Bama Golf commented a couple of weeks ago that the predictions will only get harder as the season progresses. Bama was right on the mark. These are some challenging decisions this week. It's like deciding whether to go to Miami or stay in Cleveland, then whether to stay in Miami or go back to Cleveland, and then whether to stay in Cleveland or join Nicholson, Bieber and Snoop Dog in LA and play for the Lakers. Poor LeBrick. As the late, great Alabama football analyst and sports personality Doug Layton said, it's, "Meind Boggling!" But the decisions need to be made, and with some classics in the SEC with No.1 Bama at Vandy, Mississippi State at Georgia, Florida at Kentucky and A&M vs Arkansas, it makes for an exciting challenge. Some pretty classic national games as well, along with the Auburn Tigers trying to reach their potential on the road against Missouri. Here's a look at this week's slate.
Last week: 14-6
Overall: 53-11 (83%)
No. 1 Alabama at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville
2:30 PM CT
Brad, Gary, Allie
Bama by 18 1/2
I really like the way Bo Scarbrough ran last week and caught passes out of the backfield. He's back to the Bo we saw at the end of last season when he ran all over Florida and Clemson before getting hurt in the Clemson game, an injury that really hurt Alabama's chances of winning the national championship game, though they battled till the end and almost captured their 5th title under Nick Saban. Bo is back and looks to be primed to have a super season and follow the lineage of Ingram, Richardson, Lacy, Yeldon and Henry. He's a total stud, and he looks confident and has his wheels back after breaking his leg in the championship game. Damien Harris is one of the most underrated running backs in the country, and Najee Harris will be elite in the near future. Jalen has played well recently. He hit the awesome Calvin Ridley on a deep ball-house call last week against Colorado State and hooked up with the ultra talented and Supersonic fast Robert Foster on a beautiful pass and catch house call. The line played better last week and they look to be getting it together. It's taken a little time for Jalen and OC Brian Daboll to jell, but it looks to be coming together and the ceiling is extremely high. I like both of them a lot. Jalen can sure run it too. Great young man above and beyong all that. The defense has been hampered by injuries at linebacker, but it looks like Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings might very well play Saturday, which will help the Tide measurably. The d line needs to get pressure on VU quarterback Kyle Shurmur. Kyle has thrown 8 TDs and no interceptions. He's quite a player. A four star out of high school in Philadelphia, Kyle's dad, Pat, is now the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings after serving as OC for the Philly Eagels, so high football IQ runs in the family. He's an excellent player and very smart. While not that mobile, he has a quick release and avoids sacks. Ralph Webb is a pretty good running back, as is Khari Blasingame, but everybody has trouble running on the Crimson Tide. Those 2 will have to do something for VU to have a shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick is the best defensive player in college football. The safety, star, is so versatile, he's a phenomenal athlete, and is a game changer for the Crimson Tide. The secondary will be tested, so Bama needs to get pressure on Shurmur. The VU defense is solid and opportunistic. They're a good group. They'll keep it competitive.
Derek Mason is doing a phenomenal job in Nashville. His players believe they can compete with anybody in the country. This team is solid with a shot at winning 8 games, possibly 9, if they stay healthy, then go to a solid bowl and win it with a bright future ahead as Mason has recruited well and is recruiting very well for 2018. But this is a tough assignment. As a high school coach told me one time before his team played a powerhouse, "They're hard." The Crimson Tide is hard. Elite players, elite coaches, the most elite head coach in college football history, though Bear Bryant fans would argue with that. It's a tossup, but I'll take S with only 85 scholarships per year versus about 140 under the Bear. This team is ready to break out. I see it happening Saturday.
Bama 35, Vanderbilt 14
No. 15 Auburn at Missouri
6:30 PM CT
Mark Neely, Ray Bentley
AU by 18
The Tigers actually played a decent game against a pretty scrappy Mercer team last week. The line gave Jarrett Stidham a lot of time and Jarrett was accurate. He made some super throws. The defense was solid as usual. The Tigers just had some trouble with turnovers. They need to take care of the football this week. Kerryon Johnson has been practicing this week and that will help if he can combine with Kamryn Pettway to give the Tigers a formidable running game to help Stidham and the passing attack. Missouri was a disaster against Purdue last week, losing 35-3. Purdue is a quality team, but Missouri looked clueless out there. The Auburn Tigers need to gather some momentum heading into the SEC schedule and this would be a really good time for them to do that. I see AU having a good week this Saturday and getting back on track and becoming a competitor in the SEC West. The talent is just too good not to. They need to get Nate Craig-Myers more involved in the offense. He needs to get the ball on the perimeter and downfield. He's an explosive player and a house call just waiting to get the ball. I like the Tigers to step it up this week. The defense has been terrific so far.
