SEC Week 12 predictions
Week 11 pick results:
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 4-4 (against the spread); 6-2 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 4-4 (ATS); 7-1 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 43-49-1 (against the spread); 73-19 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 51-41-1 (ATS); 72-20 (straight up)
LSU at Ole Miss (-4)
Brad: Which LSU team will show up in Oxford? The one that started the season 7-0 and found themselves ranked No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff Poll or the lackluster squad that has disappointed during its last two outings? Several reports indicate that Les Miles could be coaching for his job over the Tigers’ final two regular-season games, but that $15 million buyout would be a tough pill to swallow even if LSU finishes, at worst, 8-4 (bowl loss included). I think Leonard Fournette gets back on track this week, but it won’t be enough.
Ole Miss 30, LSU 24
Christopher: Yes, the Rebels have a very good defense. But the Landshark unit allows 4.7 yards per play, which is tied for 17th nationally. Alabama, despite arguably the toughest schedule in the nation, ranks at No. 3. In other words, the Rebels defense isn’t playing at the same level as the Tide’s defense right now. Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes has collected 8.5 sacks, third in the SEC. But the rest of his team has combined for 9.5. So Brandon Harris, though he’ll have to watch out for the pesky Ole Miss back seven, should be able to feel more comfortable in the pocket. Leonard Fournette should have a bounce-back game after playing better than people realize against Arkansas. This is a potential revenge game for the Tigers. And LSU coach Les Miles needs this one badly. In a tossup game, I’ll take the team getting more than a field goal.
LSU 28, Ole Miss 27
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-3.5)
Brad: Is Arkansas the SEC’s hottest team? You could certainly make the argument considering how well Brandon Allen has adjusted to Dan Enos’ spread scheme in the Razorbacks’ offense. What Arkansas has done in recent weeks proves Bret Bielema, for whatever reason, knows how to get the most out of his players down the stretch. The Razorbacks took a similar path to bowl season last fall, shaking off early ineptitude with a couple eye-opening wins in November. I love the Arkansas front seven vs. Mississippi State’s OL + Dak Prescott dynamic in this matchup. I’d expect a lot of points, maybe even overtime.
Arkansas 38, Mississippi State 35
Christopher: This season, teams have needed more than one week to recover after playing Alabama. The Arkansas defense, though, is a little different. It can stop the run almost as well as Alabama, but the secondary has been torched repeatedly in ’15. The narrative is all about the Razorbacks here. Certainly the Hogs have played good football in November the last two seasons. But Arkansas easily could be 3-7 right now, having pulled out oh-so-close wins against Tennessee, Auburn (in four overtimes) and Ole Miss (in overtime with one of the season’s craziest plays). This Arkansas team is better than the one everyone buried early in the year but not as good as the one everyone is lauding now. Meanwhile, Mississippi State is a missed field goal from being 8-2 entering this game. Dak Prescott has the chops to take advantage of the Arkansas secondary. And the game against Alabama last week was much closer than the score — at least in the first half. In simple terms, Arkansas is overvalued in this game.
Mississippi State 31, Arkansas 28
Tennessee (-8.5) at Mizzou
Brad: I’ll be the first one to admit that Mizzou surprised many last week in Kansas City, including myself. I didn’t think Drew Lock and the Tigers’ recent anemic offense had enough juice to outlast BYU, but Gary Pinkel’s team proved otherwise. Now, can Mizzou carry that momentum into Saturday’s game against Tennessee? It’s a game the Tigers must have on the road to bowl eligibility, but since I picked the Vols to win out several weeks ago and finish 8-4, I’m sticking with Tennessee. I do believe Mizzou covers, however.
Tennessee 24, Mizzou 17
Christopher: Missouri’s run defense allows just 3.0 yards per carry, while Tennessee’s offense has labored in recent weeks. This is also the final home game of coach Gary Pinkel’s career. Expect strong emotions among the Tigers fans and players. If Tennessee isn’t careful, this will prevent it from notching a fourth consecutive win. I still am skeptical that Missouri’s offense will be able to mount enough production to pull off the upset, but Russell Hansbrough finally looks healthy and the Mizzou offensive line is getting at least a little more push.
