LSU vs. Mississippi State

An LSU football player reaches for a football Saturday, Sep. 26, 2020 before LSU's 44-24 loss against Mississippi State in Tiger Stadium.

Jared Brodtmann: I am SO STOKED for this slate. This is the best weekend of college football I can remember for quite some time. There are four must-watch SEC games in Arkansas-Georgia, Alabama-Ole Miss, Florida-Kentucky, and LSU-Auburn, along with some great action from the other conferences as well. Henry and I have you covered on a ten game spread to play along throughout the beautiful, amazing day. Let’s review last week real quick!

Henry’s last week: 3-2

Henry’s season: 3-2

Wisconsin -6.5 vs. Notre Dame L

Wow, this game did not turn out like I expected it to go at all. I knew Wisconsin had problems on the offensive side of things but oh my gosh, what an embarrassment that performance was. Wisconsin’s bright spot, running back Chez Mellusi got shut down and that forced the best quarterback in the country (sarcasm), Graham Mertz to throw the ball a season-high 41 times. He threw four interceptions and Wisconsin added a costly fumble to push the number of turnovers up to five for the Badgers. That fumble came in the third quarter right after Notre Dame returned a kickoff for a touchdown and that fumble proved to be the momentum shifter, as the Fighting Irish preceded to score 24 unanswered points on their way to a blowout 41-13 victory (Wisconsin was leading 13-10 before that kickoff return by the way). 

Western Michigan -2.5 vs. San Jose State W

This prediction was a little bit better than my first of the season thankfully. I honestly had the easiest time with this one, choosing the Broncos to cover that spread at first glance, and they proved my confidence in them to be warranted. They didn’t do it the way I thought they would though. Rather than outpacing the Knights offensively, Western Michigan shut them down defensively. I mean they didn’t give them ANYTHING. San Jose State turned the ball over three times as opposed to Western Michigan’s zero and had a total of 119 yards on offense. The most impressive aspects of this game from Western Michigan was their control of it and their lack of mistakes. They dominated time of possession and scored enough early on to do so. Very well coached game, look out for this Group of 5 team!

Clemson vs. NC State +10.0 W

This was another one I was fairly confident about. Clemson had not produced anything impressive offensively leading up to it and predicting that they would struggle in this game wasn’t too difficult. My confidence waned a little bit when Clemson scored on their second possession of the game but NC State quickly reinforced it. Despite missing a game-winning field goal as time expired, NC State did not break, winning in overtime. D.J struggled incredibly, barely eclipsing 100 passing yards (He would not have gotten their without Justyn Ross there) as the Tigers only managed to put up 14 points in regulation and a grand total of 214 yards. NC State on the other hand had a great game offensively and would’ve had a lot more points had their kicker not missed three field goals. Still, great win for the Wolfpack!

Kansas State +6.0 vs. Oklahoma State L

So there were two seasonal milestones broken by each team that would ultimately determine this spread. Oklahoma State’s offense scored the most points they have all year while Kansas State gave up the most. Both of these were broken in the first half, as the Cowboys jumped out to a 31-13 lead at halftime. All they had to do after that was control the clock and play defense, and they did that practically flawlessly, only giving up 7 second half points. The game was a lot closer than it looked, and only one of the teams looks like it can contend for the Big 12 title and it definitely isn’t Kansas State. 

Tennessee vs. Florida -19.0 W

I would like to personally thank Tennessee for almost giving me a heart attack at the end of this game. This game worried me from the beginning, as Hendon Hooker started and therefore, the Vols looked like they were in a position to keep this game close. At least in the first half, that is. Tennessee took a 14-10 lead and made it look surprisingly easy. They were down 14-17 at half but had outpaced the Gators in terms of yards (261-213) and were very much in the game. But that’s when the second half started. The Vols still looked good but they could not capitalize early on and as the momentum began to fall into Florida’s hands, so did the Vols. Tennessee did manage a great drive at the end of the game that could’ve potentially decreased Florida’s lead to 17 but time expired before they could punch it in (*phew*).

But don’t be fooled by the score, Tennessee actually might be alright this year. 

Jared’s Last Week: 3-2

Jared’s Season: 10-10

.500 ball! Woo-hoo!

Texas vs. Texas Tech +9.0 L

I believe an obligatory Hook’ Em is in order. I felt Texas would win, but goodness, I didn’t expect that big of a blowout. Sarkisian’s offense lived up to the bill, putting up 70 points on 639 yards of offense. Casey Thompson threw for 303 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. Longhorn nation! We’re backkkkkkk??

All jokes aside, Texas has a real chance to prove themselves in the next 4 weeks. They travel to Fort Worth for a game with a solid TCU team, then catch highly touted Oklahoma in Dallas for the Red River Showdown, followed by matchups against ranked Oklahoma State and Baylor. In a year with as much chaos as this season, would a one loss Big 12 championship be enough to get Texas back into playoff conversations? I could see it.

Arkansas vs Texas A&M (-5.5) L

WPS! It is so thrilling to see Sam Pittman and the Razorbacks succeed in a huge game. KJ Jefferson was steady at quarterback until he had to leave due to injury, but Treylon Burks, the Co-SEC player of the week, was an inspiration at wide receiver, tallying 167 yards on six catches with a touchdown to boot. He tore apart the Aggie secondary. 

Unfortunately for A&M, Zach Calzada doesn’t appear to be a viable option right now. He only threw for 151 yards with an interception. Isaiah Spiller scored the Aggies’ only touchdown of the day on the ground. They have some serious soul-searching to do after a very uninspired performance.

Michigan vs. Rutgers +20.5 W

Despite the loss, I really like where Greg Schiano is taking this Rutgers team. The Big Ten is one of the hardest conferences to play in, and Rutgers wallowed at the bottom for a while. They gave a talented Michigan team a great run and kept it close. I’ll get to Michigan later.

South Carolina vs. Kentucky -5.0 W

I’m so here for Kentucky being good. I’m 2-0 when picking Kentucky this season, and I may just keep doing it until they burn me. Luke Fortner, Kentucky’s center, won SEC offensive lineman of the week, but if you could have given it to the entire Kentucky offensive line, I feel the voters would have. The Wildcats mustered 230 rushing yards against the Gamecock defense, 144 of which belonged to Chris Rodriguez. They face a huge game as they host Florida this weekend.

Oklahoma vs. West Virginia +17.0 W

The Mountaineers were oh-so-close to pulling off another upset in Norman. Spencer Rattler and the Sooners offense continued their struggles, scoring just 16 points. This ended up being enough to escape, but eventually Oklahoma is either going to have to figure this out, or face the reality of missing the playoff.

Henry’s Picks: 

Arkansas vs. Georgia, Saturday 10/2, 11:00 AM CT, ESPN

The Pick: Arkansas +17.5

So, I know Georgia is great. Don’t get me wrong. But what did they do that warrants such a large spread against a top-10 team? Was it their two blowout wins against the two worst teams in the SEC and UAB? Or the 10-3 victory over then-overrated Clemson? I understand that the top-10 team in question is Arkansas, a name that’s background features a lot of struggle in the SEC, but Arkansas crushed a Texas team that just scored 70 points against an FBS opponent and Texas A&M. They deserve more respect than that and after this game, I believe they are going to get it. Arkansas is pulling off the “upset” this weekend, calling it now. Arkansas will be in playoff talks come Saturday night. 

Score: Arkansas 31 Georgia 28

Ohio State vs. Rutgers, 10/2, 2:30 CT, BTN

The Pick: Rutgers +15.0

They were really disrespectful with these spreads this week, I tell you what. Rutgers just had a great game against a Michigan team that has shown promise this season, along with winning the rest of their games. Just like Arkansas, this team doesn’t appear to be the same team they have been over the past decade and it seems like people aren’t picking up on that quite yet. I understand that it’s early though and things could drastically change. Could.

Rutgers’ strong suit is defense, as the team has given up a meager 13.5 points in four games. The team has an incredible turnover ratio as well (7), which is tied for fourth in the country. Against a young quarterback in C.J Stroud, that statline is worth noting for sure. That statline is also indicative of a lack of mistakes for the Rutgers offense. They’ve had a grand total of just one turnover, a fumble against Michigan, and considering how good Michigan’s defense has been this year, that’s saying a lot. I don’t believe they will pull off the upset but this team certainly has the potential to keep it close. And who knows? I said the exact same thing about NC State last week. 

Score: Ohio State 26 Rutgers 21

Texas Tech vs. West Virginia, 10/2, 2:30 CT, ESPN2

The Pick: West Virginia -7.0

I have a lot of confidence in this one for multiple reasons. For one, West Virginia has played a lot better against strong competition than Texas Tech has. The Mountaineers are one week removed from almost pulling off the upset against a playoff contender in Oklahoma on top of defeating Virginia Tech and losing to Maryland by just one score. Texas Tech on the other hand is one week removed from giving up 70 points to Texas and has managed stellar (sarcasm) wins against the likes of Stephen F. Austin (who they beat by just 6 points), FIU and Houston. 

The other reason is the difference in skill level in regards to the defenses. West Virginia’s defense has gotten better every week and in their last performance, they held Spencer Rattler and the Oklahoma offense to just one touchdown and a total of 16 points. Granted Oklahoma hasn’t looked as good as people expected them to but still. On the other side of things, Texas Tech’s defense showed their true colors against Texas, not being able to stop them at all. Offense is somewhat of a question mark for the Mountaineers but against Texas Tech’s paperthin defense, they shouldn’t have too much of a problem (seriously, the spread is only 7 points?).

Score: West Virginia 38 Texas Tech 21

Liberty vs. UAB, Saturday 10/2, 6:00 PM CT, CBSSN

The Pick: Liberty +2.0

I’ve always found it interesting when a team gets bumped up from FCS to FBS and proceeds to impress and then some. Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and Liberty are all the best current examples of that. Despite a rough loss against Syracuse last week and a strong Group of 5 opponent in UAB, I believe Hugh Freeze gets his bounceback win this weekend. Malik Willis is an absolute stud at quarterback and he’s incredibly versatile, leading the Flames in passing and rushing this season in both yardage and touchdowns. His efficiency is noteworthy as well, as he has thrown 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on a stellar 71.6% completion percentage this season. They have solid depth at the running back position and their defense has given up just 15.25 points per game. UAB is a great team, but I believe that Liberty has the edge in this matchup. 

Score: Liberty 27 UAB 24

Arizona State vs. UCLA, 10/2, 9:30 CT, FS1

The Pick: UCLA -3.0

I wrote a column after LSU’s loss against UCLA where I gave the Bruins a lot of credit and stated that in a couple of weeks, we wouldn’t consider the Tigers’ loss against them to be that big of a deal. I promptly ate my words just one week later, as they suffered a loss to a Group of 5 team in Fresno State. However, Fresno State is ranked now and their only loss was a close one against No. 3 Oregon. At the moment, that loss doesn’t seem quite as telling. 

UCLA has one of the most experienced starting lineups in the country and I still believe they are a contender for the Pac-12 if they can improve just a little bit before they play Oregon in a few weeks. Arizona State’s best win this season was against struggling Colorado and they made a lot of mistakes against their best competition, BYU, committing 4 turnovers and scoring just 17 points. UCLA on the other hand has had strong wins against LSU and Stanford, along with a blowout victory over Hawaii. Even in the loss against Fresno State, there were bright spots, at least offensively. 

UCLA scored twenty points in the fourth quarter, including what should have been a game-winning touchdown with just :54 remaining on the clock. There are definitely concerns for the Bruins on defense, but they bounced back well against Stanford and I believe they will outpace Arizona State this weekend in what should be a high-scoring game. 

Score: UCLA 45 Arizona State 34

Jared’s Picks:

Wisconsin vs. Michigan, 10/2, 11:00 AM CT, FOX

The Pick: Michigan +2.0

Let’s put it this way: Graham Mertz sucks. The Wisconsin quarterback last week was 18-41, for 240 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. I have little to no faith in his ability whatsoever.

