November is for Closers in college football.  You can have a great coming out party Labor Day weekend and dazzle the world for two months…but in order to reach one’s goals you have to produce in the money month.  For Ohio State, that means turning a fortunate spot into an overtime victory.  For Louisville, that means watching a storybook season turn sour the last two weeks with disappointing defeats.  Lessons were learned down the stretch by the area schools as well:  Maryland survived its November nightmare to punch a ticket to the postseason, Virginia Tech returned to making travel plans to a pair of postseason games, Navy staked its claim on a January appearance and Virginia learned it has a way to go before becoming competitive.  Closing Month is in the books.  Bring on “I can’t believe there are this many bowl games” month…

Presto’s Pipe Dream Playoff- Yes, I know that there’s just a four team playoff.  But in the world where Ted’s wife didn’t die in the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, eight schools advance to December’s Dance.  We send the five major conference winners plus three wildcards (sorry, Western Michigan- you make the 16-team field that only exists in the world where George Lazenby does more than one James Bond film).  So with a five automatic bids to be decided this weekend here is where we stand…:

#1 Alabama and #2 Ohio State would appear to be safe…as even a loss by the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game would be bad enough to drop them below the Buckeyes or a 2-loss team for one of the wildcards.  Same case with the idle 11-1 Buckeyes. The Big Ten and Pac 12 title tilts as well as the Big 12 matchup between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are virtual elimination games as well.  All the while #5 Michigan sits, waits and watches to see if they fall any further (for example, Virginia Tech or Florida upset wins would certainly result in Alabama or Clemson getting a wildcard over the non-division winning Wolverines)…and there’s a disaster scenario that may bounce the Tigers.  Isn’t this what we want…high-leverage football games in December determining who plays on and who stays home?  At the very worst, you could bump the championship games to Thanksgiving Weekend and move the rest of the schedule up one week-I’m sure the 30,220 who attended Maryland-Rutgers wouldn’t mind getting that game out of the way a week earlier to concentrate on hoops.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange lost 64-50 and 76-61 Saturday…and the latter score was the football result.  Props to Amba Etta-Tawo for enjoying a fantastic senior season for SU…and hopefully the defense will get better between now and next fall.  A lot better as the 4-8 Orange deal with an early hibernation.


Maryland (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) became bowl-eligible with a 31-13 rout of Rutgers.  The Terps scored on their second play from scrimmage and never trailed…sending the Scarlet Knights to the first 0-9 Big Ten season since Indiana in 1984.

Terrapin Triumphs: Ty Johnson rushed for 168 yards…while the team tallied 318 yards on the ground (at 7.1 yards per carry).  The defense sacked Giovanni Rescigno seven times.  Jermaine Carter Jr. tallied 15 tackles, 2 sacks and a recovered a fumble he forced inside the 10-yard line.  The return game was a difference-maker early, as D.J. Moore’s 35-yard return of the opening kickoff set up the first score and Teldrick Morgan’s 83-yard punt return gave the Terps more points in the first quarter than they had in their three previous games combined.

Terrapin Troubles:  As good as the offensive line was in opening holes for the running game, they had issues protecting the passer at Perry Hills was sacked four times.  One of the reasons why the offense converted just 4 of 13 third down attempts.  Adam Greene missed two field goal attempts (46 and 34-yarders) before Mike Shinsky replaced him and nailed a 41-yarder.  Nine penalties for 60 yards helped keep this one closer than it should have been.

Next:  It’s wait and see as the Big Ten could get one or two teams in the playoff…affecting the pecking order of which school goes to which bowl.  SB Nation has the Terps tangling with Georgia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl…while CBS’ Jerry Palm has them facing Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl.


#19 Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2 ACC) had already clinched the Coastal Division when it took to the field against Virginia (2-10, 1-7 ACC) Saturday, thanks to North Carolina’s loss to NC State.  It didn’t look like the Hokies were playing just for pride in the 52-10 thumping of the Cavaliers-the 13th straight win in the series by the boys from Blacksburg.

Hokie Highlights:  Senior fullback Sam Rogers rushed for a career-high 105 yards and two touchdowns.  Jerod Evans threw for two scores and ran for a third while breaking Logan Thomas’ school record for total yardage in a season.  Andrew Motuapuaka tallied six tackles, an interception and returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown.

Hokie Humblings: Tough to find any in a 42-point thumping of an in-state rival, but Joey Slye missed a 45-yard field goal attempt and Mitch Ludwig averaged under 35 yards per punt.

Next:  Saturday in Orlando at 8 p.m. against #3 Clemson (11-1, 7-1) in the ACC Championship Game.

Cavalier Congrats:  Taquan Mizzell concluded his career with 113 yards rushing, finishing just 60 yards shy of 1,000 for the season.  Micah Kiser notched 14 tackles while Quinton Blanding added 12 stops with a fumble recovery.  Nicholas Conte averaged 42.3 yards over his ten punts (10!).

Cavalier Concerns: the quarterback carousel from the Mike London Magic Eight Ball days returned, with neither Matt Johns nor Kurt Benkert able to move the offense until the second half (3 for 16 on third down).

Next:  A full offseason of evaluating and a new recruiting class.


#20 Navy (9-2, 7-1 AAC) perhaps did some location scouting before and after its 75-31 win over SMU…as the Mids could very well wind up in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl.  They still have to win their conference championship game to solidify a spot…and then there’s that Army game the following week.

Midshipman Medals:  How about 600 yards of total offense?  Will Worth shined again with 107 yards and three touchdowns rushing (he also passed for a TD).  They did not punt at all…again (Virginia’s Nicholas Conte must be shaking his head at that fact).  The defense tightened up and allowed just 7 points in the second half while intercepting the Mustangs twice after intermission.  Micah Thomas tallied 10 tackles and Nnamdi Uzoma notched two sacks.

Midshipman Miscues: Even with a great second half, it’s tough to ignore the 31 points put on the board by SMU.  They also went 12-19 on third down.  The Mids are fortunate they won’t have to face South Florida (the Bulls put 52 points on the board last month in Tampa) next weekend.

Next:  Saturday at noon against Temple (9-3, 7-1) in the AAC Championship Game.