Tagged with "College"
Sunday Musings #169
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NFL NewEnglandPatriots AlabamaCrimsonTideFootball MLB CollegeFootball NewYorkLiberty NCAATrack CollegeBasketball HighSchoolSports

 

 

While busy running around all weekend long...

 

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay

 

NFL

New England Patriots - The Patriots had a busy week as they played last Sunday against the Bills and then followed that up with the Thursday night game vs. the Jets.

The two straight AFC East divisonal matchups saw the Patriots win both games and take control of the division as they raised their record to 5-2.

Against Buffalo, the Pats won 37-22 but the win was a costly one as both Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley went down with what turned out to be season ending knee injuries.

In the first half of the game, the Patriots offense was just miserable. They managed just 101 yards of total offense. Thankfully, they woke up in the second half and rolled up nearly 300 yards of offense in that half. Tom Brady had a great game with 361 yards passing and 4 TDs. He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers in all.

Brandon LaFell had 4 catches for 97 yards and most importantly, two TDs. Rob Gronkowski caught 7 balls for 94 yards. Meanwhile, Tim Wright and Brian Tyms caught just 1 pass a piece, but each of them went for a score. Julian Edleman had 9 catches for 91 yards.

When the passing game is as effective as it was against the Bills, the Patriots can look positively unbeatable. But they are really going to have to lean on that passing game with the loss of Ridley. He was their workhorse back and while Shane Vereen can be effective out of the backfield catching passes, he is not the same time of runner Ridley is. As for the rest of the rotation of running backs, they haven't shown any reason for fans to expect them to do much better.

While their defense held the Bills to just 68 yards rushing, the Patriots run game was even worse. They had just 50 yards for the game, the rushing attack being thoroughly ineffective. It was a good thing the passing game took off in the 2nd half or the Patriots would've gotten beaten down quite soundly.

The defense also harassed Bills QB Kyle Orton all day long, they picked him off once and sacked him five times. Three of those sacks came from Rob Ninkovich. The defense also recovered a couple of fumbles along the way too.

I don't think anyone was really expecting the New York Jets to give the Patriots much trouble on Thursday night. They were 1-5 coming into the game and in what seemed to be complete disarray. They don't really have an NFL caliber quarterback on the roster and can't seem to get out of their own way most of the time.

But the team certainly hasn't quit on coach Rex Ryan and they showed up and gave the Patriots all they could handle. In the end it was a blocked field goal attempt, by Chris Jones, on the last play of the game (see below, Jones has the red glove on), that gave New England a 27-25 victory. It was a highly competitive and exciting game and one that FINALLY let the Pats fans exhale.

As they awaited the Jets, the questions facing the Patriots were 1. Can they have a balanced run game with Ridley out? and 2. With Jerod Mayo out, can the Patriots defense stop the run (when Mayo went out last year, that's when the Patriots run defense went into the crapper)?

The Jets got a surprisingly solid performance from QB Geno Smith (pictured below 1st) and the question about the Patriots defense was answered for one night at least when New York put up 218 total yards on the ground. Chris Ivory (pictured below 2nd) tallied 107 yards rushing for the Jets to go with four receptions out of the backfield.

 

What helped the Patriots win the game was their defense sacking Smith 3 times while New England's offensive line kept Brady upright for most of the game. The Jets defense was credited with 1 sack of Tom Brady, but it was a sack that saw Brady moving out of the pocket and then slid to give himself up.

Speaking of Brady (pictured below), he had 261 yards passing and 3 TDs on the night. And once again, he really had to get things done through the air because the other question facing the Patriots was answered by the team managing just 63 yards on the ground for the game.

Shane Vereen (pictured below) had 43 yards to "lead" the rushing attack, but he made his biggest impact catching passes. He had 5 receptions for 71 yards (also the team lead in that category), including a beautiful 49 yard diving catch for one of his two TDs on the night. You can check out the video below to see both scores.

But the Patriots still couldn't put the Jets away. It wasn't until forgotten man Danny Amendola (pictured below), who had been playing on special teams most of the evening, caught his first TD of the season that the Patriots took the lead for what would be the final time.

I love the two wins for the Patriots, but given that they came over relatively weak (despite playing solid games against the Pats) teams in the AFC East, I'm by no means convinced this turnaround means New England can consistently beat the better teams in the NFL this season. They are going to have to find someone who can run the ball to give their offensive playcalling some balance. If they don't, they are going to be in trouble if teams start paying more attention to their receivers. And if they can't run the ball, what happens to the offense when the passing game gets shut down too?

They also still need to figure out how to cut down on their penalties. They had 9 called on them against the Jets. I'm sure Bill Belichick can figure things out, he usually does. But the team is going to have to win games by guile as much as skill while they get things figured out.

One final semi-related Patriots note: There is a new book about former Patriots coach Bill Parcells coming out October 28th entitled Parcells: A Football Life. Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt from the book detailing the behind the scenes machinations that happened when Parcells quit as coach of the Jets and Belichick was supposed to take over. Football fans know what happened next, but you can read this article for a more in-depth look at what it took for Belichick to be able to be hired to coach the Patriots and change the course of the franchise.

Chicago Bears - Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is out injured this season, but this interview with Robert Klemko of the MMQB.com website gives you a great look at a player who's time in the NFL is winding down. A lot of other topics are covered as well.

Miscellaneous Article of Note - Former NFL player Irving Fryar spent the early part of his career in varying degrees of trouble. But he turned his life around becoming a really good receiver, and later became a preacher. But according to Greg Hanlon's lengthy article, there's been a big hiccup in Fryar's reformed life recently as he found himself in a lot of trouble. He now stands accused of bank fraud. You can read more HERE.

