March 27, 2017

Cleveland, the ’64 King

When Cleveland Was King

LeBron James and Johnny Manziel are giving Cleveland hope that it will finally win its first major sports championship since 1964. The smarter money at this point is on LeBron and the Cavaliers as they have a talented roster even before the addition of Kevin Love and, basketball being what it is; only a few great players are necessary to take a team from the lottery to a championship.

Mr. Manziel has a far tougher row to hoe. Even when he’s eventually named the Browns’ starting quarterback he still needs about 20 other great players around him before little number 2 makes Cleveland number 1.

Whoever does take the next title for Cleveland (oh yeah, there’s also a rumor out there that the Indians are still in the playoff race) they will supplant the 1964 Browns as the last Cleveland team to have a parade, hoist the hardware and make General Moses smile.

But what about those ’64 Brownies? How good were they?

Very.

The 1964 Cleveland Browns went 10-3-1, coached by Blanton Collier who, in his eight seasons as an NFL head coach from 1963 to 1970, all with the Browns, never had a losing season and made the playoffs five times.

On the field the Browns were led on offense by Jim Brown who topped the NFL with 1,446 yards, averaging better than 100 yards per game in the 14-game season. Brown’s 1,446 yards were nearly 300 better than his closest competition, Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor. Brown also led the league in total yards from scrimmage by more than 200 yards and was tied for third that year in rushing touchdowns with seven.

He also attempted one pass and completed it, good for 13 yards and a touchdown.

Mostly thanks to Jim Brown, Cleveland was second in total offense in ’64, but was also helped by a capable quarterback named Frank Ryan who started all 14 games and threw 25 TD passes, good enough for tops in the league.

When you have the NFL’s best running back and also the league-leader in TD passes you’re probably going to be good even if your defense is terrible, but the ’64 Browns’ defense was far from terrible, ranking fifth in the league in fewest points allowed.

The ’64 Browns had All-Pros on defense in cornerback Bernie Parrish, linebacker Jim Houston, defensive end Bill Glass, kicker Lou Groza and, back on offense, guard Gene Hickerson, tackle Dick Schafrath, split end Paul Warfield, and, of course, Jim Brown in the backfield.

Other than a 23-7 loss to the lowly Pittsburgh Steelers on October 10 of that season (Jim Brown only carried the ball eight times) the ’64 Cleveland Browns handled the opposition with little shame though they did turn the ball over with alarming frequency, including a six-turnover victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Strangely, the only game in 1964 that the Browns did not turn over the ball was a 28-21 loss to the Packers on November 22.

The Browns won the Eastern Division by a game over the St. Louis Cardinals, the only other team in the East with a winning record that year and earned a spot in the NFL Championship Game against the mighty Baltimore Colts who were easily champions of the West with a 12-2 record under second year coach Don Shula and league MVP Johnny Unitas at quarterback.

The game was played in Cleveland Municipal Stadium on December 27, 1964 in 34-degree weather with mud, wind and animus. The Colts were heavy favorites.

Browns 27, Colts 0.

The game was scoreless at halftime but then in the second half Ryan connected with receiver Gary Collins for three TDs and Jim Brown, though he never scored, muddled through with 114 yards on 27 carries and also caught three passes for 37 yards.

On defense, the Browns held Unitas to just 95 yards passing and intercepted him twice.

Browns 27, Colts 0.

The Browns were awarded rings for winning the title and Jim Brown’s was later stolen and has recently been up for auction, something Mr. Brown is trying to stop.

Thirty-one years after the 1964 title game the Browns decided to move, to of all places, Baltimore, which had lost the Colts to Indianapolis a decade before.

One of the stipulations of that controversial move was that the Browns themselves actually would not move, only the coaches and players would go as the team became the Baltimore Ravens while the Cleveland Browns, the team records, trophies, etc., remained in Cleveland, dormant, until the Browns were reincarnated, as an expansion team, in 1999.

One of the things the Browns were forced to leave behind when they bolted for Baltimore was their trophy for winning the 1964 NFL title. The thing of it is, though, there really was no trophy for Cleveland to keep.

