blueollie

Still recovering

Yes, I have friends that can do a hell of a lot more running and walking than I can. But over the past few weeks:

23 September: walking marathon
29 September: 5K running race
6 October: 5K running race
7 October: half marathon walk (all out)

And that has left me a bit heavy legged. Even today, my 10 mile walk, while mostly pleasant, was work. Not hard work, but a modest amount of work and my legs got moderately heavy. That should not be after only 10 miles..hence I am still “recovering”>

College football:
My predictions:

Last week I picked ND, Texas, Purdue and Temple to win (4-0), ND, Illinois, Baylor and Temple to cover 1-2-1
So for the season: 19-7 straight up, 12-12-1 against the spread.

Now what about Illinois?

Ugh..that was embarrassing, and this post, more or less, describes what I am feeling.

Spin it any way you want. But the last 3 Big Ten home games ended: 42-7 (Northwestern), 63-24 (Penn State), 46-7 (Purdue)

This season, the defense gave up:

453 yards and 24 points to Kent State (1-6 Mac Team)
361 yards to 2-4 Western Illinois (FCS team that Illinois State beat 33-16)
626 yards to USF (ok, they are 6-0 but non power 5)
591 yards to Penn State (ok, they are good)
386 yards to Rutgers (1-6, horrible team that lost 42-13 to Buffalo and 55-14 to Kansas)
611 yards to Purdue (3-3) including 404 in the FIRST HALF.

And while the team had ran the ball well up to this game, Purdue loaded the box with 8 defenders and dared the Illini to throw. Then blitz on passing downs. Our offense has been well scouted and other teams now know what to do.

And our depth is shallow..this is a bad thing when you play in the Big Ten meat grinder. This may well get uglier.

Oh well…I am not sure if there IS an exit from this quicksand.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | college football, walking | | Leave a comment

Illini get steamrolled by Purdue 46-7

I’ll start with the positive (and yes, there is a positive). In Champaign, the Illinois AD leads a 4 mile pregame run.

Ok, I don’t live in Champaign and even if I did, a 9 minute a mile is now a “race effort” for me ..on a good day…when it is cool. But I did a nice 5.2 mile walk at an undetermined pace (15-16 minutes per mile?) on my own prior to leaving for the game.

Ok, here is the second positive: I still love watching football and I like seeing good execution. And one team executed well..though it wasn’t the team that I was cheering for.

Ok, positive number 3: I had a good lunch with my wife before I left.

Ok, positive number 4: decent crowd (by Illinois standards: almost 42K. That was the largest since last year’s Wisconsin game (which was also Homecoming). Ok, much of that came from Purdue fans and much of the Illinois crowd left at halftime, after the band performance.

Ok, positive number 5: the bands (current and alumni) were good!

Ok, ok, with that out of the way….

I’ll recall a conversation from the Penn State game a few weeks ago (which ended 63-24). Many Illini fans grasped the fact that the Illini held a lead 24-21 with 10 minutes to go in the 3’rd. Others (myself included) thought that the 42-0 finish by Penn State was more significant. I asked my wife: what is more significant about the Illinois football team: the start of the PSU game or the finish. She smiled and said “honey, the finish”.

It sure seems that she was right.

Ok, enough wit the set up.

What about the actual game? The score (46-7) and stats (total yards 611-250…Purdue had 404 yards AT THE HALF!) speak for themselves.

But…believe it or not, it started promising. The teams started by exchanging punts, then the Illini struck blood first with a very nice 77 yard touchdown drive, with most of the damage done by a 52 yard pass to a running back out of the backfield. It WAS a good throw too. 7-0 Illini, and I thought “the shoot out is on!” (I had predicted 31-24 Purdue).

It took Purdue just 5 plays to respond, almost all on passes…7-7.

Then came 2 Illinois 3 and out “drives” followed by Purdue touchdown drives (passes) and a blocked extra point: 20-7 Purdue.

Then came a “turning point” of sorts (ok, in a 46-7 game..well..)

The Illini put together their second (and final) good drive of the day, mostly due to a 30 and 24 yard pass play. First and goal at the Purdue 8 then a second goal at the Purdue 5. But then came a SIXTEEN YARD loss on a sack followed by a missed field goal attempt (38 yards; kicker has been pretty good for most of the year). That appeared to take whatever wind there was out of Illinois’ sails.

Then came a Purdue drive with a made field goal. Illinois punted..and with time running down, the Illini held Purdue on downs at the Illini 29. But Purdue had time outs and got the ball back with under a minute to go and 2 time outs. Two quick runs set up the ball at the Illini 42 and a “jump ball” in the end zone was won by the Purdue receiver. A very badly botched extra point kick attempt left the score at 29-7…and Purdue had 404 yards AT THE HALF.

Purdue got the ball at the start of the 3’rd quarter and two key penalties snuffed out any hope the Illini may have had.

An offside on a Purdue punt kept the drive alive…and another offside penalty negated an interception deep in Illini territory. No problem: PUrdue punches it in and it is now 36-7.

Purude did a lot of running in the 4’th quarter at it was good enough to set up a field goal then a final touchdown to make it 46-7.

It was this kind of day:

My shots:

Ok, not mine..but I am where the red arrow is.

Pregame:

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Alumni Band.

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Illini Band.

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Decent crowd but far from full:

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Purdue at Illinois early.

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Was it something I said? 😂

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Decent crowd.

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Good half time show:

Post halftime…people leaving:

OMG…

October 14, 2018 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

College football weekend and observations

Temple -7 at Navy (ESPN: Temple, 67.7)
Navy is having a rough season; win over Memphis and an FCS program. Temple blew out Maryland, Tulsa and East Carolina and lost 2 close games to decent teams (Buffalo, BC). I have to pick Temple to win and cover.

Baylor +14 at Texas (UT: 84.2) : sort of a rivalry, UT beat Oklahoma, who blew out Baylor. But UT has had somewhat close games with ordinary opponents. I think UT wins, but Baylor keeps it close and covers.

ND -21 vs. Pitt (ND 95.5 percent favorite). Pitt was blown out 45-14 by UCF and 51-6 by Penn State and I don’t see them doing better vs. a ND team that is rolling. ND wins and covers.

Illinois +10 hosting Purdue (Purdue 72.9 percent). Though Purdue is 2-3, 2 of the losses were close games vs. good teams (Missouri, NW) and one came with unforced errors.

The Illini have wins against 2 of the most dreadful FBS teams and a 34-14 win over an FCS team that lost 33-16 to Illinois State (I watched both games). The Illini give up huge amounts of yards (626 to USF, 59x to Penn State) and won’t be able to stop Purdue. But the running game keeps it sort of close. Purdue to win, Illinois covers.

Win: Temple, Texas, ND, Purdue
Cover: Temple, Baylor, ND, Illinois

Remarks about the teams I’ve watched:

As far as a “seasons” worth of football (save a game missed for a hospitalization here, or a job there):
I watched Texas for 9 seasons (1975-1976, 1981, 1985-1990, Navy for 4 (1977-1980), Illinois State for 2 (1993-1994), Illinois for 8: 2011-2018.

At the time, Texas was in the old Southwest Conference (just added Houston in 1976) and routinely played Arkansas, Houston, Rice, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, SMU, Texas A&M and, of course, Oklahoma (then non-conference).
Home non conference games: North Texas, Colorado State, Utah State, Miami, Missouri, Stanford, BYU, Oregon State, New Mexico, Penn State, Colorado.

Navy: though Navy was an independent, Navy frequently played William and Mary, Connecticut, Citadel, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Army, Air Force, Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Other home games: Duke, Kent, Villanova. Note: road game vs. Illinois (one) and bowl vs. Houston.

Illinois State: played a Missouri Valley schedule, which included Eastern Illinois (not a conference game), Youngstown State, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois, Missouri State

Illinois: Big Ten of course (Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland (haven’t seen), Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern. Non conference home: Southern Illinois, South Dakota State, Arkansas State, Western Michigan, Texas State, Western Kentucky, Charleston, Arizona State, South Florida, Miami of Ohio, Louisiana Tech, Kent State, Western Illinois, North Carolina, Ball State, Cincinnati.

