Thursday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

Week 13 NFL info is now posted…….
Friday’s college football info is posted

Thursday’s 6-pack:
Interesting NFL spreads this week:
— Seahawks @ Dallas (-9)
— Colts (-1) @ Tennessee
— Chargers (-6) @ New England
— Lions (-4) @ New Orleans
— Falcons (-3) @ Jets
— Cardinals @ Pittsburgh (-5.5)

Quote of the Day 
“Make no mistake that a good quarterback in the portal costs, you know, a million to $1.5M to $2M right now, just so we’re all on the same page. Let’s make sure we all understand what’s happening. There are some teams that have $6M or $7M players playing for them.”
Nebraska football coach Matt Rhule

Thursday’s quiz
Who is the all-time leader in passing yards for the Houston Texans? 

Wednesday’s quiz
Alabama is the last team to beat Georgia, 41-24 in the 2021 SEC championship game. 

Tuesday’s quiz
Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman played college football at Oklahoma, then UCLA. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……..

— Arkansas 80, Duke 73- Duke put only two players in double figures. Arkansas struggled against pressure defense in the last 3:00, but they get a big non-conference win.

— St Joe’s 78, Villanova 65- Hawks lost in overtime at Kentucky, beat Villanova here; they haven’t had a winning season since 2016, but they’re off to a terrific start this year.

— North Carolina 100, Tennessee 92- Game was 61-39 at halftime; Vols are struggling, losing their last three games. Tar Heels were 32-38 on the foul line.

— Colorado State 88, Colorado 83- Are Niko Medved’s Rams the best team in Mountain West? They already have wins over Creighton, Colorado.

College football has its conference championship games this weekend; here are some quick trends on each conference title game, over the last five years:

AAC- favorites 3-2 against spread. Teams that won three of last five titles have moved on to other leagues.

ACC- favorites 5-0 against spread. Four of those five years the winner was Clemson; they’re not in this year’s game.

Big 14- favorites 3-2 against spread, all double digit spreads, Favorites were either Michigan or Ohio State- they won all five games SU.

Big X- underdogs 3-2 against spread.

C-USA- underdogs 4-1 against spread. Teams that won last five title games have moved on to better leagues.

MAC- underdogs 4-1 against spread. Four different teams won last five titles.

Mountain West- underdogs 4-1 against spread. UNLV is in this game for first time; Boise State is in its for 5th time in last six years, but they haven’t won this game since 2019, and they’ve already fired their coach this season.

Pac-12- underdogs 3-2 against spread. Average total, last four years- 56.5. Oregon (2-1) is in this game for 4th time in five years. Washington is in it for first time since 2018, when they won it.

SEC- underdogs 3-2 against spread. Average total: 68.6. Georgia is 1-3 in this game the last five years, Alabama 3-0. 

Sun Belt- underdogs 2-2 against spread (2020 game was cancelled).

— Long time ago, a shortstop named Garry Templeton made the 1979 All-Star Game, but he told the Cardinals’ radio guy (Jack Buck) “If I ain’t starting, I ain’t departing”

Little did he know is that his statement now sums up lot of quarterback situations in college football, except now it is “If I ain’t starting, then I will be departing”

College football has turned into baseball, with QB’s bolting into free agency at a high rate:
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina- he played five years there, with 10,000+ PY.
Athan Kaliakmanis, Minnesota
Blake Shapen, Baylor

Riley Leonard, Duke
Will Rogers, Mississippi State
Max Johnson, Texas A&M- already surfaced at North Carolina

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
Will Howard, Kansas State
Jake Rubley, Kansas State- His dad TJ Rubley played in the NFL/CFL; he also coached Keanu Reeves in his role as the starting QB for the fictional Washington Sentinels in the movie, The Replacements.

Spencer Petras, Iowa
E.J. Warner, Temple- Kurt Warner’s son
Gerry Bohanon, South Florida

This isn’t a complete list; has to be crazy being a college coach these days, recruiting high school kids while also re-recruiting all your current players.

— HBO or Showtime should hook up with some college program to do a reality show based on recruiting and the transfer portal— it would be excellent television.

Put it this way; this season, 55.7% of the starting quarterbacks were transfers.

— Word of the Day: catalyst- a person or thing that precipitates an event.

— College football coaching changes:
Oregon State promoted defensive coordinator Trent Bray to head coach, replacing Jonathan Smith, who bolted to Michigan State. Like Smith, Bray is an Oregon State alum.

San Diego State hired Sean Lewis, who used to coach Kent State; he was offensive coordinator at Colorado this season.

— Mississippi State’s new coach, Jeff Lebby, banks a $1M incentive if his Bulldogs win a national championship. Good luck with that one.

— This season and last, in Sunday night/Monday NFL games, under is 49-17. I can’t come up with a good reason why this is happening, but it is happening.

— Richmond Spiders’ starting G DeLonnie Hunt hurt his wrist, is out 6-8 weeks.

— Lakers 133, Detroit 107- Pistons have lost 15 games in a row, are 0-14 in November. 

— 23 years ago, Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks for $285M; this week, word is out that he is selling a majority stake in the Mavericks, for $3.5B, that’s billion, with a B.

Cuban is cashing out on most of his ownership status, but he will retain full control over the Mavericks’ basketball operations, which is what makes this so unusual.

— New York Mets had some activity Wednesday:
Mets signed P Luis Severino for one year, $13M
Mets signed IF Joey Wendle for one year, $2M (plus incentives)

— Friend of mine found the old TV show White Shadow on YouTube this week, so I’ve spent the last few late-nights catching up with one my all-time favorite TV shows.

Ken Howard is a basketball player who retires from the NBA and gets a job as a basketball coach in an inner-city high school in Los Angeles- his friend from college is the school’s principal.

Hadn’t seen this show in 35-40 years; it was only on for three seasons, but it was well done. Creator of the show was Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow’s father.

— Delaware is moving from the CAA to Conference USA; they’ll be going I-A in football, starting in 2025-26. 

Wednesday’s Den: An early primer on the college basketball season

We’re 23 days into the college basketball season; this is when we gather information and learn as much as possible. It is still really early, but this is what we’ve learned so far:

— Indiana State 77, Southern Illinois 48- This is the only conference game that’s been played so far this season. Salukis shot 30.4% from floor; Indiana State shot 57.1% inside the arc.

— Six teams in country with the best continuity:
1- Columbia
2- Florida Atlantic
3- Marquette
4- Drexel
5- Cal-Davis
7- Weber State

Six teams in country with the worst continuity:
361- New Mexico State
360- Iona
359- Utah State
357- Idaho
356- Notre Dame
355- Southern Utah

— Purdue won Maui Classic, becoming first team in 13 years to beat a top 15 team three days in a row. Last team to do it was UConn, in 2011 Big East tournament.

— Teams that’ve played easiest schedules so far:
362- TCU
361- Cal-Northridge
360- Tulsa
359- Valparaiso
357- Cal Baptist
356- Georgetown

Teams that’ve played hardest schedules so far:
3- Eastern Washington
4- Rider
8- Morehead State
9- Northern Iowa
10- Cal-Fullerton
12- Boise State

— Some of teams playing fastest tempo in country:
4- George Washington
5- James Madison
6- New Mexico
7- Marshall
8- Western Kentucky
9- Hampton

Some of teams playing slowest tempo in country:
362- Virginia
361- Towson
360- Air Force
359- North Texas
357- Northwestern
356- Saint Peter’s

— Teams with the best FG% defense inside the arc:
1- Illinois
2- Rutgers
3- Providence
5- Virginia
6- Iowa State
7- UConn

Teams with the worst FG% defense inside the arc:
358- Wright State
355- Toledo
348- Drake
347- Cornell
346- Rice
345- Nebraska-Omaha

— Word of the Day: authenticity- being true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you’re under to act otherwise.

— Teams getting highest %age of points on 3-pointers:
1- Creighton
2- Sacramento State
3- St Joe’s
4- Cal-Riverside
6- BYU
10- San Jose State

Teams getting lowest %age of points on 3-pointers:
362- Rio Grande Valley
361- Indiana
359- Western Kentucky
358- IUPUI
357- Cal-Northridge

— James Madison started the season with overtime wins at Michigan State/Kent State; they’re only team in the last 30 years to start a season with back/back overtime wins, both on the road.

— Field of 68’s top 6 mid-major teams:
1- Drake
2- Cal-Santa Barbara
3- Yale
4- Akron
5- Charleston
6- Furman

— According to, these are the six best conferences in the country:
1- Big X
2- Big East
3- SEC
4- Big 14
5- Pac 12
6- ACC

These are the six worst conferences in the country:
32- NEC
31- SWAC
30- MEAC
29- Patriot
28- Southland
27- Ohio Valley

— Teams forcing highest % of turnovers:
1- Iowa State
2- Houston
3- Florida International
4- Rutgers
5- TCU
6- Cal-Davis

— Teams playing their subs the least:
361- Princeton
360- Murray State
359- West Virginia
358- Oral Roberts
357- Air Force
356- Gonzaga

— Most experienced teams (experience is different than continuity; teams that poach lot of transfers have experienced guys, but guys that haven’t played together very much):
1- St Bonzaventure
2- Washington
3- TCU
4- St John’s
5- North Carolina
6- James Madison

— Least experienced teams
362- Idaho
361- Siena
360- Valparaiso
359- Notre Dame
358- VMI
357- North Carolina A&T

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……..

Bears 12, Vikings 10
Chicago kicked a 30-yard FG with 0:13 left for the win.
Bears had five drives in 2nd half: kicked 3 FG’s, lost 2 fumbles.
DJ Moore caught 11 passes for 114 of Chicago’s 217 passing yards.
QB Fields ran ball 12 times for 59 yards, 24 yards more than any other Bear.

Dobbs threw 17-yard TD pass with 5:54 left, Minnesota’s only TD.
Vikings’ first four drives: 16 plays, 44 yards, 2 INTs, no points.
Chicago was 8-18 on third down, Vikings 2-9.
Under is 8-2 in Minnesota’s last ten games. 

— Before Monday, NFL teams were 0-28 this season when they didn’t score a TD.
Now, they’re 1-28.

— So far this year in the NFL……..
divisional home favorites are 18-15 ATS
divisional home underdogs are 9-14-1 ATS

Overall, divisional favorites are 32-24-1 ATS

— Carolina Panthers fired coach Frank Reich after their 1-10 start; two ofter offensive assistant coaches were also told to take a hike.

Panthers are averaging:
15.7 points/game (29th)
4.1 yards per play (T31st)
Panthers are converting 37.2% of their third down opportunities (20th).

You play a rookie QB, your job is in jeopardy; they should have sat Bryce Young, let him learn while watching and played veteran Andy Dalton. Maybe they’d still have their jobs now.

Carolina fired Matt Rhule last year, with $40M left on his contract.
Carolina fired Reich Monday, with $30M left on his contract.

Panthers owner David Tepper is richest owner in the NFL, but he isn’t the most patient one.

— If the 2024 NFL Draft was today……..
1) Bears (from Carolina)
2) Cardinals
3) Patriots
4) Bears
5) Commanders
6) Giants

— Denver Broncos have won five games in a row; in their last four games, Denver has 14 takeaways- they’re +11 in turnovers in those four games.

— In his career, Bills’ QB Josh Allen is 0-6 in overtime games.

— NFC South standings:

Falcons 5-6
Saints 5-6
Buccaneers 4-7
Panthers 1-10

If the Wild Card playoffs were this week, Dallas would be a significant road favorite at whatever team wins the NFC South.

— NFL Draft is a fascinating process; some teams are just so much better at it than others. Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler is a really good RB, but he wasn’t drafted; he went to college at Western Colorado, which makes you wonder what the Broncos’ scouts are thinking about, such a good player at a D-II school in Denver’s backyard.

— TV show of the day: The White Shadow (1978)- An NBA player retires from the pro game and gets a job as a basketball coach in an inner-city high school.

Ken Howard played the coach; he was excellent in this role. Basketball scenes were well done.

Creator of the show was Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow’s father.

— Tough week for college football coaches:
Indiana fired its coach; he got $15.5M to go away.

New Mexico fired its coach, who they praised in a statement, but when you go 11-32, they tell you to take a hike, even if you’re a New Mexico alumnus. 

Middle Tennessee fired its longtime coach after going 3-8 this year, the Blue Raiders’ third losing season in the last five years. The coach was 113-111 in 18 seasons at MTSU, but this is a “what have you done for me lately?” world, and MTSU hasn’t done much lately.

Houston fired its coach, who had three losing seasons in his five years as the Cougars’ head coach, going 31-28 overall. Houston went 4-8 this year, their first year in the Big X; it is better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a smaller fish in a big pond.

Texas-El Paso fired its coach, after he went 20-49 in six seasons with the Miners.

Texas A&M hired Duke coach Mike Elko to fill their coaching vacancy; he was 16-9 in two years as Duke’s coach- before that, he was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Aggies just fired their head coach, even though he had a 45-25 record. 

Mississippi State hired Oklahoma OC Jeff Lebby; since 2019, his offenses have scored 50+ points 14 times, most of anyone in the country during that time. Lebby used to be OC at Ole Miss, the Bulldogs’ biggest rival.

— Random trivia: Back in the mid-1950’s, at Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles, Robert Redford, Don Drysdale and Natalie Wood were all students there.

They must’ve had a really good drama club there, plus you had Roy Hobbs on the same baseball team as a Hall of Fame pitcher. Pretty, pretty good.

— Switching to basketball, VCU beat Penn State Sunday; last spring, the Penn State coach left VCU to go coach at his alma mater, an interesting decision.

My question is this: is Penn State a better basketball coaching job than VCU?

Obviously, they’re in a better league, but Penn State is a football school located in an area that isn’t real close to any basketball hotbeds (190 miles from Philadelphia), while VCU is a basketball school, kind of an eastern version of Gonzaga.

VCU has been in 10 of last 12 NCAA tournaments, under three different coaches; Penn State has been in two NCAA tournaments since 2002 (they would’ve made it had there been a tournament in 2020).

If someone asked me which job was better, without knowing the $$$ end of it, I’d say VCU, because winning is a lot more fun that losing.

— Baseball stuff:
St Louis Cardinals have been aggressive in rebuilding their starting rotation, adding free agent pitchers Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, Sonny Gray. 

Detroit Tigers added P Kenta Maeda.

Winter meetings start Sunday, should be lot of stuff going on.

— Oakland 78, Xavier 76
Good win for 13-point underdog Oakland, and the Horizon League.
Grizzlies outscored Xavier 12-7 over final 3:49.
Oakland was minus-14 on boards, but shot 69.7% inside arc.

— Utah 78, Saint Mary’s 71
Gaels were picked to win WCC, but they’re off to a shaky 3-4 start.
This was first game in eight days for Utah.
Utes are the tallest college team in America.

— Cal-Santa Barbara 69, Fresno State 65
UCSB was 1-5 on arc for whole game, Fresno 7-31.
Fresno led by 7 with 16:25 left in game.
Gauchos didn’t play any seniors; Fresno started five seniors. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday……..

Eagles 37, Bills 34 OT
— Eagles kicked 59-yard FG in rain on last play to force overtime.
— Eagles’ first seven drives: 28 plays, 93 yards, 7 points.
— Eagles last six drives: 37 plays, 281 yards, 30 points.
— Philly ran ball for 185 yards, was only 4-11 on third down.

— Buffalo led game 17-7 at halftime.
— Bills were 13-22 on third down; they outgained Eagles, 505-378.
— Bills are 2-6 in games decided by 6 or fewer points.
— Buffalo is 3-5 SU in its last eight games

Steelers 16, Bengals 10
— Steelers outgained an opponent for first time all season.
— Nine of eleven Steeler games stayed under the total.
— Last four games, Pittsburgh ran ball for 166-205-172-153 yards.
— Steelers won/covered five of their last seven games.

— Steelers in first half: 37 plays, 231 yards, 3 points.
— Steelers in 2nd half: 31 plays, 203 yards, 13 points.
— Cincy was 2-10 on third down, Pittsburgh 8-17.
— Bengals lost last three games, giving up 26.7 ppg.

Falcons 24, Saints 15
— Saints kicked five field goals, but didn’t score a TD.
— Just third loss for NO in last 14 games against the Falcons.
— Saints are 7-11-1 ATS in last 19 games with spread of 3 or less.
— New Orleans is 4-1 scoring 20+ points, 1-5 scoring less than 20.

— Falcons’ first TD was a 92-yard pick-6.
— Atlanta ran ball for 228 yards, but was outgained, 444-396.
— Last three games, Falcons are 21-40 on third down.
— Underdogs covered Atlanta’s last six games. 

Titans 17, Panthers 10
— Carolina is 0-6 SU/1-5 ATS on road this season.
— In five post-bye games, Panthers scored four TD’s on 46 drives.
— In five post-bye games, Carolina scored 15-13-13-10-10 points. 
— Last seven games, Panthers were outscored 119-52 in first half. 

— Tennessee’s first four drives: 24 plays, 124 yards, 14 points.
— Titans’ 2nd TD drive was 15 yards, after they recovered a fumble.
— Last six games, Tennessee converted 19-70 on third down.
— Tennessee is 4-0 SU at home TY, winning by 3-24-5-7 points.

Colts 27, Buccaneers 20
— Colts’ first three drives: 24 plays, 145 yards, 17 points.
— Indianapolis won its last three games, allowing 13-6-20 points.
— In its last three games, Colts are +5 in turnovers (7-2)
— Colts allowed 20 or less points in wins, 29+ in losses.

— Colts outgained Tampa Bay, 394-298.
— WR Evans caught six passes for 70 yards, two TD’s.
— Mayfield is 36-46 as an NFL starter
— Buccaneers lost six of their last seven games

Giants 10, Patriots 7
— Patriots missed a 35-yard field goal with 0:03 left.
— New England lost last two games, 10-6/10-7.
— Patriots lost seven of their last eight games (1-7 ATS).
— New England is minus-8 in turnovers this year.

— Giants won last two games, giving up 19-7 points.
— Giants’ only TD drive was 26 yards after an INT.
— Last eight games, Giants are +13 in turnovers.
— Last five weeks, Giants are 14-70 on third down. 

Jaguars 24, Texans 21
— QB Lawrence was 23-38/364 passing, with a TD.
— Jaguars won/covered seven of their last eight games.
— Under Pederson, Jaguars are 4-0 ATS as a road favorite.
— Jacksonville scored 9-17-3 points in losses, 20+ points in wins.

— Texans’ 58-yard FG attempt bounced off crossbar with 0:34 left.
— Only 2nd loss for Houston in their last 12 games vs Jaguars.
— Texans’ last five games were decided by 2-2-3-5-3 points.
— Houston is 5-9 ATS in last 14 AFC South home games.

Broncos 29, Browns 12
— Browns used two QB’s, completed 20-42 passes, for 190 yards.
— Cleveland converted only 2-13 third down plays.
— Browns are 11-17-1 ATS in last 28 games with spread of 3 or less points.
— under is 6-3 in last nine Cleveland games.

— Denver’s first three drives: 26 plays, 139 yards, 14 points.
— Last four games, Denver is +12 in turnovers (15-3).
— Broncos outscored last four opponents 61-33 in first half.
— Broncos won last four games, giving up 17-9-22-20 points.

Rams 37, Cardinals 14
— Rams win consecutive games for first time this season.
— LA scored TD on its first drive of game, first time in last six games.
— Rams ran ball for 228 yards, their most this season.
— LA is 4-0 giving up 16 or less points, 1-6 giving up 19+ points.

— First half yardage: Rams 287, Arizona 102.
— last four games, Cardinals are 13-50 on third down.
— Rams won 14 of last 16 games against the Cardinals.
— LA covered its last nine visits to Arizona.

Chiefs 31, Raiders 17
— Chiefs’ first two drives: 7 plays, 13 yards, no points.
— Chiefs’ next five drives: 39 plays, 305 yards, 28 points.
— Game was 14-14 at halftime; Chiefs scored 17 points in 2nd half.
— Chiefs are 11-5 ATS in last 16 games coming off a loss.

— Raiders’ first three drives: 25 plays, 221 yards, 14 points.
— Raiders rest of game: 35 plays, 137 yards, 3 points.
— Las Vegas is 3-17 in its last 20 games against Kansas City.
— Raiders are 12-18 ATS in last 30 games coming off a loss.

Ravens 20, Chargers 10
— Baltimore ran ball for 197 yards, was +4 in turnovers
— Ravens are 9-1 when they score 20+ points, 0-2 if they do not.
— Flowers had 37-yard run with 1:36 left to cover the spread.
— Ravens won six of last seven games (5-2 ATS).

— Chargers are 2-5 since their bye, with three losses by 3 points.
— under Staley, Chargers are 2-4-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— under is 7-1-1 in last eight Charger games.
— AFC West teams are 13-19 ATS outside the division.

Texas A&M 73, Iowa State 69
Cyclones led 35-14 late in first half. 
Teams combined to shoot 15-58 on the arc.

Stetson 85, Central Florida 82
ASUN’s Hatters trailed 21-8 early, made 13-30 on the arc.

VCU 86, Penn State 74
Penn State’s coach was VCU’s coach the last six years.

Florida Atlantic 84, Virginia Tech 50
Owls win tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports
They beat teams from Big East, Big X, ACC this weekend.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday……..

— Alabama 27, Auburn 24
Alabama threw a 31-yard TD pass on 4th-and-31 with 0:32 left for the win.
Auburn turned ball over three times, was 6-17/93 yards passing.
Crimson Tide plays Georgia in the SEC title game next week.

— Michigan 30, Ohio State 24
First time since 1997 that Michigan beat Buckeyes three years in a row.
Ryan Day is 56-7 at OSU with two Big Ten titles, but he is 1-3 vs Michigan.
Buckeyes outgained Michigan 378-338, but were minus-2 in turnovers.

— Washington 24, Washington State 21
Huskies kicked a 42-yard FG at the gun to finish 12-0 in regular season.
Coogs outgained Washington, 381-306 but had 10 penalties for 85 yards.
Wazzu lost seven of last eight games, after a 4-0 start. 

Kid who kicked the game-winning FG was put on scholarship after the game, which seems fair, seeing how Washington will likely make the playoffs for the national title now.

— Florida State 24, Florida 15
Gators led this game 12-7 at halftime; they finish season 5-7.
Neither starting QB played in this game; yardage was 232-226, Florida.
Seminoles finish regular season 12-0, play in ACC title game next week.

— Kentucky 38, Louisville 31
Cardinals led 10-7 at halftime, 24-14 with 2:00 left in 3rd quarter.
Kentucky had a 31-yard TD run with 1:02 left for the win.
Wildcats beat Louisville for fifth time in a row.

— Iowa State 42, Kansas State 35
Cyclones had touchdown PLAYS of 71-77-79-60-33-82 yards.
Iowa State averaged 19.2 yards per pass, 12.7 yards/run.
K-State led 20-14 at halftime, on a snowy night in the Little Apple.

— Upsets of the Week:
Iowa State (+10) 42, Kansas State 35
California (+9) 33, UCLA 7
Kentucky (+7.5) 38, Louisville 31
Texas State (+6.5) 52, South Alabama 44
Eastern Michigan (+6.5) 24, Buffalo 11
Northwestern (+5.5) 45, Illinois 43
San Diego State (+5) 33, Fresno State 18

— Word of the Day: Perseverence- persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

— Michigan State hired Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith as its new coach.
Smith was 34-35 in six seasons at Oregon State, his alma mater.
When a coach bolts a job at his alma mater, where he played QB, that stings.
Smith was 34-35 in Corvallis, but the last two years, Beavers were 18-7.
Oregon State is without a league right now, with Pac-12 out of business; they got left behind with Washington State in all the re-alignment.

— Northwestern 45, Illinois 43
Illinois threw an 80-yard TD pass with 0:55 left, but their 2-point play failed.
Northwestern is 7-5; they scored 14 or less points in all five losses.
In their last five games, Wildcats were +9 in turnovers.

— Old Dominion 25, Georgia State 24
Georgia State led 21-0 at halftime, 24-14 with 2:00 left in game.
Old Dominion scored on a 3-yard run on last play of the game for the win.
Monarchs became bowl eligible with the dramatic win.

— San Jose State 37, UNLV 31
Spartans led this game 20-10 at halftime. 

San Jose ran ball 40 times for 233 yards (5.8 yards/carry).
Mountain West ends in a 3-way tie; computer rankings will decide who plays in the MW championship game next weekend.

— West Virginia 34, Baylor 31
Baylor’s Richard Reese ran kickoffs back 96-93 yards, both for touchdowns.
West Virginia still led 27-14 at halftime.
Both teams averaged 10.8 yards/pass attempt.

— LSU 42, Texas A&M 30
Underdog Aggies led 17-14 at halftime; their 3rd-string QB played.
LSU QB Daniels was 16-24/235 yards passing, ran 11 times for 120 yards
A&M outgained the Bayou Bengals, 390-389.

— Oklahoma State 40, BYU 34 OT
BYU led 24-6 at halftime.
Cougars kicked a 48-yard FG at the gun to force OT.
Gordon ran ball 34 times for 166 yards and five TD’s for OSU. 

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff, with the weekend here……..

Packers 29, Lions 22
Packers won three of last four games, after an 0-4 skid.
Green Bay averaged 8.4 yards/pass attempt.
Last four games, Green Bay is 27-55 on third down.
Packers are 13-7-1 ATS in last 21 games as a road underdog.

Packers led 23-6 at halftime.
Green Bay ran fumble back for TD to take 20-6 lead.
Last two games, Lions turned ball over 7 times on 20 drives.
Detroit lost its last seven Thanksgiving games. 

Cowboys 45, Commanders 10
Cowboys’ first four drives: 26 plays, 263 yards, 3 TD’s.
Cowboys averaged 10.3 yards/pass attempt.
Dallas won its five home games TY by 20-35-23-32-35 points.
Dallas is 16-4 ATS in last 20 NFC East home games.

Dallas outscored Commanders 25-0 in second half.
Washington lost eight of last ten games SU (4-5-1 ATS)
Washington is 3-1 giving up 17 or less points, 1-7 giving up more than 17.
Opponents’ team total: over 9-3

49ers 31, Seahawks 13
49ers ran ball for 169 yards, led 24-3 at halftime.
SF outgained the Seahawks, 377-220.
49ers are 8-4-1 ATS in last 13 games NFC West road games.
SF scored 34-27-31 points in winning its three post-bye games.

Seattle’s only TD was a pick-6 in third quarter.
Seahawks are 0-5 when they score less than 20 points.
Last five games, Seattle converted only 17-64 third down plays.
Seahawks are 3-6 ATS in last nine NFC West home games.

Dolphins 34, Jets 13
Miami scored on a 99-yard pick-6 on last play of first half.
Dolphins were 11-16 on third down, Jets 5-14.
Favorites are 9-1 ATS in Miami’s last ten games.
Waddle had 114 receiving yards, Hill had 102.

Jets in first half: 19 plays, 37 yards, INT run back for a TD.
Miami outgained Gang Green, 395-159
Jets lost last four games, by combined 109-37.
Under Saleh, Jets are 15-22 ATS as an underdog

— Washington Commanders fired DC Jack Del Rio after Washington’s 45-10 loss in Dallas on Thursday. HC Ron Rivera is expected to call defensive signals the rest of the year.

— Jets’ WR Allen Lazard was a healthy scratch Friday; he is making $12M this year, after coming over from Green Bay.

Meanwhile, the Packers’ seven WR’s are earning a combined $7.5M this season.

— Word of the Day: Scapegoat- a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, to take the focus off the person/people who made the mistakes. 

— Ohio State 92, Alabama 81- Buckeyes start four sophomores, Alabama start four seniors; OSU shot 10-18 on the arc. Buckeye G Thornton scored 29 points (13-14 on foul line).

— Baylor 95, Florida 91- Bears shot 14-25 on the arc, scored 1.21 points/possession; game was 41-41 at halftime.

— Florida Atlantic 96, Texas A&M 89- Owls made 16-30 on the arc; their last two wins are over Big East/SEC teams. Not a lot of defense in this game; Aggies scored 1.33 points/possession, and they lost, which almost never happens.

— Villanova 79, Memphis 63- Wildcats were winning this game 44-14 at one point; Memphis outscored them 34-15 over the last 10:00, still lost by 16.

Villanova won its last four games, all against top 60 teams.

— Oklahoma 72, USC 70- Sooners tipped in a shot for the win with 0:01 left in game; they trailed by 8 with 17:29 left to play.

— Evansville 85, Chattanooga 77 OT- Mocs led by 20 with 11:40 left in game; they were 14-41 on the arc, 14-28 inside arc. Evansville is 5-0 this season vs schedule #322, forcing turnovers 24.3% of time (#11 in country).

— Indiana State 76, Toledo 74- Rockets led by 5 with 4:58 left, got outscored 14-7 rest of the way; Toledo has lost three games in a row, giving up 92-77-76 points.

— Movie of the Day: Less Than Zero (1987)- A college freshman returns to Los Angeles for the holidays at his ex-girlfriend’s request, but discovers that his former best friend has an out-of-control drug habit.

Andrew McCarthy/Robert Downey Jr are the friends, Jamie Gertz is girlfriend. This is a good movie, but not a very pleasant one, because the one character is so self-destructive.

In real life, Jamie Gertz has represented the Atlanta Hawks at the NBA Draft Lottery a couple times; she’s been married to Hawks’ owner Anthony Ressler since 1989.

— LSU’s football team won the 2019 national championship; 30 players from that team have played in the NFL. Thirty!!!!

— NFL needs to fix their onside kick rule; no one recovers onside kicks anymore, they need to go to the gimmick rule they use in one of the spring leagues.

Team A trails by 10 with 1:00 left, they score a TD, now trail by 3. Instead of an onside kick, Team A gets the ball on their own 30-yard line, 4th-and-15, and the teams play on from there. I’m telling you, this would make the end of close games a lot more interesting.

— In case you were wondering, the record for most pick-6’s in a career is Rod Woodson, with 12.

— BYU has a basketball player Spencer Johnson who is 26 years old; he’s older than Jayson Tatum, who has been in the NBA for seven years.

— Princeton Tigers are off to a 5-0 start; they’re first college basketball team in the last 15 years to start a season 5-0, with four true road wins. 

Friday’s Den: NBA trends to be thankful for…….

NBA trends (thru Thanksgiving)
I’ll try to post this once a week like the NHL trends…….

Hawks (7-7):
— lost three of their last four games.
— 0-6 ATS as a home favorite
— over 7-1 at home

Celtics (12-3):
— won seven of last eight games SU (0-4 ATS last four)
— 4-2 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 4-0 last four home games.

Nets (6-8):
— lost their last three games.
— 5-1 ATS at home, 5-2 on road.
— over 3-1 last four games.

Hornets (5-9):
— 2-8 ATS at home.
— 0-3 ATS as a favorite.
— over 5-0 on the road

Bulls (5-11)
— lost five of their last six games.
— 2-6 ATS as a favorite.
— under 5-1 last six games.

Cavaliers (8-7):
— won four of their last five games
— 2-5 ATS at home
— over 6-2 last eight games.

Mavericks (10-5):
— split last 8 games, after a 6-1 start.
— 6-3 ATS on the road.
— over 7-2 on road.

Nuggets (10-5):
— lost five of last six games (0-7 ATS last seven).
— 1-7 ATS as road favorites 
— under 6-2 on road.

Pistons (2-13):
— lost their last nine games (4-5 ATS).
— 7-7 ATS as an underdog, 0-1 as a favorite.
— over 4-2 last six home games

Warriors (7-9):
— lost seven of last eight games SU
— 0-6 ATS as a home favorite
— over 6-1 last seven games.

Rockets (7-6):
— 7-1 SU at home, 0-5 on road
— 7-3 ATS as an underdog.
— under 6-1 last seven games.

Pacers (8-6):
— over 13-1
— 3-4 ATS as a home favorite.
— 3-0 ATS first night of back/back

Clippers (6-7):
— won last three games SU.
— 3-3 ATS in LA, 2-5 ATS on road. 
— under 7-1 last eight games.

Lakers (9-7):
— won six of their last eight games SU
— 3-6 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 5-0 last five games.

Grizzlies (3-11):
— 2-3 SU last five games, after a 1-8 start.
— 2-5 ATS as a favorite.  
— under 4-2 at home

Heat (10-5):
— won nine of last ten games SU.
— 1-4 ATS as a home favorite, 4-2 as road favorite.
— over 3-1 last four games.

Bucks (10-5):
— won four of last five games (5-0 ATS)
— 1-5-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— over 5-3 last eight home games.

Timberwolves (11-3)
— won 10 of last 11 games (7-4 ATS)
— 7-0 ATS at home, 1-6 on road.
— over 7-2 last nine games.

