The Ottumwa Courier

September 12, 2013

Expect plenty of TDs in this SEC heavyweight match

RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer

---- — This year's SEC "Game of the Century" has little chance of ending 9-6.

No. 1 Alabama faces Johnny Manziel and No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, on Saturday. The last time there was this much hype and anticipation for a regular-season Southeastern Conference game, it was No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 5, 2011.

Even with overtime, there were no touchdowns in top-ranked LSU's victory against the No. 2 Tide.

That game featured 23 defensive players currently on NFL rosters (12 from LSU, 11 from Alabama). It also featured a first-year starting quarterback for Alabama, sophomore AJ McCarron, and a pair of LSU quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, who were, well, let's just say they were not Heisman Trophy winners.

This time around, McCarron is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and Texas A&M has Johnny Football.

Tide coach Nick Saban on Wednesday called A&M "one of the great offensive teams, maybe in the history of college football."

The teams combined for 849 yards in A&M's 29-24 upset in Tuscaloosa last November, and it seems as if we have been talking about the rematch ever since.

As big as Alabama-A&M feels, it's almost too early to bill this as the Game of the Year. Back in 2011, it was clear the winner of 'Bama-LSU was on the fast track toward the BCS championship game. As it turns out, a loss was only a detour for the loser, but that's another story.

By November, both Alabama and the A&M could be out of the national championship chase. It doesn't seem likely, but you never know?

Game of the Year? Game of the Century? How about just game of the week? That we know for sure.

The picks:

MAIN EVENT

No. 1 Alabama (minus 7½) at No. 6 Texas A&M

Tide won't stop Johnny Football, but A&M won't stop Tide ... ALABAMA 42-31.

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

No. 24 TCU (minus 3) at Texas Tech, Thursday night

Tech freshman QB Baker Mayfield has yet to throw an interception in 90 attempts ... TCU 28-27.

Vanderbilt (plus 13½) at No. 13 South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney won't win the Heisman, but he can still wreck a game ... SOUTH CAROLINA 28-13.

No. 16 UCLA (plus 4½) at No. 23 Nebraska

Huskers looking for revenge after last year's loss at Rose Bowl ... NEBRASKA 38-31.

No. 19 Washington (minus 9½) vs. Illinois at Chicago

Two rejuvenated offenses ... WASHINGTON 31-24.

No. 25 Mississippi (plus 3½) at Texas

Desperate times in Austin ... TEXAS 35-24.

BEST BET

No. 7 Louisville (minus 14) at Kentucky

Teddy Bridgewater and Co. pour it on against rival Wildcats ... 45-17.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 20 Wisconsin (plus 5½) at Arizona State

Badgers power through heat and fast-paced Sun Devils ... WISCONSIN 31-28.

PLUCKY UNDERDOGS

Tennessee (plus 27½) at No. 2 Oregon ... OREGON 48-17.

No. 4 Ohio State (off) at California ... OHIO STATE 42-28.

Tulsa (plus 24) at No. 14 Oklahoma ... OKLAHOMA 38-17

No. 21 Notre Dame (minus 20½) at Purdue ... NOTRE DAME 34-10.

Vols begin nasty run of five top-20 teams in six games. Cal's Bear Raid and freshmen quarterback could pose problems for Ohio State, though Buckeyes are hopeful Braxton Miller plays. Tulsa off to slow start after much preseason hype, but Sooners are searching for QB. Boilermakers have lost five straight to Irish, though three of those decided by 11 points or less.

MISMATCHES

No. 5 Stanford (minus 29) at Army ... STANFORD 35-3.

Kent State (plus 37½) at No. 8 LSU ... LSU 45-14.

Nevada (plus 33½) at No. 10 Florida State

For his next trick, QB Jameis Winston gets 'Noles fans to buy tickets to see Nevada ... FSU 56-20.

Akron (plus 37) at No. 11 Michigan ... MICHIGAN 48-7.

Lamar (no line) at No. 12 Oklahoma State ... OKLAHOMA STATE 60-10.

Western Michigan (plus 31) at No. 17 Northwestern ... NORTHWESTERN 45-10.

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Last week: Record straight: 15-4; vs. points 7-7.

Season: 37-6; 17-17.

Best bet: 1-1.

Upset special: 0-2.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP