With the weekend fast approaching, it’s time to deliver the latest SDS predictions and bets for the Week 3 action around the SEC.

Once again, this season it’s news desk editor Michael Bratton (@MichaelWBratton) and SDS Podcast co-host Chris Marler (@CMarlerSDS) making the weekly SEC picks.

Michael went 5-3 against the spread for Week 2, giving him a yearly total record of 11-5 ATS while Chris had a rough week after opening strong. Marler went 3-5 ATS last week and sits at 9-7 on the season.

The only SEC game that doesn’t have a nationally recognized point spread this week is Kentucky’s home game against Murray State. Also, in case you haven’t heard the news, South Carolina’s home game against Marshall has been canceled due to the threat of the incoming hurricane.

UTEP at Tennessee (-31)

Michael: While I still don’t have much confidence in Tennessee at this point, UTEP is the worst team in the nation (ranked No. 130) according to S&P+ after two weeks of play. I saw a stat this week that the Miners would only be favored by eight points over ETSU on a neutral field, which the Vols destroyed last weekend in Neyland Stadium. Expect many young players to get long looks in this one, which is the only concern of mine when it comes to Tennessee covering all those points. However, at this point, you could argue Tennessee’s freshmen are better than most of the upperclassmen on the roster this season, so maybe that’s a good thing.

Tennessee 45 UTEP 7

Chris: UTEP is only gaining 308 ypg on offense, and they’re giving up over 425 ypg. Even worse, their rush defense allows over 260 ypg. Tennessee’s offense hasn’t been very impressive in the first two games, but I feel like they’ll have enough to cover the spread against a team who is 0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS including a loss to, wait for it…THE NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY LUMBERJACKS.

There aren’t lumberjacks in Arizona y’all. It’s just desert, Eagles’ songs, and a bad Kevin Sumlin contract.

Tennessee 44 Fake Paul Bunyons 10

Vanderbilt at Notre Dame (-14)

Michael: I’m tempted to pull the trigger on an outright upset in this one, as Notre Dame struggled last week at home against Ball State. The Commodores have impressed this season, having yet to be tested during the first two weeks of the season. Derek Mason has mentioned that this is the game his program has looked forward to all offseason, which is interesting considering how prepared and well executed Vanderbilt handled the opening competition against MTSU and Nevada the first two weeks of the season. If Brandon Winbush has another terrible performance, which could happen considering how well Mason’s defense has been playing to date, Notre Dame will drop this game at home.

Notre Dame 28 Vanderbilt 16

Chris: Notre Dame is 7-0 SU in their last 7 home games. And, as any team not named Georgia would know, it is really hard to leave South Bend with a victory for a visiting team. But, if anyone can do it…it’s probably not Vandy. I think Vandy is a good team, and their defense actually does look much more legitimate than last year.

However, if you’re going to tell me that the basement dwellers from Smashville are going to upset an Irish team with the 7th best odds to make the CFB Playoffs this year then I will get a picture of Mantei Te’o’s girlfriend tattooed on my face. (Vandy covers btw).

Notre Dame 27 Vandy 14

LSU at Auburn (-10.5)

Michael: Here’s another one where I’m very tempted to take the road underdog to win outright. I think Auburn is overrated, still a very good team but not a nationally elite team at this point. Both of these teams may have elite defenses but the offenses need to show more before they can be respected as legitimate SEC contenders this season. This game could serve as Joe Burrow’s coming out party, as LSU has yet to ask the program’s new starter to win a game for them. On the other side of the field, Jarrett Stidham we know is capable of delivering if and when called upon. This is always my favorite divisional game when it’s played early in the season. The hits and physicality of this game cannot be matched by any early season annual contest in the league and for some reason, these games always seem to feature some really bizarre moment or ending. Let’s hope this one doesn’t disappoint and delivers another memorable outcome.

Auburn 24 LSU 22

Chris: I have been on the LSU/ Ed Orgeron apologist bandwagon all Summer. However, the home team has won this game each of the last  5 years. Granted, last year was a fluke where Auburn lost in Death Valley after being up 3 scores in the 1st quarter.

LSU is better than most people gave them credit for. Sure. But, Auburn is one of the few elite teams in the country. LSU struggled at times against Miami’s D-Line which is cause for concern considering Auburn may have the best D-Line in the country. My money is on the under, Auburn to cover, and for some idiot to incessantly make a joke about “the Tigers winning.”

