A whole bunch of different picks last week but in the end Neil Shulman retains a one pick lead. What will we see this week?
Florida at South Carolina
Neil Shulman: Gators looked bad against Vanderbilt offensively, but now they face a brain dead South Carolina team that’s giving up 428 yards per game. Here comes the coup de grace. Florida 34, South Carolina 9
Neil W. Blackmon: Gamecocks have a way of helping struggling offenses heal. That’s good news for Treon Harris and Florida. Harris was better than most people give him credit for last week, as Neil Shulman wrote here, and he should build confidence tomorrow. Florida will pull away late. Florida 31, South Carolina 17.
Georgia at Auburn
NS: This year’s installment of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry may be the worst it’s been in a quarter century. Auburn’s defense took a major step forward with a strong showing against Texas A&M, but stopping Sony Michel for four quarters is too tall a task for them. Georgia 24, Auburn 10
NWB: How close has this rivalry been? It is 55-55-8 in 118 meetings. That’s absurd! Muschamp’s defense is improving with Carl Lawson back in the fold and Jeremy Johnson played well last week. The Tigers return home confident, but will they be able to make enough plays offensively against a Georgia team that still ranks in the top 20 nationally in total defense (14)? I’ll say yes. Auburn 23, Georgia 17
North Texas at Tennessee
NS: LOL. Not happening. Tennessee 49, North Texas 6
NWB: North Texas faces Tennessee with an interim head coach and coming off a 43 point loss to Jeff Driskel and Louisiana Tech. That’s unfortunate. Tennessee 63, North Texas 0.
Alabama at Miss State
NS: Easily the best game of the day in the SEC. Alabama controls its own destiny to Atlanta, but the Cowbell Clangers could turn the SEC West into a muddled mess if they win- and they’d be right in the thick of it. There’s been considerably less ink for Dak Prescott this year, but he’s on pace to surpass the 3449 yards he threw for last year. But there’s just something about Alabama that makes you not want to pick against them. Jacob Coker is playing well lately, he’s found a gem in Calvin Ridley and Derrick Henry has just exploded onto the national scene as an ultra-dangerous back. Gimme the Tide in a close one. Alabama 21, Mississippi State 17
NWB: I’m with Neil. Dangerous game for Tide coming off an emotional win and playing a Miss State team with the best quarterback in the SEC in Starkville. Dan Mullen’s club will also be playing for fallen teammate Keith Joseph Jr, who tragically died in a car accident last week. That’s a ton of intangibles favoring one side. The other side has Derrick Henry. Alabama 24, Miss State 20.
Kentucky at Vanderbilt
NS: Two teams struggling for bowl eligibility. Sounds like fun. Vanderbilt’s got the better defense, though Kentucky has the better overall team. So BBN wins. But who really cares now that basketball season has started? Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 10
NWB: Must win for UK if they want to play in a bowl game. Vandy will have to win out to achieve that goal, and their offense is too limited to do that. Kentucky 9, Vanderbilt 8.
Western Carolina at Texas A&M
NS: The second SEC joke game of the day should go pretty much like the first. Texas A&M 55, Western Carolina 3
NWB: Kevin Sumlin’s seat slowly warming. Saturday it cools off. Texas A & M 50, Western Carolina 13
Arkansas at LSU
NS: The Battle for the Golden Boot moves to Baton Rouge this year. Leonard Fournette will be steaming after being held in check by Alabama, but Arkansas seems to have turned it on late for the second year in a row, so dismiss them at your own peril. Brandon Allen guides the Hogs to an upset win in Death Valley. Arkansas 24, LSU 20
NWB: Hogs held Fournette to career low 9 yards last year. That Arkansas defense was among the best in the country at stopping the run. This year the Hogs are also strong against the run (27th) but weak against the pass (80th). I think Brandon Harris makes plays and LSU wins a tough one at night. LSU 23, Arkansas 16.