In those days the NFL used to hand out the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, which was named for an NFL official. But that trophy was, like hockey’s Stanley Cup, handed off to a new champion each year so the next year the Browns had to give it to the Packers who still have it because after the 1966 season, in which the Packers were champs again, teams got a new trophy every year which is now, of course, the Lombardi Trophy.

The 1964 Cleveland Browns didn’t get a trophy to keep until 2004 when the NFL commissioned a brand new trophy to present to an old champion.

Cleveland still has that trophy. And is still looking for another one.

 

Losses, Upsets and the Rolling Tide

It is Saturday which means it is time again for college football. Last week’s action was full of upsets which shook up the Leatherheads Top 16. One constant did remain: Alabama sitting at the #1 spot. Until the Crimson Tide lose, I don’t think that will change.

The Tide easily took care of Arkansas 52-0. Both sophomore Kenyan Drake and freshman Derrick Henry ran for 100 yards, including Henry running 80 yards in the final minute to cap a dreadful day for the Razorbacks. The Tide are 7-0 and playing Tennessee later today.

The game of the week was supposed to be Florida State at Clemson. Well, Clemson didn’t show up and FSU took care of business on both sides of the ball. The defense created 4 turnovers while Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards, 3 scores and ran one into the end zone. Yet, another amazing day for the redshirt freshman. The kid shows great leadership ability and has all the talent in the world. He is fun to watch. With the win, FSU moved up to the third spot in the poll behind the Oregon Ducks who also keep winning and beat Washington State 62-38.

For Clemson, the Tigers dropped from third in the poll to #10. Today they travel to Maryland and try to redeem themselves. Maryland is 5-2.

While #4 Ohio State had to rally to beat Iowa 34-24, Baylor took care of business by beating Iowa State 71-7. The Bears are leading the nation in scoring with almost 65 points per game. The defense is not too shabby either, ranking seventh in points against at 16 points a game. Baylor was ranked 11th last week in the poll but find themselves in the #5 spot. Today they go against the 2-4 Charlie Weiss-led Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks gave up 54 points to Texas Tech on October 5th. The Bears might beat that number.

Sitting in the #6 spot is Missouri. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that the Tigers would be 7-0 at this point in the season, especially with Georgia on their schedule? Today they should be tested by South Carolina who are looking to makeup for their loss last week to Tennessee. If they can get by the Gamecocks today as well as Tennessee next week, they could be undefeated going into their last regular-season game against Texas A&M on November 30th.

Have you noticed yet that Louisville is not ranked in the Top 16? All it took was one loss and they fell from #6 to nowhere. Central Florida scored with 23 seconds left to beat the formerly undefeated Cardinals. UCF will have their hands full today when they face the UConn Huskies (sarcasm).

The game of the week turned out to be Auburn at Texas A&M. Auburn beat up on Johnny Manziel, forcing him out of the game at one point with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Still, Manziel was Johnny Football and almost won the game. A feisty Auburn team kept pace and finally scored and then shut down Manziel with less than a minute to go. Manziel, with injury, still managed 454 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Mike Evans had a huge day himself, catching those 4 TD passes while receiving for 287 yards. Remember a month ago when Evans had 279 yards against Alabama? Can you say first-round draft pick?

Anyway, Auburn makes is debut in the Top 16 at #13 while the Aggies drop from #8 to #14.

While Miami, Texas Tech and Fresno State (yes, Fresno State) are all undefeated and ranked in the Top 16, LSU, UCLA, Georgia and Washington all took losses with only LSU and UCLA remained ranked.

Enough about last week. The games to watch this week include Tennessee at Alabama, UCLA at Oregon, Penn State at Ohio State, South Carolina at Missouri, Stanford at Oregon State and Texas Tech at Oklahoma.

If the Buckeyes are not careful, I can see Penn State stealing victory from them and ending their winning streak. A few undefeateds will fall today but one will not be Northern Illinois who will host Eastern Michigan.

Did you notice I mentioned the Volunteers five times if you count this sentence?

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 8:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (11)    7-0   176        1
   2 Oregon    7-0   164        2
   3 Florida State    6-0   152        5
   4 Ohio State    7-0   143        4
   5 Baylor    6-0   120      11
   6 Missouri    7-0   109      14
   7 Miami    6-0   103      10
   8 Stanford    6-1     88      13
   9 Texas Tech    7-0     80      15
 10 Clemson    6-1     74        3
 11 LSU    6-2     51        7
 12 UCLA    5-1     45        9
 13 Auburn    6-1     37      NR
 14 Texas A&M    5-2     34        8
 15 Fresno State    6-0     28      NR
 16 Virginia Tech    6-1     26      NR


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma – 17, Louisville – 14, Florida – 8, Georgia – 6, Michigan – 5, Northern Illinois – 5, Notre Dame – 4, Texas – 3, Virginia – 2, Oklahoma State – 1, USC – 1.

Participating voters: Jon Blayne, David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon WilliamsJoe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Here We Go Again! Alabama is #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

After two straight national championships, the Alabama Crimson Tide are undefeated and again sitting at the top of the national rankings as the best college football team. The results of the first Leatherheads Top 16 poll are not a surprise with Alabama ranked #1.

Bama will play Ole Miss this weekend to try to hold on to the top ranking. The Rebels are 3-0 after beating Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri State and Texas. The A.J. McCarron-led Crimson Tide are also 3-0 after beating Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and the Rams of Colorado State.

The Aggies are ranked #9 and are the highest ranked team with a lost, joining Georgia and South Carolina as the three teams with losses in the Top 16. Of course, A&M lost to Bama in that classic game on September 14 as the Tide escaped getting Manzieled for the second year in a row. Texas A&M play Arkansas this week. The Razorbacks are coming off a loss to Rutgers. Johnny Football is having another great year. Leatherhead Terry Keshner calls him the James Franco of college football and Leatherhead Tony Williams calls A&M an offensive-MACHINE – so true!

In the #2 spot we have the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are 3-0 and will be playing a 1-2 California Golden Bears team. Although the Ducks have tough matchups coming up with games against Washington, Washington State and UCLA, the big match will be against Stanford on November 7. The Cardinal play at Washington State on Saturday.

There is a tight race for the #3 spot with just seven points separating Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford with two 4-0 teams slightly behind in LSU and Louisville. Clemson currently holds that #3 spot but like Leatherhead Dave Boyce said to me: “If NC State makes you look beatable, you are beatable.”

LSU plays at Georgia in Week 5. If the Bulldogs lose, it is likely they will drop out of the Top 16 but could run the table the rest of the way with only one AP-ranked team left to play this year in Florida. LSU on the other hand has yet to play Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and the Aggies.

Michigan sits at the bottom of the poll after barely beating a UConn team that looked pitiful the first two games of the season. A late pick led to a score and allowed the Wolverines to win the game and stay undefeated.

A game to watch this weekend is Oklahoma at Notre Dame. Can the Irish find last year’s regular season magic and top a very good Sooners team? The Irish are 3-1 with their loss coming against Michigan on September 7. Meanwhile, linebacker Manti Te’o will be making his NFL debut for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

An interesting team on the verge of joining the Top 16 is the Northwestern Wildcats. The 4-0 Wildcats have the week off but play Ohio State in Week 6. Leatherhead Bob Swick thinks they are the sleeper team of this season while Keshner told me “If the Wildcats can beat Ohio State, they’ll be that much closer of realizing their dream of getting embarrassed in January.”

Here are the first rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron for the 2013 season:

Rank Team Record Points
   1 Alabama (11)    3-0   176
   2 Oregon    3-0   162
   3 Clemson    3-0   141
   4 Ohio State    4-0   139
   5 Stanford    3-0   134
   6 LSU    4-0   122
   7 Louisville    4-0   116
   8 Florida State    3-0     89
   9 Texas A&M    3-1     73
 10 Oklahoma State    3-0     72
 11 Georgia    2-1     70
 12 Oklahoma    3-0     47
 13 UCLA    3-0     41
 14 South Carolina    2-1     28
 15 Miami    3-0     21
 16 Michigan    4-0     15


Others receiving votes
: Baylor – 13, Northwestern – 13, Washington – 11, Ole Miss – 5, Florida – 4, Texas Tech – 2, Michigan State – 2, Notre Dame – 1.