Auburn 27 LSU 14

Colorado State at Florida (-20.5)

Michael: Don’t let last weekend’s results fool you, Colorado State is a terrible team. Florida’s loss at home was a shocker but not because Kentucky is a bad team, that had more to do with the fact the Wildcats had not gotten that monkey off their back and appeared to have a serious mental block surrounding that game. Kentucky is a better team than the Gators but that doesn’t make Florida one of the worst teams in the nation. Colorado State’s win over Arkansas may have opened some eyes but the Razorbacks are the league’s worst team and it’s not even close. Don’t be shocked if Florida destroys the Rams in this one.

Florida 38 Colorado State 13

Chris: UF has done nothing to make me believe in them. Humidity, bath salts, and inefficient QB play have plagued Florida for almost a decade now. The good news is that Colorado State’s defense is atrocious. They don’t rank in the top 113 in the country in any major statistical category. That’s a real stat y’all.

Florida 45 Mike Bobo 23

North Texas at Arkansas (-7)

Michael: As sad as it is to say, these teams are pretty evenly matched on many levels. The Razorbacks are the worst team in the league, are lacking depth and don’t have the ideal pieces to run the scheme the coaches are trying to install on offense. Making matters worse, Chad Morris admitted that his team’s issues putting Colorado State away in the fourth quarter stem from being mental issues more so than physical issues. That would suggest the issues under Bret Bielema continue to hang over the program until further notice. The one area North Texas does have an advantage in this one is at quarterback. UNT quarterback Mason Fine won Offensive Player of the Year in CUSA last season and is off to a great start this season, having thrown for 862 yards and seven touchdowns.

Arkansas 35 North Texas 31

Chris: When I first saw this line I assumed that it was either a mistake or just blatant disrespect to post this point spread. Arkansas is coming off one of the biggest choke jobs the state has seen since the Clinton administration and/ or this year’s College World Series. I think Arkansas is a program on the rise and Chad Morris will eventually lead them to the promise land (of a Belk Bowl berth). However, usually, when it comes to my instincts vs. Vegas, Sin City comes out on top.

North Texas’ offense is averaging over 450 yards passing a game, and the Hogs pass defense is giving up over 300 yards per game. Not good. A lot of projections have the Mean Green not only covering, but winning outright. I think Arkansas pulls out the win, but it’s closer than people think.

Arkansas 33 North Texas 31

Alabama (-21) at Ole Miss

Michael: Despite massive point spreads the first two weeks of the season, I went against Alabama each week and paid the price. Now the Crimson Tide are facing the smallest point spread of the season as the team embarks on the first road test of the season. While I have faith in Ole Miss to score on Alabama, I simply don’t have any faith in the Rebels to slow down the Tide. Last week, Ole Miss gave up 38 points in the first half to Southern Illinois. That’s just pathetic for any SEC team. Alabama could hit 42 by half if they get the ball six times in the first half. Ole Miss should get to 30 but Alabama may get to 100.

Alabama 58 Ole Miss 35

Chris: Pretty excited for this showdown in Oxford this weekend! SDS is sending yours truly and Connor O’Gara from The SDS Podcast to Oxford for the game, and I for one can’t wait to experience Landshark Tony and a sea of frat bros remind me of the one time in Ole Miss history that they beat Bama two years in a row.

I said several times this offseason that I thought Ole Miss would upset Bama because of their WR corps taking advantage of a young and inexperienced Bama secondary. However, last week Ole Miss gave up 41 points and over 600 yards of offense to a directional school from Illinois. Bama will cover the spread early. Then Saban will put in Jalen Hurts for absolutely no reason for about 3 drives to allow Ole Miss back in the ballgame.

Bama covers late because the Ole Miss defense is about as sturdy as Ikea furniture built by a blind person.

Alabama 57 Ole Miss 23

Middle Tennessee at Georgia (-34)

Michael: I’m calling for the upset here, MTSU to win (against the spread). Coming off the huge win at South Carolina, focus may not be at an all-time high in Athens this weekend and with potential storms as a result of Hurricane Florence, the weather could be less than ideal for this one. Georgia obviously won’t be threatened in this one but I could easily see a sloppy game featuring a ton of running of the ball in Athens.

Georgia 42 Middle Tennessee 14

Chris: The Blue Raiders from Murfreesboro return a lot of talent from last years team, and their QB Brent Stockstill is completing over 70% of his passes. UGA will probably approach this game in the same way most approach a Sunday morning hangover in Athens.

