Georgia running back Nick Chubb and N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb were not close as kids despite growing up just 46 miles apart in north Georgia. But the cousins have a lot in common:
• Descendants of free blacks who founded Chubbtown during the Civil War.
• Star football players for teams aiming for major conference championships (at least).
• Thorns in the side of Palmetto State teams on the road Saturday afternoon.
South Carolina must contain Nick Chubb to pull an upset. The 5-10, 225-pound senior from Cedartown, Ga., (adjacent to old Chubbtown) has 21 100-yard rushing games. That includes 121 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia’s 28-14 victory in Columbia last season.
Clemson must keep defensive end Bradley Chubb, a 6-4, 275-pound senior from Marietta, Ga., mostly away from quarterback Kelly Bryant. Not easy: 7½ sacks for Chubb this season, 17 tackles for loss, likely a spot in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.
At least no team has to stop Nick Chubb and Bradley Chubb at the same time, the way Pigskin Picks participants must deal with Warren Peper and me. We agree on the Chubb games, disagree on two ACC tussles in Florida:
South Carolina at Georgia
The Gamecocks wilted away from home in 2016. Not this year: upset N.C. State in Charlotte, won at Missouri, led into the fourth quarter at Texas A&M, won at Tennessee. The Bulldogs might roll in South Carolina’s final road game but crowds don’t intimidate this team, a key maturity step for a young offense.
Gene Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 31-17
Warren Peper pick: Georgia, 37-14
Clemson at N.C. State
Foot injuries to cornerbacks Marcus Edmond and Mark Fields make Clemson thin in the secondary. Ryan Finley is as likely as any quarterback on the Tigers’ schedule to capitalize.
Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 24-16
Peper pick: Clemson, 31-20
Western Carolina at The Citadel
How about that Brandon Rainey? The Bulldogs’ fullback rushed for 125 yards on 16 carries in last week’s 21-3 victory over VMI.
Sapakoff pick: The Citadel, 27-24
Peper pick: The Citadel, 24-20
CSU at Gardner-Webb
Must-win game for the Buccaneers, 1-1 in Big South Conference play, and chasing Kennesaw State (3-0). The Bucs are last in the Big South in third-down conversion percentage (32.3).
Sapakoff pick: Charleston Southern, 21-14
Peper pick: Charleston Southern, 27-20
LSU at Alabama
Nick Saban publicly said playoff rankings don’t matter, privately reminded his players Georgia is No. 1.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 28-13
Peper pick: Alabama, 41-17
Auburn at Texas A&M
Auburn (6-2) will be that two-loss team that gets in the playoff mix with two wins over Georgia and a win over Alabama over the next month. “This is where all the fun starts,” safety Tray Matthews told reporters this week.
Sapakoff pick: Auburn, 28-24
Peper pick: Auburn, 38-20
Southern Miss at Tennessee
A test of confidence in Butch Jones’ ability to rally his Vols for a game against a 5-3 Conference USA team coming off a 30-12 loss to UAB.
Sapakoff pick: Tennessee, 14-13
Peper pick: Tennessee, 34-17
Virginia Tech at Miami
ACC Coastal Division showdown. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Sagarin computer says Miami’s schedule (No. 44) has been tougher than Virginia Tech’s (76).
Sapakoff pick: Miami, 24-21
Peper pick: Virginia Tech, 24-17
Syracuse at Florida State
Head coach Jimbo Fisher on what has to change for 2-5 FSU: “Our execution in key moments.” Lots of them.
Sapakoff pick: Syracuse, 31-28
Peper pick: Florida State, 30-24
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Few non-Oklahomans realize Bedlam began in Guthrie, Okla., with a 75-0 Sooners win in 1904. This time it’s a College Football Playoff elimination game. Rock Hill’s Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys want revenge after losing two in a row in the series, and 12 of the last 14.
Sapakoff pick: Oklahoma, 38-35
Peper pick: Oklahoma, 45-38
Gene Sapakoff 9-1, Warren Peper 7-3
Gene Sapakoff 67-22, Warren Peper 65-24
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff