Archives for posts with tag: Pinstripe Bowl


Only 28.2 miles stands between Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and Maryland Stadium in College Park, but Saturday saw two seasons continue in opposite paths a world away.  Navy’s 35-28 win over No. 21 SMU continued the turnaround from last fall’s 3-10 disaster;  in the grand scheme of things amidst an era of bowl bids, conference contention and Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies 2018 will be regarded as an isolated incident.  That’s what you get with the sturdy foundation of a program that’s been in place for a decade-plus.  The Midshipmen still have bigger games:  the trip to Houston has AAC West implications and the annual game with Army means dealing with their recent slide in the rivalry, but head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s offseason mission- modify the program while embracing its culture-has been a successful one that has shown immediate results.

The road to recovery at Maryland is only just underway for head coach Mike Locksley, and despite a 2-0 start in September the reality is that this program is in a serious rebuild.  Saturday’s 54-7 loss to a slumping Nebraska fighting for bowl eligibility shined the spotlight on many deficiencies, the most apparent the turnovers and penalties that crop up at the most inopportune times. “You don’t win games when you beat yourself,” Locksley said. “And I’ll keep saying this: when we learn to not beat ourselves first that’s when we’ll start turning the corner, and get back to the winning football that we need to play.”  Winning football has been the isolated incident this decade, with the team not finishing over .500 in conference play since 2010.  And for the 16 seniors who played their last game in College Park Saturday, the culture has been one of upheaval.  A fifth-year senior has played for three head coaches and two interim coaches.  Nobody said it was going to be easy, and the road ahead for Mike Locksley will certainly have many more bumps, twists and turns before he has the program where he wants it.


National Notebook:  “You love her, and she loves him. He loves somebody else, you just can’t win.”  The Pac-12 completed its version of the J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” with No. 6 Oregon’s loss to Arizona State.  Perhaps I should have referred to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” because the Pac-12 did not break it.  You see:  the Ducks lost to the Sun Devils, who fell to UCLA, who lost to Oregon State, who came up short against Utah, who lost at USC, who couldn’t beat Washington, who succumbed to Stanford, who came up short against Colorado, who wilted against Washington State, who fell to Cal, who lost to Oregon, who–we’ll we’re now back to square one.  Good news for Alabama, who despite not being able to play for their conference championship naturally is in the mix to play for the national one.  Bad news for the only conference that plays nine league games while also having a name that accurately refers to the amount of schools in its membership.  Utah at 10-1?  The 13-member committee snickers at the thought.  One thing’s for sure, Pac-12 love stinks.


Alma Mater Update- dreams of another Pinstripe Bowl banner went up flames with a 56-34 loss at Louisville.  Everything we knew about this season showed its face, from an offense that put up decent stats but converted just 6 of 15 third downs to a defense that allowed over 600 yards.  The Orange will wrap up their lost autumn by hosting Wake Forest;  the decade that saw three head coaches comes to a close the the verdict out on the Dino Babers era.


Virginia (8-3) came off of their bye week and took a while to find themselves before pulling away from Liberty, retaking the lead with two quick scores late in the first half to enter the locker room by ten before rolling 55-27.  The season of possibilities leaves them 60 minutes away from a Coastal Division crown.  We’ll worry about the ghosts of Octobers past later in the week.

Cavalier Congrats:  Bryce Perkins throws for two scores and runs for a third, while PK Kier nets 82 yards and a touchdown rushing.  DeVante Cross tallies two interceptions, returning the picks back for 35 and 52 yards to set up a pair of TD’s. Aaron Faumui notches a sack and a half.  Seneca Milledge shines on special teams, averaging 32.5 yards per kickoff return.

Cavalier Concerns:  the defense that began the season by holding three of its first four foes to under 20 points has allowed 29 points per game over the last month.

Next: Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Virginia Tech. Actually, it’s not to early to worry.


Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2 ACC) continues to play the tortoise to UVa’s hare, setting up a showdown in Charlottesville for the Coastal Division crown with a 28-0 shutout of defending division champion Pitt.  That’s back to back shutouts for the first time since 2005, or the first year they won the Coastal.

