SEC Week 8 predictions (and bets)
Time for our weekly picks and bets from around the SEC. As always, SDS news desk editor Michael Bratton (@MichaelWBratton) and SDS senior national columnist Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) go head-to-head, picking every SEC game against the spread while sharing their thoughts heading into each matchup.
Here are our Week 8 SEC selections:
Idaho at Missouri (-15)
Michael: Did you know Idaho was coached by Paul Petrino? I didn’t either until doing a little research on the Vandals. While an SEC team be excused for looking past a Sun Belt opponent — another odd fact about this team is their conference affiliation, Missouri needs this win if it has any hope of making a bowl for the first time under Barry Odom. Considering the Vandals have one of the worst offenses in the nation, not even Mizzou’s pathetic defense will have any issues in this game. Drew Lock and company tend to pour it on against weak team, look for that trend to continue here.
Missouri 48 Idaho 13
Connor: Last week was a good reminder that Drew Lock can throw a football pretty far. When his receivers help him out, that’s a good formula to score some points. While Idaho is sixth in FBS against the pass, that secondary has yet to face a Power 5 quarterback, much less one with the ability to move the ball downfield like the Tigers. The last two weeks, Missouri actually played like the team we thought we’d see. Don’t be surprised if Aaron Duckworth has a prolific day, but I like the Tigers’ chances of hitting some big plays and winning comfortably.
Missouri 42, Idaho 21
Tennesse at Alabama (-34.5)
Michael: An embarrassing spread for Tennessee has grown by half a point since opening. Considering the only thing Tennessee can do on offense is run the ball and Alabama leads the nation in run defense, this game could get ugly. The only hope the Vols have is for Jarrett Guarantano to emerge like Johnny Manziel did back in 2012, but considering he’s shown no ability to do anything like that, don’t expect any miracles in this one. Making matters worse, UT’s receivers have shown no ability to beat press coverage. Worst case scenario for Alabama is Tennessee finds success on offense using the hurry up like Arkansas did last week. Considering the woes the Vols have shown near the goal line recently, expect the same results if that happens, goal line trips that amount to little. Another nightmare matchup in this one? Alabama’s No. 7 rush offense vs. Tennessee’s No. 125 rush defense. Yikes. Look for Tua Tagovailoa to get more SEC reps this week.
Alabama 55 Tennessee 6
Connor: I mean, everything in the world suggests this is going to be all sorts of ugly. This game has 55-3 written all over it. The question seems to be not “will it be bad?” but rather “how bad will it be?” The thought of Jarrett Guarantano somehow turning Tennessee’s offense around against the Alabama defense seems like a pipe dream. Alabama has shut down one-dimensional offenses that were far better than Tennessee’s (like LSU’s every year). I get all of that. But for some unknown reason, my gut is telling me that Tennessee actually plays its best SEC game to date. Maybe Alabama gets a little too much mid-week rat poison (not literally). I don’t know. But I’m going to do the unthinkable and say that the Vols make more plays on defense than people expect and they actually cover.
Alabama 35, Tennessee 10
Kentucky at Mississippi State (-11)
Michael: This should be an interesting game for both teams. Outside of one game that was decided by 10 points, all the other Kentucky games this season have been single-digit affairs. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has either been blowing teams out or getting blown out. If this game is close, Kentucky should know best how to handle the situation. However, I don’t see it going that way. Kentucky doesn’t have the athletes that Georgia and Auburn does and shouldn’t be able to jump out to a big lead against MSU in Starkville. This game will be a test of which team can be more physical up front and stop the run. I’m taking Mississippi State to win but I like the Wildcats to keep it close, that’s what they always do this season.
Mississippi State 27 Kentucky 20
Connor: I’ve been banging the drum for MSU for a while now. Through the ugly Auburn and Georgia losses, I actually still like what the defense has been able to do. I think in a nutshell, it’s easy to look at this one and expect a game in the 30s. I think both coaches will go a little conservative with their quarterbacks and try to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. It wouldn’t surprise me if this one was decided by a late field goal, either. Kentucky falls, but it stays a one-score game throughout.
Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 21
LSU (-7) at Ole Miss
Michael: Call me crazy but I’m going with the Rebels in this one. I jumped off their bandwagon following the Cal loss, but that result looks much more respectable considering the Bears have emerged as a solid Pac-12 team. Since the second half against Auburn, the offense has been really firing on all cylinders and should be able to take advantage of LSU’s young and inexperienced defense on the road. The Tigers do look like an improved team the last few weeks but I think their improvements are a bit overstated considering Florida is a bad football team and Auburn could have easily won the game last week had they not gone completely into a shell on offense. The issues for Ole Miss in this game will be stopping LSU’s running game. The Rebels can’t be expected to shut it down but if they limit huge runs, I like their chances to keep this game competitive.
Ole Miss 30 LSU 28
Connor: If LSU plays at the speed it played against Auburn, this matchup will be electric. Ole Miss has more outside weapons than LSU has seen so far, which should make for some interesting jump ball situations. Shea Patterson is going to try and attack the LSU secondary, but he can only do that if Ole Miss’ protection holds against that LSU pass rush. On the flip side, I think Derrius Guice has his best game of the season against a Rebels defense that still hasn’t mastered the art of tackling. I know the Tigers have had their offensive limitations so far, but I don’t think this is a game in which they even need a balanced attack. LSU continues its solid October with another road win.
LSU 38, Ole Miss 28
Auburn (-15.5) at Arkansas
Michael: I already went against the grain picking Ole Miss to win and now I’m really going to get crazy. I like what I saw from freshman QB Cole Kelley in his first start of the season. Expecting him to light up the scoreboard on the road at Alabama was too much to ask but he started to find a nice groove in the second half of that game. Had the Razorback defense not given up a touchdown on the first play of the game and the special teams unit not botched the punt on the next series, that game would not have been nearly as lopsided last week. Of course, Auburn is coming off a bad loss and just dismissed one of the team’s most talented players. With the season teetering on the brink of disaster, how will the Tigers respond after a loss? They didn’t do so well last time, turning the ball over five times against Mercer. This game could very well be the last chance the Razorbacks have of making something of this season. Lose this game and Arkansas likely only wins four, maybe five games. If the crowd gets behind this team for the first SEC game of the season, I like Arkansas to pull the massive upset here.
Arkansas 28 Auburn 24
Connor: Poor Cole Kelley. The guy gets a chance to play as a freshman in the SEC and his first two starts are against Alabama and Auburn. Behind that offensive line, that’s not fine. The Hogs will get an angry Auburn team that will likely be set on getting the bad taste of last week’s LSU loss out of its mouth. I like the chances of Kerryon Johnson getting things rolling against Arkansas’ 79th-ranked run defense. Jarrett Stidham has a nice bounce-back game as well and the Tigers give Arkansas fans more anti-Bret Bielema ammo in their first SEC home game of the year.
Auburn 45, Arkansas 17