Week 4 SEC Preview: It’s Separation Saturday in the SEC East, Who’s Georgia’s Biggest Competition in the Division?
I rounded back into winning form in week 3 even though my discipline of never betting on Georgia hurt me. As you may recall last week I wrote that a 15.5 point spread was too small for Georgia and South Carolina. But as a reversion to the norm and a return to normal disciplines (after my unorthodox #DYCPicks got absolutely crushed the week before), I commented, “Let’s get the conventional, disciplined pick out of the way first,” before picking South Carolina who at the time was getting 16.5 points. I’ll take that miss every day of the week and twice on Saturday and with a 32 point margin of victory for the Dawgs I really almost did get that twice on Saturday. I love it.
So here’s how I did last week:
|Week 3 Pick||Game Score||Result|
|Uconn +21||Missouri 9, Uconn 6||WIN|
|Nevada +34||Texas A&M 44, Nevada 27||WIN|
|LSU -7.5||LSU 45, Auburn 21||WIN|
|South Carolina +16.5||LOLOLOLOLOL||Loss|
|Arkansas =1-.5||Texas Tech 35, Arkansas 24||Loss|
|Florida -3||Florida 14, Kentucky 9||WIN|
|Alabama -6.5||Ole Miss 43, Alabama 37||Loss|
Week 3: 4-3
2015 Season: 15-12
Now let’s jump in. I’m writing this a little bit later than normal (early Thursday morning), so the lines are as of today. All lines via Caesars Palace accessed Via OddsShark.com. All games on Saturday.
Southern University at #7 Georgia, 12 P.M., SEC Network
A few quick notes here:
- There is no betting line on this game.
- This is not “Georgia Southern.” Don’t be so ethnocentric, Statesborians. This is Southern University, a historically black college from Baton Rouge that was founded some 26 years before Georgia Southern.
- The Jaguars, though playing in a smaller division, are pretty damn good historically. They claim 9 black college national championships, 18 conference titles and a .617 winning percentage. Most recently, they won the SWAC in 2013.
- This marching band is no. freaking. joke.
- Also not a joke: Willie Quinn. My dude returned a kick for a TD, caught a TD pass and threw a TD pass against Missouri Valley earlier this year. I’m writing an entire column about this guy for tomorrow. Not even kidding.
Lastly, Georgia should get the win here and open 4-0 for the first time since 2012 and just the second time since 2008.
UCF at South Carolina, 12 P.M., ESPNU
Man, heading into the season this was pretty damn intriguing. Now it’s just two old guys coaching against each other, except one of them (Spurrier) might have something to lose with a home loss to an 0-3 AAC team. UCF is probably about as good as an 0-3 team with a loss to an FCS opponent can be and when I say that I’m only condescending at 90-95% of my capacity. Because seriously, a one point season-opening loss hurts, this team shouldn’t have beaten Stanford (hell USC couldn’t beat Stanford) and a one point loss to Furman is literally as close as you can be to beating an FCS foe. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s pretty damn close to being 0-3 as well and was nowhere close to beating Georgia. The Gamecocks are favored by 15.0 points which is almost incomprehensible until you realize that (for the third time) UCF lost to an FCS team. But it still seems somewhat unlikely. I don’t know how a defense that porous and an offense that terrible can win any game by 15 points.
My Pick: UCF +15
#8 LSU at Syracuse, 12 p.m., ESPN
Why? Just why? This has, “Where’s your SEC West god now?” written all over it. I’m thinking something close at the half before Leonard Fournette Fournettecates (pronounced fornicates) all over the Orange
men. That’s not a total cheap shot at Syracuse, which could finish third in the ACC’s better division. It’s just what LSU does. But, that should keep Syracuse, the home team that might or might not have actual fans, within the spread.
My pick: Syracuse +24.5
Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS
This is Separation Saturday in the SEC East. So while the games might not be flashy they should be almost worthwhile because of the significance.
If you can tell the difference between Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and Missouri right now within the context of the 2015 college football season you must know something I don’t know. Sure, we may all have feelings about the general trajectories of these programs relative to recent years and future years, but I don’t have the slightest clue as to which of these teams has the leg up on the others. Further, having seen Vanderbilt and South Carolina already, I think it stands to reason that if Georgia is the favorite in the SEC East (and why wouldn’t the Dawgs be the favorite? They’re 2-0 in conference play, 2-0 within the division, one division win at home, one on the road, average margin of victory just shy of 25 points per contest), these four teams are vying for spots 2, 3, 4 and 5. I could make a case for any of these teams in any of these extremes.
So where would I put these folks?
Tennessee: There’s no way in hell the Volunteers slip to 5th within the SEC East. No way. Offensively, Josh Dobbs isn’t the Josh God folks hoped for (6.41 yards per attempt is childish), but Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara are quietly establishing themselves as Chubb/Michel-lite. It hurts that they’re on the road this week, draw Arkansas (which should be somewhere between the hype they opened with and the gutter they currently sleep in), Georgia and Alabama in consecutive games. That streak combined with a history of only moderate success in the Post-Fulmer Era makes a 2nd place finish unlikely. But third seems about right and that should be pleasing to Vol fans.
