SEC Week 6 Predictions
Week 6 in the SEC, also known as ‘Separation Saturday’ is guaranteed to be must-watch TV. Two of the league’s five unbeatens will have a blemish when this weekend’s over, possibly a third if Auburn lets one slip away at home against LSU.
Week 5 Results
- Brad Crawford — 4-3 (against the spread); 6-1 (straight up)
- Christopher Smith — 6-1 (ATS); 6-1 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 18-20 (against the spread); 33-5 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 18-20 (ATS); 33-5 (straight up)
Readers can make their Week 6 picks here.
RELATED: SEC Power Rankings
We’ll start with two battle of unbeatens in the SEC West …
Alabama (-5.5) at Ole Miss
Brad: For the sake of staying true to my preseason SEC upset of the year prediction, I’m going with Ole Miss to not just cover, but win. I feel comfortable leaning on a turnover-forcing defense and the home field advantage angle, despite the Crimson Tide being, in my opinion, the nation’s best team. All elites have a hidden flaw and Alabama’s could be going on the road and winning when the spotlight’s on the other team. The atmosphere in Oxford will rival Alabama’s loss at South Carolina in 2010 and that’s what this game feels like to me. Bo Wallace needs to be efficient and most importantly, turnover free. Hugh Freeze is talk of college football on Saturday after close win, the Rebels’ first over Alabama since Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Ole Miss 27, Alabama 24.
Christopher: The Magnolia State may riot if both Mississippi State and Ole Miss win. But that’s not going to happen. Everyone points to Bo Wallace (six interceptions) as the most significant negative for the Rebels, but I wonder if it’s not the offensive line. Ole Miss hasn’t played an elite defense yet — Boise State and Memphis were decent to good — but the team allows way too many tackles for loss and pressures. The Rebels are going to struggle to run the ball against Alabama, and the Tide should be able to force Wallace into some quick decisions. The Ole Miss receivers have an advantage against the Tide’s young secondary, but I’m not sure the matchup is set up so the Rebels can leverage that. Plus, Alabama’s offense is even better than people have acknowledged. Bama won’t put up 40 on this talented Rebels defense, but if the Tide take care of the football, expect some consistent, modest success. This is supposed to be a statement for Ole Miss, but it goes the other direction. Alabama 27, Ole Miss 13.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-2.5)
Brad: With one more win, I’m become a believer in Dan Mullen. Mississippi State went into Baton Rouge two weeks ago with little pressure and a huge trip on its shoulder as a perceived longtime also-ran in the SEC West. Now, after a big win, the Bulldogs are under the microscope of expectations as a home favorite against a sixth-ranked unbeaten. I don’t think Kevin Sumlin’s team has been given enough respect this week (as was the case heading into South Carolina for the opener) as a road underdog and the Aggies will prove it in Starkville. Texas A&M 30, Mississippi State 24.
Christopher: The Aggies nearly let Arkansas get out of reach last week before winning a physical game in overtime. Mississippi State has had two weeks to prepare for this game after trouncing LSU on the road for three and a half quarters. The Bulldogs secondary lacks coverage skills and is susceptible to big plays, not what you want as you’re preparing to face an offense that averages nearly 600 yards per game. But MSU’s front seven is vicious, led by DE Preston Smith and LB Benardrick McKinney, and the Dak Prescott/Josh Robinson combo is sure to rack up yards and points. A&M’s defense looked improved against the Arkansas run, but the Razorbacks were much more predictable than a dual-threat quarterback with a strong complementary running back. Mississippi State’s defense must play hyper aggressive, acknowledging it will give up some points and big plays, but with the benefit of some disruptions, mistakes and even turnovers. The Bulldogs are a true Top 15 team while A&M is overrated at No. 6. Mississippi State 34, Texas A&M 27.
LSU at Auburn (-8)
Brad: It seems the national media’s given up on Auburn as a legitimate SEC title contender based on what the Tigers have coming up and how they’ve looked in wins this season. I think we’re doing Gus Malzahn’s squad a disservice to label them pretenders. Regardless of the issues defensively, Auburn capable of scoring 50 points on anyone and it appears Nick Marshall’s close to finding a groove offensively — even with Jeremy Johnson breathing down his neck for more playing time. Many have picked LSU to cover in this game, but I think Auburn makes a statement at home and puts the clamps on true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris. Auburn 38, LSU 20.
Christopher: This is a revenge game for Auburn. LSU has to be excited for Brandon Harris’ first game as the starting quarterback. But the interior of LSU’s defensive line has had all kinds of trouble defending the run. Nick Marshall and the read option should be especially problematic (see: Mississippi State). If not for Wisconsin’s complete misery at quarterback and Melvin Gorrdon’s apparent injury, this LSU team would be 3-2 with wins against Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State. Auburn beat Kansas State on the road and hammered Arkansas in the second half. Auburn hasn’t looked like the defending SEC champs the last two weeks, but some of the reaction has been overblown. They win the battle of Tigers at home. Auburn 35, LSU 23.
Florida at Tennessee (-2.5)
Brad: Don’t overreact Florida fans, but the Gators aren’t as good as I gave them credit for in the preseason. My SEC East champion pick has looked less-than-impressive early, but we all assumed a win at Alabama was next to impossible. So begins the midseason danger stretch for Will Muschamp beginning with this game in Knoxville. A win means Florida fans take a step back from ledge and look forward to next week vs. Mizzou while a loss turns up the heat for Muschamp and quarterback Jeff Driskel. Despite Florida having two weeks to prepare, I’m buying into the belief that Tennessee’s a much-improved football team and going with the Vols. Tennessee 28, Florida 24
Christopher: The Vols are a major public play. Recent impressions are shoving this line toward Tennessee, as UT nearly knocked off Georgia while Florida had a bye week after two consecutive disappointing games. It’s strange to think Justin Worley may be a more trustworthy quarterback than Jeff Driskel. UT’s defense is decent and the skill players, led by Jalen Hurd and Marquez North, are physically gifted. But as bad as Florida’s defense looked against Alabama, the Gators have enough to hassle a poor offensive line and force Worley into mistakes. Get your placekickers ready in this one. Florida 20, Tennessee 17.
South Carolina (-3.5) at Kentucky
Brad: Huge game for the Gamecocks in hopes of re-establishing some sort of confidence in this year’s team. Dare I say a loss could trigger a tailspin that results in a 6-6 disaster? It’s possible, especially if Steve Spurrier loses interest following a humiliating setback to a program he’s beaten 20 times. I don’t get all that hate from the fanbase on Dylan Thompson after last week’s loss. South Carolina was a fourth-down stop away from sitting pretty in the Top 15 at 4-1. It may be ugly at times, but the Gamecocks fly home from the Bluegrass with fading division titles hopes still on the table. I will say this: If South Carolina doesn’t win based on the talent difference alone, Spurrier has some explaining to do for this team’s ineptitude this season as one of college football’s most overrated. South Carolina 34, Kentucky 24.
Christopher: Steve Spurrier has a reputation for sulking and not performing his best once things turn South. And a two-loss September for a team with College Football Playoff aspirations certainly fits that characterization. The Wildcats have a good defense, but Patrick Towles isn’t enough to take advantage of a vulnerable South Carolina secondary. Mike Davis is rounding into shape as well. The bottom line is South Carolina easily would’ve been better than a 10-point favorite before the season. Kentucky’s players are inspired by the possibility of making a bowl game, while the Gamecocks are close to being disinterested. But there’s still a talent gap here. South Carolina 28, Kentucky 21.
Vanderbilt at Georgia (-33.5)
Brad: Here’s my message to Vanderbilt quarterback Wade Freebeck: make better decisions with the football. A steady dose of Todd Gurley leads to a quick ending for the Commodores, especially if they provide the Bulldogs with a short field. Georgia 38, Vanderbilt 7.
Christopher: I wonder why Jerron Seymour hasn’t gotten more carries for Vanderbilt. Ralph Webb has played pretty well, but Seymour, injured early in the season, scored 14 touchdowns last season and is a capable receiver as well. The Commodores will need to lean on the backfield, especially since QB Patton Robinette is out again. The Vandy offense has been nearly as bad as SMU without Robinette. Georgia gave up yards on the ground last week against Tennessee, and Vanderbilt’s defense is better than you probably think. This one won’t be close, but 34 points is too many. Georgia 42, Vanderbilt 14.