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Ole Miss @ LSU

It's hard to believe the offensively-challenged Tigers can beat one of the best defensive teams in the nation. But, if it happens, I want to be there.

  • The Tigers can pull the upset if:
    Bo Wallace has a bad night and throws a pick or two;
    The Bengals can rush the ball consistently on the Rebels;
    LSU gets a TD or sets up one on special teams as they did last week;
    QB Anthony Jennings makes plays in the passing game against a tough secondary;
    The Tigers come up with some surprises on offense (Leonard Fournette throws a pass? End arounds? Misdirection plays?)
  • But that's a lot of if's, which is why it's more likely Ole Miss will cover the spread (3.5) than be upset.
  • I don't expect this to be like the Mississippi State game in which the Tigers got blown out early. LSU was outmanned but also played poorly. I think the coaching staff knows the strengths and weaknesses of its players much better now and has coached accordingly the last two weeks. The defense has played much better with Beckwith at MLB.
  • One commentator predicted this would be an ugly, low-scoring game. It has to be that way for LSU to have any chance. But Ole Miss is better equipped to win such a game since their offense will probably score more points on our D than vice-versa.
Did You Notice? NFL Week 7
  • NFC South Woes
    All three NFC South teams that played last weekend lost:
    Green Bay 38 Carolina 17
    Detroit 24 New Orleans 23
    Baltimore 29 Atlanta 7
    Tampa Bay had a bye but had lost its last two previous games. The Falcons have dropped four in a row. The four teams combined are on an eight-game losing streak.
    The Panthers still lead the division with a 3-3 record.
    Could this be a repeat of what happened in the NFC West in 2010 when the Seahawks became the first team to win a division with a losing record (7-9). Of course, that was the year of their famous 41-36 playoff victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
  • How 'bout Dem Cowboys?
    Dallas outlasted the Giants 31-21 to run their record to 6-1, with the loss coming in Week 1 to the 49ers. The Cowboys lead the league in wins for the first time since 1994. DeMarco Murray became the first RB in NFL history to open a season with seven straight 100y games - not Jim Brown, not O.J. Simpson, not Emmitt Smith, no one. Meanwhile, the Giants head into their bye week uncertain of whether they have what it takes to make the playoffs. The last two weeks - against divisional rivals Philadelphia and Dallas - were supposed to determine how good they were. Well, they lost both (Eagles winning 27-0).
  • One Winless Team Left
    The Jacksonville Jaguars won! 24-6 over Cleveland. Big deal? Well, yes because it was the Jags first triumph since December 15, 2013 - nine games ago. Former Michigan QB Denard Robinson ran for a career-high 127y and a TD. On the other side, could the Browns, who were 3-2 heading into the game, have thought they had this one in the bag? They got 3 INTs off rookie Blake Bortles but contributed three themselves and kept settling for FGs in the Red Zone. The Raiders remain the league's only winless team after losing to Arizona 24-13 in a competitive game that marked interim coach Tony Sparano's first contest as head man.
  • Rams Chicanery
    I've watched football for 65 years and have never seen anything like the St. Louis punt return for a TD against the Seahawks last Sunday. (Watch it at this link.) The Rams also surprised the "brilliant" Seattle coaching staff by having punter Johnny Hekker, who played QB in high school, throw a pass from punt formation from deep in his own territory to help the Rams run out the clock in the last minutes. (Watch it at this link.) Interestingly, the Seahawks had seen that from the Rams before. In September, 2012, St. Louis pulled a fake punt with Hekker passing then to Danny Amendola, who'd pretended to jog off the field. That produced the go-ahead score and lone TD for the Rams in their 19-13 win over Seattle.
  • Steeler Outburst
    With less than four minutes remaining in the first half of their Monday night game against Houston, the listless Steelers trailed 13-0. By the time the intermission arrived, Pittsburgh led 24-13. Here's the chronology of the scores.
    3:08 - Shaun Suisham 44y FG to cap a 60y drive; 13-3 Houston
    1:27 - Martavis Bryant 35y pass from Ben Roethlisberger; 13-10 Houston
    1:03 - Following a fumble recovery at the Texans 3, Roethlisberger passed to Antonio Brown for six; Pittsburgh 17 Houston 13
    0:14 - Roethlisberger to Le'Veon Bell for 2y TD after Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted on Houston's first play following the kickoff; Brett Keisel returned the pick to the 8.
    The Steelers stayed in front the second half and won 30-23.
Week 9 Picks

Home team in CAPS.

  • #1 Mississippi State over KENTUCKY +14
    CBS can't be happy after Wildcats got blown out at LSU
  • #3 Ole Miss over #24 LSU +3.5
    Rebels D just too strong for offensively-challenged Tigers
  • TENNESSEE +17 over #4 Alabama
    Tide
    comes back to earth on road.
  • #5 AUBURN over South Carolina +19
    Remember what A&M did to the Gamecock D.
  • #6 Oregon over CALIFORNIA +18 PUSH
    Another Pac-12 high-scoring affair.
  • #8 MICHIGAN STATE over Michigan +17
    "Little Brother" delights in kicking Wolverines when they're down.
  • Texas Tech +23 over #10 TCU
    Frogs win but don't cover.
  • Texas +10 over #11 KANSAS STATE
    Wildcats
    slump some after tough stretch.
  • #13 Ohio State over PENN STATE +14
    Buckeye QB maturing week by week
  • #14 Arizona State over WASHINGTON +3.5
    Improving Sun Devils top waning Huskies.
  • #15 Arizona over WASHINGTON STATE +2.5
    First team to 60 wins.
  • #16 NEBRASKA over Rutgers +19.5
    After beatdown in Columbus, Scarlet Knights travel to Lincoln.
  • #19 UTAH +1 over #20 USC
    Utes D prevails at home.
  • #21 CLEMSON over Syracuse +14.5
    Tigers return to Death Valley after road scare.
  • OKLAHOMA STATE over #22 West Virginia +1
    Mountaineers not nearly as good on the road.
  • #23 MARSHALL over Florida Atlantic +28
    Thundering Herd romps again.
  • COLORADO +14 over #25 UCLA
    Bruins too porous on defense.

Other Games

  • Minnesota over ILLINOIS +6
    Illini playing out string until new coach named.
  • North Carolina +7 over VIRGINIA
    School may be reeling but Tar Heels improving weekly.
Intriguing Numbers - Week Nine
6-0-1 Ole Miss 's record against the spread this season.
15 Sacks allowed by Penn State in their three Big Ten games.
4
Consecutive weeks Ohio State has scored 50 or more points, a school record.
7 Consecutive victories by Alabama over Tennessee
9-1-1 Auburn's all-time record vs South Carolina
5 Consecutive wins by Kansas State over Texas despite being outgained in every game
5 Consecutive games in which Michigan State has covered the spread
26 Passing TDs allowed by California, most in the nation
16 Consecutive losses by Colorado to ranked teams
6 Consecutive seasons without a bowl game for Colorado
18/1 TD/INT ratio for USC QB Cody Kessler
33 Sacks by Utah, the most in the FBS
39 Consecutive games in which Marshall QB Rakeem Cato has thrown a TD pass, breaking Russell Wilson's record
Golden Rankings - NFL after Seven Weeks
Golden NFL Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp. wins Last
Week
1 Denver 5-1 17.25 18 5
2
Arizona
5-1
17.24
14 1
3
Philadelphia
5-1
17.08
13 6
4
Dallas
6-1
17.05
15 3
5
San Francisco
4-3
16.91
16 4
6
Indianapolis
5-2
16.86
14 10
7
Green Bay
5-2
16.73
12 11
8
Seattle
3-3
16.66
12 2
9
Detroit 5-2
16.64
13 8
10
Baltimore
5-2
16.64
13 9

Complete Golden NFL rankings

Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Week
1 NFC West 16.460 1
2 NFC East 16.323 3
3 AFC North 16.185 2
4 AFC West 16.089 5
5 NFC North 16.046 4
6 AFC East 15.929 6
7 AFC South 15.714 7
8 NFC South 15.057 8

