Conference match-ups dominate this week's college football picks. The Big 12 features the Red River Rivalry (OU vs. Texas at Dallas). The Big 10 sees Ohio State travelling to Nebraska. And the SEC has Florida at LSU.
Here are my top five picks of the week:
1. Oklahoma vs. Texas (at Dallas) (Noon, ABC) -
The Sooners are looking like the class of the Big 12, and this annual rivalry game should give them the statement game they are looking for. The Longhorns are much improved over last season and have something to prove. They just don't have enough manpower to match-up with the Sooners. Favored by 10 points, OU wins by more!
2. Texas A&M at Texas Tech (7:00 p.m., FX) -
Guess which team is undefeated? Yep, Tech. And TAMU has something to prove. Over the past two weeks, the Aggies have blown halftime leads of 17 and 18 points and now they face a Tech team that also has something to prove. The Red Raiders offense ranks 8th in the country, but their defense is 102nd. A&M is just the opposite...84th in offense and 7th in total defense. Should be a shootout. Texas Tech gets 8-1/2 points at home and I am calling for the upset.
3. Ohio State at Nebraska (8:00 p.m., ABC) -
Nebraska is coming off a potentially devastating loss at Wisconsin. Coach Bo Pelini said he was embarrassed. He should have been. The Badgers made Big Red look like an expansion team (in the Big Ten, they are...). Defensively, Ohio State has been decent this season. Offensively, they are hurting (106th in the nation). If the Buckeyes defense can contain Huskers QB Taylor Martinez, OSU will upset Nebraska. If, however, Martinez runs the ball (he is less likely to turn it over that way) and the Blackshirts show up on defense, Nebraska gets their first Big Ten win. Favored by 11, I believe the will cover.
4. Florida at LSU (3:30 p.m., CBS) -
The Gators have the toughest back-to-back games of any team this season. Last week, they hosted Alabama...now they travel to Baton Rouge to face an even better SEC team. Things won't be any better as LSU is on a roll. Their NFL-like defense should have a field day against the youthful Gators offense. LSU easily covers the 11 points!
5. Georgia at Tennessee (7:00 p.m., ESPN2) -
Once a season I have to feature the Vols, since my wife, Edith, graduated from that fine university...and this is the week. The Georgia Bulldogs travel to Knoxville, and get to see a lot of orange...and listen to a lot of "Rocky Top". QB Taylor Bray leads the SEC's top offense at home against a good Georgia defense. UT coach Derek Dooley is the son of former Georgia coach Bill Dooley...and even the Georgia people like Derek. No animosity at all, especially since he is very respectful of Georgia. This series has been played since 1897, but not annually. Whatever familial ties may bind these rivals, though, this is a weird series. Since the divisional split two decades ago, the general (though by no means universal) trend has been toward close games only when one team was thought to be demonstrably superior to the other heading into the game . . . and then the winner tends to be what was thought to be the inferior squad: Tennessee upended Georgia by three points in 1992 and by five points in 2004, while the Bulldogs upset the Volunteers by two points in 2001. It is when the two teams appear relatively evenly matched that unexpected blowouts occur. In 1997 (No. 9 vs. No. 13), 1998 (No. 4 vs. No. 7), 1999 (No. 6 vs. No. 10), 2000 (No. 19 vs. No. 21), 2003 (No. 8 vs. No. 13), 2005 (No. 5 vs. No. 7), 2006 (No. 10 vs. No. 13), 2009 (unranked vs. unranked), and 2010 (unranked vs. unranked), what were expected to be nail biters turned into thumpings. I don't know what accounts for that trend, but it clearly exists, so I anticipate it will continue on Saturday night. Georgia has certainly played (more) superior teams this season (Boise State, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Mississippi and Mississippi State) than has Tennessee (a murderers row featuring Montana, Cincinnati, Florida and Buffalo...). To make my wife happy, and because it goes against logic, I will pick Tennessee +2 to win this game.