AUBURN, Ala. — 7-8. That was my pathetic record last week. Maybe it was karma, since I got away from my promise of writing concisely and trying to keep this picks column from going on for days.
Since I can't do any worse than last week, I'll try a different approach: No more than 2-3 sentences on each prediction.
Let's just get to the picks. (As per usual, the times listed below are Eastern. Please schedule accordingly.)
Strictly SECVanderbilt at No. 16 Texas A&M, 12:21
I was wrong about both of these teams' games last week (Georgia/Vandy and Auburn/Texas A&M). Johnny Manziel may or may not be 100 percent after that hit from LaDarius Owens. Regardless, I'm still not picking the Aggies to lose two straight games.
Black picks: Aggies 52, Commodores 31
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama, 3:30 p.m.
Tennessee has played better the past two weeks. The Volunteers will play better against the Crimson Tide than they have since 2009 (when they lost 12-10 on a last-second field goal block), but it won't be enough to give them their first road victory in three years.
Black picks: Crimson Tide 34, Volunteers 17
No. 21 South Carolina at No. 5 Missouri, 7 p.m.
Maty Mauk didn't look too bad in his college debut last week, huh? Eight scoring drives against one of the top defenses in the nation isn't too shabby. And South Carolina's defense ain't Florida's.
Black picks: Tigers 37, Gamecocks 24
Other National Games of Some RenownNo. 24 Nebraska at Minnesota, Noon
Talk about two teams I honestly can't figure out.
I'm taking the Cornhuskers on the basis of their one loss (to UCLA) being better than the Golden Gophers' two defeats (Iowa and Michigan). Also, Nebraska has won 16 straight meetings between these two teams.
Black picks: Cornhuskers 45, Golden Gophers 21
Wake Forest at No. 7 Miami, Noon
How free do you think the Hurricanes are going to be playing now that the NCAA investigation that has hung over their heads for years is finally done with?
And how much better does it make them feel that their first game with the investigation in the books comes against a team that has never beaten them since they joined the ACC in 2003?
Black picks: Hurricanes 59, Demon Deacons 16
Duke at No. 14 Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Don't look now, but Duke is 5-2! (Just don't mention the fact those wins came over North Carolina Central, Memphis, Troy, Navy and Virginia.)
Of that group, only Troy has a winning record, and the Trojans are 4-3.
Also, Virginia Tech is continuing to glide along since that season-opening loss to Alabama.
Black picks: Hokies 31, Blue Devils 17
NC State at No. 2 Florida State, 3:30 p.m.
In previous years, Florida State would drop a game like this coming off a dominant victory like last week.
Those Seminole squads didn't have Jameis Winston, though.
Black picks: Seminoles 42, Wolfpack 14
No. 9 Clemson at Maryland, 3:30 p.m.
Clemson isn't going to let one loss turn into two, right? Besides, Maryland lost to Florida State 63-0, while Clemson at least managed 14 against the Seminoles.
It will be closer than it needs to be, but the Tigers will pull out a road win.
Black picks: Tigers 42, Terrapins 34
No. 10 Texas Tech at No. 15 Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m.
Everyone knows I've been on the "Kliff Kingsbury Train" since he took over in Lubbock. "Big Mouth," er, "Big Game Bob (Stoops)?" Not so much.
(A word of advice for Mr. Stoops: Stop talking trash about the SEC until, you know, your team actually beats one in a bowl or something.)
Black picks: Red Raiders 48, Sooners 38
Penn State at No. 4 Ohio State, 8 p.m.
The Nittany Lions ended the perfect season of the Buckeyes' arch-rival, Michigan, two weeks ago. The only problem? That game was at home.
This one isn't.
Black picks: Buckeyes 34, Nittany Lions 20
No. 6 Stanford at No. 25 Oregon State, 10:30 p.m.
Look Stanford, I'm sorry for jumping off the bandwagon after the UCLA loss. That's on me. Put up a one-sided victory here, and I might even consider picking you against Oregon.
Black picks: Cardinal 28, Beavers 17
Quick hitsBoston College at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m.
Come on, who would have thought at the beginning of the season Boston College would enter this game with a better record than North Carolina?
I know I wouldn't have been part of that group.
Black picks: Eagles 31, Tar Heels 27
Texas at TCU, 7:30 p.m.
The Horned Frogs have alternated wins and losses since the start of the season. This week, it means TCU is due for a win.
But I say the Longhorns break that streak, so mark the Horned Frogs down for consecutive defeats for the first time in 2013.
Black picks: Longhorns 30, Horned Frogs 24
The Game You Really Care AboutFlorida Atlantic at No. 11 Auburn, 7:30 p.m.
Let's be real here — there isn't any question Auburn will win this game. All the Tigers need to do is avoid injuries to any key players. That shouldn't be too difficult, since their starters should be done by the end of the first half if they play up to the level they're capable of.
Black picks: Tigers 45, Owls 14
GAME OF THE WEEKNo. 12 UCLA at No. 3 Oregon, 7 p.m.
Check out this stat from ESPN: "UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has been sacked 65 times over the last year and a half — 10 more times than any other FBS quarterback. Oregon ranks third in the league with 20 sacks this season."
Oh, and the Ducks are averaging nearly 58 points per game.
Black’s pick: Ducks 52, Bruins 21
Last week: 7-8