BYU @ Missouri
NS: Yes, Mizzou really is that bad that they’re looking at missing a bowl game. Freshman Tanner Mangum has been solid since taking over in emergency duty in week one, and though the Tigers’ defense is statistically solid, this team is fading fast. The Cougars kick off Gary Pinkel’s retirement tour by embarrassing his team at home. BYU 27, Missouri 7
NWB: Between the #ConcernedStudent1950 protests and Pinkel’s retirement, Mizzou has had plenty of distractions this week. Will playing a football game help? Probably, but the Tigers are just too limited offensively. BYU 17, Missouri 10.
Oregon at Stanford
NS: The Cardinal better not get caught looking ahead to their huge showdown with Notre Dame. This Oregon team may not be the same squad that bludgeoned FSU in last year’s Rose Bowl (because I just LOVE bringing that up) but they’re still dangerous, especially if Royce Freeman gets going. But Christian McCaffrey will be even harder for Oregon to handle. Stanford takes this one late. Stanford 28, Oregon 20
NWB: Stanford slept through their game in Pullman and escaped against Mike Leach’s team. They rallied last weekend with a huge win against Colorado. I’m with Neil though- if they are sleepwalking Saturday, they lose. I don’t think they will be, and I think Christian McCaffrey can go suit shopping for the Heisman ceremony now. Stanford 41, Oregon 30.
Ohio State at Illinois
NS: OSU has looked quite vulnerable all season against teams they shouldn’t. But they’ve won each and every time thanks to a wacky version of a two QB system, and, well, because Ezekiel Elliot is a beast. On the other hand, Ohio State better beware of Illinois running back KeShawn Vaughn, who exploded for 180 yards against Purdue last week. But Illinois doesn’t have the sheer talent across the board the Buckeyes do. Ohio State wins yet another nail biter. Ohio State 24, Illinois 23
Urban Meyer’s club has won 22 games in a row, but they’ll face the best defense they’ve played all year Saturday in Champaign (Illini 10th nationally in S and P defense)
. I think that will slow Ezekiel Elliott and company but the Buckeyes will control the game late. Ohio State 28, Illinois 14.
Oklahoma at Baylor
NS: First team to 50 wins? Baylor’s QB spot was a major concern when Seth Russell went down, but the offense hasn’t seemed to miss a beat yet with Jarrett Stidham at the controls. Plus, Shock Linwood is virtually unstoppable. Oklahoma’s got some firepower, too, namely Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine, but they can’t match the nasty street fighter of a program Art Briles has built. Not in Waco, anyway. Baylor 59, Oklahoma 49
NWB: Tough one. The Bears have routed Oklahoma the last two years, by 29 and 34. But Lincoln Riley’s offense is rolling of late, averaging over 600 yards a game in the last three and the Sooner defense will have something dialed up for freshmen Jarrett Stidham. If Seth Russell starts, I’d pick Baylor. Instead, I think OU leaves Waco very much back in the playoff hunt. Oklahoma 38, Baylor 30.
Washington State at UCLA
NS: Mike Leach’s squad has been quite a pleasant surprise in the Pac-12, but they’re about to come back down to earth. UCLA still controls its own destiny to the Pac-12 Championship Game, and they won’t let those dreams die in the Rose Bowl. Chalk up another big day for Josh Rosen and another win for the Bruins. UCLA 38, Washington State 24
NWB: Josh Rosen and the Bruins rank 19th nationally in S and P offense and that’s without Myles Jack and of late, Paul Perkins. Surprisingly, Leach’s defense has been the more efficient unit for the Cougars, and they’ll hang around, but UCLA wins the game with balance. UCLA 27, Washington State 21.
Memphis at Houston
NS: Rumors are that both teams’ coaches are Missouri’s top choices for their head job. But both teams are still very much at play for the American crown and a possible New Year’s Six Bowl, so you’d have to think that both coaches would be focused on that first and foremost. Paxton Lynch will get the Tigers some points, but Houston will ride the Kenneth Farrow wave to its tenth victory of the season. Houston 31, Memphis 20
NWB: Navy’s offense is tough to prepare for and Memphis, as we saw against Ole Miss, is much more suited to deal with tempo and pass-first football. This will be a hell of a football game, and worth the DVR space, but the home team will win. Houston 28, Memphis 23.