I hope all of you have been doing your thumb exercises this week, because it’s going to be busy flipping back and forth to try and catch all of the action this weekend. Last week, I managed to go 13-1 outright, but only 5-8-1 ATS. This brings my totals to 20-6 and 9-16-1 on the year. Those ATS numbers need to improve. Ross in his first week managed a 13-2 outright record and 4-10-1 ATS. Not so easy is it hot shot? Anyway, enough trash talk, this week’s slate includes the big three SEC West games (Mississippi St. vs. Texas A&M, Alabama vs. Ole Miss, and Auburn vs. LSU) and the Notre Dame vs. Stanford game.
Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M
Is this the biggest home game in Mississippi State history? Certainly, it has to be the biggest game in recent memory, at the very least. Kenny Trill and Co. roll into “Starkvegas” after a real scare against Arkansas, but look to reinstill some confidence in their fanbase. The Bulldogs had a week to settle down after pulling off the upset in Death Valley. Dak Prescott will have to bring his A-game if he wants to pull off the victory, and keep his Heisman momentum rolling. On the other side, Kenny Hill will have to do better than just hitting some big 4th quarter throws if he wants to return to College Station undefeated.
The key in this game will be the Aggies’ offensive line against the vaunted State pass rush. The star of the MSU defensive line is Preston Smith, who already has three sacks and two picks in four games. Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones, who have both been really quiet so far this season, but expect them to pick up their game soon, maybe even this weekend. Texas A&M might have the best pass blocking line in the conference, and their leader is LT Cedric Ogbuehi. I believe that the Bulldogs are vulnerable in the secondary, and if Hill is given time, then he will have a big day.
Prediction: Texas A&M-42 Mississippi State-31
Ross’ Take: This one will be a dog fight (pun completely intended). Hopefully, the Aggies don’t stay up to late with the male cheerleaders at Midnight Yell practice, because I’m taking the Aggies in an early kickoff 38-34. Alabama vs. Ole Miss
Gameday visits the Grove for the first time this weekend, and they couldn’t have picked a better weekend to make their debut. The Rebels come in after sleepwalking to victory against Memphis last weekend, although they did pick it up and ended up winning handily in the second half. Their defense also, as Levi constantly reminds me, loves to “lower the boom.” Alabama had a bye week after thrashing Florida, putting up 645 yards of offense. They can’t turn the ball over four times on Saturday though, and still expect to be that successful. Ole Miss is just hoping for four quarters of “Hot Bo.” Alabama fans need to be praying for “Cold Bo” for at least a quarter or so if they don’t want to be on upset alert.
One of the determining factors in whether or not we see “Hot Bo” or “Cold Bo,” is how open his receivers can get on the vulnerable Alabama secondary. Alabama’s secondary hasn’t been great this season, and is still very green. Ole Miss has a good receiving corps, led by Laquon Treadwell. If they can get space and give Bo Wallace some easy throws, then the Rebels may be celebrating on the Square on Saturday night.
Prediction: Alabama-31 Ole Miss-21
Ross’ Take: Alabama may be the smart pick, but I’ve been won over by the Rebs’ tribute to Chucky Mullins last week and rocking the powder blue helmets. Rebs win 24-23. Hotty Toddy! Auburn vs. LSU It’s always rowdy when the Bayou Bengals come to town. It will be no exception on the Plains on Saturday night. What’s more, yours truly is coming to town to make sure The Jungle is rocking. Auburn comes in undefeated, and having just been named as one of the first playoff teams in the “4 Down Playoff Picture”, they better live up. Nick Marshall and the vaunted Auburn offense look to emulate some of the success Mississippi State had two weekends ago. Brandon Harris will make his first start at quarterback after looking very sharp in his last two outings.
I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. My key matchup for this game is Brandon Harris against the hostile crowd at Jordan-Hare. That’s right. Auburn nation I’m calling on you. If you want to help your team on Saturday night, show up early and be rowdy for four quarters, because if you can take the young LSU signal caller out of his element early on then y’all will wipe the field with the other Tigers. If Jordan-Hare lives up to its reputation, and I’ll know, then I see a big win for Auburn on Saturday night.
Prediction: Auburn-42 LSU-20
Ross’ Take: Saturday night on the Plains is geauxing to be electric, and expect another big performance from Duke Williams. Auburn wins, but doesn’t cover. 31-24 Home Tigers. Notre Dame vs. Stanford We can’t be all SEC all the time can we? Ok maybe we could, but for diversity’s sake let’s take a look outside of the conference. Stanford travels to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Stanford is one poor offensive performance away from being undefeated, and the Irish are blemish free, but still looking to prove they belong in the championship picture. Stanford has won four of the last five meetings, and the lone Notre Dame win was controversial. Everett Golson is a true difference maker for the Notre Dame offense, though.
That’s why he gets slotted into the key matchup for the game. Golson has proven that he can beat you with the run and the pass. In “football” terms, we call that a dual threat. He has five touchdown passes of 15 yards or more already, and four rushing touchdowns to his name. Stanford boasts one of the best defenses west of the Mississippi. Golson will need to keep David Shaw’s defense guessing all night if he wants to keep the Irish faithful happy. In the end, I think Golson is the difference maker and this is the game that sparks his Heisman campaign.
Prediction: Notre Dame-21 Stanford-16
Ross’ Take: Lou Holtz put it best, “The Universithy of Nothre Damesh Fighting Irish willtsh domnatshe the treesh of Shtanfortsh. Defensesth cantsh be stoppedtsh and neither can thesh offensh. Universithy of Nothre Damesh Fighting Irish 109 Treesh 0.” Well said Dr. Lou. ND wins 17-14.