Mark Edwards’ picks: Auburn, JSU will live to fight again
Conference championship games are Saturday, and while there usually is an upset or two, none will happen in games that matter.
Let’s get to the picks:
SEC: No. 6 Georgia (11-1) at No. 2 Auburn (10-2): Georgia has had a good season, but second-year head coach Kirby Smart hasn’t built a national title contender yet. That’ll come later, but for now, the Bulldogs are outclassed by solid teams such as Auburn.
The Tigers won an earlier matchup 40-17, and Smart might disagree, but a couple of missed holding calls against Auburn defensive backs wouldn’t have changed that one. If Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson isn’t 100 percent, the Tigers still have more than enough to win this one, especially when factoring in a defense that ranks ninth nationally in points allowed. … Auburn 27, Georgia 13.
FCS playoffs: Kennesaw State (11-1) at No. 3 Jacksonville State (10-1): The Gamecocks have lost two of their last three playoff openers, but in two of them, injuries played a factor. In a 2014 loss to Sam Houston, the JSU defensive backfield was decimated. Last year, the Gamecocks missed running back Roc Thomas. JSU coach John Grass said this week his team is healthy, and that’s not good news at all for Kennesaw State. … Jacksonville State 31, Kennesaw State 21.
Pac 12: No. 12 Stanford (9-3) at No. 10 USC (10-2): Southern California used to be the premier team of the Pac-12 and its precursors. The Trojans have won 38 conference titles, but Stanford has dominated lately with three Pac-12 titles in the last five years. The Heisman Trophy likely belongs to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, but if the Sooners lose and look bad, a big performance by Stanford running back Bryce Love could tighten the race. … Stanford 27, USC 20.
AAC: No. 20 Memphis (10-1) at No. 14 Central Florida (11-0): Central Florida won a previous matchup 40-13, but that was in the third game of the season. UCF’s biggest question today is whether head coach Scott Frost is headed to Nebraska, his alma mater. … Central Florida 34, Memphis 20.
Big 12: No. 11 Texas Christian (10-2) at No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1): TCU has a pretty good team, but the 38-20 loss to the Sooners on Nov. 11 is telling. Oklahoma led 38-14 at halftime before cruising. … Oklahoma 42, Texas Christian 22.
ACC: No. 7 Miami (10-1) at No. 1 Clemson (11-1): Nobody questions what kind of job Mark Richt has done at Miami, but the Hurricanes are getting a lot of mileage off wins over Notre Dame and Florida State — two teams that aren’t as good as their reputations. … Clemson 28, Miami 13.
Big Ten: No. 8 Ohio State (10-2) at No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0): Ohio State is favored by 5.5 points, and a Buckeyes win could put Alabama into the playoffs. Keep in mind that College Football Playoff chairman Kirby Hocutt mentioned more than once Tuesday that there isn’t much difference between No. 5 (Alabama) and No. 8 (Ohio State). A dominating win by the Buckeyes could vault them into the playoff. … Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21.
Mountain West: No. 25 Fresno State (9-3) at Boise State (9-3): Oddly enough, these two teams played just last week. Fresno State won 28-17 in the two team’s final regular-season game of the year. That game was at Fresno, while Boise is hosting this one. Interesting note: Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien’s uncle, Mark Rypien, quarterbacked the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl win 26 years ago. ... Boise State 31, Fresno State 28.
Conference USA: Florida Atlantic (9-3) vs. North Texas (9-3): Lane Kiffin took over a Florida Atlantic team with an abysmal past and absolutely no ground swell of support. The Owls went unbeaten in the league this year and a win over North Texas should earn Kiffin plenty of consideration as the nation’s coach of the year. Keep an eye on FAU running back Devin Singletary, who leads the nation with 27 touchdowns. … Florida Atlantic 31, North Texas 17.
Louisiana-Monroe (4-7) at Florida State (5-6): This one was scheduled for Sept. 9 but was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. The game was put back on the schedule later, and FSU needs to win this one to extend a consecutive bowl streak that began in 1982. … Florida State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 14.
Last week: 8-2 (Missed on Auburn’s win over Alabama and Pitt’s win over Miami.)