Houston Texans' owner Bob McNair finally ended the Gary Kubiak era with his team by firing his head coach of the past eight seasons. The Texans lost their 11th consecutive game last night to Jacksonville. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will be the interim head coach for the remaining games this season.
The Chiefs will be without OLB Justin Houston once again this Sunday when Kansas City plays at Washington. Also missing from the starting lineup will be left tackle Branden Albert & tight end Anthony Fasano.
The University of Washington will sign Chris Peterson, formerly of Boise State, to replace Steve Sarkisian as head coach. Peterson compiled an impressive 92-12 record including 7 wins over top-10 ranked teams while coaching the Bronco program. He did all this with 2 & 3-star recruits. He also sent a number of graduates onto the NFL with Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin being the most known as he won the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said on a radio show he would not interview for the Washington post, once held by his mentor Don James. Pinkel said on ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning he was a Missouri Tiger & wouldn't entertain a job anywhere else. He tied Don Faurot for most wins as a Tiger head coach. Pinkel said Mizzou's school administration had made a substantial commitment to sports programs after the decision to move to the SEC was made. Pinkel had spoken at great length as to the financial needs of the University if they were to leave the BIG-12 for the Southeastern Conference. Many of the school's sport's programs have flourished since the move. Men's basketball(8-0) is unbeaten, women's hoops(7-1), women's volleyball(34-0) ranked fourth nationally & a number one seed in NCAA Tournament that begins tomorrow & the softball team,ranked in the top-10 for the past two seasons. But it's Pinkel's team that is making the most noise as his 5th ranked team prepare to play in the SEC Championship game tomorrow against Auburn. The University of Missouri has arrived in the SEC in a big way, led by Pinkel's Tiger football team.
Two days ago, I mentioned the six college games that really matter this Saturday. Now lets get into who's going to win these games.
#17 Oklahoma at #6 Oklahoma State
Sorry Sooner fans, I don't see your boys as being up to staying with this powerhouse from Stillwater. Oklahoma State 41 Oklahoma 24
#25 Texas at #9 Baylor
As with my prediction from above, I think the Bears have far too much offense for the Longhorns. Texas coach Mack Brown will finish the regular season with 4 loses, including this matchup tomorrow. Baylor 47 Texas 20
#5 Missouri vs.#3 Auburn
For the SEC Championship, a guaranteed BCS Bowl bid & possibly a shot at the National Championship on the line. Mizzou has been sorta left out of the conversation when the BCS title speculation comes up. In fact they've been given almost no chance by so many national pundits, they might as well not even play the game. That may be the way it all unfolds, but being the uber Mizzou homer, I'm not ready to throw in the towel. Auburn has benefited from back-to-back miraculous finishes to defeat Georgia with 25-seconds left when WR Ricardo Louis caught a double tipped throw from QB Nick Marshall for a 73-yard game winner on a 4th & 18 play. Then there was the 109-yard missed field goal return last Saturday in the Iron Bowl. Hey, maybe the kids from Auburn are destined to become champs, but three in a row is asking a lot. After watching Mizzou's defensive line keep Johnny Manziel in the pocket all night, I see no reason they can't do the same to the very mobile Marshall. Plus MU has a far superior passing game with a tall, fast wide receiving corps. Their offensive line has been solid for the entire season. I don't feel like that's going to change either. Time for a Mizzou miracle. Missouri 31 Auburn 27
#7 Stanford vs. #11 Arizona State
I've been on Stanford for a couple of years & they haven't disappointed. ASU is fast but they've ventured into an unknown territory here. I say Stanford, in very close game.
Stanford 27 Arizona State 24
#20 Duke vs. #1 Florida State
Seminoles QB Jameis Winston was not charged yesterday after an investigation of an alleged sexual assault last December. He will win the Heisman Trophy. He will also lead his team to an easy win over the Duke Blues Devils, a 29 1/2 point underdog. The mere fact that Duke is even in this friggin' game, is truly miraculous. Coach David Cutcliffe led them to their second straight bowl game, which earned him the Maxwell Club Coach of the Year. I second that. Unless Cutcliffe can walk on water, his guys are in for a very long evening. Florida State 48 Duke 13
#2 Ohio State vs. #10 Michigan State
The BIG TEN Championship game is the one that all other hopes hinge on. Without an upset win from MSU, it'll be Florida State-Ohio State in the Championship for another blowout by FSU. The thing that makes this game really intriguing to me is it is truly strength vs. strength. The Buckeyes want to run the ball with RB Carlos Hyde & QB Braxton Miller. Michigan State has had the number one run defense for the past 3-years & this season, it's record book tough. They average giving up less than 65-yards per game this season. OSU leads the nation with a 321-yard average rushing the ball. Some fallout from OSU's 42-41 knockdown-drag out game with Michigan last Saturday. Right guard Marcus Hall was ejected from the game for leaving the bench to enter a shoving match & escalate it into a brawl by throwing three punches, two landing on the jaws of Michigan players. After being thrown out of the game, he flipped off the crowd with both hands. The BIG TEN refused to penalize Hall but Urban Meyer, after heaps of criticism coming in from every direction, decided this morning he would bench Hall. For how long, we'll have to see, but I doubt it will be more than one or two series.
