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
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.
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.
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.
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
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU