NCAAf - SEC Games - Week 5
Week 4 was pretty wild for the SEC, and our picks didn't fare too well as there were several upsets in the conference. We'll only have four games to bet on this week, so every game counts. Jacob has jumped out to a respectable lead overall, and the rest of us have some catching up to do. As always, Alex will provide his best bet for each matchup underneath our collective picks.
Last week was a disappointing 2-3 as we missed the under by the hook in the Auburn – South Carolina game. Our total bet record now sits at 15-8 four weeks in. Unfortunately, this week only provides us with 4 games to watch and bet on, which means only once all day will we experience the pleasure and anxiety of having multiple games on multiple TVs at the same time to see if our bets cash or not.
Auburn at Ole Miss (AUB -3.0, O/U 70.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Auburn has yet to find their identity this year and lost 30-22 to South Carolina. Ole Miss threw six picks in a 33-21 loss to Arkansas.
The total for this game has moved tremendously since its opening line, and it honestly might move even higher up until game time Saturday. Luckily for us, we won’t be betting on that. Here’s the thing: Auburn owns one of the best rushing offenses in the SEC going against the worst run defense in the SEC. And don’t let last week’s Ole Miss defensive showing against Arkansas fool you, the Razorbacks have struggled all season in the run game (with their greatest success coming against Ole Miss, by the way). Additionally, Auburn has the third best pass defense in the SEC, which is an integral factor in stopping Matt Corral and company.
Ole Miss can’t stop the run, can’t stop the pass, can’t get off the field, and they allow teams to convert in the red zone. Bo Nix hasn’t come close to maximizing his opportunities just yet, but I believe he could not throw a pass for the whole game and they’d still win this one. Additionally, the Rebels have only scored more than 35 in regulation once this season, while Auburn has yet to allow a team to score more than 30 on them. Here’s more: Ole Miss just allowed a team whose offense was amassing just 15 points per game (PPG) to score 33 on them. Their defense is also worst nationally, allowing 47 PPG this year.
It’s also certainly worth noting the Rebels have faced a dual threat quarterback once this year, against Kentucky. In that game, the Wildcats ran for 408 yards on 7.3 yards per carry (YPC), and Terry Wilson (Kentucky’s quarterback) ran 22 times for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns. The only concern going into this game is if Auburn will be able to make important third down stops. I’m extremely confident in Auburn at -3 to cover against Mississippi.
#2 Alabama at Tennessee (ALA -21.0, O/U 66.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Alabama did to Georgia in the second half what Georgia did to Tennessee in their second half matchup, winning 41-24. Tennessee got trounced 34-7 to Kentucky at home.
Alabama -21 might be the lock of the century of any sport and teams anywhere. I also know that as I’m writing this right now (Monday afternoon) the line will undoubtedly move in Alabama’s favor as the week progresses, but I’d take this line at any and every value given to us. If Tennessee starts Guarantano, he’ll throw more picks than completions. On the other hand, the other three guys don’t have enough experience or reps to come in against a Saban-coached team and perform to their potential. Additionally, Pruitt just fired Tennessee’s D-line coach (?????) for who knows what reason. They aren’t the ones that hand-wrapped and gifted Kentucky 17 points last week. But, really, what are the odds they play better this week than last week? Not high. Okay. Anyway, back to the article since that’s only like the 45th time I’ve ranted about last week’s Tennessee loss.
Alabama’s offensive output this year is probably something equivalent or comparable to the brainpower output of Elon Musk while he’s contemplating solutions and problems to colonize Mars. They’re both out of this world (ha, did you get it?). In the SEC, offensively, they’re the most explosive, score touchdowns most often in the red zone, first in passing yards, net yards per play, and third down offense. They’re also more than capable of rushing behind a running back you might’ve heard of before, Najee Harris. Alabama’s “worst” offensive showing this year came against Missouri, when they pulled their starters mid third quarter up 35-3. Up to that point, they were gaining 8.1 yards per play… Which means the worst they’ve actually done this year was when they dropped 41 points and 564 yards of offense on Georgia’s heads. Tennessee is not remotely capable of stopping that, especially if cornerback Alontae Taylor misses the game as well (he was out against Kentucky with a hamstring injury).
This is an unfortunate matchup for Tennessee, as they’ll be incapable of using their strengths to exploit Alabama on either side of the ball. Unless the Vols actually start Harrison Bailey and it turns out he’s the greatest quarterback ever, it’ll be essentially impossible for Tennessee to keep up. Finally, after combing through data for hours, I’ve yet to come up with a meaningful metric to provide us a reason to bet Tennessee on the spread at all. Whether you believe in the importance of third downs, rushing yards, passing yards, red zone scoring, explosive plays, strength of schedule, turnover margin, how often a team gets sacked, or even momentum, there’s just no way to justify a Tennessee cover to me.