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

The Red Sox are playing in the quest for the World Series championship this year, so I haven't really been paying much attention to the MLB Playoffs. But I wanted to take a quick moment and congratulate the Kansas City Royals (first playoff and World Series appearance in 29 years) and the San Francisco Giants (3rd World Series appearance in the last 5 years) for making it to what promises to be an electrifying conclusion to the baseball season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Boston College - Before I talk about yesterday's game against Clemson, I wanted to note that after the Eagles win over North Carolina State last week, Josh Keyes was named ACC Co-Linebacker of the Week while defensive end Brian Mihalik (pictured below) was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

As for the Clemson game, the Eagles looked to pull the upset over the 24th ranked Tigers, but ended up falling short. They lost 17-13 to drop to 4-3 on the year.

The BC defense got torn up for 398 total yards despite the relatively low point total for Clemson. But it seems more like the inability of the offense to put more than 13 points on the board is what really did the Eagles in. QB Tyler Murphy (pictured below) was just 8-19 passing for 108 yards. Granted, two of those completions were for touchdowns, but it was another game where his inability to pass the ball consistently hurt the team. It was even more evident because the run game was stifled this time around as well. Murphy led the team in rushing with just 55 yards. Meanwhile, Jon Hilliman, Myles Willis and Sherman Alston (who caught one of Murphy's TD strikes) combined for just 65 yards all together.

Alabama - With the Crimson Tide's upset loss last week, it seems to have become open season on Alabama. More than a few have opined that the team's run of dominance in the SEC West could be over. That led into yesterday's nationally televised game against Texas A&M where the Crimson Tide laid such an ass whipping on the Aggies that A&M coach labeled his team's performance "embarrassing". The final score: Alabama 59 Texas A&M 0. Yes, that's right a big fat nothing for the Aggies as Alabama improves to 6-1. Apparently, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

A&M's offense had been averaging 565 yards in total offense coming into the game, but got outgained a monstrous 602-172 by Alabama. It all keyed off of the resurgent performance of quarterback Blake Sims (pictured below). He freely admitted that he hasn't played well in the last two games but yesterday, he threw for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding 54 rushing yards. That rush total includes a beautiful 43 yard run for a TD that you just have to see to believe.

Alabama's defense was in razor sharp form on the day. They picked off Aggie QB Kenny Hill once while racking up 6 sacks (see sack celebration pic below) on the day as well. They also held A&M to just 31 yards on the ground (Bama's backs had 298 yards).

Bama receiver Amari Cooper has been held in check the last couple of games but he had 8 catches for 140 yards and 2 TDs yesterday. He had a 45 yard TD and you can see his 24 yard TD reception below.

As for the run game, T.J Yeldon led the way with 114 yards and 2 TDs for Alabama. Derrick Henry had a solid day as well. He ran for 70 yards and a TD and had a 41 yard catch and run from Sims for a second score. You can see that below.

Mass Maritime - While the Buccaneers struggled in their 32-16 loss to Westfield State on Saturday, my ex-player E.J. continue to extend his hold over every receiving record at the school. He caught 12 more passes today for 103 yards and a touchdown. The loss drops MMA to 1-5 on the season overall, with an 0-4 conference record.

Georgia - I'm not talking about any game the Bulldogs played but rather the suspension of running back Todd Gurley for allegedly making money off of signing memorabilia. I know that a lot of people out there are incensed that the NCAA and its member schools can make billions of dollars off of these athletes who labor for peanuts (scholarships). I happen to agree with them.

But while the rules stink, I don't agree with the notion that Gurley violating them is somehow a noble thing. It isn't. He knew the rules going in. They may suck, he may hate the rules, but he agreed to them. You can and should lobby to change rules you don't like. But I'm a firm believer in not breaking the current rules governing your participation in college athletics. And if you do break the rules and get caught, I have no problem with an athlete's career being in jeopardy or even over.

The NCAA is a corrupt organization as it is currently set up. They need to be changed from the top down as the playing field of college/amateur sports evolves. But until that happens, an athlete that agrees to the idiotically draconian rules of the NCAA must abide by them.

WNBA

The big news out of the women's basketball league this week was the rather surprising move by the New York Liberty. The team declined to pick up the option on coach/GM Bill Laimbeer. They'll be looking for someone new to lead the team for next season.

The Liberty took a step back the last two years under Laimbeer, who was unable to recapture the magic he had as the head of the now defunct Detroit Shock. They didn't make the playoffs either season but I don't think anyone really saw this move coming.

Laimbeer, who I hated as a player, but really like as a coach and GM in the WNBA, commented about his time with the Liberty in this article.

So far, I haven't been able to find out if assistant coach Katie Smith is still with the team or has been officially dismissed. I do know that if she isn't back with the team, my fandom for the Liberty will be a thing of the past. I go where she goes. By the way, Smith's latest blog post on her KatieSmithBasketball.com site is about her dog Logan. You can check it out HERE.

COLLEGE SPORTS

Tennessee Women's Track - I know that I don't usually spend much time on college sports other than football and basketball, but this past week brought a story about the Lady Vols track team that just pissed me off. And I wasn't the only one as noted women's college sports writer Mechelle Voepel and men's college basketball analyst Jay Bilas also tweeted about the story.

It seems new track coach Beth Alford-Sullivan revealed herself to be thoroughly disreputable and not worthy of being a coach. She kicked athletes off the team who had done nothing wrong. This was two weeks into practices and the players she dismissed were ones she had praised publicly not two months before. The parent of one of the dismissed athletes took the story public.

The coach and the school are hiding behind the lame ass excuse of Sullivan not having done anything wrong and while they are technically right, that is a purely gutless counterpunch to the way they have completely screwed over these athletes. This story is yet another example of the atrocious level of corruption that abides in the current NCAA system. You can read more HERE.

Mount Saint Joseph University - And then you have a story like this one, where it shows what can be right and good about college sports. Lauren Hill is an incoming freshman on the women's basketball team. She's eagerly looking forward to playing her first college basketball game...because it will be her last game as well. And that is if she lives that long. Lauren is dying from an inoperable brain tumor. She was originally given two years to live, but things got worse and doctors told the family she wouldn't live past this December.

