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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
Week 13 Picks

Home team in CAPS.

  • Boston College +17.5 over #1 FLORIDA STATE
    Seminoles fail to cover one more time.
  • #2 ALABAMA over Western Carolina NO SPREAD
  • Colorado +32.5 over #3 OREGON
    Buffs more competitive this year.
  • Vanderbilt +30 over #4 MISSISSIPPI STATE
    Vandy catches MSU between Alabama and Ole Miss.
  • #6 BAYLOR over Oklahoma State +28.5
    Bears want respect from CFP committee.
  • #7 OHIO STATE over Indiana +34.5
    Buckeyes keep rolling to Big Ten championship game.
  • #8 Ole Miss over ARKANSAS +3.5
    Rebels take care of business on the road.
  • #9 GEORGIA over Charleston Southern NO SPREAD
  • #10 MICHIGAN STATE over Rutgers +22
    Spartans send outstanding senior class out with big win.
  • #24 USC +3.5 over #11 UCLA
    Trojans-Bruins rivalry heating up again.
  • #13 ARIZONA STATE over Washington State +16.5
    Sun Devils take out rage on WSU and its backup QB.
  • #14 Wisconsin over IOWA +10
    Healthy Badgers rolling to Big Ten West title.
  • #15 Arizona +4 over #20 UTAH
    Wildcats win on the road.
  • #16 AUBURN over Samford NO SPREAD
  • #18 Marshall over ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM +20
    Herd keep thundering.
  • TENNESSEE over Missouri +3.5
    Redhot Vol QB derails Mizzou's East repeat.
  • Minnesota +10.5 over #21 NEBRASKA
    Gophers have played well on the road.
  • #22 COLORADO STATE over New Mexico +22
    9-1 Rams show their ranking is no fluke.
  • Kansas +25 over OKLAHOMA
    Jayhawks want their interim coach to become permanent.
Intriguing Numbers - Week 13
1998 Last time Arizona won nine games in a season
3 Overtime games Utah has been involved in over the last five weeks
19 Consecutive victories by Ohio State over Indiana
1-4 Florida State's record against the spread at home this year
2003 Last year Colorado State was ranked in the Top 25
1994 Last year the Rams were 9-1.
Did You Notice? NFL Week 11
  • Good Week for Ex-Tigers
    The four stars of LSU's 2013 offense, QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, WR Jarvis Landry, and WR Odell Beckham, are all playing in the NFL this season. And not just playing, but starting. Their Week 11 stats:
    Mettenberger for the Titans against the Steelers in the "Battle of the Bergers": 15/24/263y/2 TD/1 INT/0 sacks; QBR 81.2
    Hill for the Bengals against the Saints: 27/152/5.6ypc/0 TD
    Landry for the Dolphins against the Bills: 5 catches in 5 targets/46y/1 TD
    Beckham for the Giants against the 49ers: 6 catches in 13 targets/93y/0 TD. (See below for quotes from a USA Today article lauding Odell.)
    Also Rueben Randle, another former LSU WR with the Giants, had 7 receptions in 15 targets for 112y.
  • Who Is Jonas Gray?
    Just the New England RB who piled up the most TDs of any player this past weekend with four. He also missed by only 3y, 201 on 37 carries to 33/204 for La'Veon Bell of Pittsburgh. Gray was a backup RB at Notre Dame his first three years before rushing for 791y on 114 carries and 12 TDs as a senior. However, he tore his ACL late in the season, and, as a result, wasn't drafted but signed as a free agent with Miami but placed on the PUP list while continuing to rehab his knees. After being one of the final cuts by the Dolphins in 2013, he signed with the Ravens but was never activated for a game. Sunday's romp at Indianapolis came in just his fourth NFL game. He became the first runner since 1921, the first year of the NFL, to score four TDs in a game that he entered with zero career rushing TDs.
  • Rams Butt Super Bowl Participants
    The Rams have four wins this season. The last three have come against recent Super Bowl participants: Seahawks 28-26 October 19, 49ers 13-10 November 2, and, this past week, Broncos 22-7. The only loss among their six that seems inexcusable in hindsight is an opening day trouncing by Minnesota 34-6 - at home no less. Continuing with this theme, both of last year's Super Bowl participants lost in Missouri as the Seahawks were upended by Kansas City 24-20. 6-4 Seattle has more losses than in 2013 (13-3) while 7-3 Denver has equalled last year's mark (13-3).
  • Bad Day for the Mannings
    Both Peyton and Eli Manning lost Sunday. They combined for only 2 TD passes (one each) but seven INTs, five by Eli.
By the Numbers - NFL Week 10
120.3 Aaron Rodgers' passer rating last Sunday in the 53-20 victory over Philadelphia, his fifth best rating of the year
322 Consecutive passes by Rodgers at home without an INT, the longest streak in NFL history.
29 Consecutive TD passes at home for Rodgers without an INT, also the longest streak in league history.
28 Minimum number of points the Packers have scored in the first half of their last four home games, another first.
4 Consecutive home losses by the Bears dating back to December 29, 2013 before last Sunday's victory over Minnesota.
1972 Last year the Eagles allowed as many as 53 points.
209 Yards receiving by Tampa Bay rookie WR Mike Evans against Washington, making him the youngest player in NFL history with a 200y receiving game.
3 Consecutive games in which Evans has at least seven catches, 100y receiving, and a TD catch to become the first rookie in league history to accomplish the feat.
"The Giants' Next Big Thing"
That's the title of an article in last week's issue of USA Today Sports Weekly. The subject of the article is rookie WR Odell Beckham, Jr.. Excerpts:

