SEC Week 9 predictions (and bets)
After a wild SEC West separation Saturday last week, this week focuses more on the SEC East. Can the Cats move to within one win from bowl-eligibility? Can Florida maintain a hold on the SEC East title chase?
In the West, an Auburn victory means we have a good chance that next month’s Iron Bowl will determine the SEC West winner (assuming Alabama gets past LSU). How fun would that be?
Here are the results factoring in Week 8 performance, along with our Week 9 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%)|
|W5||7/7 (100%)||1/7 (14%)||7/7 (100%)||3/7 (43%)|
|W6||5/5 (100%)||3/4 (75%)*||2/5 (40%)||1/4 (25%)*|
|W7||4/6 (66%)||3/6 (50%)||4/6 (66%)||2/6 (33%)|
|W8||2/6 (33%)||1/6 (17%)||4/6 (66%)||3/6 (50%)|
|TOTAL||47/63 (75%)||24/62 (39%)||46/63 (73%)||31/62 (50%)|
Kentucky at Missouri (-4.5)
Michael: One team has won four of the last five, while the other has lost four of its last five. Judging by this line, it may be hard to tell which team is which, but I’ll give you a hint: Kentucky is currently in second place in the East while Missouri is dead last.
If Missouri has any chance to win this game, the defense has to be fixed in a hurry. Unbelievably, the Tigers have given up 133 points in the last three games combined! Despite that figure, Kentucky still rates as a worse scoring defense. UK ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense as the Cats are giving up over 32 points per game. This game has the over written all over it (70.5 is the over/under case you were wondering).
Kentucky 38, Missouri 35
Kevin: Public perception says take the Cats based on recent performances of these teams. I typically don’t like going with the public, but the Missouri defense is so bad that I have a hard time going with the Tigers right now.
Interestingly, the stakes are quite high for Kentucky in this game. A win in Columbia means the Cats will likely go bowling in 2016 — a huge milestone for Mark Stoops. Also, if Kentucky can pull it off, it’ll have beaten three SEC East opponents for the first time since the conference went to East and West divisions in 1992.
I’m going with an inspired Kentucky team to get the win on the road.
Kentucky 34, Missouri 28
Florida (-7.5) vs. Georgia
Michael: Georgia has done a great job of playing to the level of its competition this year, and this game should be no different as Florida is the school’s main rival. When motivated to play, the Dawgs are capable of beating anyone in the East as the gap between Florida and Georgia isn’t as big as it may be perceived.
Following Luke Del Rio’s three-interception game against Mizzou, Florida is likely to play this one conservatively, putting the game in the hands of the defense and forcing Georgia to outscore it. Florida’s run defense has been great this season but will face its toughest test in this game.
The annual Jacksonville showdown has an extra layer of intrigue this year as Florida needs a win to keep its lead in the division, but it could easily be argued that Georgia needs the win more than the Gators. Kirby Smart and his staff would silence any and all doubt from the fan base by pulling off this mild upset in Jacksonville but will likely come up just short in the end.
Florida 24, Georgia 21
Kevin: I’m not high on either team right now, but when they meet in Jacksonville, you’ll likely see a renewed energy out of both squads. These rivalry games tend to bring out the fire to say the least.
Picking a winner here is quite difficult, but I’ll go with Florida just because of the defense. Florida gets the ground game going just enough in the second half to get the win and stay alive in the SEC East title race.
Florida 24, Georgia 19
Auburn (-4.5) at Ole Miss
Michael: Ole Miss actually opened as the favorite in this game before the public money poured in on Auburn following the dismantling of Arkansas. Another interesting note to consider: Ole Miss was listed as a double-digit favorite when this game initially opened in the offseason.
The Rebels match up better against the Tigers than Arkansas did last week and could give Auburn some problems on the defensive side of the field. The real issue for Ole Miss will be stopping the run as the Rebels’ defense currently ranks dead last in the league and No. 113 in the nation in run defense. The only game Ole Miss has lost at home this season was against Alabama — and the Rebels should have won that game.
With its backs against the wall, look for Ole Miss to come out firing in this game and potentially even have the lead going into the second half. However, in the end, I like Auburn to win this game. In a close one, the difference could be the best kicker in the SEC — Daniel Carlson.
Auburn 33 Ole Miss 30
Kevin: There’s a classic case of overreaction here to go big on Auburn considering the Tigers’ dominant run game and the Rebels’ horrific run defense. In such scenarios, I typically like to fade the public, but because of Auburn’s defensive front and Chad Kelly’s propensity to turn the ball over right now, I’m going to stick with Auburn covering on the road. I may regret that one as betting road favorites in the SEC West is risky business.
Auburn 38, Ole Miss 33
Tennessee (-13.5) at South Carolina
Michael: The Vols are another team that plays to the level of the competition. That’s been the only consistent theme with this inconsistent team. Coming off a bye and getting two weeks of rest should help Tennessee heading into this one, but more helpful is the fact that South Carolina is arguably the weakest team on the Vols’ schedule to this point. Even with players still absent for Tennessee due to injury, the talent mismatch is absurd in this game.
For South Carolina, this will be quarterback Jake Bentley’s second career start/game. Bentley looked like a potential star against UMass last weekend but will be going up against a different animal this week. If the Gamecocks are smart, they won’t ask the young QB to do much and will rely heavily on the running game and take some deep shots on the Tennessee defense.
Some relatively inexperienced quarterbacks have had some success against Tennessee’s defense this season — Jacob Eason, Austin Appleby, Jalen Hurts and Jerod Evans all come to mind — and Bentley could very well add his name to that list this weekend. However, having success and leading a team to an upset are two very different things. In the end, the mismatch and the rest should be enough to get Tennessee to bowl-eligibility.
Tennessee 38, South Carolina 21
Kevin: I really don’t want to bet another road favorite, but this one is tempting. I realize South Carolina fans are optimistic about Jake Bentley, but I’m going to have to see more than a decent UMass performance before I’m all in on the youngster. The Gamecocks have been bad this year, but as Michael states above, Tennessee can play down to the competition at times. Throw in a decent home crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium, and I’ll take Tennessee to win but not cover the two-touchdown spread.
Tennessee 28, South Carolina 20
New Mexico State at Texas A&M (-43.5)
Michael: The battle of the Aggies! (Are you just now finding out New Mexico State is named the Aggies, too?) Could New Mexico State roll into College Station and pull off the massive upset? Absolutely not, but I like (new) Aggies to cover the giant spread in this game.
A loss to Alabama often finds a way of taking a toll on teams the following week, and with its hopes of winning the division now seriously in doubt after dropping the game to the Tide, it will likely be hard for the Aggies to be fully invested in this game. A&M’s teams in year’s past have been known to fall apart down the stretch after losing, and while that is unlikely to happen this season, a drop in performance is to be expected this week considering the opponent.
Texas A&M 38, New Mexico State 13
Kevin: The Aggies made it through the toughest part of their schedule, and I think this game could have letdown potential. Or the Aggies are ready to bounce back after the tough Alabama loss. I’m going to go with the latter. This team can score massive amounts of points, so I’ll take the Texas A&M Aggies to win and cover just barely.
Texas A&M 51, New Mexico State 7