Participating voters: Jon Blayne, David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, RUFANJerry, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Alabama Repeats and Finishes #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

Alabama took care of business and beat an undefeated team for the second year in a row to claim college football’s crystal ball. Bama came out of the starting gate at top speed and took control of the game, ultimately winning 42-14. The matchup was over by the second quarter and the Fighting Irish showed no fight. Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o missed more tackles in the game than he did all season, possibly hurting his bank account when the NFL Draft happens later this year. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Crimson Tide rolled as Eddie Lacy rushed for 140 yards and A.J. McCarron passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns, both showing that they may one day star at the next level. Lacy, a junior, stated yesterday that he will enter this year’s NFL Draft along with cornerback Dee Milliner and tackle D.J. Fluker.

It has been five days since the BCS National Championship Game so most Crimson Tide fans should be over their celebratory hang over by now and Notre Dame fans are coming to grips that it wasn’t meant to be but that the season was still a magical one. As Leatherhead Tex Noel said to me, “When Alabama and Notre Dame met, it was history vs. history and dynasty won.” I would have to agree with that statement. The two most successful schools in college football history met and Bama won, earning their third championship in four years. Alabama joins Nebraska, who won in 1994, 1995 and 1997, as the only schools to accomplish the feat. Alabama also won their tenth national championship, breaking a tie with Notre Dame at nine. Alabama also won championships in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009 and 2011.

Since Alabama was victorious, it is no surprise that the Crimson Tide finished #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16 for the second year in a row. Heading into the game we had them ranked #2 after Notre Dame who now sits at the #4 position. The Oregon Ducks finished #2 after beating Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. Oops! I mean the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats fell in the poll from the sixth spot to the twelfth spot, the second biggest drop in the rankings. Topping Kansas State’s drop was Florida who lost 33-23 to the surprising Louisville Cardinals. The Gators fell from being tied for fourth with the idle Ohio State Buckeyes (now #3) to eleventh, down seven spots. Didn’t the UConn Huskies beat Louisville a few weeks back? The Cardinals moved back into the poll and finish the year at #13.

Johnny Football showed why he won the Heisman Trophy by leading the Texas A&M Aggies to a dominant 41-13 victory over Oklahoma. Johnny Manziel ran and passed for two touchdowns apiece to become the fourth player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to run and pass for 20 touchdowns each in a season, joining Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. You know I have to mention Tebow. Manziel also had a Cotton Bowl-record 516 total yards, 229 rushing and 287 passing. Crazy! A&M finished fifth in the Top 16, moving up four spots. Leatherhead Terry Keshner relayed to me his thoughts on the game: “Watching Johnny Football destroy Oklahoma was like watching Forrest Gump after six shots of Five-Hour Energy.” Oklahoma manged to stay in the Top 16 despite being crushed. They finished the season ranked #15.

Georgia and Stanford both won their bowl games to finish sixth and seventh in the poll, respectively. Stanford beat Wisconsin 20-14 in the Rose Bowl while Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl. South Carolina beat Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl to finish #8. Rounding out the top ten is Orange Bowl winner Florida State at nine and Chick-fil-A BOWL victor Clemson at ten. In the battle of the Tigers, Clemson beat LSU who dropped from tenth to fourteenth.

Boise State, spending most of the season outside of the Top 16, beat Washington in the MAACO Bowl to complete our rankings at #16. Utah State (11-2) and Northwestern (10-3) received support but fell just short of being ranked. Utah State beat Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl by the score of 41-15. Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl to win their first bowl game since 1949. Nice!  Mississippi State at one time was 7-0 on the season but finished with just an 8-5 record. Ouch!

On behalf of Leatherheads of the Gridiron and all our pollsters, thanks for following us all season and we look forward to doing it all over again next season.

