Time for this week’s picks and predictions in what will be a huge week in the SEC.
Last week was a tough week going 2-3 ATS which runs the season total to 25-27. Been hovering at .500 for too long. Time to get into the money.
Umass at South Carolina (-20)
This is a game that 20 points seems like entirely too much since the SC offense hasn’t exactly been a firework show. Further, you have to factor in the offensive output high for the season was 20 points vs East Carolina. The flip side is that UMass is 118th in the nation in scoring offense and 103rd in scoring defense. They are in the running for the worst team in CFB. Over the last 4 games, UMass is averaging 26 ppg. I have faith in them scoring 2-3 times and that makes 20 points insurmountable for an offense like Muschamp’s.
My pick: Gamecocks 21-20
#6 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama (-16.5)
Bama is playing an unconscious level of football and this is their first true challenge at home. I’m looking for a raucous Bryant Denny to give A&M trouble in on field communicating. Where I think the key to this game is the Bama passing defense vs Trevor Knight and the A&M passing offense. I think Bama is good enough to take away the run and make them beat them through the air. A&M is 13th in the SEC in completion percentage at only 53.3%. The Bama secondary is only allowing 54% (3rd in the SEC) and has allowed a 7 to 7 TD to INT ratio. Let’s look at A&M’s passing completion by the down: 1st down 50%, 2nd down 65%, and 3rd down 43 %. Now let’s consider that A&M has the nation’s 2nd best rushing average at 6.8 ypc that has run the ball 118 times on 1st down compared to only 37 passes. The story those stats tell is simple. A&M is running the ball very well on 1st down setting up 2nd and medium to 2nd and short situations where they have the whole playbook at their disposal, especially short passes. What I think we see is Bama sell out to stop the run on 1st down and force 2nd/3rd and longs forcing Knight to be a passer which he doesn’t do well. This game within the game match-up favors Bama in a big way and I think this game could look a lot like last weeks.
My pick: RTR 45-20
MTSU at Mizzou (-7.5)
This is a line that opened at 4 but has gone over a TD which makes the Blue Raiders an intriguing play. Drew Lock has played the worst 2 games of his life in consecutive weeks going a combined 21 for 55, 208 yards, and 3 INTs. Looking over Mizou’s schedule you have to consider that they’ve only beaten 1 FBS team and it was a Eastern Michigan and they still gave up 21 points. MTSU is the 2nd best scoring and total offense in the CUSA (38.5 ppg and 541 ypg). Where MTSU has the biggest weakness is rushing defense but Mizzou is not a rushing team. I think the match-up here should lead to a high scoring game that goes back and forth. MTSU lost to Vandy so I can’t call for an upset but I will hedge my bets and say Mizzou wins by less than a TD.
My pick: Mizzou 37-34
#17 Arkansas at #21 Auburn (-9)
To get this one in single digits you have to jump in early as it has grown to 10.5 in most books. I think Auburn is one of the most underrated teams in the SEC. They’re defense is legit and has held every opponent to their lowest or 2nd lowest output of the season. This one is at home and provides the Tigers with the chance to jump back to the top-end of the SEC West. I know this sounds absurd, but they kinda control their own destiny in the West (if A&M loses today they can at least force a tie). Over the next 2 weeks, Auburn could go from an afterthought to a contender. Is the Gus Bus cranking back up? Here’s a gut pick for y’all.
My pick: Tigers 35-24
MSU at Kentucky (+3)
There isn’t a whole lot of statistical insight one should glean from this game. Two bad team’s stats often don’t tell a story since they’re so up and down. If you’re looking for a trend, Dan Mullen hasn’t lost to Kentucky in 7 years. I’m not a huge trend guy although they do give historical context. What this game will come down to is the effort. Neither team is great at any one facet of the game so good ole fashion want to will decide the winner. From a pride standpoint, I think MSU has more to play for. Kentucky is Kentucky and they don’t care about football. MSU fully understands that this loss would be new levels of embarrassment for an already embarrassing season. Both teams played hard last time out with MSU losing at BYU and Kentucky beating Vandy at home. Kentucky is the worst defense in the SEC and if you make me pick something, that’s the stat that does it for me.
My pick: MSU 21-20
TSU at Vandy (NL)
No line on this game but that doesn’t mean this won’t be an unbelievable in-state rivalry game between Tennessee State and Vandy. In-state bragging rights and huge stakes in this one. Okay, I’m just kidding. Only the most hardcore of fans will watch this game.
My pick: Vandy 34-7
#23 Ole Miss at #25 LSU (-6)
Perhaps the most intriguing match-up of the day because of the storylines. First, you have the return of Leonard Fournette which has been way underplayed in my summation. Next you have Coach O battling it out to prove his worth to Joe Alleva. What makes that even more juicy is that he is playing his former team where his tenure could be described as nothing less than a complete and total disaster. Seeing both sides rebound to where they are today is astounding. Ole Miss gave up a season high (for a Power 5 opponent) rushing total to Arkansas last week, allowing 200 yards. They have the nation’s 104th ranked rushing defense. LSU is averging 6.24 yards per rush which is good for 4th nationally. That isn’t a good combination. Add in that its a night game at Death Valley and you have Tigah win gumbo brewing. Chad Kelly and the Ole Miss passing offense is what has the potential to flip this game. He is 1st in the SEC in passing at 320 yards per game and has 230 rushing yards on the year with 4 TDs. In short, Chad Kelly can beat you through the air or with his feet. I’m about to get a little weird with this prediction but Ole Miss has a lot of negative energy surrounding it’s program at the moment. Last week’s loss to Arkansas gave them their 3rd overall loss and 2nd SEC loss making any chance at their pre-season goals unlikely. What do the Rebels have left to play for? The beginning of this game is crucial. If LSU jumps out to a hot start, I could see the Rebels folding in Death Valley.
My pick: Tigahs 38-27