Week 8 pick results:

  • Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 4-2 (against the spread); 6-0 (straight up)
  • Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 3-3 (ATS); 6-0 (straight up)

Season totals:

  • Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 35-42-1 (against the spread); 62-15 (straight up)
  • Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 40-37-1 (ATS); 60-17 (straight up)

Thursday’s game

Mississippi State (-7.5) at Mizzou

Brad: Before the season, I picked Mississippi State in this game despite believe that Mizzou would be an eight-win team heading to a quality bowl game at year’s end. Well, half that projection still has life. You have to give credit Dan Mullen this season who has the Bulldogs 6-2 and very much capable of another season of nine or more victories. He doesn’t have the top-to-bottom roster talent of say, an Alabama or LSU, but he’s getting it done. Dak Prescott certainly helps. The senior is quietly having a monster year in Starkville and I expect the Bulldogs to win rather comfortably on Thursday night in Columbia. Mizzou needs a big game from an offense that’s been terrible in recent games (13 quarters and running without a touchdown).

Mississippi State 27, Mizzou 10

Christopher: Missouri’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in more than three games. The Tigers’ defense still ranks among the best in the nation in most categories, and Mizzou games have gone under the Vegas total all eight times this season. Dak Prescott has been playing very well and Mississippi State is a fringe top 25 team, while Missouri needs an upset or two to make a bowl appearance. I just can’t see the Tigers mustering enough offense in this one. Reaching double digits would be an accomplishment with the team’s recent play. Mississippi State should move to 7-2 and creep up the national rankings.

Mississippi State 21, Mizzou 10

Saturday’s games

Kentucky at Georgia (-14)

Brad: The biggest question between the hedges on Saturday? Will the announced crowd remain 92,000 strong? Georgia coach Mark Richt’s been put through the ringer since the final seconds ticked off the clock in Jacksonville last week. Power brokers for the Bulldogs are reportedly tired of his ineptitude in big games and it appears the program has hit its ceiling under his regime. A loss to Kentucky would certainly expedite the removal process, but it won’t happen. The Wildcats are in a second half tailspin still licking their wounds from a Tennessee beating. Georgia finds the end zone, surprisingly, but it’s not pretty.

Georgia 20, Kentucky 14

Christopher: This is a “get right” game for Georgia. Kentucky has allowed 30, 42 and 52 points in the last three games as the defensive holes have gotten larger and larger. It may be too late for coach Mark Richt to make a meaningful impact on public perception, but the team should be angry about its 5-3 record and ready to prove it isn’t a sinking program. UK is allowing 4.5 yards per carry and has given up 18 rushing touchdowns. Georgia is second in the SEC, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. UGA has to get back to running the ball effectively, and I expect the team to try its darnedest to do that here. Lose this one and Kentucky will be heading to Nashville trying to break a four-game losing streak and very nervous about making a bowl game.

Georgia 35, Kentucky 20

Vanderbilt at Florida (-21)

Brad: If Houston was able to blank the Commodores last week, I’m not confident Vanderbilt can put points on the board in Gainesville unless the Gators give them a first down inside the 10 (then I’m still not sure). This matchup should give Treon Harris another confidence boost heading into the three-game final stretch. I like Florida by a couple touchdowns.

Florida 27, Vanderbilt 3

Christopher: This is a classic spot for professional gamblers. According to thespread.com, 83 percent of public wagers have backed the Gators in this game, an extreme number. This is a letdown spot for Florida after the team all but secured the SEC West by beating Georgia. Vanderbilt looked overmatched at Houston playing without its two best defensive players, and lost 34-0. But the Commodores defense has played well this season. Vandy already played Ole Miss and Georgia tough. Defensive end Adam Butler returned to practice Tuesday and defensive end Caleb Azubike will play against Florida after missing three games due to a “jawline break.” Vandy’s games have gone under the total seven times and hit it exactly once. The total here is 37.5. So Vegas is expecting something like 28-7. I think it’ll be a notch closer, as the public is overvaluing Florida in this game.

Florida 27, Vanderbilt 10

South Carolina at Tennessee (-17)

Brad: If Tennessee finishes 8-4 with a shot at its ninth win during bowl season, can we stop bashing Butch Jones? Look, the Vols blew two games early this season and lost one they shouldn’t have against Arkansas, but this team’s ceiling was always 9-3. This wasn’t supposed to be the SEC East championship year, was it? I think South Carolina may find a way to make Saturday’s game interesting, but remembering how badly Joshua Dobbs dissected this bad tackling defense last fall, the Vols will score a ton a points.

Tennessee 41, South Carolina 27

Christopher: South Carolina’s run defense is worst in the SEC. Tennessee is stubborn about running the ball, with an SEC-high 372 rushes this season. Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd will get plenty of carries in this game. South Carolina has played decent football since Steve Spurrier resigned, especially on offense. I think the current Vegas total of 58 is too low for this game. Tennessee is out to finish the season with a flurry, while Shawn Elliott is out to shock everyone as interim coach and earn a longer stay. Tennessee wins this one, but the Gamecocks are more competitive than most think.

Tennessee 38, South Carolina 24

Auburn at Texas A&M (-7)

Brad: Can the Aggies stop the run on Saturday? It’s not a good sign when South Carolina hits the 200-yard mark in College Station, that’s for sure. Most of us still question Texas A&M’s overall strength within the front seven and linebacker play remains underwhelming. I do think Kyler Murray gives the Aggies a different wrinkle on offense — one that should give Will Muschamp plenty of headaches. I’d expect another high-scoring game, Texas A&M’s the better team.

Texas A&M 37, Auburn 31

Christopher: Auburn’s backfield is uncertain for this game, mostly because of Peyton Barber’s health. Coach Gus Malzahn is tight-lipped on such matters. But if Barber continues to be limited by an undisclosed injury — and perhaps even if Barber is healthy — Jovon Robinson appears ready to be a star. After his 18-carry, 91-yard performance Saturday, the JUCO transfer figures to be a strong factor against the Aggies’ still-weak run defense. Sean White also has looked increasingly effective for Auburn, while Texas A&M seems in disarray to an extent. Carl Lawson’s return should make things more difficult for Kyler Murray, and I don’t think the Aggies quarterback will run for 100 yards in this one. If this game wasn’t in College Station I’d be tempted to pick the upset.

Texas A&M 31, Auburn 28

Arkansas at Ole Miss (-11)

Brad: Have you noticed that team sitting in the No. 18 spot in the Playoff rankings? Ole Miss needs help (probably a lot of it), but it’s out of the question this team makes the final four in December if the Rebels win convincingly the rest of the way. The loss to Memphis hurts on the national scope, but it didn’t have any lasting effects in the SEC race evidenced by last week’s win at Auburn. I’m waiting on Chad Kelly to play a complete game down the stretch. Generating a run game helps and I think the Rebels can become balanced … to an extent. High turnover numbers from Kelly remain an issue. The Razorbacks are capable of pulling off the road upset outright, but I like Ole Miss matchup-wise. Arkansas covers.

Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24

Christopher: Arkansas has won three of four and needs this one desperately if the Razorbacks want to make a bowl appearance. A win for Ole Miss here puts the Rebels two games away from an SEC West title and could propel the team into the top 15 nationally ahead of a Nov. 21 showdown against LSU. The Rebels have to be exhausted, as they have yet to get a bye week. This is not a great matchup for the Landshark defense, as Arkansas doesn’t allow sacks, takes good care of the ball and features a physical Alex Collins out of the backfield. Ole Miss is out for revenge here, as Arkansas blanked the Rebels, 30-0, last season. I’m just skeptical that this Arkansas defense, which gave up 28 points to UT-Martin last time out, can contain the Ole Miss receivers.

Ole Miss 35, Arkansas 28

LSU at Alabama (-6.5)

Brad: Here it is, the game we’ve all been waiting for (since we realized early that the Iron Bowl wouldn’t mean much) this season. Considering Tuesday night’s initial Playoff reveal, both of these teams can reach the final four by winning out which includes the SEC Championship Game. There’s even a chance LSU could still win the West if the Tigers lose on Saturday, but a lot has to happen including a win over Ole Miss and another Alabama loss. For all intents and purposes, this is the SEC’s biggest game of the season. Two Heisman running backs, two uber-talented defenses and a chess match head coaching battle that will be fun to watch for three hours on Saturday night. I think Alabama’s ready to leave no doubt as far as poll placement is concerned with a win over the SEC’s last remaining unbeaten, but the spread is a bit high for me. I’m picking the Crimson Tide to hold off LSU with a late stop defensively when the Tigers are forced to try and win the game with Brandon Harris — not an ideal scenario against a much-improved secondary.

Alabama 24, LSU 20

Christopher: This is a terrific matchup. The intrigue for me is when LSU holds the ball, but I think Alabama’s offense will determine the outcome. It’s hard to argue that LSU’s Leonard Fournette is the best running back in the country right now. Alabama’s run defense arguably is the best in the country as well. It nearly shut down a healthy Nick Chubb completely earlier this season in Athens save for one ill-executed play. I think Fournette challenges and likely tops 100 yards, but it won’t come easy. This may be the first time Brandon Harris is asked to win a game for the Tigers this season, and although he’s played much better, I don’t trust him against a very good Tide secondary. There will be some amazing 1-on-1 matchups every time LSU possesses the ball. But, again, I think this game comes down to whether a very average Alabama offense can put up enough points against LSU. I think players like Derrick Henry, Calvin Ridley and Cam Robinson play just well enough here.

Alabama 27, LSU 20