Gators keep building case

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

As the dust begins to settle a little more with each passing week in the national championship race, a few random thoughts ...

- The cannibalization of the Southeastern Conference's national title hopes has officially begun. Arkansas' ground game devoured Auburn in a shocker last week, while Tennessee's offence shredded Georgia. Florida nailed the coffin on LSU's chances. Now the Gators travel to the Plains to tackle a desperate Auburn squad.

Tell you what -- and I'll admit I'm hardly the first to say this, but agree with it wholeheartedly -- if Florida somehow runs the table in the rugged SEC, how can the Gators be denied a spot in the BCS championship game?

- Who were those impostors wearing California uniforms in Knoxville back on Sept. 2? (and no, they weren't the ugly yellows the Berkeley boys broke out last Saturday). The Golden Bears got flat-out whipped on both sides of the ball by Tennessee that night, but have been an absolute juggernaut ever since. Jeff Tedford's crew has hung 40-plus points on the board in five straight wins, including last week's wipeout of Oregon. Stamp Cal as the true threat to USC in the Pac-10.

- I don't have a vote, but if I did, my top five right now would read like this: Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, USC and West Virginia, with Texas, California and Louisville nipping at Mountaineers' heels.

- Games that will have the most say in clearing the national title picture: Auburn-Florida, West Virginia-Louisville, Cal-USC, Notre Dame-USC and Michigan-Ohio State. Until then ...

Week 7 picks (odds supplied by Sportsbook.com):

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 2 Florida (+1) at No. 11 Auburn (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- The SEC gauntlet keeps getting scarier for the Gators, who face their toughest test yet on the Plains against an Auburn team that got run over by Arkansas last week. Auburn has won five straight at home against Top 10 teams and the Tigers' conference title hopes are pretty much dead with another loss, so ... PICK: AUBURN.

NEXT BEST THINGS

No. 4 Michigan (-61/2) at Penn State (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC) -- No Mario Manningham for the Wolverines this week, but QB Chad Henne still has plenty of targets and workhorse RB Michael Hart. If Nittany Lions can't run on Michigan's defence, they have no chance. They'll make it interesting for awhile. PICK: PENN STATE.

No. 10 California (-8) at Washington State (Saturday, 5 p.m.) -- The Golden Bears are 0-10 since 1979 in Pullman, where USC struggled mightily two weeks ago before making off with a win. But Cal's frightening speed on offence will allow it to escape the Paloose with a close win, too. PICK: WASHINGTON STATE.

No. 22 Virginia Tech (-21/2) at Boston College (Tonight, 7:30 p.m., The Score) -- The Hokies have the defence and running game to survive a tricky road trip north. But funny things tend to happen at Alumni Stadium. Ask Clemson ... PICK: BOSTON COLLEGE.

QUICK PICKS

(STRAIGHT-UP SELECTIONS IN BOLD)

TONIGHT

No. 12 Clemson (-441/2) over Temple

SATURDAY

No. 1 Ohio State (-15) over Michigan State

No. 3 USC (-181/2) over Arizona State

Syracuse (+25) over No. 5 West Virginia

Baylor (+29) over No. 6 Texas

No. 7 Louisville (-27) over Cincinnati

No. 14 LSU (-261/2) over Kentucky

No. 15 Iowa (-171/2) over Indiana

No. 16 Georgia (-14) over Vanderbilt

No. 17 Arkansas (NL) over SE Missouri State

UCLA (+10) over No. 18 Oregon

No. 19 Missouri (-2) over Texas A&M

No. 21 Nebraska (-101/2) over Kansas State

Iowa State (+191/2) over No. 23 Oklahoma

No. 24 Rutgers (+1) over Navy

Minnesota (+81/2) over No. 25 Wisconsin

SUNDAY

New Mexico State (+26) over No. 20 Boise State

Last week -- 15-3 straight up; 8-10 ATS.

Season record -- 108-12 straight up; 60-55-2 ATS.

Best bet -- Missouri (5-1).


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