Champions League Match Day 6 Roundup

The 6th and final match day took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The teams for the Round of 16 are all set in the UEFA Champions League. Here is the Group-by-Group breakdown:

Group A

Manchester United squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk thanks to a Phil Jones goal in the 67th minute. The group’s other match between Real Sociedad and Bayer Leverkusen also ended 1-0. Omer Toprak scored in the 49th minute to ensure Leverkusen moved on in the Champions League.

Manchester United won the group with 14 points, Bayer Leverkusen finish 2nd with 10 points, Shakhtar Donetsk finished 3rd with 8 points, and Real Sociedad finished last with only 1 point. Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen will move on to the Round of 16 in the Champions League. Shakhtar will be placed in the Europa League Round of 32. Real Sociedad are eliminated from European competition.

Group B

Real Madrid went to Copenhagen and won 2-0. Luka Modric scored first in the 25th minute with a wonderful curling strike. Ronaldo scored the 2nd goal in the 48th minute adding to his already impressive total. Ronaldo has scored 9 goals in the Champions League Group Stage, the most ever in this famed competition. The game’s other match between Galatasaray and Juventus was halted in the 32nd minute for weather. After an unsuccessful attempt to restart the game, it was abandoned. The game resumed on Wednesday in the 32nd minute with the score at 0-0. Wesley Sneijder hit an 85th minute goal to give Galatasaray the 1-0 win and the spot in the Round of 16.

Real Madrid won the group with 16 points, Galatasaray finished 2nd with 7 points, Juventus finished 3rd with 6 points, and Copenhagen were last with 4 points. Real Madrid and Galatasaray move on in the UEFA Champions League. Juventus will go into the Round of 32 in the Europa League and Copenhagen are eliminated from European Competition

Group C

The battle for 2nd between Benfica and Olympiacos was in doubt until the last minutes. Benfica rallied from 1-0 down to beat PSG 2-1. Lima had a goal from the penalty spot in the 45th minute. In the 2nd half, Nicolas Gaitan put a goal in the back of the net to give Benfica the needed victory. Olympiacos was at home to Anderlecht and needed to win to make the Round of 16. Javier Saviola got on the score sheet for Olympiacos in the 33rd minute, but that was cancelled out by Sacha Kljestan’s 39th minute goal for Anderlecht. Saviola put Olympiacos ahead for good in the 58th minute, while Alejandro Dominguez put the game beyond doubt with a 95th minute stoppage time penalty goal.

PSG won the group with 13 points. Olympiacos and Benfica both finished level on 10 points, with Olympiacos having the better goal differential of +2 compared to 0 for Benfica. That means Olympiacos will play in the Round of 16 while Benfica will move to the Round of 32 in the Europa League. Anderlecht finished last with 1 point.

Group D

The stunner of the Tuesday games happened in Group D. Bayern Munich looked well on their way to victory after a 5th minute goal from Thomas Muller and a 12th minute goal from Mario Gotze. Manchester City did not give up as David Silva pulled a goal back in the 28th minute to make it 2-1 Bayern Munich. Aleksandar Kolarov hit one home from the penalty spot in the 59th minute, before James Milner made the comeback complete in the 62nd minute. The group’s other match saw Tomas Wagner hit a 90th minute goal from Viktoria Plzen to beat CSKA Moscow 2-1.

Despite the loss, Bayern Munich still won the group with 15 points. Manchester City also had 15 points (worse goal differential vs. Bayern Munich), Viktoria Plzen finish 3rd with 3 points, and CSKA Moscow finished last with 3 points as well. Viktoria gets the nod over CSKA Moscow because they had more away goals in the group stage. Bayern and City were confirmed for the Round of 16 in the Champions League already, but Viktoria Plzen have stolen the Europa League spot from under CSKA Moscow.

Group E

A 10th minute Demba Ba goal was all that separated Chelsea and Steaua Bucuresti in their match. The match between Schalke and Basel turned in the 31st minute when Basel’s Ivan Ivanov got a straight red card to leave his team with 10 men. Schalke took advantage of the extra man in the 2nd half with goals from Julian Draxler in the 51st minute and Joel Matip in the 57th minute. Schalke took all 3 points with a final scoreline of 2-0 over Basel.

Chelsea won the group with 12 point, Schalke finished 2nd with 10 points, Basel were 3rd with 8 points, and Steaua Bucuresti finished last with 3 points. Chelsea and Schalke will move onto the Round of 16 in the Champions League with Basel going to the Europa League and the Round of 32. Steaua are eliminated from European competition.

Group F

The “Group of Death” went down to the final minutes. Napoli got a goal from Gonzalo Higuain in the 73rd minute and then another goal in the 93rd minute from Jose Callejon to make it a final score of 2-0 over Arsenal. Borussia Dortmund were tied 1-1 and on their way out of the Champions League until Kevin Grobkreutz put the German side ahead 2-1. Borussia would not relinquish that lead.

Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, and Napoli all finished on 12 points. However, thanks to goal differential, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal will march on in the Champions League. Dortmund had a goal differential of +5, Arsenal had +3, and Napoli had +1. Napoli will have a slight consolation prize in the Europa League Round of 32. Marseille failed to register a point, but did make things very interesting on this last match day of the Champions League group stage.

