I really should have known better with last week’s picks.
But I tried to get too cute.
**-- The way that Alabama’s defense has been playing, which is to say not good, it should have been the double platinum lock of the week that the Crimson Tide wouldn’t cover 38 points against Ole Miss. But no. Alabama scored 59 but gave up 31.
**--I thought Auburn, coming off a good road win at Texas A&M, would be looking past Mississippi State and thinking about this week’s trip to Florida. So I picked Auburn to win but not to cover the 11. But Gus and the boys had 42 points at halftime and rolled to a 56-23 win.
**--I thought Texas A&M would manhandle Arkansas like everybody else has and easily cover the 23 in a neutral site game in Arlington, Tex. The Aggies are damn lucky they didn’t lose. They survived 31-27 as a 23-point favorite. Texas A&M, folks, is not yet ready for prime time.
**--Despite an 0-3 record I thought Vanderbilt was due for a win against Northern Illinois and would cover the six. Instead the Commodores won 24-18, right on the number.
So after five weeks we are a pedestrian 17-12-1 against the spread. And, boys and girls, it’s fixin’ to get a lot harder.
But let’s make another stab at it:
The game: Auburn at Florida (plus 3), 3:30 p.m., CBS.
Over/Under: 47 ½.
The pick: Auburn.
The score: Auburn 21, Florida 17.
The skinny: The coaching matchups in this game are very interesting. Florida’s Dan Mullen, one of the best play callers and quarterbacks coaches in the game, will match wits with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who has what may be the best defensive front in all of college football. Steele will show Florida quarterback Kyle Trask some things he hasn’t seen before. Ditto for Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who will put a true freshman quarterback, Bo Nix, against Todd Grantham, who will be blitzing when he gets off the bus. This will come down to which team runs the ball best. Hint: Take the Under.
The game: Georgia at Tennessee (plus 25), 7 p.m., ESPN.
Over/Under: 51 ½.
The pick: Georgia
The score: Georgia 35, Tennessee 7.
The skinny: No. 3 Georgia (4-0) is coming off a bye week and will be heavily favored in its next three games against Tennessee (1-3), South Carolina (2-3), and Kentucky (2-3). Look for Tennessee to do whatever it can to slow down the Georgia running game (6.93 yards per carry) and to force quarterback Jake Fromm to put it in the air. This could be the breakout game for the Georgia passing attack and all those young, talented, receivers. The reality is that Tennessee is a bad football team that doesn’t look to be all that well-coached.
The game: Vanderbilt (plus 7 ½) at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m, SEC Network.
The pick: Ole Miss.
The score: Ole Miss 28, Vanderbilt 20.
The skinny: Ole Miss showed us a few things last week when the Rebels scored 31 on Alabama. Backup quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw two touchdown passes and ran for over 100 yards in place of the injured Matt Corral. Plumlee gives the offense of Rich Rodriguez another dimension, which he really likes.
The game: Utah State (plus 27 ½) at LSU, Noon SEC Network.
Over/Under: 73 ½.
The pick: Utah State.
The score: LSU 42, Utah State 21.
The skinny: So many red flags on this one for LSU. Not only is the game not at night, which the Tiger players and fans prefer, it will start at 11 a.m. local time. That drains half your crowd energy right there.
Two words of warning for LSU: Jordan Love. The Utah State quarterback is one of the most dynamic players in the Group of Five. His combination of speed and passing keeps the chains moving and defensive players gasping for air. He completed 33 of 48 passes for 416 yards in the opener against Wake Forest.
LSU wins the game but doesn’t cover the 27 ½. Florida comes to Baton Rouge next week.
The game: Troy (24 ½) at Missouri, 4 p.m., SEC Network.
Over/Under: 65 1/2 .
The pick: Missouri.
The score: Missouri 35, Troy 10.
The skinny: Missouri (3-1) has won three straight, including a 34-14 thumping of South Carolina on Sept. 21 in COMO. The team that was picked to finish third in the SEC (behind Georgia and Florida) appears to be rounding into form behind quarterback Kelly Bryant and a defense that has given up only 21 points in its last three games. The visiting Trojans can move the ball on anybody but are struggling with the concept of defense. Look for Mizzou to cover.
The game: Iowa (plus 3 ½) at Michigan, Noon, FOX.
The pick: Iowa.
The score: Iowa 28, Michigan 24.
The skinny: Two weeks ago Michigan got embarrassed by Wisconsin, 35-14, in a game that was 35-0 before the Wolverines finally scored late in the third quarter.
But then last week the Wolverines bounced back to beat a very bad Rutgers team 52-0.
So the question must be asked again: Will the real Michigan please stand up?
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has received a lot of criticism the past two weeks and could really use a win over a ranked opponent in the Big House. But it’s going to be tough against the nation’s No. 5 defense (174.0 yards per game).