NCAA rules don't allow Division 3 teams to play games that count in the standings until mid-November. But even they were moved because they granted MSJU an exemption. With Hiram College agreeing to move the game to November 2nd, Lauren will dress in her #22 uniform and play "One Last Game". You can read more and see the local news report via this link. Yahoo! Sports also covered the story HERE.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Wareham Girls Soccer - The Vikings lost to Middleboro 3-1 to start off their week. The one positive in that game was the news that my former player Paige scored her first career goal. A 6-1 loss to Bourne dropped Wareham to 0-15 on the season.

Wareham Boys Soccer - A 2-1 loss to Middleboro (Eoghan had an assist on the goal), a 4-0 loss to Bourne and a 6-1 loss to Case dropped the team to 0-13.

Wareham Girls Field Hockey - Westport beat Wareham 9-0, then lost to Seekonk 5-1 on Friday dropping them to 2-12 for the year.

Wareham Girls Volleyball - The Vikings got swept 3-0 by Bourne and 3-0 by Case to fall to 4-13 for the year.

Upper Cape Girls Soccer - The Rams beat Blue Hills 2-1 early in the week. Friday night saw them beat Old Colony 6-1. While she isn't one of my former players, Krystle scored all 6 goals and raised her scoring tally for her high school career to 99 goals. Below is an Adam Ellis photo of Krystle (in white) on one of a couple of chances where she could've scored that 100th goal.

Wareham Football - In their annual Cranberry Bowl matchup, the Vikings came up on the short end of a 21-12 decision against ORR. They are now 1-5 on the season. Josh (pictured below) ran for 58 yards on the ground and had 28 receiving yards in the game. (Photos by Adam K. Ellis of the Wareham Courier.)

MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS ARTICLE

One of my favorite sportswriters is Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan. It seems others hold him in high regard as well. You can learn more about Ryan by reading this Grantland.com profile.

MISCELLANEOUS

TV - If you didn't watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead last Sunday, wow did you miss a fantastic show. Seriously, go watch it on On Demand right now, you won't regret it.

As for a couple of other shows, you can check out the Pop-topia.com recap of The Flash Season 1 Episode 2 "The Fastest Man Alive" HERE. The recap for Arrow Season 3 Episode 2 "Sara" is available via this Pop-topia.com link.

I also added to my TV on DVD collection this week when I picked up Cagney & Lacey - The True Beginning. It is the second broadcast season of the show but the first with Sharon Gless in the role of Cagney.

 

Music - Country singer Glen Campbell is dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease. The last song he ever recorded is called "I'm Not Gonna Miss You". You can check out the official video below. It's some moving stuff.

LSU Week in (P)Review
Category: NCAA
Tags: LSU FLORIDA LES MILES KENTUCKY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MISSISSIPPI ST. TCU

I shared a couple of thoughts on the upcoming game with BOB earlier, but there are a few different LSU-related topics here.

I hadn’t really talked about just how LSU is coming along as a team and x’s and o’s in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d do that now.

Miles tells reporters to

Miles tells reporters to “have a great day” before LSU beat Tennessee to win the SEC in 2007.

This last game was Les Miles 100th win at LSU. Maybe it’s appropriate that we didn’t beat Mississippi St. in the last second. It just would not have been fitting for win #100 to have been a blowout win over New Mexico St. Florida was the 23rd Les Miles win in which the Tigers trailed at some point in the fourth quarter. That’s nearly 1/4 of his wins.

Here is a video tribute I enjoyed:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmJ0FuTHPqI (I would note that Miles is not the “winningest” coach at LSU: Charles McClendon is still 37 wins ahead of him.)

To refer to one of his quotes in the video, it does seem like LSU’s game plan includes a “muddle around” period.

LSU is .500 in such games under Miles, much better than any other team. I read that Texas is second with 18 wins after trailing in the fourth quarter, but that’s against 32 losses.

I added a new section to the LSU/Florida rivalry blog about how this was similar to a couple other wins at the Swamp in the last 10 years.

I also wrote a complete LSU/Kentucky rivalry blog.

I was counting on Jeff Driskel to screw up and hoping Anthony Jennings didn’t screw up too badly, and that’s about what happened. I did think LSU would manage more than 110 passing yards for the game though (41 were on one play, and the only passes of more than 10 yards were in the fourth quarter). That’s the main problem that I didn’t foresee going into this season. I thought we would be consistently 225-250 yards per game passing by this point.

LSU does still average 205 per game, which isn’t good, but it’s deceivingly good nonetheless. It’s inflated by the Mississippi St. game where LSU threw for 341 yards, most of them in a second-half comeback effort.

The other major area of weakness so far has been rush defense, but I think this game was a much more reasonable gauge of that than Auburn or Mississippi St. were. LSU only allowed 123 rushing yards by Florida. That’s respectable against a team that had about twice as many rushes as completed passes. Especially a fairly competitive SEC team (they weren’t pretty games, but the Gators are 2-0 in the East) in a road game.

When I watched TCU on Saturday, I was reminded of the difficulties LSU had in kick coverage against the Horned Frogs last season. It was weird that they demonstrated precisely the problems I remembered, especially being that Dubose had run back a kick for a touchdown against LSU before.

LSU seems to have a reasonably good location punter. I don’t know why they waited until the last punt to kick it out of bounds. So basically they replaced the rush defense problems with the kick coverage problems. Otherwise, this might have been a somewhat comfortable win.

Back to the rush defense, this next game might tell a bit more. LSU has struggled in the past against the wildcat, but I don’t think Kentucky has the likes of Felix Jones and Darren McFadden. Also, the scouting reports indicate Kentucky has very little ability to throw from the wildcat, so that might be a comfort.

I think I’ll be more worried about the other plays. QB Patrick Towles has completed over 62% of his passes and has thrown for over 1500 yards (more than 8 yards per attempt). He also can throw to just about any wide receiver on the field, which can strain pass coverage of course.

On the other hand, many of those yards came against UT-Martin and Florida (which was a 3OT game). If you take out those two games, Kentucky has fewer passing yards per game than LSU does.

Towles can run a little bit though. He’s no Dak Prescott, but he ran for 59 yards against Ohio, for example.

