SEC Week 12 predictions (and bets)
It’s that time of the week again, time for some SEC predictions and gambling advice!
If you missed this column the first few weeks of the season, SDS news desk editor Michael Bratton (@MichaelWBratton) and SDS Podcast co-host Chris Marler (@VerneFUNquist) make their weekly predictions for every game involving SEC teams.
Michael went 4-3 against the spread to give him a 39-38-1 overall record on the season while Chris also went 4-3 on the season to improve his record to 34-41-2 on the season.
Here is how the guys predict the Week 12 action to play out:
Kentucky (-10.5) at Vanderbilt
Michael: I realize Vanderbilt is far and away the worst team in the East this season and this Kentucky team is capable of covering a double-digit spread against the Commodores, regardless of where the game is played, but one thing has been looming on my mind all week. How will the Wildcats respond after losing to Tennessee? Considering Kentucky had two weeks to prepare and largely outplayed the Vols, yet still managed to find a way to lose, this game is going to be tough to get up for. Vanderbilt is also getting back Riley Neal for this matchup, which should help stabilize the team’s offense. I like Kentucky to win but not cover here.
Kentucky 23 Vanderbilt 16
Chris: This week Kentucky travels to Nashville to participate in a fun game Vandy has been playing all year called “What’s lower than rock bottom?” Last week they lost 56-0 and at one point I’m pretty sure one of the ESPN cameras caught Derek Mason’s soul leaving his body. Some schools we joke around about looking forward to basketball or baseball season. At this point, Vandy fans are probably looking forward to finals week.
Derek Mason is 1-9 ATS in his last 10 games and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. I love Lynn Bowden but a double-digit favorite on the road is probably too much for a one-dimensional offensive team that is averaging less than a TD per game in road games this year.
Kentucky 20 Vanderbilt 13
Florida (-7) at Missouri
Michael: This is a tough line to figure outside the fact Missouri has been giving the Gators trouble in recent seasons. Playing at 11 am in cold weather could also be a factor in this one but it’s getting harder and harder to believe the Tigers are going to show any signs of life down the stretch and the Gators showed no signs that losing to Georgia is going to affect this group. While much of the talk in Columbia is centering around Missouri’s offense disappearing in recent weeks, the Tigers have scored a combined 21 points in three weeks of play, those issues have really taken their toll on Barry Odom’s defense during that span. Even with Kelly Bryant returning to the lineup, I like Florida to continue to have success on defense and anticipate another rough outing for Missouri’s defense.
Florida 35 Missouri 13
Chris: This game seems like such a trap from Vegas. There are bellies in their last trimester that have seen better stretches than Mizzou has in the last 3 games. The good news is they return home where they have been much better this season (averaging almost 24 ppg more at home than on the road) and face a team they’ve beaten by 50 combined points the last 2 years.
The bad news is they play a Florida team who is quietly having one of the best, and most well-coached, seasons in the entire SEC. This will be an ugly game early, and Mizzou will keep it somewhat close as the Gators have struggled with Mizzou in the past going 2-5 ATS in their last 7 meetings. Regardless, I’ll take the bait from Vegas and say that Florida wins by (much) more than 7 because something isn’t right up in CoMo.
Florida 28 Missouri 13
Alabama (-19) at Mississippi State
Michael: This late in the season, I love taking points like this in conference games if given to me. When you add on the likelihood that Tua Tagovailoa will continue to be limited in this game, if he plays at all, and I really like the points here. We’ve seen enough from Mac Jones to know he is capable of running Alabama’s offense at a high level against Arkansas but this Mississippi State team isn’t as bad as their record would indicate, particularly at home. When Joe Moorhead’s offense features a healthy Tommy Stevens to complement Kylin Hill, the unit has looked formidable this season. Don’t be shocked if Mississippi State has the lead in the game at some point, I think there’s a chance Alabama has to fight this one out into the fourth.
Alabama 30 Mississippi State 24
Chris: This has all the makings of a potential letdown game for Alabama. An 11:00 AM start after a devastating loss to a team coming off a bye? I don’t care. I’ll take Bama even if Tua doesn’t play. This is a State team that has scored over 7 points just 3 times in their last 11 games vs. Bama, and they’re also 1-6 as an underdog and 0-3 off a bye under Joe Moorhead.
This is the first step in Bama potentially getting back to the CFP Top 4. And they’ve got about as many people rooting for them as there are rooting for extra homework, higher taxes, and Darth Vader defeating Luke Skywalker. MSU is ranked 11th or worse in the SEC in all 4 major defensive categories. They’re also ranked 111th in FBS in yards per pass attempt (8.3) and 13th in the SEC in turnovers lost (19). Tua and the Bama D will have a field day.
