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My Week 12 Picks
I'm in a Yahoo Pick'em group that does Top 25 plus additional SEC games each week. Home team in CAPS.
  • #1 LSU over OLE MISS +21
    Tigers start slow before rolling.
  • RUTGERS +52 OVER #2 Ohio State
    Buckeyes take it easy before big games against Penn State and Michigan.
  • #3 CLEMSON over Wake Forest +34.5
    Tigers roll along to CFP.
  • #4 Alabama over MISSISSIPPI STATE +20
    Bama takes out its frustration on Bulldogs.
  • #13 AUBURN +2.5 over #5 Georgia
    Tigers win the line of scrimmage in a low-scoring slugfest at home.
  • #6 OREGON over Arizona +27
    Ducks focused on CFP berth.
  • #23 IOWA over #7 Minnesota +3
    Trap game for Gophers after big win over Penn State.
  • UCLA+21 over #8 UTAH
    Bruins score enough to cover.
  • #9 PENN STATE over #24 Indiana
    Hoosiers' stay in Top 25 doesn't last long.
  • #11 Florida over MISSOURI +7
    Gators ride strong defense to road victory.
  • #12 BAYLOR +10 over #10 Oklahoma
    Either way, this game will be close.
  • #14 MICHIGAN over Michigan State +13.5
    Rested Wolverines ready for stretch run.
  • #15 Wisconsin over NEBRASKA +14.5
    Badgers back on track after win over Iowa.
  • #16 NOTRE DAME over #21 Navy +9
    Irish too strong for Middies.
  • #17 Cincinnati over SOUTH FLORIDA +14
    Bearcats preserve their ranking on road.
  • #22 Texas +7 over IOWA STATE
    Longhorns getting healthy again.
  • Kansas +17.5 over #25 OKLAHOMA STATE
    Miles men score enough to cover.
  • #18 Memphis over HOUSTON +10.5
    Tigers chugging to division title.
  • #19 BOISE STATE over New Mexico +28
    Broncos frolic on blue turf.
  • Kentucky over VANDERBILT +10
    Derek Mason death march continues.
  • TEXAS A&M over South Carolina +11
    Aggies too much at home.

Record after eight weeks: 143-100-4

Interesting Numbers
7
Games Clemson has won this season by 31 or more points
21 Points scored by Missouri in its last three games
6
Consecutive wins by North Carolina over Pittsburgh
8
Consecutive losses by Minnesota at Iowa
903 Total yards allowed by Oklahoma in its last two games
5 Wins by Baylor by 7 or fewer points
2005
Last year Michigan beat Michigan State by more than 14.5 points
4
IIowa State losses - its entire number - to Top 25 teams
11 Total deficit by Iowa State in its four losses
0 Teams defeated by 7-2 Indiana that have a winning record
4/6 Auburn QB Bo Nix's TDs/INTs against Top Ten teams this season
Did You Notice? NFL Week 10
  • This Week's Crazy Stats Game
    First downs: Lions 21 Bears 13
    Total plays: Lions 75 Bears 52
    Total yards: Lions 357 Bears 226
    Yards per play: Lions 4.8 Bears 4.3
    Possession: Lions 31:54 Bears 28:06
    Turnovers: Lions 1 Bears 0
    Score: Bears 20 Lions 13
  • Unbeaten/Winless Teams after 10 weeks
    Undefeated teams: San Francisco
    Winless teams: Cincinnati
  • Uncanny Devin Bush
    Steelers rookie LB Devin Bush has been uncanny in his predictions the last month.
    Week 6: Predicts his first defensive touchdown vs Chargers
    Week 7: Bye
    Week 8: Predicts Steelers will get two picks and a forced fumble vs Dolphins
    Week 9: Predicts four to five sacks and INT vs Colts
    Week 10: Predicts four sacks and two INTs vs Rams
    This Thursday night vs Browns: "Six sacks, a fumble recovery - or a forced fumble/fumble recovery - and a pick." We'll check back next week to see how this came out.
  • Questions for Shanahan
    The Seahawks and 49ers played an epic game Monday night. The back-and-forth shootout went into OT when the Niners' rookie kicker made a 45y FG with 0:01 on the clock to tie the game at 24. With only 1:50 seconds left in OT after neither team was able to score, SF took over at their 20. Coach Kyle Shanahan had Jimmy Garapolo throw three straight passes, all incomplete. Calling even one running play would have either (a) used up 40 seconds on the clock and (b) forced Seattle to use its last timeouts. Instead, the Seahawks received the punt at their 36 with 1:25 left and drove to the 24 on the strength of three Russell Wilson passes and his scrambled for 18y. Enough time was left for Jason Myers to kick the winning FG and eliminate the last undefeated team in the NFL. It's understandable that Shanahan wanted to try to win the game. But a tie would have helped his team more than the Seahawks, who were two games behind SF in the NFC West.
  • Rams Are Toast
    Remember when the season started and Saints fans pointed to the game against the Rams in Week 2 as one of the most crucial in NO's quest for the #1 seed in the NFC? With Brees getting injured and a TD called back because of a quick whistle, the Saints lost 27-9. Saints Nation thought, "This will come back to haunt us because the Rams will have the tie-breaker if we finish with identical records." But after winning their first three, LA lost their next three to Tampa, Seattle, and San Francisco. Then last week they went to Pittsburgh and dropped a lackluster contest to the Steelers 17-12. QB Jared Goff, considered one of the rising stars after leading the Rams to the Super Bowl last year, threw two picks and lost a fumble that resulted in the Pitt TD. So forget about the Rams for '19. Instead worry about the Niners and Seahawks. Fortunately, the Saints have the tiebreaker against Seattle thanks to our 33-27 upsetting them in the Great Northwest the week after Brees was lost. The 49ers come to the Superdome December for what looms as a gigantic game in the NFC.
  • Jackson Rolls On
    Lamar Jackson
    had another stellar outing, albeit against the winless Bengals. He completed 15-of-17 for 2223y and three TDs to earn a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the 49-23 romp. The Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville also led the 7-2 Ravens in rushing with 65y and a TD. He has become a legitimate MVP candidate.
  • Mahomes Didn't Miss a Beat But ...
    Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes returned to action Sunday for KC and moved right back into the groove: 36-of-50, 446y, 3 TDs, 0 INTs. Unfortunately, the Chiefs' defense imploded against the Titans, who put up 35 points, including two long TD drives of 60+y in Q4. Derrick Henry torched the KC D for 188y. Still, the 6-4 Chiefs are still a half game up on Oakland in the AFC West.
  • Don't Blame It All on the Jones Boy
    Rookie QB Daniel Jones tossed four TDs and zero picks for the Giants Sunday but the G-Men still managed to lose to the Jets 34-26. Jones fumbled three times and, shockingly, star RB Saquon Barkley netted just one measly yard on 13 attempts. Struggling Jets QB Sam Darnold found just the tonic he needed in the NYG defense: 19/30, 230y, 1 TD, 0 INT. Sam's 86.5 QBR was 14 points better than Jones.

Question of the week: The owner of what NFL franchise said, "It's total fucking bullshit, OK? We're not going to London. We're not going anywhere." Answer below.

Intriguing Numbers - NFL Week 10
7 Sacks by the Falcons in their first eight games
6 Sacks by the Falcons against the Saints last Sunday
52 Rushing yards by the Saints against the Falcons
6 Consecutive losses by the Giants
2 Consecutive wins by the Dolphins, who supposedly were tanking this season to get the #1 draft choice
8 Consecutive plays by the Browns from inside the Bills 2 - thanks to two pass interference calls in the EZ - without scoring a TD.
7,894 Consecutive snaps by Chiefs All-Pro Mitchell Schwartz before getting injured last week
14-20 PAT results this season for Colts 46 year old kicker Adam Vinatieri
14-19 FGs by Vinatieri for a slightly better % than his PATs
1 Lost fumbles by the Cardinals this season after David Johnson coughed it up late in Q3 last week
2 Times Jets S Jamal Adams from LSU took the ball away from Giants QB Daniel Jones, the second time returning it for a TD
Answer to this week's question: Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos
Dan Wolken, USA Today
Alabama doesn't deserve Playoff spot, but that doesn't mean it won't get one.
Because it's Alabama - and only because it's Alabama - this is going to be more complicated than it needs to be.
If we lived in a logical world, Saturday’s 46-41 loss to LSU would be case closed. Alabama, which does not own a win against a top-25 team much less a good team, won't win the SEC or even the SEC West and lost at home in the game it needed to win, should not be in the College Football Playoff. Barring some sort of nationwide catastrophe, there are going to be enough good options for the selection committee among a group of teams who have played better opponents and won conference titles that Alabama should be outside the very fringe of that discussion.
And yet, we know what's going to happen over the next month. The SEC propaganda machine is going to kick into high gear, the excuses are going to flow in and the benefit of the doubt that the college football establishment gives exclusively to Alabama will creep into the discussion.
How is this going to end up? Who knows? But if we held Alabama to the same standard we hold everyone else, the conversation would be pretty black and white. When you get a top-10 opponent at home, and it's the only top-10 team you play all year, you need to win that game. And if you don’t, you need to win your conference. 
Alabama isn't going to do either of those things. So what are really talking about here? 
Even the aura of Alabama shouldn’t be enough — not this year. The Crimson Tide’s defense has been average at best and struggled badly against LSU, giving up 559 yards of offense and failing to get a stop in the fourth quarter when the game was potentially up for grabs. 
While Saturday’s game was certainly tense and entertaining, it strains credulity to suggest that there’s a discernible difference between what we saw in Tuscaloosa and many of the other top teams this year. Alabama and LSU have tremendous offensive skill and speed, and they could both do damage in the Playoff if they got in, but they are not physically overwhelming enough to say with certainty that they are two of the four best.
With Ohio State and Clemson tracking toward the Playoff along with LSU, it is highly likely that Alabama will have a worse case for the Playoff on paper than the Big 12 or Pac-12 champion. Asking the committee to ignore that and excuse a close loss at home to LSU wouldn’t happen for anyone but Alabama.

