Weekend Predictions: Bulldogs and Falcons win 

ESPN’s “College GameDay” is in Athens for Georgia-Notre Dame, and you know what that means. Here’s another opportunity for Kirk Herbstreit to rip unpaid players for having too much fun while never, ever criticizing multimillionaire coaches for being bad at their jobs. 

Notre Dame is the first real test of the season for the Bulldogs. Kirby Smart’s Georgia teams are 3-1 against ranked nonconference opponents. The loss was to then-No. 14 Texas in the Sugar Bowl last season, but SEC rules stipulate that doesn’t count because Georgia didn’t care. 

The Falcons are at the Colts, who are starting Jacoby Brissett at quarterback after Andrew Luck’s retirement. You may recall that ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp decided Jeff Driskel should start for the Gators instead of Brissett. Two years later Brissett was starring for N.C. State, and Muschamp benched Driskel while trying to save his job (it didn’t work). 

» MORE: How to watch all 58 FBS games

Georgia Tech gets the week off after the debacle against The Citadel. I would never make a lame joke about a bad team losing to the bye. My lame jokes are more original.

After a good year picking games in 2018, Weekend Predictions is off to a strong start in 2019. This is clear evidence of my superior football prognostication skills. Now that that’s been established once and for all, if I have any bad weeks in the future it’s only because I don’t care. 

No. 7 Notre Dame (+14½) at No. 3 Georgia 

It was just three years ago that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was losing a lot of games and blaming it on his players. The Fighting Irish are 24-4 since then and, believe it or not, Kelly (83 victories) might stick around long enough to surpass Knute Rockne’s 105 victories at Notre Dame. This season Kelly has a good QB (Ian Book) and a defense that can take away the short passing routes the Bulldogs favor. Georgia wins and Notre Dame covers. 

Falcons (+2) at Colts 

Injuries left the Eagles without top two wide receivers against the Falcons, and Nelson Agholor dropped a game-winning touchdown pass. I still give the Falcons credit because it always takes a little luck to win in the NFL. The Falcons need to be better this week, and I think they will. They finally run the ball well against the Colts and that will be the key to a victory. 

Georgia State (+3) at Texas State 

Georgia State surrendered 40 unanswered points at Western Michigan on Saturday. WMU scored a school-record seven rushing touchdowns, including three for 60-plus yards. But Texas State ranks last in the FBS in rushing yards, and Georgia State’s offense is likely to bounce back. I’ll take the Panthers to cover. 

SEC games of interest 

No. 8 Auburn (+3½) at No. 17 Texas A&M 

SportsbyBrooks.com reports that Auburn booster Jimmy Rane will target Bob Stoops to replace coach Gus Malzahn if the Tigers don’t beat Alabama. I’m surprised it took until Week 3 for Malzahn’s job security to be called into question. The timing is weird because the Tigers don’t play Alabama until Nov. 30, and Stoops is coaching in the XFL, but I supposed it’s never too early for pipe dreams. I like Auburn with the points. 

Tennessee (+14) at No. 9 Florida 

Tennessee lost the opener to Georgia State and blew a game against BYU, but there hasn’t been much speculation about coach Jeremy Pruitt’s status. I can’t tell if that’s because of admirable patience or sad resignation from Tennessee’s fan base. We’ll see when once the Volunteers lose to Florida, Georgia and Alabama over the next five weeks. Gators cover. 

ACC games of interest 

Charlotte (+41½) at No. 1 Clemson 

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence’s five interceptions are the most among Power 5 quarterbacks. This development mostly has inspired yawns because Clemson’s defense is dominant again and the one other ACC team that’s better than OK, Virginia, isn’t on Clemson’s schedule. I’m banking on a clean game for Lawrence this week, so Clemson covers. 

Louisville (+6½) at Florida State 

SEC Network troll Paul Finebaum called former Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox “a blubbering idiot” for including a $17 million buyout in coach Willie Taggart’s contract. That put me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Finebaum. Wilcox left FSU for a VP position with the NCAA, further proving that college sports is run by mediocre executives giving jobs to one another. I’m taking FSU and giving the points. 

Other college games of interest  

No. 10 Utah (-4) at USC 

ESPN reports that USC checked with the NCAA to make sure it was OK for former Trojans star Reggie Bush to be at this game as part of the Fox Sports broadcast. USC had to disassociate itself from Bush after he committed the crime of accepting cash from people who wanted to do legal business with him during his time there. A USC spokesman said, “if Reggie is in a working capacity, it is OK for him to be at the Coliseum for a USC game,” and the irony is just too much. I like USC with the points. 

No. 11 Michigan (+3½) at No. 13 Wisconsin 

This is a critical game for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. That makes it a perfect time for former Wolverines All-American Braylon Edwards to go on CBS Sports Radio and declare that Michigan is “light years behind Ohio State right now.” Harbaugh has three 10-win seasons out of four at Michigan, but Edwards helpfully reminded Harbaugh that his 0-4 record against the hated Buckeyes is what matters most. I’m taking Wisconsin and giving the points. 

NFC South 

Saints (+4) at Seahawks 

The Saints got jobbed by a bad call Sunday at the Rams. In response, the Buffalo Wild Wings Twitter account wrote: “New Orleans fans already drawing up lawsuits.” Honestly, I don’t even like BWW’s wings, but I might get some just for that fine troll of whiny Saints supporters. QB Drew Brees (thumb) is out for the Saints, and coach Sean Payton hasn’t said whether Teddy Bridgewater or Taysom Hill will start. It doesn’t matter. Seahawks cover. 

Panthers (+2½) at Cardinals 

I was feeling dirty about agreeing with Finebaum, so imagine my relief when I saw the ESPN clip of him saying: “Cam Newton has never cared about anybody other than Cam Newton.” It was a weird aside during a rant about Newton being finished because of injuries. Fortunately, ESPN colleague Ryan Clark put Finnebaum in his place but, unfortunately, we’re stuck with Finebaum. Newton (foot) is doubtful and Kyle Allen is his backup, so I like the Cardinals to cover. 

Giants (+6½) at Buccaneers 

The line moved two points in favor of the Buccaneers after the Giants announced they’d finally put QB Eli Manning out to pasture in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. I was hoping Manning could keep the job until Week 6 so he could do everyone a favor and beat the Patriots, for old time’s sake. I like the Giants with the points. 

Other NFL games of interest 

Ravens (+6) at Chiefs 

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s rapid development as a passer is another indictment of Bobby Petrino, his coach at Louisville. Amazing what Jackson can do now that he’s working with coaches who care about doing their jobs. The Chiefs are always tough at home, but I think they are giving too many points here. I’ll take Baltimore. 

Rams (-3) at Browns 

Those insurance commercials featuring Browns QB Baker Mayfield are so good they kind of make me like him. Mayfield took responsibility for his team’s sluggish passing offense after coach Freddie Kitchens tried to protect him. Not that Mayfield has much choice. He’s got four interceptions against two touchdowns after he spent the offseason meddling in his teammate’s contract situation and calling out his wide receivers. The line seems about right, so I’ll side with the Browns as a home ’dog.  

Last week: 7-4-2 (22-14-2 season)

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010. 
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