Pelicans (8-7):
— won four of last five games (5-0 ATS)
— 8-3 ATS as an underdog.
— under 3-1 last four games. 

Knicks (8-6):
— won/covered three of last four games
— 6-1 ATS as a favorite, 3-3-1 as an underdog
— over 5-2 last seven games

Thunder (11-4):
— won/covered their last six games.
— 6-2 ATS as a favorite, 6-1 as an underdog.
— three of last four games went over total.

Magic (10-5):
— won/covered their last five games.
— 5-1 ATS at home, 7-2 on road.
— over 3-0 last three games. 

76ers (10-5):
— 2-4 last six games, after an 8-1 start.  
— 8-3 ATS as a favorite, 1-3 as an underdog.
— over 5-1 last six home games.

Suns (9-6):
— won their last five games (3-2 ATS)
— 4-3 ATS as home favorite, 1-3 as road favorite.
— over 11-2 last 13 games

Trailblazers (4-11):
— lost seven of last eight games (1-5 ATS last six)
— 2-5 ATS as a home underdog.
— under 4-1 last five home games

Kings (8-6):
— lost last two games, after a 6-0 run.
— 4-0 ATS as an underdog. 
— under 6-2 last eight road games

Spurs (3-12):
— lost their last 10 games (2-8 ATS)
— 2-6 ATS as a home underdog.
— over 11-4

Raptors (7-8):
— 4-4 ATS at home, 4-3 on road.
— 2-4 ATS in game after a win, 5-3 after a loss.
— over 4-1 last five games.

Jazz (4-11):
— lost last four games SU, giving up 130.5 ppg.
— 2-6 ATS on the road
— over 6-1 at home

Wizards (2-12):
— lost last seven games (2-5 ATS).
— 1-5 ATS at home.
— over 4-1 last five home games.

Thursday’s Den: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone…….

— Purdue 78, Marquette 75- Big guy Zach Edey had 28 points, 15 rebounds as Purdue wins a very tough Maui Classic. Boilermakers hit 10-21 on the arc.

Tyler Kolek had 22 points, 6 assists for Marquette, which leaves Hawai’i with wins over UCLA and Kansas, so it was a good week for them, even though they lost this game.

— Kansas 69, Tennessee 60- Rough couple of days for the Vols, who scored 0.91/0.87 points per possession in losses to Purdue/Kansas— they shot 17-63 on the arc in those two games, but they have a good defensive team and figure to make the NCAA’s in March.

Hunter Dickinson scored 17 points, grabbed 20 rebounds for Kansas, which shot 57.5% inside the arc, after trailed by 7 early on.

— Gonzaga, 69, UCLA 65
Zags rebound from loss to Purdue with wins over Syracuse, UCLA
Antone Watson scored 32 points for the Zags.
Gonzaga has won its last four games with the Bruins.

— Arkansas 77, Stanford 74, 2OT
Brickfest: teams combined to shoot 14-49 on the arc.
Stanford led by 9 with 14:21 left in game.
Arkansas shot 30.3% from floor, 26-33 on foul line.

— Southern Illinois 81, New Mexico State 54- You don’t see this often; Aggies shot 31.9% from the floor, 0-9 on the arc. In this day and age, you almost never see a team go a whole game without making a 3-pointer.

— In the Horizon League, Oakland Grizzlies have a player Jack Gohlke; so far this season, he’s shooting 24-72 on the arc, 1-2 inside the arc. All the freakin’ guy does is shoot 3’s. Seems like a fun job to have.

— Word of the Day— Gratitude- the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

— Movie of the Day- Class Action (1991)- An attorney representing a traumatized accident victim finds that his opponent is a very familiar defense attorney – his own daughter.

Gene Hackman is the lawyer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is his daughter. Laurence Fishburne, Fred Thompson, Jonathan Silverman, Joan McMurtrey and the guy who was the coroner on CSI are all in this movie- very good cast.

— In baseball, Seattle Mariners traded 3B Eugenio Suárez to Arizona, for C Seby Zavala and P Carlos Vargas; the move frees up $11,285,715 that Suarez will be paid next year. Luis Urias is expected to be the Mariners’ 3B next season.

— Bowling Green 34, Western Michigan 10
Falcons clinch their first winning season since 2015.
Bowling Green led 31-3 at halftime; they had a pick-6 to make score 17-0.
Falcons averaged 8.1 yards/pass attempt.

— Eastern Michigan 24, Buffalo 11
Underdog Eagles led 24-0 at halftime; they’re bowl eligible now.
EMU ran ball 46 times for 226 yards (4.9 yards/carry).
3-9 Buffalo lost three fumbles, completed only 12-28 passes.

— NFL stuff:
Jets are starting 3rd-string QB Tim Boyle against the Dolphins Friday; Boyle started three games for Detroit in 2021, lost ‘em all. He played college ball at UConn/Eastern Kentucky.

Falcons are going back to QB Desmond Ridder for their game against the Saints this week; they’re 4-6 overall this season, 4-4 in Ridder’s starts.

— Nebraska 89, Duquesne 79
Cornhuskers scored on their first 16 possessions of the second half; I can’t remember seeing a team do that before.

— Last 17 years, favorites are 15-2 ATS in Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day games.

2nd Den for Wednesday: NHL trends (thru Tuesday’s games)

NHL trends (thru Tuesday, Nov 21)
I’ll try to post this once a week……..

Anaheim 9-9
— 1-5 in their last six games overall.
— won four of last five road tilts.
— under 5-2 last seven games

Arizona 8-8-2
— 1-7 after a win, 5-3 after a loss
— 4-3 at home, 4-5-2 on road.
— over 6-2 last eight road games

Boston 13-1-3
— 4-3 last seven games, after a 9-1 start
— 7-0-1 at home, 6-1-2 on road.
— over 4-1 last five games

Buffalo 8-9-1
— 1-6 after a win, 7-3 after a loss
— 4-5 at home, 4-4-1 on road.
— under 5-1 last six games

Calgary 7-8-3
— won three of last four games
— 3-3-1 at home, 4-5-2 on road.
— over 8-2 last ten games

Carolina 10-7
— won seven of last ten games
— 5-1 at home, 5-6 on road.
— under 9-2 last eleven games

Chicago 5-11
— lost five of their last six games
— 1-5 at home, 4-6 on road.
— under 3-0 last three games

Colorado 11-6
— won three of last four games
— 5-2 at home, 6-4 on road.
— over 7-1 last eight games

Columbus 4-11-4
— lost their last nine games
— 3-6-1 at home, 1-5-3 on road.
— over 7-1 last eight games

Dallas 10-3-1
— won five of last six games
— 5-3 at home, 7-1-1 on road.
— over 5-1 last six games
— 11-1 if they score more than two goals

Detroit 8-6-3
— lost 8 of their last 11 games
— 5-3-2 at home, 3-3-1 on road.
— over 3-1 last four road games

Edmonton 5-11-1
— lost six of last nine games
— 3-4-1 at home, 2-7 on road.
— over 3-0 last four games 

Florida 9-4-1
— won seven of last eight games.
— 7-1 at home, 5-4-1 on road.
— over 7-2 last nine games

Los Angeles 8-3-3
— won nine of last 12 games.
— 3-3-3 at home, 8-0 on road.
— under 8-1 last nine games

Minnesota 5-8-4
— lost last five games, last two in SO/OT
— 3-3-2 at home, 2-5-2 on road.
— over 6-0 last six home games 

Montreal 7-9-2
— lost last four games, giving up 18 goals
— 5-6 at home, 2-3-2 on road.
— over 6-2 last eight home games

Nashville 7-10
— 6-0 allow two or fewer goals, 1-10 allow 3+ goals
— 5-4 at home, 2-6 on road.
— over 5-2 last seven games

New Jersey 8-7-1
— lost four of last five games
— 3-4-1 at home, 5-3 on road.
— over 13-3

NY Islanders 6-6-5
— lost seven of last eight games. 
— 3-3-3 at home, 3-3-2 on road.
— over 4-1 last five road games

NY Rangers 12-3-1
— won 10 of last 12 games
— 5-1 at home, 7-2-1 on road.
— over 5-1 last six games

Ottawa 8-7
— won last three games, giving up six goals
— 6-5 at home, 2-2 on road.
— over 7-2 at home
— 7-2 scoring 4+ goals, 1-5 scoring less than 4.