Did You Notice? NCAA Week 11
  • Undefeated Teams (Underlined teams will play each other this season.)
    Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson 10-0
    Big 12: Baylor 9-0
    Big Ten: Ohio State 9-0, Penn State, Minnesota 9-0
    SEC: Alabama, LSU 9-0
    Winless Teams
    Rice 0-9, New Mexico State 0-9, Akron 0-9
  • Crazy Stats Game of the Week
    First downs: Wyoming 15 Boise State 15
    Total plays: Wyoming 67 Boise State 59
    Total yards: Wyoming 283 Boise State 285
    Penalties: Wyoming 4-40 Boise State 4-40
    Possession: Wyoming 36:28 Boise State 27:32
    Score: Boise State 17 Wyoming 14
  • Ten Most Valuable Wins So Far in Golden Rankings
    Value Winner Loser Margin
    19.34 @Iowa Middle Tennessee 45
    19.20 @Texas Louisiana Tech 31
    19.06 Central Florida @Florida Atlantic 34
    18.92 @Michigan Notre Dame 31
    18.84 @Ohio State Wisconsin 31
    18.24 @LSU Florida 14
    18.18 South Carolina @Georgia 3
    18.14 LSU @Alabama 5
    18.14 @Ohio State Florida Atlantic 24
    These values are not final. For example, as Alabama wins more games, LSU's victory over the Tide increases in value.
  • "Yes, in a heartbeat."
    That was the answer that Iowa State coach Matt Campbell gave after his team lost to Oklahoma 42-41 when asked if he would go for two again as he did when the Cyclones scored with 24 seconds left. Unfortunately, QB Rock Purdy's pass misfired, allowing the Sooners to avoid their second conference loss.
  • Clemson Rubs It In
    Clemson led North Carolina State 42-0 at halftime and played backups the rest of the way. However, as the clock ran down, the Tigers decided to tack on an extra TD rather than go into victory formation. NC State fumbled away a punt at their 23 with 2:49 left. Backup QB Chase Brice threw a pass on first down for 2y. Several runs placed the ball on the 4. For some reason, State called a timeout with 0:22 left. When play resumed, Brice threw another pass that fell incomplee. Finally, Michel Dukes scored on a run to make the final score 55-10. Were the Tigers, stung by being ranked #5 last week by the CFP Committee, trying to win "style points"? Was their some animosity toward State coach Dave Doeren, who accused Clemson of using a laptop on the sideline two years ago? (Clemson said the computer was for social media upload.)
  • Carolinas King?
    Appalachian State earned $900,000 for playing South Carolina in Columbia last Saturday. The "rent a win" game turned into a nightmare for the Gamecocks - a 20-15 Mountaineer victory. That was nothing new for ASU. In week three, they went to Chapel Hill and upended North Carolina 34-31. Since UNC defeated Duke 20-17, App State can claim to be the top team in the Carolinas this year. At 8-1, they also have a good chance to be the Gang of Five representative in the Big Four bowls if Boise State and the AAC champ lose a second time.
  • Sad Storey for Morris
    Western Kentucky removed any doubt that Arkansas would fire Chad Morris when the Hilltoppers came to Fayetteville and belted the Razorbacks 45-19. But making matters worse for the embattled Morris was the fact that WKU's QB, Ty Storey, played for Arkansas last year. He appeared in 10 games but lost his starting job and transferred when it became clear Morris was looking for a different QB to fit his system.
Interesting Numbers
1987 Last time a team beat four Top 10 teams - Miami - before LSU did it this year.
6 Losses by Connecticut by 35 or more points, including three by 42 or more
2 Maryland losses by 59 points this season - to Penn State and Ohio State
138 Margin by which Arkansas lost its last four games, leading to coach Chad Morris's dismissal
67 Consecutive weeks in the Top Five of the AP Poll by Alabama, including this week
1962
Last time Minnesota was ranked in the top 10 before beating Penn State this past Saturday
2007
Last time Indiana had seven wins in a season before this year
1993 Last time Indiana won as a ranked team
Golden NFL Rankings after 10 Weeks - Saints Fall to 4th
# Team Avg. Total Win Loss Opp.
Wins
Opp.
Losses
Margin
Value
Last
Week
1 San Francisco 17.77 159.90 8 1 26 2 4.15 2
2 Seattle 17.43 174.28 8 2 29.5 4 1.03 8
3 Green Bay 17.29 172.94 8 2 39 10 2.04 3
4 New Orleans 17.25 155.24 7 2 34 11 0.49 1
5 New England 17.22 155.00 8 1 23 2 4.46 5
6 Minnesota 16.99 169.93 7 3 24 11 2.58 10
7 Baltimore 16.92 152.25 7 2 27 10 2.72 7
8 Houston 16.89 152.00 6 3 25 10 1.63 6
9 Kansas City 16.78 167.75 6 4 30 14 2.14 4
10 Pittsburgh 16.61 149.50 5 4 16 6 0.45 13
"Opp. wins" means the total number of wins by the teams the ranked team defeated.
"Opp. losses" means the total number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.

