SEC Week 2 predictions (and bets)
The first week of SEC action did not disappoint from an entertainment perspective, but as you can imagine, picking these games against the spread last week left many of us looking bad.
We transition from a blockbuster Week 1 slate to a pretty ugly slate of games for Week 2. However, a few gems such as Arkansas at TCU and Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech still give us plenty to look forward to.
Before we jump into the predictions for this week, let’s look at how we did last week.
How we did in Week 1
Michael bested Kevin in Week 1 predictions, going 9/13 in picking winners and 5/13 in against-the-spread picks.
Kevin went 8/13 in picking winners and 4/13 in picking against the spread.
Ouch. Disappointing performances from teams such as Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State clearly made our predictions (and many other folks’ predictions) look pretty bad.
Let’s look ahead to next week.
Note that due to some of the cupcake games having extremely large spreads or no spreads on betting sites, we’re only picking certain games this week. Here are the games we’re not picking: Nicholls State vs. Georgia, Prairie View vs. Texas A&M, Wofford vs. Ole Miss and Jax State vs. LSU. These games will be blowouts, and many betting sites don’t even have spreads available for them.
Western Kentucky vs. Alabama (-28.5)
Michael: Sure, Alabama just crushed one of the best Pac-12 teams, but many factors played into that one. The USC game was personal for both Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian (who undoubtedly gave the Alabama staff some help leading up to the game). Plus, the Tide had all offseason to prepare for the game and knew the national spotlight would be on them in Arlington. Meanwhile, this game is an afternoon game that very well could see the Tide suffer from a hangover.
WKU’s first-year starting quarterback Mike White put up some impressive numbers last week after completing 25-of-31 passes for 517 yards and 3 touchdowns and looks to have seamlessly replaced record-setting quarterback Brandon Doughty. WKU has averaged over 44 points of offense each of the last two seasons under head coach Jeff Brohm. While the Tide should win easily at home, don’t be surprised if the Hilltoppers add a late score or two and earn the backdoor cover by the game’s conclusion.
Alabama 44, WKU 21
Kevin: As Michael outlines, this game definitely risks the classic hangover after the nationally televised beatdown of the Trojans, but the spread is manageable enough for me to still take the Tide. Plus, the Alabama defense should still be stingy enough to perhaps keep WKU under 10 points. Also, I expect Lane Kiffin to continue to want to see his quarterback develop, so I expect to still see an aggressive Alabama offense.
Alabama 37, WKU 7
Kentucky vs. Florida (-17)
Michael: Luke Del Rio looked good in the season opener and proved capable of running Jim McElwain’s offense, but few players stepped up around him. After publicly planning to rotate running backs, McElwain gave nearly every carry to Jordan Scarlett against UMass. Going back to last season, the Gators have shown real issues scoring, and until further notice, this team will continue to be led by its defense.
You could argue the Gators’ best offensive weapon is true freshman kicker Eddy Piñeiro. While Kentucky fell on its face in the opener, Mark Stoops’ team showed it has a ton of weapons on offense. Quarterback Drew Barker was impressive, throwing for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns. Look for UK to continue the tradition of playing Florida tight as the Wildcats look to avoid dropping their 30th consecutive game to the Gators.
Florida 23, Kentucky 20
Kevin: Florida beat Kentucky by 5 points last year. In 2014, it required a controversial finish in overtime for the Gators to survive against the Cats. Simply put, 17 points is way too much for this Florida team currently. The Gators will continue their ridiculous win streak against Kentucky, but the margin won’t be huge.
Florida 28, Kentucky 20
Middle Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt (-5.5)
Michael: Vanderbilt edged the Blue Raiders on the road last season by 4 points and get the return home game. However, judging by last week’s “crowd” for the South Carolina game, Vanderbilt Stadium could be empty by the time this one kicks off. If Derek Mason can’t beat MTSU by a touchdown, he might as well start fielding defensive coordinator offers from his fellow head coaches.
Vanderbilt 23, MTSU 10
Kevin: Despite the loss last week, I’m still a believer that Derek Mason’s team should turn in a decent season (by Vanderbilt standards). I think that begins this week against MTSU. Look for Vandy to cover here and get the win.
Vanderbilt 21, MTSU 13
TCU (-7.5) vs. Arkansas
Michael: This very well could be the game of the weekend in the league. Overall, Austin Allen looked sharp in his first career start for the Hogs. His biggest mistake was throwing an ill-advised interception in the red zone last weekend against Louisiana Tech, but he rebounded to throw the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. While Devwah Whaley got all the hype heading into the season, Rawleigh Williams emerged in Week 1 and looks like Arkansas’ No. 1 running back.
The biggest issues for the Hogs could be pass protection and stopping TCU’s passing game. After giving up only 14 sacks in 2015, Arkansas gave up four last week — the same number TCU had against South Dakota State. Kenny Hill threw for 439 yards last week and threw for 386 last time he faced Robb Smith’s defense. Last week, the Hogs gave up 212 passing yards to La Tech quarterback J’mar Smith, who was playing his first-career college game.
While TCU has a speedy defense, the Frogs’ front seven will be severely mismatched in this game compared to Arkansas’ offensive line and should struggle to slow the Hogs’ run game, which in turn could ultimately limit Hill’s passing attempts. TCU is only 14-12-1 against the spread as a home favorite the last five seasons; Arkansas was 4-0 as a road underdog last season.
