Wouldn't it be nice if the College Football Playoff expansion happened this year instead of somewhere down the road?
For now, the expansion could happen as soon as 2024, although it's more likely to be 2026. The current contract expires after the 2025 season.
So far, we've got four unbeaten teams: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Texas Christian. But, I've got questions whether Michigan or TCU really belong.
I'd take No. 5 Tennessee (9-1) over either of them, and perhaps a loss next week to Ohio State can knock the Wolverines out of the picture ... or show them worthy.
Also, we've got several two-loss teams that could make noise in a 12-team bracket: No. 6 LSU, No. 8 Alabama, No. 10 Utah, No. 11 Penn State and No. 12 Oregon. No. 7 USC (9-1) and No. 9 Clemson (9-1) could win their conferences and still not make the four-team field.
The next three weeks will thin the herd, and some of those contenders will fall off. Then again, maybe it's a good year to go back to the old two-team playoff: until we're shown otherwise, it’s Georgia and Ohio State, with a huge gap between them and the rest of the field.
Let's get to the picks:
Jacksonville State (8-2) at Central Arkansas (5-5): If the Gamecocks win, they'll finish ahead of everyone else in the ASUN standings by two games. JSU is ineligible for the conference crown because the Gamecocks are in transition from FCS to FBS and are allowed to award more scholarships.
Still, I dare whoever gets the trophy as the "official” ASUN champion to ship the hardware to Jacksonville, Alabama. … Jacksonville State 28, Central Arkansas 24.
Western Kentucky (7-4) at Auburn (4-6): With the firing of Bryan Harsin and last week's win over Texas A&M, there's some new life in the Tigers’ program.
Sure, A&M is historically bad, but before we go making fun of Auburn's excitement over beating the Aggies, keep in mind this was more than just a win over a struggling team. This is the first time in a while Auburn has offered hope for the future.
And I'm on board with anyone pushing interim coach Carnell "Cadillac” Williams for the full-time job. Why not? In two weeks, he has galvanized more support from the Auburn fan base than Gus Malzahn or Harsin ever did.
In the past two years, Auburn has been obligated to pay a $21.45 million buyout to Malzahn and $15.3 million to Harsin. Is the well of cash deep enough to go out and throw a huge contract at someone folks would consider a home run hire? Williams never has served as a head coach, but he is uniquely qualified to run the Auburn program in ways that more experienced names would be. … Auburn 27, Western Kentucky 17.
Austin Peay (7-3) at No. 8 Alabama (8-2): The best-case scenario is for Bryce Young to get plenty of rest Saturday. Wouldn't be surprised if he has a back injury … from carrying the Alabama offense this year. … Alabama 38, Austin Peay 7.
No. 1 Georgia (10-0) at Kentucky (6-4): Georgia has played only a couple of good teams so far, but the Bulldogs handled Oregon and Tennessee so thoroughly that it's hard to imagine anyone beating them this year. (Sorry, Georgia, that sentence probably is your kiss of death.)
The Bulldogs are third nationally in total offense and sixth in total defense. About the only thing they don't do well is punt. They're 65th nationally in net punting, but with this offense and defense, who cares about that? ... Georgia 31, Kentucky 10.
No. 5 Tennessee (9-1) at South Carolina (6-4): The Vols are facing another team in which they can rub it in by throwing deep to set up a late touchdown. Tennessee 49, South Carolina 17.
No. 14 Ole Miss (8-2) at Arkansas (5-5): With last week's loss to Alabama, Ole Miss is out of the SEC West Division race, and that's kind of a shame. The Rebels likely would've been punched in the throat (several times) by Georgia in the SEC title game, but Lane Kiffin has built a good program at Ole Miss. He's a much more mature head coach than he was at USC and Tennessee. ... Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 20.
UAB (5-5) at No. 6 LSU (8-2): The Bengal Tigers aren't particularly great in any statistical category, but they've survived more than their share of close games. In the last six games, they've beaten Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Arkansas by a combined 17 points, and that's certainly worth something. ... LSU 31, UAB 9.
No. 10 Utah (8-2) at No. 12 Oregon (8-2): With last week's loss to Washington, Oregon lost a chance to strengthen its chances for a Pac-12 title game berth. There's a glut at the top of the standings, with USC (7-1 Pac-12), Oregon (6-1), Utah (6-1), UCLA (5-2) and Washington (5-2) all having a shot at making the final two. ... Oregon 31, Utah 28.
No. 7 USC (9-1) at No. 16 UCLA (8-2): Read the Utah/Oregon blurb above about how the league standings shape up. Pac-12 leadership likely is cheering hard for USC to win out, because the Trojans give the league its best chance to make the College Football Playoff. It's a darkhorse chance at best, but, yes, we're saying there's a chance. ... Southern California 41, UCLA 38.
Illinois (7-3) at No. 3 Michigan (10-0): The Wolverines need to win next week over Ohio State to win the division and make the Big Ten title game. Meanwhile, Illinois is in a four-way tie for the West Division lead with Purdue, Iowa and Minnesota. ... Michigan 28, Illinois 10.
Last week: 7-3. Missed on Washington's win over Oregon, Vanderbilt's win over Kentucky and Central Florida's win over Tulane.