What is my point: note how little overlap there is in the respective schedules. The greatest overlap: ISU and Illinois: Western, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, Youngstown State (Iowa, NW as ISU road games)

I did watch Houston vs. Illinois in 1991 so that was the only team common to the 3 FBS teams (played Navy in the 1980 Garden State Bowl). Penn State is common to Texas and Illinois.

But back to the overlap: I’ve watched many NFL games, (followed the Patriots (1983-1984), Rams (2009-2015) Colts and Bears (2015-2018) and you see quite a bit of overlap in NFL schedules. So I suppose it is not a surprise that I’ve seen as many Super Bowl champions play (1982 Redskins, 1989 49’ers, 2009 Saints) as I’ve seen college national champions (Texas 1969, Colorado 1990, Youngston State 1993 (I-AA, now FCS)) though I’ve watched many more college games.

Workout notes: 2 mile treadmill (21:20), 1 mile lane 2 (9:22..was work), 1 mile walk outside…GI issues this morning?

October 13, 2018 Posted by | college football, football, NFL, running, walking | 1 Comment

A bit of college football

I drug Mat to a game where Illinois State hosted Western Illinois. And this game sort of reminded me of the Western Illinois at Illinois game. In the Champaign game, Western drove for a touchdown on their opening drive. The Illini took a 14-7 lead at the half and then lead 24-7 off of turnovers and a blocked punt. But it was 24-14 with Western driving into the 4’th quarter and ended 34-14. Total yards: 376 to 361, Illini.

The Illinois State vs. Western game: ended 33-16; here Western lead 13-12 at the half and 16-12 going into the 4’th..when ISU took it over, thanks to good field position and a pick 6.

Total yards: Western won that 277-270 though Illinois State had the edge in yards at the half.

Opening drive: Western touchdown (much of the damage by passing) but ISU blocked the PAT and ran it back for a 2 pointer. Then 2 nice drives lead to a touchdown and field goal to put ISU up 12-6. BUT…a great punt return set up WIU with a short field and then “bam/bam”..a touchdown pass right before half time sent WIU into the lead.

Second half: at first the defenses dominated (ISU, WIU, ISU punts). Then on the next drive, WIU hits a 71 yard pass…but a desperation dive by the ISU DB tripped the WIU receiver just enough to where he lost his balance at the ISU 8. A TD was called back on a holding call, so WIU has to kick the field goal to go up 16-12, which was their last score of the day.

4’th: teams exchanged 2 sets of punts; then the ISU ground game gets going and they drive for the go ahead touchdown: 19-16. A pick-6 scores another touchdown: 26-16.

So WIU tries to get back in the game but fails on 4’th and 14 on their own 25; ISU takes over and drives it in, aided by one pass, which lead to the final score of 33-16. Yes, WIU took time outs during that final drive; they weren’t going to give up being down by 10.

Note the clouds moving in.

The weather was nuts: overcast and chilly, warm and sunny, rainy (for 10-15 minutes), warm, chilly again. Perfect Illinois fall weather.

More games:

The Illini beat hapless Rutgers 38-17:

Of course, Rutgers lost to Kansas 55-14 and to Buffalo (a MAC team) at home 42-13. This time, total yards weren’t that far apart 419-386, though the Illini got 330 yards rushing.

I’ll know more after the Purdue game.

Personally, I think that the Illini will win once more this season: 1 game from Minnesota, Purdue, or Nebraska. Northwestern and Maryland (road) will be tough sledding…and IMHO, forget Iowa or Wisconsin.

Navy got trounced by Air Force 35-7. Navy will be lucky to scrape up 2 more wins this season. Just not our year and Army looks great.

ND rolled 45-23 over Virginia Tech; they look as if they have hit their stride and..should be favored in each of their remaining games. That doesn’t mean that they will win them all though.

