We only had four SEC games to watch last week, but we're getting some intriguing matchups in the six-game slate in week 6. Jacob has maintained the overall lead on our betting scoreboard, so the rest of us will attempt to narrow the gap this week. As always, Alex will provide his favorite bet for each game in addition to all of our picks on the money line, point spread, and over/under.
*PSA: Per SEC Guidelines, Players Aren’t Allowed To Exercise If In Isolation*
Last week we went just 2-2, bringing our total to 17-10 on the year. This week allows us an extra two games of viewing for our pleasure. Two teams will be returning (Florida & Vanderbilt) after what was basically a second spring camp (even though both teams were technically missing a sizeable portion of their rosters), since we haven’t seen them in 21 days. I’m honestly not a fan of weird byes and teams in and out of playing as it’s increasingly more challenging to predict how each team will react to their specific situation. Additionally, on a small sample size, both teams off a bye last week covered by over 17 points! But with all that said, let’s get into the analysis.
#5 Georgia at Kentucky (UGA -15.5, O/U 42.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Georgia regrouped with a bye week after a loss to Alabama. Kentucky was handled by Missouri’s defense in a 20-10 loss.
With these lines, Vegas has really set them up for a middle position. Yes, Georgia is likely a 14-point better team. Yes, this should by all accounts be a lower scoring game, but at 44.5 (as of Tuesday morning), it’s just below the key number of 45. Here’s the thing: Kentucky’s offense has yet to score more than 20 points in a game this year (scoring 35 in regulation against Ole Miss doesn’t count). Georgia’s defense has yet to allow more than 21 in every game aside from Alabama. And yes, that’s necessary information, because Ole Miss has the worst defense in the nation and Alabama has the best offense in the nation.
Georgia will be off a bye week heading into the matchup, and their defensive strengths align almost perfectly to stop Kentucky’s offense. Their D-line consumes almost all rushes, they get off the field incredibly well, and they get to the quarterback exceptionally well when needed. The Wildcats are also fresh off a 10-point performance against Missouri, where they amassed just 36 plays and 145 yards of total offense. There’s no question Georgia will be able to stop them. That leaves us with the question of whether or not Kentucky will be able to slow down the Bulldogs.
Georgia is 60th out of 101 teams in yards per play (YPP). Meanwhile, Kentucky allows just 4.8 YPP, which is good for 23rd in the country. Georgia does not possess an explosive offense, nor do I believe they’ll amass a ton of yards in this game. What will happen, though, is Georgia will dominate field position and time of possession (Kentucky won’t top 200 yards of offense), but that won’t lead them to a ton of points. I think they’re a 14-17 point better team, but the play isn’t the spread here. The final score will be something along the lines of 24-10 or 27-10. Even though this line dropped around 2.5 points, the play is still under 42.5 for this matchup.
LSU at Auburn (LSU -3.0, O/U 65.5)
Last Week’s Recap: LSU came to play, molly whopping SC 52-24. Auburn, meanwhile, escaped narrowly over Ole Miss, 35-28.
Since the Georgia game week 2, Auburn’s run game has picked up exponentially, going for over 200 yards per in all three affairs. They’re averaging right at 5.6 yards per carry (YPC) and they’ve been able to pick up most of their first downs on the ground. LSU’s defense, in back to back games, has given up right at 5.6 YPC to Missouri and South Carolina. Additionally, versus teams not named Vanderbilt, LSU’s been allowing almost 8.2 YPP. They also don’t do well on third downs defensively going against a more than proficient offense.
Just like how Auburn’s run game goes well against LSU’s defense, the same is true for LSU’s offense against Auburn’s defense. LSU’s offensive outputs this year: 34, 41 (34 in 3 quarters), 41, and 52. Their passes are going for over 9 yards per attempt, and they’ve yet to post an output under 425 yards of offense on the season. They possess one of the more explosive and efficient offenses in the SEC, going against an Auburn team that’s allowed at least 27 points in four straight outings. Finally, if you watched the Ole Miss-Auburn game last week, Ole Miss had Auburn’s defenders looking lost and confused on numerous plays, and I believe LSU’s offense to be more intricate and capable of getting loose all game. Auburn scores at least 35 and LSU gets there as well. Over 65.5.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (MISS -16.5, O/U 64)
Last Week’s Recap: Lane Kiffin’s team was screwed over in their 35-28 loss to Auburn. But Vanderbilt hasn’t been seen in 21 days due to cancellations and byes.
Ole Miss -16.5 is the play here. Vanderbilt’s protocols force players to miss 2.5 weeks until they’re back to regular programming after returning from a positive COVID test. Additionally, I listened to one of Mason’s Press Conferences and he was in there spewing some nonsense about third string guys being starter runner-ups and how they’ve been really stressing fundamentals in practice??? Huh? Is this not the same team whose first string players are incapable of competing against a high school team? So why are we focusing on football basics for the third stringers?
I think Derek Mason (or Butch Jones, I’m not convinced they’re different people at this point) is, flatly speaking, incompetent as a head coach. He’s one of the few coaches whose team likely regresses on bye weeks and extended preparation times. Look, Mississippi’s defense has improved seemingly every week, going against a team I’m not convinced will reach the 20-point mark on offense this year. I can’t, in good conscience, bet in favor of a very depleted Vanderbilt team. I just can’t. Also, for those looking for some statistics, they’re the only team in the FBS (I believe) that has played more than one game and has yet to rake up 300 yards in a single one of them.
Finally, each team the Commodores have faced this year has produced either their best or second-best offensive YPP output. After starting the season on one of the most treacherous, difficult stretches, this is exactly the kind of game Lane Kiffin and crew need to get their defense some confidence while the offense simultaneously has a field day. Ole Miss -16.5.
Mississippi State at #2 Alabama (ALA -31.0, O/U 63.5)
Last Week’s Recap: State will be off a bye heading into this matchup against a scorching hot Alabama team who just trounced and stifled Tennessee, 48-17.
Alabama’s starters are yet to average under 7.4 YPP this season. They’re also top 10 in so many offensive categories you could fill an encyclopedia. Then, well, then there’s Mississippi State. And offensively, aside from gaining a bunch of passing yards, what DO they do well? Interestingly, the strengths and weaknesses, believe it or not, mostly benefit Mississippi State here. They allow just 4.6 YPP (12th in the nation), 192 passing yards (1st in SEC), and 2.9 YPC (13th in nation). Their defensive front has been incredibly disruptive, as they also excel getting to the quarterback.
One of the reasons State has struggled since week 1 is the amount of pressure on their quarterbacks. However, Alabama owns one of the worst defenses in three key categories: third down defense, sacks, and passing yards allowed per game. In no way am I saying Mississippi State wins this game, because I’d be lying if I said I believed it. However, Leach getting a bye week to prepare for Alabama (as well as de-wrinkling some of their offensive afflictions), coupled with this being the Tide’s sixth straight game, leads one to believe State will only lose by three touchdowns instead. And we saw what Leach was able to accomplish with an abundance of preparation time leading into their opener against LSU.
Protecting the ball and converting scores in the red zone were surely two of the main premises of the extra preparation week for MSU, for a team desperately looking for some promise in that area. If even one of those two areas improve against Alabama, they’ll cover. I’m seeing a 42-17 game where Alabama allows their starters a breather when they’re up big late in the third. Additionally, this is a great backdoor potential spot for us as well if the game does get out of hand. Mississippi State +31.
Arkansas at #8 Texas A&M (A&M -12.5, O/U 54.5)
Last Week’s Recap: This will be the SEC’s first game featuring two teams off a bye this season.
Both teams off a bye? Both teams who rely on their defense? Aggies’ games seeing an average of 56 points, and Arkansas’ games seeing just 48? Please tell me what I’m missing about this total being so high. Anybody? The Razorbacks highest point total to this point is 33, in a game where they forced seven turnovers. Other than that, their offense is scoring just under 15 points per game (PPG). Meanwhile, A&M’s defense has been lights out in the run game, allowing only 75 YPG on the ground and 2.7 YPC. I liken A&M’s defense to a lesser version of Georgia’s (only in style and not including consistency), because the Aggies pass defense is susceptible. And even that deserves an asterisk, because over half of their pass defense numbers include their outings against Alabama and Florida. I have a very difficult time believing Feleipe Franks and company put up more than 20 on Texas A&M, especially when the run game won’t have anything going for them.
If they put up 20, which is a big if, then the Aggies would be faced with the task of putting up 35 on an Arkansas defense off a BYE week under Barry Odom. Ain’t happening. They’ve put up that total once all season, against a Florida defense still yet to find their identity. Arkansas has the best third down defense, they’re competent against the pass, and they’re third in the SEC in preventing explosive plays. They’re relatively vulnerable against the run, but running the ball elongates the game and forces A&M to put together long drives. Arkansas also only allows teams to score on 57% of redzone trips, so A&M isn’t guaranteed a lot of points in that situation either.
Both teams gained an extra week to prepare, and undeniably, both teams rely on their defenses heavily to win games. This appears to be a total 8-10 points too high. Under 54.5 is my favorite play on the board this week.
Missouri at #10 Florida (FLA -13.0, O/U 61.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Missouri came back strong off their bye, beating Kentucky last week, 20-10 in a defensive struggle. Florida heads into this matchup for their first game in three weeks.
I’m going to be honest; I didn’t realize to what tune COVID affected Florida’s program, in the sense of them being forced to postpone and put off their practices and workouts. The Gators opening up as 12.5-point favorites to a team coming off a statement victory might be questionable. This really isn’t a game I’d be picking on my own accord if not for the challenge I presented myself with (thanks, past Alex) of picking at least one bet in every game this year. On one hand, Florida’s offense was rolling while their defense was subpar at best. On the other one, the sudden reset allowed Mizzou to focus on their defensive struggles and come out strong against Kentucky.
The Florida defense to this point is allowing over twice as many points per game than they did the year prior. Two of the three games they’ve played, they’ve allowed the opposing teams’ quarterback to post season highs. Their run defense is mostly capable, but their third down defense is the worst in the SEC. This doesn’t line up too well against a pass-reliant offense whose first downs have typically come through the air through their first four contests. In the matchup of Florida’s defense versus Missouri’s offense, the most significant question is whether Florida’s defense can contain Larry Rountree’s runs and Connor Bazelak’s proficient passing. I think not.
Prior to the meeting against Kentucky, Missouri was allowing 9 yards per pass attempt. I’d like to believe they’ve improved there since their week three LSU game, but it’s yet to be seen (and no, stopping Kentucky’s pass-attack isn’t an example). One aspect I like about this defense though, is their ability to get off the field. They’re 12th in the nation in defensive plays and post a respectable third down defense. Regardless, Florida boasts an incredible passing game (9.7 yards per attempt), have scored at least 38 in every game, and should be capable of moving the ball against Missouri’s defense who also gives up a great number of yards through the air.
Under normal circumstances I’d hit the over in this contest without hesitation. But this is 2020, nothing is normal, and we can’t have nice things. There’s admittedly a chance of Florida opening up rusty and flat offensively and defensively, but I’m banking on that not being the case. Over 61.5 in a game that should be closer than expected where both quarterbacks put up numbers.
Written by Alex Hill and Nick Swatson