NCAAF - SEC Games - Week 4
Week 3 of the SEC season was wild, as it was filled with upsets, controversy, and, most importantly for bettors, points. This week, we'll only be picking five games due to postponements in two matchups related to positive COVID tests. There is starting to be some distance created in our scoreboard as well, and Jacob has now taken sole possession of the top overall spot. As always, Alex will give his insight on the best single bet to make for each game in addition to our five experts' picks.
I hope you’ve tailed every pick to this point as we went 4-3 again last week bringing us to 13-8 on the year. I’m 13-5 in games that don’t have Mississippi State playing in them so I honestly might be fade worthy picking their games until further notice.
#15 Auburn at South Carolina (AUB -3.5, O/U 51.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Auburn “beat” Arkansas 30-28 on a last-minute field goal in a win they were gifted by the officiating crew. South Carolina routed Vanderbilt 41-7.
I was relatively high on Auburn coming into the season, but to this point they’ve dropped the ball. South Carolina has been competitive in both losses and have honestly impressed defensively. They’ve yet to allow a team more than 4 yards per carry (YPC), yet to allow more than 268 yards through the air, and have the best third down defense in the SEC. They’ve seemingly fixed their issues on that side of the ball. On the other hand, Auburn has only been successful against Arkansas in the run game, and they’ve yet to eclipse 233 yards passing on the season.
I still think Auburn has the pieces to right the ship offensively, but I don’t believe this is their week to do so. The Gamecocks to this point are averaging 4.5 YPC, but that’s against two of the worst defenses against the run. Auburn’s is much better. Both of these teams are top half in defensive yards per play allowed and bottom half in yards per play. The only concern for my play is Auburn’s terrible third down defense. Under 51.5.
Kentucky at #18 Tennessee (TEN -6.0, O/U 46.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Kentucky beat MSU 24-2 in a game where their defense forced 6 turnovers. Tennessee stayed with Georgia a while before getting obliterated in the second half, losing 44-21.
Before the Georgia game, Tennessee was gaining 5.9 yards per play as well as allowing just 5.2. Kentucky’s offensive stats are mid-tier at best and that’s including them playing against Ole Miss. They rely heavily on their run game and it just doesn’t work against strong defensive teams. Tennessee’s only concern in this one is their third down offense, because aside from that, I don’t think Kentucky bodes well in this game.
Tennessee has played the tougher schedule, and they generally bust the Wildcats like Georgia busts Tennessee. Kentucky’s defensive front seven should get bullied and I’m expecting UT’s running backs to have a big day here. UK is fourth worst at finishing drives in the SEC and hold the second lowest sack percentage. Tennessee wins this by two touchdowns. UT -6.
Ole Miss at Arkansas (Ole Miss -1.5, O/U 76.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Ole Miss hung 48 on Alabama. But their defense allowed 63. No bueno. Arkansas lost on a controversial (not really all that controversial, though) no call to Auburn, 30-28.
Ole Miss games are seeing an average of 92.4 PPG compared to Arkansas’ average of 46.7. These are two totally opposite teams here. That said, let’s dive in. Mississippi has played the hardest schedule in the conference so far and still has the third most explosive offense. They’ve yet to score under 35 and they’ve garnered at least 459 yards of offense in every outing. Arkansas has allowed at least 387 yards of offense in every game this year and are almost dead last in how many plays they allow per game. The more chances you give Mississippi’s offense, the less likely it is you hold them.
Mississippi’s defense has many knocks, namely in their rush defense and third down defense. The Razorbacks possess an offense that is already suboptimal, coupled with the fact that they’re the third worst SEC offense in rushing yards per carry and third down conversion percentage. This is a team whose total points through three games barely beats Mississippi’s average on the year (44 to 41.7). I’m just not seeing how the Razorbacks team getting beat on average by 80 YPG keeps up with one of the most exciting offenses in the nation. I think Mississippi wins by 10 or more. Mississippi -1.5.
#11 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (A&M -7.0, O/U 54.5)
Last Week’s Recap: A&M seized on a late fumble by Florida to cap off a 41-38 upset in College Station (saying it was 25% capacity seemed to be a generously low estimate). On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Mississippi State’s offense is in shambles at the moment. They fell 24-2 versus Kentucky.
Mississippi State is not capable of scoring on teams that even have a semblance of a defense. They’ve combined for 16 points against Arkansas and Kentucky and you really just need to ask yourself if it’s worth it to believe in the quarterback play after a six-interception week against Kentucky. Which, by the way, runs the season turnover total up to 14. They’re last in TO margin, next to last in explosive plays, next to last in red zone soring, and last in yards per carry. They lead the conference in passing yards, but that’s only because they average 81 plays per game and even then, they still can’t score. Texas A&M’s defense is as middle of the road as it gets right now, but they also played Bama and Florida back to back weeks. State’s offense is nothing like those teams.
The Bulldogs defense, however, is ranked second in rushing yards per carry as well as total passing yards per game, respectively. They also possess the highest sack percentage in the SEC and do a great job at getting off the field. Offensively, the Aggies possess the highest YPC in the conference, as well as the second highest third down conversion percentage. The other aspect of this game not yet mentioned is that both teams prefer throwing over passing this season (which is obvious for State, but A&M might be more surprising). And that is my only concern for the under this week. Both teams should struggle to score against the opposing defense, but the only fear is that each team keeps the clock stopped too often. The play here is under 54.5.
#3 Georgia at #2 Alabama (ALA -4.0, O/U 56.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Georgia did Georgia things and worked the Volunteers, en route to a 44-21 victory. Meanwhile, Alabama’s offense seems to have barely lost a step from a season ago. The Tide’s defense is a different story though. Alabama beat Ole Miss 63-48.
Alabama, statistically, owns the most explosive offense, first in Net Yards Per Play, second in YPC, second in passing yards per game, and first in third down conversion percentage. Oh, I forgot to mention that they’re also first in the nation in scoring at 51 PPG. Of course, then there’s Georgia. Defensively, first in red zone scoring, yards per carry, and passing yards per game. Not to mention they’re also second in third down defense and Net Yards Per Play. They aren’t anything spectacular offensively, but they do enough to get the job done (and you really don’t have to be spectacular against Alabama’s defense).
Alabama’s defense is the worst ever under Saban, including allowing 322 YPG through the air, as well as allowing opponents to convert on 54% of their third downs. One of those games includes allowing 67% completion and 250 yards passing to a quarterback who was benched as quarter into their next game (Robinson for Missouri). Najee Harris is a week removed from an all-time stat line against Ole Miss, but before that he had very pedestrian YPC performances against decent defenses. I believe Alabama’s O-line fares well enough against Georgia’s defense to allow Mac Jones time to operate and Najee Harris to keep them in good down and distance opportunities.
This is the biggest game of the SEC season and I believe it’ll be a battle between these two. It should also be an up-tempo affair, and it also helps our case that Saban won’t be on the sidelines due to his positive COVID test result. The one side of the ball the Tide need the most assistance on is the defensive end, and I don’t see them being getting stops on Georgia’s offense as often as they would like. Alabama’s games are also seeing an average of 81.3 points per game this season, and I really like the over to hit here. I think Georgia finally jumps over the hump and beats Bama, but my official play is over 56.
Written by Nick Swatson and Alex Hill
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