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Football Picks: It's now three straight weeks of 7-3 records. The overall record is 108-35 (76%).

One part of the weekly picks will end this week. The high schools end their seasons in Birmingham. Seven state champions will be crowned.

I thought that Catholic would be among them. The Knights' dream season has ended. Montgomery Academy pulled off the upset of the year on Friday.

The Eagles were the first team to score double digits against Catholic. They avenged the regular-season setback (42-0), with a walk-off field goal that has them headed to the Magic City this week.

I was told that Catholic's loss gives Alabama hope this week against Georgia, which has a similar shutdown defense. We'll see.

The Crimson Tide somehow got out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with a win. What was a low-scoring defensive struggle turned into a four-overtime thriller.

Rivalry week had some surprises. Michigan's win over Ohio State was among them. The Buckeyes had won 15 of 16 in the series. Oklahoma State also won after losing 15 of the previous 17 against Oklahoma.

Both Michigan and Okie State are in the playoff conversation now. A lot can happen to shake up the four invites. Something tells me that conference title weekend won't be quite status quo.

Central-Phenix City vs. Thompson (Wednesday): It's four straight years in the state title game now for Thompson. Mark Freeman is at the top of his game among coaches in this state.

Freeman won four AISA titles at Bessemer Academy. He's won four more in the AHSAA ranks at Spanish Fort (2) and Thompson (2).

Patrick Nix claimed two state championships at Pinson Valley with his son Bo at quarterback. His son Caleb is the field general for this Central team making its first trip to the championship since Jamey DuBose was running the show in 2019.

Central and Thompson met in the 7A championship in 2019 with the Warriors winning. Central beat them for the blue trophy in 2018. Thompson is gunning for their third straight title. Central 34, Thompson 28

Montgomery Academy vs. Piedmont: Another pair of top-tier prep coaches meet in the 3A championship. Steve Smith is in his 16th season at Piedmont. His Bulldogs' teams have four title rings.

Robert Johnson won the AISA-AAA championship at Tuscaloosa Academy in 2012. He's got MA in the championship game for the first time since he was a player on the 1987 Eagles' title team under John Tatum.

Ironically, that's the same year that Smith played at Cherokee County. Both seasoned coaches today were high school seniors and received all-state honors back then.

After the Academy pulled off the unthinkable last week against Catholic, how could I pick against them? MA 24, Piedmont 21

Pleasant Grove vs. Pike Road: It looks like the 5A title is Pike Road's to lose. They are the favorite, but we said the same last week about Catholic.

The Patriots have steamrolled three of their playoff opponents with shutouts. Pleasant Grove has won fairly easily too with a couple of shutouts of their own and lopsided wins through the first four rounds.

Both teams had undefeated seasons, but the Spartans had to forfeit their season-opening 61-24 rout of Oxford. I really won't be surprised (and I really mean that) if this one goes either way. Pike Road 28, Pleasant Grove 20

Vigor vs. Oneonta: Oneonta is shooting for their fourth state championship. The previous three have come under three different coaches.

Current Hoover coach Josh Niblett won his first there in 2004. Don Jacobs won the last one in 2013. Both of those guys are former Alabama players. Phil Phillips is in his first head gig at Oneonta and making his first trip to the finals.

Vigor can do something that I'm not sure any other team has done since AHSAA's restructuring in 1984 - win a championship in three different classifications. The Wolves have two 6A trophies and one in 5A. This game will decide the 4A champ. Vigor 36, Oneonta 21

Clay-Chalkville vs. Hueytown: We've got a rematch from early season. Clay beat Hueytown in August - 57-40. Both are in the Jefferson County School System.

This would be the third state title overall for the Cougars. Hueytown is vying for their first. Give me the Golden Gophers. Hueytown 41, Clay 39

Houston at Cincinnati: Cincy and Georgia are the only two unbeatens in the FBS ranks. Will they both finish that way? The two did finish last season playing against each other in a bowl game. That too could happen again.

Is Cincy worthy of the playoff? They do get the privilege of playing non-quality opponents all season. That usually is the reason for keeping them out.

This year might just work out for them. And it will if they win Saturday.

Houston is capable of pulling the upset. The Bearcats have struggled at times, but it seems they're playing their best ball now - another privilege of not needing your "A" game for most of the season. Cincinnati 30, Houston 27

Oregon vs. Utah: Utah ended the Ducks' playoff chances a few weeks ago. It was a blowout in Salt Lake. This game will be on a neutral field with Oregon getting its chance at redemption.

It will be closer, but once again the PAC-12 will be without a CFP rep. Maybe if the committee expands the field to 12, the conference will get a team in once in a while. Utah 24, Oregon 23

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: The Big 12's playoff hopes lie with the team coached by that man. He's not "40!" anymore.

Mike Gundy is due some credit for getting the Cowboys to this point. He's done it primarily with defense. The "Pokes" stymied Baylor's offense in their first meeting. Oklahoma State 28, Baylor 24

Michigan vs. Iowa: Congrats to Coach Harbaugh. I've been saying for a while that he was a good coach. He finally has given me a reason to bring it back up. His days at Michigan haven't lived up to the hype from his previous head coaching stops.

The Wolverines reach the CFP with a victory. Boy, what would the naysayers say if they choke? Oh goodness, don't do that! Michigan 23, Iowa 21

Georgia vs. Alabama: Nick Saban's Tide has won 10 games or more 14 straight times. That ties Bobby Bowden at Florida State (1987-2000) for the best all-time.

Bama has also won 11 games or more 11 straight years. No other team has done that. Getting to 11 Saturday was not easy.

Alabama probably played its worst half or three quarters of football (give Auburn credit) since Saban's first year in T-Town. That and the way that the Crimson Tide has looked on several occasions doesn't make many optimistic going into the weekend.

This is the first time Bama opened as an underdog since the 2015 meeting with the Bulldogs. Alabama won easily.

Before that, the Tide was last an underdog in the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Florida. Bama won easily again. You might remember that the Iron Bowl was a struggle at Jordan-Hare in '09 too.

Alabama has a chance because they have been more battle-tested in the tougher division of the SEC. There are common opponents; however, and Georgia has not been challenged - unlike Alabama.

What Bryce Young was able to pull of might have given him the Heisman. He'll win the trophy if he can lead Bama to the CFP with a win on Saturday in Atlanta. He might win it regardless.

I'm not sure there is a path to the playoff for Saban again with a loss. At least a couple of things outside of their control will need to fall into place.

I won't be surprised if Bama wins this. If they play to their potential on both sides of the ball I expect it. Still, I've seen a more consistent team coached by Nick's former assistant in Kirby Smart. He's been close in these matchups. This is his best chance of getting over the hump. Georgia 24, Alabama 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Mixson with Jamicah Humphery on Senior Night last season. Humphery reached 1,000 points in his playing career and scored a career-high 53 in the Tigers' sub-regional win over Talladega.

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