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College and NFL picks: Can Kentucky keep the ball rolling at Texas A&M?

Kentucky defensive coordinator impressed with Texas A&M offense

Kentucky football defensive coordinator Matt House talks about the Texas A&M offense heading into Saturday’s game in College Station. The Aggies are led by quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Trayvon Williams.
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Kentucky football defensive coordinator Matt House talks about the Texas A&M offense heading into Saturday’s game in College Station. The Aggies are led by quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Trayvon Williams.

Ben and I are climbing back into the ring to take another swing at our weekly football predictions.

Last week: Ben was 5-5 overall and 4-6 against the spread. For the season, he’s now 29-21 straight up and 27-22-1 against the spread. Last week: I was 7-3 overall and 5-5 against the spread. For the season, I’m 34-16 straight up but just 21-28-1 against the spread.

This week’s games:

Georgia Tech at Louisville

Friday, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Line: Georgia Tech by 4

John: Louisville 27, Georgia Tech 21

The Cardinals are due. Overdue. Bobby Petrino’s offense showed signs of life last week against Florida State. U of L is at home. Georgia Tech is also 0-2 in the ACC. The Cards will prevail under the Friday night lights.

Against the spread pick: Louisville

Ben: Louisville 30, Georgia Tech 27

Louisville should’ve beat Florida State last weekend. If the Cards that showed up for most of that game show up Friday night, surely they can defeat the Yellow Jackets.

Against the spread pick: Louisville

No. 1 Alabama at Arkansas

Saturday, noon on ESPN

Line: Alabama by 35

John: Alabama 56, Arkansas 7

Alabama’s margins of victory: 37, 50, 55, 22 and 42. The Tide has to grow bored at some point. This won’t be that point. Arkansas’ offensive line is a weak link Nick Saban and Company will happily exploit. Over and over and over again.

Against the spread pick: Alabama

Ben: Alabama 50, Arkansas 10

A five-touchdown underdog at home in a conference game? Sounds crazy, but Alabama is just that much better than everybody else. And Arkansas remains pretty terrible. Saban welcomes Chad Morris to his version of the SEC.

Against the spread pick: Alabama

Missouri at South Carolina

Saturday, noon on SEC Network

Line: Missouri by 1.5

John: Missouri 34, South Carolina 24

As you perhaps recall, South Carolina was a consensus pick for second-best team in the SEC East. Then the Men of Muschamp lost by 24 to Georgia. Then they lost by 14 to Kentucky. Saturday, they will lose by 10 to Mizzou, which is coming off a bye.

Against the spread pick: Missouri

Ben: South Carolina 34, Missouri 28

The Gamecocks got manhandled for much of the night at Kroger Field last weekend, and they got embarrassed at home by Georgia three weeks before that. Pride takes over against a lesser Mizzou team this time around.

Against the spread pick: South Carolina

No. 19 Texas at No. 7 Oklahoma

Saturday, noon on Fox

Line: Oklahoma by 8

John: Oklahoma 45, Texas 28

This could be Texas Coach Tom Herman’s big splash. The Longhorns’ defense is pretty good. It is not good enough to stop quarterback Kyler Murray and the Sooners, however.

Against the spread pick: Oklahoma

Ben: Oklahoma 37, Texas 20

Expecting the undefeated — but sometimes uneven — Sooners to put together their most complete performance of the season so far in this rivalry game.

Against the spread pick: Oklahoma

No. 5 LSU at No. 22 Florida

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. on CBS

Line: LSU by 2.5

John: Florida 20, LSU 10

Florida’s defense is starting to get it together under coordinator Todd Grantham. Mississippi State gained just 202 yards last week. LSU has played well, but I can’t shake the feeling Coach O (Ed Orgeron) is living on borrowed time. Gator bait.

Against the spread pick: Florida

Ben: LSU 24, Florida 19

The Gators defense is looking better, but LSU is great on that side of the ball, too, and Joe Burrow and the Tigers have shown they can bring some offensive moxie to complement it. LSU has already won at Auburn. Gainesville is next.

Against the spread pick: LSU

No. 13 Kentucky at Texas A&M

Saturday, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Line: Texas A&M by 6

John: Kentucky 21, Texas A&M 17

I promised last week I had learned my lesson. No more doubting the Cats. Yes, College Station is a crazy place to play. Yes, Jimbo Fisher has given the Aggies a booster shot. But I’m sticking with last week’s vow. Until further notice.

Against the spread pick: Kentucky

Ben: Kentucky 27, Texas A&M 24

This comes down to the best run defense in the SEC against the best running back in the SEC (and a pretty dang good offensive line). Can’t bet against Benny.

Against the spread pick: Kentucky

Vanderbilt at No. 2 Georgia

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network

Georgia by 27

John: Georgia 41, Vanderbilt 10

The 2018 Georgia is not as good as the 2017 Georgia. That’s my belief and I’m sticking to it. Georgia 2017 is still pretty good, however. It is certainly good enough to roll a Vanderbilt team that nearly lost to Tennessee State.

Against the spread pick: Georgia

Ben: Georgia 35, Vanderbilt 14

The Bulldogs have appeared bored at times during this run through lesser SEC East opposition. Here’s guessing they’re content to win this one by three touchdowns and call it a night.

Against the spread pick: Vanderbilt

No. 8 Auburn at Mississippi State

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Auburn by 4

John: Mississippi State 24, Auburn 21

Two teams with offensive-minded head coaches. Two teams with struggling offenses. Auburn ranks 98th nationally in total offense. Mississippi State gained 403 total yards over its last two games. One offense has to break out. I say the home team.

Against the spread pick: Mississippi State

Ben: Mississippi State 21, Auburn 20

The Tigers haven’t played a road game yet this season. Starkville, at night, against a Mississippi State team with something to prove isn’t the ideal place to start.

Against the spread pick: Mississippi State

No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 24 Virginia Tech

Saturday, 8 p.m. on ABC

Notre Dame by 6

John: Notre Dame 23, Virginia Tech 14

A win in Blacksburg and the Irish are almost certain to run the table. If the Irish run the table, they are almost certain to be in the College Football Playoff. Deserving? Undeserving? That’s just the way it works.

Against the spread pick: Notre Dame

Ben: Virginia Tech 21, Notre Dame 17

The Irish don’t deserve a College Football Playoff spot. Help us, Hokies, you’re our only hope.

Against the spread pick: Virginia Tech

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS

Line: Cincinnati by 6.5

John: Bengals 30, Dolphins 17

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor apparently made great use of his off-season. His offense is clicking. Losing tight end Tyler Eifert (again) to a broken ankle hurts, but Andy Dalton is not without alternative weapons. Who Dey rolls on.

Against the spread pick: Bengals

Ben: Bengals 24, Dolphins 20

Miami was rolling until they ran into a New England team that might be ready to put it together. I like Cincinnati here, but it’ll be close.

Against the spread pick: Dolphins

SEC football standings

EASTSEC

Overall

TeamWLWL
Georgia3050
Kentucky3050
Florida2141
Missouri0131
South Carolina1222
Vanderbilt0132
Tennessee0223
WESTSEC

Overall

TeamWLWL
Alabama2050
LSU2050
Auburn1141
Texas A&M1132
Miss State0232
Ole Miss0232
Arkansas0214
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