SEC Week 4 Spread Previews and Predictions

Dale Zanine-US Presswire

In Week 4 of the illustrious new SEC season, there are several games with a variety of different spreads.  Picking the winner in many cases isn’t too taxing, but trying to come out even on the odds is always a challenge.  In this weeks’ preview, we attempt to look at some of the vital areas that will impact each game and what they’ll mean to Vegas.

 

Mississippi Rebels @ Tulane Green Wave – 12:00pm ET, Fox Sports Net
Spread Average:  Mississippi -19
Ole Miss had some great offensive production that was fueled by some big plays against the Texas Longhorns last week.  Despite losing, they scored 31 points against the Longhorns who are 32nd in total defense.   Mix that in with the fact that Ole Miss’s rushing attack is ranked 19th in the FBS, and you have all the elements in place for people in Oxford to talk about this being a rising year.  Tulane on the other hand, may be the worst team in the entire FBS.  Getting blown out by conference opponent Tulsa hasn’t helped their statistics, but they are averaging an FBS worst 7.5 rushing yards per game.  My heart goes out to Tulane for having to deal with the emotional injury of safety Devon Walker.  In a move of true class, Ole Miss players will be wearing “DW” decals on their helmets.
Spread Call: OVER

 

Kentucky Wildcats @ Florida Gators – 12:21pm ET, SEC Network
Spread Average: Florida -24.1
Kentucky didn’t come in to 2012 with a whole lot of expectations, but already losing both of their in-state games has absolutely deflated their already small balloon.  Recruiting possibilities have been shattered.  Florida has had perhaps the biggest in-season turn around in the NCAA, going from marginally defeating the Bowling Green Falcons at home, to winning a tough game in College Station against the Texas A&M Aggies, to going to Knoxville and defeating a tough, ranked Tennessee Volunteers team soundly.  But this game, my friend, it’s all about matchups.  While Florida carries an average passing defense, the Wildcats shockingly are 13th in the FBS with 322.0 passing yards per game.  Florida will win this game at home, but it will be closer than people think.
Spread Call: UNDER

 

Missouri Tigers @ South Carolina Gamecocks – 3:30pm ET, CBS
Spread Average: South Carolina -10
Revenge will be the name of the game for the Gamecocks, who are looking to avenge a 2005 Independence Bowl loss to Mizzou.  You might be saying, “Yeah, but that was seven years ago,” and it was, but there has been no shortage of inspirational talk by alumni and former players, using the 2005 game as motivation to the current team who may be overlooking an opponent they aren’t very familiar with.

Missouri’s strong point is their defense, one which will have weak-side linebacker Zaviar Gooden back in the fold.  They will need all the help they can get though, because even if Connor Shaw can’t play or gets injured in this game, Dylan Thompson has proven that he is no slouch.  Mizzou quarterback James Franklin will be back after missing last week’s win against the Arizona State Sun Devils, but hasn’t been able to do anything in line with the pedigree of quarterbacks that have come out of the program in recent seasons.
Spread Call: EVEN

 

Florida Atlantic Owls @ Alabama Crimson Tide – 4:00pm ET, Pay-Per-View
Spread Average: Alabama -49.375
Picking the winner of this game isn’t a problem, but picking against this spread is.  Although the Crimson Tide sent a message to the rest of the SEC with their 56-0 drubbing of Arkansas, playing against lowly Florida Atlantic will be more of a chance for Nick Saban to get his 3rd string guys some solid game experience.

Being well aware of what FAU’s Cory Henry said about how Alabama, “ain’t what people think,” this should have absolutely no impact on Saban’s desire to blow the Owls out of the water.  It’s just not necessary.  He’s a classy guy and doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone by destroying a small team over some player’s possibly misconstrued comments.  Vegas is going big based on last week’s game.  Florida Atlantic won’t score, but this contest will be more about fundamentals and teaching younger players.
Spread Call: UNDER

 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Arkansas Razorbacks – 7:00pm ET, ESPNU
Spread Average: Arkansas -8.625
Let’s just be nice and say that it’s been tough in Fayetteville.  For several months before the season started, you couldn’t convince an Arkansas fan that they didn’t have a dynasty on their hands.  Bobby Petrino’s exit meant very little.  But as many assumed and the stubborn are learning in agony, his exit has had everything to do with their overall success in 2012.  Now on the one hand, you can make the case about Tyler Wilson’s absence.  But if one player missing means you don’t score, and give up 52 points, you’re not a dynasty.

The feeling among the Arkansas players is as bad as it can be.  “There has been a lot of people jump off of the bandwagon and it is my job to keep everyone in this organization and this team in that locker room together,”  Wilson said following the Alabama game.  Rutgers on the other hand, is fired up like never before at the prospect of beating the Razorbacks on the road.  Rutgers is 3-0 and 5th in the FBS in scoring defense.  Not only am I calling under on this, I’ll go as far as to say I think the Scarlet Knights get a win in Fayetteville.
Spread Call:  UNDER

 

LSU Tigers @ Auburn Tigers – 7:00pm ET, ESPN
Spread Average: LSU -20.6
What I’m going to say here may stun some people, but LSU has not faced a team as good as Auburn this year.  Auburn lost to a Clemson Tigers team that I personally have picked to beat the Florida State Seminoles before the season started.  They also lost to a very good and unbeaten Mississippi State Bulldogs team, and beat who I believe is an even better Louisiana-Monroe squad.  There is nothing about Auburn’s team statistics that will jump out at you, but if you take a look at their individual performers it’s a different story.

Auburn running backs Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb  are both in the top-10 in overall rushing yards in the SEC.  The only other school that has two backs in that top-10 is LSU.  Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake outshines both LSU top performers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry in nearly every statistical category, and Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen is 4th in the SEC in receiving yards for a tight end.  Where most see a blowout for LSU, I’m seeing a game that will be a hard fought battle, making a 20+ spread seem a little rough.
Spread Call: UNDER

 

South Alabama Jaguars @ Mississippi State Bulldogs – 7:00pm ET, ESPN3
Spread Average: Mississippi State -34
I honestly believe that Mississippi State has a chance to start the year 7-0 going into their huge clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide, making it one of the biggest games in the Bulldogs’ history.  South Alabama will be no obstacle.  MSU is feeling extremely confident right now and is firing on all cylinders.

South Alabama brings very little to the table other than beating FCS’s Nichols State 9-3.  Unimpressive in nearly every category, they will likely finish under .500 in the Sun Belt.  The Bulldogs will roll in this one, and although they’re simply icing a cupcake, going through the motions and staying in form while they’re confident will be huge for upcoming games against the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers.
Spread Call: OVER

 

South Carolina State Bulldogs @ Texas A&M Aggies – 7:00pm ET, Fox Sports Net
Spread Average: Texas A&M -51
Texas  A&M is still mad about losing to the Florida Gators, despite the 48-3 dismantling of a decent Southern Methodist Mustangs team a week ago.  South Carolina State is the traditional powerhouse of the MEAC, but going to Kyle Field will not do them any favors.  A&M are a team who look very strong all-around, giving them the largest spread of any SEC team.  A ranked Arizona squad beat SC State 56-0 a week ago, and I think that A&M’s frustration that’s still spilling over from the Florida game will be vented straight at the Bulldogs.
Spread Call: OVER

 

Akron Zips @ Tennessee Volunteers – 7:30pm ET, Comcast Sports South
Spread Average: Tennessee -32.9
In three games, Tyler Bray has exactly 900 yards passing and eight touchdowns.   Their defense has been average, and their rushing attack isn’t stunning, but it doesn’t need to be with Bray playing so incredibly well; he’s making the Vols look really good when they have the ball.  Losing to Florida last week was tough since they hung in there most of the game.

But here’s where it gets interesting…the Zips boast the nation’s 5th best passing attack.  Their quarterback Dalton Williams has passed for over 1,000 yards already in just three games.  Granted in losses to the Central Florida Knights and Florida International Golden Panthers, and in their 66-6 win against Morgan State Bears, but to say that the Vol’s defense is just going to contain them isn’t something I’m sold on.  Look for somewhat of a shootout in this, but obviously a Tennessee win.
Spread Call: UNDER

 

Vanderbilt Commodores @ Georgia Bulldogs – 7:45pm ET, ESPN2
Spread Average: Georgia -15.5
Both Vanderbilt and Georgia have picked up right where they left off in 2011.  For Georgia, it’s being in top form after starting the 2011 season 0-2, only to rattle off wins until the SEC championship game, where even then they started out well against the LSU Tigers.  Vanderbilt as well has found a way to lose the really tough fought close game just like last year.  Jordan Rodgers has looked okay, but Aaron Murray has looked stellar.

The big story for both teams has to be the intense play of Georgia defensive end Jarvis Jones who has thrown his hat in the ring as a likely front-runner for 1st team All-American.  Clearly the Dawgs have been the better team, and maybe even possibly looked to be in national championship form.  The spread is nice, and because this one’s in Athens, I have to say that it’s probably the likely outcome.  It’s just not fair for Vanderbilt, who really is one of the better teams in the country but just can’t get the W’s to show for it.
Spread Call: EVEN

Note: “Spread Average” is an average from the online odds makers SBGGLOBAL.com, BETONLINE.ag, 5dimes.eu, BOVADA.net and JustBet.cx.

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