Auburn has something to prove; Can Stetson Bennett finish off the Tide defense?
Serving as an assistant for Nick Saban has proven to be a lucrative move for a lot of coaches.
Five of his former assistants now hold head coaching positions in the SEC. Their average salary this season is $5.33 million. Add in Louisiana head coach Billy Napier, who makes a little over $1 million this year, and it is easy to see why Butch Jones is content to tote Gatorade on the Tide sideline for a while.
While they have all collected big checks after working in Saban’s building, one thing none have done is beat the man. The collective apprentice versus teacher streak sits at 0-21.
Could this finally be the week?
Here are the picks:
No. 15 Auburn (-2.5) at South Carolina: The statement was made this week that “Auburn should not be ranked.” Fair point. Which is why South Carolina is a trendy mild upset pick this week. Gus Malzahn knows his offensive line needs to play better. Will Muschamp and his $4.6 million is on that list of former Saban assistants, so there is a lot of pressure on him in Columbia, too.
The pick: Auburn 33, South Carolina 27
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama (-4.5): There was a lot of discussion this week about the Tide defense being on the ropes already. However, it might be a bit hasty to draw conclusions from the game against Ole Miss. It was Lane Kiffin’s Super Bowl; the type of game where the former Saban assistant pulled out every trick in his bag to become the first apprentice to put a win on the board. On the Georgia sideline will stand Stetson Bennett, the former fourth-string quarterback, who has become both a revelation and a sensation early in the 2020 season. Will Bennett be able to weather a game plan from the old defensive wizard the likes of which he has never seen before?
The pick: Alabama 24, Georgia 16
Ole Miss (-1.5) at Arkansas: Kiffin already has the Rebels clicking on all cylinders in only his first season. Quarterback Matt Corral is a dynamic playmaker who has put up some gaudy offensive stats. Ole Miss is second in the nation in total offense. Ole Miss gave Alabama everything they could handle last weekend and nearly knocked off the mighty conference favorites. It is doubtful the Lane Train is even equipped with breaks.
The pick: Arkansas 44, Ole Miss 27
No. 1 Clemson (-27) at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech is facing a big number at home against the perpetually most over-hyped team in college football. Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins, who served one season as director of player personnel for Saban at Alabama, has laid a solid foundation with playmaker Jeff Sims at quarterback.
The pick: Clemson 36, Georgia Tech 17
Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech (-13): Boston College is another trendy upset pick. Lost in the fact that Virginia Tech gave up 56 points to a talented North Carolina team last week is the 45 points the Hokies put up on the road.
The pick: Virginia Tech 40, Boston College 20
Last week: 4-1 straight up; 3-2 ATS
Season: 9-1 straight up; 6-4 ATS
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia