Picks & Power Rankings: Down the stretch we go

Nov. 10—All 14 SEC teams will be in action against each other this week, and it should be an absolute blast of a Saturday. Outside the league, we get matchups like Michigan at Penn State, Miami at Florida State and Utah at Washington.

With a win against Kentucky, Alabama can clinch the SEC West. Georgia will get its biggest test of the season in Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss (more on that in a minute). Tennessee needs a Rebels win and to beat Mizzou on the road to set up their chance to steal the SEC East next Saturday (the Vols would have to close the season with a win over Vandy to complete the coup).

Anyway, let's all enjoy the slate. But I should mention that my Week 10 picks earned me a 2-5 record against the spread (ATS), bringing my 2023 record to 34-33-2 ATS.

Ole Miss at Georgia (6 p.m./ESPN)

Whether it's the biggest game in program history or not, this is certainly a major, well-earned opportunity for Kiffin's team. Ole Miss has had to earn the right to head to Athens with this much on the line.

Yes, Kiffin can say the Rebels are playing the two-time defending champs with "house money," because they are. But there's no denying that the Rebels could go a long way towards bolstering a College Football Playoff resume that would shine bright should chaos happen in the ACC and Pac-12.

However, this is Kirby Smart and Georgia the Rebels are up against. In Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs have won 26 consecutive games and 36-straight at home.

My Pick: 27-20, Georgia

Mississippi State at Texas A&M (6:30 p.m./ESPN2)

Max Johnson — despite a rib injury that had him in obvious pain at the end of last week's loss to Ole Miss — is going to give it a go against Mississippi State. And how effective he can be is likely the key in this game. The Aggies need to score, obviously, but probably not too much to get this one.

Mississippi State has scored seven, 13 and three in its previous three games. That's coming into a matchup with perhaps the league's best defense. I don't like MSU's chances if TAMU gets two touchdowns or more.

My Pick: 24-7, Texas A&M

SEC Power Rankings

1. Georgia

The winning streak speaks for itself. The Dawgs haven't lost at home in half a decade. They survived a scare against Auburn in September. They took a punch and responded last week against Missouri. But their biggest test yet arrives in Sanford Stadium Saturday.

2. Alabama

Nick Saban's team has answered most all questions since losing to Texas in Week Two. A win this week against Kentucky earns the Tide an opportunity to pick off Georgia (most likely) in Atlanta and get into the playoff. In fact, I expect that scenario to unfold.

3. Ole Miss

The Rebels don't always win in the prettiest ways, but they keep winning. If Lane Kiffin and Co. can pull off the upset against the two-time defending champs in Athens, the program will have a chance to truly take a step.

4. LSU

Jayden Daniels is 'probable' for Saturday's matchup against Florida. The Tigers are officially out of contention for most, if not all, of their preseason goals, so it'll be interesting to see how they respond this week in a winnable matchup.

5. Missouri

This team — and the job Eli Drinkwitz and his staff have done — probably doesn't get enough credit. I do slightly disrespect them later in this space, though. The Tigers are 7-2 with a legitimate, if not likely, path to 10 wins. And they have given Georgia all they want two seasons in a row.

6. Tennessee

Don't look now, but if Ole Miss beats Georgia and the Vols win out (would include a win against UGA next Saturday) then Josh Heupel's team would head to Atlanta. I don't think it happens, but I think there's credit to be given in a season where rebuilding to contender status was the realistic expectation.

7. Kentucky

Mark Stoops usually beats the teams Kentucky should beat. But if the Wildcats don't win two of their final three games (they've got Alabama this week) then they're going to finish 7-5 for the second-straight regular season after winning 10 games in 2021.

8. Texas A&M

The defense is good. Why wouldn't it be? The program has been recruiting on an unreal level in recent years. But Jimbo and the offense have been plagued by anything and everything that can affect a college program. The Aggies are 10-11 since last season. Not great.

9. Arkansas

My what a tweak can do? The Hogs grabbed one in the Swamp last Saturday and I feel like it's something that can give this team momentum in the final stretch of the regular season.

10. Florida

Last week's loss probably ended the Gators' realistic bowl chances. I don't see them beating LSU, Mizzou or FSU. There's been plenty to like about Florida this season, but the frustrating moments will dampen momentum Billy Napier could have carried into 2024.

11. Auburn

Hugh Freeze will have Auburn in a bowl game in year one. But unless he gets a quarterback in the portal, year two won't be any easier.

12. South Carolina

If the Gamecocks flirt with disaster again this week, they'll get beat. Shane Beamer's team will get to five wins this season, best case.

13. Mississippi State

The future direction of the program is the story right now, not the play on the field. All eyes are on what Zac Selmon will do with Zach Arnett.

14. Vanderbilt

The Dores have one more swing at an SEC win this weekend. I'm rooting for Clark Lea.

More Week 11 picks

Tennessee at Missouri (+1.5)

How motivated will the Tigers be after having their SEC East hopes dashed last week? Well, the Vols have blown them off the field the last couple of seasons. This is a demon Eli Drinkwitz's program must exorcise.

My Pick: Missouri wins and covers

Auburn at Arkansas (-2.5)

The Hogs offense got it going again last week with a change at playcaller. I think they keep it going at home this weekend.

My Pick: Arkansas wins and covers

Michigan (-4.5) at Penn State

I tend to think the Wolverines are motivated by off-the-field headlines in recent weeks. Drew Allar just doesn't seem ready to win a game like this. Michigan wins by multiple scores.

My Pick: Michigan wins and covers

Utah (+8.5) at Washington

The Huskies have learned just how difficult putting together an undefeated regular season can be in recent weeks. But they keep winning.

My Pick: Washington wins, Utah covers

Miami (+14) at Florida State

Mario Cristobal is going to have his team fired up for this game. This is FSU's most difficult obstacle in the way of a perfect season.

My Pick: Miami loses, but covers

John Luke is the Digital Director for the Daily Journal. You can reach him at