Hokie Highlights:  can we salute retiring Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster one more time?  The defense held the Panthers to 2.2 yards er carry, 39% passing, and 3-15 on third down.  Rayshard Ashby notched 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks.  Norell Pollard returned a fumble for a touchdown.  Hendon Hooker completed 10-13 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns while freshman sparkplug Tayvion Robinson had a 32 yard run and a 71 yard catch.

Hokie Humblings:  the running game ran aground, gaining just 110 yards on 48 tries.  Even adjusted for sacks, the ground attack averaged 3.0 yards per carry which contributed to moving the chains on 3 of 12 third downs.  Seven penalties for 54 yards certainly won’t go unnoticed by head coach Justin Fuente.

Next: Friday at 3:30 in Charlottesville against Virginia. Many Hokies fans count this as a home game.


Maryland (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) had two weeks to prepare for a slumping Nebraska team that had lost four straight while allowing 35 points per game during that slide.  But the Terps never got in gear, as two lost fumbles put 10 first quarter points on the board and the Cornhuskers would score on four of their first vie drives en route to a 54-7 rout.

Terrapin Triumphs:  Javon Leake scored the Terps’ lone touchdown on a 58-yard scamper for a score. Nick Cross kept even more Nebraska points off of the board with an interception in the end zone.  Keandre Jones led the defense with 10 tackles and Colton Spangler averaged 41.8 yards per punt.

Terrapin Tumbles:  Javon Leake lost three fumbles while freshman quarterback Lance LeGendre lost a fumble as well; the freshman QB’s drop occurred on the same play he injured his non-throwing shoulder.  Three other quarterbacks would see action, with the quartet completing 7 of 21 passes for 57 yards while getting sacked six times.  Josh Jackson also got banged up.  The defense allowed 305 yards rushing while permitting the Cornhuskers to complete 63% of their passes.  Special teams saw a fumbled kickoff and a leaping penalty during a punt;  each led to Nebraska scores.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at 5-6 Michigan State.


Navy (8-2, 6-1 AAC) may have finished 6-0 at home this year, but they certainly kept the home fans on the edge of their seats this fall.  While the comeback in the final minute against Air Force avenged last year’s loss in Colorado Springs and the field goal in the final seconds to top Tulane made them bowl eligible, the 35-28 win over No. 21 SMU put the Midshipmen in position to win the AAC West.  If they’re able to win at sub-500 Houston and Memphis falls to 9-1 Cincinnati, the Mids advance to their second AAC title game in four years.

Midshipman Medals:  Malcolm Perry rushes for 195 yards and two touchdowns (including the 70-yard game winning scamper) while also completing 9 of 15 passes for 162 yards and a TD.  This was the expanded passing game we were told about in August, and it picked the perfect time to show itself.  the Mids rush for 378 yards while maintaining possession for over 39 minutes.

Midshipman Miscues- a pair of big plays kept this one close:  the defense allowed a 61 yard touchdown pass while special teams surrendered a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD.  The offense converted just 6 of 17 third downs. Five penalties for 31 yards doesn’t seem like a lot, but they were flagged more than the Mustangs.

Next: Saturday at 7 p.m. on the road against 4-7 Houston. 


Second ranked Ohio State’s 49-20 loss at Purdue (shades of the Buckeyes 55-24 loss to Iowa that kept OSU out of the College Football Playoff last year) robbed the Big Ten of its last standing unbeaten, meaning there are only three Division I FBS conferences to have at least one school still perfect on the season.  Alabama remains heads and shoulders above the pack in the SEC after trashing Tennessee 58-21 while Clemson showed that the ACC is currently its personal playpen in a 41-7 thumping of previously unbeaten (but untested) NC State.  Notre Dame is without a loss as well as without a league, clinging to its independent status because not sharing TV revenue is the proper thing to do.  That leaves the American Athletic Conference and not one but two unbeatens:  UCF and South Florida (a third unbeaten in the AAC-Cincinnati-fell for the first time this past Saturday).  The Knights and Bulls meet on the final weekend of the regular season, and while South Florida plays three of its next four games on the road it’s nice to at least dream about a November showdown of unbeatens.  Even if it’s not in a Power Five Conference.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange sent the alums home happy after posting a 40-37 double overtime victory over North Carolina.  Yes, the Tar Heels currently occupy the Coastal Division Cellar–but they beat Pitt and the Panthers got past the Orange in OT earlier this month.  Tommy DeVito once again came off the bench to lead SU to victory… and even though the defense once again had its issues they played just well enough.  At 5-2 the Orange have already surpassed their win totals in the first two years of the Dino Babers regime.  And while the D isn’t earning an A, they’ve improved each year (120th nationally in 2016, 99th last year and 70th this fall).  Pinstripe Bowl possibilities are in the air.

Maryland (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) faced 40 MPH winds at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium Saturday.  Unfortunately they also faced a relentless Hawkeyes defense and got shut out 23-0 to begin the second half of their season.  Terrapin Triumphs: Tre Watson tallied 15 tackles and an interception (the team’s 15th takeway of the season) as the defense held Nate Stanley to 86 yards passing one week after he threw for six touchdowns.  Terrapin Troubles: the offense was held to a season-low 115 total yards and had possession of the ball for just 19 minutes.  While the running game averaged just a shade under three yards per carry, the pass attack misfired (6-of-16 while gaining 2.9 yards per attempt).  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 3-4 Illinois.

Virginia (5-2, 3-1 ACC) combatted its recent road woes (0-2 this year, 3-10 since Bronco Mendenhall took over) and defeated Duke 28-14.  Can the Commonwealth Cup game against Virginia Tech the day after Thanksgiving actually become the defacto Coastal Division championship game?  Cavalier Congrats:  Bryce Perkins ran for two touchdowns while passing for score.  Olamide Zachheus caught 10 passes.  Chris Peace notched seven tackles and two and a half sacks while the defense intercepted Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones twice.  Lester Coleman averaged 44.5 yards per punt.  Cavalier Concerns:  Perkins did little to stretch the field with his arm, averaging under ten yards per completion.  The defense gave up a pair of big plays for touchdowns, allowing 22 and 46 yard strikes.  Brian Delaney missed two of four field goal attempts.  Next:  Saturday at 12:20 p.m. at home against 1-5 North Carolina.

Navy (2-5, 1-3 AAC) led Houston by 10 points in the first half before the Cougars went on a 35-point run;  UH scored the first three times they had the ball after halftime and the Mids fall 49-36.  The road to bowl eligibility just got quite a bit tougher for coach Ken Niumatalolo and company.  Midshipman Medals:  Garret Lewis completed 9 of 13 passes for 135 yards and  a touchdown…with a favorite target emerging in Taylor Jackson (5 catches for 120 yards and a score).  Malcolm Perry tallied 97 yards rushing from his old slotback position.  Sean Williams led a defense that notched two takeaways with seven tackles.  Midshipman Miscues:  the defense failed to register a sack on 39 Houston pass attempts, and allowed Houston to convert 8 of 10 third downs.  The Cougars averaged 6.3 yards per carry and over 10 yards per pass attempt while rolling up 570 total yards.  Next: Saturday night at 8 p.m. in San Diego against #3 Notre Dame.


The Texas State Fair is…like everything else in the Lone Star State, completely and ridiculously overblown.  And that’s what gives the fair its unquestionable charm. Its proper name is “The State Fair of Texas” for those sticklers and usually begins the last Friday in September while lasting for 24 days.  The food…well, lets just say you don’t often run into “Deep-fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick” on many menus.  Since 1929 the centerpiece of the event has been the Texas-Oklahoma football game…which has evolved from an inter-conference showdown (a moment of silence for the Southwest and Big Eight Conferences, please?) to a Big 12 battle for what recently has been 3rd or 4th place in the conference.  Twelve times this century the two schools have been ranked…with four of those years featuring the Sooners and Longhorns each in the top five.  That will not be the case this October…as both teams are 2-2 after giving up a mountain of points (35ppg by OU and 41ppg by UT).  Both have coaches on respective hot seats…and fan bases with selective memories about glory days gone by.  You might be best served by skipping the game entirely and enjoying the “Deep Fried Pulled Pork Funyuns Dings”.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange try to recover from coughing up 50 points to Notre Dame.  With seven games remaining, the hopes are still out there for a Pinstripe Bowl Berth but SU’s remaining opponents are a combined 25-10.  This week they visit surprising Wake Forest (4-1…already with more wins than the Demon Deacons had all last year).  They were held to 7 points in the season opener by Tulane…and could be a sight for the sore eyes of a defense that has been gashed early and often this fall.  Just stay relevant until basketball season gets underway…


Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (3-2, 1-1), noon, Big Ten Network.  Let me start by saying this is NOT A RIVALRY.  The Nittany Lions do not have rivals.  It even said so on last year’s media guide cover: “UNRIVALED”.  The school repeated said mantra when facing non-conference but in-state foes Pitt and Temple earlier this year…and printed “UNRIVALED” atop this week’s preview materials.  Never mind that these two schools reside in states bordering one another…and compete over many of the same recruits  Never mind that these two teams have traded a pair of one-point victories in the other schools backyards the last two years.  Never mind that the former coach-in-waiting in College Park is the guy running the show in State College.  What is certain is that Penn State has issues stopping the run (12th in the Big Ten) while the Terps lead the conference in yards per carry (a robust 6.5 per attempt).  Offensively the Nittany Lions are the worst team in the league at converting third downs…and will have issues containing a pass rush that averages 3.5 sacks per game.  Terrapins triumph, 28-17.

Navy (3-1, 2-0 AAC) vs #6 Houston (5-0, 2-0), 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network.  The Midshipmen have to bounce back not only from a tough loss at Air Force, but also a tough loss to their defense as linebacker Daniel Gonzales (co-captain and second-leading tackler) is done for the season with a foot injury.  Very bad news when preparing to face a Cougars offense led by Greg Ward Jr. (71% completion rate, 331 passing yards per game and 8 TD tosses this fall).  Even with senior quarterback Will Worth playing well, Navy lives and dies by its running game and the Cougar D is the stingiest in the AAC on third down (allowing conversions 26% of the time) and leads the AAC in fewest yards per carry allowed (1.6).  Midshipmen come up short, 36-14.

#25 Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) at #17 North Carolina (4-1, 2-0), 3:30 p.m.  HOW is this not on even one of the ESPN’s?  Instead ESPNU gives us Iowa State-Oklahoma State, two teams that have combined for six losses this fall.  The former bully of the Coastal Division block (five division titles from 2005-11) meets the reigning division champ.  UNC is coming off one heck of a win over Florida State while the Hokies had last weekend off.  The Tar Heels are led by QB Mitch Trubisky (76% completion rate, 13 TD’s and no interceptions) but boast a defense that’s been extremely accommodating this fall (allowing 32 points per game).  Can coach Justin Fuente’s consistently uneven ground game click against the worst run defense in the ACC?  Hokies hang on, 33-30.

Virginia (2-3, 1-0 ACC) has the week off…meaning Kippy & Buffy turn their attention from rooting madly (with dignity) for their Cavaliers to boarding up the cottage in the Outer Banks.  This weekend’s weather system forced their hand, as they had to burn a personal day during the week.  What won’t change is the sparkling wine and caviar that accompanies the annual boarding-up…that would be sacrilege.  This year Kippy & Buffy toast another great summer by enjoying a bottle of Veritas Vineyard & Winery Scintilla:  “Characteristically the wine is made in a Brut style (less than 12g/L). Fresh bubbles of Meyer lemon fill the palate with a delicate mousse that fades into a lasting finish.”  Cheers…

Howard falls to Monmouth, Georgetown beats Princeton, James Madison beats William & Mary, Richmond falls at Albany, Towson slips to Stony Brook, Morgan State beats Savannah State.

Last Week: 7-2.

Overall 37-7.