SEC Week 6 predictions
Back-to-back head to head wins in our friendly office pick ’em?
I’ll take it.
RELATED: Week 6 AP Top 25
There’s still some serious ground to make up against the spread, but nearing the halfway point in the regular season, I’m tied with Christopher Smith at 40-12 overall. I picked Florida to beat Ole Miss during our preseason Crystal Ball, but went against my gut last week.
Week 5 pick results:
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 5-4 (against the spread); 6-3 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 4-5 (ATS); 6-3 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 19-32-1 (against the spread); 40-12 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 29-23-1 (ATS); 40-12 (straight up)
South Carolina at LSU (-19.5)
Brad: As of Wednesday afternoon, this game’s been taken off several major online sportsbooks due to the venue change from Columbia, S.C. to Baton Rouge, an obvious advantage for the Tigers. But honestly, LSU would’ve covered 20 points just as easily in Williams-Brice Stadium had the game been kept in South Carolina. Before the season, this game was one of my big upset picks, a matchup that I thought favored the Gamecocks if they could stay within striking distance in the fourth quarter. I underestimated Leonard Fournette’s dominance and oversold South Carolina as a legitimate contender in a wide open East. If the Gamecocks can only put up 10 points on the road against Mizzou, Saturday won’t look much better.
LSU 31, South Carolina 10
Christopher: One team is in the middle of the SEC West title chase, and by proxy, is a College Football Playoff hopeful. Another team is going to need to scrap and claw its way to bowl eligibility. The fact that a flood has displaced this game, migrating it from Columbia, S.C., to Baton Rouge, La., makes that edge more pronounced on paper. (Thank goodness for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff though. Right, Gamecocks fans?) The one reason I hesitate to back LSU here: the team has played super conservative, relying on a running game to control the clock and avoid game-changing mistakes. For that reason, LSU is 1-3 against the spread this year. South Carolina won’t try to pass the ball much anyway, so the vaunted LSU defensive backs may only serve to strengthen coach Steve Spurrier’s will to try to establish the run. If LSU makes any mistakes, this one could turn into a competitive grinder.
LSU 28, South Carolina 17
New Mexico State at Ole Miss (-43)
Brad: Flush it and move on. That’s what Ole Miss needs to do after falling out of the Top 10. The Rebels have left little room for error the rest of the way following last week’s failure to show up in Gainesville as a litany of early errors led to a four-touchdown loss. And I need to see a running game. The Rebels’ failure to run between the tackles in recent weeks could come back to haunt this football team down the stretch. Ole Miss covers and uses New Mexico State as its punching bag for a week’s worth of frustration.
Ole Miss 62, New Mexico State 13
Christopher: The Rebels need this one to put the “swag” back in Chad Kelly’s name. And the team’s offensive line, which has been exposed the last two weeks, should have no such troubles against New Mexico State. Ole Miss collapsed after an excruciating loss to Auburn last year that ended the team’s perfect season, but those circumstances were different — injuries and the emotional gravity of that game were a lot to overcome. I expect this team is eager to prove that collapse won’t occur again this year. For that reason, I suspect Ole Miss will cover the Vegas spread.
Ole Miss 56, New Mexico State 10
Georgia (-3) at Tennessee
Brad: I’m not picking the Vols to cover in any game the rest of the way this season. Tennessee had the look of a nine-win team based on the personnel Butch Jones had returning, but Joshua Dobbs has looked lost at times through the air and protecting leads is not something this team has shown an ability to accomplish this season. Saturday’s game will be close throughout given its rivalry nature with Tennessee’s proverbial back against the wall, but Georgia’s the better football team. I’ll stop short of calling this one a must-win for the Bulldogs, however. Florida has a one-game lead in the East but still has to play LSU and Georgia later this fall.
Georgia 24, Tennessee 20
Christopher: Georgia is getting 85 percent of the public money in this game, which makes me hesitant to back the Bulldogs on the road. Tennessee has played UGA tough the last two years, both three-point losses. The Vols weren’t expected to win this game before the season, so a victory here would make up a lot of ground for coach Butch Jones with the team’s fan base. But, in addition to the off-field distractions (did Jones punch a player? Pig Howard dismissed from the team?), this Vols defense just isn’t that good this year. UGA won’t put too much pressure on Greyson Lambert after last week’s debacle. Instead expect the team to re-establish Nick Chubb and Sony Michel out of the backfield.
