Bark staff football picks: Oct. 1-3

With staff picks now a weekly mainstay for the entire Bark staff, sportswriter Wyeth Wilson and I wanted to add our own type of staff pick. Each week, we will pick a collection of important area high school games, mostly focusing on Region 1-6A, as well as primetime college football showdowns. We will each offer a brief summary of the matchup and then each of our individual predictions.

We’ll pass on picking the Bearden game each week because we’re a little biased.

-Tyler Hotz, Sports Editor

Jefferson County at William Blount (Thursday)

TH: Jefferson County and William Blount both come off of bye weeks after losing the week before and look to make amends with this strong matchup.

Seeing the Governors earlier in the year, I know they possess a solid power running game in addition to their great quarterback Austin Myrick who had five total touchdowns against Bearden two weeks ago. In contrast, I believe that Jefferson County will end their three-game losing streak and win in a nail-bitter on the road.

Jefferson County 27, William Blount 23

WW: When Bearden football fans think of William Blount football, this season’s 44-34 win, as well as Griffin DeLong dominating the Governors last season both come to mind.

But William Blount is better now than those two games show. The Govs’ strong rushing attack led by quarterback Austin Myrick will give a Jefferson County defense that has allowed 31 points per game in their last three games trouble.

William Blount 34, Jefferson County 20

Dobyns-Bennett at Maryville (Thursday)

TH: Dobyns-Bennett has had a solid three-game winning streak going into Thursday’s matchup, but nothing can compare to the incredible 36-game run Maryville has been on since their defeat in the state championship game to Whitehaven in 2012.

Maryville continues this run when they soundly defeat a good Dobyns-Bennett team.

Maryville 41, Dobyns-Bennett 14

WW: People around the Knoxville and Maryville areas may not know much about Kingsport based Dobyns-Bennett, who have been a yearly fixture in the playoffs, sometimes even playing Bearden.

This will be the first game between Maryville and Dobyns-Bennett since the 2012 Class 6A quarterfinals, in which the eventual state runner-up Rebels knocked off the Indians. This Dobyns-Bennett team could end up making a deep run in the playoffs again, but they will have a rough time against Maryville, even with the Rebels being without Austin Ensley, one of two rotating Maryville quarterbacks.

Maryville 31, Dobyns-Bennett 13

Science Hill at Hardin Valley

TH: Hardin Valley has one of the best high school running tandems around with star backs Issiah Aguero and Aaron Dykes; Aguero and Dykes especially made this evident when the two helped their team rush for 325 yards against Bearden on Sept. 4.

Both teams have had solid seasons; however, Hardin Valley will use their close game loss to Dobyns-Bennett two weeks ago as motivation to pull out a close victory over the Hilltoppers.

Hardin Valley 30, Science Hill 26

WW: Hardin Valley is currently 3-2 on the season, but their only two losses have come by a combined three points.

The travel time for Science Hill will be a factor in this one, as well as Science Hill’s weak strength of schedule up to this point.

Hardin Valley 41, Science Hill 34

No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia (3:30 p.m., CBS)

TH: This matchup brings out some of the best running backs in the country, Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry, both of whom are averaging more than seven yards per carry.

Georgia keeps the game close, but Alabama is just better as an all-around team.

Alabama 31, Georgia 24

WW: Through the first four weeks of the college football season, Georgia has avoided playing any good teams, but that streak will come to an end when the Crimson Tide come to Athens.

Alabama’s run defense will give Georgia running back Nick Chubb a hard time all afternoon, forcing Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert to throw. Alabama keeps their College Football Playoff hopes alive with a big road victory, breaking the SEC East wide open once again.

Alabama 35, Georgia 20

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida (7 p.m., ESPN)

TH: Ole Miss has arguably the best win in college football this season – a win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels, however, looked unbelievably flat in their close win over Vanderbilt last week.

Florida comes off one of the craziest victories all year with their 28-27 win over Tennessee, but Ole Miss’s weapons on the perimeter and strong defense will shut down the Gators.

Ole Miss 31, Florida 13

WW: Florida may have beaten Tennessee last week, but that isn’t that huge, considering the Vols have not been great with managing leads in the fourth quarter.

Ole Miss will expose Florida this week in what is the beginning of a tough stretch of games for the Gators.

Ole Miss 42, Florida 17

No. 21 Mississippi State at No. 14 Texas A&M (7:30 p.m., SEC Network)

TH: This matchup may be one of the most overlooked games of the weekend, and it could produce one of the best games of the season.

Dak Prescott has nine touchdowns on the season and no turnovers. He is the best player between the two sides, and he will make big plays when it matter most, helping his team pull off the upset on the road.

Mississippi State 23, Texas A&M 20

WW: Texas A&M was extremely impressive in week one in a win over Arizona State, but that win doesn’t carry as much value now, considering Arizona State has underachieved all season.

Mississippi State, on the other hand, has flown under the radar thus far, quietly moving into the top 25 with only a loss to LSU tarnishing their record.

The Bulldogs keep it close late, but the Aggies’ home field advantage of Kyle Field propels them to a win.

Texas A&M 31, Mississippi State 23

No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson (8 p.m., ABC)

TH: Notre Dame makes its second ever trip to Clemson, South Carolina, where College Gameday will set the stage for this top-15 matchup.

Notre Dame has suffered devastating injuries to starting quarterback Malik Zaire and running back Tarean Foster. Even though the Fighting Irish have still looked strong, Clemson’s stout defense will be enough to propel them to a close victory.

Clemson 28, Notre Dame 27

WW: Notre Dame’s season looked to be lost after star quarterback Malik Zaire went down in week two, but the Irish haven’t faltered at all since then, with a huge win over Georgia Tech to prove it.

But as they always seem to do in big games, Notre Dame will come out flat, allowing Clemson to get ahead early and never let up.

Clemson 35, Notre Dame 17

Arkansas at Tennessee (7 p.m., ESPN2)

TH: First off, I want to apologize to the fanbases of both teams for last weekend; Tennessee’s and Arkansas’s games last week produced some of the most heartbreaking losses in recent memory.

Tennessee, however, uses the home crowd and their solid rushing attack to get the victory over the Razorbacks.

Tennessee 24, Arkansas 21

WW: This game matches up the two most miserable fanbases in college football, with both teams being a bit disappointing after getting tons of preseason hype.

Tennessee’s home field advantage will be important in this pivotal game matching up two rebuilding programs, as Arkansas is 0-8 in SEC road games since hiring Bret Bielema.

Home field advantage, as well an offense that finally gets back on track will boost the Vols to victory, making Bielema’s seat warm in Fayetteville.

Tennessee 28, Arkansas 20