Sidelines with John Clay

College and NFL picks: Is this the year Kentucky snaps the Florida streak?

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) threw for five touchdowns in the Gators’ 53-6 victory over FCS foe Charleston Southern last week in what was Dan Mullen’s debut as UF head coach.
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) threw for five touchdowns in the Gators’ 53-6 victory over FCS foe Charleston Southern last week in what was Dan Mullen’s debut as UF head coach. Associated Press

We’re moving our Friday feature up to Thursday this week so that we can work some NFL games into our weekly football picks.

Last week, John went 8-2 overall and 6-4 against the spread. Ben finished 4-6 overall, but 5-5 against the spread. And remember, as the coaches say, you make your biggest improvement between weeks one and two.

So here we go with week two:

Kentucky at Florida

7:30 p.m. Saturday on SEC Network

Line: Florida by 14

Ben: Florida 24, Kentucky 13

The Streak lives on for another year — and this could turn into a 60-minute slog on the eyeballs — but two touchdowns is too much to give the Gators.

Against the spread pick: Kentucky

John: Florida 31, Kentucky 21

As the late, great Gainesville native Tom Petty once said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” The visiting Cats will have to wait another year to snap the streak. A win in The Swamp is too much to ask.

Against the spread: Kentucky

Georgia at South Carolina

3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS

Line: Georgia by 10

Ben: Georgia 28, South Carolina 17

Gamecocks stick around just enough to keep things interesting for most of this one, but Georgia (11-4 against the spread last season) gets its SEC title defense started right.

Against the spread pick: Georgia

John: Georgia 14, South Carolina 10

This is a huge game for South Carolina if indeed Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks on track to win the East Division title. Can’t see it happening, though. Look for a defensive struggle with the Bulldogs prevailing.

Against the spread pick: South Carolina

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Mississippi State at Kansas State

Noon Saturday on ESPN

Line: Mississippi State by 9.5

Ben: Mississippi State 38, Kansas State 20

K-State needed two fourth-quarter TDs to overcome a 12-point deficit against South Dakota last week. Mississippi State is much better than South Dakota.

Against the spread pick: Mississippi State

John: Kansas State 24, Mississippi State 21

Kansas State suffered from a case of first-game jitters before pulling out that win over South Dakota last Saturday. The Wildcats will be ready for Mississippi State. So will the home crowd in Manhattan.

Against the spread pick: Kansas State

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UCLA at Oklahoma

1 p.m. Saturday on Fox

Line: Oklahoma by 30

Ben: Oklahoma 44, UCLA 21

The Bruins laid an egg in a home loss to Cincinnati, sure, but 30 points is an awful lot to give up. Oklahoma rolls, but keeps plenty left in the tank for the Big 12 opener next week.

Against the spread pick: UCLA

John: Oklahoma 56, UCLA 14

Cincinnati spoiled Chip Kelly’s return to college football last week, beating the Bruins in Los Angeles. Losing his starting quarterback to injury didn’t help Kelly’s heroes either. Look for a bloodbath.

Against the spread pick: Oklahoma

Clemson at Texas A&M

7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Clemson by 12.5

Ben: Clemson 34, Texas A&M 17

New A&M coach Jimbo Fisher knows Clemson well. He’s lost to them three straight years. This will make it four, and it won’t be close.

Against the spread pick: Clemson

John: Clemson 30, Texas A&M 20

Jimbo, you remember Dabo. Clemson will win but something tells me Jimbo Fisher’s familiarity with the Tigers will help the Aggies keep it closer than expected.

Against the spread pick: Texas A&M.

USC at Stanford

8:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox

Line: Stanford by 4.5

Ben: Stanford 30, USC 21

The Cardinal lost twice to USC last season, and they’ll be successful in avenging those defeats here. Bryce Love gets on track after 18 carries for just 29 yards in Week 1.

Against the spread pick: Stanford

John: Stanford 17, USC 10

San Diego State put 122 people — or so it seemed — in the box to stop Stanford’s Bryce Love last week. Not sure Southern Cal’s true freshman quarterback is ready for such an early test.

Against the spread pick: Stanford

Penn State at Pittsburgh

8 p.m. Saturday on ABC

Line: Penn State by 9

Ben: Penn State 37, Pittsburgh 26

The Nittany Lions needed OT to beat Appy State last week. Not good. That one serves as a wake-up call. Pitt is 6-15 against the spread in home games under Pat Narduzzi.

Against the spread pick: Penn State

John: Penn State 20, Pittsburgh 17

Is Penn State overrated or was last week’s scare against Appalachian State just an opening-week aberration. Remember, Pitt upset Miami at the end of last season.

Against the spread pick: Pittsburgh

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Thursday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Philadelphia by 2

Ben: Atlanta 24, Philadelphia 20

Eagles have a good shot at defending their Super Bowl crown, but their best football will come later in the season (when Carson Wentz is back and healthy).

Against the spread pick: Atlanta

John: Atlanta 23, Philadelphia 14

The Eagles were awful in the preseason, not that the preseason matters. The Falcons are plenty of people’s pick to make it to the Super Bowl — in Atlanta.

Against the spread pick: Atlanta

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

Indianapolis by 2.5

Ben: Cincinnati 27, Indianapolis 24

The Bengals won’t be as bad this season as many expect, and the Colts could struggle in Andrew Luck’s first real game in more than 20 months.

Against the spread pick: Cincinnati

John: Cincinnati 28, Indianapolis 14

Absolutely, positively no one is talking this preseason about the Bengals, which might be just the way Marvin Lewis likes it.

Against the spread pick: Cincinnati

Chicago at Green Bay

Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Green Bay by 8.5

Ben: Green Bay 34, Chicago 20

Not expecting much from the Packers’ D in 2018, but it should be good enough for Green Bay to win this one comfortably. (It doesn’t hurt when you have Aaron Rodgers).

Against the spread pick: Green Bay

John: Green Bay 24, Chicago 14

The addition of Khalil Mack makes the Bears better but it’s unrealistic to think the star defensive end can make this much of a difference this quickly.

Against the spread pick: Green Bay

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