SEC West survivor games begin with Ole Miss-Bama, Auburn-LSU


By Ralph D Russo - AP College Football Writer



Alabama quarterback Jake Coker (14) works through drills with Alabama quarterback Alec Morris (11) during NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT


The SEC West survivor series begins.

Sure, the power of the Southeastern Conference has been overplayed, but there are still a bunch of really good teams in the western division and they often play intense, entertaining games. Hate the SEC if you want, but you are only spiting yourself by not enjoying it.

No. 2 Alabama tries to avenge last season’s loss at Mississippi when the No. 15 Rebels come to Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has won seven of eight games against teams that it lost to the season before — by an average of 21 points.

No. 18 Auburn gets a shot at redemption at No. 13 LSU after dodging what would have been a historic upset last week.

“No, it makes no difference to me whatsoever,” LSU coach Les Miles said, dismissing last week’s Auburn struggles against FCS Jacksonville State.

Consider the SEC West a double-elimination tournament. The winner has had one loss each of the last three seasons as the strength of the division has spread. The losers of Saturday’s games aren’t out, but they are likely out of mulligans.

THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

No. 11 Clemson (minus 6) at Louisville

Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino has never had a college team start 0-3 … CLEMSON 28-24.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

No. 9 Florida State (minus 7½) at Boston College

This ain’t Howard … FLORIDA STATE 31-21

SATURDAY

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

No. 15 Ole Miss (plus 6½) at No. 2 Alabama

About to learn a lot about two quarterbacks — Rebels’ Chad Kelly and Tide’s Jake Coker … ALABAMA 28-21.

No. 15 Georgia Tech (minus 2½) at No. 8 Notre Dame

Injuries will catch up to the Fighting Irish — eventually … NOTRE DAME 28-24.

No. 19 BYU (plus 17) at No. 10 UCLA

Tanner Mangum magic runs out for Cougars … UCLA 35-21.

No. 18 Auburn (plus 7½) at No. 13 LSU

Sports are weird … UPSET SPECIAL, AUBURN 28-23.

CONFERENCE CALLS

Stanford (plus 10) at No. 6 Southern California

After four straight wins by the Cardinal, the Trojans have won last two and are retaking control of the rivalry … USC 28-14.

South Carolina (plus 16½) at No. 7 Georgia

Strange things happen in this rivalry, but not this year … GEORGIA 42-14.

SMART FOOTBALL

No. 23 Northwestern (plus 3½) at Duke

The winner gets the ranking … NORTHWESTERN 21-20.

PLUCKY UNDERDOG OR MISMATCH?

Northern Illinois (plus 34½) at No. 1 Ohio State

The Huskies have been to the MAC what the Buckeyes have been to the Big Ten … OHIO STATE 42-14.

Air Force (plus 26½) at No. 4 Michigan State

The Falcons option offense can be a real pain in the neck … MICHIGAN STATE 38-24.

No. 21 Utah (off) at Fresno State

Utes go to backup quarterback and Bulldogs happy to be home and away from Ole Miss … UTAH 34-23.

UConn (plus 21) at No. 22 Missouri

And so it begins for the Huskies … BEST BET, MISSOURI 37-7

UTSA (plus 24½) at No. 25 Oklahoma State

Cowboys QB Mason Rudolph is second in Big 12 in completion percentage at 67 percent … OKLAHOMA STATE 45-17.

TWITTER REQUESTS

Nebraska (plus 3½) at Miami

Has Been Bowl … NEBRASKA 27-23.

Memphis (minus 3) at Bowling Green

Group of Five nonconference game of the week … BOWLING GREEN 42-38

Texas Tech (plus 11½) at Arkansas

Razorbacks need a quick bounce back after tanking against Toledo … ARKANSAS 38-28.

Florida (minus 3) at Kentucky

Gators have won 28 straight against the Wildcats … KENTUCKY 28-17.

California (minus 6½) at Texas

Longhorns fans already got one bit of good news this week … TEXAS 35-31.

___

Last week’s record: 17-4 straight; 11-10 vs. spread

Overall: 31-6; 21-17.

Upset specials: 2-0.

Best bets: 0-1.

__

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP. AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker (14) works through drills with Alabama quarterback Alec Morris (11) during NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/09/web1_105882411-a048268b51ed4c0a8ef7cda59328e856.jpgAlabama quarterback Jake Coker (14) works through drills with Alabama quarterback Alec Morris (11) during NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT

By Ralph D Russo

AP College Football Writer