Texas: wild finish; up 45-24…OU rallies to tie, Texas FG with 9 seconds to go to win. After a loss to Maryland and a scare by Tulsa, UT has defeated 4 quality opponents: USC, TCU, Kansas State (road) and OU. But challenges remain vs. West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech and the always tough Iowa State.

Predictions: I was 4-0 vs. the spread, and 3-1 straight up (missed the OU game).
Straight up: 15-7, spread: 11-10.

October 7, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

College Football Predictions

Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas (yes, I watched this in person a couple of times)

OU is favored by 8; Texas has a 26.7 percent chance via ESPN. OU has had a couple of hard fought wins: 37-27 over a tough Iowa State team, and an overtime win over Army. They’ve blown away UCLA, Florida Atlantic (good record last year), and Baylor. UT has strong high profile wins over TCU and USC; and tough wins over Kansas State and Tulsa (got leads and let the other team come back) and a loss at Maryland.

I have to pick OU; they do appear to be better but, UT is stronger than the teams that gave OU trouble, so I predict a close, rockem, sockem game. Pick OU to win, UT to cover.

Navy -3 over Air Force; this is a mismatch by the ESPN power index which gives Navy only a 40.3 percent shot at winning. We’ve seen that before. Air Force has lost 3 in a row..albeit to teams that aren’t as good as the teams that SMU lost to. Navy lost by 1 in overtime to SMU, defeated an FCS foe easily and has a nice win over Memphis..and a blowout loss to Hawaii in the opener.

It is at Air Force. But ESPN power index be damned; on paper Navy appears better. It should be close. I just have a bad feeling about this..but is this a fan’s pessimism? I have to pick the Falcons to win..and yes, cover. It would not surprise me if this went into overtime or was won on a break.

Notre Dame -6 at Virginia Tech. The ESPN index has ND with a 64.6 percent chance. Va. Tech had an easy win over Florida State, a blowout win over an FCS team and they creamed a good Duke team…and…had a very embarrassing loss at Old Dominion. ND had an unexpectedly close win vs. Ball State, a tough win vs. Vanderbilt and 3 impressive performances (Michigan, Stanford and against a decent Wake Forest team on the road). ND appears to be rolling but Tech will play them hard. Still, maybe 7 points? I pick ND to cover …barely.

Illinois at Rutgers: battle for a Big Ten win? Rutgers has been dreadful. Period. Illinois..well…Illini fans are crowing about..a 39 point loss at home to Penn State? Oh goodness.
The Illini opened as 1.5 point favorites and now the line has moved to 4.5 to 5 points; the ESPN index says 62.8 percent. But this is the Illini’s first road game of the year and last year, they laid an egg on the road. The Illini can run the ball well..but cannot stop anyone.

Rutgers seems to have gotten worse from last year and the Illini, well, aren’t good, but aren’t quite as dreadful. Maybe the Illini win by, oh, 7?

So my picks: straight up: OU, AF, ND, Illini. Cover: Texas, AF, ND, Illini.

What I predicted last weekend:

Texas -9 at Kansas State (81.4 percent UT by ESPN)
K-state has gotten blown away by power 5 competition and has only a narrow win over an FCS team and a comfortable win vs. UTSA. UT has done much better. BUT after two big wins in high profile games with OU looming, is this a trap game?

UT to win; K-State..a bad team..to cover.

Stanford + 5.5 at ND. Don’t know; Battle of undefeated teams; Stanford has beaten SDST (only loss), USC (not so hot) and had some good bounces vs. Oregon. ND: defeated Michigan, 2 narrow wins against “meh” competition and a blowout win against a not-so-good team.

I’d have to say that Stanford’s resume is better, though ND usually wins this game in South Bend. Got to go with my mind, not my heart.

Stanford to win and cover.

Win: UT, Stanford.
Cover: K-state, Stanford.