Ohio State 17 Michigan State 13
Got a couple of things to clear up. The other day I said Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was flagged for his sideline Mickey Mouse move, crossing over onto the playing field as Baltimore's Jacoby Jones roared up the same sideline on a kickoff return. He was not penalized by the game officials tho the league lowered the boom on Tomlin to the tune of $100,000 for his stunt. A number of you emailed the correction led by Steve in the comment section. Thanks for keeping me straight.
I made another knucklehead move yesterday in the NFL Office Pool Picks when I completely left out the Atlanta-Green Bay game. Sorry folks, some days I can barely hold my head up(today) because of pain medication & I tend to make a lot of mistakes those days. Sorry & thanks Roger for spotting my mistake.
Florida State quarterback & Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Jameis Winston, will not be charged with sexual assault in a year-old case. The prosecutor claimed there was not enough evidence to bring charges. The woman who brought these charges contacted the police last month regarding the alleged sexual assault. The State Attorney did say DNA samples taken from her underware showed a match to Winston & another unknown male. She never mentioned a second man. The woman claimed she was very drunk the night of the incident but toxicology reports from the hospital showed her blood alcohol at .046 far from being legally drunk. Texts from her cell phone also cast a shadow of doubt over her claims. This should cinch the Heisman Trophy for Winston, provided he doesn't fall completely apart this Saturday in the ACC Championship game. Florida State is a 29 1/2 point favorite over Duke.
Another crummy performance last week with an 8-8 record. This week will be substantially better. As always my selections will be in bold print.
Houston at Jacksonville
Kansas City at Washington
Indianapolis at Cincinnati
Cleveland at New England
Oakland at NY Jets
Detroit at Philadelphia
Miami at Pittsburgh
Buffalo at Tampa Bay
Minnesota at Baltimore
Tennessee at Denver
St. Louis at Arizona
New York Giants at San Diego
Seattle at San Francisco
Carolina at New Orleans
Dallas at Chicago
Tie Breaker Total Points MNF--51
From the 1st quarter of the Ohio State-Michigan game, it was great college football all day & well into the evening. So many close games, so much riding on the outcomes, games that will never live up to the hype & yet they exceed the hype, so much emotion & a truly wild finish that will be a part of my top-10 as long as I live. Today is a perfect example of why I love college football more than the NFL. Here's a few observations of what I saw today.
Don't bother arguing, Brady Hoke made the right call going for two.
The day started with a huge brawl in the Ohio State-Michigan game that resulted in 3 ejections. The game featured 1,130-yards of total offense, the Wolverines passed for 451-yards while Ohio State ran for 393. There were only 6 total punts in the game, 3 apiece. They went back & forth for hours until the Buckeyes scored to go ahead 42-35 with 2:20 remaining in the game. But the Wolverines were up to the task as they drove 84-yards to tie the game on a 2-yard pass from QB Devin Gardner to WR Devin Funchness. I knew Hoke was going to go for two. His team was exhausted, they were completely unable to stop the Buckeye running game & prolonging the game with overtime was a losing strategy for Michigan. Their best shot was to make a 2-point conversion & win right then. Unfortunately the play selection left a lot to be desired in my book & Ohio State hung on for a 42-41 victory. It was their 24th consecutive win since Urban Meyer became the head coach in Columbus. They face-off with Michigan State next Saturday night in the BIG TEN Championship Game. I'm still not impressed with OSU, I'm not alone. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, a future first round draft pick, tweeted after the game:
That was not the 3rd best team in the country.
The Buckeyes will play Michigan State for the BIG TEN Championship next Saturday night in Indianapolis. If MSU pulls the upset with their superior defense, the SEC winner & Florida State will face off in the BCS Championship game.
I said FSU was the best team in the country weeks ago, I'm more convinced today.
Not because they hammered a beat up, burned out Florida Gators' team. A lot of people did that this season. The Seminoles won 37-7 a Heisman hopefull, Jameis Winston, threw three touchdowns, all to sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who caught 9 passes for 212-yards. The Noles are the best all-around team I have seen this year. I've thought that since October 19th when FSU went to #3 Clemson & pulled their pants down on national television to the tune of 51-14. If you haven't had a chance to see the Seminoles live, relax, you'll get to see them in the ACC Championship next Saturday night & then in the BCS title game in January, no way Duke beats them next week.
Duke wins their 10th, a new school record.
Head coach David Cutcliff has worked a major miracle this year, coaching his Blue Devils to 10-wins, something that had never happened in school history. They won eight last year, going to a bowl game for the first time in more than two decades. They're back at the bowl pay window, looking for another check. Back-to-back bowl bids has never happened either. The Dukies also can further build their program winning ten games, playing for the ACC Championship & playing in another bowl game. This is a good story.
The much-hyped Game of the Day lived up to all the pregame excitement & what a finish, wow!