Odell Beckham Jr.

By now you've seen the videos. Odell Beck­ham Jr. warms up in sweats. Passes whiz his way, and he plucks them out of the air with one hand. ...
Beckham gives the Giants a unique play­maker. And, even though veteran wideout Victor Cruz is sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury, it's easy to think of the tandem quarterback Eli Manning will have next year and in the future. ...
"Beckham is a great player, so they had to depend on him and take risks and take shots in games like this," Seattle Seahawks CB Rich­ard Sherman said.
Added Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: "They've got a great one in that kid." ... the first-round raft pick from LSU continues to be an overwhelming bright spot in an otherwise crumbling season.
In five games, Beckham has caught 25 pass­es for 370 yards and three touchdowns. He's coming off back-to-back games of at least 100 yards receiving, including 108 against the Sea­hawks "Legion of Boom" secondary. Most of the time in Sunday's game in Seattle, Beck­ham went head to head against Sherman. ...
Despite all the talent and big-play potential, Beckham is far from polished. There are a number of things he can work on. ...
Packaged in a small (5-11, 198 pounds) frame, Beckham is as shifty as he is quick. In many ways, he resembles Cruz, ...Cruz was 25 and in his first full season when he helped lead the Giants to the Super Bowl XLVI title. Beckham has just turned 22, and if the past several games are any indication, he'll blossom into a consis­tently dynamic threat like Cruz. ...
That Beckham posted seven receptions for 108 yards, most of which came against Sherman, shows he's not afraid to confront any challenge, no matter how daunting.

High School Football Excess

Allen (TX) High School Stadium

The picture above is of the stadium of Allen High School in a northern suburb of Dallas.

  • Opened two years ago, Eagle Stadium cost $60 million. Voters in the city of 84,246 approved a bond issue to cover the cost. It has a multitiered press box and a video board.
  • However, the picture above could not have been taken this season. Shoddy construction led to cracks in the stadium's concrete, forcing it to be closed for repairs.
  • The two-time-defending state champs, winners of 35 straight, are playing every game on the road this year.

The stadium was built even as the state cut billions of dollars of school funding. How?

  • According to Texas law, a school district cannot have an operating budget greater than $1.17 per $100 of taxable value.
  • However, a school district can carry as much debt as the community is willing to stomach. In other words, Allen can spend $60 million on a stadium but cannot spend a penny of that $60 million to make up the recent cuts enacted by the legislature.
  • Allen has also built a performing arts center with cutting-edge acoustical construction.
  • The school boasts "the largest marching band in the world" - 702 members, including 16 xylophones, 23 sousaphones, and a large contingent of flag twirlers and a dance team. (As a point of reference, Florida State's 450-member Marching Chiefs are the largest college band.)

