Each week, I'll try to convince myself I could give it all up and pick games for a living. And, each week, I'll learn that such a decision would eventually lead to me living in a storm drain in front of a bus station.
Last week: 6-4 (.600)
Season: 9-9 (.500)
The picks come one day early this week because tomorrow I'll be making my way to Oxford for the Ole Miss/Texas game. I'm looking forward to getting back to Oxford, as I haven't been since 2010 when Ole Miss was running around in the gray uniforms, giving Auburn a game for a quarter before eventually being blown out, 51-31. I didn't make it last year because I enjoy not watching dumpster fires that shoot feces in every direction.
Rest assured though, these picks remain as biased and free of any kind of research, other than the trusty eyeball test, as they have ever been.
Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn (-16.5)
This week, Gene Chizik learned a few things. The Auburn family needs to reread (well, those who can read above coloring book level) his literary masterpiece, All In, this LA-Monroe game is going to be considerably more trouble than originally thought, and Mississippi State pretty much knew what Auburn was running on Saturday.
That might explain some of Auburn's interpretation of what it means to play offense, but it does not totally account for Kiehl Frazier's decision-making or the ultra vanilla nature of every play Auburn ran. The good news for Auburn is that Trooper Taylor's backwards hat was not effected, but his towel-waving was greatly reduced.
Because the Warhawks are in the driver's seat in the SEC West and have shown the ability to move the ball against bad defenses, and Auburn hasn't shown anything that makes me think they can beat anyone by three scores, I'll take the Warhawks and the points.
Presbyterian at Vanderbilt
(insert upset alert icon/general noises)
Alabama (-20.5) at Arkansas
Was Arkansas afforded as much respect this week by the Alabama media as Western Kentucky was? Not sure they deserved it if so. But, the good news for Arkansas is that all signs are pointing to the return of Tyler Wilson, however, the bad news for Arkansas is that he's probably going to be repeatedly hit again, due to a leaky offensive line and Arkansas' belief in leaving no running backs in the backfield to help with pass protection. And in more good news/bad news for Arkansas, Alabama isn't going to throw it as much as LA-Monroe (412 yards), but they will try to run over whatever stands in their way, which, unfortunately for Arkansas, isn't much.
Like many good teams, Alabama needs motivation to turn the give-a-damn meter past Jay Cutler level. Western Kentucky didn't provide that motivation, but the opening of conference play and the need to keep pace with the first place Warhawks will provide such motivation. Alabama to cover.
Texas A&M (-12.5) at SMU
Here's to hoping A&M plays to honor the memories of those five hookers who were unfortunate enough to meet Craig James. A&M to cover.
Florida at Tennessee (-3)
Very interested to see if Tyler Bray finally reverses his poor-to-average level of play against conference opponents. Going back to 2010, Bray has only completed 51.3% of his passes, while throwing 15 TDs and 12 INTs in SEC play.
Amazingly, my brain reminded me of last year's game against Florida in which Bray should have thrown something like eleventy interceptions. I looked up what I wrote about last year's game in which Bray threw 2 INTs, and here's part of what I said:
"If Florida's defensive backs were not playing defense with iron skillets as hands, it would be Tyler Bray who would be leading the conference in interceptions and not Zack Stoudt. I counted seven passes that hit Florida defenders in the hands. Had the ball not made a clanging noise when it hit them, Tennessee could have been looking at a four-touchdown loss."
Well, that's wrong. Florida NEVER could have scored four touchdowns last year.
Given that Bray spent part of his summer throwing beer bottles at cars and exploring the limits of a personal watercraft, I'll assume his decision-making against faster defenses remains the same. Florida and the points.
Western Kentucky at Kentucky (-7)
Strictly based on the idea that it would be awesome if Joker Phillips showed this clip every 7 minutes during film sessions this week, Wildcats to cover.
Arizona State at Missouri (-6.5)
Good news for Arizona State so far, as Todd Graham has not found something better to do for an equal or greater amount of money. Perhaps he's still acclimating to Arizona and not getting outside all that much. Tigers to cover.
UAB at South Carolina (-33.5)
Because I love it so much:
South Carolina to cover.
Mississippi State (-16.5) at Troy
NO INJURIES, NCAA VIOLATIONS, OR COACHES RESIGNING TO TALK ABOUT HERE. ASK BETTER QUESTIONS. I HAVE THINGS TO DO.
State to cover.
Florida Atlantic at Georgia (-42)
I was about to blindly pick FAU and the points, but decided to throw in five seconds of research and learned that the Owls beat Wagner 7-3 to open the season. Not sure if that's the estate of the composer or the college that I may have seen in an NCAA bracket or two over the years. Bulldogs to cover.
Idaho at LSU (-42.5)
Let's hope Idaho learned from Washington's mistake and let the live tiger out of its cage at practice. That's how you inspire your players to run fast and survive. LSU to cover.
Texas at Ole Miss (+10)
The speed, size, and physical strength of Ole Miss' opponent is going to jump up ALL THE NOTCHES this week, which means one bad quarter and the game can quickly get away from them. If Ole Miss can come out and handle their emotions and adjust quickly to the new speed of the game, they've got a chance to hang in until the fourth quarter.
Texas, despite its ability to get just about any recruit they want, is not a dominant offensive team (52nd in total offense after facing Wyoming and New Mexico; 54th last year). But, they're also facing a very small defense, featuring a DEFENSIVE TACKLE that weighs 250 pounds, and have run the ball well in their first two games. All signs point to the LSU strategy of leaning on the defense until it falls over in the second half.
Ole Miss' only chance to hold up against that strategy is load up against the run, while playing very aggressively, hoping David Ash remains David Ash and can't throw with any effectiveness. Oh, and let's add try not to get KILLED on play-aciton passes to the tight end, which has been a signature of many a Rebel defense.
Offensively, Ole Miss has to withstand the pressure it's going to face. Manny Diaz is typically a very aggressive defensive coordinator and I'm sure he's noticed the Ole Miss offensive line often plays with roller skates on. But, given the misdirection nature of Ole Miss' offense, it's possible they can use that aggressiveness against the Texas defense and hit a few big plays to give themselves a chance to win the game.
Unfortunately for Ole Miss, the talent and depth gap is a little too wide and it will probably be just a matter of time until Texas breaks this open, so I'll take them to cover. But, if Hugh Freeze can somehow get his players to take this thing into the fourth quarter before finally being overwhelmed, pass me the Kool-Aid because FREEZUS SAVES, Y'ALL.