I didn’t mention place-kicking earlier. I didn’t see anything wrong with the missed extra-point attempt other than it missing. Hopefully, that was just a fluke event. PK Colby Delahoussaye said he just got too close to the ball. At any rate, it was nice to make up for it with a 50-yard field goal. It’s good to know he can do that.

Not to delve into philosophy too much, but he probably wouldn’t have had a chance to win the game had he made the extra point. Florida likely would have gone for the end zone had they trailed by four. If rather than a tie game, Florida had a three-point lead on the last drive, Driskel may not have thrown the pass that was intercepted. If Florida had failed to score altogether, the kick at the end would not have been necessary either.

Anyway, because of some of the things I mentioned earlier (as well as the recent LSU-Kentucky games I wrote about in detail ), I ‘m thinking of doing a blog about crazy LSU wins. There was a fair number under Saban as well. Seasons like this one might be an exception (assuming we lose four or five instead of two or three)., but Saban’s teams tended to be a little more unpredictable overall, so that helped. I don’t think they had the same knack for falling behind teams they shouldn’t though.

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Irish Shu's Mid-season Review
Category: NCAA
Tags: College Football Notre Dame Shamrock series uniforms Rice Michigan Purdue Syracuse Stanford North Carolina Everett Golson Will Fuller

College football season is already half-done…DAMN!!!

(Yeah, this is my ex-wife when she saw my dick for the first time…I wish!)

…And so comes Irish Shu with his mid-season review to look back at the first 6 games for his beloved Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The short version?  Well, they’re undefeated and ranked number 5 after their first 6 games, which is one win better than I had predicted by this point.  WELL DONE, INDEED! 

The biggest and best surprise has been a young-and-inexperienced, but very aggressive and game defense. 

New D-coordinator Brian Van Gorder (yeah, he DOES look like “Uncle Rico” from Napoleon Dynamite, doesn’t he?) loves to be aggressive and send the house on D, and the strategy has paid-off more than it has hurt the Irish.  The D did have an “off day” against North Carolina last weekend and was gashed for 43 points and over 500 yards in a game the Irish still won, but other than that, they’ve been solid.  Nationally, the D ranks 34th in total Defense with 348.3 yards per game and 8th in scoring D with 17.2 points per game (tied with Marshall)…VERY impressive when one considers the youth, plus the sloppy Carolina game being factored into that.

Offensively they have also been lighting it up…at least where the passing game is concerned. 

Quarterback Everett Golson has had a very good season overall thus far, going 135 of 216 on his passes for a 62.5% completion rate with 1,683 yards and 16 touchdowns against 4 interceptions.  Midway through the season he’s already thrown for 4 more touchdowns than he did in his entire freshman year when the Irish made it to the national championship game. He’s been sharing the wealth with most of his receivers, although Will Fuller has been the closest thing to his “go-to guy” with over 500 yards of receptions and 7 touchdowns…

However, Golson has also taken his lumps.  After being nearly-flawless in the first 3 games, he’s been doing an impression of “Turnover Tommy” from last year in the last 3 games.  His 4 interceptions all came in the last 3 games and 2 of those were pick-6’s, he has also fumbled 5 times in those same 3 games.  Against Carolina, his turnovers were especially costly as the Tar Heels cashed them in for 21 of their points, so the Irish were fortunate to win that one.

While the passing game is going well despite the turnovers, the running game could also be better.  The running-back-by-committee approach has gotten the Irish only 983 yards this year.  Granted, it could be worse, but more than half the nations’ teams are doing better in that category. 

In Notre Dame’s defense, though, it’s not all on Golson or the halfbacks.  The O-line has had a tough time with consistency on both pass protection and opening the running lanes, so there has been some shuffling with the O-line that has played-into that inconsistency.  They’ll need more time to gel.

With that, let’s recap the first half game-by-game:

RICE:  As far as season openers go, I could not have asked for better.  The Irish came-out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball and routed the Owls 48-17.  

Everett Golson started his season with a bang, throwing 2 long touchdown passes to Fuller and CJ Prosise and running for 3 scores himself in what was his thus-far best played game.  The Irish D did allow the Owls to score on 2 long passes, but otherwise kept them in check and forced 2 turnovers to their none.  It was a good start over a Conference USA team which has quietly been putting a decent season together after their 0-3 start.  They’ve won their last 3 games since and have a manageable schedule left, so they could make it to a bowl game.

MICHIGAN:  So, Notre Dame “chickened out” by taking your team off the schedule, eh, Coach Brady Hoke?...they handed your teams’ ass to you 31-0, pal, that don’t sound like chickening out to me. 

In doing so, the Irish shut-out the hapless Wolverines for the first time since 1985, ending their NCAA-record streak of games without being shut out at 365.  Golson threw for 3 TD’s and 226 yards and the only Michigan player who had any success was receiver Devin Funchess who caught 9 passes for 107 yards…and has struggled with injuries since.  Michigan QB Devin Gardner otherwise screwed the pooch as he was responsible for 4 turnovers including 3 interceptions and a fumble.  He also threw a pick-6 in the closing seconds of the game that should have counted for 6 more points for ND, but didn’t due to a bullshit blocking call for a legal hit on Gardner after the threw the pick.  Since then?  Nothing but trouble for Meat Chicken: Hoke’s head is being called for as-is that of athletic director Dave Brandon, not only for his teams’ poor performance (the ND loss started a 4-game losing streak) but for his failure to protect QB Shane Morris after Morris took a shot to his head in the Minnesota game, got up woozy and was allowed to stay in the game…don’t even get my pal, the Beezer, started on that!

PURDUE:  The Boilermakers always seem to play tough against Notre Dame even in years where they play shitty against everyone else, and they did this time, as well. 

Wearing the coolest-looking “Shamrock Series” uniforms I’ve seen in years, the Irish did win 30-14, but started to look vulnerable when they let Purdue hang around for the first half before putting them away in the 2nd.  Golson was sacked 4 times, and the secondary started coming apart at the seams when safety Max Redfield was ejected for targeting, and 2 other backfield players left with injuries.  Still, the Irish got the win over a Purdue team that now sits at 3-4 and will be lucky to finish at .500 with the bulk of their Big Ten schedule left to go.

