Week three got a little weird around college football but SEC teams mostly held serve. We are getting into the start of conference play now and teams with aspirations for postseason glory will need to clean up mistakes in order to hang on to those hopes.
Each week this column will give you readers a breakdown on top games featuring SEC teams and picks for the remaining games involving SEC teams. Last week I went 9-2 with the picks bringing my total record to 30-7, holding at 81%. (All times listed below are Central.)
Week Four Featured and Conference Games
Cal (1-0) @ Ole Miss (0-1)
11:00 AM - ESPNU
Ole Miss has shown some improvements on defense this year, but the Cal Bears bring a hard-hitting bunch into Oxford this weekend. Cal's not flashy on offense but they generally get the job done. The Rebels offense still has a lot of questions and even being at home, those questions are enough for me to pick the visitors to score the win.
Cal 23, Ole Miss 16
Tennessee (1-0) @ Florida (0-1)
11:00 AM - ESPN
Tennessee feels better about themselves after thrashing Chattanooga but the problems still remain for the Vols. Their front lines are susceptible and that's a problem facing Florida who is so talented, especially on defense. The Gators have their issues and they'll have to adjust to life after Feleipe Franks (who was lost to injury). However, Florida has plenty of speed and they should find openings in the opposing defense to jump out to a lead early and grind away for the win.
Florida 34, Tennessee 14
Auburn (2-0) @ Texas A&M (1-1)
2:30 PM - CBS
Gus Malzahn and Auburn are riding a two-game win streak in this series but there's a reason they are underdogs in this even though the Tigers are ranked higher and undefeated. Fact is, Auburn's played one team in their same caliber all season and it took another lucky break for them to pull the win. Auburn's defense is incredible but no more incredible than Clemson's. While Clemson shut down the Aggies, that is a great learning experience. Also, Auburn's offense is nowhere near the league of Clemson and the limitations on offense - specifically, the inability to get the run game going - are going to cost Auburn several games this season, starting with this one. The Aggies are smart and efficient on offense. And make no mistake, they'll need to be patient in order for things to start working against Auburn. However, Jimbo Fisher and his staff can out scheme and outlast Auburn if they will stick with what works well - using QB Kellen Mond in space to find his fellow playmakers. This should be a back and forth game, but give the edge to the home team with more known quantities than the visitors. Could the beginning of the end for the Malzahn era start in College Station?
Texas A&M 27, Auburn 14
Notre Dame (1-0) @ Georgia (1-0)
7:00 PM - CBS
The premier game of the weekend pits playoff hopefuls and two of the top coaches in the nation. For Notre Dame, this is the chance to make a statement with a major win on the road against a top power. For Georgia, it's the chance to knock off a named program and continue their march back to the playoff. Notre Dame's run game will be a challenge for the Georgia defense in this game and the Irish would be smart to lean on that as a way to shorten the game and keep Georgia's prolific offense on the sidelines. Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm can make every throw and with a young, promising group of receivers to work with, he is a dangerous adversary. However, Georgia's run game is the difference here as I don't see a way Notre Dame can contain Swift and Herrien for four quarters. I expect a close game early but the Bulldogs will ground and pound out a big win over the course of the game.
Georgia 31, Notre Dame 20
Other Week Four Picks
Alabama 42, Southern Miss 10
Arkansas 24, San Jose State 20
LSU 38, Vanderbilt 13
Mississippi State 17, Kentucky 13
South Carolina 23, Missouri 21
You can hear Jay each Wednesday on The Gridiron Breakdown Show podcast. Go to anchor.fm/gridironbreakdown to see platforms where you can listen and subscribe.