NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama

We have reached rivalry week, which is the best week of the year in our glorious sport. Whether it's the Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl or Clean, Old Fashioned Hate, the impact of this weekend's results will resonate within houses divided, individual states and the college football world as a whole. 

Alabama travels to Auburn to take on the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Iron Bowl -- 10 years after the infamous "Kick Six" that knocked the Crimson Tide out of the BCS National Championship race and vaulted the Tigers into the SEC Championship Game and beyond. 

Elsewhere, Georgia will get a chance to tune up for the SEC title game just one mile up the road from Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it takes on rival Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. The Bulldogs are riding high as they extended their winning streak to 28 games, and quarterback Carson Beck has orchestrated a late-season charge as a dark horse Heisman Trophy contender. 

And, of course, there's the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night. You never know if chaos will ensue ... or if a player will pretend to pee like a dog and lose the game as a result.

Let's take a spin around the conference and make picks in this week's edition of SEC Smothered and Covered.

Appetizer: What will Florida do?

The Gators are in an interesting spot one win from bowl eligibility. They will start backup quarterback Max Brown against No. 5 Florida State ... which will also start backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. Go ahead and drop a massive shoulder shrug emoji in the headline of this game preview because it's impossible for anybody to know what will happen. 

Brown played well coming off the bench for the injured Graham Mertz with 98 yards of total offense in the Week 12 loss to Missouri. Keep in mind that Brown rushed for 2,335 yards during his last two seasons in high school, so it will be difficult for the Seminoles to prepare for the possibility of a dual-threat quarterback now that Gators coach Billy Napier has a week to game plan around Brown's skill set. 

That gives Florida way more than just a puncher's chance. The Gators are desperate, dangerous team, and a window is open for them to extend their season. Watch out, Florida State

Main course: Does Alabama actually need style points?

The easy answer is yes, but the right answer is no. Why? Because all Alabama needs to do is keep winning. The decision to let the Crimson Tide into the College Football Playoff is exclusively dependent on their record rather than how they get those wins or losses.

Coach Nick Saban's squad needs help ... a lot of it. The Tide will not jump Texas. The head-to-head loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be too much for the committee to ignore. The midseason injury to quarterback Quinn Ewers and season-ending injury to running back Jonathon Brooks will actually be a positive data point for the committee as long as the Longhorns win out. They can play the sloppiest games imaginable. Two wins will keep the Tide in the rearview mirror. 

The Tide also have a Pac-12 problem. One-loss Oregon with a revenge win over top five Washington and a Pac-12 championship on the mantle will resonate with a committee. The Ducks have been a more complete team all season, and it's likely that the Pac-12 will be viewed as a tougher conference than the SEC when all is said and done. 

And if Florida State can win the next two games -- including what will likely be a top-10 win over Louisville in the ACC Championship Game -- with Rodemaker, a lack of style points will be irrelevant. 

Simply put, Alabama needs Texas to be the clear cut No. 3 team in the country. If that happens, the door will be wide open. That's the only way in for Saban and Co. 

Dessert: LSU running it up

It was clear last week that Tigers coach Brian Kelly was perfectly content leaving quarterback Jayden Daniels in the game long enough for him to compile video game stats to impress Heisman voters. Expect Kelly to do it again if he gets the chance against Texas A&M.

This is perfectly fine. 

It's a massive win for a program to boast a Heisman winner for recruiting purposes -- especially in the age of NIL and the transfer portal. Lincoln Riley produced Heisman Trophy winners who transferred in from Texas Tech (Baker Mayfield) and Texas A&M (Kyler Murray), and he sent former Alabama signal-caller Jalen Hurts to New York City as a finalist. Plus, USC's Caleb Williams -- last year's winner -- has been featured in national advertising campaigns all season.

Daniels has thrived in his two seasons at LSU under Kelly. The combination of individual success, NFL Draft buzz and local earning potential could elevate LSU to this era's version of those Oklahoma teams under Riley. 

Power rankings

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Missouri
  4. Ole Miss
  5. LSU
  6. Tennessee
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Florida
  9. Kentucky
  10. South Carolina
  11. Auburn
  12. Arkansas
  13. Mississippi State
  14. Vanderbilt


Straight up: 87-15 | Against the spread: 43-42-3

*Picks use SportsLine consensus odds and were made on Instagram since SEC Smothered & Covered started in Week 2

No. 1 Georgia (-24) at Georgia Tech: After a slow start against the spread, Georgia has covered in three of its last four games as the defense has become more consistent in creating havoc in the backfield. That said, there is no need for coach Kirby Smart to keep his foot on the gas since next weekend's SEC title game is far more important than making a statement against the Bulldogs' in-state rival. This game screams backdoor cover. Pick: Georgia Tech +24

No. 5 Florida State (-6.5) at Florida: Let's get this out of the way: You're an absolute nut job if you bet this game one way or the other. The combination of backup quarterbacks and motivation -- the Seminoles need to stay in the CFP race; the Gators need to earn a bowl berth -- makes capping this game almost impossible. Florida State has too many weapons outside, which will help Rodemaker in the passing game. However, the 'Noles will have trouble slowing down what will be a more run-based attack from the Gators. Florida State will win a nail-biter. Pick: Florida +6.5

No. 8 Alabama (-14.5) at Auburn: Jordan-Hare magic didn't exist last weekend in the Tigers' loss to New Mexico State, nor will it this weekend against the Crimson Tide. The Tigers defense will not be able to slow down Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe even if offensive coordinator Tommy Rees stays conservative early. The Tide will control this one throughout and cruise to a cover in the second half. Pick: Alabama -14.5

No. 9 Missouri (-7.5) at Arkansas: It was announced Sunday that Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman will be retained, but he won't end this season on a high note. Tigers running back Cody Schrader has been an absolute monster and nobody can cover Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Luther Burden III. Coach Eli Drinkwitz's crew will cruise to double-digit win ... and likely a New Year's Six bowl berth. Pick: Missouri -7.5

Kentucky at No. 10 Louisville (-7): The Wildcats offense sputtered last weekend in the loss to South Carolina, which doesn't bode well against a Cardinals offense that not only is potent under first-year coach Jeff Brohm, but needs style points to become a factor in the CFP race. Cards quarterback Jack Plummer will force the Wildcats into a shootout, and they simply aren't prepared for that. Pick: Louisville -7

No. 12 Ole Miss (-11) at Mississippi State: The Egg Bowl is always a must-watch event and Thanksgiving night in Starkville is going to be wild ... for the visiting Rebels. It's hard to trust a Bulldogs offense that has failed to develop an identity all season, especially since it'll probably need to get well over 30 points to even have a chance against coach Lane Kiffin's squad. Even if this game gets whacky early, the Rebs will pull away in the second half for a big win. Pick: Ole Miss -11

Texas A&M at No. 14 LSU (-11): It's clear that Kelly wants Daniels to rack up as many video game stats as possible, and a massive performance against a good Aggies defense will go a long way towards building his Heisman Trophy résumé. However, it's impossible to trust this Tigers defense. Expect points-a-plenty in this one as Texas A&M gives its fans hope by keeping it close in the fourth quarter. Pick: Texas A&M +11

Vanderbilt at No. 21 Tennessee (-27): The Volunteers need a four-touchdown win to cash tickets ... and they'll do it. The running game has started to tail off, but the Commodores run defense ranks No. 111 nationally for the season (176 yards per game) and No. 99 during the month of November (183 yards per game). Expect Jaylen Wright, Joe Milton III, Dylan Sampson and Jabari Small to have a field day. Pick: Tennessee -27

No. 24 Clemson (-7) at South Carolina: Revenge will be on the minds of the Tigers as they look to get back on the winning side of this bitter rivalry. Running back Will Shipley has led a punishing attack over the last several weeks. That will keep Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler on the sideline. It won't be pretty at all, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney will lead his team to a double-digit win after that rushing attack wears down South Carolina's defense in the fourth quarter. Pick: Clemson -7 

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 13, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.