Sidelines with John Clay

College football and NFL picks: Who wins Kentucky-Georgia showdown?

With Saturday bringing the most important Kentucky football game in more than a half-century, we know you’re just waiting for our predictions.

OK, so maybe not.

We’re here anyway with our weekly picks. Last week, Ben went 6-4 straight up and 4-6 against the spread. For the season, he’s 55-35 overall and 46-42-2 against the spread. I went 9-1 straight up last week and 5-5 against the spread. I’m now 59-31 overall and 39-49-2 against the spread.

Without further adieu, this week’s predictions:

Georgia at Kentucky

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Line: Georgia by 9

John: Kentucky 20, Georgia 17

Everything about this showdown says Georgia should win. Georgia has NFL talent. Georgia has big-game experience. Georgia has beaten Kentucky eight straight games, including 42-13 last season. But then little in this Kentucky season has gone the way the experts thought it would or should.

Against the spread: Kentucky

Ben: Georgia 20, Kentucky 14

Kentucky’s defense is good enough to keep it close against just about anyone not named Alabama, but can the Cats actually score some points? They’ll be too tough to come by Saturday against the best team UK has faced this season.

Against the spread: Kentucky

Louisville at Clemson

Saturday, Noon, ABC

Line: Clemson by 40

John: Clemson 54, Louisville 7

The only question left in this train wreck of a Louisville football season is whether Cards Coach Bobby Petrino makes it to next season. Facing Clemson at Death Valley is not going to help Bobby P’s case for continued employment.

Against the spread: Clemson

Ben: Clemson 60, Louisville 10

The Cardinals are 1-7 against the spread this season despite low expectations for much of it. Forty points is a lot, but U of L is a mess.

Against the spread: Clemson

Texas A&M at Auburn

Saturday, Noon, ESPN

Line: Auburn by 5

John: Auburn 26, Texas A&M 24

Texas A&M’s ears are still ringing from those darn cowbells after a disappointing 28-13 loss at Mississippi State last week. Auburn had the Saturday off to celebrate its win over Ole Miss the week before. Home team gets the edge in a coin-toss game.

Against the spread: Texas A&M

Ben: Texas A&M 24, Auburn 23

Surprised to see the Tigers favored by this much, even with the week off. They’re capable of laying a dud. A&M will come to play after last week’s disappointment.

Against the spread: Texas A&M

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West Virginia at Texas

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox

Line: Texas by 1.5

John: West Virginia 42, Texas 28

Was Texas just unlucky enough to fall under Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy’s mullet spell last week or were the Longhorns exposed in Stillwater? I lean to the latter explanation. Look for WVU quarterback Will Grier to put up pinball numbers.

Against the spread: West Virginia

Ben: West Virginia 34, Texas 21

Said last week I didn’t believe in Texas, yet I still picked them. As a famous Texan once said: “Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Against the spread: West Virginia

Penn State at Michigan

Saturday, 3:45 p.m., ESPN

Line: Michigan by 10.5

John: Michigan 20, Penn State 10

My early-season doubts about the Wolverines have been dispelled by one tough, nasty, stingy Michigan defense. Penn State is fresh off a win over Iowa, a team with another standout defense. Michigan’s D is better, however.

Against the spread: Penn State

Ben: Michigan 28, Penn State 14

Wolverines’ defense is too tough, and they should be able to score some points against this Penn State team. Michigan’s dominance in the Big House continues.

Against the spread: Michigan

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Missouri at Florida

Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN

Line: Florida by 5.5

John: Florida 27, Missouri 24

Two teams in need of a pick-me-up. Florida blew its chance to win the SEC East by losing to archrival Georgia last week. Missouri lost on the final play of the game, an untimed down, to Kentucky last week. Gators get the win at home.

Against the spread: Missouri

Ben: Florida 34, Missouri 21

Gators have played four of their last five games somewhere other than Gainesville. Think they take care of business in this one.

Against the spread: Florida

Notre Dame at Northwestern

Saturday, 7:15 p.m., ESPN

Line: Notre Dame by 9.5

John: Northwestern 23, Notre Dame 20

Northwestern is on a roll. After starting 1-3, the Wildcats have won four straight on the way to the top spot in the Big Ten West. And Pat Fitzgerald’s team is just the kind of team that could knock Notre Dame smack out of the College Football Playoff picture.

Against the spread: Northwestern

Ben: Notre Dame 27, Northwestern 21

The Wildcats will keep things interesting, but they won’t knock Notre Dame out of the playoff picture. The Irish’s path to a drubbing in the national semifinals will still be alive after Saturday.

Against the spread: Northwestern

Alabama at LSU

Saturday, 8 p.m., CBS

Line: Alabama by 15

John: Alabama 31, LSU 17

Big fan of LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, a driving force behind the Tigers sitting 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC. Alabama’s powder keg of an offense is a whole different challenge, however. Baton Rouge will be rocking come Saturday night, but the Tide will still roll.

Against the spread: LSU

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Ben: Alabama 28, LSU 17

Tiger Stadium will be a madhouse. It’ll be the closest game Bama plays all season (and the Tide will still win by double digits).

Against the spread: LSU

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: Saints by 1.5

John: Saints 28, Rams 24

This could easily be a preview of the NFC title game in January. New Orleans is at home. And at age 39, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees is performing at an MVP level. Rams can’t stay unbeaten forever. Nod to the Saints.

Against the spread: Saints

Ben: Saints 35, Rams 31

Rams finally lose one. Something tells me these two will meet again in January.

Against the spread: Saints

Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Line: Patriots by 5.5

John: Patriots 31, Packers 21

Ty Montgomery’s fumbled kickoff cheated us of the chance to watch Aaron Rodgers work his magic at the end of Green Bay’s loss to the Rams. For that, Montgomery was traded to the Ravens. But even Rodgers doesn’t have enough magic to beat Tom Brady in Foxboro.

Against the spread: Patriots

Ben: Patriots 34, Packers 20

Thought last week would be when things got ugly for the undermanned Packers. Rodgers needs some help, and it’s not coming this season.

Against the spread: Patriots

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