After flying out of the gate, I took a tumble last week. My Louisville-Kentucky pick was wrong, but at least I don’t actually play for the Cardinals, because that would be embarrassing. Remember, this week’s picks are correct 60 percent of the time, every time.
No. 20 Texas A&M at Miami (Fla.), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. – ESPN/ESPN 360
The Hurricanes looked awful in their only test of the season at Oklahoma and didn’t show much improvement last weekend in a lackluster win over Florida International. This could mean trouble for the once-proud program as the Aggies roll into the Orange Bowl. Texas A&M has put up big offensive numbers this season, averaging 46 points per game, and Miami doesn’t have much on the other side of the ball to stop Aggie quarterback Stephen McGee (think Dennis Dixon from Oregon). The only chance for the Hurricanes to win is if they can match Texas A&M point for point in a shootout. Senior quarterback Kyle Wright has the experience, but must do better than his 1:1 interception-to-touchdown ratio in limited play if he wants to give his team a shot. Miami coach Randy Shannon will eventually turn this program around, but this won’t be the game to do it.
Texas A&M 34, Miami (Fla.) 14
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 2 Louisiana State, 3:30 p.m. – CBS
Nothing is more annoying than the Under Armor commercial featuring South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, and for the ad alone, I should pick against the Gamecocks. But they tell me I have to base my decision on something football-related. The Tigers have the nation’s best defense and South Carolina is No. 67 in total offense – I think that about does it. And besides, Louisiana State’s offense isn’t bad, either. The lowest point total for the Tigers this year is 44, and that was without their starting quarterback or No. 1 receiver. Louisiana State dropped 48 points on a Virginia Tech team whose strength was its defense. However you look at it, the Tigers are a much better team than the Gamecocks. Spurrier is a great college coach, and if I had to make a short list of coaches that could figure the Tigers out, he’d be on it. And his win at Georgia may have pleased the alumni. But it isn’t enough to prove that South Carolina is ready to play with the big boys of the Southeastern Conference. Did I mention the game is being played in Death Valley?
Louisiana State 27, South Carolina 10
No. 22 Georgia at No. 16 Alabama, 7:45 p.m. – ESPN
It’s fun enough when a conference has one matchup between two top-25 teams, but the Southeastern Conference has two this weekend. The Crimson Tide faithful continued to pat themselves on the back for their faith in coach Nick Saban following an exciting win over Arkansas last weekend. Sure, Alabama almost blew a 31-10 lead in the second half, but it’s all about the ‘W,’ right? Now, the program looks poised to be a force this season and beyond. Meanwhile, Bulldog coach Mark Richt continues to take solid talent and turn out a mediocre product. Georgia bounced back from a 16-12 loss to South Carolina by thrashing Western Carolina, but it feels as if the annual letdown is happening earlier and earlier for the Bulldogs. What’s next, losing to a Division I-AA in your home opener? Saban will have his team ready to go and the home crowd will be hungry for another big conference win.