Archives for posts with tag: Sal’s Birdland


The final week of September means many conferences begin league play in earnest…even though many schools like Navy and Virginia Tech have already played their conference openers and 12 of 14 SEC teams have had league games.  How do the Power Five stack up?

Big Ten: 30-8 with eight unbeatens, five ranked schools and three in the top ten.  Best win?  Michigan State at Notre Dame and Ohio State at Oklahoma were made for prime time, but Wisconsin’s 16-14 victory over LSU gives the Big Ten a leg up on their nemesis to the south.  Worst loss?  Northwestern’s defeats to Illinois State and Western Michigan are embarrassing for the conference but almost expected with the Wildcats history.  But then-#13 Iowa’s 23-21 defeat to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State robs the league of an unbeaten…and means the Hawkeyes don’t have the chance to sneak up on the nation like they did last year.

SEC: 27-7 with six unbeatens and eight ranked teams that includes #1 Alabama.  Best win?  Arkansas’ 41-38 shootout victory at then-#15 TCU.  Always nice to beat a former SWC doormat that thinks it’s royalty all of a sudden.  Worst loss?  Mississippi State’s 21-20 defeat to South Alabama.  We know the Bulldogs take aren’t the #1 school in the state and are a second-tier Bulldog in the conference, but South Alabama too?

ACC: 23-9 with five unbeatens and four ranked teams (most notably #3 Louisville and Heisman Trophy Candidate Lamar Jackson- yes that is his full name).  Best win?  Florida State’s 45-34 Labor Day rally past then-#11 Ole Miss.  Quieted the SEC jawing about how they’re so superior…for at least a few days.  Worst Loss? Syracuse’s 45-20 Homecoming humbling against South Florida after leading the Bulls 17-0.  I’ve also been told that they served ranch dressing with the wings at the Alumni Reception.

Pac-12: 23-9 with four unbeatens, three ranked schools and one hot mess in USC.  Best Win?  Cal’s comeback in a 50-43 triumph over then-#11 Texas.  Another classic 10:30 Saturday night special.  Worst Loss?  USC’s 52-6 dismemberment by #1 Alabama was tough to stomach, but how does Washington State lose 45-42 to Eastern Washington?  And then a 31-28 defeat at Boise State?  At least they pounded Idaho 56-6 (it was probably closer than the score would lead you to believe).

Big 12: 15-11 with two unbeatens (Baylor and West Virginia) and three ranked schools, none in the top 15.  Best win?  While Texas’ double-overtime win over then-#10 Notre Dame was pure theater, Baylor’s defeats of SMU and Rice brought you back to the Southwest Conference before rampant cheating blew that league apart.  Worst Loss?  So many options- from Oklahoma State falling to Central Michigan 30-27 on the game’s last play to Iowa State slipping to Northern Iowa 25-20.  When do they invite Houston into the league?


Maryland (3-0) and Navy (3-0, 2-0 AAC) both have the weekend off…and these early-season byes actually come at decent times for both teams.  Terps quarterback Perry Hills injured his shoulder in their double-overtime win over UCF…and an extra week to heal could spell the difference for a quarterback still looking to find his stride.  The Midshipmen get an extra week to practice for Air Force’s option…and another set of practices to get quarterback Will Worth reps with the first team offense.

Alma mater Update- Big East Flashback time has the Orange battling UConn  with memories of six overtimes and last-second Gerry McNamara shots.  SU hits the road for the first time under coach Dino Babers…possessing the #1 passing offense in the ACC but also being unable to stop anyone.  The Huskies have been the Cardiac Kids of college football this month– needing a late field goal to top Maine, coming up short on the last play of the game inside the Navy 5, and prevailing over Virginia when the Cavaliers kicker missed a rushed 20-yarder on the final play of the afternoon.  The Orange?  Their closest halftime score was an 11-point margin.  Might have to go breaded wings and wedges with Sal’s Birdland sassy sauce to mix things up this week…


Virginia Tech (2-1) entertains East Carolina- the Pirates have been a major pain to the Hokies as of late, with wins each of the last two seasons while both of the Hokies wins in the series this decade have come by a touchdown or less.  After three games coach Justin Fuente’s team leads the ACC in pass defense and total defense…they’ll need it against Pirates QB Philip Nelson (79% passing) and his top target Zay Jones (22 catches last weekend).  ECU almost beat South Carolina in Columbia last weekend…and is more than capable of leaving Blacksburg with a W.  Hokies hang on, 27-21.

Virginia (0-3) hosts Central Michigan- what sort of schedule is this?  They finally have a home game against a Non-Power Five FBS school and it’s the unbeaten Chippewas?  Let the record show that CMU’s win at Oklahoma State came on an untimed extra down  they shouldn’t have had…but Cooper Rush is directing an offense that averages 38 points per game.  If there’s one thing UVa doesn’t do well this fall it’s stop the pass (96th out of 127 FBS schools).  Kippy & Buffy wrap up their non-conference slate of white wines with Linden Vineyards 2015 Riesling Vidal: “floral, lavender and lemon zest aromas.  Palate is dry and dense with good length.”  Break out the Colby cheese on Club Crackers.  Cavaliers come up short, 38-34.


