The picks are in: Predictions on college games around the country this weekend

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 1, 2013 

It's just been one of those days.

Let's just say it involved the phrases "Hartsfield-Jackson Airport," "four flight delays" and "mad dash to catch another flight roughly 10 minutes before it departed." Figure out the rest yourself.

So I'll put it to you straight: There will be a more detailed prognostication for "The Game You Really Care About," also known as "Whatever Game Auburn is Involved In." As for the others? You'll have to be satisfied with what you get.

(Just to get it out there, I went 10-5 last week, rebounding from an inexcusable 7-8 mark the prior weekend.)

Let the picking begin! (As per usual, the times listed below are Eastern. Please note this if you haven't already.)

Strictly SEC

Mississippi State at No. 14 South Carolina, 12:21 p.m.

The good news for Mississippi State: It finally picked up its first conference win of the season last week.

The bad news: It came against Kentucky.

Verdict: South Carolina, is, how shall we say, a bit stiffer competition than the Wildcats?

Black picks: Gamecocks 41, Bulldogs 20

Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.), 3:30 p.m.

This game is for bragging rights only. But wow, are there a lot of injured players on both sides.

I'm going with Georgia simply because I don't trust Florida's offense to be able to put up enough points to win — even against a defense as bad as the Bulldogs field.

Black picks: Bulldogs 34, Gators 24

Tennessee at No. 9 Missouri, 7 p.m.

Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs will make his first career start at quarterback on Saturday since Justin Worley is out indefinitely with a thumb injury.

Hmm ... so a true freshman has to play on the road against a Missouri team still smarting from last week's double-overtime loss to South Carolina?

Methinks this won't end so well for the Volunteers.

Black picks: Tigers 55, Volunteers 17

Alabama State at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m.

No, I'm not picking Alabama State here.

But lemme tell ya — I was mighty tempted. Mighty tempted. (And yes, for those wondering, this is the school former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell plays for.)

I'll add that the Carver alum is doing pretty well, leading the team in both rushing yards (833) and rushing touchdowns (12).

Black picks: Wildcats 42, Hornets 30

Other National Games of Some Renown

No. 24 Wisconsin at Iowa, Noon

No. 8 Clemson at Virginia, 3:30 p.m.

No. 21 Michigan at No. 22 Michigan State, 3:30 p.m.

Black picks: THE ROAD TEAMS

No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m.

OK, so Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury might not have a "bus" like Gus Malzahn. Perhaps it's a "kart" instead?

Regardless, even if the "Kingsbury Karavan" now has a wobbly wheel after suffering its first loss of the season last Saturday to Oklahoma, I think Texas Tech bounces back this week.

(Also, whoever wins this game will pick up its first noteworthy victory of the year, as only the Red Raiders have beaten a ranked opponent; of course, that foe was then-No. 24 TCU, which now owns a 3-5 overall record.)

Black picks: Red Raiders 48, Cowboys 38

Quick hits

Virginia Tech at Boston College, Noon

North Carolina at North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m.

Wake Forest at Syracuse, 12:30 p.m.

Black picks: THE ROAD TEAMS — AGAIN

Northwestern at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m.

There's little doubt in my mind Nebraska should win this game — Northwestern is 0-4 in conference play, after all.

I'm more interested in trying to figure out how many questions Bo Pelini receives about his brother Carl's bizarre ouster at Florida Atlantic.

Black picks: Cornhuskers 45, Wildcats 17

Southern Cal at Oregon State, 9 p.m.

USC is obviously playing better football since they kicked Lane Kiffin to the curb, with the Trojans sporting a 2-1 record with Ed Orgeron running the show.

I can't go against Oregon State here, though, as its only loss (aside from that season-opening defeat to FCS member Eastern Washington) was a hard-fought, 20-12 decision to Stanford last week.

Black picks: Beavers 41, Trojans 27

(A side note: Before you say, "Wow Ryan, you picked some really terrible matchups this week," I implore you to look at this week's schedule. The phrase "squeezing blood from a turnip" comes to mind here.

The Game You Really Care About

No. 11 Auburn at Arkansas, 6 p.m.

Arkansas has had a week off to rest up since its last outing, a 52-0 loss at the hands of top-ranked Alabama. More importantly, it has given the Razorbacks an extra week to prepare for the Tigers' rushing attack. Knowing a win is the first step to salvaging its season — as well as putting a damper on what has been a remarkable year for Auburn up to this point — Arkansas will play impassioned for at least a quarter and a half.

But there's a reason the Razorbacks have lost five straight games and are winless in conference play: they're too one-dimensional. Stacking the box and forcing Arkansas to pass plays right into Auburn's hands, as the Razorbacks will have numerous three-and-outs and fleeting, unfruitful possessions.

Meanwhile, Auburn's tailbacks won't have a problem finding success against one of the SEC's worst rush defenses. Though Auburn backers want to see Gus Malzahn run it up, the Arkansas native opts for a conservative approach with a big lead in the final period.

Black picks: Tigers 49, Razorbacks 20

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State, 8 p.m.

The way Florida State is playing right now, I'm not picking against the Seminoles until someone knocks them off. Miami has always given them fits, but as I've said before, previous FSU squads didn't have Jameis Winston.

Black’s pick: Seminoles 31, Hurricanes 21

Last week: 10-5

Season: 101-34

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