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Week 14 Picks

I'm posting early this week because I'm leaving Thanksgiving morning and not returning until midday Friday. I reserve the right to change my picks for the Saturday games when I return.

Home team in CAPS.

  • Florida +7.5 over #1 FLORIDA STATE
    Seminoles fail to cover yet again.
  • #2 ALABAMA over #15 Auburn +9.5
    Hard to beat Saban two in a row, especially in his building.
  • OREGON STATE +20 over #3 Oregon
    Too many points to home team in a rivalry game.
  • #4 Mississippi State over #18 OLE MISS +2
    Veteran Bulldogs secure spot in CFP.
  • #5 Baylor over Texas Tech +24.5
    Bears still trying to gain respect from CFP committee.
  • Michigan +21 over #7 OHIO STATE
    Wolverines send Hoke out with great effort.
  • #8 GEORGIA over #16 Georgia Tech +13
    Bulldogs SEC-tested.
  • #9 UCLA over Stanford +5
    Cardinal can't generate enough offense.
  • #10 Michigan State over PENN STATE +13.5
    Spartans better on both sides of ball.
  • Kansas +28 over #11 KANSAS STATE
    Too many points to give in a rivalry game.
  • #13 Arizona State over #12 ARIZONA NO SPREAD
    Oddsmakers waiting on status of Wildcats QB.
  • #14 WISCONSIN over #22 Minnesota +14
    Badgers win Big Ten West at home.
  • Arkansas over #17 MISSOURI NO SPREAD
    Waiting on status of Razorback QB.
  • #19 MARSHALL over Western Kentucky +23
    Herd completes undefeated season.
  • #21 Colorado State over AIR FORCE +7
    Rams must win to have shot at MW title.
  • South Carolina +4 over #23 CLEMSON
    SEC over ACC.
  • Kentucky +13 over #24 LOUISVILLE
    Wildcats have one last chance to become bowl eligible.
  • Utah State +9 over #25 BOISE STATE
    Aggies control tempo on blue field.
Intriguing Numbers - Week 14
8-0 Nebraska's record when scoring more than 24 points
0-3 Nebraska's record when scoring fewer than 24 points
36 Rushing yards allowed by Arkansas against both LSU and Ole Miss
1-5 Florida State's record against the spread at home this year
1986 Last time Arizona and Arizona State both entered their game ranked
83-2 Boise State's record in its last 85 home games, including last 12.
12 Number of FBS schools averaging over 500y of total offense per game
10 Consecutive times Wisconsin has beaten Minnesota
42 Touchdowns by Oregon's Marcus Mariota, a Pac-12 single season record
13 Consecutive seasons in which Boise State has been ranked at least one week after entering the Top 25 this week
Did You Notice? NFL Week 12
  • Miserable NFC South
    One team in the NFL's worst division, the Carolina Panthers, didn't lose last weekend. That's because they didn't play. Never has a team whose record is three games under .500 led a division in league history. Simultaneously, never has a division had all teams at least three games over .500 as is the case with the AFC North, the beneficiary of the NFC South's largesse since those two divisions are paired in this year's interconference scheduling. The AFC North is 11-1-1 against the NFC South. Tampa Bay had an improbable upset at Pittsburgh and the Panthers tied Cincinnati on the road.
  • Jonas Gray Turned into Dorian Gray
    One week after rushing 37 times for 201y and four TDs for New England, Jonas Gray didn't even play against the Colts. The Patriots sent Gray home after he reported late to practice Friday, one day after the club signing LeGarrette Blount, who was cut by Pittsburgh Tuesday. Blount ran for 772y for the Patriots last season but didn't resign. NE gained only 90y on the ground against Detroit (78 by Blount), but Tom Brady threw for 349 to whip the Lions decisively 34-9. That happens to be a reversal of the score of the first game Brady appeared in for New England in 2000. Adding to the coincidence, the opponent was the Lions then also.
  • Cowboys Stay Perfect on the Road
    Dallas is 5-0 on the road after beating the Giants Sunday night but only 3-3 at home.
  • Bears In Front of the 8-Ball
    Of Chicago's five victories, four have been by eight points: San Francisco 28-20, New York Jets 27-19, Minnesota 21-13, and Tampa Bay 21-13. The Bears "walloped" the Falcons 27-13 for their other triumph.
By the Numbers - NFL Week 12
44-3 New England's record in their last 47 home games
4 Consecutive wins by 22 or more points by New England
14 Consecutive winning seasons by the Patriots after gaining their ninth win last Sunday
6-0 The Patriots' record this year when playing teams that led or were tied for the lead in their division
22.2 Average margin of victory by the Pats in the six games
448 Rushing yards by ex-LSU RB Jeremy Hill for Cincinnati in November, the most by any NFL player this month
10 Consecutive home wins by the Eagles
10 Consecutive home losses by the Eagles before starting the current winning streak
2.7 Average depth (yards past the line of scrimmage) for Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles' 31 pass attempts last Sunday
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 13
  • Football Setback
    "We put offensive football back 100 years," said Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson after the Demon Deacons and Virginia Tech ended regulation play 0-0. Even after two overtimes, neither team scored a TD, Wake winning 6-3. The Hokies, a 13.5 point favorite, fell to 5-6 while Wake improved to 3-8. Nevertheless, Tech has had a significant impact on the College Football Playoff with their Week Two upset of Ohio State in the Horseshoe. The Buckeyes may still crack the Top Four but they'll need some help to do so. If they win out but don't make the playoff, they can blame their inexplicable performance against VaTech. To make matters worse in Blacksburg, the Hokies' basketball team lost to Appalachian State Saturday night despite being an 18-point favorite.
  • Cowboys Lassoed
    With their 49-28 defeat at the hands of Baylor, Oklahoma State has now lost five straight games by at least 21 points.
  • Irish Jigless
    Another team that has collapsed is Notre Dame. From a Final Four contender to 7-4 after losing to Louisville at home 31-28. The Irish have given up 30+ points six games in a row - a first in school history.
  • Oh You, Mizzou!
    Missouri
    's improbable run toward the SEC East championship continued with their tenth straight road win, a 29-21 triumph at Tennessee. No one gave the Tigers a chance to defend their 2013 division championship, the smart money going on Georgia, South Carolina, or even Florida. Big problem for Mizzou, though, is that their final game is at home against Arkansas. Both their losses this season have come at home: 31-27 to Indiana (another confounding result like Virginia Tech over Ohio State) and 34-0 to Georgia. That last one will come back to haunt Mizzou if they lose to the redhot Razorbacks because UGa will win the tiebreaker.
By the Numbers - NCAA Week 13
1 Scores the Alabama defense has given up on the opponent's first possession of the game after Western Carolina drove for a TD last Saturday.
1936 Last season that Mississippi State scored a shutout victory in SEC play by as large a margin as the 51-0 rout of Vanderbilt - 68-0 over Sewanee.
7 Consecutive games with a TD reception for Baylor's Corey Coleman, the longest current streak in the nation.
1942 Last time an unranked team scored multiple shutouts over AP-ranked opponents in a season before Arkansas did it against LSU and Ole Miss.
0 Number of times an unranked team shutout ranked opponents in back-to-back games before Arkansas did it
6 Consecutive games in which Georgia's Nick Chubb has run for 100+ yards
7 Consecutive games in which Chubb has scored at least one TD.
136 Points by which Arizona State has outscored Washington State in the past four wins
-8 Net rushing yards by Auburn's Nick Marshall against Samford on 11 attempts - worst performance of his career
1998 Last time Arizona reached nine wins
7 Number of true freshmen Tennessee started agains Missouri, a school record
32 Consecutive road losses by Kansas
1960 Last time Minnesota won at Nebraska
Golden Rankings - NFL after 12 Weeks
Golden NFL Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp. wins Last
Week
1
Arizona
9-2
18.15
48 1
2
New England
9-2
17.73
47 3
3
Green Bay
8-3
17.55
37 2
4 Denver 8-3 17.50 46 4
5
Seattle 7-4
17.11
35 11
6
Philadelphia
8-3
17.08
28 6
7
Cincinnati
7-3-1
16.95
30 10
8
San Francisco
7-4
16.86
37 8
9
Dallas
8-3
16.78
29 9
10 Kansas City
7-4
16.73
41 5
"Opponent wins" means the total number of wins
by the teams the ranked team defeated.