Overall: AFC 15.979, NFC 15.972
The NFC South sinks even further to the bottom after an 0-3 week.
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 8
  • Crazy Game in Gainesville
    Last week, it was the Oklahoma-Texas game that had the weird statistics.
    This week it was Missouri @ Florida.
    Plays: Florida 79 Missouri 49
    First downs: Florida 17 Missouri 7
    Yards: Florida 283 Missouri 119
    Score: Missouri 42 Florida 13
    The Tigers scored on every possible type of return:
    96y return of opening kickoff
    82y punt return in Q3
    21y fumble return in Q3
    46y INT return in Q3
    The three Q3 TDs occurred within a space of 7:04 to make the score 42-0.
    The fans loudly chanted "Fire Muschamp" during Q3 before most of them went home.
  • Pac-12 Home Woes
    Heading into last weekend's action, Pac-12 teams were 15-4 on the road in conference games. Did that trend continue?
    Utah won at Oregon State in double OT 29-23.
    UCLA won at California 36-34.
    But Colorado lost at USC 56-28 as Cody Kessler threw a school-record seven TD passes for the Trojans.
    Washington lost at Oregon 45-20 (the Ducks' 11th straight win over the Huskies).
    Stanford lost at Arizona State 26-10.
    So the road win count now stands at 17-7 in favor of the visitors.
  • Odd Duplicate Score
    56-17 is not a common final score. Yet two Big Ten games ended that way Saturday: Ohio State over Rutgers and Michigan State over Indiana. The Buckeyes' victory was their 18th straight regular season conference win and the fourth straight game in which they scored 50+ points.
    Watch the Ohio State band's halftime show from the Rutgers game - always a treat.
  • Mustangs in a Class by Themselves
    Idaho beat New Mexico State 29-17, and Kent State defeated Army 39-17 to leave only one winless FBS team: SMU
  • Baylor Breakdown
    The Bears were held to their lowest total yardage in four years. Was it Oklahoma or TCU? No, it was at West Virginia where the Mountaineers held Art Briles' high-powered O to 318y while amassing 456 themselves in the 41-27 victory that ended the Bears' hopes for an undefeated season. Baylor incurred 215y on 18 infractions. Altogether, the officials stepped off a whopping 32 penalties for a total of 353y. WVU QB Clint Trickett outplayed his more famous counterpart, Bryce Petty. The Florida State transfer went 23-of-35 for 322y to record his eighth straight 300y game going back to last season. After the game, he was informed that his father Rick, the offensive line coach at FSU, would miss that evening's game against Notre Dame because of a health issue.
  • Another Milestone
    Alabama's ridiculously easy 59-0 humiliation of Texas A&M was the Tide's largest victory margin over a ranked team in school history. It surpassed by four the 61-6 romp over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl.
  • Dominant Second Half
    Visiting Nebraska trailed Northwestern 17-14 at the half but scored 24 unanswered points after intermission to win going away 38-17. Ameer Abdullah had four TD runs, all just 1y in length. Overall, he gained 146y to run his career total to 4,001.
Golden College Rankings - Week 8
Golden Rankings Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp.
wins
Last
Week
1
Mississippi State
6-0
15.42
27 1
2
Ole Miss
7-0
15.08
27 2
3
Auburn 5-1
14.92
21 3
4 Florida State 7-0 14.52 25 6
5
Alabama
6-1
14.51
22 7
6
Marshall
7-0
14.48
20 4
7
Oregon
6-1
14.32
21 8
8
Notre Dame
6-1
14.06
19 5
9
Ohio State
5-1
14.04
17 19
10
Arizona
5-1
14.03
19 9