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
   1 Alabama (11)   13-1    176        2
   2 Oregon   12-1    158        3
   3 Ohio State   12-0    151        4 (Tie)
   4 Notre Dame   12-1    136        1
   5 Texas A&M   11-2    130        9
   6 Georgia   12-2    128        7
   7 Stanford   12-2    108        8
   8 South Carolina   11-2      99      11
   9 Florida State   12-2      74      13
 10 Clemson   11-2      73      14
 11 Florida   11-2      70        4 (Tie)
 12 Kansas State   11-2      65        6
 13 Louisville   11-2      51      NR
 14 LSU   10-3      29      10
 15 Oklahoma   10-3      16      12
 16 Boise State   11-2      15      NR


Others receiving votes
: Utah State – 13, Northwestern – 4.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Leatherheads Heisman Poll for 2012

Tonight, the 78th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with three finalists waiting in the audience.  The three finalists are Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quaterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o.

In anticipation of tonight’s announcement, Leatherheads of the Gridiron polled 18 of its contributors to see who we think will be the next name added to the elite list of college football greats who can say they are a Heisman Trophy recipient.  Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.  Last season, Leatherheads had a tie for the award with both Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Alabama’s Trent Richardson finishing first, although RG3 had more first place votes.  RG3 ended up winning the trophy while Stanford’s Andrew Luck was second and Richardson finishing in third place.  Click here for results.

We had 18 voters allocate their votes to ten different players.  A few names missing that have been mentioned as possible winners at the beginning of the season and along the way include USC QB Matt Barkley, Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor, Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas and Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson.  Also missing is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu who finished fifth in the voting last year and was dismissed from the team before the season for his drug use.  A sad story.  Hopefully, he can turn his life around and make it in the NFL in some capacity.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 8-5, Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin Badgers.  The senior is ranked third in rushing with 1,730 yards and is tied for eighth with 21 touchdowns.  Last year he finished fourth in the Heisman voting.  Over the last two seasons, he has rushed for 3,653 yards and scored an amazing 60 touchdowns.

Kenjon Barner
Barner is a running back for Oregon.  The Ducks are 11-1 and heading to play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Barner ranks seventh in rushing with 1,624 yards and is tied for fourth with 22 touchdowns.  The senior rushed for 321 yards and five TDs on November 3 against the USC Trojans.

Jarvis Jones
Jones is a linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs are 11-2 and will be playing in the Capital One Bowl.   The junior is the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-American.  His 12.5 sacks are tied for fourth in the nation.

Collin Klein
Klein is the quarterback for the 11-1 Kansas State Wildcats and will be playing against Barner and his Ducks teammates in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Klein, a senior, led the Wildcats to 10-straight victories before losing to Baylor on November 17.  He has scored 22 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the nation.  Over the last two seasons, the former wide receiver has passed for 4,408 yards and 28 TDs with 13 INTs while rushing for 2,031 yards and 49 TDs.

Marqise Lee
Lee is a wide receiver for the USC Trojans.  The sophomore leads the nation with 112 receptions, is second with 1,680 yards, and ranks third in TD catches with 14.  He has also returned 28 kickoffs for 802 yards and a score.  In two seasons, Lee has 185 catches for 2,823 yards and 25 scores.

Jordan Lynch
Lynch is a junior quarterback for Northern Illionois.  He has led the 12-1 Huskies to the Orange Bowl.  He leads the nation in rushing with 1,771 yards, a record for FBS quarterbacks.  He has thrown for 2,942 yards with 24 TDs and just 5 INTs.  He also has 19 rushing touchdowns.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel is a freshman quarterback for the 10-2, Cotton Bowl-bound Texas A&M Aggies.  Johnny Football, as he is called, gained national promience when he led his team to a 29-24 victory over #1 ranked Alabama.  Manziel has passed for 3,419 yards, 24 TDs with 8 INTs while running for 1,181 yards and 19 TDs.

