Josh Kendall

College football picks: LSU, Tide step up in playoff eliminator

LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be his Heisman Trophy hopes on the line against one of the country’s best defenses in Alabama.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be his Heisman Trophy hopes on the line against one of the country’s best defenses in Alabama. AP

Welcome to the first College Football Playoff elimination game of the season. It’s hard to imagine Alabama or LSU coming back from a loss Saturday night in this year’s version of the Game of the Century.

Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite at home, but the Tigers have been the more impressive team thus far this season. While I’m not a big believer in the transitive property, I think it can help here.

LSU handled Florida 35-28 two weeks ago. Florida thrashed Ole Miss 38-10 two weeks before that. Ole Miss beat Alabama 43-37 in Tuscaloosa two weeks before that.

Tigers running back Leonard Fournette is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He will either clinch it or lose it Saturday night against the Crimson Tide.

Straight: LSU

Against the spread: LSU

Kentucky at Georgia (minus-14.5)

The Bulldogs are a mess. Head coach Mark Richt is on the hot seat. Rumors swirled during the week that he is on the verge of firing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Who knows who’s going to start at quarterback? And still the Bulldogs are two-touchdown favorites.

Straight: Georgia

ATS: Kentucky

Vanderbilt at Florida (minus-21)

This is a good time to acknowledge I thought the Gators were going to be pretty bad this year. Now all Florida has to do is beat Vanderbilt and it clinches the SEC East title on the first weekend of November. Man, the SEC East is in bad shape this year.

Straight: Florida

ATS: Florida

Duke at North Carolina (minus-8)

The Tar Heels haven’t lost since dropping the season opener to South Carolina. The Blue Devils are coming off Miami’s miracle win (which shouldn’t have counted, the ACC later acknowledged). David Cutcliffe has probably been using that finish to fire up his group all week.

Straight: Duke

ATS: Duke

Notre Dame (minus-8.5) at Pittsburgh

If you’re Notre Dame, you’ve got to believe you’re in the CFB Playoff if you can win out. The Irish’s only loss remains that two-point defeat in Clemson in the pouring rain.

Straight: Notre Dame

ATS: Notre Dame

Arkansas at Ole Miss (minus-10.5)

Ole Miss can throw a serious wrench in the CFB Playoff if it rallies to win the SEC West (still a mathematical possibility). The reason for that is the Rebels were beaten by Memphis, and if the Tigers remain undefeated and Ole Miss wins its division, the selection committee will have no choice but to put Memphis in the CFB Playoff. Arkansas will save them the scare.

Straight: Arkansas

ATS: Arkansas

Florida State at Clemson (minus-12)

The Seminoles will have a maybe hobbled Dalvin Cook (hamstring) and might have starting quarterback Everett Golson (concussion). Either way, the Tigers are a surprisingly big favorite.

Straight: Clemson

ATS: Florida State

TCU (minus-5) at Oklahoma State

It’s 8-0 vs. 8-0 in Stillwater. The Cowboys’ run was fun while it lasted, but now the tough part of the schedule is starting.

Straight: TCU

ATS: TCU

Iowa (minus-7) at Indiana

Speaking of undefeated, the Hawkeyes have yet to lose. They will soon enough, but it won’t be this week.

Straight: Iowa

ATS: Iowa

Iowa State at Oklahoma (minus-25.5)

The Sooners are lurking with one loss and could be a surprise playoff team if they can finish strong this season.

Straight: Oklahoma

ATS: Iowa State

Michigan State (minus-5.5) at Nebraska

The Huskers are in disarray thanks to first-year coach Mike Riley’s struggles. It’s a bad week to be struggling.

Straight: Michigan State

ATS: Michigan State

Auburn at Texas A&M (minus-7)

Two teams with national title hopes coming into the season are now fighting to stay relevant in their division. Kyler Murray should be more comfortable in his second start, and he looked pretty comfortable against South Carolina last week.

Straight: Texas A&M

ATS: Texas A&M

Last week

Straight: 10-2

ATS: 6-6

Season

Straight: 77-30

ATS: 58-47

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