Golden Conference Rankings
Pos.
Conference
Average Impressive Non-Conference Wins
1
SEC
13.399
Clemson, K.State, Tex.Tech, Wisc, WVU
2
Pac-12
12.916
Ill.,Mich.,Mich.St.,N'western,Texas,UVa
3
Big Ten
12.742
Miami, Missouri, Pitt., Syracuse, Wash.St.
4
Big 12
12.696
Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee
5
ACC
12.725
Cincinnati, ND, Ohio St.,Ok.State, USC
6
Mountain West
11.920
BC, Colorado, UConn, Wake F., Wash.St.
7
C-USA
11.837
Akron, Houston, Navy, Tulsa
8
AAC
11.433
Mid.Tenn., UNC, Vandy, Va.Tech
9
MAC
11.156
Ind., N'western, Pitt., Purdue
10
Sun Belt
11.109
Tulsa, Utah State, Wake Forest

No change in the order from last week.

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 a bonus for road wins or a penalty for home losses. Read complete rules.

Compilation of Dozens of Rankings

College Football Predictions - Midyear Checkpoint [10/14]

After seven weeks, it's time to evaluate my preseason predictions. One has come true while others are almost certainly going to be false.

Don't be surprised if ...

  • LSU loses to either Mississippi State or Ole Miss at home.
    One of my predictions last year was that LSU would lose a game in which it was favored and win a game in which it was an underdog. That came to pass when the Tigers lost at Ole Miss but beat Texas A&M at home. This year, LSU has an even younger team with no experience to speak of at QB. That means inconsistent play. Ole Miss has its most talented team in some time and is predicted by many to finish ahead of LSU in the West. And the law of averages may catch up with the Tigers in regard to Mississippi State, whom they've beaten 14 times in a row.
    STATE HAS ALREADY WON, AND OLE MISS WILL BE FAVORED TO WIN IN BATON ROUGE OCTOBER 25 AS WELL.

  • LSU beats Alabama.
    No, this isn't a contradiction to the previous prediction. By November 8, both young QBs will have nine games of experience. The Tigers have the week off before the clash (although Bama does too). The Tide's QB situation is uncer­tain also. Tiger Stadium will be jumping. Miles & Company remember how close they came to an upset two years ago when A. J. McCarron led a last minute winning drive. Saban doesn't have a McCarron under C this year.
    AFTER THE AUBURN GAME, I WROTE THIS PREDICTION OFF AS PREPOSTEROUS. BUT FOLLOWING LSU'S WIN OVER FLORIDA AND ALABAMA'S ONE-POINT SQUEAKER AT ARKANSAS, THERE'S HOPE THE TIGERS CAN BEAT THE TIDE.

  • LSU's string of four consecutive double-digit win seasons ends.
    Les Miles and his staff will do well to coax nine wins out of this team. Four losses ends any hope of ten wins. Back-to-back games at Auburn and Flori­da will probably produce two of those defeats. A loss to Wisconsin in the opener will make it hard to get ten wins with the conference schedule still ahead. Defeat the Badgers and the Tigers might get to ten wins with a bowl victory.
    LSU HAS TWO LOSSES ALREADY. DESPITE THE IMPROVEMENT SHOWN AGAINST FLORIDA, IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THE TIGERS WILL GO 4-1 DOWN THE STRETCH AGAINST KENTUCKY, OLE MISS, ALABAMA, @ARKANSAS, AND @TEXAS A&M.

  • The winner of the Georgia-South Carolina game in Week 2 wins the SEC.
    Predicting the UGa-SC winner captures the East crown is not going out on a limb. But taking the victor to win the Championship Game is a bold choice.
    THIS ONE IS NOT OFFICIALLY DEAD BUT ALMOST CERTAINLY FALSE. THE LOSER OF THE UGA-USC GAME, THE BULLDOGS, HAS A SOLID CHANCE TO WIN THE SEC EAST AND EVEN BEAT THE WEST CHAMPION IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