Group G

Atletico Madrid already had this group in hand, but still made their case as a darkhorse contender in this Competition with a 2-0 victory over Porto. Atletico got goals from Raul Garcia in the 14th minute and Diego Costa in the 37th minute. Austria Wien got their only win of the group stage in a 4-1 thrashing of Zenit St Petersburg. Aleksandr Kerzhaov put Zenit ahead 1-0 in the 35th minute, but it was all Austria Wien after that. Philipp Hosiner had goals in the 44th and 51st minutes, Tomas Jun had one in the 48th, and Roman Kienast added the final for good measure in the 93rd minute.

Atletico Madrid had already won the group on Match day 4 and they finished with 16 points. Despite their crushing defeat, Zenit hung on for 2nd place with 6 points. Porto and Austria Wien both finished on 5 points, but Porto’s better goal differential of -3 compared to Wien’s -5 sees them finish 3rd. Atletico Madrid and Zenit march on in the Champions League with Porto dropping to the Europa League. Austria Wien will no longer take part in European Competition this season.

Group H

Barcelona completely dominated Celtic from the opening kick, winning by 5 goals, 6-1. Neymar had a hat trick within a 15 minute span and the route was on. The group’s other match between Milan and Ajax ended scoreless despite Milan playing with 10 men for almost 70 minutes. Ricardo Montolivo was sent off for an awful challenge in the 22nd minute.

Barcelona won the group with 13 points, Milan finished 2nd with 9 points, Ajax were 3rd with 8 points, and Celtic finished last with 3 points. Barcelona and Milan move to the UCL Round of 16 while Ajax will play in the Europa League Round of 32. Celtic are eliminated from European Competition.

 

Knockout Stages

The Round of 16 teams are set and here they are:

Seeded Teams Unseeded Teams
Manchester United (England) Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Real Madrid (Spain) Galatasaray (Turkey)
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Olympiacos (Greece)
Bayern Munich (Germany) Manchester City (England)
Chelsea (England) Schalke 04 (Germany)
Borussia Dortmund (Germany) Arsenal (England)
Atletico Madrid (Spain) Zenit Saint Petersburg (Russia)
Barcelona (Spain) Milan (Italy)

 

The Round of 16 draw will take place on Monday, December 16, 2013. As a reminder, teams from the same association (such as England) cannot face each other in the Round of 16. Also, teams from the same Group (such as Group A which featured Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen) cannot be drawn together.

Be sure to check back when the Round of 16 Draw is complete for my analysis and picks!

2013-14 Bowl Season: Ranking the Bowls 1 to 35

The regular season is just about complete (Army and Navy have to play on December 14 before it is considered over) and the bowl schedule is out. The bowl season will start on Saturday, December 21 and end on Monday, January 6, 2014. I will rank all 35 bowl games from 1 to 35 in descending order. Here are the rankings:

35. St. Petersburg Bowl: East Carolina Pirates (9-3) vs. Ohio Bobcats (7-5) – This game will showcase East Carolina’s high flying passing attack. This game also has the potential for a shootout.

34. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo Bulls (8-4) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (7-5) – It was a tumultuous start to the season for the Aztecs as they started 0-3. They finished the season 7-2 and 4 games went into overtime (3-1 in those games). If you watch this game, keep an eye out for Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack. He is rocketing up the NFL Draft boards and will be a menace all game.

33. Heart of Dallas Bowl: UNLV Rebels (7-5) vs. North Texas Mean Green (8-4) – UNLV has not played in a bowl game since 2000 and North Texas hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2004. North Texas sports a stingy defense giving up 18.1 points a game, 9th best in the nation.

32. Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-4) vs. Navy Midshipmen (7-4) – This is just the 6th bowl game in the history of Middle Tennessee football, but 4th since 2006 under coach Rick Stockstill. This will be the 10 bowl game in the last 11 seasons for Navy (3-6 in the previous 9 games). Expect a balanced offense from Middle Tennessee and a whole lot of rushing from Navy.

31. Liberty Bowl: Rice Owls (10-3) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6) – We have the C-USA Champs in Rice and Mississippi State who needed a win over arch-rival Ole Miss to get here. I am expecting a defensive battle in this one.

30. Texas Bowl: Syracuse Orange (6-6) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4) – For most, this game probably isn’t their cup of tea. I like this matchup as I see this being a defensive game and hopefully Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill can be back in time to finish this season with this bowl game.

29. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-6) – This game could probably be higher. This game will come down to whether or not North Carolina can move the ball against Cincinnati’s defense.

28. GoDaddy Bowl: Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5) vs. Ball State Cardinals (10-2) – This game could easily be higher because I think this game has the ability to provide a lot of points. Ball State averages over 40 points a game while Arkansas State is averaging just under 30 points per game (29.7).

27. Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (10-3) – Bowling Green will return to the site of their big upset victory over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game. Pittsburgh will look to avoid a 2nd straight 6-7 season under Paul Chryst. I would expect the defenses to be prominent in this game.

26. Hawaii Bowl: Boise State Broncos (8-4) vs. Oregon State Beavers (6-6) – Boise State will be without Chris Petersen for this game as he has moved on to the University of Washington. Oregon State underachieved this year and if they can contain Jay Ajayi and the Boise State rushing attack, they will have a chance to win.

25. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-6) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) – The real appeal to this game is Notre Dame playing in the New York area. I would expect a defensive battle, but this game appears to favor Notre Dame.

24. New Mexico Bowl: Washington State Cougars (6-6) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-6) – These two teams will kickoff the bowl season and features two programs on the rise. I think this game should be a high scoring one.

