Paschall's Picks: Malzahn's familiarity a big plus

Paschall's Picks: Malzahn's familiarity a big plus

November 14th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - Columns

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stands with Auburn defensive back Jonathon Mincy (6) and wide receiver Trovon Reed (1) before their NCAA football game against in this Nov. 9, 2013, in Knoxville, file photo.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.


Ole Miss 49, Troy 26

Pittsburgh 31, N. Carolina 28

Va. Tech 22, Maryland 15

Boston Coll. 35, N.C. State 21

Miami 28, Duke 19

UCLA 34, Washington 27

UCF 36, Temple 13

Oklahoma 33, Iowa State 14

Wisconsin 40, Indiana 21

Texas 27, Oklahoma State 20

Michigan St. 29, Nebraska 16

Oregon 44, Utah 25

Baylor 48, Texas Tech 10

Louisville 27, Houston 22

Stanford 23, USC 21

Arizona St. 45, Oregon St. 24

Michigan 20, Northwestern 19

Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze had a lot of success last season in his first year with the Rebels, and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin experienced even more.

James Franklin turned Vanderbilt's fortunes around two years ago during his first season, but first-year successes have been harder to come by in this season's Southeastern Conference. Auburn's Gus Malzahn is the notable exception with his No. 7 Tigers, who are 9-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play, but Tennessee's Butch Jones, Kentucky's Mark Stoops and Arkansas' Bret Bielema are a combined 1-16 in the league.

"Obviously they all got hired because the other coaches or teams before them didn't do very well," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said on Wednesday's league teleconference. "I think it's incredible what Auburn has been able to do. They weren't picked to do much at all."

Bielema is 3-7 in his first year with the Razorbacks, but it was a different story in 2006. After serving two years as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator, he guided the '06 Badgers to a 12-1 record that included a win over Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl.

"One of the greatest benefits I had at my previous institution was that I had a great perception of what that job was before I ever stepped into the head-coaching role," Bielema said. "Obviously Auburn's had success, and the advantage Gus had was being there before and understanding a lot about Auburn before he got there. That's the biggest hiccup the coaches go through in their first couple of years, just finding out all the nastiness you have to find about the job before you get there.

"I'm kind of finding those hidden landmines."

Malzahn, who took over a 3-9 program, didn't disagree.

"I think the fact I was familiar with the players and familiar with Auburn had to help," he said.

Pasquali's Pix:

Georgia Tech at Clemson: Tajh Boyd's campaign for the Heisman got scalped last month. Tigers 37, Yellow Jackets 24.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt: The Commodores are gunning for a 50-point victory after routing the Wildcats by 40 last year and by 30 in 2011. Commodores 30, Wildcats 13.

UTC at Samford: Pasquali has picked the Mocs in every game this season but may take a break from that next week. Mocs 27, Bulldogs 20.

Georgia at Auburn: The Bulldogs have won the past two meetings by a combined 83-7. Tigers 34, Bulldogs 31.

Syracuse at Florida State: How fair is pitting Chief Osceola and his flaming spear against a tepid orange blob? Semionoles 45, Orange 14.

Ohio State at Illinois: Urban Meyer makes receiver Evan Spencer off limits to the media after Spencer says OSU would "wipe the field" with Alabama and FSU. It's always the media's fault. Buckeyes 35, Fighting Illini 7.

Florida at South Carolina: Spurrier is going for his third win over his alma mater in four years. Gamecocks 34, Gators 9.

Alabama at Mississippi State: Nick Saban says the Bullies are the best 4-5 team in the country. Everybody says Alabama is the best 9-0 team in the country. Crimson Tide 31, Bullies 10.

Last week:



Pasquali is 229-46 overall (83.3 percent) this season.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.