Allen HS Band
Golden Rankings - NFL after 11 Weeks
Golden NFL Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp. wins Last
Week
1
Arizona
91
18.34
43 1
2
Green Bay
7-3
17.37
30 6
3
New England
8-2
17.35
34 5
4 Denver 7-3 17.20 36 2
5 Kansas City
7-3
17.10
37 11
6
Philadelphia
7-3
17.05
25 3
7
Detroit 7-3
16.88
30 4
8
San Francisco
6-4
16.83
32 10
9
Dallas
7-3
16.75
25 7
10
Cincinnati
6-3-1
16.70
23 12
"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 16.892 1
2 AFC North 16.334 2
3 NFC North 16.232 6
4 AFC East 16.225 4
5 AFC West 16.113 5
6 NFC East 16.835 3
7 AFC South 15.313 7
8 NFC South 14.744 8

Overall: AFC 15.996, NFC 15.926
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 12
  • What Was He Thinking?
    Last week our "winner" was Utah's Kaelin Clay who let go of the ball a yard short of the goal line. This week's "honoree" is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. When his Irish scored a TD with 10:34 left in the game, they led by eleven points, 40-29. For some reason, Kelly ordered a two-point try that failed. Duh, coach, if you kick the point, you're 12 ahead. Northwestern needs three scores. But only 11 in front, the opponent can tie with a TD, two-point conversion, and FG. And, wouldn't you know it (no Luck of the Irish here), that's what the Wildcats did, booting the tying FG with 0:19 left after recovering a fumble at their own 28 at the 1:28 mark as ND tried to run out the clock. But the Irish still had a chance to win in OT. Neither team made a first down, starting with Notre Dame, which missed a 42y FG. Then Jack Mitchell, who had booted the tying FG, banged another through to win 43-40 and end all ND hope for a top tier bowl.
  • Utes Guys Sure Bounced Back Good
    Speaking of Utah, Kyle Whittingham's team rebounded from their devastating loss to Oregon to defeat Stanford on the road, 20-17 in double OT.
  • Some Teams Figure Out New Ways to Lose, not Win
    Florida sealed Will Muschamp's fate with not one but two special teams breakdowns in the final minutes of their loss to South Carolina. Leading 17-10 with 6:39 left, the Gators lined up for a very makeable 32y FG that would give them a seemingly insurmountable ten-point lead given that the Gator D had shut out the Gamecocks since Q1. But SC's Brison Williams blocked the kick, knocking it backwards to the SC 41 to give his team good field position. But Steve Spurrier's sputtering offense could get no further than the UF 41 where a fourth-down pass fell incomplete. The Gators couldn't make a first down but at least made SC use its last timeout. So with under a minute left, Florida lined up to punt. What's the one outcome you absolutely have to avoid in that situation? DON'T GET THE @$#% PUNT BLOCKED. But that's what happened as Carlton Heard burst up the middle and stuffed the kick. Taking over on the Florida 34 with only 39 seconds to work with, the Cocks started with a 27y first down pass from Dylan Thompson to RB Mike Davis. After an incompletion, Florida was called for pass interference on the next pass to put the ball at the 2. [Side note: College rules should be changed so that, when the line of scrimmage is inside, say, the 20 or certainly the 10, pass interference in the EZ puts the ball on the 1.] SC scored on the next play to tie the game, then won in OT by scoring a TD after UF kicked a FG.
  • YoYo Team
    If you're up one week, down the next, up the next, you're a yo-yo team. That description fits Iowa. After winning their first two games, they lost at home in the annual backyard battle with Iowa State, which has won only one of its other eight games. But the Hawkeyes won the next three before losing at Maryland 38-31. They rebounded to crush Northwestern 48-7 at home. Then the Hawks went to Minnesota and were crushed themselves, 51-14. But yet again Kirk Ferentz's team avoided a two-game losing streak by romping at Indiana last Saturday 30-14. Through it all, the Hawks still have a shot at the Big Ten West crown since they're in a three-way tie for second with Nebraska and Minnesota, all 4-2. Iowa plays first place Wisconsin (5-1) this week before tackling Nebraska. Both games are in Iowa City. Also Minnesota must play Nebraska and Wisconsin.
  • Shutout in the Mountain West?
    Perhaps the most surprising score of last weekend was Hawaii 13 San Jose State 0. Surprising because the MWC is known for offense, not defense, especially since many of its schools played in the defunct Western Athletic Conference, affectionately known as the "Wacky WAC." You'd never know who won when you look at the statistics:
    First downs: Hawaii 11 SJSU 24
    Total yards: Hawaii 240, SJSU 462
    3rd Down Conversions: Hawaii 5-15 SJSU 12-19
    But here's the killer - Turnovers: Hawaii 1 SJSU 3.
    One of the Spartans' turnovers was an INT on the Hawaii 3 which was followed by a 14-play, 90y TD drive by the Warriors. SJSU also missed three FG attempts. You have to work hard to go scoreless in the MWC and the Spartans did.
  • SMU Watch
    The Mustangs came so close to getting their first win. Playing at home, SMU jumped to a 13-0 lead over South Florida in Q2 and held it into the final period. But the Bulls scored with 8:02 remaining to cut the margin to 13-7. Then USF mounted an incredible 21-play, 75y drive that lasted six minutes and culminated in a 4y TD 4th-down pass as time ran out. The PAT gave them the win 14-13. The closest SMU had come to victory in their eight previous games had been 38-28 at Tulsa November 8. The improving Ponies have three more chances to get into the win column: @Central Florida, Houston, and @Connecticut. Tulane recently Houston; so maybe there's hope for the Mustangs.
By the Numbers - NCAA Week 12
19 Nebraska's national rank in rushing defense (123.8ypg) before Saturday's game against Wisconsin.
75 Nebraska's rank in rushing defense after surrendering 581y to Wisconsin, including a record 408 by Melvin Gordon.
17 Consecutive road games lost by Hawaii before winning at San Jose State last Saturday.
.636 Alabama's winning % against AP No. 1-ranked teams since 1936, the best in college football
1-12 Oregon State's third down conversion (and the one was on a penalty) in their 35-27 upset of #6 Arizona State
292 Auburn's total offense in their 34-7 loss at Georgia, the first time the Tigers have been held below 300y since 2012, the year before Gus Malzahn became head coach
289 Yards rushing by Georgia, only 3 less than Auburn's total, with freshman Nick Chubb contributing 44 and Todd Gurley 138 (before ending his season with a torn ACL)
14 Consecutive games in which Michigan State's Jeremy Langford has rushed for 100+y, the longest such streak about FBS players in the past ten years
5 Losses by Washington for the first time coach Chris Petersen has lost that many games in a season after coaching Boise State for eight years
5 Consecutive Notre Dame opponents who have scored at least 30 points
6/3 Turnovers by Duke in its two losses to Virginia Tech and Miami this season/turnovers by Duke in its eight wins combined.
6 Consecutive losses by Stanford to AP-ranked opponents after winning the previous ten against ranked opponents
12-3 Missouri's record in SEC games since the start of the 2013 season, second in the conference only to Alabama's 13-3
Saints Musings

I wonder if, five-to-ten years from now when writers summarize the recent history of the New Orleans Saints, they point to the signing of Drew Brees to a $100 million five-year contract before the 2012 season as the beginning of the downfall of the team.

  • In addition, the club is committed to $10.3M per year to Junior Galette (through 2020) - which, astoundingly, is $.3M more than they pay Jimmy Graham per year through 2018 - $9M to Jairus Byrd (who's out for the season), and $8.1M to G Jahri Evans, just to mention the next four on the salary list.
  • Brees is starting to show his age (35). He's still one of the best QBs in the league, but he's been less consistent the last two seasons. (Throw out 2012 because Sean Payton wasn't there.)
  • I don't mean to focus blame entirely on Brees, but his contract has a ripple effect throughout the team. The Saints traded Darren Sproles to the Eagles because of salary cap considerations.. Let's not kid ourselves. The Saints' offense badly misses Sproles, who has contributed 257y rushing, 280y receiving, and, especially significant, 398y in punt returns to Philly, which leads the league in that last category. That's 638y total yards from one player (and Chip Kelly doesn't need Darren to run the ball much because he has LeSean McCoy contributing 729y through 10 games).
  • Mark Ingram leads the Saints in total yards by someone not named Drew Brees: 618y rushing, 97y receiving, 0 kick returns. The Saints' total on punt returns so far this year? 35y, all by Brandin Cooks. NO ranks dead last in punt return yardage.
  • Bottom line: It was a travesty to trade Sproles for only a fifth-round draft pick, which turned out to be LB Ronald Powell. Darren would have counted $4.25M against the salary cap if he had stayed with the Saints. (The Eagles are paying him a $1M salary plus the same amount as a signing bonus for a $2M cap hit.) Yes, other teams knew the Saints were desperate to get rid of Sproles (in part, as explained above, because of Brees' contract) but surely Mickey Loomis could have found a club willing to give more than a fifth round pick. Without Pierre Thomas these last few weeks, Brees has had no one reliable to throw to out of the backfield.
  • By contrast with Brees, Tom Brady makes an average of $11.4M per year. Andrew Luck - $5.5M/year although his earning capacity has been limited by the new union contract provisions for draft choices. Luck will jump to a much higher level after next season when he becomes a free agent.

The Saints just don't have as talented a roster as they did in 2009 or even 2011.

