We’re smack in the middle of the college football season, and that means conference play is really heating up. Here’s a look at this weekend’s Southeastern Conference match-ups.
Georgia (-6.5) at Vanderbilt: The Bulldogs have both their pride and their roster bruised after last week’s loss to Missouri, and now, it appears they’re without star running back Todd Gurley again. On the other hand, will the Vanderbilt team we saw last year ever show up? The Commodores have played uninspired football all year, and it’s hard to jump on the VU bandwagon until we see a better effort. Georgia’s still got some offensive talent, VU hasn’t stopped any good offenses this year, and I look for Georgia to leave Nashville with a win. Georgia 37, Vanderbilt 27
South Carolina (-7.5) at Tennessee: I nailed Carolina last week, thinking that the Gamecocks, getting healthier and more experienced on defense, might be due to explode. Did I expect a 45-point road win at Arkansas? No, but it points to how good Carolina can be. UT is getting better, but doesn’t quite have the horses yet and it’s catching Carolina at a bad time. South Carolina 38, Tennessee 21
Florida (-3) at Missouri: This may be the toughest game on the board to pick, since both teams are missing starting quarterbacks, and Missouri’s biggest test was against a Georgia team at half-strength. With that many unknowns, the only thing we know for sure is this: Florida’s defense is one of the best in the country. I think that’s enough to give the Gators an edge, but again, I don’t bring a lot of confidence with the pick. Florida 20, Missouri 13.
Auburn at Texas A&M (-12.5): Neither team has much defense to speak of, and with Auburn, it’ll be interesting to see how well quarterback Nick Marshall performs after sitting out last week. The keys here is probably who wins the turnover battle, since both squads are going to move the ball, and whether Auburn can control the clock and keep Johnny Manziel off the field. The spread on this game is 12.5 and the over-under is 72.5, and I think that’s about right on both counts. Texas A&M 45, Auburn 34
Arkansas at Alabama (-29.5): After a sluggish first quarter, ‘Bama rounded back into form with a road blowout of Kentucky. Arkansas, meanwhile, hasn’t responded too well against good teams after a 3-0 start with three “gimme” wins. Look for Alabama to win going away. Alabama 40, Arkansas 7
LSU (-9.5) at Ole Miss: The Rebels’ hard-luck season continues with the latest brutal opponent coming to town. The Rebels darn-near upset LSU last year, and don’t match up terribly this time around, as coach Hugh Freeze has his bunch ready to play every week. The difference is explosiveness: Ole Miss has more of a ball-control offense, while LSU can make huge plays with quarterback Zach Mettenberger throwing to Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, and running back Jeremy Hill operating between the tackles. Ole Miss may put a scare into LSU because it excels at doing that very thing, but the Tigers are better than last year and just have too much talent. LSU 37, Ole Miss 30