SYRACUSE:  An UGLY game, and not just because ‘Cuse wore those ugly gray uniforms, either. 

This was where Golson started his current struggles to maintain possession of the football as he threw his first 2 interceptions of the season and also lost 2 fumbles, but he also offset those mistakes by completing 82% of his passes, including a school-record 25 in a row at one point (one short of tying the NCAA record) and the Irish won 31-15.  5-star sophomore receiver Torii Hunter Jr. FINALLY recovered from his injuries and saw his first action as an Irish player as he caught his first TD pass in the win.  Will Fuller, being a rock for Golson, caught 2 other scores.  Syracuse, meanwhile, has struggled since then as they lost their starting QB in Terrell Hunt to a broken leg and have lost their last 4 games.  With the bulk of their ACC schedule left, they’ll be lucky to finish at .500.

STANFORD: Thus far, this has been the biggest game the Irish have played this year…and man, they really came through!  Both teams struggled on offense against each other’s tough D units and some very wet weather, and Notre Dame left some points off the board via 2 missed field goals and a Golson fumble on Stanford’s 10-yard-line, but the Irish D did just enough for the team to come away with a 17-14 win.  The highlight of the game was Golson’s 4th-and-11 touchdown pass to tight end Ben Koyack with a minute left to clinch the win. 

The Irish won’t face a stronger defense for the rest of the regular season, but it may not matter if the O keeps turning the ball over.  We shall see.  As for the Cardinal?  They did bounce-back to beat Wazzu last week and snow sit at 4-2 and back in the rankings at #23, but with #17 Arizona State, #9 Oregon, #20 Utah and a very good UCLA team still left for them to play, an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game and another Rose Bowl may be too much to ask of them.

NORTH CAROLINA:  PUKE!!!  Sloppiest, ugliest game the Irish have played this year.  

Golson remained turnover-prone with 4 of them and the Defense had their worst game in years as they yielded 43 points and 510 yards…however, it should be pointed out that the Tar Heels, with QB Marquise Williams running for a career-high 132 yards, really threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Irish, including a few Wildcat and gadget plays.  They also did some up-tempo no-huddle offense to keep ND from rotating defensive players in…it was an Irish win, though, 50-43, and also the highest-scoring game ever played at ND Stadium.  The Tar Heels, meanwhile, stand at 2-4 but the good news for them is that don’t play another ranked team for the rest of the season and, if they play anything like they did against Notre Dame (A BIG IF), most of those games are winnable for them.

So with the first 6 games in the books, we look ahead to the last 6…this is where the real test starts. 

Of course, the biggest game of the year looms as the Irish face the #2-ranked Seminoles at Florida State this Saturday night.  Can the Irish win it?  Hell yes!...but only if Golson stops turning the ball over and the defense goes back to playing the way they did before Carolina came to town.  After that, it doesn’t get much easier as the Irish have to then face 2 currently-ranked Pac-12 teams in Arizona State and USC, as well as a pretty good Louisville team and a Navy team which has been challenging in recent years.  It’s possible that Notre Dame could lose one of these games and still make the 4-team playoff, but I like their chances better if they finish undefeated…clean up the mistakes of the last 3 games, and they can.  If not, they’ll lose a couple.  We shall see.

Team health is not bad for this stage of the game – it does suck that their defensive captain in safety Austin Collinsworth has had trouble staying healthy and will miss the next 4 games with a shoulder injury – this after he missed the first couple of games with a bad knee.  Last years’ leading tackler in Linebacker Jarrett Grace has also not been able to return from his leg injury from last year, but other than that, they seem healthy overall.

And last, there has FINALLY been some finality regarding the 5 players on academic suspension which I referred to in my recent “Shit or get off the Pot” blog, as such:

  • Cornerback KeiVarae Russell and d-lineman Ishaq Williams both will not play the rest of this season, but hope to be back next year. 
  • Safety Eliar Hardy has been invited to return to the team and hopes to return to practice after the Florida State game. 
  • Receiver DaVaris Daniels and linebacker Kendall Moore both Tweeted that they are “done” at Notre Dame.

So now, at least, we can start to close the book on that one. 

We’ll see how the last 6 games play out!  GO IRISH!!!

Rivalry Series: LSU-Kentucky
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA KENTUCKY LSU

Series facts

LSU leads, 39-16-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 23-5-1
In Lexington, LSU leads, 16-11

Currently, LSU has won three in a row at home and five of six in the series overall. Also, in three of the last five and four of the last eight games in the series, four points or fewer separated the two teams in regulation.

Longest home/away streaks
Home winning streak – LSU, 12 games, 1955-1975
Home unbeaten streak – LSU, 13 games, 1953-1975
Road winning streak – LSU, 5 games, 1978-1986

Kentucky won two in a row at home 3 times, 1954-6, 1974-6, and 1993-5. The Wildcats never won consecutive games in Baton Rouge.

Highest-scoring games:
LSU 63, @Kentucky 28, 1997
@Kentucky 43, LSU 37 (3 OT), 2007
Kentucky 39, @LSU 36, 1998
LSU 33, @Kentucky 30, 2002
LSU 29, @Kentucky 25, 2001

Lowest-scoring games:
@Kentucky 3, LSU 0, 1960
LSU 7, @Kentucky 0, 1962
LSU 9, @Kentucky 0, 1959
@LSU 10, Kentucky 0, 1972 and 1985

Largest margins of victory:
@LSU 49, Kentucky 0, 2006
@LSU 34, Kentucky 0, 2000
LSU 30, @Kentucky 0, 1966
LSU 37, @Kentucky 10, 1969
@LSU 41, Kentucky 14, 1996
LSU 34, @Kentucky 7, 1952

Largest Kentucky wins over LSU:
Kentucky 33, @LSU 13, 1977
Kentucky 19, @LSU 0, 1949


Historical Narrative (skip to the last section for recent games)

I mentioned in the last blog that I had done this same basic blog before on TSN. I believe that blog was done before the 2007 game. That will be one of three specific games I’ll talk about in detail, but first I just wanted to cover the major developments in the history of the rivalry.