Alabama 38 Mississippi State 14
LSU (-21) at Ole Miss
Michael: Here’s another game where I love the points in favor of the home team. The way many have been reacting in Baton Rouge, you may think LSU had already won the national championship. Ed Orgeron’s players are all saying the right things leading up to this game but you know they are feeling the love on campus and from both the local and national media this week. Ole Miss may not have the record to show for it but this is arguably the most improved team in the SEC this season and are a few plays away from having a winning record entering this matchup. I like the Rebels to have some success on the ground in this game and keep it relatively close in the second half.
LSU 37 Ole Miss 24
Chris: This is another game that has emotional letdown written all over it. And, traditionally LSU has not looked great the week after the Alabama game. The Tigers are just 13-25-1 ATS after playing Bama since 1980 and they head to Oxford to take on an Ole Miss team who has covered the spread in 5 of their last 6.
I’m excited for this game to see the matchup of Ole Miss’ league-leading rushing offense vs LSU’s 2nd ranked rush defense. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the Rebels freshman QB Plumlee looks against this Tiger defense. It seems like everyone is expecting a hangover from the Tigers. However, if there’s anything we learned last week from Coach O (and his NSFW locker room video) it’s that this dude takes some of these games and opponents very personally. He’s 3-0 overall and ATS vs the Rebs as head coach at LSU winning by an average of almost 21 ppg. I have to think Coach O will want to beat his former employer badly.
LSU 44 Ole Miss 17
South Carolina at Texas A&M (-11)
Michael: After some early losses, many observers outside of College Station may have moved on from the Aggies but those that did have missed what Jimbo Fisher has quietly continued to build. Once again, the Texas A&M coach has his team playing their best football down the stretch and with two weeks to prepare for a struggling South Carolina squad, the Aggies should take another step in the right direction on Saturday. South Carolina’s best shot in this game is to run the ball and take the pressure off Ryan Hilinski. The Aggies’ run defense hasn’t been as stout as it was last season but the Gamecocks are banged up on the offensive line and at running back and are coming off a game in which Appalachian State dominated them on the line of scrimmage. If that happens again, South Carolina has not shot in this one.
Texas A&M 27 South Carolina 13
Chris: South Carolina is reeling right now, and the last thing I would want to do if I was in their position is travel over 1000 miles away to play for a fake trophy. Carolina has had a season of ups and downs and honestly, the App St loss doesn’t look that bad on paper. But, at 4-6 and having to win their last 2 vs A&M & Clemson you have to wonder if the team will be able to emotionally get up for this game. Especially if they fall behind early.
The Aggies are 5-0 vs Carolina in their last 5. Jimbo has had a week off and after this game, they head to Athens and Baton Rouge to play 2 top 4 teams. Jimbo knows what the expectations are and he will make sure to have an impressive win in front of the home crowd before that finale.
Texas A&M 31 South Carolina 10
Georgia (-2.5) at Auburn
Michael: The pitchforks on The Plains may not be in hand as we speak but they are sitting next to the door ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. That’s the feeling heading into this one as Gus Malzahn’s offense has been sputtering over the last month and with Georgia and Alabama set to descend into town in the coming weeks, many have been eager to suggest the Auburn coach would be wise to begin planning his exit strategy from Auburn. Meanwhile, Kirby Smart silenced many of his doubters with an impressive win over Florida two weeks ago, which was led by a mix of Georgia’s ground game and Jake Fromm’s steady play. The Bulldogs have yet to face a rushing defense this stout and doing so on the road makes it all the more difficult. If Bo Nix can make a handful of plays in this one, Auburn should manage to manufacture a few scoring drives against Georgia’s outstanding defense. Most will be picking the Bulldogs to return to Athens with a win but I sense some of that Jordan-Hare magic will be in the air this weekend and give Gus another opportunity to silence his doubters.
Auburn 21 Georgia 20
Chris: This is hands down my absolute favorite rivalry in all of college football. The Deep South’s oldest rivalry epitomizes everything that I love about SEC Football. The leaves are changing, it’s finally bourbon weather, and two of the original members of the conference line up for some smashmouth football. That last one is especially important this year. There’s not a matchup I’ve looked forward to more since the offseason than this Auburn D-Line vs this UGA O-Line. They are arguably the best unit at each position in the entire country. And, it should be fun to watch all everything DL Derrick Brown and company go up against these future 1st rounders that Sam Pittman has stockpiled.
This game is simple for me. I love Auburn’s defense. I love that they’re at home. And, I love that they’re 11-4 ATS coming off a bye week under Malzahn. However, I think this game comes down to UGA’s defense not Auburn’s. Kirby’s defense has quietly put together one of the best years statistically we’ve seen in the last several years. The Dawgs lead the SEC in 3 of the 4 major defensive categories and haven’t allowed a rushing TD in 9 games. They’ve also only allowed over 17 points just once this season (USC 20), and 7 of those were on a pick 6.
Bo Nix’s worst games have been against Auburn’s best competition. UGA will rattle the freshman early and will leave the Plains 9-1 vs the SEC in the month of November under Kirby.
Georgia 20 Auburn 13