Braxton Miller
Miller is the quarterback for the 12-0 Ohio State Buckeyes and the Big Ten Player of the Year. The Buckeyes were not eligible for the Big Ten championship or a bowl game this season while on probation for past NCAA violations. The sophomore rushed for 1,271 yards with 13 TDs while passing for 2,039 yards and 15 TDs.

Geno Smith
Smith is the quarterback for West Virginia.  The senior is ranked first with 40 passes for touchdowns, fourth with 4,004 passing yards, and sixth with a 164.6 QB rating.  On September 29 against Baylor, he threw for 656 yards and 8 TDs.  Over the last two seasons, he has thrown for 8,389 yards with 71 TDs and just 13 INTs.  The 7-5 Mountaineers will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Manti Te’o
Te’o is the middle linebacker for the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The senior is tied for second in the nation with 7 interceptions and has made 101 tackles this season.  He has already won several awards this season, including the Maxwell Award.  He will play in the BCS National Championship Game, hoping to lead his team to a 13-0 record and a national championship.

Rank Player First Second Third Total
   1 Johnny Manziel 27 (9)   6 (3)   5 (5)   38
   2 Manti Te’o 21 (7) 12 (6) 3.5 (3.5)   36.5
   3 Collin Klein   6 (2) 10 (5)   5 (5)   21
   4 Braxton Miller   0 (0)   4 (2)   0 (0)     4
   5 (Tie) Montee Ball   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   5 (Tie) Jordan Lynch   0 (0)   0 (0)   2 (2)     2
   5 (Tie) Geno Smith   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   8 (Tie) Kenjon Barner   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
   8 (Tie) Marqise Lee   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
 10 Jarvis Jones   0 (0)   0 (0)   .5 (.5)      .5

 

So the winner of our poll is Johnny Football, the freshman.  A few of our voters could not vote for him in the number one spot just because he is a freshman.  One Leatherhead stated, “Sorry I do not feel Manziel is worthy of the trophy being only a freshman, let us see what he can do next year.”  I disagree with that thinking since the play is based on this season.  I personally picked Manziel number one, largely for his play in the SEC which is clearly, in my mind and many others, the top conference in college football.

Another Leatherhead would disagree with me making Manziel my top choice, “If raw statistics alone is your game, he’s your winner.  But if you actually take a closer look….he piled up great numbers against some terrible defensive teams. How did he do in the big games?  He completely failed to drive the offense in the second half of A&M’s loss to Florida, and threw 3 interceptions and was held to 27 yards rushing in the loss to LSU.  So that leaves the Alabama game – you’re voting a freshman the Heisman on the basis of one game.  Which means, in his college career, he has as many arrests as big-game victories.”  Ouch!

The arrest refers to an incident last summer when he got in a fight and produced fake identification to a police officer.  Should this count against his chance of winning the Heisman?  I personally do not since it has nothing to do with play on the field.  But it might.  Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans did for that reason.  He stated, “I don’t consider players with pending criminal charges.”

Enough about Manziel.  Leatherhead Tex Noel stated about Klein, “He’s an exciting player to watch. He thinks well on his feet as he eludes the defender or diving into the end zone. His passes are straight and on the mark. Without a doubt, Kansas State would not be the same without him.”

Tex has some good words for Te’o fans as well, “One of the best players the Irish have had in some time. He’s fearless as he makes plays sideline-to-sideline. You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him–maybe with a brick wall.”

So the top three finalists are the Leatherheads’ top three.  Early in the season I thought it would be Geno Smith, hands down.  Then the Mountaineers couldn’t stop losing.

I most note that one voter could not pick between Te’o and Jones with their third-place vote.  He declared it a tie and I let it go since no harm was done.  He stated, “I know, it’s a cop-out to do a tie but I can’t separate the two. Te’o is on a higher profile team and rightfully deserves his accolades, but Jones is every bit as special and actually runs sideline to sideline better.”

This is the word from Leatherheads of the Gridiron.  Johnny Football will add his name to the elite list of Heisman Trophy winners.  Will that actually happen?  We will all find out shortly.  Either way, all three finalists had a special season.

