What was expected to be one of the best games of the entire college football regular season, by those voting in the preseason, has arrived. And it’s not looking like a game that will generate a whole lot of interest. Top-ranked Alabama heads to Texas A&M Saturday — you’ll notice the Aggies aren’t recognized with a Top 25 designation; they no longer own one — and instead of it being a huge matchup it’s just Alabama’s next game.
This was supposed to be The Year for A&M, but judging by its past two games, both SEC losses, the Aggies are just trying not to finish last in the SEC West Division at this point. Instead, attention will be placed on the Auburn at Georgia game, the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas and the Penn State at Iowa games. Heck, Arkansas at Ole Miss will likely draw more interest than Alabama at A&M because the expectation is the game will just be another Alabama win, and it won’t be close.
What do I think? Glad you asked. Here are this week’s college football picks — 10 games, an upset special and then the remainder of the SEC and Sun Belt Conference schedules as well as the other teams in the state with the exception of the South Alabama game. As the Jaguars’ sideline reporter for radio broadcasts, I do not pick South Alabama’s games. By the way, last week I was 17-10 and for the year I’m now 57-37, which certainly is not stellar.
Alabama at Texas A&M: This could be tabbed the Ho-Hum Special of the week. There’s no reason to expect the Aggies are suddenly going to turn things around against the top-rated team in the country when they couldn’t beat Arkansas or Mississippi State. Alabama.
Georgia at Auburn: The Tigers are riding a wave of confidence after their win at LSU last Saturday night. Bo Nix and company came up with the plays that were needed to win in Baton Rouge for the first time since 1999. But Georgia is no LSU, especially on defense. It’s likely those Houdini-like escapes Nix managed against the LSU defense will turn out differently against the Bulldogs’ defense. Georgia.
Penn State at Iowa: Maybe this is, instead, The Year for No. 4 Penn State (instead of Texas A&M). The Nittany Lions have played well thus far and there’s no reason to doubt they can travel to Iowa and win this week. But there’s something about Iowa. Maybe it’s a Field of Dreams thing. Whatever. I’m going with the No. 3 Hawkeyes. Iowa.
Arkansas at Ole Miss: A couple of teams licking their wounds from the previous week of facing the top two teams in the country. Talk about timing. So which team bounces back the best? I have been impressed with the Razorbacks. But it could be that Ole Miss, looking to regain its footing, uses this game to get back to scoring a bunch of points. OK Lane, where’s the popcorn? Ole Miss.
LSU at Kentucky: I’m a Big Blue believer right now. Equally, I’m doubtful in most cases about LSU right now. The combination works out perfectly as it relates to this game. Makes the process pretty simple. Kentucky.
South Carolina at Tennessee: This feels like a different Tennessee team than the one that opened the season, and that’s good news for Vols fans. The offense is clicking more consistently and there appears to be some momentum developing. Don’t get me wrong, the Vols aren’t ready for Alabama or Georgia, maybe a couple of others, but South Carolina? Sure. Tennessee.
Georgia Southern at Troy: The Trojans played a close game at South Carolina last weekend, though they did not collect a win. They have at times demonstrated a productive offensive approach and defensively they have had their moments too, led by Mobile’s Carlton Martial at linebacker. Georgia Southern beat Arkansas State last week after making a mid-season change at head coach. So who wins? Troy.
Florida State at North Carolina: To be honest, both teams have not lived up to their preseason billing, but the Tar Heels have come much closer than the Seminoles who have struggled from the beginning and have failed to gain any traction. This week won’t find FSU making any drastic improvement, or at least not enough to matter. North Carolina.
Tuskegee at Morehouse: This rivalry returns to Legion Field in Birmingham and it still matters a great deal to both fan bases. Tuskegee, which played earlier this season in Mobile’s Gulf Coast Challenge, appears the better team at this point in the season. The Tigers have some talent and when that talent exerts itself it’s noticeable. Tuskegee.
Jackson State at Alabama A&M: Deion Sanders is a man of many names and nicknames, but wants to be called Prime or Coach Prime. He wants his Jackson State team to be called winners and Sanders has helped the program toward that goal. But there has also been spots of inconsistent play. Those won’t prove fruitful against A&M, which can force teams into such a performance at times. Alabama A&M.
UPSET SPECIAL: Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas): While the Sooners hold a lofty national ranking, they have not been overwhelming for the most part. There has been spotty play on both sides of the ball. Texas is no world-beater either, but something tells me this is one of those games where the Longhorns will put something together, giving Steve Sarkisian a big win in his first season as head coach. Texas.
SEC: Florida over Vanderbilt, Missouri over North Texas.
Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina over Arkansas State, Georgia State over Louisiana-Monroe.
State: UAB over FAU, Jacksonville State over Stephen F. Austin, Alabama State over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, North Carolina A&T over North Alabama, West Alabama over Shorter, Faulkner over Point University, Huntingdon over Southern Virginia, Miles over Benedict, Birmingham Southern over Hendrix.
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