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Mark Edwards: Top teams off, Auburn should sail, JSU will fall

Auburn football teaser

Aubie walks onto the field at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Auburn leads Arkansas 17-0 at halftime.

It's a relatively dry weekend, as nine of The Associated Press' top 25 get Saturday off.

That includes No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State and No. 10 Oklahoma.

Anyway, let's get to the picks:

Jacksonville State (6-3) at Tennessee-Martin (5-3): This won't be an easy one for JSU, which relies plenty on the strong right arm of quarterback Zerrick Cooper.

UT Martin is especially good at harassing opposing quarterbacks. The Skyhawks lead the league in intercepting passes and quarterback sacks. Cooper is a first-rate passer, but he is tied for the OVC lead in interceptions, and they usually happen when he tries to do too much.

UT Martin has an excellent program, led by head coach Jason Simpson, a former JSU assistant. … UT Martin 24, JSU 17.

Ole Miss (3-5) at No. 11 Auburn (6-2): The Tigers are lacking a backup quarterback after Joey Gatewood left the team earlier this week and announced he is transferring. In today's game, quarterbacks transfer when they don't win the starting job, and that's fine — Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett and Kyle Allen are starting NFL quarterbacks who transferred from one Division I school to another.

The timing is odd. Gatewood already used up his redshirt year last season, and besides, he already had played in too many games this year anyway. The small package he ran seemed to help Auburn, and it's hard to see the downside from sticking around to the end of the season.

For what it's worth, Auburn's Gus Malzahn praised Gatewood in public comments this week. As for this game, backup quarterback or not, Ole Miss presents little challenge. … Auburn 31, Ole Miss 13.

No. 8 Georgia (6-1) vs. No. 6 Florida (7-1): The Gators used to dominate this series, but Georgia has won the last two comfortably. The Bulldogs have a better defense, ranking seventh nationally in total defense, fifth against the run and fifth in scoring defense. … Georgia 24, Florida 16.

No. 15 SMU (8-0) at No. 24 Memphis (7-1): SMU's best win came over Texas Christian. Memphis scores 39.5 points a game, but SMU is averaging 43 a game. … Memphis 45, SMU 41.

No. 14 Michigan (6-2) at Maryland (3-5): Michigan is eighth nationally in total defense, while Maryland has gone through three quarterbacks this year. … Michigan 24, Maryland 7.

Virginia Tech (5-2) at No. 16 Notre Dame (5-2): The Irish are no slouches, having lost to Georgia and Michigan, both on the road. … Notre Dame 30, Virginia Tech 13.

UAB (6-1) at Tennessee (3-5): We've had a lot of fun joking about the Vols after their season-opening losses to Georgia State and Brigham Young, but they've actually played much better in the last month. … Tennessee 30, UAB 20.

Vanderbilt (2-5) at South Carolina (3-5): After upsetting Missouri last week, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason shouted at a reporter during an on-field interview: "Don’t question us. Don’t question who we are, what we do, or how we play."

Considering this is Mason's sixth season, and the Commodores have won only 10 SEC games, it's perfectly OK to question him, his team and his program. … South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 14.

No. 7 Oregon (7-1) at Southern California (5-3): If USC wins this, the Pac-12 likely will have a rematch in the league title game. Oregon is running away with the North Division, while USC and Utah are tied for the South Division lead. USC beat Utah earlier this year.

Except for a last-minute loss to Auburn to open the season, Oregon would be making a case for the College Football Playoff. … Oregon 31, USC 27.

No. 9 Utah (7-1) at Washington (5-3): This might be head coach Kyle Whittingham's best Utah team since the 2008 squad that beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. ... Utah 27, Washington 24.

Last week: 6-4. Missed on Kansas State's upset of Oklahoma, Michigan mashing of Notre Dame, Tennessee crushing South Carolina, and Kentucky cruising past Missouri. Not a good week.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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