Can Auburn end Alabama's hopes of getting in the College Football Playoffs?

Tony Barnhart

After posting our best record of the season (5-0-1) we fell back to a pedestrian 3-3 last week.

First the bad:

**--Georgia’s offensive woes continued as the Bulldogs scored only 19 points against Texas A&M. The Georgia defense made it stand up for a win (19-13) but the Bulldogs didn’t cover the 13 ½.

**--I thought No. 2 (now No. 1) Ohio State being favored by 18 over No. 8 Penn State was a bit rich and it was. But I still picked Ohio State to cover and I was wrong.

**--I thought Indiana would keep it close to Michigan but the Wolverines, who are playing pretty well right now, blasted the Hoosiers 39-14.

Now the good:

**--As bad as Arkansas is—and the Hogs are quite bad-- I didn’t think LSU would cover 43 ½ and the Tigers didn’t, winning 56-20.

**--I picked Tennessee, a 4 ½ point underdog, to win straight up at Missouri and the Volunteers did, 24-20.

**--I picked Baylor to beat Texas and cover the 6 ½ and the Bears did, 24-10.

So on the season we are 16 games over .500 against the spread at 46-30-2.

Here are our picks for the 14th and final week of the regular season:

The game: Alabama at Auburn (plus 3 ½), 3:30 p.m., CBS.

The winner: Auburn.

The score: Auburn 24, Alabama 20.

The skinny: Auburn (8-3), whose losses are to No. 2 LSU (on the road), No. 4 Georgia (at home), and No. 11 Florida (on the road) has an awful lot to play for on Saturday. But the main thing Auburn has to play for is beating Alabama for the second time in three seasons and knocking the Crimson Tide out of the discussion for the College Football Playoff. Mac Jones will be making his third career start in place of Tau Tagovailoa. But his other starts were against Arkansas and Western Carolina. Auburn has one of the best defenses in the country. Auburn wins straight up, giving Coach Gus Malzahn his third win over Nick Saban since 2013 and his second in the past three seasons.

The game: Clemson at South Carolina (plus 26), Noon, ESPN.

The winner: South Carolina.

The score: Clemson 38, South Carolina 14.

The skinny: No. 3 Clemson (11-0) is going to win this game and advance to the ACC championship game next week in Charlotte. But I think 26 points is a lot to cover in a rivalry game on the road. South Carolina has announced that Coach Will Muschamp will be back next season. I just get the feeling that the Gamecocks will play hard and keep it respectable. Clemson wins but doesn’t cover.

The game: Georgia at Georgia Tech (plus 29 ½), Noon, ABC.

The winner: Georgia Tech.

The score: Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 7.

The skinny: Based on the way Georgia’s offense has been playing lately, I’m not sure the Bulldogs can even score the 29 ½ points they would need to cover. But it’s not going to matter. Georgia has the SEC championship game against No. 2 LSU next week and it would be understandable if the Bulldogs get caught looking ahead. It also hurts Georgia that receive Lawrence Cager, the favorite target of quarterback Jake Fromm, will not play due to an ankle injury. Georgia Tech gets a late touchdown against the No. 2 defense and Georgia does not cover.

The game: Louisville (plus 3 ½ ) at Kentucky, Noon, SEC Network.

The winner: Kentucky.

The score: Kentucky 21, Louisville 17

The skinny: Kentucky (6-5) has already clinched a trip to its fourth straight bowl game under Coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats continue to go with their best player, wide receiver Lynn Bowden, Jr., at quarterback. Bowden is 4-2 in those games where he has started at quarterback. Louisville (7-4), which went 2-10 a year ago, is rebuilding under former Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield. The Cardinals dominated Syracuse 56-34 last Saturday. Kentucky scores late to win the game and cover.

The game: Vanderbilt (plus 20) at Tennessee, 4 p.m., SEC Network.

The winner: Tennessee.

The score: Tennessee 35, Vanderbilt 10.

The skinny: Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt has done one of the best jobs in the country since the Volunteers started 1-4. Now they are 6-5 and headed to a bowl. Tennessee has lost three straight games to the Commodores. The last time Vanderbilt beat Tennessee four straight times was 1923-26. Vols win an cover the 20.

The game: Texas A&M (plus 16) at LSU, 7 p.m., ESPN.

The winner: LSU.

The score: LSU 38, Texas A&M 21.

The skinny: Texas A&M (7-4) took No. 4 Georgia to the limit last week before losing 19-13 in Athens. The Aggies’s four losses have come to No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, and No. 15 Auburn. Now they get to play No. 2 LSU in Baton Rouge. Normally I would think LSU would be looking ahead to next week’s SEC championship game with Georgia. But the Tigers are still stinging from last year’s 74-72 loss to Texas A&M in seven overtimes. Look for LSU to win and cover.


Tony Barnhart