Tennessee 20, Mizzou 13
Texas A&M (-7) at Vanderbilt
Brad: All hail Derek Mason. Talk of firing the Commodores’ second-year coach has died down quite a bit, hasn’t? Freshman quarterback Kyle Shurmur, backed by several terrific performances from Mason’s defense, has given Vanderbilt a glimmer of hope for the future. Two SEC wins this season is two more than many thought the Commodores would have at this point and that’s a testament to a locker room refusing to give up after early-season despair. Even the 34-point loss at Houston could’ve wrecked the second half of the season, but Vanderbilt has responded. Athletically, it’ll be tough to matchup with Texas A&M this weekend, but I’m expecting a competitive game nonetheless.
Texas A&M 27, Vanderbilt 17
Christopher: Dysfunctional is an appropriate word to describe the Texas A&M offense in recent SEC games. Three points in a loss at Ole Miss. Ten points in a loss to Auburn. Meanwhile, Vandy has held its opponents to fewer than 20 points in five of its last six games. The lone exception, a 34-0 loss at Houston, featured a pick six and three other short fields due to Commodores turnovers. The Aggies will have some mismatches in the passing game, as their receivers are far more athletic than most of the Commodores’ defensive backs. Otherwise I’d be picking an upset in this game. Ralph Webb has rushed for at least 99 yards in four consecutive games, and Vanderbilt should be able to run the ball effectively against this Texas A&M defense. Vandy is brimming with confidence, as winning three SEC games was unthinkable prior to the season. If Derek Mason’s team wins the turnover margin, it’s possible here.
Texas A&M 21, Vanderbilt 17
Florida Atlantic at Florida (-31)
Brad: Don’t be fooled. Florida’s offense isn’t very good without Will Grier at quarterback. The numbers for Treon Harris last week at South Carolina weren’t bad, but could’ve been worse considering the Gamecocks squandered several opportunities when they had a play on the ball in the secondary. This game is more or less a tuneup for the main course in the rivalry finale against Florida State. If the Gators win that, the SEC Championship against Alabama is for a final four berth. That’s crazy to think in Jim McElwain’s first season. That’s a big reason why Kirk Herbstreit labeled McElwain as his national coach of the year front-runner on Tuesday.
Florida 31, Florida Atlantic 3
Christopher: Florida Atlantic is a bad team at 2-8. The Gators have plenty to correct from the last few weeks. The perception of this Florida team has waned. Even the public is leaning toward Florida Atlantic from a wagering standpoint. I think the Gators defense could force some critical mistakes in this one, and I don’t think the Owls can muster any offense.
Florida 38, Florida Atlantic 3
The Citadel at South Carolina (-20)
Brad: Browsing Twitter, there are some members of Gamecock Nation that actually believe The Citadel could put a scare into the home team on Saturday. I’m going to be frank and tell you that South Carolina’s not as bad as it looks. Shawn Elliott actually has this team playing decent football during his time in the interim — in the first. Expect the Gamecocks to come out of the gates with more focus against The Citadel and a few early mistakes from the visitors could make this a lopsided result in a hurry.
South Carolina 34, The Citadel 10
Christopher: Shawn Elliott clearly is not going to be the next head coach at South Carolina. But no one can accuse Elliott of taking any moment, or opponent, for granted. The Citadel is a borderline top 25 team within FCS. This Gamecocks team isn’t going to a bowl, but it sure would love to ruin Clemson’s season. That probably isn’t possible, but the team will be keen to get ready for that with this dress rehearsal.
