Last week: 10-1 straight up, 7-3 against the spread
Season: 21-2 straight up, 12-8 against the spread
This week's set of games is the most compelling we've had yet, although I'll admit that's a low bar. One more time, I'm largely sticking to my preseason picks (with one notable exception). It's easy to overreact to things we see in the first two weeks of a season, and two games usually isn't enough to establish reliable patterns.
As always, the lines come from the Yahoo pick 'em game.
Missouri (-20.5) over UConn 28-10
I feel awful about this pick, as I don't trust Mizzou's offense to cover against a team with a pulse. But, the more I look at UConn, the more I realize that it probably doesn't have a pulse.
Texas A&M (-34) over Nevada 59-20
This line feels a little high, but that's only because I still think about the old Chris Ault/Colin Kaepernick teams when I think of Nevada. Those guys are gone.
LSU (-6.5) over Auburn 24-17
This is the one exception to going with my preseason picks, as I had the Plainsmen winning this game back a month ago. The reason is not because of AU's near loss to Jacksonville State last week. JSU is a good FCS team, Auburn didn't seem to care, and it was an 11 am kick. It was the old Jefferson Pilot curse coming into play, and that doesn't always have predictive power.
No, it's because Auburn couldn't tackle anything last year, and in the game when I know those Tigers were trying, they gave up a bunch of big plays in no small part due to tackling issues. Leonard Fournette is tough for even the most sound tackler to bring down, and he showed his strength in running through a ton of tackles a week ago. Plus, Jeremy Johnson has been nowhere near my preseason estimation of him. I'm going against my August self on this because I was too bullish on both Johnson and Will Muschamp's ability to get at least the fundamentals taught.
Quarterbacking issues on both sides will keep the score down, but give me Fournette and the home team by a touchdown.
Georgia (-16.5) over South Carolina 30-20
The Gamecock defense has been wildly inconsistent, as it has looked different from half-to-half this year. One of the halves of this game will see Nick Chubb run wild and find the end zone two or three times. However in the other half, the Bulldog offense will run into considerable trouble, not the least because Greyson Lambert will have trouble completing any passes at all.
Perry Orth will also have one good half, and South Carolina will keep it relatively close.
Arkansas (-12) over Texas Tech 32-27
I might regret this pick, but I don't think Arkansas will do all of the bad things it did last week. This is me trying not to overreact by picking a TTU win. Still though, I saw too many big pass plays allowed against Toledo to go with the Hogs to cover.
Florida (-3) over Kentucky 27-23
This game took me the longest to choose a winner back in the offseason. I still don't have any confidence in going with the Gators, but I've not seen anything to compel me to switch the pick as I have with Auburn.
I don't like what I saw of UK's lines overall against Carolina, although I don't like a lot of what I've seen of Florida's offensive line either. Patrick Towles made up for an ineffective run game a year ago, but Florida's secondary was young and looked it early on in the year. It's a different story now with those guys a year older, plus Keanu Neal is back after missing the first two games and Vernon Hargreaves will probably go after missing the ECU game.
UK will run better than it did last year, but Towles won't have as good a game. With Florida—and I can't believe I'm saying this—having more weapons in the pass game than South Carolina does and UK allowing a bunch of big plays a week ago, I can talk myself into a UF win. I can just as easily talk myself into a Wildcat win, but doing so is out of the scope of sticking to my preseason picks.
Alabama (-6.5) over Ole Miss 17-13
I really want to pick Ole Miss outright here, but I had Bama in the preseason. It's probably for the best. This game is Chad Kelly's first road game as a starter, and it's against far and away the best defense he'll have faced so far in his career. Tuscaloosa is generally a place where first year starters win their first road games. And don't "but Johnny Manziel" me; he won five road games before going to Bryant-Denny.
I don't expect much from either offense in this one, to say the least. Derrick Henry will probably do something to make the difference.
Vanderbilt over Austin Peay 34-0
Mississippi State over Northwestern State 52-6
Tennessee over Western Carolina 44-3