Ten Games to Watch — Week 3

Starkville's Andreus Swanigan.

Clinton (2-0) at Brandon (2-0)

It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2. Enough said right? Arrows will make the short trip on I-20 to face the Bulldogs at Louis Gene Strickland Field. Clinton has one of the state’s potent offenses led by Cam Akers, Kam’Ron White and Darius Maberry. But this Brandon defense will be the best Clinton has faced so far this season led by Schdarren Archie and Rodney Hawkins. Brandon’s heavy run game is led by Vincent Butler. Bulldogs have a six-game winning streak against the Arrows. Clinton snapped one streak earlier this year and they snap another one.

Pick: Clinton 31-28


West Point (1-0) at Starkville (2-0)

It is the 94th overall meeting between the Green Wave and Yellowjackets. This one is going to be an old fashion slug fest with two good running games and two great defenses. Fourth-ranked West Point has a three-headed monster in the back field with Marcus Murphy, Andre Lane and Chris Calvert. Linebacker Keontae Hampton and defensive lineman C.J. Melton lead the Wave defense. Starkville has found its groove offensively led by QB Malik Brown and RB Andres Swanigan. Ole Miss commit Willie Gay anchors the Jacket defense. Last West Point defeated Starkville was 2012 and they end that streak.

Pick: West Point 20-16


Oxford (1-1) at Madison Central (1-1)

Chargers and Jaguars are both coming off loses to rivals, so this one will see which one can have a bounce back week. Madison Central had three crucial turnovers last week against Brandon, while Oxford couldn’t stop the running game against Starkville. Chargers are led by running back Hiram Wadlington and fierce secondary with Devin Rockette and D.Q. Thomas. Jags are led by FAU commit Jack Walker. Chargers get revenge from last year on the road.

Pick: Oxford 31-27


Warren Central (2-0) at Vicksburg (2-0)

This will be one of the biggest River City rivalry in recent years. Warren Central has two big wins over Oak Grove and Pearl, while Vicksburg handled defending 5A state champ Wayne County and Terry. It’ll be a battle of dual threat quarterbacks in Warren Central’s Jesse Wilson and Vicksburg’s Joe Johnson. Both defenses have been stellar in the first two games of the season. The last Vicksburg beat Warren Central was in 2011. Vikings keep that streak going.

Pick: Warren Central 28-20


St. Martin (2-0) at Picayune (1-0)

For the second year in a row the Yellow Jackets are off to a hot start and this time it’s because of the running game. Wayne Overman III and Javon McGee have a dynamic duo in the back field and has Kalem Reddix has a deep threat down field. The Maroon Tide is coming off a blowout win over D’Iberville in its season opener last week and have one of the state’s underrated running backs in Josh Little. Picayune is always tough to beat at home, but Jackets get it done in a shootout.

Pick:  St. Martin 35-31


George County (2-0) at Petal (1-1)

George County has gotten off to a hot start under new head coach Matt Caldwell with wins over Gautier and rival Greene County, but this will be the first time the Rebels will play on the road and it’s against the defending 6A South State champs and Petal is coming off a loss. After a putting on a offense show against Hattiesburg, the Panthers fell short in the final seconds against Gulfport last week. LaRaymond Spivery and Tyrese Fryfogle lead the George County offense, while Petal leans on a potent running game with Stephon Huderson and Tanner Estill. Petal avenges the loss to Rebels last season.

Pick: Petal 29-26


Tupelo (2-0) at Shannon (2-0)

The Golden Wave and Red Raiders will meet in clash of Lee County rivals that is separated by just 16 miles. Both teams will bring in potent running games. Tupelo is led by promising sophomore running back Jaquerrious Williams and defensively the Wave has been on locked down led by linebacker Jett Johnson. Shannon overall as a very balanced offense and are led by sophomores in quarterback Jordan Gilleylen and running back Thailon Whitfield. Tupelo has owned this series since 2003 and will continue to do so.

Pick: Tupelo 31-20


Pearl (1-1) at Northwest Rankin (2-0)

Pirates and Cougars will reunite its Rankin County rivalry in Flowood. NW Rankin is off to a fast start and has been very explosive offensively led by dual-threat quarterback Braden Smith and running back Cameron Carroll. Defensively the Cougars are led by senior defensive end Jeremiah Doss who has looked great this year coming back from a junior injury. Junior end Nik Hogan is a talented addition. Pearl is coming off a tough home loss to Warren Central in a game where the Pirate offense waiting too little too late. Jake Smithhart and Johnny Winston anchors the Pearl offense. Cougars keep rolling in a close one.

Pick: Northwest Rankin 27-24


Hazlehurst (2-0) at Magee (2-0)

Two Class 3A heavy weights will go head to head in Magee in a matchup of two heavy running games. Hazlehurst one this matchup last year 36-24. The Indians are averaging 282 yards a game rushing and has dynamic in Malik Gray and Quamead Stewart. Quetarious West and Tim Steward anchor a stingy Hazlehurst defense. Jadarius Payne leads a potent Magee rushing attack and look out for receiver R.J. Hopkins. Indian rushing attack is just to potent.

Pick: Hazlehurst 20-14


Eupora (2-0) at Smithville (2-0)

Two favorites in Class 2A and 1A will meet in Smithville. Eupora is coming off a comeback win over Water Valley in the season opener and a blowout win over French Camp last week. The Eagles are led by a running that is averaging 248 yards a game. Edwin Herard has rushed for 261 yards with two touchdowns to lead that ground attack. Smithville has a heavy rushing attack of its own averaging 243 yards a game and has Dee Moore in the back field that has breakaway speed and can it for a touchdown at any time. This will be Smithville’s first test of the season. Eagles get it done on the road.

Pick: Eupora 35-20