Picks & Power Rankings: Pride comes before the fall

Nov. 3—I told you all the game plan last week, then I went out and executed. I wanted to pick games — outside of Ole Miss and Mississippi State, which I always pick — I knew I could get right to build momentum ahead of a very difficult Week 10 slate.

Well, after a 7-0 run on Week 9 picks, I have a (very big) head of steam to run through another strong week to keep bolstering my 32-28-2 ATS (against the spread) record for the season.

But like Tyler from Spartanburg, I have read Proverbs 16:18. So let me move along before I fall victim to all the rat poison that comes with past success.

Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M (11 a.m./ESPN)

This matchup has become fun on an annual basis. The Lane Kiffin-Jimbo Fisher melodrama has certainly played a part in the NIL era. Ole Miss is 2-0 against Texas A&M since Kiffin's arrival and most expect the Rebels to make it 3-0 by 3 p.m. or so Saturday.

But this one is going to be tight. The Aggies present a major challenge to the Rebels in the form of a ferocious and deep defensive front seven. The Rebels do have the ingredients to make it a long day for D.J. Durkin's defense if they pass that test, however.

There's no doubt TAMU wants to take this game off the ground and make a less-than-fully-healthy Jaxson Dart beat them through the air.

My Pick: 24-17, Ole Miss

Mississippi State vs. Kentucky (6:30 p.m./SEC Network)

The home team wins this game. Usually. As in Kentucky hasn't won in Starkville since 2008. In fact, Mississippi State last won in Lexington in 2014.

But I think a decade of home dominance is ended on Saturday night. The Wildcats have beaten program history a handful of times in Mark Stoops' tenure.

Last week's showing for the Bulldogs at Auburn — a tough place to go get a win — was highly concerning. Payton Thorne had a day. If that's going to happen from any opponent, a win is going to be hard to come by with where MSU is personnel-wise on offense right now.

In a 33-27 loss to Tennessee, UK quarterback Devin Leary got things going a bit. If he builds on or repeats that performance Saturday, it will be a tough night inside Davis-Wade Stadium.

Depending on where Texas A&M is mentally next Saturday, this game could be Mississippi State's best shot at a second SEC win — and a crucial notch toward bowl eligibility. It's winnable, but Zach Arnett's team has to play like it did in the second half last Saturday and probably even better to get it.

My Pick: 31-13, Kentucky

SEC Power Rankings

1. Georgia

The Dawgs have continued to eat without Brock Bowers. And the program has answered the bell for 25-straight games (35 regular-season wins in a row) under Kirby Smart. However, they did need 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat Mizzou 26-22 last season. I think they get it done a bit easier this Saturday.

2. Alabama

The Tide are about to be tested again. And it's a test of a different kind against LSU. Ole Miss did not offer the same passing threat to the Alabama defense in Week 4 that the Tigers will this week. A Jalen Milroe turnover or two could be hard to overcome. If the Tide win, it's smooth sailing to Atlanta, though.

3. Ole Miss

Similar to the two titans above them on this list, the Rebels face a major hurdle this weekend. If Ole Miss gets swallowed up by the Aggie defensive line, the defense may not be able to win this one for Lane Kiffin and Co. However, Ole Miss is the better team and I think that beats the superior "collection" of players Texas A&M has.

4. LSU

Brian Kelly won the SEC West in Year One, and his team gets their chance shake it up this weekend. LSU has the offense to beat Alabama but the defense to make Jalen Milroe look like a Heisman candidate. Tide receivers could FEAST this week.

5. Missouri

Like LSU, these Tigers get their shot to create a path to Atlanta Saturday as well. I think they will swing heavy hands for three-plus quarters, but they're not preventing Georgia from Georgia-ing. Eli Drinkwitz deserves credit for what he's doing in CoMo, though.

6. Tennessee

The Vols had a bye week the first weekend in October, and they have another to start November. They'll roll UConn this weekend, but oh boy, the next two weeks will be tense. They face Missouri Nov. 11 and then UGA Nov. 18. Can Josh Heupel's team climb higher in the East than anyone expected just a few weeks ago?

7. Kentucky

This team is fine. In fact, maybe they're coming alive with the quarterback play they got last Saturday. But this is certainly a Mark Stoops team. Better than program history would suggest, but not truly in contention in the East. A road win this weekend could boost a strong finish — with 8-4 being the ceiling.

8. Texas A&M

This is a turning point week for Jimbo Fisher's program. A win is building block back toward respectability. A loss could mean a turn for the worse similar to last season.

9. Florida

Nothing is a given to finish the season. This weekend's matchup against Arkansas is certainly the most direct path to an important sixth win. But it's hard not to watch this team and think Billy Napier is going to win down the road in Gainesville.

10. Auburn

Hey, Auburn got an SEC win! And they've got Vanderbilt this week. Hallelujah!

But Hugh Freeze is usually good for an inexplicable loss. It may not happen this week, but it's coming.

11. South Carolina

These guys could lose to Rich Rod and Jacksonville State this weekend. Check the expiration label on Shane Beamer, something smells funny.

12. Mississippi State

The win over Arkansas was a shot in the arm, but the high wore off when the Bulldogs made it to The Plains. If the defense can return to form this weekend, MSU can start building again with a much-needed win over Kentucky.

13. Arkansas

New offense, who dis? Seriously, things will have to be more friendly for K.J. Jefferson starting this week. Arkansas has winnable games down the stretch, but that will only make the hurt worse if the Hogs don't get it done.

14. Vanderbilt

I would just like to note, Clark Lea could make a big statement this week. I hope he does.

More Week 10 picks

Arkansas at Florida (-3.5)

The Hogs are down and I don't see an offensive coordinator change reviving them.

My Pick: Florida covers

Missouri at Georgia (-15)

When UGA has been engaged this year (see 51-13 win over Kentucky) they have dominated. I bet they're engaged the next two Saturdays.

My Pick: Georgia covers

LSU (+3) at Alabama

I have a weird feeling that Jayden Daniels is going to make people recognize him in the Heisman race with a big game this weekend.

My Pick: LSU covers (and wins)

Kansas State (+4) at Texas

This is not just about UT playing a redshirt freshman at QB in Malik Murphy. The Wildcats are just good. Chris Klieman is a great coach. I think he's in line to get a big job this offseason. This win will help.

My Pick: Kansas State covers

Notre Dame (-3) at Clemson

If we thought Dabo's call-in show was fun last week, we'll all be tuned in to see how a three-game losing streak goes over next week.

My Pick: Notre Dame covers

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