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Random Thoughts (Part 2)

   by Larry Ness - 11/24/2004

All 32 teams were back in action for Week 11 (no more bye weeks the rest of the way!) and for the first time in seven weeks, NFL games averaged less than 40 PPG (38.3). Home 'dogs' took it on the chin going 0-7 SU and 0-6-1 ATS! Passing numbers are headed for an all-time high and 2004 has already seen QBs pass for four TDs or more in a game 20 times, the most-ever in a single season since the 1970 merger (with SIX weeks left!)....

Still, the teams running the ball effectively are the ones that are winning. The team getting the most rushing yards in a game are 117-42 SU and 108-46-5 ATS. The team with the most rushing attempts in a game are 123-33 SU and 112-39-5 ATS. Teams with 100-yard rushers have gone 85-21 SU and 79-25-2 ATS. In comparison, teams that have QBs pass for more than 300 yards in a game are just 21-28 SU and an even worse 16-31-2 ATS!...

Back when I was a kid, there was a HUGE rivalry between the AFL and NFL and then after the merger in 1970 it continued for at least a decade or so. I'm not sure there is much of any AFC or NFC loyalty these days as the landscape of all pro sports has changed dramatically....

However, there is little doubt this year that the AFC is the far superior conference in 2004. This past weekend, AFC teams went 4-2 SU and 5-0-1 ATS against NFC teams and the season series stands at 27-17 SU and 27-15-2 ATS in favor of the AFC....

While 9-1 Philadelphia can claim it is on a par with Pittsburgh and New England (both also 9-1), the Eagles are about the only NFC team that can. While the AFC has FIVE 7-3 teams behind the Steelers and Patriots, the NFC can claim only an 8-2 Atlanta team, that has scored just 14 more points than it has allowed, as the only team other than the Eagles to own a record of better than 6-4....

ODDITIES....Jacksonville (6-4) is the ONLY winning team that has allowed more points (181) than it has scored (166). Two teams with losing records have scored more points than they have allowed. They are the 3-7 Chiefs who have scored 276 points and allowed 265 and the 4-6 Bucs who have scored 192 points and allowed 182....

FIVE and FIVE....There are FIVE teams that won at least 10 games in 2003 that currently own losing records. The list includes 3-7 Carolina, 3-7 Dallas, 3-7 Kansas City, 1-9 Miami and 4-6 Tennessee. There are also FIVE teams that lost at least 10 games last season that currently own winning records. Those teams are 8-2 Atlanta, 6-4 Jacksonville, 7-3 NY Jets, 9-1 Pittsburgh and 7-3 San Diego....

CFB NOTES... While the college football season will have to wait until the first week in December to see if it will be left with FIVE unbeaten teams the college football's saddest season came to an end on Tuesday night in Orlando. Central Florida lost at home to Kent State 41-24, leaving the not-so-Golden Knights with a record of 0-11, the nation's LONE winless team (UCF has lost 15 straight going back to last year....

Former Pittsburgh Steeler QB Mike Kruczek, whose name has been prominently mentioned this year because of "Big Ben's" rookie successes with the Steelers this year, was fired towards the end of last season in Orlando. George O'Leary, of Notre Dame infamy, took over this year. O'Leary had done an excellent job at Ga Tech leading that school to five bowl games in seven years but then came the resume fiasco! Fellow handicapper Phil Steele, whose preseason work is as good as it gets, rated UCF as his 12th most improved team entering this year, so one has to question the job done by O'Leary?

DAMNED IF THEY DO, DAMNED IF THEY DON'T....Cal is hoping to ride its magical 9-1 season to a berth in the Rose Bowl this year for the first time since 1959. The trouble for Cal is that the Bears don't control their own destiny! Clearly they would have to win at Hattiesburg on December 4 but there are a number of scenarios that could send the Bears to the Holiday bowl....

Starting on Friday, the Bears don't know whether to root for Texas against Texas A&M or not. If the Longhorns win big, Texas is close enough to Cal in the latest BCS standings that it is conceivable that the Longhorns could move past Cal in the fourth spot, giving Texas not Cal, that guaranteed BCS spot. Also, if Texas loses, it opens the door for non-BCS schools Boise State and Louisville to possibly move into the sixth spot, thereby giving one of those schools an automatic bid and 'trumping' Cal's guaranteed spot at No. 4. Are you sick of this yet?...

Cal also has to worry about the UNTHINKABLE! That is, USC losing to either Notre Dame or UCLA. A Trojan loss would drop USC from a national title game appearance in the Orange Bowl to the Rose Bowl, as USC has already clinched the Pac-10 title by virtue of their 23-17 win over Cal!...

Then again, maybe Cal will just get LUCKY and have either Notre Dame or UCLA upset USC and have either Oklahoma or Auburn lose in the Big-12 or SEC championship games. Then, a win by Cal over Southern Miss on December 4 could put them in the national championship game. Hey, while I'm at it, why not have USC win out and have Oklahoma and Auburn BOTH lose? That would set up a USC-Cal rematch in the Orange Bowl!...

CLOSING THOUGHT....Colorado visits Nebraska on Friday. Colorado is already bowl eligible at 6-4 but needs a win to have a chance at the Big-12 North title (would then need an Iowa State loss on Saturday). As for the 5-5 'Huskers, they MUST win in order to avoid the school's first losing season since 1961!...

Was it just three years ago (2001) that Colorado beat an undefeated Nebraska team 62-36 in Boulder? That game set off a BCS controversy (there's something new!) that wound up placing Nebraska in the national title game against Miami-Florida over both Colorado and Oregon. By the way, the Big-10 champ that year was Illinois. If Colorado beats Nebraska on Friday, the Buffs will go 'bowling' but Nebraska and Oregon would both finish 2004 at 5-6. As for Illinois, its season is already complete at 3-8!...

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