Welcome to week seven of Pick Six, a weekly column published every Thursday where the RTI team plus a weekly guest picker calls their shots on six games. We’ll do our best to pick the most competitive games each week and will focus heavily on the SEC when possible. Spreads are listed and will occasionally be mentioned in the comments. We’ll keep a running tally of records (straight up, not ATS) throughout the year and compare those to how Vegas fared.
Last week, Daniel and Houston led the way at 3-3 while Reed turned in another 2-4 week. Guest picker Chad Neipling had the best week going 4-2 and calling for TCU to upset Oklahoma. For the year, Reed is 21-15, Daniel is 21-15, Houston is 20-16, our guest pickers are 21-15 and Vegas favorites are 22-14. This is the week we break through and dominate Vegas.
No. 2 Auburn (-3) @ No. 3 Mississippi State TV: CBS 3:30pm Saturday
Daniel: We’ve picked several games this year where I didn’t believe in either team and just had to pick one because, ultimately, somebody was going to win. I have the opposite problem here. I believe in both teams and have a hard time seeing either losing a game at this point. Obviously, somebody will. Some of the stats between these teams are eerily similar. Ready for this? Both teams rush for exactly 5.58 yards per carry. But MSU has the massive .01 yard edge in rushing defense, holding opponents to 2.89 yards per carry, while Auburn holds opponents to 2.90 yards per carry. I’m going with Auburn simply because the Tigers find ways to win. Star receiver Jameon Lewis is questionable for the Bulldogs and that could be a big factor as well. Winner: Auburn 27-21
Houston: I’m squarely on the Mississippi State bandwagon. I had questions about their defense that they absolutely put to rest with their performance against Texas A&M; and while they may not have the most talent on offense surrounding him, Dak Prescott has continued to get the job done week in and week out. But this is Auburn we are talking about. The Tigers may not be as strong running the football this year, but they have surrounded quarterback Nick Marshall with talent at wide receiver in Quan Bray, Sammie Coates and Duke Williams and they are really starting to gel. This game seems about as evenly matched as they come, but ultimately I believe that the Bulldogs are due for a slight letdown after their win over the Aggies and Auburn will sneak out of Starkville with the close win. Winner: Tigers 33-31
Reed: This just might be the game of the year. I doubted the Bulldogs last week and clearly shouldn’t have. They’re for real. The winner of this game should claim the No. 1 spot in both polls and the loser will have an uphill battle to Atlanta. Dak Prescott may be the best play in the country, but it’s tough to pick against Malzahn in this one. I like Mullen, but Malzahn is the best coach in the country and will be able to attack the weaknesses in Miss State’s defense. This one should go down to the last possession. Auburn has been great in close games (with one glaring exception) since Malzahn arrived and I think the Tigers squeak this one out thanks to an improved passing game and an edge on defense. If Miss State wins, though, I won’t pick against them the rest of the year. Winner: Tigers 34-31
Kyle: I will be covering Oregon-UCLA at the Rose Bowl during this game, but you can bet this game is getting the DVR treatment. So please, no one tweet me the score!
Mississippi State has been a joy to watch in its past two wins. Dak Prescott is seemingly Dan Mullen’s muse, a quarterback whose skill-set and attitude are just tailor-made for what the Bulldogs coach wants to do. Prescott is generating well-earned Heisman buzz, but his monster numbers are not possible without Josh Robinson. Robinson is the one of the unsung stars of this college football season.
On the other side of the ball, that Bulldogs’ front seven is just obscenely talented. Benardrick McKinney? Preston Smith? Then you add Richie Brown coming out of nowhere to snag three picks last week? Of course, the wizard on the Plains, Gus Malzahn, is adept at solving the challenges presented by NFL-talent rich defenses.
Nick Marshall may not be the SEC’s best passer by any stretch, but Malzahn’s play-calling puts him in the right situations. And much like Robinson on the other side of the ball, Cameron Artis-Payne’s play has been somewhat overshadowed nationally. This has the look of an instant classic. Look for a high-scoring affair with the home-standing Bulldogs mustering just enough to keep the cowbells clangin’ long into the Starkville night. Winner: Mississippi State 42-41