Howard falls to Morgan State, Georgetown beats Columbia, Richmond edges Colgate, William & Mary tops Elon, James Madison gets by Maine.

Last Week: 7-2.

Overall: 25-3.

College football fans–especially those west of  the Rockies–cursed Thursday evening when the unbeaten Oregon Ducks suffered their customary November loss to Stanford (I think it’s almost written in the schedule).  The world has been waiting for the fast-break Ducks to face Alabama for the title and provide a college football spectacle two wrap up the much-maligned BCS on a triumphant note.  Now Bama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor try not to blink over the next four weeks.  Looking at the remaining schedules– the top rated Tide play at 4-5 Mississippi St, host 8-2 Chattanooga and then visit 9-1 Auburn.  The tilt with the Tigers cold be the BCS-buster.  The second ranked Seminoles have an easier path–5-4 Syracuse, 1-9 Idaho and 4-5 Florida.  Ohio State?  The underbelly of 3-6 Illinois, 4-5 Indiana and a 6-3 Michigan team that’s dropped three of four.  Baylor has the toughest road:  8-1 Oklahoma State, 4-6 TCU and 7-2 Texas.  Which means plenty of scoreboard watching for one-loss teams like Stanford, Oregon, Clemson, Auburn AND Missouri.  Not to mention Chattanooga.


Alma Mater Update– it’s never a dull day watching the Orange play…even when they’re misfiring on both sides of the ball and racking up penalties like frequent-flier miles.  Terrell Hunt didn’t lose the game (which is always a possibility) and SU did just enough to stay on track for bowl eligibility as Pitt and Boston College are a combined 4-6 in the conference.  Pregame shenanigans involved brats and chips and dip–with Dave Keil winning MVP honors by bringing Sal’s Sassy Sauce.


Maryland let another chance to become bowl eligible slip through their fingers in a 20-3 loss to Syracuse.  And let’s just say there were plenty of windows of opportunity for the Terrapins to leap through– the Orange were called for 12 penalties (115 yards)…and on their lone scoring drive 35 of the 48 yards gained came from flags.  After a third straight loss…can this team bounce back?  Six wins never seemed so far away.  Terrapin Triumphs– Amba Etta-Tawo caught 6 passes for 109 yards… the defense held the Orange to 3 of 12 on third down…Sean Davis led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo stops).  Terrapin Troubles– on 13 drive-opening plays the team gained a combined 13 yards.  CJ Brown was sacked 3 times…tossed 2 interceptions and fumbled away a snap.  The defense coughed up an 80 yard march (over 7:54) to open the game.  A missed 42 yard field goal didn’t help.  Next:  Saturday at Virginia Tech.


Virginia not only got blown out 45-14 by North Carolina, they lost to the Tar Heels backup quarterback (Bryn Renner out of commission after shoulder surgery).  The Cavaliers not only dropped its 7th straight, but they also missed their last best chance to avoid going winless in the ACC.  And not only is the season lost, but UVa gets a bye week to think about it a little more.  And just to show that Syracuse isn’t the most penalty-plagued team in the country, UNC was whistled 13 times for 102 yards in the rout.  Cavalier Congrats– Kevin Parks notches his first 100 yard effort in almost a month… Anthony Harris notched his sixth interception of the season…Alec Vozenilek averaged over 40 yards a punt and placed a pair inside the 20 (yes– it’s so bad were scraping the punting barrel for positives).  Cavalier Concerns– allowing 162 yards on the Tar Heels’ first two drives of the game set the tone (and a double digit deficit)…the offense had five 3 & outs (with another drive ending in an interception on 2nd down)…one of Vozenilek’s punts that landed inside the 20 was returned 85 yards for a TD.  Next: November 23rd at Miami.


Virginia Tech salvaged its season with a 42-24 win at Miami…a school unbeaten two weeks ago and now behind the Hokies in the ACC Coastal (four teams have 2 losses, making the next few weeks more nailbiting than usual).  Third things first:  VT won this game on the decisive down (moving the chains 8 of 14 times while Miami went 3-12).  Hokie Highlights– Logan Thomas threw for 366 yards and 2 touchdowns… somebody else besides Thomas led the team in rushing (thank you Trey Edmunds)… and the defense shut down the run (48 yards on 21 carries when accounting for sacks).  Hokie Humblings– beware the big play-two of the Hurricanes TD’s came on pass plays 80 yards or longer…11 penalties for 71 yards leaves a lot of cleaning up to do…and knowing VT doesn’t own the tiebreaker with Duke if the two schools win out.  Next:  Saturday vs Maryland.