Expect a sluggish start. They will come out undisciplined and unfocused, and then around 12 minutes into the 1st Quarter they will do what Georgia does which is play suffocating defense and methodically efficient offense.

Georgia 48 Middle Tennessee 10

Louisiana at Mississippi State (-33)

Michael: Mississippi State appears to be a team on a mission. The front seven was absolutely dominant last week at Kansas State and that easily could have been a 40 point game if Nick Fitzgerald didn’t have an off game as he continues to knock off the rust. Fitzgerald badly needs to improve his timing heading into SEC play so expect plenty of deep shots against a Louisiana defense stacked up against the run. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Keytaon Thompson get plenty of run in this one. I don’t think Louisana will score on Mississippi State’s first-team defense in this game. Hail State needs to stay on focus in the final tuneup before conference play.

Mississippi State 48 Louisiana 7

Chris: A lot of so-called “pundits” have done nothing but congratulate this Mississippi State team for their road win against the immortal Bill Snyder and his Kansas St. Wildcats. HOWEVER, let’s not forget that UL Lafayette is coming off a bye and are well rested after boat racing Grambling in Week 1. So, prepare for a dogfight in Starkville.

I don’t really believe the hype in anything I just said. I feel like a former homecoming queen from Tupelo trying to sell Rodan+Fields moisturizers to her Facebook friends.

Regardless, this game could be more intriguing that most think. ULL played Ole Miss and A&M last year and lost by a respectable 24 and 28 points to each. Miss St is a good team, and some, if not most, of their preseason hype seems warranted. However, they don’t have a QB on the roster who has been able to complete over 42% of their passes so far this season. FOURTY TWO PERCENT.

Mississippi State 44 Rajun Cajuns 17

UL Monroe at Texas A&M (-27)

Michael: No one that watched Texas A&M’s game against Clemson could have come away thinking anything other than Jimbo Fisher has this Aggie team buying in when going up against an elite opponent and heading in the right direction overall. That being said, did the Aggies overperform in that one? Was Clemson overrated heading into the game? Will the Aggies play down to the competition? These are questions we don’t have answers to just yet but I’m willing to bet there will be some let down in Aggie Land this week after the emotions of the big game last weekend. The Aggies will win big but I won’t take them to cover here.

Texas A&M 35 UL Monroe 10

Chris: Remember last year when Jimbo Fisher was in Tallahassee and their offense was so bad that they had to beg teams like Delaware St to reschedule games so they could get enough wins for a bowl berth? Me too. And, now I get why he left. Texas A&M is averaging 630 ypg on offense. And, a QB who didn’t throw a single touchdown in a 3 game span last November just lit up the #2 team in the country for 430 yards through the air.

Dibs on making “Mond, Kellen Mond” a thing.

No wonder Jimbo threw out that Douglas Fir Christmas tree on the curb and bolted for College Station. A&M looks different. That being said I can’t wait to watch them come out flatter than the Texas Highway or Kyrie Irving’s globe. A&M will win, but their secondary is giving up 264 pass ypg and UL Monroe’s offense will take advantage of that.

Texas A&M 41 UL Monroe 17

Missouri (-6) at Purdue

Michael: I didn’t anticipate the fact that deciding to stick with my offseason upset pick of Wyoming over Missouri would nearly spark another protest on the Columbia campus last week. I apologize in advance for any feelings I may have hurt. Missouri proved to be the vastly superior team in that game but are only catching six points on the road at Purdue, which is off to an 0-2 start to the season. I will now attempt to make amends for my terrible pick last season by picking Missouri to travel to Big Ten country and lay down a Big Whoppin’ on the train supporters.

Missouri 42 Purdue 30

Chris: If any of you have followed along with the podcast or my Twitter throughout the season then you know that “Uncle Chris” is 27-7 on his total picks so far. I bring that up for two reasons: 1) I crave attention and validation, and 2) I hope it will make you trust my opinions. That being said…

Put everything you have on Mizzou this weekend. Purdue is hot garbage. I know they beat Mizzou by 3 touchdowns last year. However, they also lost to Eastern Michigan less than a week ago. And, Eastern Michigan is literally the bronze medalist out of the 3 total directional schools in Michigan. PurDon’t is giving up almost 300 pass ypg, and they’re going up against the best QB/ WR combination in the country with Drew Lock and Emanuel Hall.

Missouri 35 Purdue 23