Alabama is off Saturday, but Auburn and Jacksonville State are hosting important games.
JSU still is alive in the chase to make the FCS playoffs, and Auburn still can make the SEC Championship Game. At the top of the West Division, Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss each have one loss.
We’re thinking one will win and one will lose this weekend:
Central Arkansas at Jacksonville State (3-4): The Gamecocks probably shouldn’t have started the year by playing two FBS teams. The loss to UAB and the win over Florida State took a physical toll on the Gamecocks, and they’re still recovering.
Even so, JSU just isn’t a very productive team this year. The numbers don’t lie: 93rd nationally in total offense, 85th in rushing offense, 79th in passing offense, 91st in total defense, 95th in rushing defense, 85th in passing defense.
They sit in the bottom one-third nationally in most every statistic. The exception is turnover margin (tied for 39th), but JSU coughed up the ball three times in last week’s loss to Sam Houston.
Certainly, games are determined by people and not statistics, but the statistics say that JSU probably has overperformed to get to 3-4. Or, you could say the Gamecocks have underperformed, and that’s why the numbers are so bad. Your choice. ... Central Arkansas 24, Jacksonville State 20.
No. 10 Ole Miss (6-1) at No. 18 Auburn (5-2): For all the headset-throwing, clipboard-kicking and popcorn-eating Lane Kiffin does, he’s actually a pretty decent coach. He hasn’t stayed anywhere long enough for us to know if it will work in the long term, but he’s got the Rebels playing interesting football.
They’ve beaten Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU in the last three games, but Auburn is better. In addition, Auburn is at home. ... Auburn 33, Ole Miss 30.
No. 1 Georgia (7-0) at Florida (4-3): The Bulldogs’ defense is the best in the country, and it’s unlikely it will let down soon. Georgia is first nationally in total defense and scoring defense and No. 2 in rushing defense and passing defense. If that defense ever slumps, keep in mind that the Georgia offense is solid, but not necessarily explosive. ... Georgia 31, Florida 9.
No. 6 Michigan (7-0) at No. 8 Michigan State (7-0): Michigan State has the nation’s leading rusher in Kenneth Walker III, who is averaging 142.4 yards a game. Also, the Spartans’ Jayden Reed leads the country with 23.3 yards a punt return.
Michigan is second in the nation in scoring defense and fifth in rushing offense. ... Michigan 24, Michigan State 17.
Texas Tech (5-3) at No. 4 Oklahoma (8-0): A rather hum-drum schedule has challenged the Sooners, nonetheless. Four of the wins came by a touchdown or less, and they needed a late rally to beat Kansas 35-23 last week. ... Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech 31.
No. 20 Penn State (5-2) at No. 5 Ohio State (6-1): Ohio State has won eight of the last nine, including four straight. ... Ohio State 28, Penn State 20.
Texas (4-3) at No. 16 Baylor (6-1): For all of Baylor’s issues, the Bears could be headed to their sixth 10-win season in 11 seasons. They’ve also had a season each of one and two wins in that stretch. ... Baylor 35, Texas 31.
Virginia (6-2) at No. 25 Brigham Young (6-2): Count the season as a success already for BYU. Earlier this season, the Cougars snapped a nine-game losing streak to Utah. They’re on a roll as they head to the Big 12 Conference, starting with the 2023 football season. ... BYU 26, Virginia 20.
No. 12 Kentucky (6-1) at Mississippi State (4-3): The Wildcats have won three of the last five in this series but all of those came in Lexington. Kentucky hasn’t won at Starkville since 2008. ... Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 27.
Missouri (3-4) at Vanderbilt (2-6): Vanderbilt has lost 17 straight SEC games, dating back to a 2019 win over Missouri. ... Missouri 27, Vanderbilt 10.
Last week: 9-1. Missed on North Carolina State’s one-point loss to Miami.