Complete Golden NFL rankings

Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Week
1 NFC West 16.923 1
2 AFC North 16.500 2
3 AFC East 16.261 4
4 AFC West 16.239 5
5 NFC North 16.200 3
6 NFC East 16.727 6
7 AFC South 15.261 7
8 NFC South 14.464 8

Overall: AFC 16.065, NFC 15.829
Golden College Rankings - Week 13
Golden Rankings Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp.
wins
Last
Week
CFP
1
Oregon
10-1
16.20
52 2  
2
Ohio State
10-1
16.10
57 3  
3
UCLA
9-2
16.05
58 7  
4 Florida State 11-0 15.97 57 6  
5
Alabama
10-1
15.84
53 1  
6
Mississippi State
10-1
15.77
50 4  
7
Marshall
11-0
15.62
45 9  
8
Georgia
9-2
15.39
47 8  
9
TCU
9-1
15.38
42 11  
10
Boise State 9-2
15.20
50 12  
  • Alabama drops because it played an FCS school, which gives it only the 12 points for playing the game, thus lowering the Tide's average points per game.
  • Mississippi State's average also fell because it defeated Vanderbilt, which has only three wins. So, as with Alabama, the Bulldogs' Strength of Schedule dropped.
  • Both Bama and State will have a chance to move back up this week as they play their archrivals Auburn and Ole Miss.
  • As for UCLA jumping to #3, notice the number of victories by its vanquished opponents - 58. That's more than any other team in the entire FBS even though seven teams have more victories than the Bruins.