Philadelphia 9-7-1
— won their last five games.
— 5-4 at home, 4-3-1 on road.
— under 4-1 last five road games

Pittsburgh 7-8
— won seven of last nine games
— 4-5 at home, 5-3 on road.
— over 4-1 last five road games

St Louis 9-7-1
— won six of last nine games
— 6-2 at home, 3-5-1 on road.
— under 5-1 last six games

San Jose 3-14-1
— 3-4 last seven games, after an 0-11 start
— 3-6-1 at home, 0-8 on road.
— under 6-1 last seven games.

Seattle 7-8-5
— lost six of last nine games
— 3-5-1 at home, 4-3-4 on road. 
— over 4-0 last four games

Tampa Bay 9-6-4
— won last three games, scoring 15 goals
— 6-2-2 at home, 3-4-2 on road.
— over 4-1 last five home games
— 1-4 in OT/SO

Toronto 10-5-2
— won five of last six games.
— 5-4 at home, 5-1-2 on road. 
— over 6-1 last seven games
— 9-1 scoring 4+ goals, 1-6 scoring 3 or less. 

Vancouver 13-5-1
— split their last six games
— 7-1-1 at home, 6-4 on road.
— over 10-2 last 12 games

Vegas 13-4-2
— lost 5 of last 7 games, after an 11-1 start.
— 8-1-1 at home, 5-3-1 on road.
— under 7-3 at home

Washington 9-4-2
— won five of last six games
— 6-3-1 at home, 3-1-1 on road.
— under 11-4

Winnipeg 10-5-2
— won six of last seven games
— 6-3-1 at home, 4-2-1 on road.
— over 6-2 last eight games

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

— Maui Classic:
Purdue 71, Tennessee 67- Purdue was 29-48 on foul line in a very physical game.
Marquette 73, Kansas 59- Marquette shot 59% inside arc.

championship game is 5:00 Wednesday.

— Florida State 77, Colorado 71 OT
Seminoles have won their last 14 overtime games, which apparently is a record.
Colorado had 20 turnovers, shot 38.5% inside arc.

— James Madison 82, Southern Illinois 76- JMU is 5-0 for the first time since 1982.

— So far this season, teams from the WCC (Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s league) are 2-10 against the spread as a favorite. It is possible the league is a little bit down this season.

— This is modern college basketball- UNLV has 14 guys on its basketball team; three freshmen, and 11 guys who transferred into UNLV. Handicapping early season basketball is a crapshoot.

November is about coaches figuring out who/what they have, and what they want to do with it. Teams with excellent continuity have a big advantage right now.

— Teams with most continuity right now:
Florida Atlantic
North Dakota State

— Teams with least continuity right now:
New Mexico State
Utah State
Notre Dane
Southern Utah

— Jackson State doesn’t have a home game until January 6th; they play 11 road games, two more on neutral floors before that. After an 0-5 start, they upset Missouri Sunday.

All the road games pay the tab for their program: trips to San Diego, Memphis, Mizzou, Los Angeles, Houston, Georgetown, Northwestern- lot of guarantee games. Winning is a bonus.

— Pretty sure I watched Bill Vinovich officiate an NFL game Sunday, then late Monday night, he was a ref at the Cal-UTEP basketball game, somewhere near Los Angeles. Vinovich turns 63 years old next week; he is officiating on back/back days, but lot of guys in the NBA who are half his age and are making a boatload of $$$ can’t play on back/back nights. Go figure.

— Good to see former Memphis/Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner working on ESPN; long time ago, I crossed paths with coach Pastner on the AAU circuit couple of times, once in Florida, once in Las Vegas. We were watching games, and I was asking him lot of questions, picking his brain.

He had no reason to be nice to me, but he was, both times. Hope he enjoys his time in the TV studio, and then gets himself another coaching job next season.

— Word of the Day: Rejuvenate- giving new energy or vigor to something.

— St Louis Cardinals signed two starting pitchers this week:
Lance Lynn was 7-2, 4.36 in 11 starts for the Dodgers LY, after they acquired him from the White Sox, where he was 6-9, 6.47 in 21 starts. Lynn started his career in St Louis (2011-17).

Kyle Gibson was 15-9, 4.73 in 33 starts for Baltimore LY.

Cardinals are rebuilding after a dismal 71-91 season this past year.

— San Diego Padres hired Mike Shildt as their new manager; he went 252-199 managing the Cardinals, was surprisingly fired after a 90-72 season in 2021.

— Odd stat: the last 12 years, Dallas Cowboys are 5-7 SU/1-11 ATS on Thanksgiving Day.

— Pittsburgh Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada, despite their 6-4 record; this is the first time the Steelers have made a midseason change at head coach or coordinator since 1941- they’ve only had three head coaches since 1969.

Steelers missed the playoffs three of last five years; they haven’t won a playoff game since 2016.

— Over their last three games, Denver Broncos are +9 in turnovers; they were minus-4 in their first seven games.

— Carolina Panthers are 1-9 this season, playing a rookie QB on a team that has an offensive coordinator in his first year in that job. I’m not sure what the point of playing QB Bryce Young is right now; maybe sitting back and watching veteran Andy Dalton would be beneficial, in the long run.

Dalton started one game this year; Carolina lost 37-27 in Seattle, but they scored 27 points. In their last four games, they scored 15-13-13-10 points. 

Patrick Mahomes didn’t start a game until the last game of his rookie year; sometimes the old way of doing things is still the better way.

— Random NBA trends:
Golden State is 0-6 ATS as a home favorite
Minnesota is 6-0 ATS at home.
Over is 12-1 in Indiana Pacer games.

Speaking of which……….

— Indiana 157, Atlanta 152
Hawks led 86-73 at halftime, this was like an old ABA game.
Atlanta led by 20 points in the first half.
Tyrese Haliburton scored 37 points, dished out 16 assists.

— Happy 79th birthday to Earl (the Pearl) Monroe, one of the best basketball players ever; he was a great player for the Baltimore Bullets, then got traded to the Knicks, where he helped them win the 1973 NBA title, their second (and last) NBA title.

Happy birthday, sir. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

— ESPN needs to bring Jon Gruden out of retirement to do the interviews he does with QB prospects for the NFL Draft. This is going to be a fascinating year for drafting QB’s, and Gruden is the best I’ve seen at grilling kids and learning what they’re about.

Eagles 21, Chiefs 17
Kansas City led 17-7 at halftime.
Swift ran ball 12 times for 76 yards and a TD.
Eagles won nine of first ten games (6-2-2 ATS)
Hurts is 34-14 as an NFL starter.

Chiefs in first half: 38 plays, 200 yards, 17 points.
Chiefs in 2nd half: 37 plays, 137 yards, no points.
Last three games, KC was outscored 38-0 in second half.
Chiefs averaged only 3.8 yards/pass attempt. 

— Next football season, I’m going to change the definition of turnover in my stats, to include teams who go for it on 4th down outside of field goal range and don’t get the first down. It is basically the same as a turnover, maybe worse.

Chargers-Packers game, both teams went for it in 4th down around midfield on their first series of the game, and both failed. I know it is 2023 and all, but field position is still important.

— 45 years ago Sunday was the infamous Joe Pisarcik fumble, when the Giants were going to beat the Eagles in a close game, but teams didn’t take a knee at the end back then, they just handed the ball off to a RB, but Pisarcik fumbled the handoff, and Herm Edwards ran the ball into the end zone for a very unlikely, disturbing loss for the Giants.

As a Rams fan, the game turned out to be oddly significant; Dick Vermeil was coaching the Eagles back then; 23 years later, he won a Super Bowl coaching the Rams.

Back then, John McVay was coaching the Giants, Sean McVay’s grandfather.

— Cleveland Browns signed QB Joe Flacco to be a backup for Dorian Thompson-Robinson; Flacco has played 15 years in the NFL— he started four games for the Jets last year.

From 2010-12, he went 40-16 as the Ravens’ QB, winning the Super Bowl 11 years ago, but since 2019, he is 3-14 as an NFL starter. Lot of experience, though.

— Jets are benching Zach Wilson, he won’t even be the backup this week. Tim Boyle (0-3 as an NFL starter) will get the start, with Trevor Siemian the backup.

— Falcons will start QB Desmond Ridder this week; Taylor Heinicke started Atlanta’s last couple games.

— Cowboys’ DB DaRon Bland has four pick-6 touchdowns this year, giving him as many TD’s this season as the Raiders’ star WR Davante Adams.

— We need an LSU-Iowa bowl matchup; under is 10-2 in Iowa games, over is 11-0 in LSU games.

Iowa played three games in a row that ended 15-6/12-10/10-7.
LSU lost a game 55-49, won other games 49-39/52-35.

Contrast of styles make for interesting bowls.

— USC’s football team the last two years:
2022- 11-3, they were +21 in turnovers
2023- 7-5, they’re minus-2 in turnovers.

— There are ten I-A college football coaches who are the head coach at their alma mater.

— Word of the Day: Doppelgänger- A double of a person; having a keen resemblance between two otherwise unrelated people.

Example: Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka and the actor Rob Lowe.

— Happy birthday to the great actress Sally Field, who turned 77 last week; she was the star of The Flying Nun when I was a kid, kind of a weird show. She’s won two Academy Awards, and recently played the mother of Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss in HBO’s Winning Time. 

Happy 79th birthday to Danny DeVito, who was Louis DePalma in Taxi and was great in Other People’s Money and The Rainmaker. Now we see him all the time in Jersey Mike’s commercials.

— Long Beach State 94, Michigan 86
This win helps raise the Big West’s profile.

Illinois State 61, Long Beach State 52
This loss doesn’t raise the Big West’s profile.

— San Diego State 100, Washington 97, OT
This game was played late Sunday night, after I had posted yesterday’s Den.

Aztecs led by 12 with 4:23 left in regulation; they blew that lead, but won in OT- they were 31-41 on the foul line. Washington was 18-21.

— Washington-Washington State won’t be in the same league anymore after this season, but the good news is, the schools agreed to play each other in football every year thru 2028, with next year’s Apple Cup game in Seattle, then the next four years at campus sites.

— Syracuse fired football coach Dino Babers, who went 41-55 coaching the Orange; he had gone 18-9 in two seasons at Bowling Green, but couldn’t parlay that success into winning in the ACC.

— Phillies signed P Aaron Nola to a 7-year deal worth around $24.5M a year.

— This is a great week for college basketball, lot of good tournaments, but I do miss the Great Alaskan Shootout, which used to always be this week. ESPN killed the event by hosting their tournaments in warm weather places, more appealing for players/fans to go to.

But the Alaskan Shootout was unique; the last first round game the first two nights would begin around 2am here in the east, so you could watch ball all night.

Dwyane Wade, Klay Thompson were both MVP’s of the Shootout; one year, Cincinnati beat Duke in the final— they attracted really good teams. It was fun to watch. 

— Tennessee 73, Syracuse 56
Last time Jim Boeheim wasn’t the Syracuse coach, I was in 10th grade, long time ago; they play man-to-man defense now, and try to run more. Syracuse shot 35% in this game, which isn’t going to win many games, especially against good teams.

— Purdue 73, Gonzaga 63
Boilers outscored Gonzaga 43-28 in second half.
Zags were 6-32 behind the arc.
Purdue big guy Edey had 25 points, 14 rebounds.

— Kentucky 96, St Joe’s 88, OT
Underdog Hawks made 15-37 on the arc.
Kentucky outscored Hawks 18-9 on foul line.
Wildcats played eight guys, including five frosh and a sophomore. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a football Sunday…….

Lions 31, Bears 26
— Bears led 26-14 with 4:00 left in the game.
— Lions then had TD drives of 75-73 yards to win the game.
— Detroit threw INT’s on first two drives of game.
— Fields is now 6-26 as an NFL starter; he ran ball for 104 yards.

— Lions are 8-2 for the first time since 1962.
— Detroit is 7-1 SU/6-2 ATS in last eight games.
— Lions converted 8-11 on third down, Chicago 5-13.
— Opponents converted only 19 of last 56 third down plays.

Packers 23, Chargers 20
— WR Allen caught 10 passes for 116 yards and a TD.
— He dropped two other TD passes, cost Chargers 8 points.
— Ekeler lost a fumble on the Green Bay 2-yard line.
— Chargers are 0-5 TY in games decided by 3 or fewer points.

— Packers drove 51 yards, scored game-winning TD with 2:33 left.
— Green Bay converted a 3rd-and-20 (PI penalty) on winning drive.
— Both teams converted 7-14 third down plays.
— Under is 6-2 in their last eight games.

Browns 13, Steelers 10
— Browns drove 43 yards, kicked game-winning FG with 0:05 left.
— Cleveland is 5-1 since its bye week.
— Browns are 5-0 giving up less than 24 points, 2-3 allowing 24+. 
— Browns held Pittsburgh to only 2.5 yards/pass attempt.

— Pittsburgh’s only TD was a 74-yard run in third quarter.
— Pittsburgh has been outgained in every game this year.
— Steelers scored 26-23-17-24-20-23 points in wins, 7-6-10-10 in losses.
— Steelers lost four of last five visits to Cleveland.

Texans 21, Cardinals 16
— Cardinals had ball in Houston territory on last 3 drives, scored no points.
— Texans were 9-13 on third down, Arizona 3-10.
— Cardinals have lost 20 of last 24 games SU (10-11 ATS in last 21).
— Five of six Arizona road games stayed under the total.

— Texans in first half: 42 plays, 333 yards, 21 points.
— Texans in 2nd half: 26 plays, 87 yards, no points.
— Houston is 6-2 SU/5-3 ATS in its last eight games.
— Texans’ last four games were decided by 2-2-3-5 points.

Jaguars 34, Titans 14
— Jaguars ran 69 plays for 389 yards.
— Titans ran 38 plays for 235 yards.
— Tennessee is 0-6 SU in true road tilts (1-5 ATS)
— Titans are 3-0 scoring 27+ points, 0-7 scoring 16 or less. 

— Jaguars’ 1st six drives: 51 plays, 330 yards, 27 points.
— Jacksonville is 7-0 when it scores 20+ points.
— Under Pederson, Jags are 16-13-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— Jaguars won/covered five of their last six games.

Giants 31, Commanders 19
— Rookie QB DeVito was 18-26/246 passing, with three TD’s. 
— Washington turned ball over five times (minus-5)
— Barkley had 83 rushing yards, 57 receiving, with two TD’s.
— Giants beat Washington twice TY (1-8 vs everyone else)

— Commanders are 1-4 SU/0-5 ATS at home this year.
— Commanders ran for 174 yards, but they had five turnovers.
— Washington is 7-15-1 ATS in last 23 NFC North home games.
— Washington lost seven of its last nine games. 

Dolphins 20, Raiders 13
— Raiders’ first three drives: 15 plays, 120 yards, 10 points.
— Raiders rest of game: 46 plays, 176 yards, 3 points.
— Last five games, Las Vegas is 18-61 on third down.
— Under is 9-2 in Raider games this season.

— WR Hill caught 10 passes for 146 yards and a TD.
— Miami outgained Raiders, 422-296, but had three turnovers.
— Last seven games, Miami is minus-6 in turnovers (7-13).
— Tagovailoa is 28-16 as an NFL starter.

Cowboys 33, Panthers 10
— Dallas outgained the Panthers, 311-187.
— Cowboys are 10-4 ATS in last 14 games as a road favorite (3-1 TY)
— Cowboys won/covered four of last five games. 
— Seven Dallas wins were by combined score of 253-77 (36-11 average).

— Panthers averaged 2.1 yards/pass attempt.
— Last four games, Carolina was held to 224-275-213-187 total yards.
— In four post-bye games, Panthers scored 3 TD’s on 36 drives.
— Carolina is 1-4 SU/1-3-1 ATS at home, losing by 3-8-14-23 points.

49ers 27, Buccaneers 14
— Bucs lost five of last six games, but covered last four.
— Tampa Bay is 5-0 ATS as a road underdog this year.
— Bucs  were 7-14 on third down, 49ers 4-10
— Under is 8-2 in Tampa Bay’s games this season.

— SF’s first six drives: 46 plays, 378 yards, 27 points.
— SF outgained the Buccaneers, 420-287.
— 49ers are 7-0 when they score more than 17 points.
— 49ers have outscored opponents 122-66 in 2nd half.

Rams 17, Seahawks 16
— Seattle’s first three drives: 35 plays, 205 yards, 13 points.
— Rams’ first three drives: 12 plays, 19 yards, no points.
— Rams outscored Seattle 10-0 in last 2:00 of each half.
— Seahawks are 0-4 when they score less than 20 points.

