The biggest regular-season game of the 2020 college football season has arrived, and you will be able to see it Saturday night in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week when No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia. While the biggest story entering the game has been the expected unavailability of Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the real story of Saturday night’s game is one of the nation’s best offenses going up against the second-ranked defense in the country. For the first time in a while, those defensive accolades do not belong to Alabama but rather Georgia, which just last week shutout Tennessee in the second half and held it to -1 rushing yard in the game.
Whether the Tide or Bulldogs end up victorious will set the tone for the remainder of the SEC season. As the only two undefeated teams left in what is generally the nation’s toughest conference, the winner will have a leg up in their division, while the loser will sit in an especially precarious position considering how many upsets we’ve already seen during this young season.
The rest of Saturday’s slate? Well, it’s not great. The second- and third-biggest games (Florida-LSU, Oklahoma State-Baylor in whichever order you choose) were both postponed amid COVID-19 outbreaks. There have now been 33 college football games postponed before the seventh Saturday of the season has kicked off. Nevertheless, a number of other ranked teams are in action, including No. 1 Clemson, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 13 Miami.
Our experts at CBS Sports are here to help you navigate what game to play with expert picks both straight up and against the spread. Let’s take a look at four key games this weekend.
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Pittsburgh at No. 13 Miami (-13) — noon on ACC Network: More than anything, I like the under in this game, thinking that an early kickoff in Hard Rock Stadium sets up for the kind of rock fight that Pitt wants in order to have a shot to win. The Panthers can hit some big plays with Kenny Pickett and the passing game, but they lack the explosiveness to hang in a shootout with Miami. So if I’m thinking it’s lower-scoring and we have a double-digit spread, I’m on the underdog as a principle play. Pick: Pitt (+13) — Chip Patterson
Kentucky at No. 18 Tennessee (-6.5) — noon on SEC Network: The best thing any bettor can do is learn from their mistakes, and I learned from one last week. What I learned is that I’m never going to trust Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano against a good defense again. That kid is just too fast and loose with the football. So, at home against a good Kentucky defense, laying nearly a touchdown, I’m going with the Wildcats. Pick: Kentucky (+6.5) — Tom Fornelli
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Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame (-16.5) — 2:30 p.m. on NBC: I just can’t quit Louisville. The Cardinals have shown a lot of reasons — most of them on defense — not to be trusted on the road against one of the best teams in the conference, but I think this is a large number for the best offense that the Irish have faced all season. Pick: Louisville (+16.5) — Chip Patterson
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama (-4) — 8 p.m. on CBS: Give me the Crimson Tide to win and cover. I don’t care that Nick Saban isn’t there. His philosophy, scheme, game plan and coaching staff all are, which means all that Steve Sarkisian has to do is not screw things up. He won’t. Mac Jones and Co. will have enough success to get to 30 points against the Georgia defense and force the Bulldogs to keep up more than they’ve had to do so far this season. It won’t happen. Alabama’s defense isn’t as bad as it played last week and will make life miserable for Stetson Bennett. Pick: Alabama (-4) — Barrett Sallee