SEC Week 3 predictions (and bets)
It’s that time again, time to take an early look ahead to the weekend slate in the Southeastern Conference.
If you missed us the first two weekends 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 — with the exception of games against FCS competition due to the fact those games do not feature widely recognized point spreads; which means no picks this week for LSU vs. Northwestern State, Ole Miss vs. Southeast Louisiana, Texas A&M vs. Lamar, Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri or Tennessee vs. Chattanooga.
Michael was feeling bad for Chris last week, Marler had a medical condition that knocked him out of action for the weekend, so he decided to throw a few picks to even up the score as both guys finished Week 2 with a 4-5-1 record against the spread. Michael is 11-9-1 against the spread on the season and Chris is 6-13-2.
Here is how the guys predict the Week 3 action to play out:
Kansas State at Mississippi State (-7.5)
Michael: The biggest unknown heading into this matchup is obviously the status of Tommy Stevens but should he be able to play, I like the Bulldogs to roll in this matchup. With Stevens under center and Kylin Hill challenge defenses on the ground, we are finally seeing the offense Joe Moorhead promised to deliver upon his arrival in Starkville. Bob Shoops’ defense also appeared to take great strides last weekend against Southern Miss and if that continues this week, this shouldn’t be a contest for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State 35 Kansas State 20
Chris: Kansas St ditched that geriatric guru in Bill Snyder and apparently is better? They’re averaging 52 ppg and lead the nation in 1st Downs per game. They’re also 2nd in FBS for 1st downs allowed. Yipee. They’re 1-6 in their last 7 vs the SEC and 0-5 in their last 5 road games. They also are ranked 109th in ypc allowed (4.91). Kylin Hill will carry the load if Tommy Stevens can’t. I’ll take the fighting cowbells to cover.
Mississippi State 30 Kansas State 21
Arkansas State at Georgia (-32)
Michael: Kirby Smart has been cautioning his players all week that Arkansas State is not a team to take lightly. While some may snicker at that statement, it’s something Bulldog fans should be aware of as Arkansas State is currently the best football program from a state that obviously has an SEC program. Don’t be shocked if Arkansas State plays with the Bulldogs for a half in this one, they have plenty of offense to make this thing interesting early before the Bulldogs inevitably wear down the Sun Belt program. Arkansas State’s undoing will come in its attempts to stop the run, which have been less than stellar thus far this season.
Georgia 48 Arkansas State 17
Chris: This game has 1st half rout and 2nd half nap written all over it. UGA is running over everyone against a very below-average defense. I think Kirby will have a big enough lead at the half to call off the Dawgs after halftime to prevent any injuries before next week’s showdown vs Notre Dame. That being said Arkansas St is averaging 20 points in the 2nd Half of games so far this season. Prime for a backdoor cover.
Georgia 44 Arkansas State 14
Alabama (-25.5) at South Carolina
Michael: How aggressive is Will Muschamp willing to get considering his team is starting a true freshman quarterback in Ryan Hilinski? That’s the big question I have in this matchup. The South Carolina coach noted that is the key to beating a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team but it goes against Muschamp’s nature as a coach. One x-factor in this game could be South Carolina QB/WR Dakereon Joyner, look for the Gamecocks to use him in a number of unique ways this weekend in an attempt to create some mismatches on the field. Remember, Alabama is playing several true freshmen on defense and they have yet to play in a true road game. Tua Tagovailoa and his receivers should have a big game on Saturday but don’t discount Hilinski keeping up with them in this matchup.
Alabama 38 South Carolina 30
Chris: Outside of Saban’s retirement or nationwide Ranch dressing shortages there’s nothing scarier for Bama fans than “true freshman QB from the state of South Carolina.” *Cue reader overreaction and angry comments*
Ryan Hilinski is a breath of fresh air for the Gamecocks. But, it won’t matter. Bama is still mad from how 2018 ended and will put the clamps on this team as long as Alshon, Lattimore, and the legend that is Stephen Garcia doesn’t show up. By the way, the real play is Bama -14 in the 1st Half.
