SEC Week 11 predictions
Week 10 pick results:
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 4-3 (against the spread); 5-2 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 7-0 (ATS); 5-2 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 39-45-1 (against the spread); 67-17 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 47-37-1 (ATS); 65-19 (straight up)
Georgia at Auburn (-1)
Brad: Will Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson or Sean White receive the most reps at quarterback on Saturday? Johnson’s outing at Texas A&M was long-awaited for the junior passer heralded as a Heisman candidate coming into this campaign. He showed poise from the pocket and eluded pressure at times, much like we expected him to do throughout the season. Auburn’s an improving football team and Georgia’s offense continues to struggle mightily under center, but I’m giving the edge to the Bulldogs only because I strongly believe running back Sony Michel will be the best player on the field at Jordan-Hare. Marshall Morgan’s late kick wins it.
Georgia 23, Auburn 20
Christopher: Auburn avoided the potential for an 0-6 record against the SEC West by waxing Texas A&M last week. Jeremy Johnson and Jovon Robinson (finally) played like many expected before the season. If only D’haquille Williams still was a member of the team, perhaps this offense would resemble the one we expected to see in August. Carl Lawson is back on the field. This is a different Auburn team than we saw in the middle portion of the season. So the Tigers are the public pick — to the tune of 75 percent according to thespread.com. The big issue, though, is that Auburn allows 4.8 yards per carry, which is 12th in the SEC. Georgia still is one of the best running teams in the conference. Oh, and Georgia’s pass defense allows the fewest yards per game in the SEC. This game could be influential in coach Mark Richt’s job status after the season as well.
Georgia 28, Auburn 24
Florida (-7.5) at South Carolina
Brad: Can the Gamecocks catch Florida sleep-walking through an early start? Here’s the thing — other than a faint shot at a College Football Playoff berth by winning out, the Gators’ fate is already sealed this season. They’re heading to Atlanta win or lose on Saturday after clinching the East last week against Vanderbilt. South Carolina still believes it can reach bowl eligibility by winning the first of three straight home games to end the season. The Gamecocks have looked better thus far under Shawn Elliott, though the 1-2 record may not show it. I think the Gators will fail to cover in an ugly game. Well, ugly unless you enjoy defense.
Florida 20, South Carolina 16
Christopher: Vanderbilt was able to do what South Carolina cannot — exploit a patchwork Florida offensive line. The Gamecocks have played more competitive primarily because the offense has improved. Brandon Wilds’ return to the backfield combined with marginal growth at quarterback and interim coach Shawn Elliott’s energy have lifted this team. But Florida is a terrible matchup for South Carolina. The Gators’ aggressive defense should pressure the quarterbacks and be able to defend Pharoh Cooper with Vernon Hargreaves III and others. This one could represent the end of Elliott’s candidacy for the permanent gig.
Florida 28, South Carolina 17
North Texas at Tennessee (-42)
Brad: I read somewhere on Twitter this week that North Texas will arguably be the worst opponent the Vols have faced during Butch Jones’ tenure. If that’s the case, is any point spread safe? Tennessee hasn’t done a good job this season of stepping on its opponent’s throat when the opportunity arises, but that changes this weekend. The Vols take a five-touchdown lead into intermission and cruise.
Tennessee 49, North Texas 10
Christopher: Six touchdowns usually is too rich for my blood, especially against an FBS opponent. But North Texas lost 66-7 to Portland State earlier this year. And Jeff Driskel’s Louisiana Tech team put up 56 points on the Mean Green last week. Given that North Texas has topped 20 points just three times this season, and that the Vols are trying to feed into the “we’re building momentum” narrative, I like UT covering this one.
Tennessee 52, North Texas 7
Alabama (-8) at Mississippi State
Brad: I thought this was a game the Crimson Tide could lose before Saturday night’s beatdown of LSU. That looked like a team on a mission to me, one that will not take any opposing team lightly the rest of the way and on through Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Remember when many national media members pushed the ‘Nick Saban’s dynasty is dead’ narrative prior to the Georgia game? Since those eulogies were written, Alabama’s looked nearly unstoppable. Dak Prescott would give anything to beat the Crimson Tide in his final shot in the series, but it’s not going to happen. Alabama’s strength up front will prevail.
