Roll back those hazy, lazy, crazy preseason days of spring and summer.
Clemson had No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche thinking orange, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore was a leading Heisman Trophy favorite, Bobby Petrino had Arkansas ready for another BCS run and Maryland was plenty healthy at quarterback.
“Probably didn’t expect this much adversity to strike,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall confirmed this week as his Terrapins and a fifth-string quarterback prepared to play as a 31-point underdog at Clemson.
Petrino might haunt South Carolina as head coach of another SEC team but not today when the struggling Razorbacks visit Columbia.
We all hope Lattimore triumphs over knee surgery. With Nkemdiche chasing him, that would be fun.
But one thing hasn’t changed since spring practice; No. 10 Clemson, No. 12 South Carolina and their fans are peeking ahead to Nov. 24 and perhaps the most high-profile clash in series history.
Pigskin Picks players are peaking: 825 winners last week. On to Week 11:
Arkansas at USC
Tyler Wilson will give the Gamecocks’ secondary another test, but South Carolina had two weeks to address problems exposed by Tennessee’s Tyler Bray.
Sapakoff pick: USC, 24-14
Peper pick: USC, 30-21
Maryland at Clemson
Tajh Boyd said it best after a 56-20 romp at Duke: “Style points matter.” Boyd, by the way, has the third-best QB rating behind Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.
Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 45-16
Peper pick: Clemson, 34-14
The Citadel at VMI
Sluggish times for former Gamecocks head coach Sparky Woods and VMI, 2-7 and held to exactly 7 points in each of its last three games.
Sapakoff pick: Citadel, 28-7
Peper pick: VMI, 22-20
Gardner-Webb at CSU
Bucs look for their fourth consecutive home win vs. the pass-happy Bulldogs. Last CSU home game for Charles James and fellow seniors.
Sapakoff pick: G-Webb, 24-23
Peper pick: G-Webb, 21-17
S.C. State at N.C. A&T
Both teams 3-3 in the MEAC with two straight wins. S.C. State’s Richard Cue threw four touchdown passes in last week’s 41-23 victory over Howard.
Sapakoff pick: S.C. State, 27-21
Peper pick: N.C. A&T, 27-20
Georgia Tech at North Carolina
Yellow Jackets (4-5) need two wins in their last three games (Duke, at Georgia) to reach bowl eligibility.
Sapakoff pick: UNC, 33-17
Peper pick: UNC, 30-24
Wake Forest at N.C. State
Wolfpack was surprisingly manhandled at the line of scrimmage in 33-6 home loss to Virginia and looks to rebound going into next week’s game at Clemson.
Sapakoff pick: N.C. State, 21-17
Peper pick: N.C. State, 24-17
Georgia at Auburn
Aaron Murray and Co., far removed from the 35-7 nightmare at Williams-Brice Stadium, clinch the SEC East on the barren Plains.
Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 42-10
Peper pick: Georgia, 30-17
Texas A&M at Alabama
Love Johnny “Football” Manziel and the Aggies offense but it didn’t work so well in the second half against Florida and LSU.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 38-16
Peper pick: Alabama, 34-20
Mississippi State at LSU
Bayou Bengals are coming off a heartbreaking — and impressive — loss to Alabama.
Sapakoff pick: LSU, 21-13
Peper pick: LSU, 27-14
Last week: Sapakoff 8-2, Peper 8-2
Season: Sapakoff 75-25, Peper 68-32
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff