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2015 College Football Picks: Week Three

Chad Kelly
2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 15 Ole Miss Rebels 8:15 pm (CT) on ESPN
After losing in this thriller a year ago, Alabama will hope to get their vengeance against the Hugh Freeze-led Rebels. Ole Miss' victory over the Tide a season ago was one of the biggest in the history's program and was a major reason why the Rebels rose as high as the No. 3 ranking in the entire land. The Rebels had success a year ago behind the arm of senior Bo Wallace, and will once more rely heavily on their QB. This year it is Chad Kelly, the nephew of legendary Buffalo Bills' quarterback Jim Kelly. Kelly has been on absolute fire this season but that isn't exactly the toughest thing to do when you are playing UT-Martin and Fresno State (Ole Miss put up over 70 against both of them). Alabama will obviously pose a significantly tougher challenge as Kelly will have to navigate a Tide secondary stocked with future NFL talents, including cornerback Eddie Jackson. Kelly will look through the air to pieces like junior Laquon Treadwell and playmaker Cody Core. Both will hope to spread the 'Bama defense thin so that there are more openings for the ground game underneath, as the Tide dominated the line of scrimmage in their victory earlier in the year against Wisconsin. The Rebels will have to get the ground game going as well if they hope for a road victory. Jaylen Walton is an elite playmaker who is always ready for a big run and if Alabama doesn't stop from the beginning, he becomes absolutely lethal. Even with the dominating Alabama defense, Ole Miss still has enough playmakers to put some points on the board. That means that the Tide will have to respond with some offensive firepower of their own. Junior Derrick Henry is an absolute monster and he has put himself on to the short list of the Heisman frontrunners with three touchdowns in each of his first two games. Florida State transfer Jake Coker has been playing terrific as well this year and will hope to capitalize against a defense that lost a number of key players in the secondary. Though, defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche and more of this aggressive Rebels' defense will hope to make some impact plays. An important key to the game could be the turnover situation. Wallace and Ole Miss didn't turn the ball over much in last year's victory, which was so big against a ball hawking Alabama defense. Neither has turned the ball over much this year as well, and whoever makes the smarter decisions certainly has a leg up, as in the case in most hard fought games. Alabama is clearly the higher-ranked team and will get this one at home, so it is tough to bet against them. But, Ole Miss has enough weapons on the perimeter and enough speed to give Nick Saban's team quite the challenge. Much like last season, this could be a breakthrough victory for the Rebels, if they can get it done.
Alabama, 28 Ole Miss, 23

8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. 14 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2:30 pm (CT) on NBC
It hasn't been an ideal couple of weeks for Notre Dame. Sure, the Irish have jumped out to a flawless 2-0 start despite getting all they could handle this past week from Virginia. But, they have lost Heisman hopeful Malik Zaire, their starting quarterback, and their starting back Tarean Folston, for the rest of the season. That leaves the team with big questions as they square off against a flaming hot Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets have pounded FCS foe Alcorn State and Tulane using their triple-option attack behind the leadership of stud junior QB Justin Thomas. We all knew Thomas was a great runner, but he has made terrific minds out of the triple-option all season and has also shown great ability throwing the ball. Freshman Marcus Marshall, Thomas and Stanford transfer Patrick Skov engineer a lethal offensive attack. Though, the Irish's strength does lie on the defensive side of the ball, namely with linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith is not only a big name on NFL Draft boards, the athletic linebacker is a proven run stopper who will have to be making plays all over the field in this one. For the Irish offense, DeShone Kizer is going to take over the offense from Zaire. Kizer threw the game-winning touchdown pass to beat Virginia a week ago, and certainly has potential. Kizer will also look to backup tailback C.J. Prosise to help him lead the offense. Prosise is an electric playmaker who is a great receiver out of the backfield that should give the Yellow Jackets' defense a challenge. Kizer will also lean on the services of explosive Will Fuller who was the one who came down with that huge touchdown pass to beat Virginia. Fuller is an established deep threat, and it is unclear whether Georgia Tech has the defensive backs it needs to completely contain the veteran. The Jackets' defense as a whole is solid, particularly against the run. They are a disciplined bunch and will apply constant pressure to Kizer. Kizer is a great talent but unless he creates some magic and the Irish defense shuts down the Jackets completely, he could fall to 0-1 as a starter.
Georgia Tech, 35 Notre Dame, 21

13 LSU Tigers vs. 18 Auburn Tigers 2:30 pm (CT) on CBS
A week ago, Auburn nearly made history. The Tigers, the trendy SEC preseason pick, got all they could handle from Jacksonville State and were very close to becoming just the second team ranked in the AP Top 10 to lose to an FCS team (Michigan in 2007 to Appalachian State was the first and only, as of now). It was certainly a wakeup call for the team, who gets their biggest test of the year this week against LSU, who slipped past Mississippi State a week ago. Gus Malzahn will once more trout out quarterback Jeremy Johnson, despite his disastrous. Johnson, a dark horse Heisman pick by many, has thrown five interceptions in the first two games, becoming the first SEC QB to do that since 2009. He has looked baffled by simple coverages and just makes terrible decisions. Malzahn and Auburn will continue to stand behind him, but if he continues to struggle, they might have to start looking elsewhere. Peyton Barber leads what should be a solid Auburn rushing attack, though LSU stopped Mississippi State's ground game very well a week ago. That should put even more pressure on Johnson and his top target, senior Duke Williams, who is a huge target on third downs. One of the biggest reasons why Auburn was expected to transform from an 8-5 team to a Playoff team is the addition of former Florida head coach Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. Though, the defense hasn't looked significantly better and learned tough news earlier today when defensive back Joshua Holsey announced he had a torn ACL. Still, Muschamp will look to dial up pressure and tons of different schemes. especially against the young Brandon Harris for LSU. Harris, a true sophomore, made just his second career start last week and played okay, though he wasn't asked to do much. Leonard Fournette carried the load for LSU, rushing for three touchdowns, but Muschamp will be smart in forcing LSU to throw the ball. The thing is, LSU does have some weapons for Harris to work with, including possible breakout star Malachi Dupre. If Harris can make some big throws, the Auburn defense could well have some problems. Harris also poses a threat as a runner, which could give LSU more versatility to work with offensively. I still have confidence that Auburn could put together a great year, but it is tough for me to pick them to go on the road and win, especially if Johnson doesn't turn it around in a week.
LSU, 27 Auburn, 20

Other Picks
10 UCLA, 38 19 BYU, 28
1 Ohio State, 45 Northern Illinois, 17
3 TCU, 49 SMU, 21
6 USC, 31 Stanford, 20
California, 38 Texas, 18
Current Picks Record: 13-3

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