— Rams’ first eight drives: 36 plays, 120 yards, 7 points.
— Rams’ last two drives: 23 plays, 149 yards, 10 points.
— LA drove 75 yards, kicked game-winning FG with 1:34 left.
— Rams broke a 9-game losing streak in November games.

Bills 32, Jets 6
— Jets lost last three games, 27-6/16-12/32-6.
— In four post-bye games, Jets scored one TD on 48 drives.
— Jets are 9-14 ATS in last 23 games as a road underdog.
— Jets have been outscored 130-70 in first half of games.

— Bills’ first three drives: 27 plays, 124 yards, 3 FG’s.
— Bills’ first two drives of 2nd half: 10 plays, 146 yards, 2 TD’s.
— Buffalo is 15-11-1 ATS in last 27 games as a home favorite.
— Bills are 13-9 ATS in last 22 games coming off a loss.

Broncos 21, Vikings 20
— Broncos’ only TD (on their 10th drive) came with 1:09 left.
— Denver did kick five field goals on first nine drives.
— Denver won its last four games, giving up 17 ppg.
— Underdogs are 6-0 ATS in Denver’s home games this year

— Loss ends Minnesota’s five-game winning streak.
— Vikings led 17-9 after the third quarter.
— Vikings outgained Denver, 385-295.
— Last five Bronco games stayed under the total.

Grey Cup
Montreal 28, Winnipeg 24
Alouettes threw a 19-yard TD pass with 0:13 left for the win.
Blue Bombers led 17-7 at halftime.
Winnipeg lost last two Grey Cups by total of five points, after winning the previous two.
Montreal wins CFL title for first time since 2010. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday……..

Before we start, why the BLEEP is Alabama playing Chattanooga in football?
Why would one of the best programs in the country play a I-AA team?
Do they charge less for tickets to this game, which ended 66-10? 

(I know, they probably don’t)

Seriously, play a Sun Belt team, play a MAC team, play a service academy team or some other stiff, but for Pete’s sake, DO NOT play a freakin’ I-AA team. It is spineless.

— New Mexico State 31, Auburn 10
Boosters at Auburn ain’t going to be happy with this score.
From 2018-21, New Mexico State was 8-30 SU.
In two years under Jerry Kill, Aggies are 16-9- they’ve covered 9 in a row.
Auburn is 6-5; they play Alabama next. Oy.

— UCLA 38, USC 20
Trojans lost five of last six games, after a 6-0 start.
USC allowed 34+ points in each of their last eight games.
UCLA is 7-4, will be favored next week; does this save Chip Kelly’s job?

— UNLV 31, Air Force 27
UNLV trailed 27-14 at halftime; AF didn’t score in 2nd half.
Rebels averaged 11.7 yards/pass attempt.
UNLV plays San Jose State next week; they could go to MW title game.
No matter what, Rebels are going bowling for first time since 2013.

— Louisville 38, Miami 31
Louisville threw 58-yard TD pass with 4:17 left for game-winning TD.
Cardinals will play in ACC title game for first time (vs Florida State)
Last year, Jeff Brohm led Purdue to their first Big 14 title game- good coach.
Miami is 6-5, 11-12 in two years under Mario Cristobal.

— Florida State also played a I-AA team this week, North Alabama; Seminoles’ QB Jordan Travis hurt his ankle and is done for the season. Big loss for Florida State.

— Appalachian State 26, James Madison 23 OT
First loss of the season for James Madison.
JMU tied game on an 11-yard TD pass with 0:57 left.

— Upsets of the Week:
New Mexico State (+25.5) 31, Auburn 10
New Mexico (+22.5) 25, Fresno State 17
Appalachian State 26 (+9), James Madison 23 OT
UCLA (+6.5) 38, USC 20
Old Dominion (+6) 20, Georgia Southern 17
Michigan State (+4) 24, Indiana 21
Army (+4) 28, Coastal Carolina 21

— Word of the Day: Loyalty- a sense of duty or devoted attachment to something or someone.

— SMU 38, Memphis 34
Mustangs threw for 286 yards (12.4 yards/attempt).
SMU is 9-2, 7-0 in the AAC.

— Tulane 24, Florida Atlantic 8
Tulane has won nine games in a row, four of them by 7 or less points.
Green Wave is 10-1, 7-0 in the AAC

— Iowa 15, Illinois 13
Sixth straight Iowa game to stay under the total.
Hawkeyes scored winning TD on a 30-yard run with 4:43 left.
First score of the game was a safety for Iowa.

— Arizona 42, Utah 18
From 2018-22, Arizona was 15-38; this year? 8-3, with five straight wins.
Arizona blocked punt for TD, led 21-0 after first quarter.
Wildcats converted 7-11 third down plays.

— Washington 22, Oregon State 20
11-0 Huskies led 22-10 at halftime, hung on for the win.
Neither team completed half their passes.
Beavers ran 73 plays, Washington 48, but OSU had three turnovers.

— Texas Tech 24, UCF 23
Down 23-17, UCF scored TD with 5:30 left; the PAT was blocked.
Knights led 14-0 after the first quarter.
UCF was 8-14 on third down, Tech 3-9.
Red Raiders are bowl eligible; UCF needs another win. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Friday of basketball

— There were lot of upsets Friday:
Long Beach State (+15) 94, Michigan 86
NC-Greensboro (+14.5) 78, Arkansas 72
Lindenwood (+9.5) 72, Neb-Omaha 70
Tenn-Martin (+8.5) 80, Eastern Kentucky 74
Notre Dame (+7.5) 66, Oklahoma State 64 OT
East Tennessee State (+6.5) 70, Davidson 68

— Myrtle Beach tournament:
Vermont 78, Saint Louis 68
Liberty 83, Wichita State 66

Sunday’s final is Vermont-Liberty, two solid mid-majors.

— Charleston Classic:
Dayton 88, St John’s 81
Houston 76, Utah 66

Sunday’s final is Dayton-Houston, which will feel like March.

— Bad Beat of the Night: Wm & Mary (+7.5) lost 80-71 in overtime to Air Force.

— Villanova 57, Maryland 40
Terps are off to a dismal 1-3 start, shooting 21.6% on the arc.
Villanova led this game 39-15 at halftime. 
It is early in season, but Maryland is turning ball over 21.3% of time (#290).

— Statistical Oddity of the Day:
San Antonio Spurs lost 129-120 at home to Sacramento Friday, so obviously, they were minus-9 for the game.

When Zach Collins was on the floor, the Spurs were +19 (minus-28 without him)
When Victor Wembanyama was on the floor, the Spurs were minus-31 (+22 without him)

For two teammates to have a plus/minus 50 points different in the same game is really, really unusual.

— Word of the Day: continuity- something happening over a period of time without being changed or stopped.

Teams who have the same players over a period of time have an advantage over teams with a lot of new players, as long as the talent levels are similar.

On the college basketball page, I’ll mention continuity a lot; it is important in this era, where kids transfer at the drop of a hat. 

— Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow tore ligaments in his thumb Thursday night, is out for the year, very bad news for 5-5 Cincinnati.

— Last three years, Rams are 0-9 in November; two years ago, they were 0-3 in November, then won the Super Bowl.

— NHL is playing some games in Sweden this week:
Ottawa 5, Detroit 4 OT- Senators blew a 4-0 lead, then won with 0:02 left in OT.
Toronto 3, Detroit 2- William Nylander has 25 points in Detroit’s 16 games. 

They have two more games in Sweden this weekend. 

— San Diego State 79, Saint Mary’s 54
Surprisingly one-sided game.
Aztecs led 34-33 at halftime.
Gaels also lost previous game, at home to Weber State; they were picked to win the WCC, but if they’re better than Gonzaga, WCC might be down a little this year, especially with BYU off to the Big X.

— Grand Canyon 76, San Francisco 72
Entertaining game between two good mid-majors.

— I’m watching the UNLV-Pepperdine game on ESPN+, and there is a commercial for a lawyer in Los Angeles, a younger guy who claims “I put the LIT in litigation!!!”

Very unusual commercial.

— UNLV 82, Pepperdine 68
UNLV has made at least one 3-point shot in their last 1,195 games, every game since the NCAA made the 3-point shot a real thing, 37 years ago. Princeton is the only other team to have a 3-pointer in every game since then; they’ve played fewer games than the Rebels.