We're back with our SEC picks in a weekend filled with intriguing matchups. As always, our five college football experts will give you their plays on the money line, point spread, and over/under so you can see multiple opinions when making your picks. Additionally, Alex will provide his best play for each game, backed by data and analytics. The scoreboard below remains tight overall and for the money line, while distance is being created in bets against the spread and on the over/under, which are more difficult to predict. Hopefully the advice of our Bucket Squad experts will help you make lots of money this weekend.
Last week we went 5-2, bringing us to a profitable 9-5 on the year. This week provides us interesting lines to consider and hopefully capitalize on. I also highly recommend that everyone check weather forecasts for each game this week before making their picks, as the impending hurricane could affect some matchups.
#4 Florida at #21 Texas A&M (FLA -7.0, O/U 59.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Florida had beaten South Carolina by late in the second quarter, ultimately winning 38-24. On the other hand, Texas A&M got routed, I mean routed, by Alabama 52-24.
I’ve been trying to believe in A&M and Kellen Mond for awhile now, but they just haven’t delivered yet, and I don’t believe this is their week to do so. That said, the Gators, in their past six games, are averaging 40.7 PPG coupled with a scalding hot 492 YPG. The 2019 Aggies gave up an average of 380 yards per game (YPG) to Power 5 teams last year, and just recently allowed 544(!) yards to Alabama.
That isn’t to say their offense isn’t capable, as they garnered 372 and 450 yards of offense in their two games this year (352 YPG against Power 5 in 2019). Florida’s defenses of years past have been notoriously resilient and turnover hungry, but all that remains from those days is a team that can stop the run at a decent clip. That said, we can expect yards, yards, and more yards in a game that has seen both teams attempt more passes than rushes in all four of their combined games this year (which is each teams weakness, might I add). I see Florida winning in a shootout, so give me the Over to hit with ease.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt (SC -13.0, O/U 42.5)
Last Week’s Recap: South Carolina fell 38-24 to a talented Florida team in a game in which they performed surprisingly well. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt got trounced 41-7 to LSU, which saw their quarterback post a 15.4 QBR. Yes, that’s correct. 15.4.
The only bright spot for Vanderbilt’s otherwise nonexistent offense was their junior running back Ja’Veon Marlow, but lackluster offense is nothing new to them. I’ve been looking for a reason to bet Vanderbilt in this game, but I’m having an extremely hard time finding one. South Carolina was barely outgained in both their games against Tennessee and Florida, while Vandy was outgained by 120 and 230 yards to Texas A&M and LSU, respectively.
Inexplicably, for a defense that returned a tremendous amount of production, Vanderbilt seems to have regressed in that area. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks’ offense, while not completely efficient, can always count on beating up on the Commodores. Additionally, South Carolina only allowed seven points and 189 yards of offense in this same matchup last year. Look for Shi Smith to have another good game in this one, and take the Gamecocks at -13.
Missouri at #17 LSU (LSU -14.0, O/U 55.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Missouri got meticulously picked apart defensively by UT, en route to a 35-12 loss. LSU, meanwhile, may have regained their mojo in a 41-7 stomping of the Commodores.
After the first few possessions against UT, Mizzou replaced Shawn Robinson at QB in favor of Connor Bazelak, which greatly improved their efficiency moving the ball. Missouri has already faced two good/great defenses on the year and will not be overwhelmed facing off against an LSU team that allowed 153 yards on the ground to Vanderbilt. Conversely, LSU’s offense, barring the sacks allowed against MSU, is off to a good start averaging over 460 YPG on the year along with 37.5 PPG.
We have two teams giving up an average of 5.9 and 6.2 yards per play so far, coupled with the best running back in the SEC in Larry Rountree and their defense prone to giving up big plays versus an explosive offense. Myles Brennan had a rocky first start against a swarming and hounding defense, but he’s still been able to post 341 passing yards per game on 8.2 yards per attempt despite this.
Hurricane Delta moved the game from Baton Rouge to Columbia, where they’ll have the best weather of any SEC game this week (at 11 am CST). That said, I see LSU getting to the mid-30s or low-40s with Mizzou putting up mid-20s to low 30s. Expect Rountree to open up Missouri’s offense and LSU to score regularly behind Brennan and their leading rusher, John Emory Jr. Over 55 is the play.
#14 Tennessee at #3 Georgia (UGA -13.0, O/U 43.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Tennessee had one of their most impressive and surprising showings against Missouri in a 35-12 victory. Georgia, always trying to one-up UT, dominated Auburn 27-6.
This will be an exciting matchup of one of the nation’s top offensive lines, head-to-head with potentially the best defense in the country (with added palpability between Cade Mays and the Georgia football program transfer controversy). People are buying into Tennessee and Guarantano, which is exactly what I told you all not to do. Anyway… Georgia has dominated this series as of late, winning on average 40.7 points to 8.7 over the last three meetings.
Here’s how I see it. Georgia has the better defense while UT’s is much more prone to giving up big plays. Tennessee has the better O-line and running backs, but I give the nod to Bennett and his receiving corps over Tennessee’s. Moreover, Georgia boasts a top run defense in the country, and I believe they “contain” Tennessee’s rushing game enough to thwart their drives. Tennessee has served as Georgia Lite for the past few years and they aren’t ready to turn those tables around yet. While I leaned the under originally, the line already dropped 2 points, so the play for this one is Georgia -13. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.
Arkansas at #13 Auburn (AUB -16.5, O/U 48.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Arkansas surprisingly beat Mississippi State 21-14 in a game they were outgained by 125 yards, but their defense amassed four turnovers. Auburn, on the other hand, got completely handled by Georgia 6-27, finding themselves in the red zone only once all game.
This is an intriguing game because each team has faced Georgia already. Arkansas was outgained by 107 yards in total, while Auburn was outgained by 226. Here’s a crazy trend for Auburn though: since Bo Nix has taken over, Auburn is 0-4 in games where he passes more times than they rush the ball, while they’re 7-1 when the reverse is true. This is due to the fact that Auburn’s offense has to be opened up by the run game in order for Nix to be successful. In those games, they also rushed for an average of 2.6 YPC against those teams.
Arkansas, in 2019, allowed 5.7 yards per carry to FBS teams, and in 2020 are allowing almost 400 YPG in total offense. Conversely, on offense, the Razorbacks have been barely achieving 275 YPG and their offense is scoring just 12 points per game (offense only scored 14 against MSU, but they had a pick 6). This game last year saw Auburn wipe the floor with Arkansas 51-10, whilst also outgaining them by 260 yards.
While Sam Pittman has clearly made progress, his team will not be able to keep up with an Auburn team looking for a get-right game on their home field. Auburn by three touchdowns and Bo gets his confidence back. My guess is 31-10. Auburn -16.5.
#2 Alabama at Ole Miss (ALA -24.0, O/U 72.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Alabama showed us why they’re Alabama and absolutely owned Texas A&M 52-24. Meanwhile, Ole Miss won an OT thriller against Kentucky 42-41 thanks to a missed PAT by the Wildcats.
The Rebels have allowed their opponents to average 3.1 more yards per rush against them than against those teams’ other opponents this year. They’ve done this en route to allowing over 600 yards per game. Bama, who’s otherwise struggled thus far to get their run game really going should eat this defense alive while Mac Jones simultaneously throws for 300+ yards. Meanwhile, Alabama has held Missouri and A&M to a combined 2.9 yards per rush on the season.
Essentially this game comes down to Alabama’s ability or inability to stop Matt Corral and a potent Rebel offense. They return 3 players in the secondary who logged significant minutes last year, led by Patrick Surtain. My take is that the Crimson Tide will be forcing Ole Miss into third and distance often and be able to make enough plays on the back end to stop them through the air.
One incredible matchup to lookout for in this game is the one between Saban and Lane Kiffin, who served as Alabama’s OC for a while. That said, we are looking for Saban to beat Kiffin like a red-headed stepchild, er, I mean, like one of his former assistants (which he always does). Alabama covers the 24 points in this one.
Mississippi State at Kentucky (UK -2.5, O/U 58.5)
Last Week's Recap: KJ Costello fell back to earth against Arkansas, amassing 1 TD and 3 INTs in a 21-14 loss. Kentucky lost because of a missed PAT in overtime to Ole Miss, 42-41.
The Bulldogs are a team that return a good amount of production on their defensive front from last year, a season in which they allowed 4.6 yards per carry against Power 5 teams. Kentucky also has no takeaways on the year, which bodes well for an MSU team that’s given up the ball 8 times. Leach’s team outgained Arkansas last week by 125 yards and have a positive net yard per play (YPP) of +1.8 on the year. Kentucky, however, has a -0.1 net YPP to this point.
I overestimated Ole Miss’s run defense last week and the Wildcats were able to put up points because of it. But make no mistake, this Bulldogs defense is living up to their name so far leading the COUNTRY in yards allowed per rushing attempt (1.9 YPC). There’s no way Terry Wilson and company is capable of converting and overcoming third and long distances all game. Additionally, Kentucky’s defense is built to stop the run and is much more vulnerable to State’s air raid attack.
Put simply, the wrong team is favored here. As long as Costello doesn’t throw the game away (pun intended) to a mediocre at best secondary, we look for MSU to eat here. Finding Osirus Mitchell or checking down to an exciting Kylin Hill (who is back after getting hurt against Arkansas last week) is all the offensive game planning needed. Mississippi State +2.5 and the moneyline.
Written by Nick Swatson and Alex Hill