Thanksgiving week important for football teams
Regardless whether it’s on the high school, collegiate or professional level, this Thanksgiving week should dictate the success or failure of a plethora of football teams.
There is only one National Football League team that sports an unblemished record this week (Green Bay) and only two major colleges that are still undefeated (LSU and the University of Houston) and a Southland Conference team (Sam Houston State) which merely proves once again that it is very difficult for any football team to run the table during a season.
The Packers could very well fall from the ranks of the undefeated tomorrow in their annual game against the Detroit Lions in the Silver Dome. The game should be a shootout with Green Bay averaging 35.5 points per game while the Lions aren’t far behind by averaging just over 30 points per contest. The Pack is favored by six points.
LSU is also in jeopardy of having its 11-game winning streak come to an end Friday at the hands of red-hot Arkansas, which has lost only once in its 11 games to then No. 1-ranked Alabama. Fortunately for the Tigers, this game will be played in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals are a whopping 14-point favorite.
The surprising University of Houston Cougars are averaging better than 50 points per game and are 11-0 by outscoring the opponents like each game were a track meet. But the Coogs must travel to meet 8-3 Tulsa Friday.
But the significance of this match-up is that both teams are tied for first place in the Conference USA West Division with 7-0 records. The U of H is favored by only three points.
Sam Houston State was selected as the No. 1-seed in the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and rewarded with a first-round bye. The Bearkats (11-0) were the only FCS team to finish the regular season undefeated, beating a Football Bowl Subdivision program (New Mexico) along the way.
The Bearkats, in the postseason for the first time since 2004, are guaranteed home games through the semifinal round and will face the winner between Big South champion Stony Brook (8-3) and Northeast co-champion Albany (7-3) on Dec. 3 at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville.
Four of the top seven teams in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 Collegiate Football Poll were upset, including previously undefeated No. 2 Oklahoma State. This week’s poll still has LSU No. 1, with Alabama moving up one spot to No. 2, Arkansas up three slots to No. 3, Stanford up four spots to No. 4 and Oklahoma State No. 5.
No. 6 Virginia Tech, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Houston all moved up three places from last week while No. 9 Oregon slipped down from No. 4 and Southern Cal leap-frogged eight spots to No. 10. TCU remained at No. 19 while Baylor jumped from No. 25 to No. 21.
Besides several conference championships and the treasured Heisman Trophy still up for grabs, this Thanksgiving weekend also features several long-standing rivalries that lead to bragging rights, if nothing else.
Two of the longest-standing rivalries that probably will come to an end after this weekend are Texas-Texas A&M and Kansas-Missouri which have been played since the late 1800’s.
The Longhorns and Aggies will face off Thanksgiving night perhaps for the last time as the Aggies vamoose from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference where they can play football against some REAL Southern teams. Missouri also saw greener grass on the other side of the fence and will join the SEC next season.
Some of the other in-state rivalries playing this weekend include Alabama-Auburn, Oregon-Oregon State, Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson, Virginia Tech-Virginia, Georgia-Georgia Tech, USC-UCLA, Air Force-Colorado State, Grambling-Southern and Mississippi State-Ole Miss.
Many teams are still trying to become bowl-eligible while others are fighting for the best positions in the BCS.
Most of the high school teams still battling for the state championships in their respective classes are in the regional semifinal round this weekend, including the West Orange-Stark Mustangs and the Vidor Pirates from Orange County.
The Mustangs (9-3), who rarely miss the playoffs, will be up against the Bullard Panthers (8-4), who have won for the very first time in the post-season this year. This third-round game will be played 2 p.m. Saturday at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah (The Woodlands).
Vidor (10-2) is in the playoffs for the first time since the mid-1960’s and will have its work cut out against undefeated Angleton (12-0). These two teams will square off 6 p.m. Friday at Galena Park ISD Stadium in Galena Park.
This will be the weekend that you can stuff yourself with turkey and all the trimmings Thursday and also sit back and enjoy four full days of football.
KWICKIES…It almost seemed ironic that the golfer who secured the President’s Cup for the United States was none other than Tiger Woods. He says that he has eliminated most of his putting woes by listening to every word of advice from colleague Steve Stricker.
It’s still difficult to get too enthusiastic about the Dallas Cowboys, despite the fact they are tied for first place in the NFC East Division with the New York Giants. The Pokes appeared to have Sunday’s game in hand against the Washington Redskins in the first half, but then had to score two fourth-period touchdowns to get the game into overtime. The ‘Skins won the flip and had a chance to win it without Dallas running an offensive play, but Washington kicker Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal and Cowboys’ rookie kicker Dan Bailey kicked a 39-yarder to give Dallas a 27-24 win.
And while on the subject of the NFL, Orange’s Earl Thomas continues to lead the Seattle Seahawks with 67 tackles as his defense shut down the St. Louis Rams and upset them 24-7 Sunday. Seattle (4-6) has won two in a row (both upsets) but will be favored (3 points) for the very first time this season when they host the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III threw his helmet into the ring of candidates for the Heisman Trophy as his four touchdown passes upset the mighty Oklahoma Sooners 45-38 Saturday night. Griffin connected on a 34-yard bullet pass in the end zone to Terrence Williams with only eight seconds left in the game that everyone thought was headed to overtime. It would be nice if those Eastern writers voted to elect either Griffin or University of Houston senior quarterback Case Keenum as this year’s Heisman winner.
JUST BETWEEN US…Nobody enjoys the Christmas holiday season more than I do, but coming back from Vinton Saturday night I saw at least 20 houses lit to the max with Christmas lights and scenes. It seems to get earlier each year, but a week before Thanksgiving has to be jumping the gun somewhat.