It’s pretty much a routine weekend for Alabama and Auburn, but Jacksonville State faces a test.
The Gamecocks host Tennessee-Martin, which hasn’t beaten JSU on its home field since 1987, but the Skyhawks won’t be a pushover. This is JSU’s last game before running the gauntlet of seven straight AQ7 games, a one-year alignment with an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs going to the champion.
Here are this week’s picks:
Tennessee-Martin (2-1) at Jacksonville State (2-1): The Gamecocks have gutted out a couple wins. Nobody can question the effort and the drive.
Still, JSU needs more out of its offense, which has produced only four touchdowns in three games. (The remaining two came on returns by the defense.) The Gamecocks are 97th nationally out of 123 teams with about 271 total yards a game.
Some of that is because of the schedule, which has included two FBS teams, but the Gamecocks bring it up another level. ... Jacksonville State 24, UT Martin 20.
Georgia State (1-2) at No. 23 Auburn (2-1): The game at Penn State didn’t go well for new coach Bryan Harsin or his play-caller, Mike Bobo. This one will be salve for the wounds.
Georgia State got blitzed by Army 43-10 and North Carolina 59-17 while beating Charlotte 20-9. ... Auburn 45, Georgia State 12.
Southern Mississippi (1-2) at No. 1 Alabama (3-0): By the end of the season, that 31-29 win at Florida will look better on its resume than it felt at the time. Even so, a rematch is unlikely — Georgia still seems the odds-on favorite to win the East Division.
Alabama will bolt to a big lead, then give up some late points, which is exactly how the last three games have gone. ... Alabama 44, Southern Mississippi 17.
No. 2 Georgia (3-0) at Vanderbilt (1-2): Vanderbilt already has an embarrassing 23-3 loss to East Tennessee State on its resume. The Commodores have won 10 SEC games in the previous seven seasons, and that trend isn’t changing anytime soon. ... Georgia 42, Vanderbilt 7.
No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1): There’s little question the schedule has helped boost the Irish into the playoffs in recent years. This year, there’s no Clemson on the slate, but it’s still tricky. This one is in Chicago, and next week, Notre Dame will host No. 8 Cincinnati.
But if Notre Dame can win both of these, we’ll have to suffer the Irish in the playoffs again. But ... older Alabama fans might relish smashing old rival Notre Dame again. ... Wisconsin 27, Notre Dame 20.
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 16 Arkansas (3-0): This one is in Arlington, Texas. If Arkansas is for real, this is the time to show it. The Razorbacks rank eighth nationally in rushing offense, while A&M is first in scoring defense and turnover margin. ... Texas A&M 26, Arkansas 17.
LSU (2-1) at Mississippi State (2-1): Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers has thrown and completed more passes than anyone in the FBS. His 361 passing yards a game are fifth nationally, and now he’s going to face a team with a problematic pass defense. … Mississippi State 38, LSU 37.
Missouri (2-1) at Boston College (3-0): Jacksonville State transfer Trae Barry is doing well as a Boston College tight end. He has six catches, a pair of touchdowns and is averaging about 25 yards a catch.
Missouri coach Elijah Drinkwater says he would’ve preferred to play a regional matchup than go to Boston for a game, but if it’s a win, does it matter? … Missouri 30, Boston College 28
Tennessee (2-1) at No. 11 Florida (2-1): Emory Jones proved himself as a good quarterback last week against Alabama, and while the Gators are favored by 18 against the Vols, they put so much into the Alabama game that it’s hard not to wonder if they’ll have a Crimson Tide hangover.
Still, Florida is second in the nation in rushing offense, which is where the Gators gashed the mighty Crimson Tide pretty badly. Certainly, they’ll do the same to UT. … Florida 31, Tennessee 17.
Kentucky (3-0) at South Carolina (2-1): Kentucky is one of 34 unbeaten teams in the FBS. Doesn’t it usually seem as if the Wildcats win more games than they should? … Kentucky 31, South Carolina 24.
Last week: 8-2. Missed on Penn State’s win over Auburn. Also missed on Brigham Young’s win over Arizona State.