With the season set to kick off, our college football columnist makes his picks for the first weekend of fall ball.


Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

As a child, I eagerly anticipated getting my hands on Mom’s September issue of Southern Living so I could devour the “All South” college football preview. These were simpler times before the days of sports websites, internet message boards, and other 24/7 college football coverage. Therefore, I am delighted to write two weekly columns for SouthernLiving.com covering SEC football this year. I hope you enjoy the season!

Saturday, September 3

#16 UCLA at Texas A&M3:30 PM EDT (CBS)Led by new quarterback Trevor Knight, the Aggies win their first home game against an AP Top 20 opponent since joining the SEC in 2012.PREDICTION: Texas A&M 28, UCLA 24 #5 LSU v. Wisconsin @ Green Bay, WI3:30 PM EDT (ABC)LSU running back Leonard Fournette kicks off his Heisman campaign the same way that 2015 Heisman winner Derrick Henry did – with a dominant performance against an overmatched Wisconsin team in the opener.PREDICTION: LSU 31, Wisconsin 10 #18 Georgia v. #22 North Carolina @ Atlanta, GA5:30 PM EDT (ESPN)Kirby Smart’s apprenticeship under Nick Saban has ended, and he has returned to Athens to coach his alma mater. While the future looks bright for the Dawgs, the Tar Heels get a big day from running back Elijah Hood and win a classic.PREDICTION: North Carolina 28, Georgia 27 #1 Alabama v. #20 Southern California @ Arlington, TX8:00 PM EDT (ABC)Alabama’s quarterbacks Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett will struggle to find their rhythm early, and USC All-American wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster will make his presence felt. Bama’s depth proves to be the difference late.PREDICTION: Alabama 27, Southern California 17 #2 Clemson at Auburn9:00 PM EDT (ESPN)Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the most intimidating atmospheres in college football, but DeShaun Watson is the most dynamic quarterback to play a game there since Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M to a 63-21 victory in 2012. Clemson jumps out to an early lead and doesn’t look back.PREDICTION: Clemson 45, Auburn 24

Monday, September 5, 2016

#4 Florida State v. #11 Ole Miss @ Orlando, FL8:00 PM EDT (ESPN)It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Rebels with an NCAA investigation ongoing. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is the biggest playmaker in the SEC, but Florida State is a bona fide national championship contender. Behind running back Dalvin Cook, the Seminoles earn a victory in the weekend’s most compelling matchup.PREDICTION: Florida State 29, Ole Miss 24