Mississippi State @ #2 Alabama
(Saturday, 6:45 pm, ESPN)
This game comes down to whether or not Alabama shows up. The fact that the Crimson Tide have lost two in a row to the Croomdawgs means Nick Saban didn’t have to work too hard to get his team’s attention. It will probably still be a hard fought, low scoring game, but I don’t expect Bama to have too much trouble dismissing Mississippi State.
J.Pike’s Pick: Alabama 22, Mississippi State 10
#3 Texas @ Kansas
(Saturday, 11:30 am, FSN)
Simply put, this isn’t the same Kansas team that won a BCS bowl game last year. The Jayhawks definitely miss defensive coordinator Bill Young, who took over the DC job at Miami in the offseason. Kansas is giving up a Big XII worst 276.3 passing yards per game, which means Texas quarterback Colt McCoy should be in for yet another big day. The Longhorns will put this one away early and erase all the recent memories of photo finishes in Lawrence.
J.Pike’s Pick: Texas 42, Kansas 24
South Carolina @ #4 Florida
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS)
I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what to expect from this Florida team on a week to week basis. Urban Meyer’s squad has as much athleticism as any team in the nation, but they seem to rely on their speed more than on Xs and Os. That leaves the door open for any opponent they face to sneak out of town with a win (see Ole Miss earlier this season). South Carolina brings a solid defense to The Swamp, highlighted by speedy defensive end Eric Norwood and tackling machine Emanuel Cook (if Cook ever misses a tackle, let me know). But the Gamecock offense is anything but consistent. Steve Spurrier keeps going back and forth between freshman Stephen Garcia and error prone (but eligible) Chris Smelley, and that leads to drastic ebbs in the cohesiveness of the offense. I would say Garcia should be the guy, but I have a feeling Smelley might come up big in this game. South Carolina will keep it close, but I’ll give Florida the nod.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida 24, South Carolina 18
Indiana @ #5 Penn State
(Saturday, 11 am, Big Ten Network)
After getting knocked out of the national title picture with a loss to Iowa last week, you might think the Nittany Lions would pack it in for the season. But the senior leadership on this team won’t let that happen. Quarterback Darryl Clark has been inconsistent of late, but facing the Big Ten’s worst pass defense should allow him and his three senior receivers to get back on track.
J.Pike’s Pick: Penn State 37, Indiana 13
#6 Utah @ San Diego State
(Saturday, 7 pm, The Mtn.)
The clutch comeback win at home over TCU last Thursday night was huge. Now the Utes get to stretch their legs a little bit and get some backups some valuable game experience because San Diego State doesn’t have a chance to compete in this one. Utah was held to 13 points against the stingy Frog defense, but Brian Johnson and company should have no problem putting points on an Aztec defense that has given up at least 35 points in each of the last six games.
J.Pike’s Pick: Utah 44, San Diego State 7
#7 Oklahoma is IDLE
#8 USC @ Stanford
(Saturday, 6 pm, Versus)
I’ve been calling for it for weeks, so here it is: Stanford will upset USC. Again. I know nobody has forgotten about last season when Jim Harbaugh’s troops marched into the Coleseum and emerged victorious, despite being 42 point underdogs. How did they do it? They played scrappy defense, collecting four sacks and forcing five turnovers. Well, fast forward a year and Stanford is now leading the Pac-10 in sacks. They’ll get to Mark Sanchez and force him to make decisions on the run, which means USC will struggle to score. That opens the door for the surprisingly physical Stanford offense to ride Toby Gerhart and the Pac-10’s second ranked rushing attack to victory. USC has been playing outstanding defense of late, but they haven’t really faced a real challenge during that stretch. Oregon State proved that if you aren’t scared of USC, and you come out and punch them in the mouth, the Trojans will back down. Because there’s no use risking an NFL career for a meaningless college game …
J.Pike’s Pick: Stanford 20, USC 18
#9 Georgia @ Auburn
(Saturday, 11:30 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
My, how the mighty have fallen. Before the season started I circled this game as one of the top five games to watch this year. Auburn was a preseason top 10 team and Georgia started the year at the very top of the polls. Now Georgia is struggling to maintain legitimacy at 8-2 while Auburn wallows in the pit of the SEC at 5-5. This game could be ugly. Auburn is only averaging 13.3 points per game in SEC play, but they can play a little defense when their hearts are in it. Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno’s heart is always in it, and I expect him to carry the Bulldogs this afternoon.
J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 24, Auburn 12
#10 Boise State @ Idaho
(Saturday, 4 pm)
It’s a Potato State showdown! Is Boise State ever going to play anybody again? Idaho is one of the worst teams in Division 1A, and there will probably be more Boise fans at the game than Vandals. Boise makes French fries out of Idaho and rolls to 10-0.
J.Pike’s Pick: Boise State 38, Idaho 6