Georgia 31, Tennessee 24
Troy at Mississippi State (-30.5)
Brad: “Didn’t make enough plays when the opportunities were there.” Dan Mullen’s succinct thoughts after his team’s loss at Texas A&M is SEC football in a nutshell — the margin between winning and losing is so slim that a missed third-down conversion here or failing to cover a punt there could determine the difference. The Bulldogs didn’t play a complete game, resulting in their second SEC loss prior to the midseason point. In the West, that’s often fatal. As Stingray pointed out earlier this week, reaching a quality bowl game is still very much in pay. I think Mississippi State’s offense gets back on track and Dak Prescott adds five total touchdowns to his program-leading total.
Mississippi State 48, Troy 14
Christopher: Troy, with former Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown in his first year as head coach, kept the margin under 30 points at North Carolina State and at Wisconsin. But the Trojans should have trouble scoring, as the Bulldogs’ defensive line should control the game. Meanwhile, a team like Troy is not going to be good enough to contend with a talent like Dak Prescott. We started the year believing he could be a one-man show for Mississippi State, and while that’s not exactly the case, this game should be Exhibit A for that depiction.
Mississippi State 38, Troy 7
Arkansas at Alabama (-16)
Brad: Now that Jake Coker has solidified his spot as Alabama’s starting quarterback, it’s safe to assume the Crimson Tide will have a shot to win every game the rest of the way. My only issue is that Alabama no longer controls its own destiny and we don’t know if this team will be able to stop a prolific up-tempo offense they’ll face in two weeks at Texas A&M. This weekend’s game is a favorable matchup since Arkansas will attempt to control the line of scrimmage between the tackles, much like Georgia tried (and failed). I want to take the Crimson Tide to win by a couple scores based on the Razorbacks’ scheme, but coming off the emotional high between the hedges, I think Alabama fails to cover 16 points.
Alabama 31, Arkansas 17
Christopher: Arkansas is allowing 8.4 yards per pass attempt, by far the worst number in the SEC and 116th in the country. If Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin feels suppressed after running the ball nearly three times as much as passing it against Georgia, this is the game that he could turn loose Jake Coker. The Tide defense has to be feeling confident it can slow Alex Collins, based on the way it corralled Nick Chubb most of the game last weekend. But it can’t allow those one or two long touchdown runs due to breakdowns. This may be yet another game that rests on Brandon Allen’s shoulders, if Arkansas is to be competitive. The Tide just finished off one of its most impressive wins in years, but will remember last year’s close call in Fayetteville.
Alabama 31, Arkansas 14
Florida (-5) at Mizzou
Brad: The Ugly Bowl. Dink-and-dunk throws won’t amount to much against the Gators for true freshman quarterback Drew Lock who’s making his second straight start for the Tigers. Mizzou took advantage of soft coverage last week against South Carolina to pepper the edges and find options underneath — outlets that won’t be there on Saturday. Getting Russell Hansbrough more involved and back to full strength is vital toward this offense’s future success. Putting this game on Lock’s shoulders will likely be too much to ask against one of the nation’s better defenses. Of course Mizzou’s defense is awfully good as well. Will Grier tossed four touchdown passes during Florida’s win over Ole Miss. He’ll get half that number this weekend, but it’ll be just enough.
Florida 20, Mizzou 13
Christopher: Florida must migrate away from the electric Swamp after back-to-back emotional wins, first a shocking comeback against Tennessee and then a brutal domination of then-No. 3 Ole Miss. Missouri’s defense leads the SEC in nearly every statistical category, and should have a good opportunity to overwhelm the Florida offensive line. Can the Gators find enough smart play calls to move the ball? The problem for the home team is that it will not be able to run the ball against Florida — even if Russell Hansbrough starts to play more like himself — and a still-green group of pass-catchers should struggle against players like Vernon Hargreaves III. Still, I believe this number is inflated a bit by recent performances. Mizzou is the back-to-back defending SEC East champion, and a loss likely ends hope of the second divisional three-peat in SEC history. (The other, ironically, was Florida.) Expect a tight, low-scoring ball game here.
Florida 21, Mizzou 17