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Predictions for SMU-Tulane, Texas A&M-Mississippi St. and key national matchups

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This week, The Dallas Morning News’ panel of nine college football experts — including columnists, writers and editors from The News as well as personalities from The Ticket, FSSW, NBC5 and the Denton Record-Chronicle — makes predictions for 20 different college football games, both straight and against the spread.

Most of this week’s marquee games are national matchups not involving local schools. But even without many high-profile matchups and with the majority of the area’s teams either idle or having their games postponed for COVID-19 reasons, there still are some local games of note. Unbeaten and ranked SMU will travel to New Orleans to take on a pesky Tulane team on Friday. The following day, Texas A&M will travel to Starkville on the heels of its massive win over Florida a week ago to try to keep the positive momentum going against Mike Leach and Mississippi State.

From a national standpoint, all eyes will be on SEC West and SEC East favorites Alabama and Georgia as they square off in Tuscaloosa. The host Crimson Tide are currently five-point favorites over a Bulldog team that boasts the nation’s most dangerous defense.

Other games of note include LSU at Florida, Auburn at South Carolina, Louisville at Notre Dame and BYU at Houston.

Our predictions for those seven games, as well as 13 others, can be found below:

Previous weeks’ picks: Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2

Find more college sports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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College Football Power Rankings: North Carolina, Texas A&M rocket upwards after top 25 wins

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If you didn’t believe it before, you’d better believe it now: Defense is all but extinct. It certainly seemed that way on a weekend where 31 of the 58 teams playing scored at least 30 points.

That shouldn’t be surprising because the average FBS team is scoring 30.3 points per game in 00. If that holds up, it would be a record.

Adding to the fun …

  • Ole Miss and Alabama combined for the most yards ever in a regulation SEC game.
  • Texas and Oklahoma played in the highest-scoring Red River Showdown, which went to four overtimes.
  • Texas A&M beat a top five team (Florida) for the first time since 2002. The Aggies needed 41 points to do it.

What that means for this week’s biggest game is fascinating. Alabama just rolled up its most yards ever on Ole Miss. It now hosts Georgia, which is No. 2 nationally in total defense. I’m sensing something similar to nuclear fission where everything around that clash is reduced to ash, especially if Nick Saban needs his offense to run up 743 yards to win.

“I’m not really calm,” Saban said after surviving Ole Miss, 63-48. “I’m boiling and bubbling, trying to be encouraging to the players.”

First, he has to settle down himself if recent history repeats. The Crimson Tide have given up at least 42 points three times in the last eight games. Before that, Alabama gave up 42 points three times in the prior 65 games.

Editor’s note: Teams from the five conferences not yet playing in the 2020 college football season will be eligible for the Power Rankings beginning Monday, Oct. 19.

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Clemson

The trees wasted on newsprint chronicling whether Clemson will finally be challenged in the ACC could

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Texas flouted special education guidelines for therapy, U.S. officials say

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Texas has failed to ensure that children with developmental delays have early access to speech and occupational therapy and other services, according to a letter ​written this week by U.S. education officials who say the state is not complying with federal special education guidelines.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has three months to draw up a plan to ensure that a program that pays for infants and toddlers to receive such early intervention therapies is reaching all eligible Texans, federal officials wrote. Failure to do so could cost the state federal funding.

After years of budget cuts in Texas caused nonprofit therapy providers to drop out of the program, U.S. Department of Education officials found Texas to be in “significant noncompliance” with education guidelines on early intervention services.

Children’s advocates called on state leaders to provide additional funding to Texas’ Early Childhood Intervention program.

“The investigation clearly shows that state funding cuts to ECI made it harder for Texas toddlers with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and disabilities to get the services they need,” said Stephanie Rubin, chief executive of the nonprofit Texans Care for Children.

“Because so much brain development happens during the first couple years of life, we know that investing in infants and toddlers has a huge payoff in terms of kids meeting developmental goals, being ready for school, and growing up healthy,” she added.

Christine Mann, a spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the agency is reviewing the report to determine its next steps.

The Early Childhood Intervention program pays for caseworkers to work with families to track the progress of developmentally delayed children younger than 3 years old,

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College football winners and losers from Week 6 include LSU, Texas A&M

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Losing to Mississippi State and Missouri in a three-game span would send any coaching staff scurrying back to the drawing board in search of answers. 

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College football Week 6 winners and losers include LSU, Texas A&M

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Losing to Mississippi State and Missouri in a three-game span would send any coaching staff scurrying back to the drawing board in search of answers. 

That LSU has lost to the Bulldogs and Tigers on the heels of last year’s national championship leaves the Tigers’ season teetering on the brink even before encountering the meat of the conference-only schedule.

Missouri, which had six scoring drives of at least 75 yards, took a 45-41 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and made a goal-line stand with seconds left to pull off the upset as roughly two-touchdown underdogs.

Less dangerous on offense and a disaster on defense, the 1-2 Tigers still face a murderer’s row of SEC competition: Florida next week, Auburn on Halloween, and Alabama and Texas A&M in November.

The season already seems lost. How much worse can it get?

LSU quarterback Myles Brennan heads off the field as Mssouri players celebrate in the final seconds of their game at Faurot Field. (Photo: L.G. Patterson, AP)

It probably can’t get any more catastrophic on defense. Then again …

In his first season back as the Tigers’ coordinator, former Nebraska and Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini has crafted a scheme that allowed Mississippi State to crank out 623 passing yards and Missouri to gain 586 yards of total offense. In his first career start, Missouri freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 29 of 34 attempts for 406 yards and four touchdowns.

Up next, LSU takes on Kyle Trask and the Florida offense, which is averaging more than 450 yards and 40 points per game.

Tuesday marks nine months to the day of LSU beating Clemson to close out an unbeaten season. The offseason losses were severe, from quarterback Joe Burrow

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