Alabama 44 South Carolina 17
Colorado State at Arkansas (-10)
Michael: Arkansas may have lost to this team last season but it won’t be happening again. Nick Starkel will prove to be the difference this year. Chad Morris deserves all the criticism he has gotten this week in Arkansas for not pulling the trigger faster on the Texas A&M transfer and that will be more evident Saturday when the Razorbacks respond to losing at Ole Miss with a big win against the Rams. If you haven’t been paying close attention, John Chavis continues to improve the Arkansas defense and while the dam broke last week, that came after holding the Rebels for much of the game. They were left out on the field for too many plays, something that occurred in two consecutive weeks but should be corrected this week with Starkel running the offense.
Arkansas 27 Colorado State 13
Chris: I’m still recovering from surgery, so I honestly don’t know if I’m reading this line correctly or if my happy pills are kicking in again. Arkansas is a double-digit favorite? Sure. I love the move from Chad Morris naming Starkel as the starter this week, and I think it will pay off against a defense that is giving up 32.5 ppg. The question is will the Hogs finally be able to score. They have 1 passing TD on the season.
CSU 1-5 in their last 6 road games and the under is 9-1 in their last 10 September games.I like the Hogs to win, but I think Colorado St covers. My favorite bet here is the 1st Half Under of 33.5 as both teams have been slow starters so far this season.
Arkansas 28 Colorado State 27
Kent State at Auburn (-35)
Michael: I don’t have much faith in Kent State to put up much of a fight but I’m also not convinced this Auburn offense is capable of running up the score enough in this game to cover such a big spread. Bo Nix continues to be inconsistent as a passer and Boobie Whitlow needs to hold on to the ball and this offensive line needs to be more consistent overall before the Tigers start blowing out non-FCS opponents. Kevin Steele’s defense is good enough to get a shutout in this game but I’ll take Kent State to score a single touchdown late in the game.
Auburn 34 Kent State 7
Chris: I have no earthly idea on how to pick this game. Kent St is bad. Real bad. They’re giving up 10 more points per game than they’re scoring and being outgained by almost 200 yards per game as well. Last week they eeked out a victory over Kennesaw St which was basically a redneck ITT Tech until 1980.
I don’t know how they’ll score on this Auburn D. And, I think Gus will leave Bo Nix and the 1’s in late into the 2nd half to iron out any deficiencies before they head into conference play next week.
Auburn 48 Kent State 6
Florida (-8) at Kentucky
Michael: Both of these teams enter this game dealing with some tough injuries which are compounded by lack of depth behind the players that have been hurt. For the Gators, the potential loss of CJ Henderson could prove too difficult to deal with in Lexington while the losing Kadarius Toney may not be as big of a deal considering the rest of the receiving talent Dan Mullen has to work with at Florida. Kentucky is throwing its full confidence in Sawyer Smith to deliver this weekend and based on what I’ve seen from him, there’s no doubt he can challenge the Gators with his arm. Look for the Wildcats to lean on the ground game this matchup, which will be the best way to negate Florida’s pass rush Saturday night. If Kentucky can impose its will on the Gator front seven, they will win this game. However, Terry Wilson was such an x-factor in this game last season, it’s hard to imagine Kentucky doesn’t miss him this weekend. Until he proves otherwise, I can’t pick Smith to beat an SEC defense of this caliber all night long.
Florida 30 Kentucky 20
Chris: Man, this would’ve been a lot more fun if both teams were fully healthy. Terry Wilson looked like he turned a major corner in developing his game, and Kadarius Toney is a human highlight reel. Regardless, this should still be a really good game. I’m sure there are teams and rivals that UK fans may hate more than Florida, but I don’t know if there’s a team they feel more disrespected by. The Cats have outplayed the Gators by A LOT the last 2 seasons despite only coming away with 1 win.
Just like a 70’s Shaft villain Mark Stoops will rely heavily on Kash and Kavosiey. I think they’ll circle the wagons in front of the home crowd, but ultimately the Gators will escape with a win.
Florida 28 Kentucky 23