AP college picks: LSU-Georgia matchup will have big impact

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles is congratulated by Georgia coach Mark Richt after the SEC Championship game Dec. 3, 2011. LSU won 42-10. Show caption
Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU coach Les Miles is congratulated by Georgia coach Mark Richt after the SEC Championship game Dec. 3, 2011. LSU won 42-10.

Finally, a college football weekend with real potential to reshape the rankings and shake up the national championship race.

The fifth Saturday of the season features four games matching ranked teams, highlighted by No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia. Eight more ranked teams play road games of varying degrees of difficulty.

Last weekend’s schedule produced mostly blowouts, and when it was over, it was as if it never happened. The top 14 teams in the AP Top 25 held their spots from the week before, and no team moved up more than one place.

This Saturday could end with a couple of teams saying goodbye to their national championship hopes, and maybe a few new teams being taken more seriously as contenders.

Georgia wraps up the toughest September schedule in the country with its third game against a top-10 opponent.

The Bulldogs (2-1) split with Clemson and South Carolina to start the season and now face an LSU team that is yet again looking like a Southeastern Conference heavyweight, though the Tigers are getting it done a little differently this season.

For the first time in a few years, LSU’s passing game is a strength instead of a question mark.

Zach Mettenberger has the sixth-best passer rating in the country.

LSU receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are making a case for being the top tandem not just in the SEC but in the nation.

That should lead to another increasingly common occurrence: high-scoring SEC games.

Georgia, with quarterback Aaron Murray and tailback Todd Gurley leading the way, is seventh in the nation in yards per play at 7.83. LSU is ninth at 7.53.

The other big game in the SEC takes place in Tuscaloosa, where No. 1 Alabama faces No. 21 Ole Miss.

The Rebels spread it out and play fast like Texas A&M, but Ole Miss presents very different challenges.

The picks:

MAIN EVENT

No. 6 LSU (plus 3) at No. 9 Georgia

Les Miles and Mark Richt have split four meeting between Tigers and ’Dawgs ... LSU 35-28.

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

No. 21 Ole Miss (plus 16) at No. 1 Alabama

Tide has won nine straight against Rebels ... Alabama 30-17.

No. 24 Wisconsin (plus 7) at No. 4 Ohio State

Braxton Miller will start; how much will Kenny Guiton play? ... Ohio State 28-20.

No. 14 Oklahoma (minus 3½) at No. 22 Notre Dame

Irish averaging only 114 yards rushing ... Oklahoma 24-17.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 12 South Carolina (minus 7) at UCF

Blake Bortles might be best QB Gamecocks face this season, and their pass defense has been shaky ... UCF 31-24.

BEST BET

Arizona (plus 10) at No. 16 Washington

Wildcats will gladly play at Huskies’ furious pace, which is good news for UW ... Washington 45-24.

PLUCKY UNDERDOGS

No. 5 Stanford (minus 10) at Washington State

Stanford 35-21.

No. 10 Texas A&M (minus 6) at Arkansas

Texas A&M 47-21.

No. 20 Florida (minus 13) at Kentucky

Florida 28-13.

Cougars are improved and Cardinal will be without top OG David Yankey (family issues) for full game and star DB Ed Reynolds (targeting ejection) for first half. Razorbacks might not be so plucky if QB Brandon Allen (shoulder) misses second straight game. Maybe a change at quarterback for Gators gives Wildcats chance to snap 26-game losing streak in series?

MISMATCHES

California (plus 36½) at No. 2 Oregon

Oregon 56-21.

Wake Forest (plus 28) at No. 3 Clemson

Clemson 49-14.

No. 8 Florida State (minus 22) at Boston College

Florida State 38-10.

No. 11 Oklahoma State (minus 19) at West Virginia

Oklahoma State 42-17.

No. 15 Miami (minus 19) at South Florida

Miami 33-10.

No. 25 Fresno State (minus 18½) at Hawaii

Fresno State 42-17.

LAST WEEK

Record straight up: 19-0

Record vs. points: 9-5.

Season: 70-10; 31-33-1.

Best bet: 1-2-1.

Upset special: 1-2.