Team that jumped highest amount from last week: Seattle +6
Team that dropped the furthest: Indianapolis -7

Complete Golden NFL rankings


Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Week
1 NFC West 16.672 1
2 NFC North 16.410 2
3 AFC South 16.089 4
4 NFC South 16.058 3
5 AFC West 15.991 5
6 AFC North 15.979 6
7 AFC East 15.694 7
8 NFC East 15.120 8

Overall: NFC 16.065 AFC 15.938
A Sickening Scenario

Unfortunately, there's still a strong possibility that LSU will have to play Alabama again. I don't buy those who say that Alabama is out of the CFP picture because of their weak schedule. They're still #4 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
Minnesota beat Penn State, and the CFP committee may slot them at #4 this week, but the Gophers still must face Iowa and Wisconsin. And if they win the Big 10 West, there's Ohio State in the championship game.
Georgia has an embarrassing home loss to South Carolina. So losing a close game to the Tigers in the SEC championship game may not be enough to give the Bulldogs the fourth spot. They would need to beat LSU to get in. Hopefully, the Tigers would not fall out of the Top Four.
Since the committee supposedly uses conference championship as a tie-breaker, our best hope for a team to take the #4 slot in the CFP (behind LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson) is Oregon or Utah. Hopefully, both will have only one loss going into the conference championship game. That will make that game a playoff for the #4 CFP spot.

LSU-Alabama WITH FOLLOW UP
Some thoughts on Saturday's BIG GAME.
  • It's nice for a change to go into the game with LSU having a realistic chance of victory.
  • The two biggest unknowns are:
    How good, really, is Alabama? The only team they've played that is already bowl eligible is Texas A&M. Their eight victims have a combined 28 wins and those 28 teams have 73 wins. Compare that with LSU, whose eight victims have 34 wins and those 34 teams have 128 wins. BAMA CERTAINLY LOOKED LIKE THE TEAM THAT WASN'T READY FOR THE GAME, HAVING NOT BEEN TESTED YET THIS YEAR. FIRST HALF PENALTIES AND TURNOVERS HELPED LSU MOUNT A 20 POINT LEAD.
    How healthy will Tua be? Despite Saban's talk of "game time decision," you know he's going to play. But one of his big assets is his quick footwork. Will he be as mobile as he has been when healthy? Will he be told to run only as a last resort? HE WASN'T 100% BUT HE WAS STILL PRETTY DAMN GOOD.
  • Adding to the pressure of the game is its importance in the Heisman sweepstakes. A victory by LSU - which can only be achieved if Joe Burrow has an outstanding game - will practically guarantee football's biggest individual prize to our Ohio State transfer. On the other hand, a poor performance by Joe coupled with a stellar game by Tua puts the Alabama signal-caller in the driver's seat for the award. ONLY AN INJURY CAN PREVENT JOE FROM BECOMING LSU'S SECOND HEISMAN WINNER.
  • As you can see below, I took Alabama to win and cover the six-point spread. In part I did this to "hedge my bets." That is, if LSU wins, great! If not, at least I can win that game in the Pick 'Em group. Of course, an Alabama victory by three points would be the worst scenario.
  • I will confidently make these predictions:
    1. The team that wins the turnover battle will probably win the game. LSU 1 BAMA 2
    2. The team that runs for more yardage will probably win the game. LSU 166 BAMA 123
    3. The team that does both 1 and 2 will almost certainly win the game.
  • My areas of concern for the Tigers are:
    Can they put enough pressure on Tua to disrupt the potent Tide passing attack?
    Can our offensive line consistently block the Bama D-line? That's essential for Edwards-Hellaire to have a good game, which is one of the keys to LSU's success. CLYDE RAN FOR 103y AND GAINED 77 MORE ON PASSES.
  • On the one hand, LSU's defense has not faced an offense this year as good as Bama's. On the other hand, Alabama's defense has not faced an offense as good as LSU's. EACH TEAM GAVE UP THE MOST POINTS IT ALLOWED THIS SEASON.