Speaking of peoples’ personal preferences when betting, don’t even begin to attempt the “Alabama is coming off of a hangover win versus Georgia” excuse either, because that logic does not exist under a Nick Saban coached team. Alabama -21.
Kentucky at Missouri (UK -5.5, O/U 47.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Kentucky gave UT a beating last week en route to a 34-7 win in Neyland, while Missouri was at home practicing due to Vanderbilt not being able to field a team because of Coronavirus positives.
I was really hoping for the Vanderbilt – Missouri game to not get postponed last week for us to have an extra data set to take samples from. It’s also yet to be known how much the Tigers will improve off what was essentially a bye week for them under new HC Drinkwitz. Meanwhile, Kentucky has allowed just nine points the past two games. That’s impressive. Upon originally checking on the lines for this week, I initially liked the under for this one, but now I feel it’s dropped down too much to have complete confidence as well as the diminished value the line currently provides.
From what I’m seeing, Kentucky will have multiple advantages in this game. Barring the Ole Miss game, Kentucky has managed 3.6 yards per carry, and while that may not seem too impressive, those numbers come against three of the top six rush defenses in the SEC. Additionally, while Missouri’s numbers also appear decent, they’re inflated due to one of their three games coming against LSU (whose run game is non-existent), and against Alabama, Najee Harris managed 5.8 YPC and three touchdowns before being rested in the third quarter. What’s more, Missouri’s quarterback is a freshman in his second start, going against a team with nine interceptions (and three pick-sixes) in the last two games, as well as only allowing 235 yards per game through the air. Kentucky’s defense so far has been bulwark, with few areas of weakness.
The Wildcats hold the advantages in third down defense and offense. The Tigers, however, possess the better red zone offense, and even that might not mean much against the 7th ranked red zone scoring defense in the country. I just think in this game that while Missouri might be able to garner some yards, points will be too hard to come by. I believe Kentucky wins by 10-14 points in this affair. Kentucky -5.5.
South Carolina at LSU (LSU -6.5, O/U 55.5)
Last Week’s Recap: South Carolina is playing really good ball right now, as evidenced by their 30-22 victory over Auburn. LSU had their game postponed last week, because Florida had too many positive Coronavirus test results in their locker room.
To this point, LSU’s games are seeing an average of 70 points and SC’s are seeing 55. So why the low total? Since Orgeron took over LSU, overs are just 2-8-2 off a bye. Vegas has been getting killed on these, and it also makes sense that a bye would be most beneficial for this so-far uninspired LSU defense. So, the persisting question it seems is, will it help? I want all of you to know I just went down a ravine of a rabbit hole unbeknownst to man trying to rationalize a bet in favor of the LSU Tigers here. Spoiler alert: I did not find a rabbit, aside from the possible unknowns attached with LSU off a bye against a SC team who’s played four weeks straight and might be run-down. But I believe SC is rolling right now so the momentum is certainly in their favor heading into this one.
I don’t believe rushing stats are the deciding factor for this game, but South Carolina certainly gains the edge nonetheless. They’ll see themselves in more third and manageable situations, whereas LSU has had trouble rushing against both teams they’ve gone against this season (I’m tired of including Vanderbilt as a team, honestly). Moving on though and I believe there’s an interesting statistic here. LSU has a -0.7 Net Yards Per Play to this point, and if you take away the Vanderbilt game, they sit at an abysmal -2.6 Net Yards Per Play. The Gamecocks boast the best third down defense in the conference, allowing teams to convert just 27.7% of the time. This stacks up nicely against an LSU offense who possess a league-worst third down offense, converting just 23.1% of the time.
LSU’s pass defense is basically nonexistent so far, and I think the Gamecocks’ offense will have a much more manageable time moving and scoring the ball on them than their previous opponents. The only issue here is that for as many points as LSU allows, they’re still averaging 3 takeaways per game, and they really seize on their opponents’ mistakes. That said, SC’s defensive coordinator is a defensive backs specialist, and it’s shown as it seems their secondary improves with every snap. This LSU offense is still dangerous though, and I expect Brennan to gain yards and points regardless.
In the end, I expect South Carolina to cover the spread. I believe this, due to their extremely efficient offense, as well as I believe they’ll be able to get to Myles Brennan in the pocket to rush his throws and force some mistakes. The official play is South Carolina +6.5.
Written by Nick Swatson and Alex Hill
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