Alabama 34, Mississippi State 23
Christopher: Mississippi State’s offense presents a better matchup against Alabama than LSU’s offense. The Bulldogs haven’t run the ball all that well this season. But, led by Dak Prescott, the team is completing an SEC-best 66.9 percent of its passes. Prescott also can run the ball as well as any quarterback in the SEC since Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton — two other dual-threat players that beat Alabama. I still expect that the Tide defensive line holds a huge advantage in this matchup. Alabama’s offense and Mississippi State’s defense both are middle of the pack in the SEC, so this game should come down to whether the Bulldogs can pass the ball on the Tide. I expect it to be close. And in some ways, it seems like Mississippi State belongs on the field with Alabama more now than it did as the No. 1-ranked team last year.
Alabama 31, Mississippi State 28
Kentucky at Vanderbilt (-3)
Brad: I picked Kentucky as the SEC’s worst team right now during our SEC Debate on Tuesday, so I have to go with the Commodores at home. If you enjoy quality football, you should probably skip this game and watch another one. There’s a chance the Wildcats are held out of the end zone by the league’s most underrated defense. Derek Mason would love that.
Vanderbilt 20, Kentucky 10
Christopher: Vanderbilt remains undervalued. The team’s offense stinks like rotten eggs, but its run defense may only be second to Alabama in the SEC. This team played competitive football against Georgia, Ole Miss and Florida. Kentucky is moving in the opposite direction as this season evolves. The Wildcats defense is vulnerable even to Vanderbilt. If Sony Michel and Georgia rushed for 300 yards against this UK defense, surely Ralph Webb can top 100. Coach Mark Stoops may be on a hotter seat than Derek Mason after this one. Who would’ve guessed that before the season?
Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 17
Western Carolina at Texas A&M (-35.5)
Brad: The Catamounts are 0-17 against SEC teams all-time. You can make that 18 games without a victory. The Aggies will pick up win No. 7 in convincing fashion and several quarterbacks get a chance to play. At least for a week, the criticism in College Station is deflected off of the coaching staff.
Texas A&M 52, Western Carolina 3
Christopher: Western Carolina isn’t a ranked FCS team. They’re slightly above average in that classification. Texas A&M tends to look great against teams that aren’t capable of hitting them in the mouth with NFL-caliber linemen. But Louisiana-Monroe nearly beat Texas A&M last season when the Aggies started scuffling. I wouldn’t want to risk actual money on this line. But Texas A&M faces a lot of pressure to look good in its final three regular-season games, and this one is a must for the Aggies to dominate.
Texas A&M 49, Western Carolina 10
Arkansas at LSU (-8)
Brad: Now that the Tigers no longer own an unblemished record, will they be able to ‘get up’ for this game coming off last weekend’s emotional rollercoaster? We know Death Valley at night is arguably college football’s most hostile environment, but this game comes down to the Razorbacks’ ability to keep Brandon Allen upright in the pocket. They were able to protect Allen well against Ole Miss and it showed in the box score. There are areas of LSU’s defense Allen can exploit if given time. Leonard Fournette returns to form, but the Tigers don’t cover.
LSU 30, Arkansas 24
Christopher: Brandon Harris ought to look like — well, Brandon Allen — in this one. Arkansas’ pass defense allows the most yards in the SEC this season, and though the Hogs still boast a capable run defense, expect the Razorbacks to ply the box with extra players and challenge the LSU quarterback. I believe this is a great matchup for players like Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. And if you thought Leonard Fournette was “angry” last week by the distasteful Hurricane Katrina sign, how do you think he feels after rushing for just 31 yards in a loss to Alabama? Meanwhile, Arkansas’ dramatic overtime win against Ole Miss probably reduced the desperation on that side. This is a revenge opportunity for LSU — both for last week and last year.
LSU 35, Arkansas 24
BYU (-6) vs. Missouri
Brad: This game almost didn’t happen, but now since it’s going to be played, Missouri needs a win badly. You could make the argument that no team in the country is struggling on offense quite like the Tigers right now, a combination of fault protection, inconsistent quarterback play and little confidence in the running game. If there’s one SEC assistant who almost assuredly won’t have a gig after the season ends, it’s Josh Henson. Missouri’s offensive coordinator hasn’t been able to put it together this season and the Tigers are in serious danger of missing out on the postseason as a result. You have to go with BYU here.
BYU 24, Missouri 17
Christopher: Yes, there have been distractions this week on the Mizzou side. That could be a good thing. Perhaps this Tigers team will be galvanized by all the drama, scrutiny and off-field heaviness of the last week. But my main thought on this game, after watching BYU a few times, is that the Cougars are not going to be able to win at the line of scrimmage, especially on offense. I expect BYU to have a difficult time moving the football against Barry Odom’s defense. And at some point, Mizzou has to score at least a few touchdowns. Right?
Missouri 21, BYU 20