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College and NFL picks: Who wins Auburn-LSU? Can Bengals beat Ravens?

Auburn running back Kam Martin (9) tried to get past Washington’s JoJo McIntosh (14) and Byron Murphy (1) during Auburn’s win Sept. 1 in Atlanta. No. 7 Auburn plays host to No. 12 LSU on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.
Auburn running back Kam Martin (9) tried to get past Washington’s JoJo McIntosh (14) and Byron Murphy (1) during Auburn’s win Sept. 1 in Atlanta. No. 7 Auburn plays host to No. 12 LSU on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. AP Photo

Hard to believe but It’s already Week 3 of our college and NFL picks. So how are we doing?

After a slow start out of the gate — 4-6 straight-up — Ben bounced back to go 8-2 last week. He’s also 12-8 against the spread after two weeks, having gone 7-3 a week ago.

I’m 15-5 straight-up after two weeks, with an 8-2 followed by a 7-3. I’m only 10-10 against the spread, however, my 6-4 opener followed by a 4-6.

Note: We are not picking Saturday’s Kentucky-Murray State game. With UK playing an FCS/OVC foe, the game is off the board.

So here are our picks:

Vanderbilt at Notre Dame

2:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC

Line: Notre Dame by 14.5

Ben: Notre Dame 30, Vanderbilt 20

The Commodores have exceeded expectations so far, though they haven’t faced competition like this. Not picking Vandy to pull the upset, but don’t think Irish will blow them out.

Against the spread pick: Vanderbilt

John: Notre Dame 24, Vanderbilt 7

Vanderbilt has flashed a stout defense the first two weeks, allowing just 294 yards to Middle Tennessee and 250 to Nevada. Doubt the ‘Dores can produce enough offense to shock NBC’s viewers, however.

Against the spread pick: Notre Dame

LSU at Auburn

3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS

Line: Auburn by 10

Ben: Auburn 30, LSU 24

Not much respect for the Bayou Bengals here two weeks after they blew the doors off a Miami team that had College Football Playoff hopes. Will take 10 points all day.

Against the spread pick: LSU

John: Auburn 20, LSU 17

Dave Aranda’s defense is certainly capable of slowing Auburn, but can LSU quarterback Joe Burrow step up on the road? The grad transfer from Ohio State is just 21-of-44 through the air so far.

Against the spread pick: LSU

Boise State at Oklahoma State

3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Oklahoma State by 2.5

Ben: Boise State 37, Oklahoma State 36

Both teams roll into this one off two straight blowout victories and boasting impressive offensive firepower. I’ll take the Broncos in a shootout.

Against the spread pick: Boise State

John: Boise State 42, Oklahoma State 35

Connecticut Coach Randy Edsall raised some eyebrows when he said Boise State was better than UCF. Boise steamrolled UConn 62-7 after UCF rolled over the Huskies 56-17.

Against the spread pick: Boise State

Alabama at Ole Miss

7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Alabama by 21

Ben: Alabama 50, Ole Miss 16

The Tide will score whenever they want to. The Rebels, who have 123 points over two games this season, won’t. Bama’s too good, and Nick Saban makes a statement in SEC opener.

Against the spread pick: Alabama

John: Alabama 45, Ole Miss 31

Ole Miss’s Phil Longo may be the best offensive coordinator you’ve never heard of. Teamed with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, the Rebels will light up the board. Just not enough to beat the top-ranked Tide.

Against the spread: Ole Miss

Ohio State vs. TCU (at Arlington, Texas)

8 p.m. Saturday on ABC

Line: Ohio State by 13

Ben: Ohio State 30, TCU 24

The Horned Frogs get a major opportunity to make a statement, and they get the Buckeyes in their own backyard. TCU won’t win, but they’ll keep things close.

Against the spread pick: TCU

John: TCU 23, Ohio State 20

Gary Patterson’s club gets the Buckeyes at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the last game of the Urban Meyer suspension. After two games, the Horned Frogs are sixth nationally in total defense. Picking the upset.

Against the spread pick: TCU

Southern Cal at Texas

8 p.m. Saturday on Fox

Line: Texas by 3.5

Ben: USC 24, Texas 20

I don’t like either one of these teams, but ties aren’t a thing in college football anymore. Trojans, I guess.

Against the spread pick: USC

John: Texas 27, USC 24

This is a marquee matchup in name only. Southern Cal is trying to rebound from losing an important Pac-12 game at Stanford. Texas lost to Maryland and struggled with Tulsa. Like the Longhorns at home.

Against the spread pick: USC

Washington at Utah

10 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Washington by 6.5

Ben: Washington 31, Utah 20

The Huskies still have a chance for a special season after that 21-16 loss to (basically at) Auburn in the opener. Washington takes care of business here.

Against the spread pick: Washington

John: Utah 17, Washington 13

Utah is the most underrated team in the Pac-12. It’s early, but the Utes boast the nation’s top-ranked defense in yards allowed. It’s a tough spot for Washington, which lost to Auburn in the opener.

Against the spread pick: Utah

Missouri at Purdue

7:30 p.m. Saturday on Big Ten Network

Line: Missouri by 6.5

Ben: Missouri 40, Purdue 24

The Tigers were 4-1 against the spread on the road last season and will be looking for payback after Purdue’s 35-3 victory in Columbia in 2017. Bad times continue for Jeff Brohm’s Boilermakers.

Against the spread pick: Missouri

John: Missouri 45, Purdue 28

A hot name on the coaching merry-go-round in the off-season, Brohm may be the nation’s most frustrated coach after starting 0-2. It’ll be 0-3 after Drew Lock and Mizzou leave West Lafayette.

Against the spread pick: Missouri

Ravens at Bengals

8:20 p.m. Thursday on NFL Network

Line: Ravens by 1

Ben: Ravens 24, Bengals 21

The Ravens ran it up on the Bills last week, and the momentum will continue in Cincinnati on Thursday night.

Against the spread pick: Ravens

John: Bengals 27, Ravens 20

This is a put-up or shut-up game for the Bengals, who took off-season heat for standing pat after back-to-back losing seasons. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco looked great last week. Can he go back-to-back?

Against the spread pick: Bengals

Patriots at Jaguars

4:25 p.m. Sunday on CBS

Line: Patriots by 1.5

Ben: Patriots 24, Jaguars 16

Jags’ D will make it tough on Tom Brady, but he’ll get his points somewhere along the way. Leonard Fournette’s questionable status makes it tough to pick against New England.

Against the spread pick: Patriots

John: Jaguars 20, Patriots 14

If you’re going to get the Pats, you have to get them early. By mid-season, Bill Belichick and Brady have figured things out. Going with Jaguars’ defense in rematch of last year’s AFC title game.

Against the spread pick: Jaguars

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