College football picks: SEC future and present highlights Week 6 with Red River, Alabama-Texas A&M

The Southeastern Conference, both present and future, takes center stage Saturday.

At the state fair in Dallas, No. 3 Texas and No. 12 Oklahoma play the final Red River Rivalry game as members of the Big 12 before joining the SEC next year.

Instead of Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark being at the game, Greg Sankey of the SEC will drop by to check out two incoming members who rolled through the first month of the season undefeated. The Longhorns and Sooners will both bring unbeaten records to the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2008.

The grudge match is the first part of a Lone Star State doubleheader for Sankey, who plans to head over to College Station to catch the midafternoon game between No. 11 Alabama and Texas A&M, the only two remaining unbeaten teams in conference play in the SEC West.

Maybe the biggest game in the actual SEC is between the East Division’s two highest-ranked teams: No. 20 Kentucky takes on No. 1 Georgia, with the Wildcats out again to prove they are more than just in contention for second-best in the East.

The most-under-the-radar ranked SEC team is No. 21 Missouri, which welcomes No. 23 LSU to Columbia. After an epic collapse by the defense last week, the two-loss Tigers from Baton Rouge are already in danger of being buried in the SEC West basement.

The five most intriguing games of Week 6 have big-time SEC bias.

No. 3 Texas vs. No. 12 Oklahoma at Dallas

The Longhorns beat the Sooners last season in historic fashion, 49-0, snapping a four-game losing streak in the series. The Sooners played that game without injured QB Dillion Gabriel and it was the third loss of a three-game skid that effectively ended any hope of contending for a Big 12 title.

Gabriel enters this game healthy and, like this team, not getting much attention for what has been a torrid start. The fifth-year quarterback has thrown for 1,593 yards and 15 touchdowns.

On the other side, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers has thrown for 1,358 yards and 10 scores.

LINE: Texas by 6 1/2. PICK: TEXAS 31-28.

No. 11 Alabama at Texas A&M

An enormous opportunity for coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies to seize early control of the West, a division they have yet to win since joining the SEC in 2012.

It was just a couple of seasons ago that A&M knocked off a top-ranked Tide team as an unranked team in College Station and then proceeded to finish the season 8-4. So, no, don’t crown the winner of this game.

But considering the state of the West, this feels like a case where either Alabama restores order or the Aggies finally have a real breakthrough under Fisher.

LINE: Alabama by 2 1/2. PICK: Texas A&M 23-22.

No. 20 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia

The Bulldogs have won 13 straight in the series, including two meetings in the last five years where both teams were ranked. Georgia won both of those games by 17 points and outrushed the Wildcats 497-135 combined.

Vanderbilt transfer RB Ray Davis is coming off a monster game for Kentucky (280 yards rushing on 26 carries).

The two-time defending national champions have yet to have a statement game this season. Here’s their chance.

LINE: Georgia by 14 1/2. PICK: Georgia 31-14.

No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 25 Louisville

Third straight week with a ranked opponent for the Fighting Irish, and second straight on the road against an upstart Atlantic Coast Conference team. Notre Dame has won 30 consecutive regular-season games against ACC competition.

In Year 1 under hometown hero Jeff Brohm, the Cardinals are 5-0 for the first time since 2013.

LINE: Notre Dame by 6 1/2. PICK: Notre Dame 27-21.

No. 23 LSU at No. 21 Missouri

LSU is trying to avoid dropping to 3-3 with two SEC losses after starting the season No. 5 in the country. The Tigers’ defense has been a mess, tied for 121st in the nation at 6.47 yards per play allowed.

Unbeaten Missouri (5-0) has the weapons to take advantage, starting with WR Luther Burden III, who is second in the nation at 128.8 receiving yards per game.

LINE: LSU by 6 1/2. PICK: MISSOURI 35-31.

The rest of Saturday’s games involving ranked teams and FBS foes, with lines by FanDuel Sportsbook:

No. 2 Michigan (minus 19 1/2) at Minnesota

Can the Gophers be the first opponent to break seven points against the Wolverines? … MICHIGAN 35-13.

Maryland (plus 19 1/2) at No. 4 Ohio State

Buckeyes are 8-0 against the Terps since Maryland joined the Big Ten, averaging 57.5 points per game … OHIO STATE 38-21.

Virginia Tech at No. 5 Florida State (minus 23 1/2)

Seminoles have scored at least 30 in 10 straight games … FLORIDA STATE 45-17.

Arizona (plus 21 1/2) at No. 9 Southern California

Status of Wildcats QB Jayden De Laura (ankle) remains unclear after he missed last week’s game … USC 49-31.

No. 13 Washington State (plus 3 1/2) at UCLA

Bruins lead the Pac-12 in defense at 3.75 yards per play allowed … WASHINGTON STATE 27-24.

Syracuse (plus 8 1/2) at No. 14 North Carolina

Only the third meeting since the Orange joined the ACC in 2013 … NORTH CAROLINA 31-24.

No. 15 Oregon State at California (plus 9 1/2)

Matchup of the Pac-12’s top two rushers in Cal’s Jayden Ott and OSU’s Damien Martinez … OREGON STATE 24-16.

Arkansas (plus 11 1/2) at No. 16 Mississippi

Hogs and Rebels have recent history of close, high-scoring games … MISSISSIPPI 34-24.

Georgia Tech at No. 17 Miami (minus 20 1/2)

Quietly, the Hurricanes are third nationally in offense, averaging 8.24 yards per play … MIAMI 42-17.

No. 24 Fresno State at Wyoming (plus 5 1/2)

Bulldogs have won four straight in the series, including the last two by shutout … WYOMING 20-17.


Colorado (minus 4 1/2) at Arizona State (@DanaBecker). Deion Sanders’ team steps off the big stage on onto the Pac-12 Network … COLORADO 34-27.

Wake Forest (plus 20 1/2) at Clemson (@BlakleyRon). Tigers have won 14 straight over the Demon Deacons, including a wild, double overtime game last year … CLEMSON 31-14.

Rutgers (plus 13 1/2) at Wisconsin (@jcsteer). Badgers are 4-0 against the Scarlet Knights by an average of 34.5 points per game … WISCONSIN 24-14.

UCF (plus 2 1/2) at Kansas (@lilerq74). Knights still looking for first Big 12 win after blowing a 28-point lead last week to Baylor … UCF 34-31.

Marshall (plus 6 1/2) at North Carolina State (@ThenotfakeBG). Thundering Herd looking for its second victory of the season against an ACC team as Wolfpack makes QB change … NC STATE 23-20.


Last week: Straight-up — 16-5; Against spread — 11-9-1.

Season: Straight-up — 90-27; Against spread — 50-66-1.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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