football Edit

Neal's Picks, presented by Southern Craft Stove + Tap, Week 4

So, there's new growth. The leaves are still on the damn tree. Leave me alone. It's hot outside.
So, there's new growth. The leaves are still on the damn tree. Leave me alone. It's hot outside.

NEAL'S PICKS PALATIAL HEADQUARTERS -- Week 3 was a mediocre slate.

We at Neal's Picks produced a thoroughly mediocre result.

We got a few right. Thanks, Georgia. Thank you, Gus Malzahn.

We got a few wrong. Why, Alabama, are you giving up a fourth-quarter field goal? You want fans to stay, Nick? Well, here's an idea. Cover the f'ing line.

And we got close. One of the interns we hired because of her resume asked during our Sunday week-in-review tequila shot meeting if we'd gotten Florida-Kentucky right.

"Florida won by, carry the three, eight points, right?" she said.

The line, as you know, was 8 1/2.

"Can't they just give us the half-point?" she asked.

It's moments like those when we know history is about to repeat itself. Interns are going to be fired. All the good liquors will be gone. The furniture will be reclaimed, and we'll be left in this mansion all alone, sitting on the rum-soaked floor, studying the MAC, the Sun Belt, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Real Madrid, looking for games to make up for interns who didn't work hard enough earlier in the season.

Anyway, it's a more interesting slate this week, and while we at Neal's Picks are back in last place, we're just one game out of first place. It's not like anyone is running away with this thing in the first month of the season.

On to the picks...

Standings

Last Week:

Neal McCready: 10-1 overall, 3-3 ATS

Chase Parham: 10-1 overall, 3-3 ATS

Jeffrey Wright: 10-1 overall, 3-3 ATS

Zach Berry: 9-2 overall, 2-4 ATS

For The Season:

Neal McCready: 30-6 overall, 14-13 ATS

Chase Parham: 29-7 overall, 15-12 ATS

Jeffrey Wright: 30-6 overall, 15-12 ATS

Zach Berry: 29-7 overall, 15-12 ATS

Southern Craft Stove + Tap is located just off Highway 7, on Sisk Avenue, in Oxford.
Southern Craft Stove + Tap is located just off Highway 7, on Sisk Avenue, in Oxford.
A grilled shrimp appetizer from Southern Craft Stove + Tap
A grilled shrimp appetizer from Southern Craft Stove + Tap

All games Saturday

Northwestern (La.) State coach Brad Laird, a very famous former Ruston Bearcat, displays his magnificence during the Demons' narrow loss to LSU last weekend. I went to school with Laird's sister, Kim. She was madly in love with me. She just wasn't aware of those feelings.
Northwestern (La.) State coach Brad Laird, a very famous former Ruston Bearcat, displays his magnificence during the Demons' narrow loss to LSU last weekend. I went to school with Laird's sister, Kim. She was madly in love with me. She just wasn't aware of those feelings. (USA Today Sports)

No. 4 LSU (-23.5) at Vanderbilt, 11 a.m., SEC Network

Neal McCready: Keep it simple, stupid. And no, I'm not referring to Ed Orgeron. Neal's Pick: LSU 44, Vanderbilt 13

Chase Parham: Georgia only covered this line against Vanderbilt by a half point, so that makes me a little nervous. However, LSU may have a better offense than the Bulldogs (yes, I said that) and Vanderbilt still sucks on offense. So, sure, we'll lay them. Parham's Pick: LSU 41, Vanderbilt 10

Jeffrey Wright: Do I think LSU can score 24 points? Yes. Lay em.Wright’s Pick: LSU 38, Vanderbilt 10

Zach Berry: I take back everything bad I said about Joe Burrow. He’s legit. Zach’s Pick: LSU 45, Vanderbilt 10


At least Smokey appears to be winning. He's oblivious to the drama in Knoxville. Just give him a treat.
At least Smokey appears to be winning. He's oblivious to the drama in Knoxville. Just give him a treat. (USA Today Sports)

Tennessee (+14) at No. 9 Florida, 11 a.m. CDT, ESPN

Neal McCready: The big number feels like a bit of a trap, given Tennessee's inauspicious start to the season. Florida was fortunate to win in Lexington. The Gators are solid, but that's as far as I'm willing to go. Neal's Pick: Florida 27, Tennessee 17

Chase Parham: I don't trust Florida's quarterback situation, and that was a gift for the Gators against Kentucky. Tennessee is awful, but this is too many points. We're overselling Florida right now. Parham's Pick: Florida 24, Tennessee 16

Jeffrey Wright: I don’t know why, but this line scares me — Early kickoff, and what seems to be an obvious line. This feels like the backdoor could be wide open, but I’m going to keep it simple. The Gators will harass Guarantano, and Florida has a more dynamic passing game with Trask. Wright’s Pick: Florida 31, Tennessee 14

Zach Berry: Sure this is letdown territory for Florida and rivalry nonsense, but it ain’t happening. Zach’s Pick: Florida 31, Tennessee 16

Nick Saban shares an intimate moment with three Alabama cheerleaders. Little Debbies, indeed!
Nick Saban shares an intimate moment with three Alabama cheerleaders. Little Debbies, indeed! (USA Today Sports)

Southern Mississippi (+39) at No. 2 Alabama, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Neal McCready: I've been burned two weeks in a row by big numbers and the Tide's failure to cover them. Alabama's defense, I'm here to proclaim yet again, is mortal. The Eagles are going to give up a ton of points. The question, then, is how many will Jack Abraham and Co. score? Neal's Pick: Alabama 56, Southern Mississippi 20

Chase Parham: This feels like a demolition. I'm hopeful Jack Abraham as a big day, but I just don't see it. Alabama hasn't covered the big spreads two straight weeks, but I think the Tide handles this one. Parham's Pick: Alabama 51, USM 10

Jeffrey Wright: USM is the most annoying team to play with a big line because they don’t quit, and they throw it just well enough to cover. I’ll take the points knowing full well that I am going to hate myself. Wright’s Pick: Alabama 49, Southern Miss 14

Zach Berry: Nope. Zach’s Pick: Alabama 52, Southern Miss 7

Look at the little socialists, just begging for a FREE t-shirt. Pitiful. #MAGA
Look at the little socialists, just begging for a FREE t-shirt. Pitiful. #MAGA (USA Today Sports)

No. 23 California (Pick) at Ole Miss, 11 a.m., ESPNU

Neal McCready: I hope I'm wrong here. I don't want to continue to play the role of psychologist/therapist on RebelGrove.com. I'm just a sports writer who hosts 27 podcasts. I'm not qualified to dispense mental health. I do worry that Cal's secondary is going to not only give Ole Miss fits but also do real damage. Mistakes will be magnified in a game like this one, and that makes me steer away from a young quarterback. Neal's Pick: California 17, Ole Miss 16

Chase Parham: The under is the play here instead of one of the teams, but that's not an option on Neal's Picks until Neal is out of the running and starts making us predict horse racing and roshambo contests. Cal is really good on defense, but the offensive line and quarterback don't inspire confidence. Parham's Pick: Ole Miss 23, Cal 20

Jeffrey Wright: I’m making this pick blind. I don’t like the matchup for Ole Miss, but the sharps are hammering Ole Miss. Also, unranked teams that are favored against ranked teams in the 20s cover at a high rate. Wright’s Pick: Ole Miss 20, Cal 13

Zach Berry: This is a weird one. It’s going to be a rock fight. Cal’s offense is meh, but their defense is really good. Ole Miss’ offense has yet to truly be unleashed in my opinion but their defense has made significant strides. The Bears have a lot of injuries on the offensive line and Chase Garbers can’t really throw the ball downfield. I think Scottie Phillips gets going and Mike MacIntyre's defense forces some turnovers. I wish I could take the under. Give me the Rebs in a tight one. Zach’s Pick: Ole Miss 20, Cal 17

A young cult member celebrates an Aggie sacrifice at a recent bonfire/bloodletting.
A young cult member celebrates an Aggie sacrifice at a recent bonfire/bloodletting. (USA Today Sports)

No. 8 Auburn (+4) at No. 17 Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Neal McCready: The Battle of the Cults, Texas Style. Howdy. War Eagle. I said Howdy. I said War Damn Eagle. Bodda Getta. That's good bull. The conversation between those two fan bases could go on that way for hours. Anyway, it's Kellen Mond against Auburn's uber-talented defense and the Tigers' offense, one still searching for a real identity, against a very solid Aggies defense that held its own against Clemson two weeks ago. Everything screams "Take Texas A&M," though I'm reminded these are the very games the Aggies blow with regularity. Neal's Pick: Auburn 24, Texas A&M 23

Chase Parham: Auburn doesn't have a quarterback that does much for me, and if Texas A&M is serious about taking the next step, this is the type of game it wins instead of squanders. Give me the home team and a new leaf for the Aggies. Parham's Pick: Texas A&M 34, Auburn 27

Jeffrey Wright: Bo Nix has been remarkably inconsistent, and he will be making his first true road start. However, I’ve seen Kellen Mond against good defensive fronts, and it is known that he wants no part of it. Also, most power rankings say that Auburn is the better team. I’ll take the points. Wright’s Pick: Texas A&M 24, Auburn 21

