 162 yards and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 124 yards. No chest pains for Urban this week.

UCF remained undefeated. The Knights downed Connecticut, 49-24. UCF’s McKenzie Milton passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

In the “basketball” game of the week, Wake Forest outshot Syracuse, 64-43. Demon Deacon quarterback John Wolford passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns. The second-best “basketball” game – Boise State 59, Colorado State 52 (OT). The teams combined for 1,211 total yards.    

Back in the ACC, Georgia Tech won the battle of the Techs. The Yellow Jackets beat Virginia Tech, 28-22.

Lane Kiffin won again. Florida Atlantic improved to 7-3, as the Owls won their sixth-straight game. FAU downed Louisiana Tech, 48-23. But Butch Davis ran out of luck. Florida International lost to Old Dominion, 37-30.

Navy won a thriller over SMU. As time expired, the Middies kicked an 18-yard field goal to beat SMU, 43-40.

Out west, USC improved to 9-2. The Trojans beat Colorado, 38-24. Also in the Pac-12, UCLA downed Arizona State, 44-37, and Arizona buried Oregon State, 49-28.

If I was on the CFP ranking committee, my Top 10 this week would be: (1) Alabama, (2) Clemson, (3) Oklahoma, (4) Miami (Florida), (5) Auburn, (6) Wisconsin, (7) Georgia, (8) Notre Dame, (9) USC, (10) Ohio State.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Georgia and Miami met in the national championship game? Mark Richt coaching against his old team for the national title. Now, that would be something. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

My best of the Group of Five this week are: UCF (9-0), Memphis (8-1), South Florida (8-1), Boise State (8-2), Army (8-2), Ohio (8-2), Troy (8-2) and Florida Atlantic (7-3).

Don’t look for much to happen in the polls after this week’s games. It’s a weak week. It’s a crappy week. There aren’t really any big games. Michigan at Wisconsin is the biggest. What are the possibilities of the Wolverines knocking off the Badgers? In spite of the lack of big games, I’m sure the week will be full of exciting games. It does have the potential for some good games.

Swamp Mama and I will be in Gainesville this weekend. Not that UAB-Florida is a big game, but it is a big weekend for Swamp Mama. Friday night, she gets inducted into the University of Florida’s Grand Guard. It honors the 50th anniversary of her graduation from UF. The weekend is full of activities, including attendance at the UAB-Florida game on Saturday. I’m just along for the ride.

It was good to hear from Ken Burger and Scott Greenwood last week.

Have a good week!

Touchdown Tom
November 13, 2017

Weekend Recap

GAME OF THE WEEK:  The Canes were able – Miami (Florida) 41, Notre Dame 8 (Touchdown Tom said: Notre Dame 27, Miami 24). Miami played like the old Miami. Notre Dame played like the Notre Dame under Bob Davie. The Irish were that bad – maybe worse. Notre Dame committed four turnovers. Miami running back Travis Homer rushed for 146 yards. Attendance in Miami Gardens: 65,303

RUNNER UP:  May day! – Oklahoma 38, TCU 20 (Touchdown Tom said: Oklahoma 30, TCU 27). Baker Mayfield is amazing. Against TCU he passed for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The Sooners had 533 total yards and controlled the clock for more than 34 minutes. OU’s Rodney Anderson rushed for 151 yards.  Attendance in Norman: 88,308

REST OF THE BEST:  Uga was ugly – Auburn 40, Georgia 17 (Touchdown Tom said: Georgia 30, Auburn 28). Auburn just annihilated Georgia. The Dawgs have those strong running backs and the Tigers held Georgia to 46 yards rushing. Jake Fromm had a bad day passing and Nick Chubb and Sony Michel had a bad day running. Meanwhile Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson rushed for 167 yards. Attendance in Auburn: 87,451

Escape from Stark Vegas – Alabama 31, Mississippi State 24 (Touchdown Tom said: Alabama 28, Mississippi State 25). What a good game this was. Miss State hung in there until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs began to wear down. Bama outscored Miss State 14-3 in the fourth quarter. Jalen Hurts had one of his better games. Attendance in Starkville: 61,344