Before the SEC went to the 5-1-2 scheduling system (I’ll explain) in 2003, LSU had played Kentucky in 51 consecutive seasons. There were only two games before that streak began, but I suspect the annual nature of the game was because neither team had particularly clear rivals in the SEC. Kentucky’s closest rival is Tennessee, but the Vols have bigger rivalries with both Vanderbilt and Alabama.

That LSU-Kentucky streak of games began in the waning days of Tulane’s membership in the SEC. The only other must-play conference rivals for LSU were Mississippi St. and Ole Miss, at that time the only SEC schools in neighboring states. Florida andAlabama didn’t become annual series for LSU until 20 years later.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last.

Bryant’s successor had three decent years after he left (I guess until the talent dried up), and the Wildcats beat the Tigers two of the next three seasons to go out to a 4-2-1 series lead in 1956.

The 1950s were not particularly good for LSU until 1958 though. LSU was #1 again for most of 1959, so they beat Kentucky for the third straight time that year. Kentucky got one back in 1960 (both teams were barely above .500 that season) but then lost the next 13 games in a row in the series. The Tigers have had a commanding lead in the series since then.

LSU had a winning record every year during that time, but Kentucky only had one.

The Wildcats won three out of four from 1974 to 1977, but the Tigers lost 4 games or more in each of those years. Kentucky also had a little bit of a revival during that time, building up to a 10-1 season in 1977.

Ten of the next 11 were won by LSU. while Kentucky went back into the pattern of having a losing record almost every year (although not as badly). The Wildcats beat the Tigers during one of only two winning records over that period, 1983, one of the worst LSU seasons since that 1958 national championship.

LSU’s next 4-7 season was in 1989, and that was the next loss to Kentucky (who had a relatively good 6-5 season). The following loss to Kentucky was in the 1992, the worst LSU season since 1910.

Speaking of the early ’90s, Bear Bryant wasn’t the only mutual coach between Alabama and Kentucky. I also mentioned Bill Curry in my Alabama rivalry post:

“LSU continued its losing ways almost throughout Curry’s tenure at Kentucky, but the Wildcats didn’t fare much better. 1992 and 1994 were probably the sorriest match-ups during that period. 1992 was Curry’s only win with the Cats in Baton Rouge, but LSU would finish 2-9 and Kentucky would finish 4-7. In 1994, Kentucky’s lone win of the season was over Louisville in the opener. They still managed to make it close against LSU, losing 17-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU finished 4-7.

“In 1993, Curry’s most successful season at Kentucky (6-6, with a loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl), Kentucky won 35-17

“Although LSU would finish 7-4-1 in 1995, the Tigers lost to Kentucky, who would finish 4-7, anyway. LSU made the unfortunate decision to wear purple pants for the game. And rather than causing Kentucky to avert its eyes for the entire contest, it seemed to make the Tigers self-conscious. I don’t think LSU has worn purple pants since. The final was 24-16 in Lexington. Curry had another 4-7 campaign in his final year, but LSU, on its way to a 10-2 record, had no problem with the Cats this time, 41-14.”

Kentucky would go 5-3 against LSU from 1992 to 1999. The only one that was really an upset in hindsight was in 1995. LSU had its first bowl season since 1988, but they struggled on the road that year, going 1-3-1, the only win coming against a Mississippi St. team that would go 3-8. Kentucky only went 4-7 that season, but they did get the Tigers at home.

The Tigers have won 5 of 6 since then, but there was one major upset (the one loss) and a close call in another. 2002 wouldn’t have been a huge upset since that wasn’t a very good LSU season (thankfully 8-4 isn’t what LSU fans call a good season these days), but it was the second consecutive year that the Tigers won in the last 15 seconds. I will detail those three games below.

LSU-UK into the New Millenium

I mentioned the setback in 1995 above. The next four years had expected results based on the strengths of the teams. In 2000, after two losing seasons, a new coach named Nick Saban came to town. He had mixed results his first year, which included an early loss to UAB and a characteristic blowout loss at the hands of Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators.

Kentucky proved to be no problem that year (the Wildcats had two non-conference wins but would go winless in the SEC), but the following two seasons would be adventures.

In 2001, Kentucky started similarly: 1-4 with a win over Ball St. LSU had two convincing wins over non-conference opponents, followed by setbacks against Tennessee (in a close game on the road) and Florida (another blowout).

A loss at Kentucky would have meant an 0-3 start in conference and almost no chance of winning the sec west. (At this time, two losses to sec east teams were not fatal.)

LSU started out reasonably well, taking a 19-3 lead at one point and a 22-10 lead into the half. The tigers had scored in four of their first five possessions. The only failure to score had been a missed field goal. The two teams had exchanged interceptions late in the first half, but there was no major cause for concern.

Kentucky must have made some adjustments on defense though, because LSU just could not move the ball down the field in the second half. It was still 22-10 going into the final third of the game, so at less the LSU defense had kept the lead.

Not for long though. Kentucky, led by Jared Lorenzen, would engineer touchdown drives on consecutive possessions (he threw for 70 yards in the first drive alone) while all LSU could manage was a series of punts.

After the go-ahead Kentucky touchdown with just over 8 minutes remaining, LSU still could not get a drive going, giving the ball back to the Wildcats with about 7 minutes left. Kentucky, with a three-point lead, drove to the LSU 44 before their drive stalled with 3 1/2 minutes to go. With the lead and the defense playing well, the Kentucky coach Guy Morriss stayed conservative and opted to punt on 4th and 1.

Kentucky quickly got LSU into a 3rd and 4 situation, but LSU quarterback Rohan Davey all of a sudden had an answer to Lorenzen. Instead of throwing for 30 yards at once, he threw for shorter distances, but 14 yards on the third-down play was more than enough.

After three more passes and two more first downs, LSU was in reasonable scoring position at the Kentucky 27. On the next play, Davey was sacked for a loss of 9 and it looked like the Tigers might not even be able to tie the game. He then completed a pass to his favorite target Michael Clayton for 18 yards, bringing up a third and 1. A pass to Clayton worked on the last third and less-than-5, so that’s what they did again, this time for 8 yards, bringing up a first and goal at the 10.

Davey nearly ran it all the way in on first down, but that would have been scoring too soon, so he waited until third and six (after an illegal procedure and threw to Clayton yet again for the go-ahead score with 13 seconds left.

After beating Vanderbilt to end its 15-game SEC losing streak, Kentucky would once again finish with only two wins.

LSU was still inconsistent the next two weeks: a blowout win over a weak Mississippi St. team, followed by a disappointing home loss to Ole Miss, but then something happened the following week at Tuscaloosa. LSU beat a comparable Alabama team by 14 and would not lose again.

The Tigers snuck into the SEC championship game, where they knocked off #2 Tennessee. Then LSU beat Illinois to finish 10-3 and win its first Sugar Bowl since 1967 That was an improvement of seven wins over two seasons before. But none of it likely would have happened has Kentucky won that game.

LSU would learn pretty quickly in 2002that you don’t just magically keep your spot in the pecking order. The Tigers lost their opener at Virginia tech convincingly. Then, the week before the Kentucky game, LSU was walloped by Auburn, 31-7.

Kentucky, however, was much-improved and entered the game with 6-3 record, only two wins shy of their highest season win total since 1984. Also, they were to play LSU at home.

The Tigers seemed to recover well to the loss to Auburn and played reasonably well on both sides of the ball. LSU’s offense wasn’t the greatest, but it went up 21-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, which isn’t bad against a winning team on the road.

The Tigers still held onto to 24-14 lead with around 12 minutes left. Kentucky was driving in LSU territory and faced a fourth and 1. Not knowing how many chances they would get (and likely not wanting to repeat the mistake of 2001), Morriss went for it.

Kentucky’s go-to back Artose Pinner easily ran for the first down, and this put the Wildcats within easy striking distance for Lorenzen, who completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Kentucky within 4. For some reason, they unsuccessfully tried for two.

The craziness was only beginning. When LSU went three and out and punted, the Wildcat returner fumbled, allowing the Tigers to take over at the Kentucky 19.

LSU got the ball to the two, but played it safe with a 19-yard field goal to go back up 7.

Aided by three different first downs resulting from penalties, Kentucky drove right down the field for the tie with 2:24 to go.

LSU then went backwards in its next possession and punted. A 21-yard punt return and face ask penalty for good measure put Kentucky back in scoring position.

Another LSU penalty made it just a 29-yard attempt, which gave Kentucky the lead with just 11 seconds left.

The Tigers took over at their own 13, and then seemingly in an effort to delay the inevitable, got a delay-of-game penalty.

Randall completed a modest 17-yard pass to Clayton, and everyone thought it was over. It wasn’t over on the clock, but still, that’s not good field position for any type of scoring play. If you haven’t seen what happens next, just watch the video at the beginning of this blog.

Kentucky didn’t play LSU again until 2006. The Wildcats were having another fairly good season and actually would win 8 games this time (new {from LSU’s perspective} head coach Rich Brooks would lead the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games starting in 2006), but they had to travel to LSU and were coming off a tough loss to South Carolina. LSU had lost on the road to a very good Florida team (which would eventually beat Ohio St. for the BCS championship). I guess they had opposite reactions to losses, because LSU seemed hungry for blood, and Kentucky seemed to be looking forward to its bye week. The Tigers absolutely destroyed the Wildcats, 49-0, and would not lose another game that year. In fact, they would not lose again before their trip to Kentucky in 2007

The winning streak had pushed LSU to a #1 ranking, which they had not held in the regular season since 1959 when the Tigers lost by a single point at Tennessee.

Even though no players and few (if any) coaches were in common, the game followed a similar pattern to 2001 and 2002. Kentucky did score first, but LSU would go up 17-7 in the first half and 27-14 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter.

The Wildcats would score almost immediately afterward. Led by QB Andre Woodson, UK did not even face a third down on the touchdown drive.

LSU had to punt on the next possession, but they nearly had a three-and-out defensively on Kentucky’s next set of downs. The Tigers were whistled for a pass interference that kept the drive going. The Wildcats would eventually reduce the margin to three points with just under 8 minutes to play in regulation.

Two plays later, LSU QB Matt Flynn threw an interception way downfield, setting up the Wildcats at their own 37.

After an incompletion on first down, the tired Tiger defense gave up passes of 11 and 35 yards. Kentucky tried to run down he clock a bit before kicking the tying field goal.

LSU got the ball back with time for a winning drive, but it took 2:45 just to get to the Kentucky 40. Colt David was a good kicker with the Tigers, but 57 yards was a bit out of his range, so the game went to overtime.

The Wildcats got the first possession, and the LSU defense shot itself in the foot again, it would have been second and 15 from the 30, but a roughing the passer penalty gave Kentucky a first down at the 15. Kentucky later faced a third and 8, but Woodson completed a 12-yard pass, which led to the touchdown.

The Tigers had little trouble responding. It took just four plays to find the end zone, and LSU didn’t even face a third down.

The next LSU offensive possession did not go so smoothly. The Tigers faced third and 19 after a penalty and a sack, but got back into comfortable field goal range. The Wildcats responded with a three-and-out followed by their own field goal, but then the LSU defense was expected to hold them again and could not.

Actually, holding was the problem. After a Woodson incomplete pass on third and goal from the 6, the Tigers were whistled for a holding penalty. This allowed Kentucky a new set of downs, which led to the touchdown.

LSU ran four straight running plays, and the game ended about a yard short of the first.

No accidental Gatorade baths this time, Kentucky fans stormed he field and stayed there awhile. Maybe the team enjoyed it a bit too much,as they would lose four of the next five games. LSU would win 6 of the next 7 (the only loss to Arkansas, another team that would finish 8-5, also in here overtimes) on the way to it’s second BCS championship.

