LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by his teammates after defeating Alabama 46-41 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by his teammates after defeating Alabama 46-41 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Over the next three weeks, Auburn will be in the middle of the action even though the Tigers are outside the playoff race.

No. 13 Auburn plays two top-five playoff contenders in No. 5 Georgia (No. 4 CFP) and No. 4 Alabama (No. 5 CFP) at home in November, and depending upon how the Tigers do their coach may or may not be in danger of losing his job.

If the ground on the Plains is shaky for Gus Malzahn, he could become the most accomplished coach in a job market that already includes vacancies at a recent national championship program (Florida State) and the Southeastern Conference school (Arkansas) in his home state.

First chance for the Tigers to play spoiler comes Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium against Georgia in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. Meeting No. 116 will feature two tough defenses and a seasoned veteran quarterback in Georgia’s Jake Fromm facing a freshman quarterback in Auburn’s Bo Nix, who has had a bumpy ride this year.

Auburn-Georgia is one of a season-high five games matching ranked teams on the schedule. The other one with major playoff implications is in the Big 12, where No. 12 Baylor tries to stay unbeaten against No. 10 Oklahoma.

The picks:

No. 1 LSU (minus 21) at Mississippi

Maybe a ‘Bama hangover slows down the Tigers? Probably not ... LSU 42-17.

No. 2 Ohio State (minus 52½) at Rutgers

Since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten, they have lost five games to the Buckeyes, average score 54-5 ... OHIO STATE 54-5.

Wake Forest (plus 34½) at No. 3 Clemson

Demon Deacons have lost top receiver (Sage Surratt) and leading tackler (Justin Strnad) to injuries in the last month ... CLEMSON 49-21.

No. 4 Alabama (minus 19½) at Mississippi State

Tide has won 11 straight against the Bulldogs ... ALABAMA 45-17, BEST BET.

No. 5 Georgia (minus 2½) at No. 13 Auburn

Tigers beating Georgia could make the playoff race even more confusing if the Bulldogs go on to win the SEC championship; Auburn is good at making things complicated ... AUBURN 24-20, UPSET SPECIAL.

Arizona (plus 27) at No. 6 Oregon

Wildcats have quietly collapsed after a four-game winning streak ... OREGON 45-17.

No. 7 Minnesota (plus 3) at No. 23 Iowa

Floyd of Rosedale is on the line; the Big Ten’s most famous pig has resided in Iowa since 2015 ... MINNESOTA 20-18.

UCLA (plus 21) at No. 8 Utah

Bruins have won three straight to get back into Pac-12 South race ... UTAH 38-13.

No. 24 Indiana (plus 14½) No. 9 Penn State

Nittany Lions can still set up a crucial game against Ohio State next week ... PENN STATE 35-17

No. 10 Oklahoma (minus 10) at No. 12 Baylor

Bears have been escape artists with four one-score victories in the Big 12, including two overtime games ... OKLAHOMA 38-31.

No. 11 Florida (minus 7) at Missouri

Mizzou should have QB Kelly Bryant (hamstring) back this week after getting shut out without him last week by Georgia ... FLORIDA 24-20.

Michigan State (plus 13½) at No. 14 Michigan

Spartans come in on a four-game losing streak; the Wolverines have not had a winning streak in the series since 2007 ... MICHIGAN 28-13.

No. 15 Wisconsin (minus 14½) at Nebraska

Badgers have won six straight and seven of eight against the Cornhuskers since Nebraska joined the Big Ten ... WISCONSIN 38-17.

No. 21 Navy (plus 7) at No. 16 Notre Dame

Interesting test for the Irish offense; best way to beat the triple-option is to score a bunch and force it to play with urgency ... NOTRE DAME 28-23.

No. 17 Cincinnati (minus 14) at South Florida

Bulls need two wins to become bowl eligible and it’s not looking great for coach Charlie Strong with Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF still to play ... CINCINNATI 35-14.

No. 18 Memphis (minus 10) at Houston

Tigers have six runs of 60 yards or more, including four of at least 70 yards, most in FBS ... MEMPHIS 45-28.

New Mexico (plus 27½) at No. 19 Boise State

Broncos try to keep pressure on AAC contenders in race for New Year’s Six bid ... BOISE STATE 38-7.

No. 22 Texas (plus 6½) at Iowa State

Cyclones have lost four games by a combined 11 points, including three by two or fewer ... IOWA STATE 35-31.

Kansas (plus 17½) at No. 25 Oklahoma State

Cowboys RB Chuba Hubbard is leading the nation in rushing by 33 yards per game ... OKLAHOMA STATE 48-24.


TCU (minus 3½) at Texas Tech — @jimlaise

Horned Frogs have lost three of four, with all the losses coming by seven points or fewer ... TCU 28-21.

South Carolina (plus 11) at Texas A&M — @BrentCollins1

Gamecocks got stuck with a schedule that was too much for them to handle, especially after being forced to play a freshman quarterback ... TEXAS A&M 28-14.

Virginia Tech (minus 5½) at Georgia Tech — @chriskeiser

Hokies have found their stride and could win the ACC Coastal by winning out ... VIRGINIA TECH 31-21.

Massachusetts (plus 40½) at Northwestern — @PAndres2001

Wildcats are the lowest scoring Power Five team, second-worst in FBS, at 11.1 points per game; UMass is allowing 53 points per game, worst in FBS. Something has to give ... NORTHWESTERN 45-10.


Last week: 15-6 straight; 16-4 against the spread.

Season: 187-57 straight; 134-101-6 against the spread.

Upset specials: 3-8 (straight up).

Best bets: 3-6-1 (against the spread).


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen


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