The Iron Bowl, it's played every year the final week of the regular season & it's between Alabama & Auburn. The Tigers come in 10-1 while the 2-time defending BCS Champs stood undefeated at 11-0. The game goes back & forth, impressive passing by Bama senior QB A.J. McCarron, a productive run game from Auburn. Bama WR Amari Cooper caught 6 passes for 178-yards including a school record 99-yard touchdown reception early in the 4th quarter to put the Crimson Tide up 28-21. But a Nick Marshall to Sammi Coates 39-yard touchdown pass with :32 remaining tied it up & everybody figured we were headed to overtime. Wrong. Armed with two timeouts, Nick Saban decided if his team made a reasonable gain on first down, he try to get into field goal position before the clock ran out. I mean he has a Heisman candidate quarterback who had never lost a road game before tonight. Why not give it a shot? They did & after T.J. Yelson picked up 24-yards & ran out of bounds with one second left. We knew there was 1-second remaining because they ran the replay about twenty times. So now the choice for Saban was Hail Mary, 57-yard field goal attempt or kneel on the ball & wait for overtime. PK Cade Foster had already missed three attempts so Saban trotted out freshman Adam Griffith for the attempt. The kick fell about 5-yards short & senior Chris Davis fielded it about a yard from the backline & proceeded to return the kick all the way, untouched, for the winning touchdown. Alabama's chance at a third consecutive BCS title was gone. Auburn, who closed fast after losing to LSU way back in September, was now in the SEC Championship waiting to find out who they would play.
Crippled Dawgs handle Tech in O.T.
I heard a name I'd never heard before today, Hutson Mason. He was the backup to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray & since Murray played about 50-straight without missing a start, Mason was an unknown commodity. No more, he led the Bulldogs back from a 20-0 deficit to a 41-34 double overtime win. Mason & running back Todd Gurley accounted for all five Georgia touchdowns. Mason completed 22 of 36 for 299-yards & two scores. Not bad for a guy no one ever heard of.
No more Heisman hopes for Boston College RB Andre Williams.
The Syracuse Orange knocked Andre Williams out of the Heisman Race by holding him to just 29-yards before he left with an injury.
UCLA wins bragging rites in LaLaLand.
Been a while, but the UCLA Bruins pounded their cross-town rivals 35-14 in a game that wasn't as close as the score might indicate.
Baylor takes the gifts from TCU & turns them into a 41-38 win.
Baylor was way down offensively, about 300 total yards & 23-points, but an alert defensive secondary snagged three interceptions & returned two of them for touchdowns. Horned Frogs' quarterback Casey Pachall isn't the same guy who went away to drug & alcohol rehab. He was once a promising quarterback, but no more.
So could the Mizzou Tigers finish with a win over Johnny Football to insure a trip to Atlanta?
Yes they could!!! At times they struggled, but when it came down to the 4th quarter, needing a touchdown to lock up the Atlanta trip to play Auburn, they did exactly what was needed. RB Henry Josey went left, planted hit foot & kicked it into high gear. Josey sped 57-yards for the winning touchdown. It was the touchdown that won the SEC East for the Tigers in just their second year in the conference. They trailed 14-7 at halftime, usually a death sentence for Mizzou under coach Gary Pinkell. They were 11-44 in games they trailed at half. But this is a new Tiger team, they are the most mature team Pinkel has ever fielded. This is the most balance team Pinkel has ever fielded, once again his Tigers rushed for 225-yards while passing for 238. They have one of the best defensive fronts in the land & for once, they have good depth. They have a number of playmakers returning next season, DGB, Hunt, Sasser, Maty Mauk, Josey, Hansbrough, Murphy, Morse, Gatti, Boehm, Hoch, Ray, Ealy, Golden, Brothers & Pinton. Players who got a lot of experience this season that should up their performance levels next season. This is what a football program should look like but Pinkel has to strike while the iron's hot. Recruiting better prospects & staying with your core principles are very important. Speaking of core principles Pinkel's spread was poo-poo'd as they entered the SEC & as the season progressed he came under fire for his 5-7 record. The offensive line had 11 different starters while numerous skill position players were injured including starting quarterback James Franklin. But this season, Franklin & corner E.J. Gaines were the only serious injuries. Pinkel's spread worked with his trio of speedy running backs , his giant wide receivers & a pair of quarterbacks who understand how this offense is run & can get the ball out on time.
Can Pinkel compete in recruiting with Georgia, Florida & S. Carolina? Not right now, but he could chip away at their advantage this winter & in a few seasons, he might be able to stand toe to toe with his toughest competition. Pinkel learned from Don James how to evaluate high school talent, Nick Saban did as well but he has little trouble recruiting 4 & 5 star prospects. When the Tigers play Auburn next Saturday, more people will watch them play than ever before, a strong performance would be big in future recruiting.
If Mizzou wins next Saturday afternoon, they have an outside shot at playing Florida State for the BCS title. The key is a loss by Ohio State or possibly a poor performance would be enough to sway the votes needed to move up into the #2 spot in the BCS Poll. I don't expect it, but who amongst you had the Tigers playing for the SEC crown back in August? A Show of hands please. This has been a freaky college football season & Mizzou might as well take full advantage of the weirdness. Who knows what might happen?