GROBBER’S NFL WEEK THREE PICKS

 

AFC GAMES: Balt over JAX(at London), Mia over NY JETS, N.ENG over Hou, INDY over Cleve, K.City over LA CHARGERS, Denv over BUFF
NFC GAMES: PHIL over NY Giants, CAR over N.Orl
INT-CONF GAMES: Seat over TENN
THURSDAY NIGHT: SF over L.A.Rams
SUNDAY NIGHT: Oak over WASH
MONDAY NIGHT: Dal over ARIZ
NFC NORTH GAMES: T.Bay over MINN, Atl over DET, GB over Cin, Pitt over BEARS
HOME teams in ALL CAPITALS.

Bears turnovers lead to Bucs big win

 

 

 

 

TAMPA—So much for the notion that a Hurricane Irma-imposed layoff might hinder the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Bears.Jameis Winston and Co. played like a team with heightened expectations in winning their season opener 29-7 on Sunday. They also looked confident, fully capable of ending a long playoff drought.

”Complementary football at its finest,” the third-year quarterback said. ”Defense played phenomenal. Offense had great drives, eliminated the three-and-outs, and eliminated turnovers.”

Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, the Bucs’ defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four turnovers, and the sloppy Bears (0-2) didn’t get into the zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.

”Basically, not a good day at the office,” Bears coach John Fox said. ”I think any time you go out and have four giveaways in the first half, it’s not good news.”

The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami.The team joined the Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars in wearing ”ONE FLORIDA” decals on their helmets Sunday. First responders who’ve worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Irma were among special guests in the announced crowd of 56,640 at Raymond James Stadium.

”We had a chip on our shoulder. … We wanted to be a pick-me-up for our fans, definitely the cities around the Tampa Bay area,” Winston said. ”It was fun out there. The crowd was electric, and we tried our best.”

Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.Glennon, who signed as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to the city where he played for the first four years of his career . The Bears finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.By the time he lined up to face the Bears, Winston hadn’t taken a snap in a game in three weeks. Eight regulars, including Evans, receiver DeSean Jackson, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, hadn’t seen game action in a month.The Bucs insisted, though, that they would not use rustiness as an excuse if they had a less-than-sharp debut. The way the Bears played, the layoff never had a chance to become an issue.After opening the season with a solid performance in a 23-17 loss to defending NFC champion Atlanta , the Bears turned over the ball four times in the opening half, helping Winston build a 26-0 halftime lead.If the Bears had an advantage entering the game, it figured to be Glennon’s knowledge of the Tampa Bay defense. The fifth-year pro faced it in practice every day the past four seasons, the last two as Winston’s backup.And while the Bears did have some success moving the ball, the barrage of turnovers was too much to overcome.Glennon’s first-half miscues led to two touchdowns. Rookie Tarik Cohen’s ill-advised decision to scoop a punt off the ground and run with it deep in Bears territory set up Tampa Bay’s first TD, Winston’s 13-yard pass to Evans.Noah Spence sacked Glennon, forcing a second-quarter fumble that led to Jacquizz Rodgers’ 1-yard TD run. Robert McClain’s interception and 46-yard return up the sideline on the Bears next possession hiked the lead to 23-0.

 

Cats bounce back, cream BGSU

EVANSTON—The blowout loss to Duke didn’t leave Northwestern reeling.Clayton Thorson threw for a career-high 370 yards and two touchdown passes, Justin Jackson rushed for three touchdowns and Northwestern beat Bowling Green 49-7 on Saturday night.After a lackluster win against Nevada in its season opener and a lopsided defeat to Duke last week, Northwestern (2-1) played like the team that many predicted to be a factor in the Big Ten West division.The team had many reasons to be down after offensive stars Thorson and Jackson could get little going, and the Duke offense totaled 538 of offense against The Wildcats’ defense.

”When I walked into the locker room I didn’t feel like I was walking into a funeral. I thought the guys attitude was like, alright we just got our fanny whooped, but everything that happened in the game we can solve, but we’re going to have to do it this week in practice,” said Fitzgerald.

The Wildcats scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half, Bennett Skowronek caught consecutive touchdown passes from Thorson in the first half and Jackson rushed for two.

