The talk of the college football nation . . .

The talk of the college football nation . . .

Vino Wong/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT

Alabama vs South Carolina: Will the “old ball coach” be able to guide his players to “shuck” enough balls around to beat the Tide?

Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star (MCT)

Alabama at South Carolina?

Looks like Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones’ knee is healing nicely and he will play. The Tide will need him, because the Gamecocks have been solid defensively — at least until Cam Newton and Auburn ran to a 35-27 triumph. The atmosphere in Columbia will be off the hook for what might be the biggest game in school history. Clearly, it would be the biggest victory — South Carolina has never beaten a No. 1-ranked team. If the Gamecocks find themselves leading in the fourth, can they hang on? In the battle of top-notch running backs, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson will get the better of Marcus Lattimore as the Tide wins another close one.

Upset of the week: Michigan State over Michigan

The Wolverines should be in good shape here since the upset pick is as cold as the Reds’ bats. (And I’m not taking the fall for last week’s pick of North Carolina State over Virginia Tech. Not my fault the Wolfpack choked away a 17-point lead.) In Ann Arbor, Denard Robinson deservedly gains praise. Michigan’s defense, especially when it comes to stopping the pass, has been poor. The Spartans are good enough to exploit this and win for the third straight time in the series.

Others to watch

LSU at Florida

The Gators got Bama-ed last weekend, but check out their schedule. Florida will be favored the rest of the way and could get a rematch against the Tide in the SEC title game. LSU’s defense has been tough, and the Florida offense still seeks an identity. But look for Gators quarterback John Brantley to make a play at the end to win a low-scoring game.

Florida State at Miami

They’re trying. This game is what made ACC expansion such a good idea, but the two teams haven’t delivered. They’re a combined 7-2 with excusable losses . Both front solid defenses. They ranked 1-2 nationally in sacks, with Florida State leading. The ‘Noles will bother Jacory Harris. But how will Christian Ponder fare against one of the nation’s top pass defenses?

USC at Stanford

A pair of 4-1 teams square off — both coming off losses — but the Trojans haven’t delivered a strong message, and the Cardinal has. The Stanford defense was embarrassed at Oregon last week, so look for a spirited effort. Stanford’s Andrew Luck will outplay Matt Barkley in a battle of talented quarterbacks.

On the horizon

Kansas State at Kansas (Thursday):For all the sunflowers

Arkansas at Auburn (Oct. 16): Razorbacks need a victory to stay alive in division

Texas at Nebraska (Oct. 16): Longhorns have won eight of nine over Big Red in Big 12

Iowa at Michigan (Oct. 16): Denard Robinson against Big Ten’s top defense

(c) 2010, The Kansas City Star.