My season record so far: 12-6 straight up, 7-10 vs. the spread. Being a fan of these teams, I am prone to betting emotionally …in either direction. If I were to bet real money, I wouldn’t bet on these teams.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | college football | Leave a comment

Watching dreams die

I’ve been fascinated by this topic for a long time; here is a post that I wrote 13 years ago.

What I am talking about: a young person grows up and maybe has a bit of success at something, be it academic, say, musical or in acting, or sports. They see the world around them and see the most successful getting public adoration and start thinking…”hey, that could be me!”

And the people around them..in an attempt to pump up their confidence, encourage them. The result is predictable.

And yes, it is common…students routinely spout out lofty goals…and I smile and think to myself “if you achieve even 10 percent of that…you would have been successful.”

I posted some stuff about my life in the above link. The “TL;DR” version: making the varsity as a 10’th grader at a small high school doesn’t not mean that better things are ahead. And merely getting a Ph. D. from a genuine R-1 university in a STEM field is decent…but few of these are destined for science or mathematical greatness. I wasn’t.

And I see this is sports. I remember reading the account of a Hall of Fame football player’s son finding out that while his son was good enough to start for a SEC school (an awesome achievement), he simply wasn’t NFL material.

I remember watching a heavyweight boxing match. A prospect was making his first step to higher competition (but below “contender” competition). But he didn’t have it; the journeyman he was facing had little trouble with him…and afterward the boxer broke down and cried..realizing that his dream would be forever out of reach.

And I am seeing it in a former college player. He came to a Big Ten university having been “all state” in high school. But as time went on..his playing time went up, peaked..and went down in his senior year as he was beaten out by new prospects. But still, he had NFL dreams and the local media carried stories about his quest to get noticed by the NFL (participated in his university’s “pro day”…he talked about “IF he got drafted” or “what teams he might be called to try out for”.

Reality: he was not getting many snaps for a 2-10 team that failed to win any conference games. True, an Ohio State or Alabama might have 2-deep NFL talent at some positions, but not 2-10 teams, especially when they are coached by someone who has proven ability to recognize NFL talent.

And so the calls never came..and now he is on Twitter still begging NFL teams for a chance that will never come.

Facing up to “it is over..time to do something else” is very, very tough to do.

And yes, I’ve had to make adjustments at my profession.

Workout notes: weights and a 2 mile walk.
I was a bit bloated; 194.5 but..well, TMI…
PT, pull ups 5-5-5, 15, 10, 10, bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 6 x 170 (out of gas), 10 x 135 incline, military: 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets with 10 x 50 dumbbell.
plank, headstand.

October 1, 2018 Posted by | college football, NFL, Personal Issues, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

The dam breaks: Penn State deluges Illinois 63-24

Last week, the Illini could not hang on and were outscored 18-0 in the 4’th quarter. This time, they were playing a better team (no. 10 Penn State). And this time, they were outscored 35-0. NOT a misprint. Yes, this did include two scores off of turn-overs and two garbage time touchdowns.

And last week, they gave up 626 yards of offense. This time, it was “only” 591 (387 ground, 204 pass).

BUT with all of this…the Illini were only down 21-17 at the half.

Yes, Penn State was moving the ball easily but Illinois had some drives of their own…and had two turn-overs.

Then in the 3’rd quarter the Illini took the opening drive (ok, and were helped by a roughing the passer call on a 3’rd down stop) and scored to go ahead! 10 minutes into the 3’rd quarter, an Illini team that had been knocked around up and down the field LEAD!

Then came a 42-0 avalanche consisting of long runs, passes, interception returns, etc.

How it went down

Penn State had no trouble driving the ball on its opening drive, but then fumbled deep in Illini territory after a caught pass. No problem; they got the ball back and had a snappy drive.

But the Illini actually have a credible ground game and used it; they tied the game at 7.

Then both teams missed field goals..and Penn State *appeared* to take control with two drives to go up 21-7 in the second.

But the Illini answered with another “play fast and run” drive…at we had a one score game!

With 37 seconds to go Penn State had the ball fairly deep in their own territory but elected to try to pass; it was intercepted! The Illini cashed in with a quick drive and field goal at it was only 21-17 at the half.

