Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 3-4 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-1 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 41-34-2 (spread); 58-19 (overall); 4-4 (upset picks)
Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama; 7:45 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Alabama has gotten by the hard part of its schedule – including last week’s overtime win at LSU – but can’t suffer a letdown in its final two games against inferior opponents. The Tide will play in the SEC Championship game, where if they win, they will play for a national title. But first things first. Mississippi State is 3-6 this year, but it did beat Alabama 17-12 last year. That alone will be enough to push the Tide. The Pick: Alabama (-22) wins it 45-14.
No. 24 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: I guess we can still make a big deal out of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier returning to The Swamp to play a Gators team he led to a national title way back when. But this is more about Florida’s chances of playing in the BCS title game. Florida will play Alabama in the SEC Championship, and if it arrives undefeated (The Citadel and Florida State remain on the schedule), it could be a matchup to determine the second slot in the title game. The Pick: Florida (-22.5) wins it 31-17.
No. 6 Southern Cal at Stanford; 7 p.m.; VS
The Skinny: Last year, Southern Cal was a 41-point favorite at home against Stanford and the easy pick to win the national title. About three hours after kickoff, Stanford had a 24-23 shocking victory and USC was done. This year, the spread isn’t as high, and the chances of USC playing for a title are slim, but that doesn’t mean another upset is doable. USC has been routing opponents since losing to Oregon State and that will continue. The Pick: Southern Cal (-24) wins it 63-20.
No.1o Ohio State at Illinois; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Even though the entire country (outside of Ohio) is sick of seeing the Buckeyes play, OSU just might get another invite to a BCS bowl. If OSU can beat Illinois and Michigan, it will finish with a share of the Big 10 title and should finish in the Top 12 in the BCS Standings, meaning it would get a bid. Today’s matchup features two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the nation with OSU’s Terrelle Pryor and Illinois’ Juice Williams. The Pick: Ohio State (-9.5) wins it 33-21.
No. 17 North Carolina at Maryland; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: North Carolina is having one of the best seasons in its history, and that’s a good thing because we get to see more of the powder-blue uniforms on television. The Tar Heels still have a shot at playing in the ACC title game as well, but there is as glutton of teams with two losses already, making each game a must-win. Maryland also has two losses, but it won’t be able to stop the UNC ride this season. On a side, Go Heels Basketball! The Pick: North Carolina (-3) wins it 27-23.
Boston College at No. 20 Florida State; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Florida State has run the ball at will this season, averaging more than 205 yards, but that might be a problem tonight against Boston College. The Eagles, coming off a win over Notre Dame, allow just a hundred per game on the ground. When the two stats collide, look for the Seminoles to win in the trenches. FSU won last year, 27-17, at BC. The Pick: Florida State (-6.5) wins it 28-20.
Notre Dame at Navy; 12 p.m.; CBS
The Pick: Notre Dame (-4) wins it 28-21.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 3-4 record last week, and is 35-40-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Mississippi State, Florida, USC, OSU, Maryland, FSU, Notre Dame.
(AP photo, top, Brett Favre celebrates against the Patriots Thursday night.)