Pour it on – Wisconsin 38, Iowa 14 (Touchdown Tom said: Wisconsin 25, Iowa 23). Wisconsin is out to prove that the Badgers belong in the playoff. They did just that. Wisconsin held Iowa to 5 first downs and 66 total yards – 25 rushing and 41 passing. That’s impressive. Wisconsin also controlled the clock for more than 38 minutes. It was a mistake-filled game – 7 turnovers between the two teams. The Badgers Jonathan Taylor rushed for 157 yards. Attendance in Madison: 80,462

Wow! – Ohio 38, Toledo 10 (Touchdown Tom said: Toledo 25, Ohio 20). This was a big win for the Bobcats and their coach Frank Solich. Toledo came into the game on a five-game winning streak. The game was close at the halftime break. Ohio led 10-7. But the Bobcats ran away from the Rockets in the second half, outscoring Toledo 28-3. Ohio had 393 rushing yards to only 53 for Toledo. Two Ohio players rushed for more than 100 yards – Dorian Brown (142) and Nathan Rourke (115). Attendance in Athens: 15,562

Eliminated – Stanford 30, Washington 22 (Touchdown Tom said: Washington 26, Stanford 24). Washington is no longer a contender for the college football playoff. The Huskies chances were slim to begin with, but now they have no chance. Washington led early in the game – 7-0, 14-7 and 14-10. Stanford went up 17-14 with 9:15 to go in the third quarter and the Cardinal never looked back. With 8:48 to go in the fourth quarter, Stanford led 30-14. The Cardinal controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes. Bryce Love rushed for 166 yards. Attendance in Palo Alto: 44,589

Amends – Ohio State 48, Michigan State 3 (Touchdown Tom said: Ohio State 28, Michigan State 24). Ohio State demolished Michigan State – 524 total yards to 195 for the Spartans. Michigan State only had 64 yards rushing. The Buckeyes Mike Webber rushed for 162 yards and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 124 yards. Attendance in Columbus: 107,011

Nothing pokey ‘bout the Pokes – Oklahoma State 49, Iowa State 42 (Touchdown Tom said: Iowa State 33, Oklahoma State 30). Iowa State jumped out to a 14-point lead. Then it got exciting after that. The lead changed hands several times. The score was tied twice. The teams combined for 1,013 total yards. Okie State’s Mason Rudolph passed for 376 yards and the Pokes Justice Hill rushed for 134 yards. Attendance in Ames: 61,500

Tough year for the Utes – Washington State 33, Utah 25 (Touchdown Tom said: Washington State 26, Utah 18). Washington State never really pulled away from Utah, but the Cougars led throughout. Neither team could run the ball. State had 27 yards rushing and Utah had 62. Utah had 7 turnovers. Attendance in Salt Lake City: 45,826

When there is a Will there’s a way – West Virginia 28, Kansas State 23 (Touchdown Tom said: West Virginia 31, Kansas State 27). West Virginia’s offense has become a first-half offense. For the second week, WVU scored all of its points in the first half. Actually, K-State scored all but three of its points in the first half. The defenses played tough in the second half. Will Grier passed for 372 yards – his ninth game out of 10, passing for more than 300 yards. Attendance in Manhattan: 51,233

The end of a three-game winning streak – NC State 17, Boston College 14 (Touchdown Tom said: Boston College 30, NC State 28). These two teams usually score a lot. But their defenses took over. Boston College A.J. Dillon rushed for 196 yards. Attendance in Chestnut Hill: 33,242



What a finish! – Boise State 59, Colorado State 52 (OT) (Touchdown Tom said: Boise State 31, Colorado State 26). Boise State scored a touchdown with 57 seconds left to tie the score and ultimately put the game into overtime. With less than 2 minutes left in the game, Colorado State led 52-38. Boise State scored 21 unanswered points in the final 1:41 of the game. Both quarterbacks passed for more than 300 yards each. The Broncos Alexander Mattison rushed for 282 yards, while the Rams Dalyn Dawkins rushed for 161yards. Attendance in Fort Collins: 32,166



The Rooster crowed – South Carolina 28, Florida 20 (Touchdown Tom said: South Carolina 26, Florida 13). Unlike the Missouri game last week, Florida never let this one get out of hand. It was a mistake prone game – 7 turnovers between the teams. The Gators only had 78 yards rushing. The Gamecocks A.J. Turner rushed for 136 yards. Attendance in Columbia: 79,727

Hurtin’ Herbie – Minnesota 54, Nebraska 21 (Touchdown Tom said: Minnesota 23, Nebraska 21). In a turnover free game, Minnesota racked up 514 total yards. The Gophers held Nebraska to 69 yards rushing. Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft passed for 105 yards and rushed for 183. The Gophers Rodney Smith added 134 yards rushing. Attendance in Minneapolis: 39,933

Mule team – Army 21, Duke 16 (Touchdown Tom said: Army 26, Duke 21). In a defensive battle, neither team had more than 270 total yards. The Dookies just had 89 rushing. Attendance in West Point: 38,851

Deep in the heart – Texas 42, Kansas 27 (Touchdown Tom said: Texas 30, Kansas 11). In spite of the score, the teams were very even in the stats – first downs, rushing yards, passing yards and time of possession. Kansas had four turnovers. Attendance in Austin: 96,557

Tanked – Northwestern 23, Purdue 13 (Touchdown Tom said: Northwestern 27, Purdue 17). Northwestern improved to 7-3 with its fifth-straight win. But this one wasn’t in overtime like the previous three. Purdue passed for 398 yards but only rushed for 40. Attendance in Evanston: 33,765


Week 11 Results:  12 correct picks, 6 fumbles (66.7 percent)
For the Season:    127 correct picks, 50 fumbles (71.8 percent)



UCF 49, Connecticut 24 – Attendance in Orlando: 29,384
Jacksonville U. 13, Stetson 10 – Attendance in Jacksonville: 1,855

Bethune-Cookman 13, North Carolina Central 10 – Attendance in Durham: 5,769
Delta State 42, Florida Tech 20 – Attendance in Cleveland: 6,555
Florida Atlantic 48, Louisiana Tech 23 – Attendance in Ruston: 16,511

Clemson 31, Florida State 14 – Attendance in Clemson: 81,436
Old Dominion 37, Florida International 30 – Attendance in Miami: 17,127


Impressive Passers: 

Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’amu – 28-36-1 for 418 yards; Texas A&M’s Nick Starkel – 21-30-0-416; Baylor’s Charlie Brewer – 41-61-1-410; Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson – 23-37-0-406; Syracuse’s Zack Mahoney – 33-60-2-384; UCLA’s Josh Rosen – 25-45-1-381; Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph – 25-31-0-376 yards, and Purdue’s Elijah Sindelar – 37-60-1-376.

Also, Colorado’s Steven Montez – 27-49-2 for 376 yards; West Virginia’s Will Grier – 27-46-2-372; Wake Forest’s John Wolford – 25-38-0-363; Massachusetts’ Andrew Ford – 21-39-0-355; South Alabama’s Cole Garvin – 25-45-0-343; Western Kentucky’s Mike White – 28-41-1-334, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield – 18-27-0-333.

Impressive Rushers: 

Navy’s Malcolm Perry – 282 yards; Boise State’s Alexander Mattison – 242 yards; Missouri’s Ish Witter – 216 yards; BYU’s Squally Canada – 213 yards; Arizona’s Khalil Tate – 206 yards; Boston College’s A.J. Dillon – 197 yards; Middle Tennessee’s Tavares Thomas – 195 yards, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin – 191 yards.

Also, Tulane’s Dontrell Hilliard – 189 yards; Minnesota’s Demry Croft – 183 yards; Old Dominion’s Ray Lawry – 168 yards; Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson – 167 yards; Stanford’s Bryce Love – 166 yards; Ohio State’s Mike Weber – 162 yards; Colorado State’s Dalyn Dawkins – 161 yards, and Central Michigan’s Jonathan Ward – 159 yards.

