Sidelines with John Clay

College and NFL picks: Several showdowns between ranked teams

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley threw a pass during practice Wednesday in preparation for the White Out game against Ohio State on Saturday.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley threw a pass during practice Wednesday in preparation for the White Out game against Ohio State on Saturday.

It was a rough week last week, at least for me. I went 6-4 straight up in Week 4 but suffered a 2-7-1 week against the spread. Ben went 7-3 straight up and 6-3-1 against the spread.

Overall, after four weeks, Ben is 24-16 straight up and 23-16-1 against the spread. I’m 27-13 straight up but 16-23-1 against the spread.

Let’s get to this week:

South Carolina at No. 17 Kentucky

7:30 p.m. Saturday on SEC Network

Line: Kentucky by 1

John: Kentucky 23, South Carolina 19

Picked against Kentucky vs. both Florida and Mississippi State. Not going to get burned a third time. Mark Stoops and company will keep the September momentum going.

Against the spread pick: Kentucky

Ben: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 21

OK, I’m a believer. Benny Snell can’t be stopped. Josh Allen can’t be blocked. The other Cats are pretty good, too, and the Kroger Field crowd should be even more jacked than last week.

Against the spread pick: Kentucky

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Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (At Arlington)

Noon Saturday on ESPN

Line: Texas Tech by 21

John: Texas A&M 37, Arkansas 13

Despite its 34-3 loss at Auburn last week, Arkansas actually outgained the Tigers 290-225. That doesn’t mean the Hogs have much chance against the Aggies, however. Unless, of course, A&M is looking ahead to — you got it — Kentucky.

Against the spread pick: Texas A&M

Ben: Texas A&M 40, Arkansas 17

A&M is 4-0 against the spread this season. Arkansas is terrible. Aggies look to make a statement and get back on track after a whoopin’ at the hands of mighty Alabama last week.

Against the spread pick: Texas A&M

No. 12 West Virginia at No. 25 Texas Tech

Noon Saturday on ESPN2

Line: West Virginia by 3

John: West Virginia 41, Texas Tech 28

Another Big 12 shootout, but going with the veteran, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, over the freshman, Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman. A big win could propel the Mountaineers inside the AP top 10.

Against the spread pick: West Virginia

Ben: Texas Tech 40, West Virginia 38

West Virginia is good, but Tech seems to be back in the swing of things after that opening loss to Ole Miss, and the Red Raiders lead the NCAA in total offense (an astounding 623.5 yards per game). WVU is eighth nationally in that category. Should be fun.

Against the spread pick: Texas Tech

Florida State at Louisville

3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Florida State by 6.5

Ben: Florida State 27, Louisville 20

Losing coach gets fired? I’m kidding. Kind of. Taggart will be fine.

Against the spread pick: Florida State

John: Florida State 21, Louisville 14

At the start of the second half against Virginia last week, Louisville intercepted a pass setting up a first-and-goal at the UVA 3-yard line. The Cardinals settled for a field goal. Tells you all you need to know about the Louisville offense.

Against the spread pick: Florida State

Tennessee at No. 2 Georgia

3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS

Line: Georgia by 31.5

John: Georgia 38, Tennessee 14

Love the Dawgs, but the spread is too big. After turning it over six times on the way to being flattened by Florida, Tennessee will at least keep it within the spread.

Against the spread pick: Tennessee

Ben: Georgia 42, Tennessee 14

The Bulldogs are good, but surely Tennessee isn’t this bad, right? Right?! (I’m really not sure but I’ll take the points).

Against the spread pick: Tennessee

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Florida at No. 23 Mississippi State

6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: Mississippi State by 8

John: Mississippi State 24, Florida 21

Joe Moorhead’s Bulldogs will bounce back after the poor showing against Kentucky at Kroger Field. A victory over former coach Dan Mullen will help Mississippi State faithful get over last week’s loss.

Against the spread pick: Florida

Ben: Mississippi State 31, Florida 20

It’s a battle of UK’s leftovers, and — even though they didn’t show it Saturday — Mississippi State is the better team. Bulldogs out for redemption, and their former coach will be on the wrong end.

Against the spread pick: Mississippi State

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No. 4 Ohio State at No. 9 Penn State

7:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC

Line: Ohio State by 3

Ben: Penn State 38, Ohio State 35

Last time Penn State took the field as a home underdog was nearly two years ago against No. 2 Ohio State. They were 17-point ‘dogs. They won by three. Give me the points.

Against the spread pick: Penn State

John: Ohio State 42, Penn State 31

Penn State has the home-field advantage, but Ohio State has more talent. Urban Meyer will celebrate his return with a big win at Happy Valley.

Against the spread pick: Ohio State

No. 7 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame

7:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC

Line: Notre Dame by 5

John: Stanford 20, Notre Dame 10

Yes, Stanford had to pull off an amazing rally to beat Oregon in overtime, but think the Cardinal is too tough and physical for the Irish. Even in South Bend. Stanford won’t need the crazy rally this week.

Against the spread pick: Stanford

Ben: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 24

Cardinal are 3-0 against the spread this season versus big-conference schools, and they’re coming off a big road win at Oregon last week. Their momentum continues in South Bend.

Against the spread pick: Stanford

Ole Miss at No. 5 LSU

9 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Line: LSU by 12

John: LSU 27, Ole Miss 14

Interesting matchup with Ole Miss’s explosive offense against LSU’s opportunistic defense. The Ole Miss defense is bad, however, which tips the scales in the Tigers’ direction. Plus, LSU is at home, sweet home.

Against the spread pick: LSU

Ben: LSU 36, Ole Miss 21

Ole Miss is better than I thought they’d be, but so is LSU. That rowdy Tigers’ home crowd also “welcomes” an SEC opponent to Baton Rouge for the first time this season. Could get uglier than the prediction above.

Against the spread pick: LSU

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

1 p.m. Sunday on CBS

Line: Falcons by 5.5

John: Atlanta 28, Cincinnati 20

After a 2-0 start, the Bengals have run right smack into the wall that is the NFC South. At Carolina last week. At Atlanta this week. Without running back Joe Mixon for a second straight week, doubt Cincinnati can keep up.

Against the spread pick: Atlanta

Ben: Atlanta 31, Cincinnati 24

This one could easily turn into a shootout, and I like Matt Ryan and the Falcons at home if that happens.

Against the spread pick: Atlanta

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