23. Military Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd (9-4) vs. Maryland Terrapins (7-5) – This isn’t the most attractive matchup, but there are some things to like. Marshall has an explosive offense, but Maryland can also score points. I think this will a high scoring affair in Annapolis.

22. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan Wolverines (7-5) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) – This game shows the tale of two halves of the season for both teams. Kansas State started 2-4 before winning 5 of their last 6. Michigan started 6-1 before losing 4 of their last 5. My gut feeling for this game is that this will be a defensive game, but a shootout is not out of the question.

21. New Orleans Bowl: Tulane Green Wave (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4) – I considered putting this game higher because both teams are close to New Orleans and that will make for a festive atmosphere. This is Tulane’s first bowl game since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl (a game they won 36-28 over Hawaii). UL-Lafayette is playing in this game for the 3rd straight season and they won the previous two.

20. Music City Bowl: Ole Miss Rebels (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5) – This game features the SEC vs the ACC. Both teams are coming into this game off losses to their in-state rivals. I will be watching this game to see how Ole Miss does against the triple option offense of Georgia Tech. If Ole Miss can contain it, they will have a big chance to win.

19. Holiday Bowl: Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) – I personally think this will be a high scoring game. Arizona State has averaged 41 points a game and Texas Tech has scored just over 31 points a game. Arizona State comes into this game off the crushing loss at home in the Pac-12 title game. Texas Tech hopes to reverse a 5 game losing streak. Expect fireworks in this bowl game.

18. Alamo Bowl: Oregon Ducks (10-2) vs. Texas Longhorns (8-4) – Oregon players got their wish to not end up in another Rose Bowl, so they will spend their bowl stay in San Antonio, Texas. They will face Texas and Mack Brown, who may or may not be coaching his last game as the head coach of the Longhorns. It will be interesting to see how each team comes out and plays.

17. Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3) – It has been a very quiet season for Virginia Tech, but their defense has played well this season. UCLA will bring Brett Hundley and their spread offense. That is the matchup I will be watching.

16. Gator Bowl: Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) – The reason I have this game listed at #16 is because we saw this game last year and the starting quarterbacks issue. Georgia’s Aaron Murray will not play due to a torn ACL and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez is in doubt of playing in the game. Ultimately, this should be a good game.

15. Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State Aggies (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1) – This is a game of contrasting styles. The Huskies high powered spread offense led by Jordan Lynch will go head-to-head against the tough Utah State defense. It will be fun to watch this game from a matchup standpoint.

14. Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU Cougars (8-4) vs. Washington Huskies (8-4) – Washington is going for the most wins in a season since 2000 when they won 11 games. BYU is going for their 5th straight bowl victory and 7 of their last 8. What will have the biggest impact is that Steve Sarkisian will not be coaching the Huskies in this bowl game. Marques Tuiasosopo will coach Washington in the Fight Hunger Bowl. With 3 weeks for both teams to prepare, I see a game in the 20’s for each team.

13. Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4) vs. Houston Cougars (8-4) – This is a sneaky good matchup. Both teams have improved on defense as the season went on and this is should not be a high scoring game. I look forward to seeing how the SEC vs AAC matchup plays out.

12. Outback Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) vs. LSU Tigers (9-3) – This game lost some of its luster when Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in LSU’s season finale against Arkansas. This is still a good matchup between run based Iowa and LSU’s defense which has had issues throughout the season. This will also matchup Iowa’s stingy defense against LSU’s vertical passing philosophy.

11. Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami (FL) Hurricanes (9-3) vs. Louisville Cardinals (11-1) – This should be a good game between two former Big East rivals. Louisville had BCS aspirations, but fell short in their quest. The Hurricanes are playing in their first bowl game since the 2010 Sun Bowl after 2 years of a self-imposed bowl ban. I think this will be a defensive battle between these two teams.

10. Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State Bulldogs (11-1) vs. USC Trojans (9-4) – This should be a good matchup between Fresno State and USC. How will Derek Carr face against the Trojans’ defense? USC will not have Ed Orgeron on the sideline as he resigned immediately after they hired Steve Sarkisian. Clay Helton will be the Trojans’ head coach for the bowl game and we will see how that affects them.

9. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Duke Blue Devils (10-3) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (8-4) – The job that David Cutcliffe has done been nothing short of magnificent. This season was Duke’s 1st 10 win season ever in football. Texas A&M took a slight step back this season, but the real matchup will be between John Manziel and the Aggie offense against Duke’s defense.

8. AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona Wildcats (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5) – A matchup of two 7-5 teams at #8?! Yes this game is at #8 because of the two running backs. Arizona will feature Ka’Deem Carey who has rushed for 1,755 yards this year. Boston College’s Andre Williams has 2,102 yards this season. I look forward to seeing these two running backs in action.

7. Fiesta Bowl: Central Florida Knights (11-1) vs. Baylor Bears (11-1) – This game probably does not have appeal to many people, but I like this matchup. Neither of these teams has played in a BCS game. This will be a good matchup of Baylor’s offense against Central Florida’s defense.

6. Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) – I have this game placed at 6 mainly because I don’t trust Bob Stoops to show up in a big game. Stoops has won just 1 BCS game since 2003 out of 6 appearances. There is the possibility that Alabama reverts back to their 2009 Sugar Bowl performance. After losing the 2008 SEC Championship to Florida, Alabama got blitzed in the 2009 Sugar Bowl by undefeated Utah, 31-17. Interesting possibilities here.

5. Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (10-2) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) – Last time Clemson played in this game in 2011 they were blown out of the building by West Virginia, 70-33. Of course, Ohio State is coming into this game off the loss to Michigan State. Will they come out and play or will they play flat? How will Tajh Boyd fare against the Ohio State defense? A lot of intrigue surrounds this game.

4. AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2) vs. Missouri Tigers (11-2) – There are some good story lines here. Former Big 12 teams face off and both teams are coming off loses in games that could have clinched their respective conference titles. How will those teams respond?

3. Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers (9-3) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2) – Arguably the best non-BCS bowl this year, we have the SEC matched up against a Big 10 team. South Carolina is playing their 3rd straight bowl game in the state of Florida (2 wins), while Wisconsin is playing their first non-BCS bowl since 2009. The played in three straight Rose Bowl games prior to this year and lost all three. Will the Big 10 get the better of the SEC in this game?

2. Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. Michigan State Spartans (12-1) – What a matchup we have here. If you like a lot of rushes and stringent defenses, this game is for you. Stanford makes their 2nd straight Rose Bowl appearance (won in 2013 vs. Wisconsin, 20-14). Meanwhile, Michigan State plays in the first Rose Bowl since 1988.

1. BCS National Championship Game: Florida State Seminoles (13-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (12-1) – Was there any doubt about this? The dominant Seminoles will take on the high powered rushing attack of Auburn and the 7 straight National Championships by the SEC. There are other story lines such as Florida State playing in the first BCS National Championship game (1998 Fiesta Bowl, a game they lost 23-16 to Tennessee) and now play in the last BCS Title game before the move to the 4 team playoff.

 

I have always enjoyed the bowl games, especially as more and more bowl games have been added. I will be honest though, when I first saw the bowl schedule I felt it was underwhelming. After I dug a little deeper, this slate of games looks a lot better. There are some good matchups outside of the BCS games and quite a few should provide good entertainment in the form of shootouts.

2013 FCS Playoffs – 2nd Round Wrap Up

Note: As you read through this post, please be aware that I list the matchup of next week’s game in every other recap.

Furman (8-5) at #1 North Dakota State (11-0)

It was a slow start for the 2-time defending FCS Champions, but North Dakota State eventually pulled away for a 38-7 win over Furman. The game was scoreless until North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen hit Zach Vraa for a 52 yard touchdown. Furman responded with Marcus Anderson’s 1 yard touchdown run. Sam Ojuri made it 17-7 less than three minutes into the 3rd quarter and it was over from there.

Brock Jensen went 15 for 25 with 249 yards and 2 touchdowns passing for North Dakota State. Jensen added 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground. North Dakota State will face the winner between Coastal Carolina and #8 Montana.

Coastal Carolina (11-2) at #8 Montana (10-2)

It was cold and frigid in Missoula, Montana, but that did not stop Coastal Carolina from beating Montana 42-35. Both teams traded touchdowns in a 1st quarter that ended 14-14. The 2nd quarter is where Coastal Carolina separated themselves from Montana. Alex Ross found Nicollo Mastromatteo twice as Coastal Carolina took a 35-14 lead at halftime. Montana tried to mount a comeback by cutting the lead to 42-35. Unfortunately for Montana it would be enough as Coastal Carolina ran out the clock on their season.

As you would imagine, there were some big stats put up. Montana’s Jordan Johnson threw for 388 yards and 4 touchdowns. Montana receivers Jamaal Jones and Ellis Henderson both had over 100 yards receiving. For Coastal Carolina, Alex Ross and Lorenzo Taliaferro both had over 100 yards rushing.

Coastal Carolina will now face #1 North Dakota State in the quarterfinals next week.

New Hampshire (8-4) at #5 Maine (10-2)

A rematch between Colonial Athletic foes had the same result as in the regular season: a New Hampshire win. This time New Hampshire won 41-27. The teams traded field goals and touchdowns throughout the first half as New Hampshire held a 20-17 lead. The 3rd quarter saw New Hampshire with a touchdown via Sean Goldrich to Justin Mello to extend the lead to 27-17, but Maine got a field goal later in the quarter to make the score 27-20. In the 4th quarter, New Hampshire running back Chris Setian had two rushing touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

Sean Goldrich threw for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns for New Hampshire. Marcus Wasilewski had 299 yards and 2 touchdowns for Maine in the losing effort.

New Hampshire will face the winner of Sam Houston State and #4 Southeastern Louisiana.

Sam Houston State (9-4) at #4 Southeastern Louisiana (10-2)

The first half of this game was the tale of two quarters. Sam Houston State dominated the first quarter with 2 rushing touchdowns and an interception returned for a touchdown. They led 21-7 after the first quarter. The 2nd quarter belonged to Southeastern Louisiana as they outscored Sam Houston State 17-0 and took a 24-21 lead into halftime.

The 3rd quarter saw a measly safety recorded by Sam Houston State to cut the deficit to one point, 24-23. Early in the 4th quarter, Brian Bell scored a 2 yard rushing touchdown and Sam Houston State took a 29-24 lead after failing to convert the 2 point conversion. Southeastern Louisiana had one last chance late in the 4th quarter to get the win. With 36 seconds left Bryan Bennett hit Jeff Smiley for the 1 yard touchdown pass. Southeastern Louisiana failed on the 2 point conversion, but held on for a 30-29 victory over their Southland Conference foe.

