Nick Saban travels to Baton Rouge, where he won a national championship just five years ago. Les Miles won a championship last year, but his Tigers have taken a step back this year. Without Bo Pelini to run the defense, LSU gave up 50+ points to both Florida and Georgia. LSU has some talent on the D-Line, but Knowshon Moreno ran wild on the Tigers. That means the Crimson Tide can do what they do best and hammer Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch behind that massive offensive line. That will take the pressure off John Parker Wilson who will be able to make a couple plays to blossoming wideout Julio Jones. The Tide stays unbeaten.
J.Pike’s Pick: Alabama 25, LSU 17
#1-t Penn State @ Iowa
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN)
Iowa has been the trendy upset pick this week. Unfortunately if you have seen either team play at all you’d know that Penn State will win this game without much difficulty. Iowa has had to rely solely on their tailback Shonn Greene because of the revolving door at quarterback. Greene is a solid back (139.7 yards per game), but Penn State’s defense is way too good to allow a one-man offense to score many points. Plus, the Nittany Lions seniors won’t let the team get a big head, and the upset talk will have them more focused than ever. Penn State wins this one going away.
J.Pike’s Pick: Penn State 27, Iowa 6
#8 Oklahoma State @ #3 Texas Tech
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Texas Tech pulled off a big upset over top ranked Texas a week ago with an excellent performance. But can the Red Raiders get as jacked up for Oklahoma State as they were against Texas? If they can, they’ll stay undefeated. But I think it’s near impossible to get that up for two games in a row, and Oklahoma State has a few more offensive weapons than the Longhorns had to offer. Running back Kendall Hunter is one of the best backs in the Big XII and he’ll have better luck against the Tech front than the Texas running game did. Also look out for tight end Brandon Pettigrew – he’ll have a huge game and end up making the difference. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like the mental makeup of this Oklahoma State team. Coach Mike Gundy doesn’t let his team get too up or too down, and that will pay big dividends on Saturday night as they go to Lubbock and pull off the upset.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 35
Baylor @ #4 Texas
(Saturday, 11 am, FSN)
This one is worth getting up early for. Getting to see freshman quarterback Robert Griffin go up against Will Muschamp and the Longhorn defense should be a treat. Texas is without the services of stud defensive end Brian Orakpo though, who was injured against Texas Tech. That leaves Roy Miller, Sergio Kindle, and Roddrick Muckelroy to chase after Griffin. Griffin is an excellent player and new head coach Art Briles has this program headed the right direction. After taking Missouri down to the wire last week, the Bears will continue to improve as they make another strong showing in Austin this weekend. Unfortunately Briles doesn’t have enough complementary players yet to beat Texas.
J.Pike’s Pick: Texas 42, Baylor 24
J.Pike Guarantee: Baylor will make at least one bowl game during Robert Griffin’s career
#5 Florida @ Vanderbilt
(Saturday, 7 pm, ESPN 2)
The Vanderbilt secondary is good enough to cause the Florida passing game some problems. But the speed of Jeffrey Demps and Percy Harvin out of the backfield will be enough to counter that Vandy advantage. Ever since Bobby Johnson went away from Chris Nickson at quarterback, the Vanderbilt offense has lost the ability to score consistently against SEC defenses. He was a player opposing defenses had to game plan for, and although Mackenzi Adams is a solid player, he doesn’t have that same effect. All of these factors add up to a Gator win.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida 31, Vanderbilt 13
#6 Oklahoma @ Texas A&M
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
I’m starting to think the jig is up. Oklahoma hasn’t been dominant on defense for a couple years now, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the amount of coaches they have lost from the coaching staff on that side of the ball or if they just don’t have the same caliber of player anymore. Either way, it has become a trend rather than a fluke. So don’t write the Aggies off so quickly in this game. Quarterback Jarrod Johnson is proving week after week that he should have been playing ahead of Stephen McGee all along, and he has the talent to put the A&M offense on his broad shoulders and score 30+ against the Sooners. The problem is Mike Sherman inherited a roster completely void of any defensive talent. Sam Bradford shouldn’t have a problem putting points on the board against the woeful Aggie defense, but again – don’t be surprised if the outcome is still in doubt deep into the third quarter.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma 47, Texas A&M 34
#17 California @ #7 USC
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Oh no, this one could be ugly. Jeff Tedford finally realized his team was better with Kevin Riley at quarterback, but Riley suffered a concussion in the first quarter last week against Oregon. Cal held on to win with Nate Longshore at quarterback, but that was a fluke. If Longshore has to play against USC you can count on him throwing at least two picks and allowing the Trojans to pick up another easy Pac-10 victory. If Riley plays though, give the Bears a shot. Cal running back Jahvid Best is one of the fastest players in the nation and he could give the USC defense fits if he gets any help at all from the passing game.
J.Pike’s Pick: USC 32, California 20
Saturday morning update: Cal QB Kevin Riley will sit out this game with a concussion, which means Nate Longshore will get the start.
#9 Georgia @ Kentucky
(Saturday, 11:30 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
Both of these teams have suffered an alarming number of key injuries this season. That means it will come down to depth, and Georgia wins that battle every time. Oh yeah, there’s also the Knowshon Moreno advantage – Georgia has him and Kentucky doesn’t. This won’t be the prettiest game of the weekend, but Georgia will get back on the right track with a hard fought victory over Rich Brooks’ pesky Wildcats.
J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 23, Kentucky 10