Zach Berry: This one should be fun. Auburn has found something on the ground and Texas A&M is itching to get back in the good graces of adults who wear overalls. I think the road environment will be too much for Bo Nix and Jimbo Fisher and Kellen Mond sneak out with a big SEC West win. Zach’s Pick: Texas A&M 28, Auburn 26

Mississippi State players retreat to their fractured locker room following a loss to Kansas State.
Mississippi State players retreat to their fractured locker room following a loss to Kansas State. (USA Today Sports)

Kentucky (+7.5) at Mississippi State, 3 p.m., SEC Network

Neal McCready: I'd love to know the mood in Lexington this week. The Wildcats absolutely gave a game away against Florida, so seven days later, are they down and out or encouraged by their performance against a perfectly solid but not spectacular Florida team? Mike Stoops' teams have been solid over the years, so I expect a consistent approach. Neal's Pick: Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 21

Chase Parham: Sawyer Smith didn't suck, and Mississippi State looked awful against Kansas State. The Bulldogs may win, but it's just too many points. Parham's Pick: MSU 27, Kentucky 24

Jeffrey Wright: Both teams are coming off tough losses. However, I’ll say that Kentucky can frustrate State enough to cover. Wright’s Pick: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 20

Zach Berry: Get right game for Mississippi State? I don’t feel good about it but here goes nothing. Zach’s Pick: Mississippi State 23, Kentucky 17

Gabe D'Armond is so negative. Look at these happy Mizzou fans. You'd never know anyone in Columbia was happy if you just listened to Gabe.
Gabe D'Armond is so negative. Look at these happy Mizzou fans. You'd never know anyone in Columbia was happy if you just listened to Gabe. (USA Today Sports)

South Carolina (+9.5) at Missouri, 3 p.m., SEC Network

Neal McCready: Boom and the boys were OK against Alabama (and the officials) Saturday in Columbia. Now they have to go to the other Columbia to face a nice Missouri team that has rebounded nicely from the opening loss in Laramie. I think Mizzou wins but that's way too many points. Neal's Pick: Missouri 30, South Carolina 27.

Chase Parham: Give me the home favorite the week after South Carolina had to deal with Alabama. The Gamecocks sort of got a moral victory, but Missouri is pretty salty, and this seems like a slog before the Tigers pull away. Parham's Pick: Missouri 31, South Carolina 20

Jeffrey Wright: Just two SEC East rivals going at it. SEC Fever! Live it. Love it. Feel it. Get your pedialyte out, folks. We’ve got a hangover game. South Carolina will come back to earth. Also, I don’t trust Muschamp. Wright’s Pick: Missouri 35, South Carolina 21

Zach Berry: South Carolina put up a good fight against Alabama and it appears they have found something on both sides of the ball. Kelly Bryant will be a nice test for Boom and Co. Zach’s Pick: Missouri 34, South Carolina 26

One can't help but wonder how this guy wasn't the quarterback in Fayetteville all along.
One can't help but wonder how this guy wasn't the quarterback in Fayetteville all along. (USA Today Sports)

San Jose State (+21) at Arkansas, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

Neal McCready: How did Nick Starkel not start the first two games? Seriously, how did that decision get made? Neal's Pick: Arkansas 52, San Jose State 16

Chase Parham: Even Ben Hicks' family won't turn this thing on. Parham's Pick: Arkansas 45, San Jose State 20

Jeffrey Wright: Arkansas scored 54 points with Starkel at quarterback. It’s almost like he should have started the season. I think they’re undervalued with Starkel, and San Jose State SUCKS.Wright’s Pick: Arkansas 49, San Jose State 24

Zach Berry: Who actually watches this? Zach’s Pick: Arkansas 40, San Jose State 17

Actors take a break during the filming of "Rudy II."
Actors take a break during the filming of "Rudy II." (USA Today Sports)

No. 7 Notre Dame (+13.5) at No. 3 Georgia, 7 p.m., CBS

Neal McCready: I'm terrible at picking games but I'm pretty consistently good at one thing: Identifying elite teams and just laying the points week after week. Georgia is an elite team, the most elite team in this league right now. Neal's Pick: Georgia 42, Notre Dame 17

Chase Parham: Vegas isn't even screwing around. Sure, Notre Dame has some name recognition, but Georgia has a ton of athletes and is better at every position. Lay 'em. Parham's Pick: Georgia 41, Notre Dame 17

Jeffrey Wright: Pray for Old Notre Dame. Hear to the echoes ringing their brains. Send them help from on high, because they’re going to need it before they die.Wright’s Pick: Georgia 31, Notre Dame 13

Zach Berry: The game of the week probably won’t be much of a game. But, it’ll be close for a little bit. Zach’s Pick: Georgia 31, Notre Dame 17