(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS)
If Ole Miss hadn’t already pulled an upset over Florida earlier this season, I’d be tempted to pick them here. But you can be sure Nick Saban let his team know about that upset every day the last two weeks in preparation for this game. Alabama will lose a game this year because of their inconsistent passing game, but I don’t think it will be this one. They’ll need to make a few plays late in this one though because Houston Nutt can coach and his Rebels will be ready to play.
J.Pike’s Pick: Alabama 23, Ole Miss 22
#9 Missouri at #1-t Texas
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
There’s no way Chase Daniel will play as bad as he did last week again. He hasn’t had a game that bad the past two years and he’ll be going up against a young Texas secondary. If Will Muschamp can mix up the coverages the way Oklahoma State did and confuse Daniel, who often makes his decision on who to throw the ball to before the snap, Texas will be able to hold Mizzou’s potent offense to a reasonable score. But it only takes one mis-step by one of the freshmen safeties for the explosive Jeremy Maclin to take it to the house. Texas is playing with an edge this year – the chemistry and leadership on this team is as good as you’ll find anywhere. Colt McCoy might not win the head-to-head quarterback battle, but his team will get the win by playing better football in all other aspects of the game.
J.Pike’s Pick: Texas 38, Missouri 31
Michigan at #3 Penn State
(Saturday, 3:30 pm, ESPN)
Michigan is in trouble. At 2-4, their record string of 33 consecutive bowl appearances appears to be in jeopardy. That’s why the Wolverine defense will show up here to prove to the nation they aren’t quitters. Make no mistake, Penn State is on a mission this year and they won’t lose this game at home. But don’t be surprised if the Michigan defense keeps it reasonably close.
J.Pike’s Pick: Penn State 27, Michigan 10
#14 Kansas at #4 Oklahoma
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
You can’t ask for more in a head coach than Kansas has in Mark Mangino. His teams play some of the smartest football in the land and they rarely make mistakes. The problem is the talent isn’t on Oklahoma’s level. Kansas will play it close thanks to a passing game that features Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier. But the running game won’t get anything against the Oklahoma defense, and that will be the difference in the game.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma 42, Kansas 28
Vanderbilt at #5 Georgia
(Saturday, 11:30 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
Please fasten your seatbelts and return your tray tables to their upright and locked positions Vanderbilt fans because you are now in the descent portion of your season. I love the effort of this team, and head coach Bobby Johnson is still one of the most underrated commodities in the nation. But they don’t have the talent to compete throughout the season against the likes of Georgia. Watch out though because Vandy’s secondary is legit and they’ll give Matt Stafford a hard time. Knowshon Moreno is the Dawgs not-so-secret weapon and he’ll be the difference in the game.
J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 13
#6 Ohio State at #16 Michigan State
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN 2)
This should be a good old fashioned Big Ten football game. Will Master Tressel be able to maintain his edge over his protégé Mark Dantonio? I’m going to tentatively say yes – but the student is most definitely closing the gap on his teacher. Javon Ringer will prove that he is better than Beanie Wells, but it won’t be enough. The Ohio State defense will take away MSU’s passing game, eliminating their balance. That will allow the remarkably poised freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor to lead the Buckeyes to a late touchdown drive to win the game.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ohio State 19, Michigan State 16
#7 Florida is idle
#10 USC at Washington State
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, FSN)
Washington State is one of the worst teams in the nation thanks to the limited roster new head coach Paul Wulff inherited. USC is still in a post-Leinart/Bush lull – Mark Sanchez threw 3 interceptions last week against a lifeless Arizona State team. USC will win by 30 on talent alone, but I’m still not convinced they are a dominant force.
J.Pike’s Pick: USC 48, Washington State 12