Golden Conference Rankings
Pos.
Conference
Average Impressive Non-Conference Wins
1
SEC
13.896
Clemson, K.State, Tex.Tech, Wisc, WVU
2
Pac-12
13.244
Ill.,Mich.,Mich.St.,N'western,Texas,UVa
3
Big Ten
13.040
Miami, Missouri, Pitt., Syracuse, Wash.St.
4
ACC
12.919
Cincinnati, ND, Ohio St.,Ok.State, USC
5
Big 12
12.878
Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee
6
Mountain West
11.897
BC, Colorado, UConn, Wake F., Wash.St.
7
C-USA
11.619
Akron, Houston, Navy, Tulsa
8
AAC
11.108
Mid.Tenn., UNC, Vandy, Va.Tech
9
MAC
10.777
Ind., N'western, Pitt., Purdue
10
Sun Belt
10.461
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

November 22 Memories

To all of us of a certain age, November 22 always evokes memories of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on a Friday afternoon in Dallas in 1963.

Each sport made its own decisions about scheduled contests that weekend.

  • Two Southwest Conference games involving schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were postponed: SMU-Baylor and TCU-Rice. The Big 6 conference on the West Coast postponed all its games.
  • The annual clash between Harvard, JFK's alma mater, and Yale was postponed a week. Other Ivy League games were also cancelled.
  • On the professional front, the National Hockey League called off its Friday night games. Race tracks cancelled their cards, some even after the afternoon's programs had started. The NBA wiped out its Friday card of four games.
  • ABC announced it would not televise the American Football League's games on Sunday. Hours later, the league cancelled the games.
  • On the other hand, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, after contacting the president's brother Robert, announced that his games would go on as scheduled that Sunday. CBS, however, chose not to televise any of the games nor the Clemson-South Carolina and Wisconsin-Minnesota collegiate games on Saturday. The latter contest was called off, as were a number of other college games around the country. Rozelle later called his decision to play that weekend the worst of his otherwise highly successful tenure as head of the NFL.

On the local front, the LSU-Tulane fray went on as scheduled in Baton Rouge.

  • As a "liberal Democrat" (which at that time meant primarily someone in favor of racial integration), Kennedy was not as popular in the South as in other regions of the country. So Southern universities were not inclined to postpone games between their lily white football teams.
  • LSU President John Hunter explained the two universities' decision: President Kennedy was a sportsman and a strong advocate of physical fitness. For this reason, we believe that this traditional contest between Louisiana's two great universities should be played.
  • The Tigers won a lackluster 20-0 contest over a Tulane squad that finished the season with a 1-8-1 record. Sophomore RB Don Schwab ran 66y for one TD, junior Danny LeBlanc cracked over from the 1 for the other, and E Doug Moreau booted FGs from 40 and 31y out. LSU earned an invitation to the Bluebonnet Bowl after their 7-3 campaign.
Baseball Numbers
3 Consecutive seasons Mike Trout has led the AL in runs, the first player in history to accomplish that in his first three years
4 Consecutive seasons in which Clayton Kershaw has had the lowest ERA in baseball, a first in baseball history
1968 Last time a pitcher won the NL MVP award - Bob Gibson
.231 On-base percentage of batters against Kershaw in 2014
.235 Clayton's on-base percentage as a hitter in 2014
0-4 Kershaw's postseason record against the Cardinals
NFL Predictions - MIDSEASON CHECKPOINT (11/4)

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.
    NOT LOOKING GOOD. SEATTLE NOT NEARLY AS STRONG AS LAST YEAR. IN FACT, GREEN BAY, THE LOSER OF THE OPENING GAME, MAY HAVE A BETTER SHOT AT THE SUPER BOWL.

  • ... the Saints make the playoffs.
    I don't think I buy the notion that some have advanced that this is Sean Payton'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.
    LOOKS BETTER THAN IT DID SEVERAL WEEKS AGO. I THINK THE SAINTS' PLAY THIS SEASON, EVEN WITH THE IMPROVEMENT THE LAST TWO WEEKS, SHOWS THAT THIS IS NOT PAYTON'S MOST TALENTED TEAM.

  • ... the following teams improve on their 2013 records.
    Lions (7 wins in 2013) 6 WINS WITH 8 TO PLAY. LOOKS GOOD.
    Vikings (5) 4 WINS WITH 7 TO PLAY. LOOKS GOOD.
    Texans (2) THIS WAS A NO-BRAINER. FOUR WINS SO FAR.
    Bears (8) NOT LOOKING GOOD. ONLY 3 WINS WITH 8 TO PLAY.
    Titans (7) NOT LOOKING GOOD. ONLY 2 WINS WITH 8 TO GO.

  • ... the following teams do not do win as many games as in 2013.
    Eagles (10 wins in 2013) ALREADY HAVE 6 WINS.
    Cowboys (8) STARTED 6-1 BUT TWO STRAIGHT LOSSES. SHOULD GET 8, THOUGH.
    Panthers (12) ONLY 3 WINS WITH 8 TO PLAY. LOOKS GOOD.
    Seahawks (13) LOOKS VERY GOOD. ALREADY HAVE 3 LOSSES. ONE MORE MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO GET 13 WINS IN REGULAR SEASON.
    Chiefs (11) HAVE 3 LOSSES WITH 8 GAMES LEFT.
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.

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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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