College football picks: Auburn rebounds; A top-5 team goes down
It is easy to make assumptions about what we think is going to happen based on what we have seen before. This action has a name — it is called availability. The idea is that something is easily available for us to envision based on that prior experience – even if circumstances are different.
People fall into the availability trap all the time in politics and business.
Another place availability finds victims is in college football.
Many had penciled Oklahoma into the playoff before the season started. Sight unseen, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was assumed to be going to New York City for the Heisman ceremony. Maybe that still happens. But if it does, it will be because of what he does on the field rather than on what the school’s other quarterbacks have done in the past.
The same trap could be set for another top team this week.
Let’s get to the picks.
No. 2 Alabama (-24) at Ole Miss: Mac Jones is a top three quarterback in the country so far this season. The Tide have college football’s best wide receiving unit — again. Ole Miss has been frisky on offense, but terrible on defense. How many points does Nick Saban want to score?
The pick: Alabama 42, Ole Miss 20
Arkansas at No. 13 Auburn (-13.5): Auburn comes off its loss to Georgia, which applied relentless defensive pressure on quarterback Bo Nix as well as some new math for its 20% spectator capacity at Sanford Stadium. If the Auburn offensive line can give Nix just a little bit of time, the plays will be there downfield against Arkansas.
The pick: Auburn 28, Arkansas 14
No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson (-14): Clemson’s defense gave up 101 yards rushing last week to Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong. Miami’s significantly more dynamic quarterback, D’Eriq King, gets his shot on Saturday. This is Dabo Swinney’s least talented roster in years.
The pick: Miami 36, Clemson 30
No. 19 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina (-5): You blink and all of a sudden North Carolina is the eighth-ranked team in the country. And this was after the Heels barely escaped last week against a much less-talented Boston College team. It has been that kind of year. Mack Brown probably only has another season or two left in his second tenure in Chapel Hill.
The pick: North Carolina 33, Virginia Tech 24
UNC Charlotte (-3) at North Texas: UNC Charlotte had a chunk of its season shut down because of a COVID outbreak. Head coach Will Healy’s star is rising among the coaching ranks.
The pick: Charlotte 37, North Texas 30
Last week: 5-0 straight up; 3-2 ATS
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia