Auburn has the big game of local interest today, but this might be the year of the “Geaux Tig-ahs.”
Alabama should roll easily even though the Tide is on the road and will start a backup quarterback. Jacksonville State is better than Murray State and at home.
So, let’s get to the picks:
No. 9 Auburn (6-1) at No. 2 LSU (7-0): It’s long past time to take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow seriously. Before this season, he looked like a decent game manager who was a mediocre passer.
This year, he is second in the nation in passing efficiency, and his touchdown/interception ratio is 29/3. He has done it against Texas, Vanderbilt, Florida and Mississippi State, and there’s little reason to think he won’t drill Auburn, too. ... LSU 38, Auburn 24.
Arkansas (2-5) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0): Some Alabama fans may not want to hear this, but this team relies heavily on its quarterback. Statistically, the Tide is fourth nationally in scoring offense, fourth in passing offense and fourth in turnover margin.
The efficient Tua Tagovailoa plays a huge role in those four categories. With him on the sideline, Alabama goes from a quick-strike offense that would score in the 40s or 50s to an offense that will need to string together long drives to give its young defense a break.
That said, second-string quarterback Mac Jones should be more than enough to win at Arkansas. … Alabama 31, Arkansas 10.
Murray State (4-4) at Jacksonville State (5-3): Even with the expected rain, look for Jacksonville State to throw the ball more than 40 times.
That’s a good thing to do against Murray State, which ranks No. 101 out of 124 FCS teams in defending the pass. As always, if the Gamecocks can trim down the turnovers, they should sail. … Jacksonville State 33, Murray State 24.
No. 13 Wisconsin (6-1) at No. 3 Ohio State (7-0): The Buckeyes have dominated everyone they’ve faced, but Wisconsin is by far the best team they’ve played so far this year. Justin Taylor is third nationally in rushing with 136.7 yards a game. Ohio State is ninth nationally in allowing only 93 yards a game. … Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 14.
Boston College (4-3) at No. 4 Clemson (7-0): Clemson keeps winning and keeps dropping in the polls. If the Tigers continue beating people, they’ll be out of the top 10 by the end of the conference championship games.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is still struggling with turnovers. His eight interceptions are the sixth most nationally. … Clemson 40, Boston College 10.
No. 8 Notre Dame (5-1) at No. 19 Michigan (5-2): Notre Dame is best at protecting the ball and making other teams give it up. The Irish are first nationally in turnover margin, while Michigan is one of the worst. … Notre Dame 21, Michigan 20.
South Carolina (3-4) at Tennessee (2-5): From 1916 to 2004, South Carolina beat Tennessee only once — a one-point win in 1992. The Gamecocks have won the last three matchups and six of the past nine. … South Carolina 28, Tennessee 24.
Missouri (5-2) at Kentucky (3-4): Even with last week’s loss at Vanderbilt, Missouri is still in the hunt to win the SEC East. At one point, with Georgia steamrolling through, that seemed unthinkable. … Missouri 27, Kentucky 20.
No. 5 Oklahoma (7-0) at Kansas State (4-2): Jalen Hurts is first in the country in passing efficiency and second in total offense. Sure, the Big 12 doesn’t play defense like they do in other leagues, but it’s awfully impressive how Hurts has turned himself into an elite quarterback. Two years ago, this didn’t seem possible. … Oklahoma 50, Kansas State 24.
No. 21 Appalachian State (6-0) at South Alabama (1-6): Could the Mountaineers take up the crusade to blow up the FBS championship system that Central Florida and Boise State have run with before?
The only game likely standing in their way to an undefeated season is a Nov. 9 date at South Carolina. The major college conference commissioners will cheer for you that day, Gamecocks. ... Appalachian State 35, South Alabama 7.
Last week: 9-1 (Missed on Jacksonville State’s upset loss to Southeast Missouri.)