It’s time for week 6’s picks and predictions.
New week, new money. I’m running from behind with a season total of 19-23 ATS. Been a crazy year with the ups and downs of the SEC.
Auburn at MSU (+2.5)
Offensively, there are a lot of statistical similarities in MSU and Auburn. Both teams are middle of the road in passing and scoring. While MSU does average 220 a game on the ground, good for 5th in the SEC, Auburn goes for 270 which is top in the league. Defensively, Auburn has a pretty big edge only giving up 16 ppg and having played the likes of Clemson and Texas A&M, those numbers are legit. The Auburn defense has held every opponent to their lowest or 2nd lowest scoring output on the season. This game is almost a must-win for MSU and their bowl hopes. Having this game at 11am on the biggest fall weekend (Bulldog Bash) doesn’t bode well for stadium atmosphere. As an MSU grad, I’d love to be wrong here but I just don’t see how the Bulldogs can do it. They’ve played 1 half of quality football this season and that was against a terrible South Carolina team. The defense is coming off a performance where they gave up 35 points to arguably the worst offense in CFB (UMass). Perhaps MSU can finally out together 4 quarters of football, I just can’t put my money on that.
My pick: Tigers 31-21
#9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M (-6.5)
The game of the week in CFB and the Vols have the chance to essentially lock up the East with a win. Both teams next game is Alabama. UT gets them next week and A&M gets them in 2 weeks following a bye. A&M or Tennessee have the chance to be king of the SEC over the next 3 weeks but that must start with a win in this game. We’ll start with the biggest advantage for the Aggies and that’s the defense. Chavis has these guys playing at the highest level they have under Sumlin and are only giving up 15 ppg. UT’s defense is pretty good also but they are giving up 23 ppg. The injuries on defense for the Vols have had an impact. What isn’t surprising is A&M having the best total offense in the SEC but what is surprising is that they are 2nd in the league in rushing. That’s were they will have to make their hay against a Vol defense which is solid against the run but not impenetrable (7th in SEC). End of the day, this is an evenly matched game. What it will come down to is emotion and who wants it more. I keep waiting for UT to have that emotional let-down after every comeback but this week has to be it. I just don’t see how they can win like they did last week and get in a hostile environment like Kyle Field. I think this is a close, physical ball game but A&M’s new found balance on offense and discipline on defense will be enough to get this one at home.
My pick: Aggies 35-24
Vandy at Kentucky (-3)
Not much to make about this game. Truth be told, this is 2 awful teams and one of them will happen to be less awful on Saturday. They are both at the bottom of the league in scoring offense and defense. Their combined TD to INT ratio is 10 to 10. Nothing would surprise me in this game but since the Wildcats are at home, I’m going with them.
My pick: Wildcats 20-13
#1 Alabama at #16 Arkansas (+14)
This is a game that has been close the last 2 years. Last year at Bama it was a 13 point game and 2 years ago was the thriller where Bama escaped with a 1 point victory. On the surface, this game appears to be another close one with 14 points being too many. When you look a bit closer you see some match-ups within the game that favor the Tide. First and foremost is the Hogs rushing defense which is 10th in the SEC and giving up 5.24 ypc. Even though the Tide is 4th in the SEC in rushing offense, this is the least dangerous rushing attack they’ve had in some time. If they are able to really get the traditional running game going, that could open up some big passing lanes for Jalen Hurts as well as give him some rushing opportunities. The flip-side is that Bama’s rushing defense is first in the league and the Arkansas offense revolves around getting that going. You have to give Austin Allen his props. He’s first in the SEC in passing efficiency but if that rushing attack is marginalized, the play-action game won’t be as effective and that is where they have been most dangerous. Although this hasn’t been a 2 TD game the last 2 years, I like the match-up and think a late TD could give Bama the cover.
My pick: Tide 35-17
Georgia at South Carolina (+7)
Weird game since it’s been moved to Sunday. I’m not sure the extra day helps or hurts anyone. The biggest thing to watch in this game is the emotional state of Georgia. After a brutal loss last week, can they generate enough to juice to handle a South Carolina team that played arguably it’s best game of the year last week in a close loss to A&M? If this was a Richt team, I’d question if the Dogs could get it back together. Not because he couldn’t coach but because the expectations were often SECCG or bust. In year 1 of Kirby Smart and Jacob Eason, I think most people didn’t expect an East title. When you look at their schedule, they could easily run off 7 straight wins and finish the season 10-2. That would be a great first year for Smart that he can really build on. I think he will convey that to the team and they will play hard. Still a lot left on the table for them. Even though last week the Cocks kept it a close game, A&M rested multiple starters and I think that outcome was fool’s gold and makes this line a trap.
My pick: UGA 28-14