 

Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob LazzariJim Lefebvre, Chris Mascaro, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Michelle Nolan, Pete Sonski, Bob Stevenson, Bob Swick, Dan Totten, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Bama Gets Manzieled as the Wildcats and Ducks Tie For #1

Earlier in the month, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier stated that Alabama could beat a few NFL teams.  Perhaps, that could be true or not (most likely NOT).  However, Texas A&M is not an NFL team and they beat the Crimson Tide on Saturday.  America was entertained by the Johnny Manziel Show.  I know I was, especially when he did a pirouette after fumbling the ball in the air only to recover it while spinning and then throwing a TD pass. 

Simply put, Alabama got Manzieled or when the number one team in the nation cannot contain the opposing team’s quarterback both on the ground or in the air as well as on the sidelines.  The cameras were loving “Johnny Football”.  Manziel lit up the Alabama defense for 253 yards passing with two TD passes along with 92 yards rushing.  His stats are not out of this world but he put his team in position to win–something no other player or team has done all season.  A.J. McCarron had a few opportunities to bring Bama back but turnovers sealed their fate and a loss dampens their chance to get back to the BCS National Championship Game. 

McCarron had not thrown an interception all season and had his streak of 291 pass attempts without one end.  He finished the game with two.  Also, McCarron may have lost his spot in the Heisman race to A&M’s freshman quarterback.  Manziel has led the Aggies to an 8-2 record with 2,780 yards passing and 1,012 yards on the ground.  The Crimson Tide drops to fourth in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 after sitting on top all season while the Aggies rise to #11.

The number one spot is now crowded.  Both Kansas State and Oregon received 186 points from our pollsters while splitting the first place votes evenly with six apiece.  K-State kept up their winning ways by beating the TCU Horned Frogs 23-10.  TCU once held the longest winning streak in the nation but now have lost four of their last six games.  K-State is 10-0 and number one in the BCS standings.  On the other hand, Oregon put up 59 points against the now 3-8 California Golden Bears to also go 10-0.  The Ducks are ranked number one by the AP.  This Saturday the Wildcats play Baylor and the Ducks play Stanford.  Will they both be 11-0?

Notre Dame is also 10-0 after beating Boston College 21-6.  Hey BC, glad you left the Big East?  Nice 2-8 record.  The Fighting Irish are sitting #3 in the Top 16 and play a 5-5 Wake Forest team on Saturday.  Georgia slipped past idle Ohio State despite having one loss.  The Bulldogs handily beat Auburn 38-0 and will play an 8-2 Georgia Southern team next.  Ohio State plays Wisconsin.  Montee Ball was unstoppable last week against Indiana.  Will the Buckeyes be able to stop him?

Heading into last weekend, Louisville was 9-0 and looking at a possible undefeated season.  Syracuse would have no part of that and put a hurtin’ on the Cardinals by a score of 45-26.  Louisville is no longer in the Top 16.  Their game with Rutgers on November 29 will decide the Big East Conference championship.

Other games of interest this weekend include Texas A&M vs. Sam Houston State (8-2),  Oklahoma against a now 5-4 West Virginia team (Geno who?) and USC at UCLA.  The Bruins are poised to make the Top 16 with a victory after receiving four 16th-place votes this week from our pollsters.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 (Tie) Kansas State (6)   10-0    186        3
   1 (Tie) Oregon (6)   10-0    186        2
   3 Notre Dame   10-0    163        4
   4 Alabama     9-1    142        1
   5 Georgia     9-1    138        6
   6 Ohio State   10-0    117        5
   7 Florida State     9-1    109        8
   8 LSU     8-2    105        9
   9 Florida     9-1    102        7
 10 Clemson     9-1      93      10
 11 Texas A&M     8-2      92      15
 12 South Carolina     8-2      59      13
 13 (Tie) Oklahoma     7-2      40      14
 13 (Tie) Stanford     8-2      40      16
 15 Nebraska     8-2      19      NR
 16 Louisiana Tech     9-1      13      NR


Others receiving votes
: Texas – 12, Oregon State – 11, UCLA – 4, Rutgers 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.