Neil Shulman has opened up a two game lead. But we all know championships are won in November.
Mississippi State at Missouri
NWB: Leonard Fournette is the best offensive player in the SEC. Dak Prescott is the second best. Cool that he gets the national stage to himself tonight against a really good defense. Good tune-up for the Tide. Miss State 23, Missouri 10.
NS: Too much Dak Prescott and it’s time to start wondering whether or not the two time defending SEC East Champs will even make a bowl game. Miss State 28, Mizzou 16
Vanderbilt at Florida
NWB: Florida lost its last two homecoming games under Will Muschamp by a combined score of 73-30. Gators are due for happiness on Homecoming. Vandy is 18th in the country in S & P + defense and 23rd in total defense, so Florida won’t get all of that margin back Saturday. But they’ll clinch a spot in Atlanta, and that will be glorious. Florida 35, Vanderbilt 7.
NS: The Commodores’ defense could cause some problems for a quarter or two, but sooner or later, Vandy’s gonna Vandy. Translation: they’ll beat themselves. I don’t see a scenario where Johnny McCrary has much success against this nasty Gator defense. This Gator team can smell the peaches. No way Vanderbilt gets in the way of that. Florida 31, Vanderbilt 6.
Kentucky at Georgia
NWB: Kentucky’s season began with high hopes, but they play their first day game of the year having been embarrassed their last two times on the field. They need two wins to get bowl eligible. Meanwhile, Mark Richt’s fifteen year hold on the program in Athens appears to be on extremely thin ice. The bet here is Richt returns to Greyson Lambert and he exploits enough holes in a porous Kentucky secondary to win a tight one. Georgia 26, Kentucky 21.
NS: Mark Stoops’ club has come oh-so-close to getting that signature win several times. They even thought they got it against Missouri, but then the Tigers went down the toilet, so now they’re looking for another one. But they won’t get it against a Georgia team that’s one loss away from their season turning into a complete embarrassment. Sony Michel bails the Bulldogs out in the end. Georgia 30, Kentucky 24.
Arkansas at Ole Miss
NWB: Tough one to call. Ole Miss will remember last year’s 30-0 loss to Arkansas and have played immensely better since getting Laremy Tunsil back. They’ll face a Razorback offense that has Brandon Allen and a running game firing on all cylinders at present. Rebs stay in control of their own destiny with a turnover late. Ole Miss 28, Arkansas 23.
NS: Believe it or not, Ole Miss still controls its own destiny to the SEC Championship Game. Bret Bielema’s team, meanwhile, is in danger of missing a bowl game for the second time in three years. Too bad they won’t be able to stop LaQuon Treadwell and make themselves feel better about those chances. Mississippi 34, Arkansas 24
South Carolina at Tennessee
NWB: Gamecocks have looked like a different team since Spurrier left, and were a play or two away from picking up a huge win in College Station last week. Didn’t, and now it is impossible to see a scenario where they are bowl eligible, because Tennessee is playing as well as almost anyone in the country. Tennessee 34, South Carolina 23.
NS:Carolina is a dumpster fire right now, and Tennessee is better than their 4-4 record says they are (sorry, Bill Parcells). So they’ll happily throw gasoline on it with another impressive performance from Josh Dobbs, and their third straight win in the rivalry. Tennessee 38, South Carolina 17
Auburn at Texas A & M
NWB: Gus Malzahn’s team has four games left on the schedule: A & M Saturday, Idaho, Georgia and Alabama. They need to win two of those games to get bowl eligible. The visitor has won the last three meetings and A & M has been woeful against the run, allowing 4.9 a rush (109th in country). Will Muschamp’s defense looked better last week with Carl Lawson back, and I think they get a huge win Saturday. Auburn 30, Texas A & M 24.
NS: Auburn would probably do a lot of illegal things to get a win right now. They too are in serious jeopardy of missing a bowl game, and now they face a aTm (as it’s stylized) offense that’s still desperate for a strong performance after looking silly against Ole Miss a few weeks ago. Tra Carson goes nuts and A&M rolls. Texas A&M 37, Auburn 20
LSU at Alabama
NWB: Road team has won 12 of 20. Leonard Fournette will get his, even on the road. Florida “held” Fournette to 180 on 31 carries and the Gators front seven compares favorably to Alabama’s. The key in that game was Brandon Harris’s ability to make throws on 3rd and medium, which matters immensely in a game where first downs are precious. That’s harder to do on the road. The Tide crowd will be incredible, and Jake Coker’s been waiting for this game since he transferred from FSU. But LSU doesn’t just have the best player, they have the best skill players across the board. They’ll win. LSU 20, Alabama 17.
