I agree with all of Stuart Mandel's picks, namely Texas narrowly winning over Ohio State (when in doubt, take the better defense), Notre Dame winning comfortably over Penn State (PSU will become one-dimensional in this game and then Morelli will turn the ball over - this is also some wishful thinking on my part because I want Notre Dame to be fat, drunk, and happy when Michigan comes to town), and South Carolina upsetting the Dawgs. Why am I picking that way? A few reasons:
1. If Georgia struggles so much with inferior South Carolina teams, then how is the game going to go when the margin between the teams is narrower?
2. I was discouraged by JTIII's performance last week and, while I think the Dawgs will be better at the end of the year, I can foresee Georgia getting behind in this game and then Stafford having to press to bring them from behind. It's never good when a team is starting one QB, but the conventional wisdom is that they would play a different QB when trailing, i.e. when they actually need to score.
3. In a tight defensive game, which this one promises to be, special teams will be very important and I was impressed by USC's kicking games last week.
4. In a tight, defensive game, which coach is more likely able to come up with a wrinkle to score a touchdown: Steve Spurrier or Mark Richt?
5. Just a hunch that South Carolina is due against Georgia.
All of these factors are causing me to pick the Cocks despite the fact that I'm violating my "when in doubt, pick the better defense" rule stated above. I fully expect Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses to be in the backfield all game long and Spurrier's play-calling to be more conservative as a result, since he won't have confidence that his line can protect deeper patterns. If Georgia jumps out to a lead, it'll likely be because of pressure on Blake Mitchell causing a turnover.
A few other spreads I like:
Central Michigan (+28) at Michigan - Michigan is notoriously terrible at covering big numbers at home, mainly because Lloyd always pulls back on the reins once he has a lead of any kind and that's not conducive to big numbers. Plus, CMU has a decent run defense, so Michigan won't be able to score as much when they start imitating their 1971 offense. Finally, big numbers are even harder to cover with college football's new "screw the fan, NFL-style" clock rules.
Auburn (-20) at Mississippi State - I expect Auburn to score at least 21, thus they will cover.
Virginia Tech (-12) at North Carolina - I expect Virginia Tech to score at least 13, thus they will cover.