Josh Kendall

College football picks: SEC play gets in full swing

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt
Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt USA TODAY Sports

Southeastern Conference football teams were 12-1 in the first week of the season.

“Vandy, of course, lost,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said, not meaning it exactly that way, but making a point nonetheless.

LSU’s game against McNeese State was canceled because of bad weather.

“Victory was not assigned,” is how Tigers coach Les Miles put it.

That gaudy record will take a hit this week if for no other reason than the intra-conference season begins with South Carolina vs. Kentucky, Georgia vs. Vanderbilt and LSU vs. Mississippi State. I had a pretty good week last week, so here we go again.

Georgia (-20) at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m., CBS

The Bulldogs are wearing red on the road against the Commodores, and we’re nearing a disturbing college football future in which everybody just wears whatever the heck jersey they want and all of us old people can’t tell who is who anymore. Georgia can wear red because the Commodores are wearing something called a “Deep Water” home jersey. Is it really a great idea for the Vandy program at the moment to be pushing any theme that brings to mind sinking again to the bottom of the SEC, I mean sea?

Straight: Georgia

ATS: Georgia

LSU (-4) at Mississippi State, 9:15 p.m., ESPN

The SEC West is very hard to figure out this year, and this game will give us our first real clue. Are the Bulldogs really headed to a last place finish in that division after being ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point last year? It’s up to Dak Prescott. The Tigers would have liked to get starting quarterback Brandon Harris more reps against McNeese State.

Straight: Mississippi State

ATS: Mississippi State

Middle Tennessee at Alabama (-35), 4 p.m., SECN

Nick Saban’s continued “You can only ask questions I like and I will tell you how to think” world view is becoming increasingly tired. This week, when a reporter asked a perfectly reasonable question about his quarterback competition during a game in which his team is a 35-point favorite, he responded, blah, blah, blah (the blahs are mine, this next part is his), “we’re not trying to create anything based on who we’re playing because we respect who we’re playing, and I suggest that everybody else does, too.” Seriously? How does he get on a horse that high? Saban probably won’t cover out of spite.

Straight: Alabama

ATS: Middle Tennessee

Oklahoma at Tennessee (Pick ’em), 6 p.m. ESPN

Is Tennessee for real or not? After nine months of some breathless suggestions both ways, we finally get to find out. Bowling Green gained 557 yards against the Vols last week, including 433 through the air. The Sooners have the ability to get more and probably will need less. (The Volunteers’ pass rush scares me so badly, and the fact that the Vols are 2-29 in their last 31 games against opponents ranked in the AP poll, that I’m taking the Sooners for my “lock of the week” for $30.)

Straight: Oklahoma

ATS: Oklahoma

Oregon at Michigan State (-3.5), 12 p.m. ABC

New Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams gets his first real test, and against a Michigan State defense that has lost a lot of what made it the Michigan State defense last year. Still, the Spartans are more proven at this level than Adams, and they’re at home.

Straight: Michigan State

ATS: Michigan State

Houston at Louisville (-12.5), 12 p.m., ESPN3

New Cougars coach Tom Herman is the “hot new coach” at the moment, and he can make a splash with a win against the Cardinals. He won’t get it, though.

Straight: Louisville

ATS: Houston

Notre Dame (-11.5) at Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ABC

The Irish looked good in beating Texas, but the Longhorns might just be that bad. Either way, Notre Dame’s Oct. 3 trip to Clemson is already looking like it will be a fun game.

Straight: Notre Dame

ATS: Notre Dame

Arizona (-11) at Nevada, 7 p.m. CBSSN

The Wildcats could be a dangerous team by the end of the year, but lots of dreams have died in Reno.

Straight: Arizona

ATS: Arizona

East Carolina at Florida (-20), 7 p.m., ESPN

These are not quite the dangerous Pirates we remember from the last few years. Of course, the Gators still have lots to prove as well.

Straight: Florida

ATS: East Carolina

Idaho at Southern Cal (-43), 8 p.m., Pac12N

Idaho has lost 22 straight road games, and the Trojans have a lot of talent. This will get ugly.

Straight: Southern Cal

ATS: Southern Cal

Rice at Texas (-15.5), 8 p.m., Longhorn Network

How the Longhorns are favored by 15.5 points over anybody is a mystery to me. Texas probably (and I stress probably) will win this game, but I wouldn’t give away two touchdowns on them against a high school team.

Straight: Texas

ATS: Rice

Boise State (-2.5) at BYU, 10:15 p.m., ESPN2

The Cougars won in dramatic fashion last week, but lost quarterback Taysom Hill again. Also, while nobody was looking, the Broncos got good again.

Straight: Boise State


Last week

Straight: 11-1 (Blame Kansas)

ATS: 8-2 (Blame Texas)