Last week’s national picks featured a lot of what could’ve been. Cincinnati was putting a scare into Houston heading into the fourth quarter until the Cougars ran away with the game. Also, Alabama had an 18-point lead before they allowed Ole Miss to close within one score. Even with all that, somehow MC&J was able to exit the third week with a winning record for the week.
Last week ATS: 8-7-1 (2-4 National, 6-3-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 23-25-1 (9-10 National, 14-15-1 B1G)
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 5 Clemson (-10) v. Georgia Tech - Thursday 7:30 PM EST - ESPN
Even though they are 3-0, Clemson hasn’t had the most impressive start to the season. Sure they won on the road at Auburn to open the season, but Auburn might not be as good as some thought heading into the year. Then they only were able to beat Troy by six at Death Valley a couple weeks ago. Now the Tigers have to not only travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech’s option attack, but they have to do so on a short week.
After a terrible season last year, Georgia Tech has already matched their win total from 2015. Even with last year’s 43-24 Clemson victory, the Yellow Jackets have fared well against Dabo Swinney. The 4-5 record Swinney has posted against Georgia Tech is just one of two ACC schools that Swinney has a losing record against.
It’s hard for me to lay the points in this one with Clemson having a short week to get ready for Georgia Tech. The Tigers might leave Atlanta with a win, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. Clemson’s defense is talented but still young, which means the Yellow Jackets could find some holes and keep the score within a touchdown.
Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 27
No. 12 Georgia v. No. 23 Ole Miss (-7) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Georgia will be looking to secure their 11th straight win over Ole Miss, although those numbers may be a little stale since the two schools haven’t played since 2012. The Bulldogs have to feel great if Ole MIss jumps out to a big, early lead since the Rebels have had trouble holding on to those this season. Hugh Freeze’s squad has blown two first half leads of more than 20 points, the latest coming last week against Alabama. Georgia has trailed in all three of their games this year and gone on to win all three games, but none of those have been 20-point deficits.
The Bulldogs have things going in the right direction under new head coach Kirby Smart, but they still have plenty of work to do. As long as the Rebels don’t allow running back Nick Chubb to run all over them, Ole Miss should be fine in Oxford. Another key for the Rebels is to not turn the football over, something they’ve done way too much to start the season.
This will be a bounce-back game for Chad Kelly and Ole Miss. If the Rebels are able to jump out early, I just don’t see Georgia having the firepower to be able to stage the kind of comebacks that Florida State and Alabama have.
Ole Miss 37, Georgia 24
No. 19 Florida v. No. 14 Tennessee (-6) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Could this be Tennessee’s year to finally snap their losing streak to Florida? The Volunteers have lost 11 straight to the Gators, but this could be their best shot in recent memory to end the drought. Florida will have Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby starting at quarterback after Luke Del Rio was injured in the win last week against North Texas.
Tennessee has their own injury issues, mainly on the defensive side of the football. Cornerback Cam Sutton and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. are out for the game, and while Jalen Reaves-Maybin should play, he likely won’t be 100%.
The Volunteers haven’t impressed against Appalachian State and Ohio at home, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they weren’t able to end their losing streak against Florida. I’m not too confident in picking a winner for this matchup, but I am a lot more confident in saying this will be a close game, with the last two meetings being one-point Florida wins. I’ll take the home team here by a field goal just because I think Jalen Hurd will end up being the difference after a slow start to the season.
Tennessee 27, Florida 24
No. 18 LSU (-3.5) v. Auburn - 6:00 PM EST - ESPN
This game definitely has potential to be the weirdest of the weekend. Both Les Miles and Gus Malzahn are on the hot seat and while a loss on Saturday night won’t be the final straw for either, it certainly won’t help. Both teams have had serious problems to start the season, so it’s only right that they play each other to see which team is a little less weird at this point of the season.
LSU did everything they could to try and lose last week’s game to Mississippi State. Danny Etling was just 10-30 for 215 and a touchdown against the Bulldogs, but I guess that is better than what Brandon Harris can do. Luckily Leonard Fournette is around to save LSU.
Auburn looked even worse in a 29-16 loss to Texas A&M and I truly don’t know who is going to play quarterback for them. Whoever it is, they’ll have problems against the LSU defense. Two teams have already come into Jordan-Hare this year and left with a win, and on Saturday night LSU will become the third to do so.
LSU 28, Auburn 17
No. 7 Stanford (-3) v. UCLA - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
Stanford was able to navigate the first game of a tough three-game stretch, when they took down USC 27-10 last week. Now the Cardinal take on UCLA before a showdown with Washington next week. All we really need to know about Stanford is Christian McCaffrey. Sure, there are some other players who are capable of making some plays, but McCaffrey gets the bulk of the workload.
UCLA has their own star in sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen, and if it wasn’t for an overtime loss in the first weekend of the season, the Bruins would also come into this matchup undefeated. The bad news for Rosen is he doesn’t have a whole lot around him. The Cardinal should be able to pressure Rosen, and last week we saw them shut down JuJu Smith-Schuster, so they can handle anyone UCLA throws at them
The Bruins haven’t beaten Stanford since 2008 and I’m surprised this line wasn’t a little higher. Not that I think UCLA is a bad team, I just think at this point Stanford is just a tier above them. If Stanford plays to the level their capable of, I see this game being decided by more than a touchdown.
Stanford 31, UCLA 21
No. 17 Arkansas v. No. 10 Texas A&M (-5.5) - 9:00 PM EST - ESPN
JerryWorld is the site for this game because when you have a chance to plaster BERT’s fat face on that giant scoreboard, I guess you have to do it. The Razorbacks are fresh off their layup against Texas State last week and are ready to open up SEC play. Rawleigh Williams looks to be the next running back to make a name for himself in Bielema’s offense, rushing for 354 yards and three touchdowns so far this year.
Stop me if you’ve seen this one before: Texas A&M starts the season strong, moves into the top-10, before floundering to close the season. So far the first two describe the Aggies season so far. We’ll have to wait on the third, but they usually go 5-0 before hitting the wall.
The Aggies got a road win in the SEC last week, which isn’t easy to come by, but at this point of the season I’m more intrigued by the Razorbacks. If Arkansas keeps progressing they might just have the smashmouth offense that could Alabama some trouble. Somehow BERT and company take down another ranked team from Texas.
Arkansas 30, Texas A&M 27