South Carolina 35, The Citadel 14
Georgia Southern at Georgia (-14)
Brad: Christopher doesn’t think the Bulldogs cover here, but I do. Obviously, Georgia Southern’s known for its run-heavy offense, one that has carried this program to many successful seasons over the last two decades … but this is the most athletic defense the Eagles have faced all season. Georgia’s noticeable advantage in the speed department will show up early and I’d expect Sony Michel to get a heavy workload, as well as Keith Marshall playing in his final home game. Take Georgia to cover. You’ll be glad you did. Fourteen points seems extremely low.
Georgia 35, Georgia Southern 14
Christopher: Georgia Southern laid an egg at West Virginia in the season opener. Since then, the Eagles are 7-1. The Georgia offense is struggling mightily without Nick Chubb, scoring 10 points or less in half its games since the end of September. This is the season’s Super Bowl for Georgia Southern. Oh, and there’s this: Georgia Southern runs for 378.9 yards per game and has scored 39 rushing touchdowns this season. The team has added some new wrinkles to the traditional triple-option offense. It will be able to move the ball against a middle-of-the-pack UGA run defense, which will keep the Dawgs’ offense on the sideline. This is no cupcake game.
Georgia 27, Georgia Southern 14
Idaho at Auburn (-33.5)
Brad: The Tigers need a punching bag this week after so many close SEC losses this fall and that comes in the form of Idaho. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Gus Malzahn’s offense really ‘click’, but I think that happens against the Vandals. Would I be surprised if Idaho covers? No. But I’m taking Auburn to play well at home in preparation for Alabama.
Auburn 45, Idaho 10
Christopher: Earlier this week, I ranked the 11 open FBS head coaching jobs. In doing research for that piece, it seems many media members believe Idaho is literally the worst FBS coaching job in the country — 128th of 128. Auburn’s defense is playing much better, through a combination of the return of Carl Lawson and Will Muschamp’s imprint making its way onto the field. Jovon Robinson has taken over as Auburn’s featured back. There are a number of players (and coaches) eager to recoup some lost numbers in this one. And everyone remembers the poor performance against Jacksonville State. That team is better than this Idaho bunch, but it’s enough to catch everyone’s attention. Expect the Tigers to lay on the heat.
Auburn 49, Idaho 7
Charleston Southern at Alabama (-38.5)
Brad: I stopped researching this game early in the week when Nick Saban said something along the lines of, “Charleston Southern’s a difficult matchup for us … they do a lot of good things.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Lots of players will get into the game for the Crimson Tide and the Buccaneers will struggle to move the chains, another yawner during a month of dominance for Alabama. The key here is keeping everyone healthy the the regular-season defining Iron Bowl next weekend. Win that and Alabama’s one step closer to redemption in the College Football Playoff.
Alabama 49, Charleston Southern 3
Christopher: Charleston Southern is a one-loss FCS school, ranked in the top 10 and vying for a playoff spot just like Alabama. The Buccaneers arguably feature the best defense in the FCS, just like Alabama in the FBS. There are a lot of parallels between these two programs this season. Alabama wore down last year and looked especially tired against Ohio State in the College Football Playoffs. Coach Nick Saban seemed to take special notice of that when mapping out his plan for the 2015 season. So I expect the Tide to rest its starters as soon as possible in this one. Alabama hasn’t done well against big point spreads in the last few seasons and Saban typically is merciful against lesser competition. I’ll take Charleston Southern to cover all day against this 5Dimes line, which seems overinflated.
Alabama 35, Charleston Southern 10
Charlotte at Kentucky (-24)
Brad: The devastating losing skid stops for Kentucky and fans go home happy, for the first time in more than a month. This would be the Wildcats’ fifth win. Another in the season finale puts Mark Stoops and murmurs about his future in Lexington at rest during bowl season.
Kentucky 52, Charlotte 17
Christopher: Finally a sure-thing win for the Wildcats. UK can channel weeks of frustration at the 49ers, which are 2-8 in their first full-fledged year as an FBS program. Heck, the Kentucky defense may even force a few punts in this one. Don’t expect much of a contest.
Kentucky 38, Charlotte 10