Some final thoughts.

  • LSU better win this year because we will not have a QB next year anywhere close to Burrow's quality. Myles Brennan has shown little improvement from his freshman year. Even if the Tigers sign a 4- or 5-star recruit, he will not be ready as a freshman to survive the rigors of SEC play.
  • Worst nightmare for Tiger fans: LSU wins Saturday, then goes undefeated in the regular season, culminating with a victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game. That earns us the #1 seed in the College Football Playoff. So we play the #4 seed which turns out to be none other than .... Alabama! Given a berth in the playoff as one of the "four best teams" because they lost only to #1 LSU. Sound familiar? LSU WILL PROBABLY FACE BAMA AGAIN IN THE 1-4 SEMIFINAL MATCHUP.
  • FINAL FINAL THOUGHT: If Alabama wins this year's game by 14 or more points, I will officially give up on LSU beating the Tide until Saban retires.
Golden College Rankings after 11 Weeks
Team Avg. Points Win Loss Opp
Wins
Opp
Losses
Score
Value
Opp
Opps
Road
Win
Home
Loss
Last
Week
CFP
Rank
1 Ohio State 16.76 150.8 9 0 46 0 13.14 154 0.5 0.0 1 2
2 LSU 16.09 144.8 9 0 45 0 6.63 179 0.5 0.0 2 1
3 Clemson 15.39 153.9 10 0 39 0 9.58 120 0.0 0.0 4 3
4 Penn State 15.11 136.0 8 1 35 0 5.57 123 0.0 0.0 3 9
5 Oregon 15.06 135.5 8 1 35 2 6.10 123 0.0 0.0 8 6
6 Minnesota 15.03 135.2 9 0 36 0 4.91 108 0.0 0.0 9 8
7 Alabama 15.00 135.0 8 1 31 0 7.92 89 0.0 0.0 5 5
8 Georgia 14.86 133.7 8 1 36 6 6.42 120 0.0 0.5 11 4
9 Cincinnati 14.83 133.5 8 1 33 0 4.98 100 0.0 0.0 6 17
10 Auburn 14.69 132.2 7 2 33 2 4.76 98 0.0 0.0 7 12
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opps. losses" is the number of losses by the teams that defeated the ranked team.
  • "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.
  • "Road win" and "Home Loss" haven't kicked in yet because opponents have to win at least six games to earn a bonus for beating them on the road and opponents have to have six losses before you lose points when they defeat you at home.

Toughest schedule: Tulsa
Easiest schedule: Alabama-Birmingham
Largest jump from last week: Louisiana-Monroe (24 spots)
Largest drop from last week: West Virginia (21 spots)

Conference Rankings
  Conference Avg. Last
Week
1 Big 10 13.054 1
2 SEC 12.845 2
3 Big 12 12.776 3
4 America Ath. Conf. 12.681 4
5 PAC 12 12.511 6
6 ACC 12.500 5
7 Mountain West 11.989 7
8 Sun Belt 11.654 8
9 CUSA 11.336 9
10 MAC 10.866 10

Avg. means the average score of the teams in the conference (with 12 being the starting point for each game and going up/down depending on whether the team wins/loses).

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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 Football Magazine five or six times a year with stories from the past and a periodic Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a Basketball Magazine.

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