SEC Week 8 Predictions
The second half of what promises to be an exciting finish to the SEC season is here … at least in the Western Division. Four of the nation’s current Top 10 reside in that half of the conference including Magnolia State unbeatens Mississippi State (No. 1) and Ole Miss (No. 3).
Let’s hope the Bulldogs and Rebels’ national dominance continues until the two teams meet in an epic Egg Bowl on Nov. 29.
Week 7 Results
- Brad Crawford — 5-3 (against the spread); 6-2 (straight up)
- Christopher Smith — 5-3 (ATS); 6-2 (straight up)
- Brad (@BCrawfordSDS) — 26-26 (against the spread); 42-10 (straight up)
- Christopher (@csmithSDS) — 27-25 (ATS); 43-9 (straight up)
Readers can make their Week 8 picks here.
RELATED: SEC Power Rankings
We’ll start with a game that all but eliminates the loser from the SEC East race in Gainesville …
Mizzou at Florida (-5.5)
Brad: I think the matchup favors the Tigers based on their strength up front and willingness to pressure both Florida quarterbacks (we’ll see Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris), but this team appears to be in freefall mode. Mizzou should have three straight losses right now had it not been for a miraculous one-point win at South Carolina. I don’t think the Tigers are good enough on offense to win this game, although Maty Mauk has to be a better pass than what he’s shown in recent weeks. Florida’s playing with its backs against the wall as a division contender and helps Will Muschamp live to fight another day with a narrow win. Should the Gators, Muschamp’s job will undoubtedly be on the line against Georgia on Nov. 1. Florida 24, Mizzou 17
Christopher: If I’m a Missouri fan, I’m getting on my knees every night and giving thanks for the one-point win at South Carolina. Otherwise the defending SEC East champs would be headed for 3-4 this weekend. Failing that brief fourth-quarter stretch when the team inexplicably jarred into gear and engineered two quick touchdown drives, the Tigers have been embarrassingly bad for three games now. Does anyone outside of Columbia think this team should win? Maty Mauk looks like a bad sketch comedy, running a jailbreak for the sideline as soon as he gets the snap and flinging it upfield, for better or worse. The offensive line can’t protect and can’t open up creases in the running game. The defense always has been average at best outside of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. Florida isn’t good by any stretch, but the Gators are consistently decent. Florida’s defense makes sure Mauk and the Tigers offense continue to languish. The Gators render the Jeff Driskel/Treon Harris debate moot and run at the interior of Missouri’s defensive line. Florida 28, Missouri 13.
Texas A&M at Alabama (-11.5)
Brad: Those of you selling the Crimson Tide, stop. I’m siding with Nick Saban in regards to fans bashing the team — and the coaching staff — after a 14-13 win at Arkansas. Was it not convincing enough? Did Alabama’s run game not dominate the way you expected? This team is still on the short list of College Football Playoff contenders and will be until they lose another game. Texas A&M’s not physical enough to compete up front, an element that’s damaged the Aggies’ chances in back-to-back Western Division defeats. A single-digit win won’t be enough to appease Alabama fans, but it’ll mean the Crimson Tide are still very much alive in the SEC Championship race with bigger, more meaningful games left to play. Alabama 31, Texas A&M 24
Christopher: The Crimson Tide are 1-4 against the spread this season, constantly fighting inflated numbers. After leading the No. 3 team in the country in the fourth quarter — on the road and in a hostile College GameDay atmosphere — Bama’s offense looked lethargic last week against Arkansas. It’s a hard team to figure, but what happened to the group that put up 42 points against Florida? The offensive line, a little banged up, hasn’t performed, neutering the run game to an extent. Meanwhile, A&M can’t beat a legitimate top 15 team this year. The Aggies defense performs well when it can line up 1-on-1 and execute, but ask a lot of the players to make reads and figure out the correct gap and there’s trouble. Teams have gotten physical with the Texas A&M receivers as well, no longer allowing them easy five-yard completions. I expect Nick Saban and Kirby Smart’s group to hammer A&M’s offense using the same plan, and Alabama has enough talent to exploit the Aggies defense. ‘Bama 35, A&M 24.
Georgia (-4) at Arkansas
Brad: I’ve picked what I consider an upset each of the last four weeks, so here is Saturday’s ‘on a limb’ selection. An emotional Bret Bielema will finally have something to talk about after his Razorbacks beat the Eastern Division favorite. And it’s about time. Arkansas is far better than its record shows. Arkansas 27, Georgia 24
Christopher: In its last three games against power-conference foes, Arkansas crushed Texas Tech, nearly led A&M by 17 in the fourth quarter and lost an ugly one-point scrum to Alabama. It’s ignorant to think the Razorbacks can’t compete with the SEC East’s best. The Arkansas defensive line, led by Trey Flowers, has impressed me more than coach Brett Bielema’s running game. But Georgia’s secondary made strides last week at Missouri, and unlike A&M and Alabama (which is shocking), the Bulldogs offensive line has the players to get push in the run game. The line of scrimmage when Georgia has the ball is the key to this one, but I think UGA grinds out a win against a physical team. Georgia 27, Arkansas 24.
Tennessee at Ole Miss (-16.5)
Brad: Here’s to hoping third-ranked Ole Miss doesn’t pull an Ole Miss and lose to Tennessee on Saturday, ruining a splendid season. If this game was in Knoxville, I’d probably take the Vols to cover due to the fact that one of the Rebels’ ‘easy’ wins is sandwiched between battles against Texas A&M and LSU. Ole Miss is more talented at nearly every position and have a national championship aspirations while the Vols are fighting for six wins. Hugh Freeze’s team has been ready to play each time out this season and Saturday won’t be any different. The Rebels should dominate at the line of scrimmage and win convincingly. Ole Miss 31, Tennessee 10
Christopher: It may be a good idea to have an ambulance on standby in this one. Go ahead and let Justin Worley’s mom watch the game from inside so she can be there when her son goes to the hospital. Is there any way Tennessee’s offensive line can hold up against Robert Nkemdiche and company? The Vols receivers usually can make plays, assuming they get the ball, but not against Senquez Golson, Cody Prewitt and this secondary. This is an awful matchup for Tennessee, which looks very much like a 5-7 team at this point. Meanwhile, Bo Wallace and the Rebels offense never will be mistaken for The Greatest Show On Turf, but the unit is playing within itself and learning to trust the defense. Ole Miss 38, Tennessee 10.
Furman at South Carolina (-38)
Brad: The Gamecocks get a much-needed breather after a bye week that featured a players only meeting to try and regroup amidst a two-game losing streak. It’s going to take an incredible effort the rest of the way to finish the season in the Top 25, but that should be the goal for a program that has surprisingly backtracked since winning 11 games three straight seasons. South Carolina fans will get their first in-game glimpse of heralded redshirt freshman Connor Mitch at quarterback sometime in the first half, the guy expected to succeed Dylan Thompson next fall as the starter. South Carolina 41, Furman 7
Christopher: This sounds juvenile, as if I’m a middle school football parent, but it’s true: Gamecocks fans better hope the players have a better attitude than Steve Spurrier, or they might not even show up for Saturday’s kickoff. It shouldn’t matter against SoCon member Furman, but South Carolina should refine its play-calling and get used to leaning on Mike Davis before its final three SEC games. It’s hard to play inspired after a bye week following a loss, especially when your coach publicly dumps on you every chance he gets. So I don’t like South Carolina to cover here. Gamecocks 42, Paladins 10.
Kentucky at LSU (-9.5)
Brad: Kentucky’s a good football team that’s won four games it should have and another thanks to a late-game collapse from South Carolina. How will the Wildcats fare against a perennial SEC elite? Not very well I’d imagine, especially since the game’s in Baton Rouge where the Tigers have won 36 of their last 39 games dating back to the 2009 season. I’m sold on Kentucky being an SEC East contender, but that’s not saying much this season based on what we’ve seen from the rest of that underwhelming division. Leonard Fournette goes over 100 to snap the Wildcats’ winning streak. LSU 34, Kentucky 20
Christopher: I was pretty surprised when the line opened at LSU -11.5 on Sunday considering the teams look close to even in recent weeks. Both teams played a tossup game at Florida. LSU is unsettled at quarterback (still) and the interior of the defensive line is shellshocked from all the NFL defections. Kentucky is just glad to be here and is playing with house money at this point. The Wildcats have a decent defense and a few playmakers on offense. QB Patrick Towles, though, has over-performed. I don’t see him leading a win at LSU. Plus the Tigers offensive line finally has traction, so LSU can rely on some punishing runners, highlighted by Leonard Fournette. LSU 24, Kentucky 17.