Florida: One of two things is happening right now: Either this program is collapsing from within in a way that only Georgia fans’ wet dreams could imagine (fourth place finish), or Jimmy Mac is changing the culture and these forced growing pains are making things weird but better (a finish as high as second in the East). At the end of the day, though, Florida probably looks like the second best team in the SEC East, at least in terms of resume. Sure, Tennessee boasted a “quality” loss, but no losses is better than a quality loss. Just ask Ohio State. And nobody was giving the Gators a fighting chance (for reasons beyond me) on the road at Kentucky, and if we assume that Kentucky belongs in this group of second-tier threats to the top of the mountain, then that win is significantly more impressive than anything Tennessee has done.
Florida opened as a 3 point favorite and is clinging to a one-point lead. I don’t know that either of these teams know how to win a close game so home-field advantage and general nastiness should come into play here. Florida is definitely more at home and arguably nastier.
My pick: Florida -1
Louisiana Monroe at #12 Alabama, 4 p.m., SEC Network
So many hot Alabama takes this week. My goodness it’s been fun. I have no hot take, because one of two things will happen with this team. Either 1. Alabama will correct mistakes (the way we expect a Saban team historically to correct mistakes) and/or realize that the mistakes against Ole Miss were outliers and non-repetitive issues and the Crimson Tide will get scarier every week; or 2. The hot takes will be right and we’ll realize that this is a mistake-prone team because Saban, Kiffin and Smart have lost their collective abilities to coach football players.
I don’t really have a reason to suspect option two yet, though I’d love to think differently in 10 days or so after the Georgia game. As it stands, I know that Bama lost to Ole Miss last year (even later in the year) before rallying back into the SEC Championship Game, winning in Atlanta and being one of four programs in the CFB Playoff. I know that in 2013, a play that was quite litarally miraculous was the only thing that kept Bama from winning the West and the SEC and I know that for Alabama the Sugar Bowl doesn’t matter if it isn’t on the path to a National Championship. I know that in 2012 Alabama lost a game in November and still won everything else that matters (SEC, Natty). The exact same scenario played itself out in 2011.
So no, I’m not worried about Alabama’s September loss. It happens.
My pick: Louisiana Monroe +38
#14 Texas A&M at Arkansas, 7 p.m., ESPN
Arkansas is only getting 7 points on this bad boy? Even though the line opened at 3.5, I can’t be tempted by 7.
My Pick: Texas A&M -7
Vanderbilt at #3 Ole Miss, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Let’s just get this out of the way: Ole Miss is going to lose two games along the way. It’s just going to happen. And for the sake of consistency, I can’t say, “Alabama played an uncharacteristic game that won’t likely be repeated,” here (which I just did) and then defend Ole Miss jumping from #15 to #3 because of Bama’s mistakes. Top six or seven? Sure. But 3? Nope. This seems like a sneaky Vanderbilt cover because I continue to think Vandy’s defense is respectable and Ole Miss has to be thinking about something other than Vanderbilt.
My Pick: Vanderbilt +28
Mississippi State at Auburn, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 2
Two weeks ago this would have been a matchup between #25 Mississippi State and #6 Auburn. Now it’s just Mississippi State and Auburn trying to avoid a 3-2 ballgame. I have absolutely zero conviction here so I’m going against the crowd which has moved the line from Auburn -3.5 points to Auburn -1.5.
My Pick: Auburn -1.5
#25 Missouri at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Separation Saturday, y’all. Let’s five this the Tennessee/Florida treatment.
Missouri: Missouri is the conventional pick to finish second (or just kill me if the Tigers finish first) in the SEC East, just because that’s kind of what they do. They have a completely random game against BYU for some reason, but the rest of their schedule is favorable so who cares about the non-conference stuff. They get Georgia on the road, but that was always going to be a loss. Most importantly, after the trip to Kentucky they get the rest of this pack (and South Carolina) at home. And from the west Mizzou draws a Mississippi State program that might lose to Auburn and an Arkansas program that is reeling. I don’t think this is a great team but this team has a great schedule.
Kentucky: Why do people talk themselves into Kentucky every single year? I’d be stunned if Mark Stoops doesn’t get another raise today or tomorrow just because there’s a weekend coming up and he needs some walkin-around money. The win over South Carolina was supposedly impressive but then South Carolina was beat to a pulp by a team that probably is good (but might or might not be great) in Athens. Kentucky can lose this ball game and fall to 1-2 in the SEC with games remaining against Auburn (probably better than Kentucky), at Mississippi State (probably better than Kentucky), Tennessee (most likely better than Kentucky), Georgia (definitely better than Kentucky) and Vanderbilt (worse than Kentucky now but who knows at the end of the year?). Kentucky will win one of those games (probably Vanderbilt) but are we going to celebrate 2-6 as marked improvement in conference play with that schedule? Keep in mind, Kentucky isn’t playing Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M or Ole Miss.
My pick: Missouri +3
That’s all I got/
Posted on September 24, 2015, in Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas, Auburn, Blog, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee, Texas A&M. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.