Also, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor – 157 yards; Rice’s Nahshon Ellerbe – 153 yards; Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson – 151 yards; Southern  Miss’ Ito Smith – 150 yards; LSU’s Derrius Guice – 147 yards; Louisville’s Lamar Jackson – 147 yards, and Miami of Florida’s Travis Homer – 146 yards.


Quotes of the Week

“I didn’t realize Minnesota had such a potent offense,” Nebraska fan Dan Kleinbeck, after the Gophers beat the Huskers, 54-21.


Touchdown Tom’s Predictions for

The 12 Biggest and Most Intriguing Games this Week…and then some

GAME OF THE WEEK:  1. Michigan (8-2) at Wisconsin (10-0) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, FOX – The pressure is on Wisconsin. The Badgers are undefeated and still in contention for a playoff spot. Lose and the Badgers are definitely out of contention. You never know how Michigan is going to play. But the Wolverines are capable of knocking off the Badgers. They don’t – Wisconsin 28, Michigan 22.

RUNNER UP:  2. Kentucky (7-3) at Georgia (9-1) – (SEC vs. SEC) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, CBS – The pressure is on Georgia. One more loss and the Dawgs are out of the playoff picture. Kentucky is an improved team this season. But the Wildcats aren’t that improved – Georgia 30, Kentucky 21.

REST OF THE BEST:  3. UCF (9-0) at Temple (5-5)
– (ACC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ESPNU – No doubt about it, UCF is hot. And the Knights’ coach is hot – a hot commodity to be the next coach at Florida or somewhere. That could have a negative impact on Scott Frost’s focus. Temple is not to be taken lightly. The Owls could be a problem. The Knights solve the problem – UCF 32, Temple 25. 
4. UCLA (5-5) at USC (9-2) – (Pac-12 vs. Pac-12) – 8 pm ET, Saturday, ABC – Ah, the big intra-city rivalry in Los Angeles. It hasn’t been a good year for UCLA. And the Bruins coach – Jim Mora – will most likely be fired. But maybe he will save his job if the Bruins beat the Trojans. But they don’t and he doesn’t – USC 33, UCLA 24. 

5. Army (8-2) at North Texas (7-3) – (Ind. vs. C-USA) – 6:30 pm ET, Saturday – These two teams are both playing well this season. Hats off to the coaches. As well as they are playing, the Mean Green can’t handle the running of Ahmad Bradshaw. The Cadets improve to 9-2 – Army 30, North Texas 22. 

6. Navy (6-3) at Notre Dame (8-2) – (AAC vs. Ind.) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, NBC – Notre Dame took a beating last week. The Irish could be hurting this week. They are hurting, but not enough to lose to the Middies – Notre Dame 34, Navy 21.

7. SMU (6-4) at Memphis (8-1) – (AAC vs. AAC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ESPNews – SMU has lost so many close games. You gotta think they are going to win one. But they don’t – Memphis 32, SMU 26. 

8. NC State (7-3) at Wake Forest (6-4) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 7:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPNU – After the tough loss to Clemson, NC State bounced back against Boston College. The Wolfpack played good defense too. They need to play good defense again. Wake Forest put 63 points on the board against Syracuse. The Pack win what could be a tricky game – NC State 38, Wake Forest 33.

9. Kansas State (5-5) at Oklahoma State (8-2) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN2 – Regardless of the record, K-State is always dangerous. But the Cowboys are more dangerous – Oklahoma State 35, Kansas State 27.

10. TCU (8-2) at Texas Tech (5-5) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, FS1Kliff Kingsbury is trying to hang onto his job in Lubbock. The Horned Frogs don’t help him any – TCU 29, Texas Tech 25.

11. Utah (5-5) at Washington (8-2) – (Pac-12 vs. Pac-12) – 10:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN – Washington slipped up last week. So did Utah. But the Huskies bounce back – Washington 30, Utah 18.

12. Texas (5-5) at West Virginia (7-3) – (Big 12 vs. Big 12) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ESPN – West Virginia still has a chance to make the Big 12 championship game – slim as it is. Of course that means the Mounties have to beat Texas. The Longhorns oblige – West Virginia 31, Texas 23.



13. Florida International (6-3) at Florida Atlantic (7-3) – (C-USA vs. C-USA) – 7 pm ET, Saturday – The Davis-Kiffin Bowl. This game should be fun. Usually, at this time of the season, the teams’ records are the reverse of what they are this year. Lane beats Butch – Florida Atlantic 40, Florida International 31.



UAB (7-3) at Florida (3-6) – (C-USA vs. SEC) – 4 pm ET, Saturday, SECN – UAB is an amazing team The Blazers just resumed football this season and they are 7-3. They might beat Florida. But they don’t – Florida 27, UAB 23.

Nebraska (4-6) at Penn State (8-2) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 4 pm ET, Saturday, FS1 – Well, is this the week Mike Riley gets fired? The Nittany Lions don’t help him any – Penn State 39, Nebraska 18. 

Georgia Tech (5-4) at Duke (4-6) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, ACCN/FSN – The Dookies were good at the beginning of the season. But not now – Georgia Tech 31, Duke 19.

Purdue (4-6) at Iowa (6-4) – (Big Ten vs. Big Ten) – 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, BTN – Iowa had its moment in glory when the Hawkeyes beat Ohio State. The Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers but there is nothing glorious about that – Iowa 27, Purdue 17.



Delaware State (2-8) at Florida State (3-6) – (MEAC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ACCN/FSN….
Virginia (6-4) at Miami (9-0) – (ACC vs. ACC) – 12 noon ET, Saturday, ABC/ESPN2….

Bethune-Cookman (6-4) vs. Florida A&M (3-7) – (MEAC vs. MEAC) – 2 pm ET, Saturday, ESPNClassic….
Jacksonville U. (7-3) at Drake (6-4) – (Pioneer vs. Pioneer) – 2 pm ET, Saturday….
Tulsa (2-8) at South Florida (8-1) – (AAC vs. AAC) – 7:30 pm ET, Thursday, ESPN….

Stetson (2-9) and Florida Tech (5-6) have completed their seasons.

Touchdown Tom


Not exactly college football related, but sadly there were three passings of note last week – Richard Gordon, Ray Halladay and John Hillerman.

Richard Gordon, an astronaut who undertook an abortive spacewalk in a 1966 NASA mission, then orbited the moon three years later, died last week at his home in San Marcos, California. He was 88. Richard Francis Gordon was born on October 5, 1929, in Seattle. He majored in chemistry at the University of Washington, graduating in 1951. Gordon then became a Navy aviator and was selected as a Gemini astronaut in October 1963. He retired from NASA and the Navy in January 1972. After retirement, Gordon’s friend John Mecom, owner of the New Orleans Saints of the NFL, hired him as the team’s executive vice president and general manager. Gordon spent five years with the Saints.

Ray Halladay, a retired pitcher who starred for the Toronto Blues Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, died last week when his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. He was 40. A two-time Cy Young Award winner and an eight-time All-Star, Halladay was a 6-foot-6 right-hander. After 12 major league seasons with the Blue Jays, who drafted him in 1995, he was traded to the Phillies in December 2009. In 2010, Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in major league history during the regular season, and in the division playoffs, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history. His career was cut short by back trouble and he tired after the 2013 season at age 36.  

John Hillerman, the Texas-born actor who played a snobbish British caretaker on the hit television show “Magnum, P.I.” and had supporting roles in celebrated 1970s movies like “Chinatown” and “Blazing Saddles,” died last week at his home in Houston. He was 84. “Magnum, P.I.” was a runaway success and ran for eight years. The show made Tom Selleck a star. Hillerman’s role on “Magnum, P.I.” won him an Emmy Award for best supporting actor in a drama and a Golden Globe Award. John Benedict Hillerman was born on December 20, 1932, in Denison, Texas. After school, he served in the U.S. Air Force. He appeared in the films “The Last Picture Show” (1971) and “Paper Moon” (1973). On television, he also appeared on “The Betty White Show” and “One Day at a Time.”