Then came the opening drive in the 3’rd quarter that had the (few) fans buzzing (only 34,700 tickets were sold in a 60,000 seat stadium)

Then came the avalanche.

First, Penn State answered with a long drive capped by a 48 yard touchdown run to take the lead for good. Then came another drive that bled into the 4’th quarter and it was now 35-24.

The Illini tried to rally but threw a flukey interception (ball batted upward by a falling receiver). Penn State struck quickly with a touchdown pass and it was now 42-24 and the rout was on.

A final credible attempt ended with a futile long FG attempt on 4’th and 11 (a make would have cut it to 2 touchdowns) and that lead to still another Penn State score (49-24), this time it was a 2 play drive, capped by a 61 yard run by the “other” good back.

Now it really got ugly. Illinois failed on a 4’th down giving Penn State a short field (at their own 46) and they promptly cashed in, with most of the damage coming on a 44 yard pass to the Illini 1 thrown by the backup quarterback. Note: the drive was extended by a blatant personal foul (hitting the receiver after the ball was well, well past him) on 3’rd down.

56-24.

Then came an intercepted pass (thrown by the backup Illinois quarterback) that was run to the Illini 10; Penn State’s backups punched it in to make it 63-24.

Analysis Illinois fans (at least some) are desperately trying to hang on to the fact that the Illini lead in the 3’rd quarter, but I’ve seen that before. Example: in 1993, ND finished no. 2 in the nation. At half time, Navy lead Notre Dame 24-17. ND won 58-27. This was very similar.

What I saw was an Illinois team that has a decent running game, but is physically overmatched. Time again, the Illinois players were were they should be, but the Penn State player was just better.

Highlights and breakdown

Photo album

Breath taking views prior to the game (sunset)

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Another Grange Grove sunset.

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Barbara went with me this time.

Early action

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Underway in the first.

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Still only 7-0.

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Though it was not packed at the beginning,

But at 42-24 it really started to empty:

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42 to 24. Fans fleeing.

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Illinois football is hard on the stomach.

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Staff cleaning up vomit. 49 to 24.

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Fans gone but there was still one Penn State score to go.

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Empty. 56 to 24 3 minutes to go.

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College football notes
I ended up with egg on my face, with regards to predictions.
Navy lost 31-30 to an SMU team who had played a difficult schedule (a strong North Texas team, TCU and Michigan), Illinois failed to cover (though they looked good midway through the 4’th), Texas played well and whipped TCU 31-16, and ND blasted Wake Forrest 56-27. So I was 2-2 straight up, and 0-4 for the spread (11-5 straight up, 6-9 vs. the spread).

September 23, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

College football: week 4

From my Facebook:

Penn State at Illinois: yes, you can get in for under 10 dollars.

Line: PSU by 28, ESPN: PSU has a 95.2 percent chance of winning. Key factor: PSU hosts Ohio State the next weekend. Guess: lack of interest plus PSU going vanilla and perhaps declining a late score keeps the score down to, say, a 24 point spread.

Note: Illinois held off Kent State to win 31-24 (Kent was first and goal at the Illini 5 with 2 minutes to go; PSU beat Kent 63-10.

TCU at Texas: interesting mismatch between the ESPN power index (gives UT a 60.7 percent chance of winning) and the spread (favors TCU by 3). UT is coming off a big win vs. USC; TCU lost to Ohio State (off of defensive TDs).

I do not see UT winning this game.
Note: get in price is about 41 dollars here..interesting given TCU is a better team than USC.

Notre Dame at Wake Forrest: ND favored by 7.5, ESPN index is 70.9 percent for ND.

Wake had a tough loss to Boston College this season. Frankly, I see another competitive game for ND…narrow win.

Navy at SMU: sort of a mismatch with the ESPN power index (Navy: 50.5 percent chance..but is favored by 6.5)

SMU is winless and has gotten lit up by good teams: North Texas (who IS good this year; ask Arkansas who they blew out), TCU and Michigan. Navy has one loss and is coming off an easy game vs. Lehigh.