Southeastern Louisiana will face New Hampshire in the quarterfinals.

South Dakota State (9-4) at #3 Eastern Washington (10-2)

A close contest in the first half gave way to a big Eastern Washington victory by the score of 41-17. South Dakota State took an early 7-0 lead thanks to Austin Sumner’s 14 yard touchdown pass to Reginald Gandy. Eastern Washington responded with Vernon Adams’ 22 yard touchdown pass to Zach Gehring. Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the 2nd quarter as they went to half tied at 14.

The 2nd half was dominated by Eastern Washington. Vernon Adams had 3 touchdown passes as Eastern Washington outscored South Dakota State 27-3 in the 2nd half. Vernon Adams had 217 yards passing and 5 touchdowns. Quincy Forte ran for 202 yards and touchdown on the ground for Eastern Washington. South Dakota State’s Austin Sumner threw for 315 yards in the loss.

Eastern Washington will face the winner of Jacksonville State and McNeese State.

Jacksonville State (10-3) at #6 McNeese State (10-2)

This game was dominated by Jacksonville State from the start as they upset McNeese State 31-10. DaMarcus James had two touchdowns in the 2nd quarter as Jacksonville State led 21-0 at halftime. DaMarcus James added another touchdown to give him a total of three for the game. For the game DaMarcus James had 127 yards on 24 carries along with those 3 touchdowns.

It was a very solid defensive performance by Jacksonville State. They allowed 301 yards of total defense, but only 46 rushing yards. They also held McNeese State to 1 for 16 on 3rd down conversions.

For their victory, Jacksonville State will face #3 Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals.

Fordham (12-1) at #7 Towson (10-2)

An entertaining game in the 1st half gave way to Towson domination in the 2nd half as they beat Fordham 48-28. Fordham’s quarterback Michael Nebrich threw 3 first half touchdowns. Peter Athens threw 2 first half touchdowns for Towson. In the 2nd half, Towson’s running game took over. Terrance West had 2 rushing touchdowns and Darius Victor added another for Towson.

Michael Nebrich threw 394 yards and 4 touchdowns for Fordham. Dan Light caught 13 passes for 122 yards and Sam Ajala had 8 receptions for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns, both of them in the loss. Towson quarterback Peter Athens went 13 for 15 for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Towson will play either Tennessee State or #2 Eastern Illinois next week.

Tennessee State (10-3) at #2 Eastern Illinois (11-1)

This game was decided early on as Eastern Illinois raced out to a 16-0 lead by the end of the first and then held a 37-0 lead at halftime. Eastern Illinois used their rushing attack as they amassed 313 yards on the ground. Shepard Little had 184 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns. Eastern Illinois ended up with 553 yards of total offense. Eastern Illinois held Tennessee State to 45 yards rushing.

Eastern Illinois will face #7 Towson in the quarterfinals next week.

 

Quarterfinal Matchups

Coastal Carolina (12-2) at #1 North Dakota State (12-0) – This game will be played on Saturday, December 14 at 12 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN. The winner of this game will play the winner of the New Hampshire at #4 Southeastern Louisiana on December 20 or 21.

New Hampshire (9-4) at #4 Southeastern Louisiana (11-2) – This game will be played on Saturday, December 14 at 7 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. The winner of this game will play the winner of the Coastal Carolina at #1 North Dakota State on December 20 or 21.

Jacksonville State (11-3) at #3 Eastern Washington (11-2) – This game will be played on Saturday, December 14 at 4 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. The winner of this game will play the winner of the #7 Towson at #2 Eastern Illinois on December 20 or 21.

#7 Towson (12-1) at #2 Eastern Illinois (12-1) – This game will be played on Friday, December 13 at 8 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN2. The winner of this game will play the winner of Jacksonville State at #3 Eastern Washington on December 20 or 21.

 

Quarterfinals Predictions

I went 5-3 in 1st Round and did the same for the 2nd Round. I missed Coastal Carolina, Jacksonville State, and Towson in the 2nd Round. Here are my Quarterfinal picks:

– Coastal Carolina (12-2) at #1 North Dakota State (12-0) – The big news for this game is that North Dakota State Head Coach Craig Bohl will take the same position at Wyoming. Bohl will stay on for the duration of the FCS Playoffs and that is great news for Bison fans. I like North Dakota State to prevail here, but it will be close. 31-28 Bison will beat Coastal Carolina to play in the semifinals.

– New Hampshire (9-4) at #4 Southeastern Louisiana (11-2) – I expect a shootout here between these teams. New Hampshire was impressive beating Maine for the 2nd time while Southeastern Louisiana needed a last minute touchdown to beat Sam Houston State. I will go with New Hampshire in a high scoring affair 45-41.

– Jacksonville State (11-3) at #3 Eastern Washington (11-2) – This game is tough for me to call. The forecast as of this writing is about 30 degrees with a chance of a snow shower. I think this game will be close throughout, but I will go with Vernon Adams and Eastern Washington here, 30-24.

– #7 Towson (12-1) at #2 Eastern Illinois (12-1) – I like Eastern Illinois here at home by a couple of touchdowns. This should be entertaining throughout on Friday Night and I like Eastern Illinois to win 48-34.