  • And I'm not implying that the Saints should not have signed Brees to his lucrative contract because the public would have rebelled if they hadn't.
  • But we're starting to see the fallout from doing so. Put that many eggs in one basket, and you're forced to trade Darren Sproles for next to nothing. You can't sign as many free agents as you'd like. You have to let veterans go and replace them with rookies who don't cost as much. Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper are praised by their current teams (Eagles and Panthers) for their leadership in the locker room and on the field. [In the Saints' defense, free agent Malcolm Byrd was supposed to provide veteran leadership for the secondary but is out for the season.]
  • You could also argue that the Saints would be better if Brees hadn't demanded so much - a record contract at the time although two years later he's the fourth highest paid QB in the league behind Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco. Drew knew he had the team over a barrel and took advantage of it. But the competitive side of him might be thinking, "If only I had knocked off $10M or so from what I asked for, I might have a better team around me now."
  • With all that being said, the 2014 Saints should still be better than 4-6. Four of the losses resulted from the much-discussed last minute defensive meltdowns. But Sunday against Cincy, the Saints looked completely overmatched.
  • The last two Saints games confirm my belief that it's better to play teams coming off wins, not losses (unless you needed the next opponent to lose to improve your position in your division). The 49ers desperately needed a victory to stay relevant in the NFC West after back-to-back defeats. The Bengals spent all ten days after their Thursday night 24-3 embarrassment at home against Cleveland preparing to make amends and return to the top of the AFC North.
  • It occurs to me that the Saints showed signs of the same syndrome that affected LSU at Arkansas Saturday night - emotional letdown after a tough OT loss. The result was the end of the Saints' record 28-game streak of scoring 20+ points at home.
  • Cincy's triumph gives the AFC North an 8-1-1 record against the NFC South this season, a major reason why every team in the AFC North is at least two games over .500 while every team in the NFC South is at least two games under.
  • The Saints' next two opponents also come from the AFC North: Baltimorenext Monday night in the Dome and Pittsburgh on the road the following Sunday. Can you spell "four-and-eight" Saints fans?
Will the NFC South repeat what happened in the NFC West in 2010 and end with no team over .500? Let's take it team by team.
  • Three of the Saints' last four games are within the division: Carolina and Atlanta at home, Tampa Bay on the road, with a trip to Chicago mixed in. It's possible the Saints could win all four of those since the divisional road game is against weakest team in the NFC South. If the Saints lose the next two but win the final four, they finish 8-8.
  • Atlanta, which is 4-0 in the division and 0-6 against everyone else, still has two division games on the schedule: @NO and Carolina at home. Their other foes are Cleveland, Arizona, @Green Bay, and Pittsburgh. Let's give them a victory over Carolina at home, but the Falcons will be hard pressed to win two of the four non-division games. 1 + 1 = 2 more wins and a 6-10 record. Even a third win puts them at only 7-9.
  • Carolina at 3-7-1 must win all five remaining games to finish 8-7-1. That ain't hap'nin', folks. Tampa Bay, even worse at 2-8, must win all six remaining games to break even. That ain't hap'nin' either.
  • So the division's best chance for a team with a .500+ record is the Saints. Do the Saints look to you like a team that can go 4-2 the rest of the way? If they win all three remaining home games and beat the Bucs on the road, they'll be 8-8. Win in frigid conditions on a Monday night in Chicago (as they did in the playoff game at Philly last year), and they might even finish 9-7. But the Saints just lost two in a row at home where they were once considered invincible. So nothing's guaranteed.
  • Still, if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the Saints winning the NFC South with an 8-8 record. They might even cop the division with a 7-9 mark provided they have enough divisions wins to prevail in the tiebreaker with Atlanta.
Time to Start Preparing Harris

I emailed the following comments to Tiger Rag editor Robert Stewart. We'll see if he publishes any of it in this week's edition.

If Anthony Jennings is not an SEC-competent QB by now, will he ever be? My answer is no, but I'd be interested in yours.

Jennings electrified us by leading a 99.5y drive against Arkansas last year after Josh Mettenberger suffered a season-ending injury. But his performance against Iowa in the bowl game brought us back to Earth. Even with a month to prepare, he was acceptable at best. The running game and the defense brought us victory in a preview of the 2014 season. Compare Jennings' bowl performance to Jordan Jefferson's outstanding game in the 2008 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. But that 38-3 rout of Georgia Tech was Fool's Gold also as Jefferson never developed into a consistenly good SEC QB, although his level of play, until his BCS Championship Game meltdown, was at a much higher level than what Jennings has shown after eleven games this season.

So is it time to start giving Brandon Harris some playing time? Unfortunately, we had another Fool's Gold experience with him in the last quarter against Mississippi State earlier this year. Coming off the bench with no time to get nervous against a defense that had not prepared for him (a la Jennings against Arkansas last year), Harris electrified us by leading a comeback that went down to a pass into the end zone to win the game as time expired. After Jennings had a rotten night against New Mexico State, the coaching staff went with Brandon on the road at Auburn. We know what a disaster that was - 41-7 against an Auburn team that we now know is not nearly as good as last year. So it was back to Jennings under the same philosophy that is taught to medical students: "First, do no harm." Amazing performances by the rapidly-improving defense and by an offensive line that finally lived up to its advance billing allowed the Tigers to upset Florida, blast Kentucky (another team that wasn't as good as we thought), upset Ole Miss, and come within 50 seconds of downing mighty Bama. Then Jennings did his "Jefferson in the Superdome" imitation in Fayetteville.

So why not use the next eleven days to prepare a package for Harris against Texas A&M? Put him in at the beginning of the second quarter to give him experience now. At the very least, use December to get him ready to share time or even start in the bowl game.

Many commentators have predicted a solid season for the young Tigers in 2015 if they can solve the QB problem. They also agree that Harris has a higher ceiling than Jennings. Why wait until spring practice to start preparing Brandon to be next year's leader? I haven't read about another JUCO QB like Mettenberger on the LSU radar screen. And, correct me if I'm wrong, Louisiana hasn't produced a pro-style QB that Miles (and Saban) prefer since Ryan Perriloux. So we'll have to put all our eggs in Harris's basket.

Golden College Rankings - Week 12
Golden Rankings Top Ten
Pos.
Team
Record
Average Opp.
wins
Last
Week
CFP
1
Alabama
9-1
15.99
50 4  
2
Oregon
9-1
15.84
46 2  
3
Ohio State
9-1
15.76
49 8  
4
Mississippi State
9-1
15.64
45 1  
5
Ole Miss
8-2
15.61
46 6  
6 Florida State 10-0 15.56 47 5  
7
UCLA
8-2
15.32
46 7  
8
Georgia
8-2
15.26
43 9  
9
Marshall
10-0
15.23
36 10  
10
Auburn 7-3
15.19
42 3  
  • Alabama moves to the top after beating the previous #1. It will be interesting to see if the CFP Committee puts them there also.
  • Ohio State jumps five places to #3 after beating seven-win Minnesota on the road a week after beating eight-win Michigan State on the road. (A road win over a team with seven or more victories gets you an extra .5.)
  • Auburn drops to tenth after their third loss and by a 27-point margin.
  • Georgia vaults into the Top Ten after belting Auburn 34-7. The Bulldogs would be in a position to make the Final Four by winning the SEC Championship Game if they hadn't lost to Florida.
  • TCU drops to #11 after struggling to beat a poor Kansas team by only four points. The relatively low point value for the game (13.98) dropped the Frogs overall average.

Golden Conference Rankings
Pos.
Conference
Average Impressive Non-Conference Wins
1
SEC
13.750
Clemson, K.State, Tex.Tech, Wisc, WVU
2
Pac-12
13.154
Ill.,Mich.,Mich.St.,N'western,Texas,UVa
3
Big Ten
13.006
Miami, Missouri, Pitt., Syracuse, Wash.St.
4
ACC
12.850
Cincinnati, ND, Ohio St.,Ok.State, USC
5
Big 12
12.850
Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee
6
Mountain West
11.923
BC, Colorado, UConn, Wake F., Wash.St.
7
C-USA
11.624
Akron, Houston, Navy, Tulsa
8
AAC
11.138
Mid.Tenn., UNC, Vandy, Va.Tech
9
MAC
10.898
Ind., N'western, Pitt., Purdue
10
Sun Belt
10.650
Tulsa, Utah State, Wake Forest

Big Ten goes back in front of the ACC.

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

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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Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees - 2014

April Fools 2014

Final Golden College Football Rankings for 2013

Final Golden NFL Rankings Regular Season 2013

Past Articles
Les Miles and Dale Brown - Two Peas in a Pod?

If Alabama Fans Were Like LSU Fans
I Started Following SEC Football So Long Ago That ...
Future of College Football?

LSU Teams That Supplied the Most Pro Players
LSU Players Who Played the Longest in Pro Football

Biased Football Opinions Archive

Golden Moments in Sports History Archive

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