Ole Miss at Auburn
NWB: Which Ole Miss shows up? Does it even matter against an Auburn secondary that hasn’t really slowed down anybody? Here’s thinking Auburn keeps this thing close with Sean White at home. But Ole Miss will win, which begs the question- will Auburn get bowl eligible? Ole Miss 31, Auburn 27
NS:Amidst all the Rebs’ struggles this year, a curious fact exists: Ole Miss still controls its own destiny to the SEC Championship Game. Meanwhile, the Muschamp curse is real; Auburn has surrendered a shade over 430 yards a game so far this year (yes, I love keeping track, because I’m sadistic when it comes to our awful ex-coach). That average will look even worse when the Rebels get done with them. Ole Miss 41, Auburn 20
South Carolina at Texas A & M
NWB: Tyler Murray will get his first career start. He’ll probably get the idea that SEC defenses aren’t too tough after all. Then he’ll play LSU. Texas A & M 44, South Carolina 17.
NS: South Carolina’s second road game against an SEC West team will go even worse than its first one did. Pharaoh Cooper may make a big play or two, but it won’t help. Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 14
UT-Martin at Arkansas
NWB: Skyhawks lost 76-3 at Ole Miss earlier this season. This one won’t be quite that bad. And they won’t make quite as much money (500K) either. Arkansas 55, UT-Martin 7.
NS: What the hell is a SkyHawk, anyway? Arkansas 49, UT-Martin 3
Florida vs. School Up North.
NWB: This one is tough to figure out. Mark Richt teams are great when they are desperate, like they were in 2012 when they derailed the Gators undefeated season. Treon Harris has improved and played well at LSU, but will he get enough support from the running game? And can he protect the football? And what happens if Florida needs a kick late? Expect UGA to be ready and play a heck of a ball game. And expect Treon Harris to do enough for Florida’s defense to win this thing late. Gators 20, School Up North 16
NS: I’m terrified, truth be told. One team always self destructs in this game. Sure, Florida should win, but the team that should win only does so on an alarmingly small percentage of occasions. Throw stats and schematics out the window for this rivalry. It comes down to which team makes the big play late. Because I have the strongest faith in Jim McElwain, I’ll say that someone is Treon Harris. Florida 24, Georgia 17
Tennessee at Kentucky
NWB: How will Vols respond to the latest heartbreak, last week at Alabama? And can Kentucky win one of these games they have to win to reach a bowl? I think the answer to the second question is yes, but not Saturday. Tennessee 28, Kentucky 23.
NS: Neither team is as bad as they’ve been, but they’re both still irrelevant in the SEC East race. But like Florida-Georgia, this is a big rivalry (well, at least to these two teams) and they’ll both be fighting like wild animals to get a win here. But Kentucky won’t have an answer for Josh Dobbs, and the Vols win going away. Tennessee 34, Kentucky 17
Vanderbilt at Houston
NWB: Greg Ward will play easily the best defense he’s played all year (Vandy is #21). He’ll struggle early but the Commodores won’t make enough plays offensively to spring the upset. Houston 21, Vanderbilt 14.
NS: Johnny McCrary throws a late pick to lose it for Vandy, but don’t laugh at the Commodores- their defense is good enough to put a real scare into you if you aren’t careful. Houston 27, Vanderbilt 24
Miami at Duke
NWB: Normally, I would say a road game against a ranked team with an interim coach is bound to end badly. But Miami has superior talent, so it makes it tougher. Then again, I picked Miami against Clemson. Duke 31, Miami 20.
NS: Unless Miami gets a 500 yard performance out of Brad Kaaya, they have no chance. Thomas Sirk goes nuts and Duke wins in stunningly easy fashion (because it’s DUKE). Duke 38, Miami 10
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
NWB: Mike Gundy’s team is unbeaten and the two headed quarterback monster of Mason Rudolph and JW Walsh has been humming along, ranked in the top 40 nationally in S & P efficiency. The thing is, Texas Tech is ranked 3rd, is a bad luck deflection from 6-2 and has more weapons with DeAndre Washington, Jakeem Grant and Patrick Mahomes. Another unbeaten falls. Texas Tech 42, Oklahoma State 34.
NS: This game certainly peaks my interest. Kliff Kingsbury’s squad has come so close so many times this year, and it’s only a matter of time before they actually pull it off. But it won’t be this week; what the Red Raiders have on offense, they lack in defense. Pokes are pushed to the limit, but survive a tough road test. Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 38
Clemson at NC State
NWB: Jacoby Brissett has had a splendid senior year, with 10 TD to 1 INT and a QBR in the top 20 nationally. He’s easily the best QB Clemson have faced and Matthew Dayes is a great compliment on the ground. Raleigh should be rocking. Tough, tricky test for Clemson before next week’s showdown with Florida State. In the end, just enough plays from DeShaun Watson. Clemson 28, NC State 24.
NS: Clemson better not get caught looking ahead to their big game with FSU next week, or they could join the Noles in the no longer undefeated category. NC State should be able to run the ball with Matthew Dayes as well as get some production out of former Gator QB Jacoby Brissett, and thus, hang with Clemson for a quarter or two. But superior talent wins in the end. Clemson pulls away in the second half for a deceivingly easy victory. Clemson 38, NC State 17
Notre Dame at Temple
NWB: Matt Rhule has picked up where Steve Adazzio left off in Philadelphia, restoring a once-proud program to respectability. They are a great story and the win over Penn State was a testament to the talent they’ve accumulated on defense. But they aren’t anywhere near Notre Dame talent-wise and with Gameday in town, there’s very little chance the Irish are overlooking them. Notre Dame 30, Temple 14.
NS: The only question I have about this game is why College Gameday is here and not in Jacksonville for Florida-Georgia. Notre Dame ends the Owls’ dreams of crashing the New Years’ Six party in resounding fashion. Notre Dame 35, Temple 10
Stanford at Washington State
NWB: #Pac12AfterDark heads to Pullman, Washington where Mike Leach has the Cougs playing some incredible offense. Too bad they don’t have a prayer of stopping Chris McCaffrey, who will be a Heisman finalist and has Stanford very much alive for a playoff spot. In fact, come Sunday when the committee meets, the thinking here is they are in the top 10. Stanford 45, Washington State 35.
NS: Washington State turned some heads with its win over (once) mighty Oregon in Autzen Stadium. But give Mike Leach a golf clap for what he’s done now, because there won’t be much to clap for after Stanford is done running through, around and over the Cougars’ suspiciously weak defense. Stanford 42, Washington State 21