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The College Football Playoffs Continue
That's right. The College Football Playoffs have already started.
  • Ohio State-Michigan last week was a PLAYOFF game. The loser was eliminated from any chance to making the CFP. On the other hand, the winner, Ohio State, seems assured of the #2 ranking (assuming Alabama defeats Florida) even though the Buckeyes are not in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night.
  • Washington-Washington State last Saturday was also an elimination game for the playoffs. If the Huskies had lost, they would have lost their spot in the Top Four. The same scenario applied to Clemson in its annual finale with South Carolina. #1 Alabama probably would have stayed in the Top Four even if they had lost to Auburn.

You see, the "four-team college football playoff" is not really a four-team playoff at all.

  • As the calendar turned to November, at least eight teams had a realistic shot at making the Final Four.
  • Consider the CFP rankings after Week 10. In addition to Alabama (#1), Clemson (2), Washington (5), and Ohio State (6), the current top four, you had:
    #3 Michigan (8-0 at the time) - subsequently lost to Iowa and Ohio State;
    #4 Texas A&M (7-1) - crashed and burned with losses to Alabama, Mississippi State, and LSU (just as LSU collapsed last year starting with the Bama game after the Tigers were #1 in the Committee's first rankings);
    #7 Louisville (7-1) - won two more before falling to Houston and Kentucky;
    #8 Wisconsin (6-2) - has won four straight and has a chance to win the Big Ten title and perhaps get a spot in the Final Four should Clemson or Washington slip up in their conference title matches.

This weekend I'll be rooting for:

  1. This year's Cinderella Team, Western Michigan, to win the MAC Championship and secure a spot in the Cotton Bowl against a Big Ten team.
  2. Washington to defeat Colorado and keep its spot in the Top Four.
  3. Clemson to defeat Virginia Tech and keep its spot in the Top Four.
  4. Alabama to continue its undefeated march to the national championship by CRUSHING Florida (although a win by any margin will do).
  5. I don't care much about the Big Ten championship game since Michigan is the only Big Ten team I root for (because of my many Michigan friends). So I guess I'll go with Wisconsin since they beat LSU in Week One.

My reason for rooting strongly for Washington and Clemson is to MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T HAVE TWO BIG TEN TEAMS IN THE FINAL FOUR! The CFP Committee showed their preference for avoiding that possibility by putting Michigan #5. But the Wolverines would move to #4 if either the Huskies or Tigers lose.

Alabama vs Washington and Clemson vs Ohio State would be two interesting semifinal games with four different conferences and three distinct parts of the country involved. No team would have more than one defeat. THE REGULAR SEASON MATTERED! If you lost two games, you have no one to blame but yourself for missing the CFP.

Golden NFL Rankings - after 12 Weeks
Golden NFL Top Ten
Opp. wins
40 1
2 Oakland
45 4
New England
36 3
Kansas City
40 9
Atlanta 7-4
39 8
6 Seattle 7-3-1 17.10 38 2
7 New York Giants
35 5
30 6
34 7
31 10
"Opponent wins" means the total number of wins
by the teams the ranked team defeated.

For the second week in a row, no team dropped out of the Top 10 but Kansas City jumped back up to 4th and Seattle fell to 6th.
In the Division Rankings, NFC South jumps to #4 thanks to the Bucs win.
NFC edges ahead of AFC in tight conference rankings battle.

Complete Golden NFL rankings

Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Week
1 NFC East 17.039 1
2 AFC West 16.932 2
3 NFC South 16.065 4
4 AFC East 16.045 3
5 NFC North 15.676 6
6 AFC South 15.634 5
7 AFC North 15.273 8
8 NFC West 15.063 7

Overall: NFC 15.961, AFC 15.971
Did You Notice? NFL Week 12
  • NFC Letdown
    The two teams that played in the NFC championship game last season, the Panthers and Cardinals, are a combined 8-13. That's quite a comedown from their combined 2015 record of 28-4 (with Arizona's third loss coming at the hands of Carolina).
  • Overcoming a Fluke Accident
    The Panthers' bad 2016 karma (starting with the Super Bowl) is illustrated by their game at Oakland last Sunday. A 17-0 advantage in Q2 against the Kuechly-less D propelled the Raiders to a 24-7 halftime lead. But, on the first snap of the second half, Oakland QB Derek Carr pulled out from under the center a split second too soon and suffered a dislocated pinkie. Carolina recovered the fumble and immediately drove 30y to make the score 24-13. Then the PAT was blocked. With backup QB Matt McGloin under C, Oakland went nowhere and soon the Panthers had another TD when Ted Ginn got behind the CB for an 88y completion to cut the lead to 24-19. Trying to regain the point lost on the blocked PAT, Carolina went for two but failed. Carr returned but threw an INT that LB Thomas Davis returned 31y to the 28. Five plays later, the visitors took the lead 25-24 but again, a 2-pt. pass failed. Instead of being up 27-24 if they had kicked the two PATs after the blocked kick, the Panthers led by only one. Before the period ended, Carolina made another stop, then drove for their third TD of the period. But they missed the two-point conversion again. 32-24 instead of a possible 35-24 (even with the blocked kick). Those missing points would come back to bite the Panthers as Carr got back in rhythm and led the Raiders to a TD and a successful 2-point conversion to tie the game and then a 23y Sebastian Janikowski FG with 0:52 left to win 35-32.
  • Palmer Implosion
    Coming into the season, speculation swirled around Arizona QB Carson Palmer. Would his poor performance in the NFC title game (4 INTs) carry over to this season? The answer seems to be yes.
    In the 16 regular season games last year, Carson's QB rating was 104.6. Through ten starts this year, his rating is 83.3.
Intriguing Numbers
7 Largest victory or defeat margin in any of the Detroit Lions' 11 games.
2005 Last season the Dolphins had a six-game winning streak
9 Points scored by the Chiefs against the Broncos in Q2 without making a first down during the period
96.6 Odell Beckham's yards-per-game average to this point in his career to tie with Julio Jones for the all-time best in NFL history.
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 13
  • Basketball on Grass
    Here are the scores of the Pittsburgh-Syracuse basketball games in the 2015-16 season.
    December 30, 2015 @Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 72 Syracuse 61; Total points 133
    February 20, 2016 @Syracuse: Pittsburgh 66 Syracuse 52; Total points 113
    March 9, 2016 @Washington D.C.: Pittsburgh 72 Syracuse 71; Total points 143
    Average total points for the three games = 130
    Last Saturday the Orange played Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. Final score:
    Pittsburgh 76 Syracuse 61 - total points 137
    If you look at the statistics only, you'd swear the Orange won the game.
    First downs: Syracuse 38 Pittsburgh 20
    Total yards: Syracuse 668 Pittsburgh 644
    Time of possession: Syracuse 35:42 Pittsburgh 24:18
  • More Plus 70 and Plus 60
    There were two additional FBS games in which a team scored 70+ points.
    Navy 75 SMU 31
    Middle Tennessee 77 Florida Atlantic 56
    There were two more games in which a team scored 60+ points, although in both cases the team that broke 60 won.
    Colorado State 63 San Diego State 31
    Western Kentucky 60 Marshall 6
  • End of an Ugly Year
    No team fell further from 2015 to 2016 than Michigan State, a semifinalist in the CFP last year. Here are the Spartans' numbers for the two seasons.
    Category 2015 2016
    Record 12-2 3-9
    Points for 29.8 24.1
    Points against 21.7 27.8
    Point differential +8.1 -3.7
    Total offense 5379 4740
    Yards allowed 4898 4378
  • Rivalry Game Master
    After his Buckeyes came from behind to defeat Michigan 30-27 in double OT, Urban Meyer's record in "rivalry games" at his various stops as head coach (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, Ohio State) became 25-3. His record against Michigan is now 5-0, including wins in both of Jim Harbaugh's seasons at the helm in Ann Arbor. It's no wonder commentators almost universally regard Meyer as a close second to Nick Saban among all college coaches.
  • Baylor - a Tale of Two Seasons
    Art Briles was fired as Baylor's head coach last May because of his mishandling of the the sexual assault charges against some of his players. Jim Grobe, former head coach at Wake Forest and a Baylor alumnus, became the interim coach for 2016. How did the Bears do after this upheaval?
    They won their first six games, although five of them were over weak non-conference opponents Northwestern State, SMU, and Rice, and the two poorest teams in the Big 12, Iowa State and Kansas. The one signature win of the six was a 35-24 victory at home over Oklahoma State.
    But a 35-34 loss to Texas started a downward spiral for Baylor. They lost the next four games by a total of 101 points. Grobe will coach the final game against West Virginia this Saturday and the bowl game, then retire for good. It will be interesting to see how the Bears do against the Mountaineers this Saturday.
  • Colorado's Big Win
    Colorado won the national championship in 1990 after going 11-1-1, culminating with an Orange Bowl win over Notre Dame. It was the second straight year the Buffaloes won 11 games under Bill McCartney. In '94, CU again won 11 games in McCartney's last season. After that, Colorado started a slow decline: 29-23 under Gary Barnett, then 21-40 under Dan Hawkins. Starting with their first season in the Pac-12 in 2011 through 2015, the Buffaloes never won more than four games in a season, the apogee being 2012: 1-11 under Jon Embree.
    Mike MacIntyre took over the following season and went 4-8, 2-10, and 4-9 with a total of two conference wins.
    With many questioning why MacIntyre was allowed to return for a fourth season, the Buffs surprised everyone by winning the Pac-12 South thanks to a 27-22 victory over Utah last Saturday. The biggest win was the previous week over Washington State, which led the Pac-12 North. The Buffs' ten wins in 2016 equal their total for MacIntyre's three previous seasons. This week, 10-2 Colorado can play spoiler by upsetting Washington and removing any chance of the conference getting a team in the CFP.
    It's easy to pinpoint the main factor in Colorado's turnaround. Jim Leavitt's defense ranks #1 in the Pac-12 in yards allowed per game and yards allowed per play.
Saints Still Have Hope
The Saints still have a clear path to the playoffs.
  • Look at the schedule and you see that the Saints have a shot at winning every one of their next five, starting today with the Rams.
  • They can - and should - beat the Lions at home next Sunday. That would bring them back to .500 at 6-6.
  • The Saints then play the Bucs twice within a three-week period with the Cardinals sandwiched in between.
  • Arizona is not the same team that last year reached the NFC finals.
  • Let's say the Saints win four of these next five. That puts them at 8-7.
  • That would give them the opportunity to finish 9-7 with a win in the Georgia Dome. That might be good enough to win the division or at least get a wild card berth.
  • I like the way Dennis Allen's defense has steadily improved to make the above scenario possible.
Golden College Rankings after 13 Weeks
In the two years of the College Football Playoffs, the Golden Rankings has gotten the Final Four correct each time. And in 2014, Golden had the teams in the correct order at the end of the regular season, with Ohio State (committee's #4) first and Oregon second.
  • Louisville drops out of Top Ten and Colorado jumps to #9. Michigan stays in Top Four despite losing to Ohio State.
  • No change in the Conference Rankings, which is understandable with so many games played and almost no inter-conference games this late in the season.
Golden Rankings Top Ten
Average Opp.
76 383 17.22 52 1
2 Ohio State 11-1 17.38 74 329 13.36 49 2
71 232 9.85 55 4
62 251 13.10 55 3
55 230 13.00 69 7
Western Michigan
15.80 54 201 10.61 88 9
Penn State
59 239 7.92 59 5
Wisconsin 10-2
55 229 7.66 58 10
41 146 10.46 71 8
Boise State
56 181 7.91 70 6
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opp. opps". is the number of victories by the teams the defeated teams beat.
  • "Score value" is a measure of the margin of victory in relation to the defeated team's number of wins coupled with the margin of defeat in relation to the victorious team's number of losses.
  • "Schedule Strength" is the average of the rankings of the opponents the team has played so far. So the smaller the number, the stronger the schedule.
Strongest schedule: Ohio State
Weakest schedule: Army
Team that made the highest jump in Week 13: Arizona - up 15 places to 102.
Team that dropped the furthest in Week 13: Ole Miss - down 15 places to 69.
Golden Conference Rankings
Impressive Non-Conference Wins
Louisville, North Carolina, TCU, UCLA, USC, Va.Tech
Big Ten
Colorado, Duke, Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon
Auburn, Fla., Ga., Illinois, Indiana, Ole Miss, Penn St., S.Car., Vandy
BYU, Kansas St., Notre Dame (2), Rutgers, Texas, Texas Tech, UVa
Big 12
BYU, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pitt
American Athletic
Cincinnati, Kansas, N.C. St., Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Syracuse, UVa
Mtn. West
N. Illinois, Wash. St.
Sun Belt
Akron, Army, Miss.State, New Mexico, Ohio, San Diego State
Fresno St., Illinois, Kansas, Marshall, Okla. St., UNLV, Wyoming
Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri

Complete Golden Rankings

Synopsis of the ranking system: Each team starts with 12 points for each game. The winning team goes up from there depending on the number of wins of the defeated opponent and the margin of victory. The loser goes down from 12 depending on the losses of the opponent and the margin of defeat. Teams can gain bonuses for road wins against good teams or penalties for home losses to weak teams. Read complete rules.

Compilation of Dozens of Rankings


Posted after watching the Saturday noon press conference announcing Ed Orgeron's promotion.

The saga that began last November with the expected firing of Les Miles with Jimbo Fisher reportedly set to succeed him, then Miles’s reprieve only to be fired four games into this season, followed by the interim appointment of Ed Orgeron and now his hiring as permanent coach is one of the most embarrassing fiascos in the history of LSU athletics.
Alleva’s introduction of Orgeron at the press conference was a sad effort to put a positive spin on hiring his third choice (at best). The best Joe could say about his new coach is that he loves LSU, is passionate about coaching, has a large heart, and motivated his team to bounce back from two bitter losses (in one of which Orgeron and his staff were soundly outcoached by Jim McElwain, whom no one rates as a wizard).
All commentators the last few weeks have agreed that LSU is one of the top five – some said top three – football coaching positions in the U.S. And all Alleva could come up with was Ed Orgeron.
This reminds me of the promotion of Mike Archer to replace Bill Arnsparger in 1986 when Steve Spurrier was dying to get the LSU job. Mike did well the first year, not so well the next, then started LSU on an unimaginable six years without a bowl game.
I’ll be rooting for Coach O as hard as anyone, but count me among those who are fearful of the future, not optimistic.

The Tigers' victory in College Station was overshadowed by the news that broke during the game that LSU was close to hiring Tom Herman as the new coach.
  • That excited me no end as it had been assumed that Herman would be headed to Texas.
  • It would also mean that Jimbo Fisher would stay at my other alma mater, Florida State. One "crawl" said that LSU cooled on Fisher because he demanded LSU match his current salary of $6.5M per year. But an Internet article says Fisher thinks he'll have his best team yet at FSU the next two years.
  • But the news seemed to light a fire under Texas authorities who supposedly contacted Herman's agent Thursday night to ask him not to agree to anything until Texas decides what to do.

At halftime, Mark May in ESPN's studio lambasted LSU AD Joe Alleva for his unfair treatment of Ed Orgeron by lining up a new coach before LSU finished his season. But May's criticism was ridiculous because

  1. Alleva is not the one who leaked the story (could it have been someone close to Herman who wants to provoke Texas into action and start a bidding war?) and
  2. Alleva is doing his job by lining up a coach by next week so that the new man can jump into recruiting ASAP.

After the game, color commentator Jesse Palmer gave an impassioned plea for Ed Orgeron to receive "strong consideration" to become permanent head coach.

  • Palmer cited all the factors you've heard before: Louisiana guy who loves LSU and who did a marvelous job of injecting energy into the team after Miles's firing and motivating his guys to bounce back from the Alabama and Florida defeats.
  • Here's my reply to those who push for Orgeron: NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO!
  • The loss to Florida should have ended any consideration of Orgeron as head coach. He was soundly outcoached by Jim McElwain.
  • And the offense was inept - thanks in part to Danny Etling's poor play - against Alabama. The game plan was no better than what Les Miles and Cam Cameron could have put together.
  • I hope Orgeron will stay at LSU as D-line coach under Tom Herman or Jimbo Fisher. But I realize that (a) he might not want to stay if he doesn't get the top job and (b) the new coach may not want him.


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About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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