SEC Week 5 predictions (and bets)
Wow, Week 4 was a wild one. As such, our prediction performance naturally dropped last week compared to the previous week.
Before we dive into the Week 5 games, here are the week-by-week results between Kevin and Michael’s SEC picks.
|W1||8/13 (62%)||4/13 (31%)||9/13 (69%)||5/13 (38%)|
|W2||7/8 (88%)||2/8 (25%)||8/8 (100%)||4/8 (50%)|
|W3||10/10 (100%)||7/10 (70%)||6/10 (60%)||8/10 (80%)|
|W4||5/8 (63%)||3/8 (38%)||6/8 (75%)||5/8 (63%)|
|TOTAL||30/39 (77%)||16/39 (41%)||29/39 (74%)||22/39 (56%)|
Florida (-10) vs. Vanderbilt
Michael: The biggest question in this game is how Florida responds to the epic second-half collapse suffered against the Vols last weekend. Jim McElwain and his offensive staff called a beautiful game in the first half and had the offense rolling under Austin Appleby but got way too conservative in the second half. The game could have shaken Appleby’s confidence for good, which may have been the reason McElwain opened the door for Luke Del Rio to return so early this week.
Another area of concern last week was the decision-making of Antonio Callaway. While he should be given credit for playing despite obvious pain, he lost a punt inside the five and fielded another one inside the 1-yard line against Tennessee. A similar mistake could open the door for Vanderbilt in this game.
Despite the flaws of the offense, the Gators’ defense should have little problem controlling Vanderbilt’s one-dimensional offense led by running back Ralph Webb. Derek Mason’s crew gutted you an overtime win against Western Kentucky last weekend, but the coaching matchup here is so one-sided, I’m taking the Gators to cover in Nashville.
Florida 21, Vanderbilt 10
Kevin: The Gators had two very different halves of football against Tennessee last week, but the first half had some cracks in it, too. Tennessee dropped some passes that likely would’ve kept them in the game. As such, Florida’s probably looking at an 8-4, 9-3 season at best this year.
Vanderbilt isn’t a good team, but a few mistakes could keep the final score within a single-digit margin and permit the ‘Dores to cover the spread. However, I think Florida’s second half last week will be enough motivation to play hard, especially on defense. I’ll take the Gators to cover barely.
Florida 24, Vanderbilt 13
Louisiana-Monroe vs. Auburn (-33)
Michael: While Gus Malzahn stripping himself of his play-calling duties may have looked like a success — after narrowly escaping the LSU game with a win — the Tigers failed to score even a single touchdown last weekend and stalled upon approaching the end zones. With much of LSU’s offensive woes being caused by self-inflicted decisions and errors, last weekend’s game could have gone very differently for Auburn. Had LSU not botched the clock late or Danny Etling (twice!) missed a wide open Malachi Dupre in the red zone on the final drive, Malzahn may have been the one fired this week. Louisiana-Monroe has looked pretty bad this year but is coming off a bye. I’ll take the points in this matchup.
Auburn 30, UL-Monroe 7
Kevin: Auburn’s going to win the game, but 33 points seems like a hefty spread to cover for the Tigers. Auburn hasn’t scored over 20 points against Power 5 teams this season, but they put up 51 against Arkansas State in Week 2 and secured a 37-point victory. Can Auburn put up big points similarly against ULM? Yes, but I think the safe bet is that Auburn wins but fails to cover the 33-point margin.
Auburn 35, UL-Monroe 10
Tennessee (-3.5) vs. Georgia
Michael: This time last week, Georgia fans were riding high and planning for a second trip to Atlanta this season, while Tennessee fans were preparing themselves for the Florida streak to reach 12. Now with the script reversed, Bulldogs fans are expecting to get whipped while the Volunteers’ faithful wonder why this isn’t a two-touchdown spread. Considering Tennessee has played one really good half of football this season and have yet to play in a hostile environment all season, there’s a good chance this game goes right down to the wire.
Jacob Eason may have played the worst game of his football life in Oxford last weekend, but that’s to be expected from a true freshman on the road when he starts the game off with a pick-six. With or without Nick Chubb playing, expect Georgia to play a more conservative game this weekend with a number of deep play-action shots down the field. With Cam Sutton out, Tennessee still has to prove it can cover receivers in one-on-one matchups on the outside. Last season, UGA receiver Reggie Davis had the game of his career against Tennessee, and if he can actually catch the deep balls thrown his way this game, he could factor into the offensive game plan in a big way.
While the Georgia defense may have been shredded by the pass the last two weekends, Tennessee isn’t likely to have matching success given the inconsistent accuracy issues that have plagued Joshua Dobbs this season. The Bulldogs should be more suited to play against the Vols’ running game, and Kirby Smart and his defensive staff should have a better plan of attack this week after getting run out of Oxford last weekend. Don’t be surprised if this game is a close one.
Tennessee 30. Georgia 27
Kevin: This week has all the makings for a letdown for Tennessee. The emotion of beating Florida last week was real. But because of the way the Vols came together, I think the momentum will continue into this week and Tennessee wins handily.
Moreover, I think Georgia is a fraud. The win at Missouri was a nice moment for Jacob Eason, but requiring the freshman QB to throw 50-plus times in order to eek out that victory was a red flag. That red flag turned into an utter beatdown against Ole Miss last week, and while the game will be closer against the Vols than it was against the Rebs, I still think Georgia goes down.
Tennessee 31, Georgia 14
Texas A&M (-17.5) vs. South Carolina
Michael: Thanks to the efforts of John Chavis’ defense, the A&M hype finally seems legit. This week should do nothing to change that as South Carolina has arguably the worst offense in the SEC this season thanks to a lack of both experience and playmakers on that side of the ball. Brandon McIlwain has flashed potential in every game but lacks the necessary help around him for a true freshman to succeed against a defense of this caliber.
While many have been quick to heap praise upon A&M starting quarterback Trevor Knight, he continues to struggle with his accuracy and consistency. Going on the road and facing South Carolina’s underrated home field advantage could contribute to another inconsistent passing performance from Knight this weekend. Another thing I’ve noticed, while Knight’s legs were the difference in the outcome of the Arkansas game, the A&M signal-caller must realize when to slide. He’s taken several big shots so far this season that could have been avoided. I don’t look for the Aggies to put up a ton of points in this game as they will likely lean heavily on the ground game.
Texas A&M 28, South Carolina 9
Kevin: The 2016 4-0 Aggies are not the 4-0 Aggies from previous years. They’re good, and they’re balanced. The goal-line stands last week against Arkansas was about as unusual as it gets for Texas A&M. But that just shows you the difference in this year’s team. They can run the ball, and they can stop the run. Typically, this game would be a dangerous spread to take the favorite in. A road team having to win by that many points is dangerous, but I’m a believer in the Aggies, and I’m, well, not a believer in the Cocks.
Texas A&M 35, South Carolina 10
Kentucky vs Alabama (-35)
Michael: Just when it looked like backup quarterback Stephen Johnson was going to provide the Wildcats with a spark, Kentucky throws up 17 at home against South Carolina. At least the defense came through last week, although that probably says more about South Carolina’s offense than Kentucky’s defense. Even with half of Alabama’s offense limping into this one, Alabama should be able to put up over 40 points in this game simply by playing the backups the entire game. While that isn’t going to happen, expect the Tide reserves to get in nearly a half of play as Alabama needs to rest several players before hitting the road for Arkansas and Tennessee the next two weeks.
Alabama 45, Kentucky 7
Kevin: I picked against Kentucky last week, and the Cats made me look stupid by knocking off the Gamecocks. Really, Muschamp? I’m doubling down on my anti-Kentucky sentiment and going with the Tide to cover the spread.
Alabama 41, Kentucky 3
Memphis vs. Ole Miss (-14.5)
Michael: Last season’s loss to the Tigers was arguably the worst one of Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss tenure. Considering the Rebels turned out to be one of the SEC’s best three teams, it had no business dropping that game. Thankfully for the Rebels, Justin Fuente and Paxton Lynch are no longer around, but that doesn’t mean this Tigers team should be confused for roadkill, either. First-year head coach Mike Norvell has his own budding quarterback talent in (former Tennessee Volunteer) Riley Ferguson. In fact, the Tigers put up 77 points against Bowling Green last week and enter this game with a 3-0 record. Don’t be surprised if the Tigers start fast in this game and keep it competitive for a half.
On the flip side, Ole Miss finally put together a four-quarter game last weekend at home, and if it manages to do the same this weekend, it should take care of business against the Tigers this year. The key to last season’s game was Ole Miss’ failure to generate push on the line of scrimmage, something the Rebels’ line has to think about all week in preparation for this game. While Freeze has stated the revenge aspect won’t factor into the preparation for this week, it’s hard to take that statement at face value. Ole Miss can’t be taken seriously if it drops yet another game to an overmatched Memphis team.
Ole Miss 45, Memphis 24
Kevin: As I argued last week, the Ole Miss 1-2 start was more a function of who the Rebels had to play in those first three weeks than who they are. Chad Kelly & Co. reminded us against Georgia that they’re still very good. Considering that Ole Miss lost to Memphis last year, it’ll be out for revenge this year. Expect some big points in this game.
Ole Miss 41, Memphis 17
Missouri vs. LSU (-13)
Michael: Had LSU stuck with Les Miles another week, I probably would have picked Mizzou to win outright this week. However, we all know that’s not the course LSU took and it will pay off this week with the performance of the season from the Bayou Bengals.
Mizzou’s immediate turnaround on offense has been incredibly impressive thus far, but having success against the caliber of athletes LSU has in its secondary would be its greatest accomplishment of the young season. Missouri’s offensive line has yet to be tested, giving up only one sack after four games, but it goes up against the SEC’s sack leader in Arden Key this weekend. The only road game Missouri has played this year was the opener in Morgantown. In that game, Mizzou failed to reach the end zone until there was fewer than two minutes left and scored only 11 points. Expect Dave Aranda to have some exotic looks Missouri has yet to see this season and dial up the pressure on Drew Lock in order to throw him off his rhythm.
Ed Orgeron has promised the offense will be opened up and proved he is taking steps to accomplish that by firing Cam Cameron. Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Harris back on the field this week as his ability to run the ball could factor into LSU’s “new-look offense” under offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. When he took over the job at USC, and even during his tenure at Ole Miss, Oregeron’s teams never lacked for passion on the field. Expect LSU to come out with renewed fire this weekend and respond to the staff shakeup. While the firing of Miles may have seemed poorly managed, the decision will prove to pay off if Coach O can get the team, and most especially the offense, to show some fire on the field.
LSU 35, Missouri 14
Kevin: When Orgeron took over the Trojans after Lane Kiffin’s firing in 2013, he rallied the team to six victories in the next seven games. Will LSU rally under Orgeron? Sure. There will be renewed energy, and the team will come together against Missouri. I think the 13-point spread is still a bit hefty for this game, so I’ll take Missouri with the points.
LSU 21, Missouri 17
Note: Arkansas-Alcorn State line not available on Vegas boards at time of writing, which can be normal for heavy favorites