Will SMU have anything in the tank for this one? I think that Navy wins and covers.

Win: Penn State, TCU, ND, Navy
Spread: Illinois + 28, TCU -3, Wake plus 7.5, Navy -6.5

Season record: 9-3 straight up, 6-5 vs. point spread (no spread for one game)

September 20, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | Leave a comment

College football comment

Here is what I said about this weekend’s action:

South Florida – 10 at Illinois (Chicago). This is a mismatch from the ESPN power index which gives USF a 65.7 percent chance. Last year: USF was a 16.5 point favorite and won 47-23, covering easily.
Personally, I think that Illinois MIGHT be getting too much credit, being a Big Ten team and USF being an AAC team (non-power 5, technically).

BUT, in their first game, USF cruised 34-14 over Elon (no. 12 in the FCS); they lead 31-0 midway through the 3’rd. So while Illinois also beat an FCS team 34-14, it was 24-14 going into the 4’th with Western Illinois driving. Illini scored on a punt block, set up a TD on an “almost pick 6” (to the 3) and another field goal via a fumble. USF vs. Elon: total yards were 515-234. In the Illinois vs. Western, it was 376-361.

The other game: USF beat a tough Georgia Tech team 49-38 whereas Illinois escaped a terrible Kent State team 31-24, with total yards being 469-453.

Even more worrisome is that USF’s receiving corps is outstanding and the Illini secondary is suspect.

I am excited about the game, but, objectively, well, 41-20 USF looks about right to me, UNLESS they are overconfident. And yes, way back in 2013, Illinois demolished a decent Cincinnati team 45-17 on its way to a 4-8 record. But that team had more offensive punch than this one and a more established quarterback.

So, I have to pick USF to win and cover.

Vanderbilt + 14.5 at ND: ESPN gives ND an 88.8 percent chance of winning. Both teams are 2-0 with ND beating Michigan 24-17 and stopping Ball State 24-16. Vanderbilt rolled over Middle Tennessee 35-7 (MTSU was a bowl team last year..Sun Belt) and Nevada 41-10 (they were bad last year). This might be hard; ND is a step up in competition for Vanderbilt and so ND should win. But Vanderbilt is an SEC team that might well be bowl bound..this game might be competitive.

I pick ND to win but Vanderbilt to cover the wide spread. They are NOT that bad.

Lehigh at Navy: (no line; Navy 96.8 percent) Leigh is a so-so FCS team who had a narrow win over a 5-6 FCS team (St. Francis) in the opener and was dominated by Villanova in their second game. Navy is coming off of an emotional win over Memphis but has too much talent for Lehigh, I think. I see a comfortable Navy win.

USC + 3.5 at Texas (ESPN: 55.9 percent for Texas) Texas lost at Maryland and beat Tulsa, narrowly. USC was dominated by Stanford 17-3 but beat UNLV easily (43-21). This is a big game at Texas with tickets being priced at over 80 dollars (per Vivid Seats). But how will that work; Texas has been very average against bad to so-so teams and USC did get dominated..by a team that is much better than Texas.

Ugh.toss up. Will pressure to beat an average team with a big name get to UT? I am really unsure.

Let’s say Texas wins by 4? But I wouldn’t bet a penny on this game, either way. [..]

My picks: straight up: USF, ND, Navy, Texas (very reluctantly). Cover: USF, Vanderbilt, (no line for Navy), Texas

So, how did I do: Straight up: 4-0 to move to 9-3 for the season, and 2-1 vs. the spread to move to 6-5 for the season. I figured that ND vs. Vanderbilt would be tough and that Navy would roll vs. Lehigh. Illinois holding USF to 25 points surprised me, and Texas rolling as easily as they did surprised me. I’ll check in later this week with regards to next week’s action, though I’ll say this right now: I think that Penn State is going to cream us.

I am a bit surprised that Texas vs. TCU tickets aren’t more expensive. Interestingly, both teams are coming off of emotional games, though TCU played a much tougher opponent.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | college football | Leave a comment

South Florida vs. Illinois in Chicago: barnburner.