Arkansas 28, TCU 24
Kevin: In this matchup between old SWC rivals, these two teams come into Week 2 with very different Week 1 performances, most notably in the passing game. The former Texas A&M quarterback, Kenny Hill, tossed 439 yards for TCU last week against SDSU, and Austin Allen only managed 191 yards in the air. I think Bret Bielema’s team has a difficult outing against TCU this week. I thought Arkansas looked pretty weak against La Tech in multiple areas, and TCU’s Gary Patterson will have the team ready to exploit these weaknesses. I’m taking TCU even with the fairly large spread.
TCU 41, Arkansas 31
South Carolina vs. Mississippi State (-6.5)
Michael: The line may surprise you at first, but Mississippi State has by far the more complete roster and has a serious advantage in coaching and will be aided by the home field cowbells. Late in the South Alabama game, quarterback Damian Williams appeared to emerge as the leader of the offense.
As for South Carolina, the Gamecocks will continue to rotate quarterbacks after both Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain both failed to impress against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs’ main weakness on defense is the secondary, but South Carolina will likely be unable to take advantage considering the lack of receivers and consistent quarterback play.
After losing the opener, this game becomes a must-win for Mississippi State if the team has any chance of making a bowl game this season. While the Gamecocks may be good enough to go on the road and barely edge arguably the worst team in the SEC, beating the Bulldogs in Starkville would be more impressive.
Mississippi State 33, South Carolina 21
Kevin: I find it interesting that South Carolina fans seemed pretty pumped after beating Vanderbilt last week. With that said, the 6.5-point spread is too much (imagine getting in on this bet at the original 9.5 points!). Both offenses will struggle, so I’m going with a close game with Mississippi State edging out a victory.
Mississippi State 21, South Carolina 18
Arkansas State vs. Auburn (-19)
Michael: Anyone giving up 19 points must not have seen Auburn play offense last week. Clemson’s defensive coordinator revealed his secret to stopping the Tigers was by Googling how to stop the Wing-T. Surely, Arkansas State has access to the internet these days and can follow suit. If Gus Malzahn could roll Sean White and John Franklin III into one player, Auburn might have a good offense, but until that time, the Tigers will continue to look painful as it agonizingly attempts to put points on the board. The best shot at an Auburn cover is a defensive touchdown.
Auburn 20, Arkansas State 6
Kevin: Auburn’s defensive front is good enough for me to take the Tigers to cover this spread. Also, Auburn put up some decent points against weak competition in 2015, so I think it’s possible this week despite how terrible the offense looked against Clemson. I’ll take Auburn to get an easy win this week.
Auburn 31, Arkansas State 9
Eastern Michigan vs. Missouri (-25.5)
Michael: Another game that feels like free money, while Mizzou put up some yards and is currently second in the nation in plays run, the Tigers only registered a single touchdown in Week 1. Adding to Missouri’s offensive woes, the team’s kicker is a true freshman and missed a field from inside the 25-yard line last week. That’s about as bad as it can get on offense. No matter how good the Tigers’ defense may be, until the offense shows some true signs of life, take the points and run.
Missouri 24, Eastern Michigan 7
Kevin: Eastern Michigan is bad. Really bad. Missouri looked bad last week as well, and while I want to pick the SEC team to cover the 26 points against one of the worst teams in the country, I learned my lesson last week in the Florida-UMass game.
Missouri 28, Eastern Michigan 10
Tennessee (-11.5) vs. Virginia Tech
Michael: Following the flat performance in the season opener against Appalachian State, Tennessee is in danger of having the season derail before it can even get to the annual Florida debacle. While offensive coordinator Mike DeBord has been raked over the coals by the fan base since last Thursday, the real issue was the Vols’ terrible performance up front on the offensive line. If Tennessee can make the proper adjustments up front, the offense should take a big step forward.
After struggling early against Liberty, Virginia Tech took control of that game in the second half. Starting quarterback Jerod Evans lived up to the recruiting hype and has been drawing comparisons to Cam Newton this week from Tennessee defenders, but this week he faces a significant step up in competition. The Hokies lost four fumbles against Liberty and still won by 23 points.
Until Tennessee shows it can handle the hype, it’s fair to question the legitimacy of this supposed SEC contender. The game will come down to how successful the Tennessee defense is at containing Evans. Against the spread: Virginia Tech is 5-2 as an away dog the last three seasons, head coach Justin Fuente was 3-0-1 as a road dog the last two seasons. Tennessee is 6-10 as a home favorite under Butch Jones. (While the game is in Bristol, Tennessee is the designated home team and Vols fans will outnumber Tech fans this weekend).
Tennessee 28, Virginia Tech 20
Kevin: I think Tennessee could lose this game. The blueprint for playing Tennessee is pretty simple. Make Josh Dobbs beat you in the air. Virginia Tech beat Liberty in Week 1 in not the most impressive fashion, so I expect both Virginia Tech and Tennessee to be more on top of their games in Week 2. The 11.5-point spread is too much for the Tennessee team that we were all glued into watching last Thursday night. I’ll take the Vols in a close game.
Tennessee 24, Virginia Tech 21
We were 2/6 on our actual bets placed last week, hitting the Texas A&M spread and the Florida State spread. This week, there are only three games that we’re actually taking action on.
Here are the games I’m betting this week:
- Ketucky +17 vs. Florida
- Virginia Tech +11.5 vs. Tennessee
- South Carolina +6.5 vs. Mississippi State
Enjoy the games.