One bold prediction for each SEC game
It’s a great week of SEC football, which means we make bold predictions, and occasionally, some of them come through. Actually, it’s been a solid couple of weeks, and this particular set of picks — with a couple of upsets, and some interesting wrinkles in some lop-sided games, could be our best yet.
Week 8 is here. Let’s get it rolling!
A&M will hang with Bama for a half, but that’s all: The two undefeated titans of the SEC match up, but with a 19-point line, it’s not looking terribly competitive. To put it in perspective, Bama was a 17.5 point favorite over a hobbled No. 18 Florida in last year’s SEC championship.
Did anybody think the Gators would win that game? No. 6 A&M is judged to be a bigger dog Saturday. But Bama is a little worn down, and hasn’t played a ground attack like A&M yet this year. The Aggies will be very much in the game at the half. That said, Bama is Bama, and they’ll cover late.
Arkansas, led by Austin Allen, upsets Auburn: The Tigers have a proud defense, and find themselves a significant home favorite … but Arkansas is actually ranked higher than Auburn in the AP rankings.
Arkansas is like a defensively addled version of A&M in that they can run or pass, and Auburn hasn’t really faced that yet this season. Arkansas’ problems are defensive, and Sean White has a knack for putting up giant games against terrible competition, but the Razorbacks aren’t terrible. In fact, they’re just good enough to pull this one off, and put themselves in the driver’s seat for third in the West.
Mizzou and Middle Tennessee will throw for 700 yards together, and Mizzou will win by two scores: MTSU, much like Missouri, passes for a bunch of yards, particularly against mediocre competition. The Tigers have struggled, which is why they find themselves a humble 8-point home favorite Saturday.
But the Blue Raiders have allowed 47 points to Vandy, 44 to Western Kentucky, and 34 to Louisiana Tech. They don’t have enough defense to stop Drew Lock and Mizzou. They will put up a ton of yards and some points, but Mizzou gets a needed win.
LSU wins by two scores over Ole Miss: The Rebels will be the most unlikely 3-4 team in college football Sunday morning. The new-look Tigers will hand the ball to somebody — Fournette, Guice, whomever — and grind out a victory.
The Rebels have allowed 213 rushing yards per game — more than double what LSU has allowed. Chad Kelly will make enough plays to keep the game close, but a physical team with a determined ground game will outlast the Rebel air raid.
Kentucky upsets Mississippi State: This is a battle of two offensively challenged teams. State has slightly better talent, but Kentucky has found an identity under dual threat QB Stephen Johnson. The mode here is ugly. This isn’t the Prescott-era Bulldogs, where Dak would throw for 350 and run for another 150, and State would score 40.
This will be a 21-17, 17-14 type of game. And Kentucky has had more success winning those — particularly at home — than State has. Kentucky wins, and finds itself on the cusp of bowl possibilities.
Whichever quarterback USC uses, they will not cover the spread against UMass: Carolina is now trying a multi QB set-up, with Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth both getting a shot at leading the offense. And UMass has become the semi-official punching bag of the SEC, as the Minutemen also played Florida and Mississippi State.
UMass is awful — it lost to Old Dominion by 20 and Louisiana Tech by 28. Somehow, UMass has fared better with the SEC, honestly.
The lost to Florida 24-7 and to Mississippi State 47-35. Carolina has exactly nine touchdowns this season, and picking them to beat somebody by three touchdowns isn’t the best plan. Carolina will win, but it’s hard to imagine them covering the 20-point spread.
Ralph Webb will run for 200 yards: Vandy should be able to impose their will on the FCS Tennessee State Tigers. Of course, Vandy’s will rarely includes the forward pass, so Ralph Webb stands to have a gigantic game.
If Derek Mason puts the ball in the air aside from 3rd-and-long situations, he should be charged with coaching malpractice. Webb will go for 200 yards and show everyone why he’s about to become the leading Vandy rusher of all-time.