NCAAF - SEC Games - Week 9
Our experts couldn't take advantage of a three-game SEC slate last weekend, as no one went perfect on the week. Thankfully, we're back to having a nearly full schedule in week 9 with six matchups to bet on. Some of the games will be tight while others will be blowouts, but all of them will be fun to watch if you have money riding on them.
#6 Florida at Vanderbilt (FLA -31.5, O/U 68.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Florida’s offense looked unstoppable against Arkansas, winning 63-35. Vanderbilt lost 38-35 against Kentucky in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.
Over 68. Florida might just cover this total on their own. And if you think they won’t run the score up then you don’t know just how much these two head coaches dislike each other. Honestly, Dan Mullen probably won’t be happy unless the Gators score 100 points. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s offense has slowly but surely turned their season’s production around. The total for their last two games has seen them put up more points than their first four games combined as they’ve become much more efficient.
I won’t really be requiring a whole lot of statistics or anything here. These are two offenses playing their best ball right now, against two defenses who’ve both given up at least 17 in every outing this year. My guess is something along the lines of 56-24, but it could certainly go higher.
LSU at Arkansas (LSU -2.0, O/U 64.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Arkansas lost 35-63. LSU didn’t play.
Over 64. I’m not sure I trust LSU’s defense to stop anyone right now. But although I don’t feel confident about their defense, their offense is proficient, for the most part. Arkansas’ defense also excels against mediocre offenses, but they’re prone to collapses and high point totals against higher level ones. It seems like Myles Brennan is done for the season, but the backups are seemingly capable of stepping into the position and making plays. They struggled a few weeks ago against Auburn’s defense on the road, but with the ample time to practice and prepare I’m confident in them stepping in.
Moreover, Arkansas’ offense is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were at first of the season. In their last five outings, they’ve averaged 6.2 yards per play (YPP). And looking at the numbers, they possess one of the most consistent passing stats of any mid-tier SEC team, which just so happens to be LSU’s greatest weakness. For reference, four of the five teams the Tigers have played, put up either their best or second-best passing outputs of the season. They’re also giving up 7.2 YPP on the season.
Put simply: 2019 LSU’s defense was slight above average, and most of those significant players are gone. That team’s reserves (otherwise known as this team’s significant minutes players) aren’t nearly as talented or capable. So even though they’ve had ample time to prepare, I don’t think it will even matter in this one.
Kentucky at #1 Alabama (ALA -30.0, O/U 58.0)
Last Week’s Recap: Kentucky escaped 38-35 against the Commodores. Alabama didn’t play.
Alabama by a million. They haven’t played since Halloween and have had to sit on their number one ranking not able to do anything with it. They’re going to want to come out and dominate Kentucky early and fast, and they will. Their offense has still yet to score under 38 this year, and Kentucky just gave up 35 to Vandy. The Wildcats’ defensive numbers are also boosted given the fact they’ve gone against mostly the worst offenses in the conference to this point.
It’s difficult to trust an offense who put up a measly combined 371 yards against Missouri and Georgia. It’s also apparent that since the Ole Miss game in week 3, the Tide’s defense has improved drastically. That, coupled with their extra preparation and rest, doesn’t bode well for an inconsistent Wildcat offense. I’d also argue they were more prone to being beat through the air, but Kentucky can’t really count on any of their quarterbacks to do great against any defense other than Vanderbilt. This feels like a classic game where Nick Saban has his team reared to go and they have this game covered by halftime. Alabama -30 in a matchup where I expect them to remind us why they’re #1.
Tennessee at #23 Auburn (AUB -10.5, O/U 50.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Neither team played the previous week.
Since the Georgia game week two, Auburn’s been running around and through everybody. Tennessee’s headed in the absolute opposite direction in that same timeframe, though. And Bo Nix at home is like a completely different quarterback than when they’re on the road (in a good way). At home, Nix completes 61% of his passes and has a 20:0 TD to interception ratio. Compared to 55% completion and a 14:10 ratio on the road… That’s a remarkable difference. Tennessee’s secondary has also battled injuries and inefficiencies to this point on the season as well.
Oh, and I’ve somehow left this out until now as well, but Jarrett Guarantano has officially been listed as the top quarterback again this week. Great. Incredible. Awesome. Every UT fan will now rejoice. Okay, I’ve gone back and forth between what play I want to make here, but I think I’ll continue to ride against the Tennessee spread until they prove themselves otherwise. Especially considering how well Auburn’s defense played against LSU and the fact that they probably only need to score around 20 to win the game.
There’s just absolutely no reason to trust the Vols right now given the decisions they’re making. And until Jeremy Pruitt and Jim Chaney show that they can adapt to try and save the season, I can’t pick in favor of them. Auburn wins by two-plus touchdowns. Auburn -10.5.
Mississippi State at #13 Georgia (UGA -25.0, O/U 44.5)
Last Week’s Recap: Neither team played last week.
J.T. Daniels will officially get the start this weekend. What’s also noteworthy is MSU now rostering just 54 scholarship players. The Bulldogs (MSU) began the season with one of the nation’s top rushing defenses, which has slowly regressed and is now more than susceptible on the ground. A&M and Bama had their way and Vanderbilt just posted 150 ground yards against them as well. It feels like Georgia will begin the game especially keen on opening the ground game up to get Daniels comfortable and loose on the field. Meanwhile, MSU hasn’t posted 300 yards of offense in four straight outings, gaining just 3.5, 3.6, 3.2, and 3.6 YPP, respectively. In Georgia’s off week you’d have to imagine they planned emphatically against the air raid especially knowing they’ll keep MSU in down and distances the whole game.
Also, we need to take into consideration that these are the games Georgia’s defense lives for, especially after getting routed against Florida in a big game two weeks ago. I’d be hard-pressed to imagine State putting up anything meaningful in this one where their season is clearly lost, though I’m not sure if I like the under or Georgia spread more here. Another aspect of this game that’s important to note is Georgia’s top SEC sack defense. And although Leach’s offense has checks and balances to protect against many sacks, Georgia will be applying pressure all game long.
This does feel like a game where Georgia wins by 3-4 touchdowns, but that’s right on the spread line so I don’t feel as comfortable betting it. My advice is to buy the half point to 45 for precautionary measures and take the under. MSU shouldn’t score more than 10, so the question then becomes if Georgia can score 35+ which I’m not sure they will in J.T. Daniels’ first game back. Under 44.5.
Missouri at South Carolina (MIZ -6.5, O/U 56.5)
Last Week’s Recap: South Carolina lost 42-59 against Ole Miss, while Missouri didn’t play.
Muschamp is gone, the Gamecocks defense is in shambles, and Mizzou will be back again after a lengthy break in play. Whether it’s injury issues, the defense being on the field too long, or lack of effort, I’m not sure, but South Carolina’s defense has been getting torched. They’ve also given up 30 points in all but two games this year. And the last time Missouri had this long to prepare for a game they came back and upset Kentucky 20-10, only allowing 142 yards of offense. The main concerns here are Missouri’s lack of depth and how much better they play at home. Okay, so let’s assume Missouri gets to at least 30 points. I don’t think they’d keep up with Missouri in that scenario, and here’s why.
Missouri’s defense has been most vulnerable against great quarterbacks who’ve been able to pick them apart and let the rest of the offense fall into place. South Carolina doesn’t have that. And while Missouri’s run defense has just been mediocre, the Gamecocks rushing game has been thwarted against every decent defense they’ve played. So, when you aren’t running the ball well or have a viable air threat, how many points would you score? In short, the answer is not very many. My guess is around 20.
Missouri will come out swinging doing their best to get to .500 on the year. And I wasn’t talking about their offense. I have great faith in this coaching staff and first ranked third down defense to be more than capable of stopping South Carolina. Missouri -6.5 is the official play.
Written by Nick Swatson and Alex Hill
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