SEC Week 13 predictions
Week 12 pick results:
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 5-5 (against the spread); 9-1 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 3-7 (ATS); 9-1 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 48-54-1 (against the spread); 82-20 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 54-48-1 (ATS); 81-21 (straight up)
Mizzou at Arkansas (-14)
Brad: Do the Tigers have any energy left after last week’s hard-fought game against Tennessee? In Gary Pinkel’s home finale, Mizzou’s offense didn’t show up, but the defense did … and that’s what we’ve seen all season out of this team. Brandon Allen is arguably the nation’s hottest quarterback in November, throwing 14 touchdown passes to just one interception. It’s hard to believe the senior signal caller surpassed the 3,000-yard barrier against Mississippi State despite spending his previous three seasons in a run-heavy scheme. It shows his progression and more over the Razorbacks’ hidden gem when Allen performs in an offense more friendly to his strengths. In May, I took a bunch of flack for placing Allen behind Dak Prescott in my preseason SEC QB rankings. Most didn’t deem Allen worthy of that high a mention. Attaboy, BA.
Arkansas 31, Mizzou 13
Christopher: Arkansas fields potentially the worst secondary in the SEC, but I don’t think Missouri has the personnel to exploit that matchup. But the Tigers secondary allows just 5.7 yards per pass attempt, which is tied with Alabama for second-best in the SEC. So don’t expect Brandon Allen to carve up the Mizzou defense as he did to Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The over/under for this game is 44, suggesting a 28-14 or 31-14 type of score. I think it’s an accurate projection. Despite 84 percent of the public betting on the Razorbacks, I’m going with Arkansas. Suggesting the Tigers can muster 14 points is a stretch, and more than 14 just isn’t going to happen without some costly Hogs turnovers.
Arkansas 28, Missouri 10
Alabama (-14) at Auburn
Brad: One game stands between the Crimson Tide and their quest for the SEC West and of course, it’s the Iron Bowl. In August, we all circled this game as the potential game of the year in the conference, but the Tigers didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Jeremy Johnson was overrated and Will Muschamp’s impact in his first season on defense over-stated. Auburn stands where its record indicates … this has been a forgettable year for Gus Malzahn and staff. This won’t be one of the classics, but watchable in the second half nonetheless.
Alabama 28, Auburn 13
Christopher: Auburn is 12th in the SEC in rushing defense. Auburn’s pass defense ranks low in every metric but interceptions. But Jake Coker has thrown just two interceptions in his last five games after a couple of multi-interception outings early in the season. Alabama hasn’t lost a fumble in those five games and has 10 takeaways. With the exception of last week, Auburn’s defense has played decent football since Carl Lawson returned. But unless the Tide makes some crucial turnovers, Bama should be able to score in the upper 20s or even in the 30s. Auburn has run the ball effectively in spurts, but Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber aren’t going to gash Alabama. It’ll be up to Jeremy Johnson and/or Sean White to keep this game competitive. And as good as Alabama’s secondary has been, forget about it.
Alabama 31, Auburn 14
Georgia (-5) at Georgia Tech
Brad: It wouldn’t be rivalry weekend without at least one prediction going against the grain, right? Going with the Yellow Jackets here, an emphatic gut punch during a less-than-stellar season well short of expectations for Mark Richt and his football team.
Georgia Tech 31, Georgia 24
Christopher: In Vegas, a spread of five points generally means “we don’t really know what to do with this game.” But it’s held steady all week rather than shooting up to six or down to 3.5. According to the Sagarin Ratings, Georgia Tech ranks No. 52 and Georgia Southern ranks No. 63, but I buy the argument that the Yellow Jackets could be less competitive than the Eagles were last week. Tech gave up 38 points to a mediocre Miami last week. This is a revenge game as well, and Mark Richt’s job still could be on the line here.
Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 20
Louisville (-4) at Kentucky
Brad: Bowl eligibility is so close the Wildcats can taste it. I like Kentucky as a home underdog against Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals. Mark Stoops needs this one or else the second half of the season, for a second consecutive season, will be labeled a complete disaster.
Kentucky 27, Louisville 24
Christopher: In their last five games, Louisville is 4-1 and Kentucky is 1-4. These teams are headed in opposite directions. This game is crucial for the Wildcats. At stake is bowl eligibility and a four-game losing streak to the Cardinals. Oh, and Mark Stoops’ job security. Win, and it’s probably fine despite some grumblings about the team’s second-half slides. Lose, and Stoops enters next season with a lot of pressure to improve or give someone else a crack. It’s been a while since the UK defense faced a team with a considerable offense, but the Cardinals have scored 41, 38 and 34 in their last three. I just don’t think the Wildcats have the defense to keep up, just like last year.
Louisville 35, Kentucky 28
Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-17.5)
Brad: *Cue Rocky Top opening chords* An 8-4 regular season for Tennessee? That’s a lot more respectable than it looked in the early going for the Vols who were slow out of the gate with losses to Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas. The defense for Butch Jones is finally playing up to its capability level and Tennessee’s run game is running at full speed. I know the Vols are hot and Tennessee has won four straight games, but pulling away from an elite defense seems unlikely. It won’t be close, but Vanderbilt covers.
Tennessee 27, Vanderbilt 10
Christopher: This is a lot of points for a Vols team that scored 27, 24 and 19 in its last three games against mediocre opponents. Vanderbilt’s defense is every bit as good as Missouri’s, and UT beat those Tigers 19-8. I expect Tennessee to shut down Vandy’s offense, if not shut it out. But I’d be surprised if the Vols post a score higher than the mid-20s.
Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 7
Florida State at Florida (-2)
Brad: Much of the pre-game buzz has surrounded Dalvin Cook, Florida State’s stud running back who has rushed for a single-season program record 1,475 yards this season. The Gators will likely be without defensive standouts Alex McCalister and Jonathan Bullard and ‘limp’ in with an inconsistent offense. Arguably Florida’s toughest matchup from a personnel standpoint offensively, the Gators need an above-average outing from Treon Harris to keep faint College Football Playoff hopes alive. I think they’ll get it.
Florida 19, Florida State 13
Christopher: Don’t buy the reports out of Gainesville or what my colleague Brad Crawford is selling. Jonathan Bullard is likely to play in this game against Florida State. But the Gators still enter this contest with a long list of injured players, a bumbling offense and a guaranteed spot in the SEC Championship Game. Coach Jim McElwain’s team is playing with house money. Don’t expect many points in this game, and a crucial turnover may decide the outcome. Florida’s offensive line should get buried in this one, though, and I like FSU to at least muster a few touchdowns.
Florida State 24, Florida 17
Texas A&M at LSU (-5.5)
Brad: Will this be Les Miles’ final game? Many believe that’s the case based on rampant reports over the last week detailing a soured relationship between the Mad Hatter and LSU AD Joe Alleva. In fact, the two haven’t spoken in a week (according to Miles). Texas A&M has its own share of challenges, but not as enormous as the elephant in the room in Baton Rouge. I’m not comfortable with this prediction, but Texas A&M hasn’t shown it can stop the run and Leonard Fournette likely needs another 200-yard effort to be invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist. Tigers win and cover.
LSU 34, Texas A&M 24
Christopher: Texas A&M still can’t stop the run, and LSU keeps insisting on running the football. I expect the Tigers to hand off 40+ times in this game. Leonard Fournette should impress, perhaps threatening 200 yards. The Aggies quietly have gotten more physical on offense and have been running the ball well themselves. But Texas A&M still hasn’t beaten LSU since joining the SEC, and coach Kevin Sumlin’s team has struggled even in wins against hard-nosed, pro-style, physical teams like Arkansas. Until Texas A&M proves it can win a game against a team that plays this style of football, I’m picking against it.
LSU 31, Texas A&M 24
Clemson (-17) at South Carolina
Brad: Finally, the forgettable season for the South Carolina Gamecocks is mercifully almost over. But how big would a win over Clemson be to punctuate what amounts to Shawn Elliott’s final game as head coach? The Tigers are No. 1 for a reason, Elliott says. “We’ve got a former walk-on quarterback playing for us and they’ve got a Heisman candidate.” That about sums it up. Deshaun Watson takes advantage of a bad defense early and often as Clemson rolls. Dabo makes sure he doesn’t run it up (too much).
Clemson 35, South Carolina 10
Christopher: Normally, Clemson would use this game as a prime opportunity to make a final impression on the College Football Playoff committee. That’s not necessary here. First, the team will earn a No. 2 seed at worst should it beat South Carolina and North Carolina. Second, the game against the Tar Heels may be a bit tricky. So don’t be shocked if the Tigers get out to a big lead and then protect some of the starters. This is the last game for not only Shawn Elliott, but all of South Carolina’s seniors as well as Pharoh Cooper. It’s also the end of the Steve Spurrier era, even though Spurrier hasn’t coached this team in weeks. Still, last week’s loss against The Citadel wasn’t exactly a fluke. I can’t foresee a way that allows South Carolina to keep this one close.
Clemson 42, South Carolina 17
Ole Miss (-1) at Mississippi State
Brad: Dak Prescott can’t lose his home Egg Bowl finale, can he? It wouldn’t fit the storybook ending he deserves as one of the SEC’s greatest players of his era, certainly the best to play at Mississippi State. Of course it’s possible considering the athleticism on the Ole Miss defense and the Rebels’ penchant for big plays and a lot of points offensively, but if there was ever a game for Prescott to leave his signature, this is it — an opportunity to squander his rival’s last shot at a division title. Ole Miss needs Auburn to upset Alabama to clinch the ultimate prize, but it’ll need to hold up its end of the bargain as well and I don’t think that happens in Starkville. Enjoy your turkey leftovers during this must-watch rivalry shootout.
Mississippi State 41, Ole Miss 38
Christopher: On paper, this is the definition of a tossup game. It’s also the regular-season and state-of-Mississippi farewell for players like Dak Prescott and likely Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil. It could be the last time both of these programs are ranked entering the Egg Bowl for a number of seasons. I expect both of these quarterbacks to throw the ball until their arms get sore. We could see the winning team get into the 40s. I like the Ole Miss secondary and pass-catchers slightly more. The Rebels are a top 15 type team, and this win will vault them into that rightful spot. The Class of 2013 never will won a championship, but they’ve brought a lot of pride to Oxford and this will be a nice parting gift for the early NFL entrants.
Ole Miss 38, Mississippi State 35