”You get knocked down like that, you kind of have one or two choices. You can pout and feel sorry for yourself or you’re going to do something about it. I think they responded,” said Fitzgerald.

After only gaining 66 rushing yards as a team in a 41-17 loss at Duke, Jackson set the tone for the offense on the Wildcats’ second possession of the game with a 5-yard touchdown run. Jackson finished with 121 yards on 18 carries.Bowling Green (0-3) freshman Matt Wilcox beat the Northwestern secondary for a 33-yard reception to set up a 20-yard touchdown run for Josh Cleveland to tie the score at seven in the first quarter.BGSU quarterback James Morgan was 15 of 26 for 166 yards. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by freshman Jarret Doege. Cleveland finished with 54 rushing yards.NU took the lead at the end of the first quarter as Skowronek ran by Falcons cornerback Clint Stephens for a 58-touchdown reception. On the next offensive play from scrimmage, Thorson connected again with Skowronek for an 18-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-7.Thorson didn’t let last week’s struggles carry over.

”You always go into a game thinking you’re going to do well, that’s the goal and if you go in timid you’re going to do poorly,” said Thorson.

Skowronek’s second touchdown was set up after Montre Hartage stripped Falcons wide receiver Datrin Guyton and Godwin Igwebuike returned the fumble for 45 yards.Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks saw Northwestern gain total control of the game after the fumble.

”That was huge. And we have to respond better to adversity,” said Jinks.
The Falcons, who lost seven straight games midway through the season last year, is on a familiar path. Despite the lopsided score in the first half, the Falcons did move the ball. They had 197 yards of total offense and Cleveland was effective on the ground with 64 rushing yards on 10 carries. Bowling Green lost for the first time in three games with Northwestern.The Wildcats found some much needed confidence as their next opponent is Big Ten West heavyweight No. 10 Wisconsin. … Linebacker Jango Glackin was carted off the field after appearing to injure his arm on a Bowling Green punt in the third quarter.

 

Irish bounce back, wallop BC 49-20

BOSTON—Brandon Wimbush ran for four touchdowns and 207 yards – a record for a Notre Dame quarterback – and Josh Adams had 229 rushing yards on Saturday to help the Irish respond to their fall from the rankings with a 49-20 victory over Boston College.Wimbush scored on runs of 1, 2, 3, and 65 yards, setting up two other touchdowns with 46- and 32-yard runs. Adams broke free for 65- and 64-yard runs but was chased down both times by BC defensive back Isaac Yiadom.In the matchup of the only two Catholic schools in FBS – a rivalry known as the ”Holy War” – Notre Dame (2-1) led just 14-13 midway through the third quarter before scoring the next three touchdowns to beat the Eagles for the sixth straight time.After BC (1-2) was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 on the Notre Dame 30, Wimbush broke downfield for 46 yards to set up Tony Jones’ 1-yard touchdown. Adams opened the next Irish possession with a 36-yard run, Wimbush connected with Durham Smythe for 33 yards, and then two plays later the quarterback headed for the pylon to give the Irish a 28-13 lead.When Notre Dame got the ball back, Wimbush broke right and then cut back across the field, outracing the BC defense 65 yards to the end zone.Freshman Anthony Brown connected with Charlie Callinan on fourth-and-goal from the 14 for BC’s second touchdown of the game, cutting the deficit to 35-20. But Wimbush again got loose, running 32 yards to the 3.Dexter Williams ran it in from there and added a 15-yard score with 4:57 left to make it 49-20.Wimbush completed 11 of 24 passes for 96 yards, with one interception. In all, the Irish ran for 515 yards on 51 carries.Brown was 24 of 40 for 215 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.The one-point loss to then-No. 15 Georgia last week wasn’t devastating, but a loss to a Boston College team that was blown out by Wake Forest last week might have been. Coach Brian Kelly’s job is safe for another week.

