AP COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS: LSU, Auburn back in contention
FILE - At left, in a Sept. 3, 2016, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban applauds on the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California, in Arlington, Texas. At right, in an Oct. 15, 2016, file photo, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron walks the field before an NCAA college football game against Southern Mississippi, in Baton Rouge, La. No. 15 LSU hosts No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. (AP Photo/File)
Auburn and LSU played the last weekend of September and both coaches were under pressure. The ugly game had a bizarre ending. The next day LSU fired coach Les Miles, while Auburn and Gus Malzahn were feeling fortunate to be 2-2.
Now it's November and both SEC West Tigers are in the race not only for a conference championship, but perhaps a spot in the College Football Playoff.
No. 15 LSU hosts No. 1 Alabama on Saturday for what amounts to an elimination game for the Tigers. Even with a victory, the Tigers would need help to win the West, an amazing prospect given the first month of the season.
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Snapping a five-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide would do wonders for interim coach Ed Orgeron as he tries to convince LSU to make him coach-for-good.
No. 11 Auburn faces a much easier task Saturday with Vanderbilt at home. The Tigers have won five straight and if they get to the Iron Bowl without another loss, beating Alabama could earn them a trip to the SEC title game.
How things have changed.
No. 12 Oklahoma (minus 21) at Iowa State
The Sooners are down to one scholarship tailback with Joe Mixon suspended and Samaje Perine injured … OKLAHOMA 42-14.
UCLA (plus 12) at No. 21 Colorado
The Bruins' season is crumbling … COLORADO 24-10.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
San Jose State (plus 29) at No. 24 Boise State
The Broncos bounce back from the first loss of the season … BOISE STATE 45-14.
No. 1 Alabama (minus 7) at No. 15 LSU
The Tide held Leonard Fournette to 31 yards on 19 carries last season … ALABAMA 28-23.
No. 9 Nebraska (minus 17) at No. 6 Ohio State
The Cornhuskers have not beaten a top-10 team on the road (0-9) since coach Tom Osborne led the Cornhuskers to a victory at Washington in 1997 … OHIO STATE 31-20.
No. 8 Wisconsin (minus 6+) at Northwestern
The Wildcats have won two straight against the Badgers and could find themselves in first place in the Big Ten West with another victory … WISCONSIN 21-20.
No. 10 Florida (minus 5+) at Arkansas
The Razorbacks will have had two weeks to stew over getting blown out by Auburn … ARKANSAS 28-24, UPSET SPECIAL.
Maryland (plus 31) at No. 2 Michigan
Jim Harbaugh faces former assistant DJ Durkin, who has done a solid job in his first season as Terps coach … MICHIGAN 41-15.
Syracuse (plus 26+) at No. 3 Clemson
The worst defense in the ACC comes to Death Valley for Deshaun Watson to feast upon … CLEMSON 52-21.
No. 4 Washington (minus 17) at California
If the Huskies were getting overconfident, the College Football Playoff selection committee likely knocked that right out of them … WASHINGTON 49-28.
No. 5 Louisville (minus 25) at Boston College
The Cardinals need some blowouts … LOUISVILLE 56-14.
No. 7 Texas A&M (minus 13+) at Mississippi State
The Aggies lost their last game in Starkville, but Dak Prescott doesn't player there anymore … TEXAS A&M 38-21.
Vanderbilt (plus 26) at No. 11 Auburn
The downside of playing Vandy? If the Tigers were to get into a three-way tie in the SEC West, the record of their non-divisional opponents could come into play … AUBURN 42-10, BEST BET.
TCU (plus 8) at No. 13 Baylor
The last three meetings include two decided by three points each and one – last season – went to overtime … BAYLOR 35-28.
Kansas (plus 34+) at No. 14 West Virginia
The Jayhawks' Big 12 losing streak is at 17 games … WEST VIRGINIA 45-7.
Georgia Tech (plus 10) at No. 18 North Carolina
The Tar Heels have won two straight high-scoring games against the Yellow Jackets; combined score 86-74 … NORTH CAROLINA 43-27.
No. 19 Florida State (minus 5) at N.C. State
Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook is back in the Heisman Trophy discussion … FLORIDA STATE 35-24.
Iowa (plus 7+) at No. 20 Penn State
If the Nittany Lions are truly on the upswing, this is a game they need to win … PENN STATE 26-20.
No. 22 Oklahoma State (plus 3) at Kansas State
Wildcats Bill Snyder looking for victory No. 199 … KANSAS STATE 24-21.
No. 23 Virginia Tech (plus 10+) at Duke
After years of futility against the Hokies, the Blue Devils have won two of the last three meetings and lost the other game by one point … VIRGINIA TECH 31-23.
Arizona (plus 17) at No. 25 Washington State
After 0-2 start, the Cougars are the biggest threat to Washington in the Pac-12 North … WASHINGTON STATE 42-24.
Texas (minus 3+) at Texas Tech – (at)4WallerOU
The Charlie Strong Referendum Tour pulls into Lubbock; the Longhorns had a six-game winning streak against the Red Raiders snapped last year in Austin … TEXAS 50-42.
Georgia (minus 2) at Kentucky – (at)realBJP
The Wildcats have not beaten Georgia since 2009, but now is the season to do it … KENTUCKY 28-23.
Notre Dame (minus 6+) vs. Navy in Jacksonville, Florida – (at)JeffiBelcher
The Irish didn't exactly look like a team about to salvage its season in beating Miami last week … NOTRE DAME 35-31.
Oregon (plus 17) at USC – (at)mjbx101
A couple of emerging quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in Sam Darnold of USC and Justin Herbert of Oregon … USC 48-35.
Record: Last week 13-7 straight; 15-5 vs. points.
Season: 129-52; 83-93-3.
Upset specials: 2-7.
Best bets: 1-8.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
AP's college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org