 

Be sure to enjoy the quarterfinals action of the FCS Playoffs. Check back next week for quarterfinals  recaps and predictions for the Semifinals.

2013 Division 3 Football Playoffs – Quarterfinals Wrap Up

Note: As you read through this post, please be aware that I list the matchup of next week’s game in every other recap.

 Wesley (10-2) at Mount Union (12-0)

This was one entertaining and wild game, though it seemed far from that by the end of the 1st quarter. Mount Union jumped out to a 31-0 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan threw 3 first quarter interceptions that were turned into 21 points for Mount Union. Wesley started making headway in the 2nd quarter, but their defense was still giving up points. Mount Union held a 48-20 lead at halftime.

In the 3rd quarter, Wesley’s defense stepped up and so did quarterback Joe Callahan. Joe Callahan threw two touchdowns as Wesley cut the lead to 48-34 after the third quarter. Early in the 4th quarter Joe Callahan found Bryce Shade to cut Mount Union’s lead to 48-41. On their ensuing drive, Mount Union finally got back on track and used a Kevin Burke touchdown pass to Sherman Wilkinson to lead 55-41. Eventually, Wesley cut the lead to 62-59 with 1:30 left, but Mount Union was able to run the clock out to hold on for the win.

Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke accounted for 5 total touchdowns (3 passing, 2 rushing) and all 3 of his passing touchdowns were thrown to Sherman Wilkinson. Wilkinson had 135 yards on 5 catches to go along with his three receiving touchdowns. In a losing effort, Joe Callahan had a monstrous game. He threw for 633 yards and 8 passing touchdowns. Callahan also had 4 interceptions, three of which came in the 1st quarter. Wesley wide receiver Steve Koudossou had 11 catches for 273 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Mount Union will face the winner of the North Central (IL) at Bethel (MN) game in the semifinals.

North Central (IL) (12-0) at Bethel (MN) (12-0)

Playing in the frigid air of Arden Hills, Minnesota, North Central took a 21-3 lead 6 seconds into the 2nd quarter and did not look back. North Central running back Ryan Kent had 109 yards on the ground while punching the ball in for a touchdown 4 times. Quarterback Spencer Stanek added 249 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air for North Central. Bethel running backs Marshall Klitzke and Jesse Phenow both had 90+ yards of rushing and a touchdown apiece on the ground.

North Central will face Mount Union in the semifinals next week.

Linfield (11-0) at Wisconsin-Whitewater (12-0)

Linfield had a 17-0 lead with 12:55 left in the 2nd quarter, but UW-Whitewater shut them out for the rest of the game as Whitewater won 28-17. Linfield got a quick start with a Josh Yoder 3 yard touchdown rush after just 1:39 elapsed in the 1st quarter. Linfield had a chance to score again after UW-Whitewater fumbled the kickoff, but Linfield fumbled the ball at the Whitwater 1 on 4th and goal.

With 12:55 left in the 2nd quarter Linfield quarterback Josh Yoder found Evan Petersen for a 60 yard touchdown and Linfield held a 17-0 lead. On their ensuing drive, Whitewater got great field position on the kickoff return and then quickly got to the end zone thanks to Matt Behrendt’s 19 yards touchdown pass to Tyler Huber. Whitewater added a touchdown with 4:07 left to cut the lead to 17-14 at halftime.

Whitewater added a touchdown in both the 3rd and 4th quarter to make the final score line 28-17. Whitewater quarterback Matt Behrendt threw for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns. Wide receiver Jake Kumerow had 7 receptions for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns for Whitewater. Linfield quarterback Josh Yoder ended up with 374 yards passing and a touchdown in the loss. Whitewater also held Linfield to 24 yards rushing on 40 attempts.

UW-Whitewater will take on the winner between St. John Fisher and Mary Hardin-Baylor.

St. John Fisher (10-2) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (12-0)

Mary Hardin-Baylor led comfortably throughout their 45-23 victory over St. John Fisher. Mary Hardin-Baylor did not have the dominant rushing performance that you would expect (only 120 yards on 40 carries), but they did get help on defense and special teams. Brodrick Crain intercepted St. John Fisher quarterback Tyler Fenti and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown in the 1st quarter. Speaking Tyler Fenti, he had a great statistical performance throwing for 411 yards and a touchdown for St. John Fisher. St. John Fisher’s Dan Rudy had 11 catches for 167 yards as well.

Mary Hardin-Baylor will play Wisconsin-Whitewater next week in the semifinals.

 

Semifinals Schedule

Both semifinal games are to be played on December 14th at the host institutions.

North Central (IL) (13-0) at Mount Union (13-0)

Wisconsin-Whitewater (13-0) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-0)

Brazil 2014 – Part 3: Odds and Predictions

This is the third post in a series leading up to the 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil. The first post can be found here and the second post here.

In the first post of this series I posted the odds for each team to win the World Cup prior to the draw (odds were taken from 5Dimes). For a refresher, here is that table:

 

Team Odds
Brazil  +300
Germany  +560
Argentina  +660
Spain  +680
Belgium  +1650
Netherlands  +2150
Colombia  +2350
Italy  +2450
England  +2550
Uruguay  +2850
France  +3250
Portugal  +3450
Chile  +4450
Russia  +10500
Switzerland  +14500
Ghana  +15000
Croatia  +16000
Mexico  +16500
Japan  +17000
USA  +18000
Ivory Coast  +21000
Bosnia and Herzegovina  +22500
Ecuador  +24000
Nigeria  +29000
Greece  +35000
South Korea  +50000
Cameroon  +70000
Australia  +70000
Costa Rica  +225000
Iran  +250000
Honduras  +250000
Algeria  +250000

As you can see, the top 4 favorites were Brazil (+300), Germany (+560), Argentina (+660), and Spain (+680). All other teams were at +1650 or higher. Now let’s see how the draw affected those odds (again odds from 5Dimes):

 

Brazil   +330
Argentina   +490
Germany   +610
Spain   +775
Belgium   +1550
Colombia   +2150
France   +2250
Netherlands   +2850
England   +2850
Italy   +2850
Uruguay   +2950
Portugal   +3700
Chile   +5350
Russia   +8875
Switzerland   +12500
Ecuador   +13500
Mexico   +15000
Ivory Coast   +16500
Japan   +18500
Bosnia and Herzegovina   +23500
USA   +25000
Ghana   +25000
Croatia   +26500
Nigeria   +28500
Greece   +34000
South Korea   +48500
Australia   +80500
Cameroon   +100000
Costa Rica   +250000
Iran   +250000
Honduras   +250000
Algeria   +250000

 

Brazil’s odds went up to +330 despite the opponents they drew in their group. The slight bump in odds has entirely to do with their possible Round of 16 opponent which will almost certainly be Netherlands, Spain, or Chile. Argentina, which was already a favorite to win, dropped from +660 to +490. This is for good reason too. They got drawn with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria.

Below is a table that shows each team’s odd before and after the draw. Also is a column for the odds change that occurred.

 

Team Prior Draw Odds Post Draw Odds   Odds Change
Brazil  +300   +330 +30
Germany  +560   +610 +50
Argentina  +660   +490 -170
Spain  +680   +775 +95
Belgium  +1650   +1550 -100
Netherlands  +2150   +2850 +700
Colombia  +2350   +2150 -200
Italy  +2450   +2850 +400
England  +2550   +2850 +300
Uruguay  +2850   +2950 +100
France  +3250   +2250 -1000
Portugal  +3450   +3700 +250
Chile  +4450   +5350 +900
Russia  +10500   +8875 -1625
Switzerland  +14500   +12500 -2000
Ghana  +15000   +25000 +10000
Croatia  +16000   +26500 +10500
Mexico  +16500   +15000 -1500
Japan  +17000   +18500 +1500
USA  +18000   +25000 +7000
Ivory Coast  +21000   +16500 -4500
Bosnia and Herzegovina  +22500   +23500 +1000
Ecuador  +24000   +13500 -10500
Nigeria  +29000   +28500 -500
Greece  +35000   +34000 -1000
South Korea  +50000   +48500 -1500
Cameroon  +70000   +100000 +30000
Australia  +70000   +80500 +10500
Costa Rica  +225000   +250000 +25000
Iran  +250000   +250000 0
Honduras  +250000   +250000 0
Algeria  +250000   +250000 0

 

Odds to Win Group

Here I will list each teams odds to win their respective group. As before, these odds are from 5Dimes.

Group A

Brazil   -350
Mexico   +650
Croatia   +875
Cameroon   +2150

Group B

Spain   -130
Netherlands   +200
Chile   +475
Australia   +2700

Group C

Colombia   -135
Japan   +350
Ivory Coast   +460
Greece   +700

Group D

Italy   +160
Uruguay   +195
England   +215
Costa Rica   +4000

Group E

France   -145
Switzerland   +310
Ecuador   +340
Honduras   +2800

Group F

Argentina   -430
Bosnia   +595
Nigeria   +830
Iran   +3000

Group G

Germany   -180
Portugal   +260
Ghana   +1050
USA   +1075

Group H

Belgium   -180
Russia   +230
South Korea   +750
Algeria   +2500

 

Super-Duper Early Predictions

I will pick the finish of each group as I see them right now. These are subject to change many times over until the start of the World Cup.

Group A

1st – Brazil

2nd – Croatia

3rd – Mexico

4th – Cameroon

Group B

1st – Spain

2nd – Chile

3rd – Netherlands

4th – Australia

Group C

1st – Colombia

2nd – Ivory Coast

3rd – Japan

4th – Greece

Group D

1st – Italy

2nd – Uruguay

3rd – England

4th – Costa Rica

Group E

1st – Colombia

2nd – Switzerland

3rd – France

4th – Honduras

Group F

1st – Argentina

2nd – Nigeria

3rd – Bosnia and Herzegovina

4th – Iran

Group G

1st – Germany

2nd – Ghana

3rd – Portugal

4th – United States

Group H

1st – Russia

2nd – Belgium

3rd – South Korea

4th – Algeria

I will skip to the Semi-final match ups where I have Brazil vs Germany in one and Italy vs Argentina in the other. I like Brazil and Italy to meet p in the final with Italy coming out on top. Again this is subject to change (and probably will as we learn more about each team’s squad).

Be sure to check back often for part 4 and other blog posts!

Brazil 2014 – Part 2: A Quick Analysis of the Draw

This is the second post in a series leading up to the 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil. The first post can be found here.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup has been drawn and the groups are now set. I will take a look at each group and give a short analysis.

Group A

Group A is comprised of Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, and Cameroon. Undoubtedly, Brazil are the favorites to win Group A and the World Cup especially after the favorable draw. The battle for second place will be between the other three teams. I see any of the three teams being able to finish 2nd, but it will most likely come down to Croatia and Mexico.

Group B

Group B is mighty interesting considering the 2010 World Cup Final. Both Spain and the Netherlands are draw into this group and as fate would have it, will be playing the opening match of this group. Chile and Australia are also drawn in this group. The rank outsiders of this group are Australia as they have been poor in recent games. I cannot wait to see how Netherlands plays considering they did not win a game at Euro 2012.

Group C

This group contains Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan. Colombia are the favorites to win the group, but after that any of the three remaining teams can win. Greece are probably the 2nd favorites in this group while Ivory Coast have not gotten out of the group stage the last two World Cups. Japan played in the 2013 Confederations Cup, but went winless and showed issues with their back four.

Group D

Another tough group resides here in Group D between Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, and Italy. Uruguay and Italy are the favorites to go through, but expect England to have a say in whether or not that happens. This is a tough spot for Costa Rica to have hopes of making the last 16.

Group E

This group is headlined by the “easiest” seeded team in Switzerland. They will be joined by Ecuador, France, and Honduras. Ecuador look to be favored here with this World Cup taking place in South America. France has a great chance of making the Knockout stages despite a less than stellar qualifying run to get here. Honduras are considered outsiders to make the last 16.

Group F

This group is headlined by Argentina and includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria. Argentina will be heavily favored to win this group. Bosnia and Herzegovina along with Nigeria will battle for the 2nd spot in this group and Iran are considered long shots to make the last 16.

Group G

Arguably the toughest group (along with Group B) will be contested between Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the United States. Germany are favorites to go through, but any of the remaining three teams can certainly make it through. Ghana has been to the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010, respectively. Portugal have the immensely talented Cristiano Ronaldo and the US have been in good from during 2013. In my opinion, this group is by far the toughest to figure out and that means this should be an entertaining group from start to finish.

Group H

The last group contains the highly talked about dark-horse team in Belgium. They will play in this group along with Algeria, Russia, and South Korea. While Belgium will be favored to win, 2nd place looks like it belongs to Russia. Don’t sleep on South Korea as they made the Round of 16 in 2010 and finished 4th in 2002. Algeria are considered outsiders against this group.

 

This draw gave us a lot of intrigue to look forward to. There is the possibility of Spain and Brazil clashing in the Round of 16. In addition, we could see Spain or the Netherlands not make it out of the group stage. There is even the possibility of Germany struggling and not making it to the knockout rounds (It may be a small chance, but it is possible).

In Part 3 of my series I will look at the odds of each team making it to the Round of 16 as well as the odds of them winning the World Cup courtesy of 5Dimes. I will also give my super-duper early predictions (which are subject to change between then and the World Cup). Until then, enjoy the action and enjoy the World Cup draw banter!

Brazil 2014 – Part 1: What to Watch for at the Draw

This is the first post in a series leading up to the 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil.

The pots for 2014 World Cup have now been confirmed by FIFA. This image from ESPN FC best illustrates the breakdown of each pot:

(Again, Thanks to ESPN FC for the picture and they own all the rights to it).

Pot 1 is the comprised of the top 8 seeds for the 2014 World Cup. Pot 2 belongs to the five African qualifiers and the remaining two South American qualifiers. Pot 3 is for North American and Asian qualifiers. Pot 4 is the other 9 European qualifiers. In order to have 4 pots of 8 teams, one team from Pot 4 will be randomly selected and placed in Pot 2 to obtain the eight teams.

Keep in mind that no more than two European teams will be matched up in a group. In addition, no more than 1 South American team will be matched up in group. Finally, Brazil will automatically be placed in Group A.

Watch out for the “Group of Death” which would have the strongest teams concentrated in a single group. Every team wants to avoid the so called “Group of Death” which would be headed by Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, or Uruguay. The idea of a Germany, Ghana, United States and France Group is tantalizing and would be entertaining every match.

Also watch out for what I will coin as the “Group of Ease”. Both Belgium and Switzerland are being perceived as the easiest of the seeded teams to overcome in 2014. I am not sure that there is such thing as any easy group in the World Cup, especially if the top seed is a European team. It could be the “Group of Ease” for either Belgium or Switzerland if the draw the shakes out correctly.

Below are the odds of every team in the 2014 World Cup as of this writing. The odds are from 5Dimes.

 

Team Odds
Brazil  +300
Germany  +560
Argentina  +660
Spain  +680
Belgium  +1650
Netherlands  +2150
Colombia  +2350
Italy  +2450
England  +2550
Uruguay  +2850
France  +3250
Portugal  +3450
Chile  +4450
Russia  +10500
Switzerland  +14500
Ghana  +15000
Croatia  +16000
Mexico  +16500
Japan  +17000
USA  +18000
Ivory Coast  +21000
Bosnia and Herzegovina  +22500
Ecuador  +24000
Nigeria  +29000
Greece  +35000
South Korea  +50000
Cameroon  +70000
Australia  +70000
Costa Rica  +225000
Iran  +250000
Honduras  +250000
Algeria  +250000

 

I will be tweeting this event live on Friday and you can follow me here. Part 2 of this series will be posted on Friday evening after the Draw has concluded. I will analyze the draw and look at how it affected each teams odds to win the 2014 World Cup. Be sure to check back and enjoy the 2014 World Cup Draw!