As we get deeper into the NCAA football season, things start to crystallize. Each week, another BCS pretender gets exposed and another contender solidifies its status. Let’s explore the top games this weekend – complete with odds and picks.
(1) Alabama at (10) Arkansas
This has to be the game of the week. Arkansas made a major statement at Georgia last week, winning in the dying seconds in what looked like Ryan Mallet’s coming-out party. The Heisman Trophy hopeful threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. This weekend, we’ll find out if the Razorbacks are true national title contenders when they face the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
Most books favor the visiting team by a touchdown. Reigning Heisman Trophy Sportsbook Mark Ingram is healthy now and ready to run wild. However, the recommendation here is Arkansas at +7. The Razorbacks’ offense looks really special and Alabama’s defense isn’t what it was last year. Almost every book has the over/under at 56 for this matchup. Don’t be surprised if this game turns into a wild shootout and creeps over that total.
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(12) South Carolina at (17) Auburn
Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks are three-point underdogs at Auburn this week. But will emotion be on their side after their all-time leading receiver, Kenny McKinley, died tragically this week?
Injuries could derail Auburn’s offense this week. The Tigers already lost right tackle A.J. Greene to a season-ending ankle injury and starting tailback Mario Fannin’s shoulder injury could keep him out of action again.
South Carolina looks dangerous in this one. Not only are the Gamecocks allowing just 2.2 yards per carry, they’re running the ball very well thanks to freshman Marcus Lattimore. Given South Carolina’s stingy defensive showing of late, perhaps the Gamecocks atare a solid play at +3, as is picking the under on the posted total of 46 points.
(22) West Virginia vs (15) LSU
Louisiana State is a tough team to topple at home and it has a solid offense with Jordan Jefferson under center. But could the Tigers be biting off more than they can chew against West Virginia? The Mountaineers have looked deadly so far this season.
Noel Devine is a beast in their backfield, having run for 100-plus yards in all three games this year. The real surprise has been quarterback Geno Smith, who leads the Big East in passing yards.
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The books boldly favor LSU by 10 points this week and set the over/under at a modest 42.5 points. The under may work since LSU should tighten things up at home and West Virginia has the nation’s eighth-ranked run defense. In fact, these are two of the very best defensive teams in the NCAA.
This game should be a smash-mouth affair. LSU could have trouble covering the 10 points, even though West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan is suspended after a DUI. West Virginia seems like the clever play.