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Sunday Morning Notebook: Army-Navy edition

It was awards week in college football, and an epic showdown between Army and Navy highlighted this week’s action.

“You’ve sunk my midshipmen!”

The Army Black Knights got their first victory over the Midshipmen of Navy in over 15 years on Saturday by a score of 21-17. After getting out to a 14-0 lead, it seemed like Army was going to dominate. Their four turnovers kept Navy in the game.

Despite losing starting quarterback Will Worth, starting running back Toneo Gulley, and wide receiver Tony Carmona, Navy clawed its way back to a 17-14 lead after quarterback replacement Zach Abey’s beastly 41-yard touchdown run gave the Midshipmen the lead with 12:42 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Army marched down the field, burning more than six minutes off the clock. The Black Knights converted two third downs and a fourth and inches in the red zone on their way to a go-ahead touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw (Not that Ahmad Bradshaw, this Ahmad Bradshaw).

As he took a final knee to break the streak, Bradshaw turned to the cadets and watched as they poured over the barriers and celebrated with the players.

It was at that moment you could see just how much this game meant to everyone involved. Despite what President-elect Donald Trump had to say on the air, this was an excellent football game.

And the Heisman goes to…

Lamar Jackson! In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet. Jackson was far and away the most electrifying college football player in the country this year, despite stumbling down the stretch against Houston and Kentucky. Jackson’s 3390 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, combined with his 1538 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, earned him the honor, which gave the University of Louisville a first Heisman trophy.

Other notes:

ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Catholics vs. Convicts” aired last night, and it was phenomenal. The film goes in-depth about a t-shirt business run by some Notre Dame students, which culminated in the (in)famous “Catholics vs. Convicts” shirts ahead of the showdown between 1987 defending national champion Miami Hurricanes and eventual 1988 National Champion Notre Dame. 10/10 would recommend, objectively, without any connection to either school’s fanbase. (My dad was in the stands for that game, it was his sophomore year at ND. Here’s his shirt).

Contact writer John Horlander on Twitter @John_Horlander, or by email:  [email protected].

Flickr – The U.S. Army

Irish Proved They Still Have Much to Play for

After falling short by one point against a Navy team that played the game of its life, Notre Dame rebounded with a convincing 44-6 dismantling of Army. Defending the triple option is always hard, but it’s much easier when Army doesn’t complete 4-5 fourth downs and holds the ball for half a quarter at a time.

The Irish dominated from start to finish, roaring out to a 21-0 lead and finishing the game with twice as many yards and three times as many first downs as the Black Knights. It was exactly the type of commanding performance that Notre Dame needed; it proved that it won’t be going away easily to end this year.

But the road is the toughest it has been so far. The Irish welcome a tough Virginia Tech squad to Notre Dame Stadium on Senior Day. Jerod Evans, the Hokies’ dangerous dual-threat quarterback, promises to make life difficult for an Irish defensive unit that, while showing great improvement since Brian Van Gorder was fired, is still young and inexperienced. They follow that up with a trip to Los Angeles to face USC in the mausoleum colosseum. USC has looked much better since it was obliterated by Alabama, and the Irish will need to be careful to avoid another beatdown like the last time they visited the Trojans.

The Irish, especially freshman Julian Love, looked good against Army. Love began to stand out against Navy, finishing with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a blow to the head that many thought would rule him out against Army. After tests showed that Love had no concussion, he stepped up again and had three tackles, an interception and a pass break up this weekend. Love, smiling like only a freshman on the sidelines after his first career interception could, symbolized to Irish critics and fans alike that Notre Dame is not done yet.

A season filled with tough, close losses can often lead to uncertainty and separation in the locker room for a program like Notre Dame. There has been a great deal of debate and speculation as to whether or not Brian Kelly will retain his job next season (he will, by the way) and whether or not the players still like him (they do, by the way).

At 4-6, with two tough games remaining, the Irish proved that they aren’t just looking to fast forward to next season. An absurdly talented offensive group seems to have alleviated the problems which befell it against Stanford and NC State. Equanimeous St. Brown, C.J. Sanders, Kevin Stepherson, and more headline a standout wide receiving corps. Balanced with Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, and Tarean Folston in the run game, Notre Dame has a lot of weapons with which to strike. If the defense can keep up the good work, Kelly may have just turned this season around. Kind of. Beat the Hokies. (Time to play some real football).

Contact writer John Horlander on Twitter: @John_Horlander or via email: [email protected]

Flickr – West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

Welcome back, old friend!

These are the dog days.  The weather is overbearing in a way that makes us simply want to wave the white flag.

But, college football doesn’t allow for that.  It doesn’t allow us to give int.  College football offers hope at the end of this hot, desolate wasteland that we know as the “offseason.”

As the calendar flipped to August, I was reminded of one of my favorite football movies, “The Best of Times,” starring the late Robin Williams.  You should put this on your list if only for the poetic diatribes and quotable lines.  When describing the anticipation of the annual rebirth of football, Williams encapsulates the anticipation, the hope of a new season.

“It’s that time of year again…when the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly to the barren ground below.”

The hope he speaks of is found in an ideal unique to college football.

Tradition. A three-syllable word that defines the phenomena that is the sport we love. It’s more than just what happens between the lines. Coaches and players come and go, and the sport encompasses more than Xs and Os.

It is tradition.

It’s the Vol Navy sterngating in the shadows of Rocky Top. It’s the Sea of Red releasing balloons when their Huskers score for the first time. It’s Army and Navy desperately trying to “sing second.” It’s doing the Hokey Pokey at halftime in Blacksburg. It’s dotting the ‘i’, screaming “Bear Down,” “Boiler Up,” and striking the Heisman pose.

It’s the sight of beloved mascots like Ralphie, Tusk, Cam the Ram and Mike the Tiger. It’s the smells filling the State Fair on Oklahoma-Texas weekend, permeating from Dreamland on Friday afternoon, and wafting across The Grove on Saturday morning. It’s the deafening cheers in The Swamp, The Horseshoe, The Doak, “between the hedges” and down on The Farm. It’s the driving melodies of Texas Fight, Fight Tiger, Tiger Rag and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.

The autumn spectacle makes this sport special. It has survived world wars, financial recessions, and national tragedies.

The passion and traditions are cultural – inherited at a young age, carried through tenure as a co-ed, embraced as a seasoned alum, and then taught to the next generation.

No other sport offers the color and pageantry quite like college football. Lucky for us, it’s that time of year again…

The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.
The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.

CIT Tournament Round 1 Recap

Believe it or not, there is college basketball to be played outside of the NCAA Tournament. For those who finish the year on the wrong side of the bubble, the National Invitation Tournament, College Insider Tournament, and College Basketball Invitational provide many mid-major and Power 5 schools the opportunity to gain some well deserved momentum going into next season.

On the other hand, programs that finish the season amidst internal turmoil might have mixed feelings about appearing in a tournament other than the big dance. Regardless, there are games to be played and money to be had, as the College Insider Tournament gives 26 mid-major programs the chance to hoist a trophy at the end of the year, as a selection committee that is headlined by ex collegiate basketball standouts turned football stars Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson picks what teams qualify for the field.

First round action of the CIT kicked off Monday with two exciting games that both were decided in the final moments. Jackson State was able to upend Sam Houston State on the road, 81-77, in overtime. Grand Canyon improved to 26-6 on the year when they defeated South Carolina State, 78-74, behind five double figure scorers. The two will face off in a second round contest that will take place on March 17th.

Play resumed on Tuesday with three more intense first round contests. Coastal Carolina upended Mercer, 65-57 behind 18 points from junior guard Elijah Wilson. Furman was able to defeat Louisiana-Monroe on a buzzer-beating putback from sophomore Daniel Fowler. The most intense game of the first round also took place on Tuesday when Ball State pulled off the upset over Tennessee State on the road, 78-73 in two overtimes, for the Cardinals first postseason victory in fourteen years. Sophomore guard Jeremie Tyler led the way for the Cardinals with 25 points and 5 rebounds.

A majority of first round games took place on Wednesday, as New Hampshire picked up a win over Fairfield, 77-62, Texas-Arlington topped Savannah State, 75-69 and Boston University advanced with a close victory over Fordham, 69-66, New Jersey Institute of Technology got by Army, 79-65, Columbia shined in a decisive 86-54 win over Norfolk State behind four double-digit scoring efforts, and Tennessee-Martin squeaked by Central Michigan, 76-73, to close out the early games. The night cap saw Louisiana-Lafayette pull the upset over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in dominant fashion, 96-72, and UC Irvine avoid the upset in a thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota, 89-86.

Round two will tip off Thursday, and go through March 20th.

While it may be easy to overlook the CIT and other postseason tournaments like it as the NCAA Tournament gets a lion’s share of media coverage, there’s even more great basketball to fill the cravings of hardwood junkies across the country.

Email Alec at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @alec_kwait.

Image via Vimeo

Campus Pressbox #8: Everyday Would Be Mardi Gras

Download | Subscribe: RSS | iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | Spreaker | Pocket Casts

Damien (@damienbowman) and Mike (@pigskinopinion) podcast without preparation. Browns versus Dolphins, Mariotta versus Winston, TCU versus Baylor, Big 12’s Championship game, Army/Navy, Billy Donovan, and how to spend $26 million dollars in Oklahoma City. A deep discussion about wedding dates, tailgating and Mardi Gras.


Deregulation and College Football

Uncertainty remains for Navy over New Year’s Six bowls, Army game

Why Billy Donovan decided to finally jump to the NBA

States Without an Income Tax

The Hurricane

5 coaches who could replace Billy Donovan at Florida

Archie Bunker

Bird LeCroy (@Autull)

Seth Merenbloom (@SMerenbloom)

Damon Del Rosario (@DamoKnowSports)

Can the Canes-Seminoles Rivalry Return to Relevancy?

Army-Navy. Alabama-Auburn. USC-UCLA. Ohio State-Michigan. Oklahoma-Texas. These are just some of the biggest rivalries in college football history and some with the most tradition. If it’s rivalry week, these games are storylines even when both teams aren’t good. That used to be Miami (Fl.)-Florida State. The rivalry had a dominant run in the late 90s to early 2000s but hasn’t been relevant in ten years. The game has been talked about some this week, partly because there aren’t many other huge games on the slate. But nationally, this game does not resonate like it used to. As a Miami fan that’s hard to swallow.

I became a Miami fan for simple reasons. My home state team wasn’t exactly riveting to watch (the run-all-day Badgers). My first favorite college football player was Edgerrin James. I loved the way he ran, remembered seeing his game in the upset against UCLA in 1998. The next couple years I really fell in love with the Canes. Santana Moss’ electrifying play caught my eye. And it didn’t hurt that the team rocked my two favorite colors, orange and green. I was 11 years old, what do you want from me? Fortunately my newfound fandom shortly preceded the last glory years for the program. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long.

It isn’t easy being a Miami fan, particularly in the Midwest. People wonder why the hell a kid from small town Wisconsin would be a fan of a team of a bunch of thugs from Florida. The thug comments are the worst. Miami has certainly had its share of problems, mainly two huge scandals that people feel allows them to paint a picture of a university’s entire past, present, and future. But lately, the Hurricanes haven’t had more problems than numerous other football programs. You don’t see people calling the Longhorns or Georgia Bulldogs a bunch of thugs because they’ve had multiple players kicked off the team in recent years. Miami’s history can’t be ignored, but it’s vastly improved from those days. The scandal of the early 2000s was a cloud over the entire program but also its fans. It was bad enough seeing your team fall to mediocrity and irrelevance, but then to have dozens of players involved in various improper benefits only made it worse. Then the NCAA embarrassed itself in dragging out its investigation for what seemed like forever until finally allowing Hurricanes fans to exhale. And that’s all just off the field.

The day the Canes faced the Seminoles was like a holiday for me. After being accustomed to one, if not both teams being ranked in the Top 5 or Top 10, the last decade has been rough. You could see it coming; upset losses becoming more prevalent, top recruits flaming out. There was a similar decline in Tallahassee, and I’m sure Seminoles fans can relate. Miami toiled in mediocrity. The worst part, other than Florida State making a comeback much quicker, was the constant teases. The times where they showed a glimpse of a possible return to glory.

When highly touted QB Kyle Wright came around, we thought he was just what Miami needed. A stud quarterback to turn things around. He turned out to be a bust. Then there was the Jacory Harris era. One that started in 2009 with a 5-1 start that saw the Canes climb to #9 in the polls on the heels of victories over Florida State and Oklahoma. Finally, there was hope. Those hopes were dashed as Miami finished the year 9-4 and with a loss to the Badgers. Talk about salt in the wound. It was also the last year they beat Florida State. The three following years made me immune to the Canes struggles as they finished 7-6, 6-6, and 7-5. At this point I was hoping for eight win seasons and a Champs Sports Bowl victory. Had we joined the Northwesterns of the world?

Though the past 10 years have taught me to keep my guard up, it was hard not to get excited about the team last year. They were 7-0 and in the Top 10 for the first time in years. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t exactly the strongest undefeated team around. But winning close games and avoiding upsets was something the Canes hadn’t done in a decade. So even though I didn’t expect them to knock off undefeated Florida State, being sent home with a beat down from your rival doesn’t sit easy.

That brings us to this year. A Miami team once again with some momentum, sitting at 6-3, and hosting still undefeated Florida State. It’s hard not to expect disappointment, but no matter how a Miami year ends they can make their season by beating their biggest rival. They’re only 2-2.5 point underdogs, but I’m not letting that get my hopes up. Even as a diehard Canes fan, that line seems insane. Too many years of disappointment has taught me not to expect much.

At least Miami has a decent record and has been playing well. The game means something and is not just another pushover W for the Noles as if they were playing Wake Forest. But Miami still has a long ways to go to reach where their upstate rivals have returned to. They have to overcome a decade of irrelevance, a lack of money from the school compared to other big programs, an off-campus stadium, and a fan base that is indifferent for the most part. The Seminoles have won four in a row in the series and 7 of 9. They’re also the defending champs. Miami needs to get back to where the Noles are for this rivalry to matter nationally. This week gives them that chance. It would give renewed meaning to the rivalry, end FSU’s winning streak, and impress recruits.

I want a Miami win not just because the opponent is Florida State. I want it so the Canes can be talked about in a positive way again and to renew this rivalry’s importance to the national title (now college football playoff) race. I want it to be looked at on the same level as Auburn-Alabama. I also don’t want to wait another year to see if the Hurricanes can make the next step towards a return to prominence. Will I be celebrating? Or will I have to spend another tortured year waiting for another opportunity? I’ll go to bed Saturday knowing the answer.


CFB Roundtable #17: Navy and Their Coach Tia Carrera

More Than a Fan Publisher Josh Flagner joins Jeff and Damien as they recap championship Saturday, discuss the BCS bowls, and talk about Mack Brown, Nick Saban and the Texas Longhorns. Oh, and Josh tries pronounce Ken Niumatalolo.
Week 15: Mind Playin Tricks On Me ’94

The Players

Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Jeff Rich (@JRichRadio)
Josh Flagner (@RailbirdJ)