I had made two predictions: 41-20, USF and 41-24. Basically, I expected the South Florida offense to roll over the Illini defense. And in total yards, it WAS 626-380, South Florida (215 rushing, 411 passing). But nevertheless, the Illini lead 16-7 at the half and 19-7 early in the 4’th quarter.

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In. #ILLINI

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Get off me! #ILLINI

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But games are 4 quarters long and in the 4’th, USF decided to go with the deep passing game and that did the trick. Still, they didn’t score the go ahead touchdown (and 2 point conversion) with 2:24 to go and even then, the Illini rallied to get to the 20 yard line and was throwing into the end zone as time expired.

Overall, it was a good effort from Illinois: on offense, the freshman quarterback managed the game well and, aside from one fumble on a hand off, didn’t do anything to get his team beat. The offensive line opened holes and the running backs found found them. (212 rushing yards; one RB over 100 and one just under).

The kicking game was outstanding; 4 times, the punter pinned USF at or inside their 20. The field goal kicker went 4-4, including a 41, 46 and 53 yard fg’s.

Defensively; the pass rush knocked down several passes and forced some motion penalties. Several times, USF drives stalled inside of Illini territory. And the defense got 2 interceptions.

BUT: our quarterback was sacked 5 times, and several times, a 3-4 man rush got to the passer.
And yes, they did have all of those yards; they had no trouble moving the ball..and two missed field goals kept the score down a bit.

I was delighted to see the Illini score on their second possession and take a 7-0 lead. USF answered with a drive of their own..but subsequently, the Illini played great “bend but don’t break” defense and got just enough out of the running game (and got an interception) to set up 3 field goals and a 16-7 halftime lead.

3’rd quarter: a bit like the first two; another field goal (which bounced in) set the Illini up for an exciting finish.

But then USF started to finish their drives; touchdown (set up on busted coverage), field goal to cut the lead to 19-17 and then the very long busted coverage touchdown.

Still the Illini got the ball back and mixed it up well, getting the ball to the 20. But a sack forced the Illini to use their final time out and the final pass was overthrown (well defended).

Still, it was an exciting game.

Socially About visiting Soldier field: do not be fooled by the road that runs right next to the L tracks. That road is a bus short cut; you can not get to Soldier field from there. Walk on Michigan Ave. instead. A nice McCormick employee gave us a ride to the pedestrian bridge.

About where we sat: we were in the United Club 200 section. I do not recommend row 19 seats in the United Club. Why? Most of the sight lines in Soldier field are excellent. But on row 19, there is just a small extra platform lifting your seat above the row in front of you; if someone tall sits there, you will have trouble seeing. Rows 1-18 are fine. Fortunately, we were able to move due to the very sparse crowd (21,700 in a 62,000 seat stadium).

And as far as the United Club: frankly, the 200 level sears are Media Deck seats, PLUS the privilege of being able to go inside. So if you (or your companion) do not value the privilege of being able to go inside during the game ..the Media Deck seats offer the same view for about half of the cost.

Sadly, there weren’t many there. Illinois recent history, plus many other events (Cubs game Saturday and Sunday, plus Northwestern had a game that evening, plus the Bears on Monday night) kept the crowd down to fewer than 22,000.

Highlight videos:

My photos:

We got there in time to make the lunch buffet at the Nepal House.

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Pregame lunch. Already saw some South Florida fans.

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Both sets of fans had events:

USF had some very shiny helmets.

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Shiny helmets II.

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The band:

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Go Illini!

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We were ready:

Early action..and a sparse crowd:

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Sparse crowd though.

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The Illini did move the ball well for the first half:

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Illini in the red zone again!

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Second quarter. 16-7 Illini at the half.

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Shady seats were popular:

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Shaded seats are popular.

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Had the game ended at 57 minutes, I would have been happier:

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25-19 bad guys. 1:44 to go.

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September 16, 2018 Posted by | college football, travel | | Leave a comment