AUBURN, Ala. – Getting ready to hit the road for Nashville. Any recommendations on dinner?
This morning, we’ll bang out some picks and predictions from around the country. X-factors for Auburn-Vanderbilt up tonight. Just to spread things out a little bit.
Saturday’s Main Events (all rankings AP, all times CT)
No. 6 LSU Tigers at No. 20 Texas A&M Aggies, 11 a.m. ESPN
Not fair at all this game’s so early, because it could be a classic. Certainly, A&M won’t complain. LSU’s a little more mortal in the morning. Still, could see this one playing out similarly to the Florida game in College Station.
Brenner picks: Tigers 17, Aggies 16
Auburn Tigers at Vanderbilt Commodores, 11:21 a.m. SEC Network
Fourth quarter: Foes 62, Auburn 3. The Commodores have played tough teams and played ‘em tough. They’re speaking and acting confidently. They can be run on, but also know how to tighten up in spots, and forget about throwing on them if you don’t (ahem) have a stable passing game. They have one of the SEC’s best receivers, probably being matched against true freshmen corners Saturday. They’re 6-1 at home against unranked opponents under James Franklin. Fourth quarter: Foes 62, Auburn 3. Auburn has Clint Moseley starting at quarterback basically by default, and while he quite efficient in his first start, he faded in the second half. Right tackle and mike linebacker remain question marks halfway through the season. The Tigers’ best two overall games of the year – by far – were at night. Nobody at the top of the program, when asked, seemed to mind at the mention of Pat Dye’s denunciation. Fourth quarter: Foes 62, Auburn 3. And much as I hate doing the whole “without Cam Newton” thing, Gene Chizik goes into Saturday with a lifetime 9-27 record against conference opponents without Newton.
Am I missing something here? Only the idea that, naturally, I’ll be dead wrong because this is how it works with bold-typing sportswriters.
Brenner picks: Commodores 27, Tigers 13
No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders at Texas Christian Horned Frogs, 2:30 p.m. ABC
It can’t and shouldn’t sit well with Auburn fans that Tommy Tuberville’s enjoying the toast of the town after destroying West Virginia. Tough follow-up assignment, but the Red Raiders are up to the task. By the way, Tuberville’s seat was warm when the season began. Goes to show how quickly things change.
Brenner picks: Red Raiders 34, Horned Frogs 26
No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats at No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers, 6 p.m. FOX
I’ve developed something called the ‘Nickelback All-Stars.’ It’s an assortment of people, teams, programs, movies, etc. which continuously receives the wrath of the general public for no other reason than receiving the wrath of the general public. As in, they’re widespread popular, but many go out of their way to express their distaste for them. Like, waaaaaay out of their way. On the list right behind Nickelback – they’re just a rock band, the orange-level hate is over the top – would be guys/things like Bill Simmons, Gus Johnson, Will Ferrell, fantasy football, Glee, televised poker, and so on and so forth. (I’m not saying I like all those figures; I don’t. But they’re on the list.) If you don’t like ‘em, don’t consume ‘em. Let others who enjoy them do so without getting treated like a degenerate. The point of all this is, I expect nothing less than a barn-burner in the hills of Morgantown which results in Geno Smith doing the deed and sending ol Gus’ head launching off his body to hang out with Felix Baumgartner in the stratosphere.
Brenner picks: Mountaineers 44, Wildcats 21
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks at No. 3 Florida Gators, 2:30 p.m. CBS
Apparently, the flu bug passing through Steve Spurrier’s locker room shouldn’t affect Saturday’s game. Even if it doesn’t, South Carolina needs to get bit by the upset bug. Florida has the Gamecocks’ number: 23-6-3 in the series, 12-1 in Gainesville. Spurrier’s gotten the best of his alma mater both times since Tim Tebow left, but this reloaded Florida squad won’t let it happen again.
Brenner picks: Gators 24, Gamecocks 13
@Wisconsin 48, Minnesota 27. Badgers have scored between 31 and 49 points in each of the last 12 meetings. Eight-game winning streak for Wisconsin. Are the Golden Gophers still aware of the existence of a giant axe? Do they know what it looks like? Can they really call Paul Bunyan’s Axe a traveling trophy if it never goes anywhere?
@No. 14 Clemson 44, Virginia Tech 13. What’s the opposite of “that escalated quickly?” That descended quickly? The Hokies are the anti-Ron Burgundy. By the way, Clemson’s averaged 44.4 points per game over the last five, since Auburn held Tajh Boyd to 26 in Atlanta.
Iowa State 24, @Oklahoma State 20. Upset pick. In the Cyclones I believe.
No. 22 Stanford 27, @California 19. Cal might be the hardest team in the country to peg. Perhaps the Cardinal can restore order.
@No. 23 Michigan 31, Michigan State 17. This game, arguably the hottest rivalry in its conference (not the best, the hottest) is on Big Ten Network. Shows you what kind of season the Big Ten’s having.
Boston College 43, @Georgia Tech 40. Bet Matt Ryan makes an appearance (Falcons bye week) to fire up the ol’ troops, after getting licked by Florida Seminoles.
Nebraska 46, @Northwestern 28. Cornhuskers will be fired up after the Wildcats embarrassed them in Lincoln last year, as part of Nebraska’s Big Ten initiation.
NC State 26, @Maryland 20. Key is the Wolf Pack keeping their mojo after two weeks to relish the Florida State triumph.
Louisiana-Monroe 38, @Western Kentucky 35. Sun Belt title on the line! Go find it on the internet mid-afternoon.
@No. 11 USC 63, Colorado 14. Buffs are at Oregon next week. Will Colorado allow more or less than 130 points these next eight days? Lord have mercy. No, seriously, Lord, spare some mercy on CU.
No. 1 Alabama 38, @Tennessee 10. Nice try, new Browns owner and Tennessee booster. Can we go back to the days when owners were better-used spending and not talking?
No. 13 Georgia 45, @Kentucky 7. Aaron Murray reminds us he’s still here.
@Toledo 45, No. 21 Cincinnati 35. Rockets launching? Six-game winning streak, and Cincy’s not equipped to stop Toledo.
No. 12 Florida State 38, @Miami 14. The Seminoles are going to be laying in the national-title weeds for a while.
@Texas 43, Baylor 30. Not a good vibe around Austin right now, but the Longhorns have the better team, better coach, better history and home-field advantage.
Last week: 12-5
Track record: 56-30