Scully's Week 5 NCAAF picks: Memphis will stay perfect against SMU
The AAC features four programs — Central Florida, Cincinnati, Memphis, and SMU — that are arguably better than half the teams in the ACC this year, and an exciting matchup between Memphis and SMU will be one of my plays in Week 5, along with a pair of SEC tilts.
#25 Memphis at SMU
Sat, October 3 2020, 7:30 PM
Southern Methodist Mustangs
In a high-scoring game, Memphis will keep the pressure on SMU. Mike Norvell left the Tigers for Florida State after a 12-2 season, but Memphis brought back a veteran squad that can be even better this year.
The Tigers have the edge on both sides of the ball, and an improved defense shut down Arkansas State and star receiver Jonathan Adams Jr. in the second-half of a comfortable Week 1 win. Arkansas State upset Kansas State the following week, and Adams led the way.
Memphis has had four weeks to prepare for SMU, which opened with three cupcake wins, and the Tigers' balance will make a difference.
Rodrigues Clark (105 rushing yards in the opener) looks like a capable replacement for departed running back Kenneth Gainwell, and Memphis third-year starter Brady White has the edge at quarterback, compared to SMU starter Shane Buechele.
SMU still has plenty of offense, but Memphis will prove too much in the second half for their conference rival.
#7 Auburn at #4 Georgia
Sat, October 3 2020, 11:30 PM
Auburn’s defensive liabilities will catch up to it in Athens.
The Tigers were outplayed by Kentucky in the first half last week, but took advantage of an interception in the end zone to take a lead into intermission. In the end, the Wildcats easily outgained the Tigers (384-324), held Auburn to only 91 rushing yards, and controlled the clock (36:29-23:31 time-of- possession edge), but Kentucky continued to make gaffes in the second half, which allowed Auburn to blow open a close game and win by a misleading 29-13 final score.
This isn’t the same Auburn defense from last year, and Georgia is much better than Kentucky.
High-profile transfer quarterback JT Daniels has been cleared to play after missing the Bulldogs' opener, but Georgia may not need him, considering how well Stetson Bennett played last week. The unheralded junior-college transfer came off the bench to lead four consecutive scoring drives, and the Bulldogs offense will continue to build upon last week’s encouraging second-half production, regardless of whether Daniels or Stetson is behind center.
Auburn won’t run the ball effectively in its first road test, and Georgia will be focused on avoiding another slow start.
The Bulldogs will jump on Auburn early and draw away to a double-digit win.
Mississippi at Kentucky
Sat, October 3 2020, 8:00 PM
Mississippi has the offense to keep this one interesting, and the points are appealing in a game that could go either way.
Kentucky features one of the best offensive lines in the SEC and will do damage with its ground game, but the secondary was exposed last week against Bo Nix, who threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a big concern, with Matt Corral coming to Lexington.
In his first game under Lane Kiffin, Corral diced up a formidable Florida secondary, with 395 passing yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore quarterback will continue to develop, and he has a big-time target in Elijah Moore, who should enjoy another productive afternoon, after he posted 227 receiving yards against the Gators.
Kentucky continues to improve their talent level with fine recruiting classes, but Lynn Bowden’s departure left a void. The Wildcats lack a real scoring threat at this juncture. They may be able to pull out a close win by piling up rushing yardage and controlling the clock, but I’m taking the points with a dangerous Mississippi team on the upswing.