Jones: Will No. 1 go down again this week?

Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones

With still a month to go in the regular season, many have already begun to label the 2010 Iron Bowl as “the game of the year” in college football. That could be the case, but the Tide and the Tigers still have some hurdles to jump before we get there.

Last week, we were almost perfect with our picks, going 13-2. That takes me to 95-25 on the season for a winning percentage of .791 on the year. For the past three weeks, I have picked the top team to lose. This week, the top team is Oregon. Will I go for four in a row? Read on and let’s see what the gridiron seashell has to say about it.

(#5) Michigan St. at (#18) Iowa – This was one of the most exciting football games last season as Iowa came from behind and scored on the last play of the game to win at Spartan Stadium. The Spartan’s should win this game against a good Top 25 foe, but if they start out like they did last week, having to come from 17 points down, they won’t. Michigan State 30 – Iowa 21

(#8) Utah at Air Force – Air Force is not a bad team. They have some athletes, but their offense is sputtering, last week only producing 231 total yards. The Utes, another one of the many undefeated teams still shooting for a championship, have an effective offense and defense. Air Force can put up a fight if they can find a way to make their offense work. If not, it could be another long day for the Falcons. Utah 38 – Air Force 21

(#7) Missouri at (#14) Nebraska – Don’t tell me that Missouri can’t play football. They proved it last week in their 36-27 win over top-ranked Oklahoma. Nebraska forgot about the loss to Texas and played well last week, giving Oklahoma State their first loss of the season. Husker QB Taylor Martinez is probably the best young QB in college football. He and his Husker teammates will give Mizzou all they want and more, and at the end of the day, Nebraska will be back in the Top 10 and the nation will have one less undefeated team. Nebraska 24 – Missouri 23

(#25) Baylor at Texas – At 4-3, this season is obviously not going the way the Longhorns were hoping. Baylor, on the other hand, is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1993. Against conference foes, Baylor is averaging 42 points per game and 602 yards of offense. There is no way, however, that Texas is going to lose a third straight home game. Especially not to Baylor. I don’t care if they are ranked or not. Some Longhorn frustration could even make this game ugly. Texas 33 – Baylor 14

UAB at Southern Miss – As you know from reading this column in the past, the one team that I can never seem to pick correctly is UAB. For a while, I considered banning them altogether. Games they are suppose to lose, they win (or come close to winning such as last weeks against Mississippi State) and games they should win, they often lose. You would think that last weeks game would give the Blazers some sort of moral victory as they prepare to travel to Hattiesburg to take on the Golden Eagles. But “The Rock” is a tough place to play on the road, and while I believe that UAB has a good chance to win this one, I’m going to go against my better judgment and give this one to Southern Miss. Southern Miss 24 – UAB 21

Georgia vs. Florida – Question – How much money would Florida pay if they could buy Tim Tebow and bring him back? Neither of these SEC teams is having the season they expected, but this should be a fun game to watch with the Gators coming off a bye week and the Bulldogs enjoying being a slight favorite in this contest. While fans don’t really have anything to do with the outcome of a game, it surprises me how the Georgia fans that I know almost expect to LOSE on a weekly basis. If your fans expect you to lose, how does that translate into momentum coming out of the locker room? Well, it doesn’t. But Dawg fans, you are not alone, because I don’t think you are going to win this week either. Florida 28 – Georgia 21

(#19) Arkansas vs Vandy – Arkansas had a much more balanced attack last week rushing for 197 yards and passing for 196. Although Vandy held South Carolina close, they could never generate any offense to score in their loss to the Gamecocks. The Commodores have to find a way to keep Mr. Mallet and company out of the end zone and hope that their own offense can find a way to it. Arkansas 35 – Vandy 14

(#23) Mississippi State vs. Kentucky – How about those Bulldogs? They are 6-2 on the season, they have won five in a row, they are ranked in the Top 25, and are on a five game winning streak. State’s offense averages 28 points per game, but the Wildcats give up and average of 31 points per game. I love what Dan Mullen is doing with this team and I’m not expecting any let up this week. Mississippi State 35 – Kentucky 27

(#17) South Carolina vs. Tennessee – Following the beat down that the Vols received from the Tide last week, now they find out that freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore should be back out of the field for the Gamecocks on Saturday. Lattimore has 10 TD’s in his first six games for Carolina. He will likely add to that total come tomorrow. South Carolina 42 – Tennessee 24

(#3) Auburn at Ole Miss – My advice to Auburn fans would be, before you poke your chest out because of your BCS No. 1 ranking, keep in mind that you are a member of the SEC, and no matter WHAT the records say, you have to show up every Saturday and bring your best to the table. With that being said, Ole Miss is a bad football team. They show signs of being a good team occasionally, but for the most part, they are ineffective. Auburn, on the other hand, leads the SEC in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, and pass efficiency. They average 38 points per game and Ole Miss gives up an average of 35. Auburn should win easily…I said SHOULD. Auburn 42 – Ole Miss 24

Other games:
(#22) Miami 28 – Virginia 14
(#10) Ohio State 44 – Minnesota 3
(#4) TCU 48 – UNLV 3
South Alabama 28 – Georgia State 27

Upset of the Week:
(#1) Oregon at (#24) Southern California – Okay, so the Ducks are 7-0, 4-0 in conference play, and look as good as any team in the country. They have the best offense in the country, averaging 569 yards per game, they average 55.4 points per game, and last season, Oregon gave the Trojans their worst lost in over a decade. But you know what? For the past 3 weeks I have picked the top team to lose and they’ve lost, so why not make it four in a row? How is that for reasoning? USC 34 – Oregon 31
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at djones@gulfcoastnewspapers.com