AP college picks: Expect offense aplenty in A&M-Alabama II

This year’s SEC “Game of the Century” has little chance of ending 9-6.

No. 1 Alabama faces Johnny Manziel and No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, on Saturday. The last time there was this much hype for a regular-season Southeastern Conference game, it was No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 5, 2011.

Even with overtime, there were no touchdowns in LSU’s victory.

That game featured 23 defensive players currently on NFL rosters (12 from LSU and 11 from Alabama). It also featured a first-year starting quarterback for Alabama (sophomore AJ McCarron) and a pair of LSU QBs (Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson) who were, well, let’s just say they were not Heisman Trophy winners.

This time, McCarron is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and Texas A&M has Johnny Football.

Tide coach Nick Saban on Wednesday called A&M “one of the great offensive teams, maybe in the history of college football.” The teams combined for 849 yards in A&M’s 29-24 upset in Tuscaloosa last November.

As big as Alabama-A&M feels, it’s too early to bill this as the Game of the Year. Back in 2011, it was clear the winner of Bama-LSU was on the fast track toward the BCS championship game. As it turns out, a loss was only a detour for the loser, but that’s another story.

By November, both Alabama and A&M could be out of the title chase. It doesn’t seem likely, but you never know.

The picks:

Main event

No. 1 Alabama (minus 7½) at No. 6 Texas A&M: Tide won’t stop Johnny Football, but A&M won’t stop Tide ... ALABAMA 42-31.

Marquee matchups

Vanderbilt (plus 13½) at No. 13 South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney won’t win the Heisman, but he can still wreck a game ... SOUTH CAROLINA 28-13.

No. 16 UCLA (plus 4½) at No. 23 Nebraska: Huskers looking for revenge after last year’s loss at Rose Bowl ... NEBRASKA 38-31.

No. 19 Washington (minus 9½) vs. Illinois at Chicago: Two rejuvenated offenses ... WASHINGTON 31-24.

No. 25 Ole Miss (plus 3½) at Texas: Desperate times in Austin ... TEXAS 35-24.

Best bet

No. 7 Louisville (minus 14) at Kentucky : Teddy Bridgewater and Co. pour it on against rival Wildcats ... 45-17.

Upset special

No. 20 Wisconsin (plus 5½) at Arizona State: Badgers power through heat and fast-paced Sun Devils ... WISCONSIN 31-28.

Plucky underdogs

Tennessee (plus 27½) at No. 2 Oregon ... OREGON 48-17.

No. 4 Ohio State (off) at California ... OHIO STATE 42-28.

Tulsa (plus 24) at No. 14 Oklahoma ... OKLAHOMA 38-17.

No. 21 Notre Dame (minus 20½) at Purdue ... NOTRE DAME 34-10.


No. 5 Stanford (minus 29) at Army ... STANFORD 35-3.

Kent State (plus 37½) at No. 8 LSU ... LSU 45-14.

Nevada (plus 33½) at No. 10 Florida State

For his next trick, QB Jameis Winston gets Noles fans to buy tickets to see Nevada ... FSU 56-20.

Akron (plus 37) at No. 11 Michigan ... MICHIGAN 48-7.

Lamar (no line) at No. 12 Oklahoma State ... OKLAHOMA STATE 60-10.

Western Michigan (plus 31) at No. 17 Northwestern ... NORTHWESTERN 45-10.

Last week

Record straight up: 15-4

Record vs. spread: 7-7

Season record: 37-6, 17-17

Best bet: 1-1

Upset special: 0-2