NIU stunns Nebraska 21-17 with one decent offensive drive

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LINCOLN—Northern Illinois is now 4 for 5 against the Big Ten under coach Rod Carey, so if you were looking for shocked expressions after the Huskies’ 21-17 upset of Nebraska, you had to go to the Cornhuskers’ locker room.There was a bit of a been-there, done-that air about what the Huskies pulled off at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Yes, the Huskies returned for a curtain call after the game and lined up to take a picture in front of their remaining fans in the corner of the southwest end zone.But beating Nebraska isn’t what it used to be. The intimidation factor for visitors to one of college football’s great cathedrals has faded as the glory years of the 1990s become more distant.

”We feel like we can play with anyone, play ball no matter where we’re at, no matter where we go,” said cornerback Shawun Lurry, who returned the first of the Huskies’ two interceptions for touchdowns.

Jordan Huff scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 8:52 left, and the Huskies (2-1) became the first team not in a Power Five conference or major independent to win in Lincoln since Southern Mississippi knocked off the Cornhuskers in 2004. They join eight other unranked-at-the-time Power Five or major independent teams to win at Nebraska since 2012.Nebraska (1-2) had two chances with the ball after NIU went ahead. But Mycial Allen broke up a pass on fourth-and-7, and Lee threw his third interception of the game, allowing the Huskies to go into victory formation with 1:36 left.

”In the grand scheme of things, it is one game,” Carey said. ”We’ve been here before in a situation like this. We’re 2-1, that’s all it means. Are we going to enjoy it for 24 hours? You bet.”

The Huskies of the Mid-American Conference led 14-0 on those interception returns before Nebraska found a semblance of offense. Nebraska was held scoreless in the first half at home for the first time since 2007.The Huskers have lost two of their first three for the second time in three years under Mike Riley. They had a close call against Arkansas State in their opener, got blown out in the first half of a 42-35 loss at Oregon last week, and now this.

”We have to prove who we are,” Riley said. ”We’ve been, I would say, inconsistent at best. That’s not even probably accurate. That’s been us, and I don’t like that.”

The stunning loss brought athletic director Shawn Eichorst to the postgame interview area, where he assured reporters that he has confidence in Riley. This week Nebraska announced it had given Riley a one-year contract extension, through the 2020 season.The Huskies came into Memorial Stadium confident they could win, and they capitalized on Nebraska’s inept offense in the first half. Add this win to the ones Northern Illinois has posted over Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern since 2013. Don’t sleep on the Huskies, who were picked third in the MAC West.

 

Illinois trounced by #22 South Florida

TAMPA—A big night passing for Quinton Flowers, three 100-yard rushers and another lopsided victory for No. 22 South Florida.There was plenty for Charlie Strong to like Friday night in a 47-23 rout of Illinois, but nothing resonated more than the way Flowers led the Bulls back from a Hurricane Irma-layoff.The dual threat quarterback threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, moving ahead of Matt Grothe and B.J. Daniels into second place on USF’s career touchdown pass list with 53.The 2016 American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year also scored his 32nd rushing touchdown, tying Marlon Mack’s school record.

”We can still improve,” Strong said, ”but offensively it was a major step for us. Offensively we hadn’t produced like that,” in the first two games.

The Bulls (3-0) beat a Big Ten opponent for the first time on a night USF honored first responders who worked the past week to help victims of the massive storm that impacted the entire state of Florida.

”We felt like we had a chance to give back … provide some relief for our communities, if only for a few hours,” coach Charlie Strong said.

Illinois (2-1) stumbled in what also was a homecoming of sorts for coach Lovie Smith, who returned to the stadium where he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons before being fired and accepting the challenge of rebuilding the Illini.Freshman Mike Epstein scored on a 46-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Jeff George Jr., who replaced starter Chayce Crouch in the second half.

Bear close, but no cigar against Falcons in opener

All Matt Ryan was trying to do was make something out of a broken play when he saw tight end Austin Hooper wide open near midfield.He wound up throwing a huge touchdown pass to help Atlanta squeeze out a season-opening victory.Ryan connected with Hooper on an 88-yard TD and led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons held on to beat the Chicago Bears 23-17 on Sunday.The butt of jokes following their epic Super Bowl collapse against New England, the Falcons survived as the Bears missed several chances to score a touchdown in the final seconds.

”Can we play better? Absolutely,” Ryan said. ”Are we gonna try to work on that? For sure. But we’ll take a win any day.”

The Bears had a first down at the Atlanta 5 in the closing minute. Glennon’s pass to a lunging Josh Bellamy on first down hit off the receiver’s hands, and Jordan Howard then dropped a simple catch at the 1.After another in completion on third down, Glennon got sacked by Brooks Reed to end the drive.Atlanta was clinging to a 13-10 lead early in the fourth when a scrambling Ryan fired to a wide-open Hooper near midfield. The second-year tight end from Stanford raced up the right side and stiff-armed Quintin Demps on the way to the end zone to make it a 10-point game.The Bears then went 75 yards, with Glennon hitting rookie Tarik Cohen for a 19-yard TD midway through the fourth to cut it to 20-17. Earlier Cohen had a 46-yard run on a toss that he turned back the opposite direction.Atlanta’s Matt Bryant answered with a 37-yard field goal, making it 23-17 with 3:24 left.Hooper, a second-year player from Stanford, felt like he ”lived a lifetime” as the ball approached him.

”I think I blacked out for a part of it. Then I caught it and I felt like it was almost auto-pilot.”

Ryan was nervous, too.

”When people are covered, your brain just goes off and you throw it and you cut it loose,” he said. ”Sometimes when you’re open, it can be the most difficult.”

For the Bears, it was an all-too-familiar result after going 3-13 and finishing last in the NFC North.

”It burns,” tight end Zach Miller said. ”It burns inside because it’s close. We had ample opportunity.”

Coming off an MVP season, Ryan was 21 of 30 for 321 yards and a touchdown.

Hooper had two catches for 128 yards. Julio Jones added four receptions for 66 yards receiving and Bryant kicked three field goals.

In his Bears debut, Glennon didn’t silence fans who would rather see No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky. He was 26 of 40 for 213 yards and a TD.

Cohen absorbed several big hits in an impressive debut, finishing with 66 yards rushing and 47 receiving. He reversed field on a 46-yard run, helping set up Howard’s 4-yard touchdown near the end of the half.

 

NOTES—”We could easily have been 1-0 right now standing up here. I think the enthusiasm would be a little bit different, I would think. You know, I think we’re capable of getting better as we go.” – Bears coach John Fox….WR Kevin White may be out AGAIN with a Broken collarbone which would requite season ending surgery.LG Kyle Long – coming back from right ankle surgery – was inactive. Former Falcon Tom Compton started in his place. … LB Jerrell Freeman was in the concussion protocol after the game. … RB Benny Cunningham Jr. hurt his ankle blocking on a pass play early in the second quarter….The Bears visit Tampa Bay next Sunday.

Irish flash back to last two years, lose close one(to Georgia)

SOUTH BEND—Georgia got to Dawg Walk out of Notre Dame Stadium with a victory, dozens of its fans forming a line from the locker room to the buses to congratulate the Bulldogs after the program’s first trip to this part of the country in more than 50 years.Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy led a swarming Georgia defense and the No. 15 Bulldogs got enough plays from an offense starting a freshman quarterback to beat No. 24 Notre Dame 20-19 on Saturday night.The first regular-season meeting between the two programs was a hard-hitting, penalty-filled tug-o-war, and when it was done the Bulldogs gathered in the corner of the stadium to salute thousands of their fans who made the pilgrimage. The Bulldogs had not ventured this far north for a game since 1965 against Michigan.

”It definitely means a little more,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. ”Coming up to South Bend, an awesome environment. Then having all these Dawgs fans coming out, showing their support. Showing how much they believe in us. It’s just an awesome feeling to be able to give those fans a W.”

Rodrigo Blankenship, a walk-on who received a scholarship earlier this week, kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:39 remaining to give the Bulldogs (2-0) a one-point lead.

”All 11 positions, all the guys were really physical and had speed,” Wimbush said of the Georgia D.

”Good poise,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Fromm. ”He never faltered.”
Notre Dame: The Irish were looking for a big early season win to accelerate the process of moving on from last year’s 4-8 disappointment. There were reasons to be encouraged, especially from a defense that hung tough against one of the best running-back combinations in the country in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The Bulldogs ran for 185 yards, but only 4.3 per carry.Still, it was another one-possession loss after seven of them last season. Coach Brian Kelly became curt when asked why this loss should be viewed differently.”It’s not going to snowball,” he said. ”Next question.”  GRRRRRR!

Georgia was flagged 12 times for 127 yards. Notre Dame was hit eight times for 63, including a late hit in the third quarter on Fromm by Julian Okwara that officials video reviewed to determine if Fromm was still in bounds when he was hit. The call stood and converted a third down for Georgia, and the Bulldogs scored on the drive to go up 17-16.Georgia sold 8,000 tickets for this game and there was easily twice that many wearing red in Notre Dame Stadium. For former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, who won the school’s only national title by beating Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, it was the best part of the trip to South Bend.”I was just saying what a beautiful scenery it is right outside looking out and seeing Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome overlooking the campus. And then seeing those beautiful golden helmets shining. Of course, I like the red ones, too,” said Dooley, who threw out the first pitch at the Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Friday night. ”And seeing so many Georgia people here. That’s what’s really been amazing.” The Fighting Irish face Boston College in the first of two straight road games.

 

Illini 2-0 after 20-7 win over Western Kentucky

CHAMPAIGN—Illinois had had a slim six-point lead in the second quarter on Western Kentucky, but the Illini defense had the Hilltoppers backed up to their own 2-yard line and on their heels.The Hilltoppers decided to throw out of the end zone and, as soon as quarterback Mike White had the ball he had a wave of blue jerseys in his face.He threw for the sideline, White later explained, but never got his feet set.Parked at the 10-yard line, Illini linebacker Julian Jones never looked away from White.

”I had my eyes on him the entire play, so as soon as the ball was in the air I knew the ball was coming right to me,” Jones said.

Jones grabbed the ball and ran untouched into the end zone, and the Illini had a 13-0 lead, well on their way to a 20-7 win.

”Bad football play,” White summed up.

The Illini (2-0) came into the game as underdogs on their home field to a Conference USA team, no doubt in large part due to Western Kentucky’s high-powered offense. The Hilltoppers (1-1), with White at quarterback, averaged 45.5 points a game last season, best in the country.Illinois’ young defense, including three freshmen starters, held the Hilltoppers to 244 total yards. Western Kentucky didn’t score until the fourth quarter.The Illini offense was limited, but freshman running back Mike Epstein rushed for 111 yards.White averaged 311.6 yards a game last season, but Saturday heavy Illini pressure limited him to 28 of 43 passing for 238 yards and an interception. He also ran for a score.The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt senior was under pressure much of the night. He was sacked twice and hurried four times.Illinois followed up the pick-six with a crushing 84-yard drive to open the second half. Quarterback Chayce Crouch capped it with a nine-yard run, finishing with a leap into the end zone for a 20-0 lead.

NU blown away by Duke 41-17, slow start concerning.

DURHAM—Daniel Jones accounted for 413 total yards and four touchdowns, and Duke cruised to a 41-17 victory over Northwestern on Saturday afternoon. Jones shook off his first interception since the middle of last season to pass for 305 yards and two touchdowns and rush for a career-high 108 yards and two scores. Jones’ streak of 202 consecutive passes without an interception, longest in the nation, ended in the first quarter with a pick by Montre Hartage. Jones responded with touchdowns on the Blue Devils’ next three possessions-a 52-yard pass to Chris Taylor and scoring runs of 11 and 4 yards-to get Duke out to a 21-10 halftime lead. Jones added a 1-yard touchdown pass to Davis Koppenhaver in the second half and Shaun Wilson had a late touchdown run to turn it into a rout. T.J. Rahming made 12 catches for 127 yards and Mark Gilbert had two interceptions for the Blue Devils. Overall Duke outgained the Wildcats 538-191, including limiting them to 22 rushing yards. Justin Jackson’s 5-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half was all NU’s first-stringers could muster. Quarterback Clayton Thorson was 11 of 29 for 120 yards and two interceptions. The Wildcats’ early-season play continues to be concerning. They trailed Nevada 17-7 at home and 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter before rallying to escape in their home opener, and were downright non-competitive against Duke. Northwestern accumulated more than 15 yards on only three of its 13 drives. The Wildcats return home to face Bowling Green for their nonconference finale before opening Big Ten play at Wisconsin on Sept. 30.