College football pick ’em with Ace Atkins

Every week during football season, the DM’s sports editors, Justin Dial and Ben Miller, along with a special guest picker, will take a look at a few of the biggest college football games of the week and predict their winners. This week’s guest is Ace Atkins, a New York Times Bestseller, former Auburn football player and a current resident of Oxford.

Auburn at Ole Miss

JD: Auburn is currently in a state of disarray, while Ole Miss is on a two-game win streak. If the Ole Miss defense can somewhat stop Auburn’s run game, Ole Miss will come out on top. Ole Miss wins, 30-20.

BM: Rebs, no contest. 34-28.

Ace Atkins: As a former Auburn Tiger, this one is easy for me. Sorry, Rebels. I’m a fan every other game of the season. But I’ll give my psychokinetic energy to Auburn. I’ve been known to bend spoons after two Old Fashioneds at City Grocery. Tigers 38, Rebels 24.

No. 6 Michigan at No. 24 Michigan State

JD: This is a rivalry game, so theoretically anything can happen. However, Shea Patterson and the Wolverines are beginning to hit their stride at just the right time, and I’m not big on Michigan State after losses to Arizona State and Northwestern. Michigan wins convincingly, 38-21.

BM: In my opinion, Michigan State should not be a ranked team right now. Meanwhile, Michigan are firing on all cylinders. Shea is still bad at sports, but Wolverines win, 28-10.

AA: I know absolutely nothing about this one. So I phoned a friend, Chili Palmer, who runs the books in Detroit, and he has it on good authority we’re looking at an upset. Chili knows his stuff. Just don’t owe him any money. Wolverines 21, Spartans 24.

No. 16 NC State at No. 3 Clemson

JD: It’s going to be tough, but I think someone is going to beat Clemson before the college football playoff, and it just may be NC State. The Wolfpack have lost by seven in the last two meetings between these teams, and with all of the uncertainty surrounding the Clemson quarterback situation, this could be the year. I’m going with NC State to pull off the upset, 35-33.

BM: NC State is always sneakily competitive. Both the Wolfpack and the Tigers are undefeated this season, but Clemson has one more win because of NC State’s Sept. 15 game against West Virginia, which was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. That being said, this game will not be a blowout, but Dabo Swinney isn’t going down just yet. Clemson win, 31-21.

AA: As a matter of uninteresting trivia, I was recruited by both schools way back in 1989. I have to say the N.C. State people were very kind and generous to me. On one recruiting trip, I even got to have lunch with the late, great Jim Valvano. But this game is in Death Valley, and they do that whole weird touching-the-rock thing. Wolfpack 21, Clemson 34.

No. 22 Mississippi State at No. 5 LSU

JD: Coming off a win over then-ranked No. 2 Georgia, LSU believes they can beat any team in the country. Plus, this game is at night in Death Valley, need I say more? LSU wins, 33-14.

BM: Night game in Death Valley against a weak State team? Yikes. Hold that tiger. 42-17.

AA: One thing an Auburn fan and an Ole Miss fan can agree on: we both really hate LSU. Ed Orgeron reminds me of Shrek’s less handsome brother. And after State’s solid thrashing of Auburn, I know that State has it in them. I smell burnt corn dogs.

No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington State

JD: This one isn’t going to be close. Oregon and potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Justin Herbert are going to wipe the floor with Washington State. As much as I like Washington State head coach Mike Leach, I don’t see him leading his team to victory on Saturday. Oregon wins, 45-10.

BM: We tend to think that most ranked teams can contend with other ranked teams, barring top-tier competition like Alabama or Ohio State, but Washington State haven’t had an incredibly impressive result yet this season. They lost, albeit by only 3, to the most competitive team they’ve faced in USC. The Ducks come out on top, 45-28.

AA: For this one, I’m going to use a highly scientific approach. I drink a lot of wine. And two of the best wine producers in the U.S. are in Oregon and Washington. But here’s the thing: Oregon makes a lot of pinot noir. And I don’t really care for that stuff. I’m more into the big, bold stuff out of Washington. So I raise my glass to the Cougars. They nearly beat the USC Trojans earlier this year, who are coached by my former teammate, Clay Helton. That says a lot. Ducks 31, Cougars 38.