Week 1: SEC Preview and Gambling Picks


I’d like to think this will get better as the season goes on, but part of what I love about college football is that every team changes so much year-to-year. Sure, it matters if your squad returns starters and if there’s continuity in the coaching staff and with the playbook, but at the end of the day 18-22 year-old beasts change a lot in short periods of time. So I’d expect this to be my worst week of predictions. Nevertheless, let’s do this.

Every week I’ll preview every game featuring an SEC squad. I’ll make an outright prediction and a pick against the spread. The lines I’m using come from The Action Network, and I’ll be posting my picks there on a weekly basis. Honestly, the results should be pretty watered down because there’s no way I’d actually bet on every SEC line available every week (and every Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchup), but for the sake of accountability you can follow along here on the app (it’s FREE).

 

THURSDAY GAME

8:30 p.m. Northwestern State at Texas A&M (SEC Network)

Look, this is a football game. That’s about as intriguing as I can make it. Interestingly enough, you can get a ticket for this contest for only $4 from Vivid Seats but I’m not here to tell you what to do with your evening if you’re in College Station. I suppose the intriguing storyline here is that Jimbo Fisher is now in town and in theory that should be worth watching. But Northwestern is not a state and frankly I don’t even care to look up which state is home to Northwestern State. As Chad pointed out on this week’s DudeYouPodcast, Northwestern State doesn’t even have a team page on ESPN.com. Obviously, this game doesn’t have a line. So there’s not much to do here, but Texas A&M will win by an obnoxious margin.

Pick: Texas A&M straight-up


 

SATURDAY GAMES

12:00 p.m. Coastal Carolina at South Carolina (-29.5) (SEC Network)

For the past few seasons, South Carolina football has seemed, in a word, distracted. The 2015 team was so distracted that head coach Steve Spurrier decided to walk away from the team. The 2016 team showed signs of promise (sort of) with wins over divisional foes like then-ranked Tennessee, but looked abysmal in too-close victories over Western Carolina (44-31), UMass (34-28) and East Carolina (20-15). That squad didn’t really care to show up against Clemson either (a 56-7 loss). Last year’s team was discernibly better, but the Gamecocks still found a way to lose at home against Kentucky and on the road to a Texas A&M team that canned its coach. Further, last year’s squad barely squeaked by Louisiana Tech (17-16), a joke of a Tennessee team (15-9) and a miserable Florida squad (28-20). So as wild as it may sound, I actually think this game matters for South Carolina. The Gamecocks will surely win, but a South Carolina team that is going to compete with Georgia in the SEC East needs to quickly and completely destroy Coastal Carolina. This needs to be a 40-point win in order to shake off the reputation of being distracted. I don’t have reason to believe they’ll do that, but I do think they can cover the 29.5 point spread.

Pick: South Carolina straight-up and South Carolina -29.5

 

12:00 p.m. Ole Miss (+2.5) vs. Texas Tech (in Houston) {ESPN)

A few years ago this game was expected to feature two of the brightest names in coaching—Ole Miss’s Hugh Freeze and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury. Alas, Freeze’s tenure with the Rebels was cut short by a potent cocktail of recruiting violations and hookers and Kingsbury, while flashy, has failed to establish himself as a ready-for-primetime coach. I’m not a huge believer in Kingsbury (I don’t think many folks are) and I’m generally not a big fan of the interim-to-full-time head coach transition (which is what Ole Miss has done with Matt Luke). My gut says that this could be an ugly early-season matchup mired by turnovers, penalties and mishaps, but I do think Ole Miss will have a talent advantage and will be more physical. In a more tactical and cleanly-coached game, those advantages might be somewhat mitigated, but if this is ugly I think Ole Miss stands to benefit. I like the under on the projected 67 point total and I like Ole Miss to cover the 2.5 point spread and win outright.

Picks: Ole Miss straight-up and Ole Miss -2.5

 

3:30 p.m. Georgia vs. Austin Peay (ESPN)

I’ve previewed this as much as I’m going to preview it. There is no line. Georgia cruises. #DawgsOnTop

Pick: Georgia straight-up

 

3:30 p.m. Tennessee vs. West Virginia (-10)  (in Charlotte) (CBS)

Two words: Will. Grier.

He’s my Heisman pick and I can’t abandon him before the season starts.

Pick: West Virginia straight-up and West Virginia -10

 

3:30 p.m. Washington vs. Auburn (-2) (in Atlanta) (ABC)

I previewed this game at length with a blog post and a podcast from the perspective of a Washington fan. As I mentioned on the pod, however, my prediction came from my heart not my head. To be clear, I’ll be cheering for Washington in this game, attending with UW alums and even wearing my Washington Jacob Eason jersey. But I think Auburn is going to be too physical for this Washington team. I trust Jarrett Stidham more than I trust Jake Browning in isolation, but I also think Auburn’s front-four will disrupt a very experienced Husky offensive line.

Picks: Auburn straight-up and Auburn -2

 

3:30 p.m. Central Michigan at Kentucky (-17) ESPNU

Central Michigan is a pretty decent MAC team and ended the 2017 campaign winning five of its last six. The Chippewas also garnered a win over Power 5 Kansas. CMU has big-play potential on offense and they’ve got a pretty underrated running back in Jonathan Ward. I don’t love anything that Kentucky does in football (they recruit with seemingly no roster planning, they give coaches long-term extensions for nothing and they deliver an inconsistent product). So, I have a hard time ever betting on Kentucky.

Picks: Kentucky straight-up but Central Michigan +17

 

4:00 p.m. UT Martin at Missouri (SEC Network)

No spread here, but this will be the first glimpse at what Derek Dooley can do as OC. I stand by my assertion that Mizzou didn’t bring in an offensive coordinator who would destroy what Drew Lock has going on in the passing game. As a refresher, in two years as a full-time starter Lock has thrown for 7,363 yards and 67 TDs. Last year, he was 10th nationally in passing yards, 6th in yards per attempt, first in TD passes and 5th in passer rating. Had the Tigers not started the season so slow (they lost five games in a row from September 9 through October 14), he might have gotten some Heisman hype. So yeah, I just have a hard time believing Mizzou would waste his senior year on a bad OC hire. Dooley sucked as a head coach at Tennessee, but that was the Volunteer administration’s fault as much as anyone’s. When Lane Kiffin left, they went after the anti-Kiffin and they honestly got him. They found a head coach with little-to-no track record, with no charisma and no chance to succeed. But that was when Dooley was the head coach. He might actually be a decent OC.

Pick: Missouri straight-up

 

4:00 p.m. Eastern Illinois at Arkansas (SEC Network)

The Chad Morris experience begins for Arkansas, but you’re a degenerate if you watch this game.

Pick: Arkansas straight-up

 

7:30 p.m. Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi State (ESPNU)

I’m not a believer in this Mississippi State team, but gratification in that take will be delayed. Undoubtedly the Bulldogs will crush SFA in a game that has no spread.

Pick: Mississippi State straight-up

 

7:30 p.m. Charleston Southern at Florida (SEC Network)

Mississippi State’s old coach, Dan Mullen, will begin his tenure at the Swamp simultaneously. I’m really interested to see what he does with this Florida program and will get a bit of a better peak against Kentucky next week, but this won’t tell us much.

Pick: Florida straight-up

 

7:30 p.m. Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (-3) (SEC Network)

Has anyone taken a surprisingly good thing and ruined it faster than Derek Mason? James Franklin won 24 games in three seasons coaching Vanderbilt. Mason has won six fewer games despite coaching one more season than Franklin. We don’t talk enough about that because we expect Vandy to be a bottom-feeder, but this team might need to look for another direction if it experiences another sub-.500 campaign in 2018. I do think this Vandy team has some potential in the passing game, and I’m oddly big on quarterback Kyle Shurmur. I think they’re going to get some big plays against the Blue Raiders.

Pick: Vanderbilt straight-up and Vanderbilt -3

 

8:00 p.m. Louisville vs. Alabama (-24) (in Orlando) (ABC)

Alabama is going to win this game convincingly. Make no mistake about it. But a 24-point margin seems large for an early-season game given that Alabama is restocking in the secondary and Bobby Petrino loves to score points. Note that I do think Bama is restocking as opposed to reloading in the secondary, because it’s going to take time (as in a few games). Jawon Pass, Louisville’s QB, is an all-time Great Name Guy and was offered by everyone and their mama coming out of Carver High School in Columbus, GA. As a back-up last year he connected on 70% of his 33 passes and threw for 2 TDs, 0 INTs and 238 yards. He’s got decent mobility too, but the sample size for that at the collegiate level is small (13 carries for 62 yards and a score last year). I think this will be closer than the spread.

Picks: Alabama straight-up but Louisville +24


SUNDAY GAME

7:30 p.m. Miami vs. LSU (+3.5) (in Dallas) (ABC)

This is a tough one for me. I don’t really trust Coach O and as a Georgia fan, I don’t have a whole lot of inherent confidence in Mark Richt heading into a big game. I think both teams will be fairly nasty on defense and I think this could be one of the worst quarterbacked games of the opening weekend. For some reason, though, I like Miami in an ugly game. Evil Richt is seemingly alive and well in south Florida, and he likes swampy games (even if they’re in Arlington, TX).

Picks: Miami straight-up and Miami -3.5

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on August 30, 2018, in Blog, Picks, SEC. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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