Crystal Ball, Week 6:
Florida (5-0) at Vanderbilt (2-3) – I don’t think the Gators are the nation’s 4th best team, as the polls say, but they’ve outperformed expectations and are getting better each week. They need to be careful this week because Coach James Franklin has made Vanderbilt a competitive team that plays better than its talent would indicate. The Gators do need to find a more productive passing game if they’re going to stay high in the polls. Florida, favored by 8, wins 24-14.
South Carolina (6-0) at LSU (5-1) – The Gamecocks are coming off of an incredible high and the Tiger are coming off of a crushing defeat. This is new territory for South Carolina, but not for their coach, Steve Spurrier. The big question in Baton Rogue is: Can LSU’s offense be this bad? Can playing at home at night be the difference? The odds makers think so and so do I. LSU, favored by 2½, wins 24-21.
North Carolina (4-2) at Miami (4-2) – The Hurricanes have established a pattern: Beat the average teams and get crushed by the good teams. Where do the Tar heels fall? There’s plenty of talent, but this team lost to Wake Forest. UNC, favored by 7½, wins 28-24.
Tennessee (3-3) at Mississippi State (5-0) – The Bulldogs are a top 25 team, especially now that they can throw the ball. The Volunteers aren’t talented enough to save Coach Derek Dooley’s job. Mississippi State, favored by 2½, wins 31-21.
Texas (4-1) vs. Oklahoma (4-1) in Dallas – The Red River Shootout is one of the nation’s best rivalries. Often the winner stays in the hunt for the national title, but not this year. Both are good but not great teams. Oklahoma, favored by 3, wins 42-35.
Green Bay (2-3) at Houston (5-0) – The Texans will miss linebacker Brain Cushing, out for the season with a knee injury. The Packers have been missing WR Greg Jennings all season. Houston may well make it to the Super Bowl. The Texans are that good. But the beauty of the NFL is that truly “on any given Sunday . . .” anything can happen. The Packers, 3½-point underdogs, win 28-24.
Giants (3-2 at San Francisco (4-1)) – The Giants have a bad habit of falling behind early. Their defense has too many lapses. The 49ers have to be worried about QB Alex Smith’s injured middle finger of his throwing hand, but their defense is the best. The 49ers, favored by 5, win 24-17.
I don’t blame you if you take my picks and go the other way. I struggled again last week, going 2-5 in both picking winners and against the spread. Embarrassingly, I’m 16-19 picking winners and 11-24 against the spread. It has to get better, right?
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