Mark Edwards' picks: Alabama will beat A&M... barely; AU, JSU will win
by Mark Edwards
medwards@annistonstar.com
Sep 13, 2013 | 3301 views |  0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) outruns Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard (42) during the first half of last year's game in Tuscaloosa. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) outruns Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard (42) during the first half of last year's game in Tuscaloosa. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
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The big game is today. Game of the Century, at least for this week.

Johnny Manziel and some other guys will host Alabama, with the CBS cameras recording every relevant moment. The network even has a camera devoted strictly to Manziel. Not really sure that’s going to add anything to the broadcast, but whatever.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville State hosts North Alabama, a rival from its Gulf South Conference days, and Auburn will play Mississippi State in a battle of mediocre squads.

If you’re betting — and we’re not advocating you do, especially based on these picks — go for the state sweep.

No. 1 Alabama (1-0) at No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0): Alabama isn’t coming off an emotional, bruising game as it did last year when the Tide played the Aggies a week after edging LSU. Also, Texas A&M has lost 11 starters.

But even with that, keep in mind the Aggies still have a dangerous offense, and that means more than Manziel. The “other guys” are worth watching, too. A&M will roll up some points, no matter what plan Nick Saban and Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have in mind. The Aggies are struggling to stop other teams. If AJ McCarron can keep from turning over the ball, Alabama should sail. Last year, Alabama suffered three turnovers against Texas A&M, and that decided the game more than anything Manziel did. … Alabama 38, Texas A&M 31.

Mississippi State (1-1) at Auburn (2-0): Friday marked the fifth anniversary of Auburn’s “classic” 3-2 win over Mississippi State. This one shouldn’t be that ugly, but it probably won’t be overly pretty for anyone not wearing blue and orange.

Auburn has lost 10 straight SEC games, so any win would be beautiful for the Tigers, even 3-2. It won’t get like that, as Auburn, which ranks 14 th nationally in rushing offense, takes control and keeps it today. … Auburn 24, Mississippi State 17.

North Alabama (1-0) at Jacksonville State (2-0): During 1989-95, these two teams made the NCAA Division II championship game six times — three for each. JSU won one crown, while UNA took three.

They haven’t played since 2003 when UNA took a victory. Before that, they hadn’t played since 1992, with JSU holding a seven-game win streak. The Gamecocks rank third in FCS in rushing offense, which probably will make the difference today against UNA, which still is in Division II. … Jacksonville State 31, North Alabama 13.

Vanderbilt (1-1) at No. 13 South Carolina (1-1): Steve Spurrier is 18-2 against Vanderbilt, having won the last four while at South Carolina. … South Carolina 33, Vanderbilt 20.

No. 7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1): Kentucky already has a lost to Western Kentucky on its slate. The Wildcats struggle to stop the run, ranking 72nd nationally. … Louisville 38, Kentucky 24.

Tennessee (2-0) at No. 2 Oregon (2-0): Chip Kelly is gone to the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Ducks still score. They’re second in the country in total offense. Baylor is first. … Oregon 48, Tennessee 24.

No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0): UCLA hasn’t played since beating Nevada two weeks ago. ... Nebraska 28, UCLA 24.

Ole Miss (2-0) at No. 25 Texas (1-1): Texas has replaced its defensive coordinator, and the athletics director is fighting off reports he will resign But the Longhorns still rank No. 10 nationally in total offense, and the Rebels showed in the opener against Vanderbilt they’re vulnerable any time the other team has the ball. … Texas 38, Ole Miss 29.

Southern Mississippi (0-2) at Arkansas (2-0): After going 12-2 in 2011, Southern Mississippi hasn’t won a game since. The Golden Eagles have lost 14 straight.

Arkansas won only four games last season, but the Razorbacks have a rejuvenated running game, led by freshman running back Alex Collins, who has 303 yards in two games. … Arkansas 35, Southern Mississippi 12.

No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1): Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller has an injured left knee, and head coach Urban Meyer said it will be a game-time decision whether to play him. Ohio State beat Cal 35-28 last year, and that was a Cal team that finished 3-9.

Ohio State leads the series 6-1, with Cal’s only win coming in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1921. … Ohio State 27, California 14.

Last week: 8-2.

Overall: 17-3.
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