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MC&J: A number of ranked battles in the SEC and ACC highlight this week’s national action

The two conferences feature four games this week that will pit ranked teams against each other

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Texas Tech at NC State Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

Season ATS: 32-39-3 (17-22-1 B1G, 15-17-2 National)

The record the last few weeks has been pretty bad, I can admit that. What’s frustrating is just how close some of these picks are. We were so close to Wake Forest winning straight up, Arkansas beating Texas A&M, Washington State winning, and Florida’s late touchdown ruined a Tennessee cover. At least there’s still a lot of season left, and I know we can break out of the slump and get back on the plus-side soon.

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

No. 7 Kentucky v. No. 14 Ole Miss (-7) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN

What has Ole Miss done to be a touchdown favorite against a top-10 team? Even though the Rebels are undefeated, they haven’t really played anyone. Essentially the best team Ole Miss has played so far has been Tulsa. That doesn’t mean that Lane Kiffin’s team isn’t talented. Jaxson Dart is becoming more comfortable at quarterback, while Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans have formed a potent running attack.

Kentucky is a little move proven, especially with a win at Florida under their belts. The biggest issue the Wildcats have had this year is their lack of a running game, which will receive a boost with Chris Rodriguez Jr. returning from suspension. The addition of Rodriguez to the offense will help take some of the pressure off of quarterback Will Levis.

Defense is going to be the difference in this game. Kentucky has made it a habit to field one of the best defensive units in the country since Mark Stoops arrived in Lexington. Dart and company aren’t going to find yards and points as easy to come by in this game as they did against the cupcakes they played in the first month of the season.

Kentucky 31, Ole Miss 27

No. 18 Oklahoma (-6.5) v. TCU - 12:00 p.m. - ABC

Oklahoma just has to be happy to not be playing Iowa State after losing to Kansas State last week. The previous two times the Sooners lost to the Wildcats, they had a tough game the next time out against the Cyclones. You can’t fault Dillon Gabriel and the Oklahoma offense for last week’s lost, as they were able to put 34 points up on the scoreboard.

TCU was able to stay undefeated under Sonny Dykes, beating SMU last week, the team that Dykes coached before taking the TCU job after last season. Quarterback Max Duggan is leading the offense of the Horned Frogs, which is averaging over 500 yards per game. Duggan has thrown eight touchdowns over the first three games of the season.

After a stretch between 2012-2016 that saw five meetings decided by seven points or less, Oklahoma has established some dominance in the series, winning five of the last six meetings by more than 10 points. I know there are signs pointing to TCU finding success against the Oklahoma defense, I’m just not buying it this week. The Sooners are going to come into this game angry and they are going to take their frustrations out on the Horned Frogs.

Oklahoma 41, TCU 24

No. 2 Alabama (-17.5) v. No. 20 Arkansas - 3:30 p.m. - CBS

Arkansas really should be coming into this game at 4-0. The Razorbacks were cruising early and then they had a hard time recovering after a Texas A&M defensive touchdown. Somehow KJ Jefferson almost led his team back before a game-winning field goal attempt went directly over the right upright.

There are still questions about Alabama since aside from Texas, the schedule for the Crimson Tide has been Charmin-soft, with Alabama beating up on Utah State, Louisiana-Monroe, and Vanderbilt in their other three games this year. Bryce Young has 13 touchdown passes this season, but only one of those scoring passes came against Texas. It’ll be interesting to see how Young plays against Arkansas, especially with Alabama not having a wide receiver that has stepped up as a top target as they have had in the past.

This is a lot of points for Alabama team to be laying against an Arkansas team that always gives a strong effort. Last year the Razorbacks put a scare into the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, and while Arkansas did lose some key players from last year’s team, Alabama might not be quite as good as they have been in the last few years. KJ Jefferson will at least will this Arkansas team to a cover in this game.

Alabama 34, Arkansas 23

No. 9 Oklahoma State v. No. 16 Baylor (-2.5) - 3:30 p.m. - FOX

You can tell this year is like no other, since this will be the second time that I’m backing a Mike Gundy team. The first time was a few weeks ago against Arizona State, which happened to be the penultimate game of Herm Edwards’ time in Tempe. Spencer Sanders has been solid to start the season, tossing 10 touchdowns through the first three games of the season.

I know Baylor is ranked 16th in the country, but for some reason they just don’t impress me all that much. Blake Shapen has been fine, the running game is averaging over 200 yards per game, and the defense gets after. Even with all that, I just like Oklahoma State more in the game. Maybe it’s because Sanders and Gundy want some revenge for Baylor winning the Big 12 Championship Game last year, or maybe Baylor is just my new Oklahoma State since apparently the Cowboys and I are cool now.

Then again, this is probably Gundy running another con on me, making me feel comfortable before his team lays a dud. Having said all that, I’ll still roll with Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State 27, Baylor 20

No. 22 Wake Forest v. No. 23 Florida State (-7) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC

Who would have thought Florida State would start the season 4-0 after what we have seen from the Seminoles recently. Last week, Mike Norvell’s team whooped Boston College to add a little more spice to this matchup. After suffering an injury against Louisville, quarterback Jordan Travis returned to the field last week and threw three touchdowns against the Golden Eagles.

Wake Forest was so close to upsetting Clemson last week, falling to the Tigers 51-45 in double...

<Sorry, I’m hearing word that Aaron Judge is at-bat for the Yankees so we are going to go split screen here as we see if the Yankees slugger can hit his 61st home run of the season>

...overtime. While the Demon Deacons fell behind early, past Wake Forest teams would have likely given up on the game, which says a lot about the job Dave Clawson has done in his time at the school.

Is Florida State getting a little too much respect here? I don’t get why Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons are a touchdown underdog, especially considering what they have done over the last few years. Florida State is definitely improved, I’m just not sure they are all the way BACK like so many are hoping they’ll be. Not yet at least. I’ll pick another Wake Forest win when they are a touchdown underdog. It almost worked last week, so maybe they can finish the job this week.

Wake Forest 42, Florida State 31

No. 17 Texas A&M v. Mississippi State (-3.5) - 4:00 p.m. - SEC Network

Texas A&M has responded to their loss to Appalachian State with wins over Miami and Arkansas. Those wins weren’t pretty wins, but they were wins and that is all that matters. While some people are convinced that the Aggies are fixed and back on track, I’m not drinking the same Kool-Aid as the rest of the cult. Jimbo Fisher still has questions to answer at quarterback. Max Johnson has won the last two games as the starter by doing very little and not making mistakes.

On the other side, Will Rogers is one of the most entertaining quarterbacks in the country to watch. Rogers threw for 450 yards and six touchdowns in a win last week against Bowling Green as the Bulldogs got the taste of a loss to LSU out of their mouths. The Mississippi State quarterback now has 16 touchdown passes this season.

There’s no doubt Texas A&M has one of the stingiest defenses in the country. That defense will definitely be tested on Saturday afternoon. I’m just not sure the defense will hold up against a Mississippi State team that can move the football, especially after expending so much energy against Miami and Arkansas. The Bulldogs make it five wins in their last seven games against the Aggies.

Mississippi State 33, Texas A&M 24

No. 10 NC State v. No. 5 Clemson (-6.5) - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

I said before the season that I thought NC State could win the ACC and challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff. I guess it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. The Wolfpack are undefeated entering this game, easily defeating UConn last week after their win against Texas Tech the previous week. Devin Leary threw four touchdowns last week, giving him 60 career touchdown passes.

Clemson fans have to be thrilled D.J. Uiagalelei has remembered how to throw the football this year. Last week, Uiagalelei threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns in the thrilling victory over Wake Forest. As good as Uiagalelei has been, it has to be concerning for Tigers fans that the defense hasn’t been nearly as good this year as they have become accustomed to.

If Wake Forest had any sort of defense, they would have beat Clemson last week. NC State has the defense to beat the Tigers, along with a veteran at quarterback that isn’t going to be frazzled by the atmosphere at Death Valley, along with the pressure that the Clemson defense will try to put on Leary. NC State makes it two wins in a row over the Tigers.

NC State 31, Clemson 28

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.