Michigan, meanwhile, looks to be a well-oiled machine. Cade McNamara makes throws when needed, and the Blake Corum/Hassan Haskins two-headed backfield is a mighty combination. Their defense has been stout, and they shouldn’t have too many problems shutting down a dismal Wisconsin offense. I do think Wisconsin’s defense is strong enough to keep it close, but expect a physical, relatively low-scoring affair that Michigan does well to win.

Score: Michigan 26, Wisconsin 14

Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh, 10/2, 11:00 AM CT, ACCN

The Pick; Georgia Tech +3.0

Obscure ACC game? Obscure ACC game.

There has been some flip-flopping of quarterback play for the Yellow Jackets throughout the year. Jeff Sims started the year as a leader, but was injured in their season opener loss to Northern Illinois. Jordan Yates filled in and looked the part of a decent quarterback, leading the team to a win over Kennesaw State and took them to the wire with Clemson. It looked like Yates may be the permanent starter going forward. However, Sims took back the job last week in a statement win against North Carolina, where he threw for 112 yards and a touchdown and tacked on 128 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

I think Sims has what it takes to be one of the best QBs in the ACC this season. He’s quick, resourceful, and now a veteran who knows how to play in big games. Getting three points at home against a middling Pittsburgh team should be enough to get the job done.

Score: Georgia Tech 38, Pitt 30

Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati, 10/2, 1:30 PM CT, NBC

The Pick: Notre Dame +2.0

Wait, Notre Dame is the underdog? In South Bend? Against a Group of Five team? Huh?

This is no ordinary Group of Five team. This is a Desmond Ridder-led, Luke Fickell-coached, hungry Cincinnati squad. They have a lot to play for, and this is going to be a phenomenal game start to finish. A Cincinnati win puts them firmly in serious playoff contention.

I worry about Ridder’s volatility. He is certainly a talented quarterback, but he looked shaky at times in their last game against Indiana. The Irish’s improving defense, led by safety Kyle Hamilton, isn’t going to be kind if he continues those risky passes. There’s certainly questions at the other quarterback position as well. Jack Coan probably isn’t getting Notre Dame to a national championship, but the Irish have other weapons, particularly in the backfield with Chris Tyree and Kyren Williams making big time plays. Give me Notre Dame in an uber-close game.

Score: Notre Dame 31, Cincinnati 28

Kentucky vs. Florida, 10/2, 5:00 PM CT, ESPN

The Pick: Kentucky +7.5

What happens when an unstoppable force (my Kentucky ATS picks) meets an immovable object (Florida being the bane of my existence ATS)?

Fireworks, baby. Fireworks.

This game has massive implications on the SEC East race. The winner will be set up in a prime position to challenge Georgia for a chance to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Think of this as the undercard to the title fight against the defending champion. But like a really good undercard.

The game again will be decided by Kentucky’s ability to control possession, which they will do via that offensive line helping establish Chris Rodriguez on the ground. The more they can keep the ball, the less time Dan Mullen will be able to do the exact same thing when his Gators get on offense. Hopefully Will Levis can take care of the ball, and if the Wildcats can win the turnover margin, they’ll be in great position to win this matchup. I’m expecting a physical, feisty affair between these two East rivals. With all that said...

I CAN’T QUIT YOU KENTUCKY.

Score: Kentucky 28, Florida 27

Hawaii vs. Fresno State, 10/2, 10:00 PM CT, CBSSN

The Pick: Fresno State -11.0

Mahalo! How about a game made for the true degenerates? Late night Hawaii football fits the bill.

Unfortunately for the beloved Rainbow Warriors, they face the second best passer in college football right now in Jake Haener, the tough-as-nails Fresno State quarterback. He has totaled 1842 yards already this season, second only to Brennan Armstrong of Virginia. The two are also nearly 400 yards ahead of the next leading quarterback, Will Rogers of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs hung with top-ranked Oregon in Week 2, and in Week 4, after a bruising hit to Haener that tried to keep him out of the game to no avail, Fresno State upset then-13th ranked UCLA. Another lovable Group of Five team, this Fresno team can score. I expect them to do lots of that, making 11 points a manageable spread.

Score: Fresno State 45, Hawaii 27

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