  • Auburn doesn't finish in the Top Ten.
    The Tigers were the biggest surprise of 2013. But their last two wins came on freak plays. One Georgia defender was ready to intercept or at least knock down the desperation pass when a teammate knocked it from him into the arms of the Auburn receiver. Nick Saban and his staff made numerous coaching mistakes in the Iron Bowl, including lobbying for a second to be put back on the clock and sending in the FG unit instead of throwing a Hail Mary. Of course, Auburn might still have won in OT. Also, the week before AU played in Baton Rouge September 21, Nick Marshall came off the bench and led a last ditch drive that culminated in a winning TD pass with 0:10 left. All in all, last season had enough breaks go Auburn's way to last a lifetime. Fur­thermore, opponents have had the entire off-season to study video of Gus Malzahn's offense.
    THIS ONE HANGS IN THE BALANCE. THE TIGERS HAVE LOST ONLY TO MSU AND REMAIN IN THE TOP TEN BUT STILL MUST FACE SOUTH CAROLINA, @OLE MISS, TEXAS A&M, @GEORGIA, AND @ALABAMA.

  • UCLA wins the Pac-12 and makes the College Football Playoff.
    This is my surprise Final Four participant. Jim Mora's Bruins have gone from nine wins his first year to ten last year. He has 16 returning starters including, best of all, QB Brett Hundley, who decided to come back for another year despite being eligible for the NFL draft.
    FORGET THIS ONE. THE BRUINS ARE ONE OF 2014'S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS. AFTER BELTING ARIZONA STATE 62-27 ON THE ROAD, THEY'VE LOST AT HOME TO UTAH AND OREGON. UCLA IS STILL MATHEMATICALLY ALIVE IN THE PAC-12 SOUTH BUT CANNOT AFFORD ANOTHER DEFEAT.

  • At most one team nationally goes undefeated.
    Only one squad, Florida State, finished the regular season unblemished last year. With eight SEC teams, including Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia, deploying new QBs, it is highly likely no team in the nation's tough­est league will emerge without a loss. With the exception of FSU, no squad in any other conference seems capable of running the table. And I wouldn't be surprised if the Seminoles dropped a game along the way - hence the "at most one" in my prediction.
    SIX TEAMS REMAIN UNDEFEATED: MISSISSIPPI STATE, FLORIDA STATE, OLE MISS, BAYLOR, NOTRE DAME, AND MARSHALL. TWO ARE BOUND TO BE ELIMINATED SINCE FSU PLAYS NOTRE DAME AND OLE MISS HOSTS MISSISSIPPI STATE IN THE MOST IMPORTANT EGG BOWL EVER. THAT LEAVES AT MOST FOUR. IF THE SEMINOLES SURVIVE NOTRE DAME, THEY HAVE THE EASIEST SCHEDULE (EXCEPT FOR MARSHALL) TO 13-0. (THEIR BIGGEST OBSTACLE IS JAMEIS WINSTON AND HIS LEGAL PROBLEMS.) BUT BAYLOR AND THE SEC TEAMS WILL MOST LIKELY TRIP UP ALONG THE WAY. THERE COULD BE TWO UNDEFEATEDS WHEN THE REGULAR SEASON DUST CLEARS, BUT MY PREDICTION OF "AT MOST ONE" IS STILL IN PLAY.
NFL Predictions

Don't be surprised if ...

  • ... the winner of the Green Bay-Seattle game represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.
    The Packers and Seahawks are expected to be the class of the conference. So the winner of the game (which was Seattle) has the tiebreaker on the other should they finish with identical records. And that could make the difference in determining home field for a rematch.

  • ... the Saints make the playoffs.
    I don't think I buy the notion that some have advanced that this is Sean Peyton's most talented Saints team. A few writers put them in the Super Bowl. But I do think that, with continued improvement in the defense, the Saints should win the NFC South after finishing 2nd to the Panthers last year.

  • ... the following teams improve on their 2013 records.
    Lions (7 wins in 2013)
    Vikings (5)
    Texans (2)
    Bears (8)
    Titans (7)

  • ... the following teams do not do win as many games as in 2013.
    Eagles (10 wins in 2013)
    Cowboys (8)
    Panthers (12)
    Seahawks (13)
    Chiefs (11)

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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. For most of the year, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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