PICKS: Will Tide survive undefeated Bulldogs? Will Tigers win another game?

Dale Jones

Sports in Paradise
by Dale Jones

Alabama? Oregon? Florida? Notre Dame? Who is going to win out in the end?

What about Kansas State? And yes, even LSU won’t go away as they climb back up in the polls.

Week nine brings us some very interesting contests that might help us filter out some of the madness.

I enjoyed an almost perfect week of prognostications last Saturday, missing only one game and going 14-1. That takes my season record to 92-28 for a .766 winning percentage. Hopefully we can keep it going this week, but this week there are some biggies.

That being said, here is what will happen this coming Saturday:

UAB @ Tulane
The Blazers keep flirting with wins, but finding a way to lose. Even big games at home have given UAB no advantage. The Blazers have a better defense and a much better offense than the Green Wave, and should be able to get conference win number one on Saturday. UAB 24 – Tulane 17

Troy @ Florida Atlantic
Since opening the season with a win against Wagner, the Owls have dropped six straight, including last week’s close one against South Alabama. Even in their three losses, the Trojans have proven that they can put points on the board. Larry Blakeney’s squad will enjoy a successful trip to Florida on Saturday. Troy 33 – Florida Atlantic 21

Notre Dame @ Oklahoma
The Fighting Irish football team is for real. Ranked No. 5, they have a very balanced offense and a stingy defense. The win over BYU last week was not a pretty sight, but still, Notre Dame found a way to win. Oklahoma, ranked No. 8 in the BCS, will be no pushover. The Sooners have put up 69, 63, and 52 points in three of their five wins, and with this game being played in Norman, one would almost have to give the edge to the home team. Almost – but not this time. Notre Dame 35 – Oklahoma 31.

Nebraska vs. Michigan
Who would have thought, at the beginning of this season, that this Michigan team would struggle with the likes of Air Force or Michigan State? At the same time, Nebraska, with the 12th ranked offense in the country, is just trying to get back into the top 25. A win for the Cornhuskers will tie them up with Michigan in the Big Ten standings, and based on what we have seen this season, a 10-point win against the Wolverines at home would not be that surprising. Nebraska 30 – Michigan 20

Vandy vs. Massachusetts
Coming off of their win over Auburn last Saturday, the Commodores now have a better SEC record than Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Auburn. When was the last time that happened? They could possibly run the table on the rest of their season and wind up 8-4 and in a pretty good bowl game. A winless Minutemen team will not stop their momentum. Vandy 41 – Massachusetts 14

Kentucky vs. Missouri
So here we are in week 9 of the season and both teams are still looking for their first SEC victory. Neither fan base has had much to cheer about this season, so somebody will be happy following the Saturday afternoon contest in Columbia. My guess is it will be the home team. Missouri 27 – Kentucky 10

Ole Miss @ Arkansas
On the ground, the advantage goes to the Rebels. In the air, advantage Arkansas. After getting off to a very rough start, the Razorbacks now have back-to-back SEC wins and hope to make it three in a row. Ole Miss has had a week off to regroup and hopes to get win number five. This game will come down to which defense plays best and which offense makes the fewest mistakes. I like the Rebels in this one. Ole Miss 24 – Arkansas 23

South Carolina vs. Tennessee
Both teams are still trying to recover from the beat down they each took last week. For Steve Spurrier, this game is about pride. For Derek Dooley, it’s about trying to keep his job. On both sides of the ball, South Carolina has a better football team, and the final score will confirm that. South Carolina 28 – Tennessee 24

Florida vs. Georgia
Although all of the anti-SEC football fans won’t acknowledge it, this game could be the best game of the week. The Gators and the Dawgs are battling it out to keep their SEC championship hopes alive. Most SEC fans have always recognized the strength of the Gators on the offensive side of the ball. This year, it is their 7th ranked defense that continues to get the job done, with 20 points being the most scored on them in any one game. Georgia, however, likes to put points up, having scored 41 or more in five of their seven games. Florida is ranked No. 2 in the BCS and the swamp will, no doubt, be rocking. Florida 31 – Georgia 28

Auburn vs. Texas A&M
So what that Auburn has been “in the game” until the fourth quarter of several of their contests. Auburn is bad and is giving no indication that they are improving. The Aggies are enjoying a reasonably good first year in the SEC with several more key games to go. Not sure Auburn will even win another game. Texas A&M 28 – Auburn 21

Other Games to Watch:
Louisiana-Monroe 38 – South Alabama 18
Oregon 45 – Colorado 20
Florida State 27 – Duke 21
USC 31 – Arizona 28

Upset of the Week:
Alabama vs. Mississippi State
Before you Tide fans start sending me hate mail, hear me out. I believe Alabama could very well win the National Championship. They obviously have a very good team. This matchup really is interesting. Both teams are undefeated on the season. They are No. 1 and No. 2 in the SEC West. Alabama has not scored less than 33 points in a game. State has not scored less than 27. The most interesting aspect of this game is the QB stats. McCarron has a completion percentage of 68%, 1,476 yards passing, 16 TDs and no INTs. Tyler Russell is at 60%, 1,573 yards, 15 TD’s, and only 1 INT. Bama has Amari Cooper to catch the ball and State has LaDarius Perkins to run the ball. The biggest red flag I have is that neither team has truly played a tough schedule. State has beaten teams like South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State and Jackson State. At the same time, the teams that Alabama has beaten collectively have a losing (24-25) record. Running the table in the SEC is virtually impossible. Doing it back-to-back is completely impossible. They say all good things must come to an end. Mississippi State 33 – Alabama 31.

—Dale Jones is a syndicated sports columnist, member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association, the Football Writers Association of America, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Email Dale at sportsNparadise@gmail.com or follow on twitter @sportsNparadise.