NS: The Game. Put simply, it’s just “The Game.” Leonard Fournette has proven to be a tough task for even the strongest defenses to stop, but I’m still not certain if Brandon Harris is capable of making a play to win the big game if forced to. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, just keep rolling. Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have developed a gem in Calvin Ridley, and his quarterback, Jacob Coker, seems to be gradually improving as the season progresses. This ain’t your grandpa’s Bama, or even your older brother’s Bama. These days, the Tide win games with its offense just as much as their defense. Which is good, because they’ll need it to beat Leonard State University. I’m going with what I guess is the upset here, as LSU is ranked #2 and Bama is ranked #4. Saban continues to own Les Miles with a dramatic, come from behind victory late. Alabama 20, LSU 13.
Penn State at Northwestern
NWB: Couple of good football teams playing on what will be a perfect autumn day on Lake Michigan? Where do I sign up? These are similar football teams- great defenses, strong running games. The difference is the quarterback position. Christian Hackenberg has a 12-0 TD to INT ratio in his last six games, and I think he gets enough from Saquon Barkley and the running game to win this thing in the fourth quarter. Penn State 19, Northwestern 14.
NS: We haven’t heard much about Pat Fitzgerald’s team after they knocked off Stanford, but here they are at 6-2, already bowl eligible and hunting down a 10 win season. Meanwhile, here’s James Franklin’s team, 7-2 and still not ranked. One of these quietly solid teams has to lose, though. I’ll say that team is Penn State, as they haven’t really beaten anybody good yet. NW’s stingy defense forces a late Christian Hackenberg interception to seal the win. Northwestern 17, Penn State 16
Notre Dame at Pitt
NWB: Irish don’t have a signature win but this will make four quality wins and one of the best losses in America. That’s a good resume. Notre Dame 24, Pitt 17.
NS: Panthers will play the Irish tough on their home field, but won’t have an answer for DeShone Kizer in the end. Notre Dame 31, Pittsburgh 20
Florida State at Clemson
NWB: No one likes to play or plays the “lack of respect” better than Dabo Swinney, but now that he has the #1 team in America, that’s a tough sell. The Noles are the final obstacle to the mountaintop, and it is fair to wonder if Clemson will be tight. Both teams have great defenses (Clemson 4 in S&P+, 5 total; FSU 25th in S&P+, 24th total). Question really is can the Noles get anything in the vertical passing game to help Dalvin Cook? Vegas doesn’t think so, as Noles are double digit dogs. I don’t either. Clemson 27, FSU 19.
NS: s much as I hate FSU, I refuse to believe they’re as bad as losing to a 2-5 Georgia Tech team would suggest. If Dalvin Cook truly is healthy, the Seminoles could make this a game. But even with Cook, FSU won’t win. Their defense will have its hands full with DeShaun Watson & co., who take over this game late. Clemson 35, FSU 20
TCU at Oklahoma State
NWB: Shame on me for buying into a Texas Tech win against Mike Gundy and company last week. Pokes are legit. This will also be the first top 50 defense TCU has faced since the Minnesota game, which you’ll recall was touch and go for the Horned Frogs. What the heck, Oklahoma State 33, TCU 30.
NS: Pokes are surprisingly unbeaten as we head into November, but their lack of a quality win leaves me wondering how good they really are. I’m a believer in the team with the best player on the field winning games that appear close on paper, so I’ll go with Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin to lead the Frogs to a big win on the road. TCU 28, Oklahoma State 17
Navy at Memphis
NWB: Watch Keenan Reynolds play, even if that means you have to DVR this game and watch it Monday or Tuesday. He’s a tremendous college football player. And he’ll almost beat Paxton Lynch and Memphis Saturday night. Memphis 31, Navy 27.
NS: Midshipmen’s triple option offense is always difficult to stop, so Memphis will have its hands full. But Navy also won’t be able to stop Paxton Lynch and the Tigers’ passing game, which will be the difference. Memphis 41, Navy 24.