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USC, Colorado, and Coastal Carolina all look to stay perfect on the season this week

The Trojans need to beat rival UCLA if they want to stay on top of the Pac-12 South, while Colorado is waiting if USC slips up, but the Buffaloes host Utah earlier on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 3-10 (2-6 National, 1-4 B1G)

Season ATS: 66-61-2 (46-42 National, 20-19-1 B1G)

Last week was a brutal week. There were some close calls for MC&J that could have netted a few more wins, as well as some picks that weren’t even close. Virginia Tech hung with Clemson for a while but couldn’t stop fumbling the football in key spots. Florida blew a big lead late to allow Tennessee to cover. I underestimated Coastal Carolina. Then there was just straight misses on West Virginia and Oregon.

There is still some time to erase last week’s losses at least. It was a little tougher to find some matchups this weekend after Ole Miss-Texas A&M and Cincinnati-Tulsa were canceled, but we think we have some winners in the six games on the national slate.

National games:

Utah v. No. 21 Colorado (-2) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

The Utes aren’t quite the team that we have seen in recent years. Utah is coming off a 30-24 win against Oregon State to earn their first victory of the season. The win wasn’t all that impressive though, as Oregon State was without their starting quarterback and running back, yet the Utes still only won by six points. Utah does have South Carolina transfer quarterback Jake Bentley, but the former Gamecock hasn’t passed for more than 180 yards in any of his three starts for the Utes.

So far the Karl Dorrell experience in Boulder isn’t going that bad. The Buffaloes are 4-0 this year, yet somehow could still miss out on the Pac-12 title game. The reason Colorado is on the outside looking in right now is because their game against Arizona State was canceled a few weeks ago. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, the Buffaloes took on San Diego State, beating the Aztecs 20-10. Since it wasn’t a conference game though, USC is in the driver’s seat of the Pac-12 South, and the only way Colorado will make the conference title game is if they beat Utah and USC loses to UCLA on Saturday night.

Utah should be able to at least slow down Jarek Broussard and the Colorado rushing attack for a while. I think the Buffaloes wear down the Utes in the second half, though. Colorado has a lot to play for, as a win puts pressure on USC. Meanwhile, I don’t trust Bentley and the Utah offense to have enough to pull the upset on the Buffaloes.

Colorado 27, Utah 20

No. 9 Georgia (-13) v. No. 25 Missouri - 12:00 PM EST - SEC Network

Some may think that Georgia’s performance the last two games might be a sign that they’ve finally found an answer at quarterback. Before we crown quarterback J.T. Daniels as the savior of the Bulldogs, just remember those two wins came against Mississippi State and South Carolina. Not exactly the best the SEC has to offer.

After a tough start to the season that saw Missouri lose their first two games, the Tigers have played a lot better since, winning five of their last six games. Quarterback Connor Bazelak and running back Larry Rountree III are getting better as the season has gone on. This will be the toughest test Bazelak has seen this year though, as he’ll be going up against a Georgia defense that has 23 sacks this year.

This feels like a tough spot for Georgia when it comes to motivation. The Bulldogs can’t make the SEC Championship Game, so there isn’t a whole lot for them to play for. Columbia isn’t the easiest place to play, either. Out of five home games this year, Alabama is the only team who has beaten Missouri. Georgia beats Missouri, just not by more than 13 points.

Georgia 28, Missouri 17

No. 13 Coastal Carolina (-14) v. Troy - 3:00 PM EST - ESPN+

How impressive was Coastal Carolina last week? I thought they might be in a little over their head against BYU. As with most of my other picks last week, I was wrong. The Chanticleers might not be headed to the College Football Playoff, but they did put themselves into prime position to earn a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

This feels like a prime sandwich game spot for Coastal Carolina after beating BYU last week and facing Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game next weekend. Troy is coming off a 29-0 win over South Alabama after losing three straight games. I wish the Trojans were a little more balanced on offense like Coastal Carolina, but I think we get an inspired effort from Troy on their home field as they look to spoil the undefeated season of the Chanticleers.

Coastal Carolina 34, Troy 24

No. 17 North Carolina v. No. 10 Miami (FL) (-3) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC

Points should be plentiful in this matchup. North Carolina is averaging 41 points per game this year, while Miami is putting up nearly 35 points per contest. Sam Howell and D’Eriq King have combined to throw for over 5,400 yards, 46 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions this year. The two should be able to add to those numbers against some suspect defenses.

Prior to last week’s drubbing of Duke, Miami had been winning some close games against bad teams. The Hurricanes can’t afford to have a subpar performance against the Tar Heels, since North Carolina can put up points in a hurry. The question is can North Carolina get enough stops on defense? The Tar Heels are giving up over 400 yards per game on defense.

Even though the ACC Championship Game is already set, these two teams do at least have something to play for. The highest ranked ACC team goes to the Orange Bowl, and there’s a possibility it could be one of these two teams if Clemson and Notre Dame both make the College Football Playoff. In a game that should come down to the wire, I’ll take the team that has more weapons on offense. Howell has another big day as he outduels King.

North Carolina 41, Miami (FL) 34

LSU v. No. 6 Florida (-23) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN

Who is left to play for LSU? It feels like the whole team has opted out of this season. As if the roster turnover wasn’t bad enough for the Tigers, the tiny carrot left in this season is gone, since LSU bravely announced they were self-imposing a bowl ban this year. Sorry Shreveport or Memphis, you won’t have the chance of seeing the Tigers this year.

On the other hand, Florida has everything to play for. The Gators can’t afford any more errors if they want to stay in the College Football Playoff race. Florida will get their chance to stake their claim that they are worthy of a spot when they take on Alabama next week in the SEC Championship Game.

LSU hasn’t put up much of a fight against good teams this year. Last week against Alabama was a prime example. Florida might not be quite to where the Crimson Tide are, but they are getting there. Kyle Trask should be able to channel Mac Jones and pass all over this LSU defense, and add to his 38 passing touchdowns this year. The Gators win easily in their final home game of the year.

Florida 45, LSU 14

No. 15 USC (-2.5) v. UCLA - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

Everyone seems to think that USC is back because they haven’t needed fourth quarter comebacks to win their last two games. Sorry I’m not ready to jump on the Clay Helton train after his team beat Utah, who was playing their first game of the year when they hosted USC, and Washington State, who had their previous two games canceled because of COVID-19 issues.

UCLA has quietly been pretty good this year. The Bruins have won their last two games, and their two losses came by a combined nine points on the road against Colorado and Oregon. Not only do the Bruins have experience at quarterback with Dorian Thompson-Robinson, they are also showing great balance. Maybe Chip Kelly’s style of football is finally taking hold in Los Angeles.

What a quarterback matchup we are in store for on Saturday night with Kedon Slovis squaring off with Thompson-Robinson. This game feels like it will be a back-and-forth affair. Not only does Kelly get his biggest win as head coach of the Bruins, UCLA throws a wrench into the Pac-12 South by handing the Trojans their first loss of the season.

UCLA 38, USC 34