Auburn 38, Missouri 14
No. 17 Mississippi State @ No. 11 Georgia
6 PM CT
Tess, Todd, Holly
Them Dawgs by 5 1/2
State is a quality football team. Nick Fitzgerald is the real deal. He can run like a white tail deer and has become a quality passer. He has playmakers all around him led by Donald Gray, an explosive wide receiver, and some good running backs this season. His line is solid and the defense under Todd Grantham has been outstanding this season. The Bullies blasted LSU last week at home, 37-7. They're going to play well between the hedges and this will be a superb game to watch on Saturday Night. But Nick Chubb ran for 132 yards last week and a couple of 7's, and Sony Michel was sitting out last week with a minor injury and will be back. Georgia has another emerging superstar in the backfield in freshman D'Andre Swift. Swift ran for 58 yards on 9 carries and a 7 last week in the Dawgs 42-14 victory over Samford. While I'm bullish on State to be a major challenger in the West and to have a really good season if Fitzgerald doesn't get hurt, Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm looks to be getting it and has some good targets in the electric Terry Godwin. Riley Ridley, Calvin's little brother, and Javon Wims. The Georgia defense is pretty good too. Kirby will have his team ready as will Dan Mullen. But I like the home field and Georgia's running game and some explosive plays in the vertical game to get'er done for the Dawgs. This won't take away from a promising season for State as they are a very good team. I see an exciting, high drama game here that very well could be won at the end.
Dawgs 34, Bullies 31
No. 20 Florida @ Kentucky
6:30 PM CT
Tom Hart, JRodg, Cole
Gators by 2 1/2
This should be an excellent matchup as well. Kentucky is the best story in the SEC so far this season. They just went down to South Carolina last week and defeated the Gamecocks 23-13 in impressive fashion. They've got a physical offense with a solid running game led by powerhouse running back Benny Snell Jr. Their defense is solid. Mark Stoops has recruited very well at Kentucky with top 20 classes in the last 3 to 4 years and it's paying off. The Gators won dramatically last week, 26-20, with a 65 yard touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyree Cleveland on the last play of the game to win it. It was a spectacular throw and catch by the QB and wide receiver. Florida has won the last 30 games played between the 2 teams, which is the longest winning streak over another team in SEC football history, and 4th longest in college football history. But Mark Stoops and his players haven't been involved in many of those, so that's a little overrated. While I'm bullish on Kentucky in the East, I still like the Gators here in a fierce battle. This should be outstanding.
Gators 24, Wildcats 23
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas
"Sugar Magnolia, Blossoms bloomin," Jerry Country, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX.
Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
A&M by 2 1/2
While both teams are not having the years they wanted to have so far with A&M suffering that heartbreaking loss to UCLA to open the season, and Arkansas getting blasted at home by TCU 2 weeks ago, I like this matchup. A&M high 4 star freshman quarterback Kellen Mond did some really good things against a pretty decent La Lafayette team last week, and some young playmakers stepped up for the Aggies. The Hogs were off last week, so they're rested, but I like more that A&M played last week. The Aggies have the best defensive player on the field in safety Armani Watts, who had 2 ints last week. Armani is a game changer for his team. Like the Aggies to outlast the Hogs in a classic.
A&M 37, Arkansas 34
Other SEC games
No. 25 LSU 34, Syracuse 10
6 PM CT
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Jule Stewart-Binks
Derrius Guice is hurt and not playing this week, but the Bengal Tigers rebound over the Orange.
****Update**** Guice will play Saturday. He's been cleared and is ready to go.
Tennessee 49, UMass 10
11 AM CT
Taylor Zarzour, Andre, Olivia Harlan
The Vols also snap back after a heartbreaker in the Swamp last week.
South Carolina 30, Louisiana Tech 27
2:30 PM CT
Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Dawn Davenport
The Gamecocks started out of the gates so fast last week against Kentucky with a huge touchdown play from quarterback Jake Bentley to the ultra explosive Deebo Samuel. They got an interception on Kentucky's next possession and looked in good shape to defeat UK. But things fell apart and Samuel broke his leg. He tried courageously to play through it, but couldn't overcome the injury and had to leave the game in the third quarter. That was and is a blow to the Gamecocks offense. Such an electric, dynamic player and super competitor. Seems like a great kid too. He'll be back next season though. Still think SC is a pretty good team. La Tech is competitive and will give the Gamecocks a tough time.
No. 2 Clemson 42, Boston College 7
2:30 PM CT
Dave LaMont, Kelly Stouffer, Kris Budden
Clemson is cookin after blasting Louisville last week on the road. Before the game last week, Paul Finebaum called Lamar Jackson, "the best player in college football, period." I don't think so. He wasn't even the best quarterback on the field. Kelly Bryant was. And he certainly wasn't the best player. Clemson had 7 or 8 guys who were better, maybe more. Really high on this Clemson group. Bryant has exceeded expectations and all this loaded team needed was good quarterback play. They are getting exceptional quarterback play and have the talent to go the very deep again.
No. 3 Oklahoma 48, Baylor 20
5:30 PM CT
FOX Sports 1
Justin Kutcher, Mark Helfrich, Petros Papadakis
The Sooners keep on rolling with Baker Mayfield putting up superb numbers. That victory at Ohio State was super impressive.
No. 4 Penn State 31 Iowa 27
6:30 PM CT
Chris, Kirk, Maria
While the Nittany Lions have a stellar team this season, the game is at Iowa City and will be a tough one for the Nittany Lions. Iowa ruined Michigan's season last year at home and they'll be looking to ruin the Nittany Lions' Big Ten and playoff aspirations this season. It wouldn't totally ruin Penn State's chances, but they don't want to take a loss. I like Penn State to survive, but I expect a hard fought, tight game.
No. 5 USC 38, California 28
2:30 PM CT
Dave Pasch, Gregory McElroy, Tom Lugues
Cal had a huge victory over Ole Miss last week. It was impressive how they played offensively and particularly on defense. The competition has really stepped up this week, but I like the Golden Bears to put a scare into the Men from Troy for a while. But the Trojans keep what could be a special season in tact. The Trojans won a classic 2 overtime thriller over a rapidly emerging Texas team under Tom Herman. Texas is going to be elite sooner rather than later. They'll win their share of games this season and will give OU everything they want in the Red River Shootout.
No. 6 Oklahoma State 45, No. 16 TCU 31
2:30 PM CT
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, McShay
This is a pretty solid matchup, but I'm a believer in the Cowboys. Their offense is superb led by stud quarterback Mason Rudolph and playmakers all over the field and they're playing better defense this season. They have a shot to go a long way this season.
No. 8 Michigan 31, Purdue 24
Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman
Michigan had a tough time with Air Force last Saturday and I expect them to have another tough time on the road against a very good Purdue team.
No.7 Washington 34, Colorado 21
9 PM CT
FOX Sports 1
Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman, Holly Saunders
The Huskies may be the most undervalued top 10 team in the country. I like Chris Peterson's team. They can be right in the thick of things in November-December.
No. 10 Ohio State 45, UNLV 7
Big Ten Network
Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, James Laurinaitis
Honestly, Ohio State is a soft team, but they'll get it done against a weaker opponent this Saturday.
No. 12 Florida State 27, N.C. State 24
11 AM CT
Jason Benetti, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
I see the Noles getting tested here with their freshman quarterback and a pretty decent Wolfpack team that is hungry to knock them off. But the FSU defense helps them prevail.
UCLA 45, Stanford 41
9:30 PM CT
Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
I like the 7 1/2 point underdog Bruins to pull off the upset on the road.
Air Force 24, San Diego State 21
6 PM CT
CBS Sports Network
Ben Holden, Jay Taylor, Jenny Dell
Like the 3 1/2 point underdog Falcons to pull off the upset at home. Air Force gave Michigan everything they wanted last week at the Big House. San Diego State is a very good team with a stud running back in Rashad Penny and will win a lot of games this year, but I like the Academy to shock them a little bit.
North Texas 37, UAB 31
5:30 PM CT
BEIN Network, Channel 715 on Charter Cable, 620 on DirecTV
Mike Gleason, Donovan McNabb, Michelle Gingras
Blazers will be competitive, but don't think they can pull out the victory on the road. They had a good game last week in upsetting Coastal Carolina and they're building.
No. 24 Oregon 49, Arizona State 37
PAC 12 Network
Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, Lewis Johnson
The Ducks are explosive on offense but not as swift on defense. They always have good athletes on defense, but can't seem to stop people. Their offense will get them over the top against the Sun Devils.
No. 18 Washington State 52, Nevada 17
5 PM CT
PAC 12 Network
Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage
Mike Leach is doing another stellar job in Pullman. His offense is through the roof good, at least against weaker defenses, and his teams play a little better defense now. The Cougars shouldn't have a problem here.
Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 27
7 PM CT
Gus, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
Always a good game, I like the Spartans to pull off the upset at home.
Duke 35, North Carolina 31
2:30 PM CT
Clay Matvick, Kirk Morrison, Desmond Purnell
David Cutcliffe has a very good team in Durham. Always a good rivalry game, this one is usually played later in the season. Like the Blue Devils to keep their undefeated season going. They blasted Northwestern a couple of weeks ago and were impressive doing it.
Boise State 31, Virginia 30
7 PM CT
Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoarcek, Molly McGrath
Like the Cavs to give the Broncos everything they want on the blue turf, but will give the Broncos the edge at home.
No. 23 Utah 34, Arizona 31
9:30 PM CT
FOX Sports 1
Brian Custer, Ben Leber, Jennifer Hale
The Utes are on the road at Tucson, so I expect this to be a tussle, but will give Kyle Whittingham and his team a slight edge over Rich Rod and his unit.