In 2011, Kentucky, which was in the midst of a losing season under Brooks’ successor Joker Philips, did not spoil LSU’s next serious attempt at an undefeated season.

(LSU had started 7-0 in 2010, but that was before Alabama, Auburn, or Arkansas, the only eventual 10-game winners the Tigers would face that season.)

LSU’s return trip to Lexington should have been in 2012, but that was Missouri’s and Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC, so it went to a 6-1-1 rotation, which means 6 divisional games (as a result of the seventh team being added to each division), one permanent opponent, and one rotating opponent. So rather than 2 spots rotating among five teams in that last number, one spot rotates among six teams. Back-to-back games are not done under the new system, but there is still some uncertainty over the long-term scheduling format, so they didn’t insist that LSU and Kentucky wait until 5 years had passed. That may happen before the next game, however.

Other “Rivalry Series” entries:

Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12

Musings From The Hoodwood 10-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL College Football MLB NBA

 

Bad sportsmanship on display in Philly

 

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood, where sometimes you are just trying to get by.

 

College Football: Look Who’s Running things…Mississippi State?

Most casual observers of college football would look at the fact that Florida State dropped from the #1 slot for an SEC team and shrug their shoulders, the fact that the team that replaced them is not one of the usual suspects from the SEC is the one that would be the eye catching fact. Its not Bama, not LSU not Auburn. Its Mississippi State. Read the following line slowly and digest it.

Mississippi State is the #1 team in the country in college football.

And their in-state arch rival Ole Miss, is lurking dangerously at #3. The oft maligned Magnolia State who was more infamous for the antics of Ross Barnett and the shameful chapters of the civil rights movement are now living large with two of the best teams in the country. From the Bulldogs do everything QB with the cool name, Dak Prescott to the Rebels junkyard dog tough defense that just abuses its opposition. These teams are fun to watch and are making the football world sit up and notice. The Egg Bowl on November 29th could be for a lot higher stakes than simple bragging rights, it could better the Iron Bowl as the conference’s big game in the SEC West as the gateway to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Mississippi State has only a trip to Tuscaloosa on its docket that may keep them from heading to their showdown game unbeaten. Ole Miss has a bit of a tougher run, they have head to Baton Rouge for a likely Saturday night tangle in the Bayou, never a good time then they host Auburn the very next week. The very idea that these team could be playing the final regular season game as unbeatens should quicken the pulse.

Meanwhile Florida State keeps chugging along, despite the growing noise that Jameis Winston may still face some sort of disciplinary actions for his alleged involvement in a sexual assault case, this all in front of a sort of conference showdown with Notre Dame who is still an independent but seem to be playing a few ACC teams here and there. But a matchup of unbeaten teams this late in October is always nice to see.

 

NFL: A tie?

For reasons I cant explain, Ive seen on TV each of the last three tie games. In 2012 I sat in my man cave and watched the Rams and 49ers slug into early evening but without a victor in a 24 all draw, last season I was visiting my Grampy and watched my Vikes and the Pack battle to a 26 all standoff, Sunday I again was visiting my Grampy and caught the tail end of a wild 37 all draw that set an NFL record for the highest scoring tie since 1974. The thing that amazes me about ties is the general football populaces ignorance about overtime and tie games. Tie games to be sure are a rarity nowadays, there have only been 20 ties since overtime has been instituted for regular season games in 1974. Before then overtime only happened in playoff games and only had happened four times in NFL history before the extra period was instituted for all games.  Since the overtime rules were instituted the Packers have had the most ties with 5, and all teams in the NFL except Houston, Jacksonville and Seattle have had ties. Though the Patriots have not had a tie game since the merger, their nine ties in their AFL days go forward with their overall won-loss total. Ties were a regular occurrence before 1974, if the 60 minutes were played and the score was tied that’s what it went into the books as.  There was at least one tie game in the NFL each season from 1952-1974 and as many as nine in 1967 & 1970, it wasn’t uncommon to see teams with 2 and sometimes 3 ties on their ledger the 1963 Bears finished 11-1-2 in their title season, I liked the 1965 San Diego Chargers who won the AFL West with a 9-2-3 record. More ties than losses, go figure. In 1970, every team in both the AFC and NFC West had at least one tie. 1975 was the first full season with no ties. And only 19 times since the Steelers and Broncos played to a 35 all draw in 1974, with the addition of sudden death then the modified possession overtime there have been more OT wins and fewer times that the game has ended in a draw. Ironically the Bengals last tie was at home due to a missed field goal.

But now you have the crying wonks. “Uhnnnnh there should be a winner, keep playing.” Can you imagine if either of these teams had to play on Thursday and had to keep playing till there was a winner?

 

 

Phat Dap

Its rare when I give dap to a St. Louis Cardinal, since Im not a big fan of them, but I always like to see someone gain a measure of redemption. And Kolten Wong got a bit of it Sunday night against the Giants. Wong got picked off to end a World Series game last year and in some circles wore the goat horns for the Cards lost to Boston. But Wong had a solid year for the RedBirds and clubbed a walk off homer in Game 2 to level the NLCS at a game a piece heading to the Bay Area. I still think the Giants are the better team and will win in 5 or 6 but Wong won a game by himself Sunday.

 

Head Slap

To the useless jerk in Philly that was clapping over the prone figure of Victor Cruz as he lay in agony on the Lincoln Financial Field turf Sunday. Cruz tore his patella tendon and is out for the rest of the season and the picture in the NY Daily News said it all, that was uncalled for.

 

Quick Hits

 

The TCU-Baylor game was a fun shootout to watch, Ill bet the score of either of their basketball games doesn’t match the 61-58 score

 

The Rain was the only thing that could stop the Royals, good to see that Buck Showalter hasn’t lost his overmanaging touch

 

KD out for 6-8 weeks with a foot injury…not fresh at all. You know Russell Westbrook is salivating at the chance to jack up shots

 

Ok so Romo and the Pokes beat the Seahawks…when he wins in the crunch let me know

 

Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!

 

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