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SEC Football: Week 1 Winners Against the Spread

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SEC Football: Picking Winners Against the Spread for Week 1

Woody's Log Week 1 Open
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Well, today is finally here! The official start of the 2013 College Football is just hours away!

And you know what this all means? One, zero work is going to get done today in the corporate world. Two, everyone and their sister is frantically trying to finish their office pool for week one. Three, happy hours at the local watering hole just got a lot more interesting for the next six months.

So with all that in mind, it is time to dust off the old prognostication machine and prepare to make you all winners in 2013. Big time winners on anything and everything when it comes to the SEC.

And you are not just getting some airbag of a wannabe Vegas shark either as this guy finished with a 59-33-1 mark in 2012. So what if it was mostly ACC Football games? You have to start somewhere, right? Plus, the ACC practically plays an SEC team every week so it was almost like picking the SEC as well.

This will be a weekly column this sports writer likes to call Woody’s Log that will come out on Thursdays or Fridays to help you navigate where you need to place your money for the week in order to take the family out to Bennigans on Monday. It will be a progressive column each week that will have a lot of humor along with bona fide winners. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself (even if you are the King of Vegas) then you probably just need to pack up your bags and head to Miserable-ville and leave the rest of us alone.

So buckle up, open up your betting browser next to this column or break out the old pen and paper because it is officially time to jump into the winners of the 13 games in the SEC for Week 1 in ole Woody’s Log.

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No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels vs No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks (-12.5)

UNC vs SC
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels at No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks (-12.5)

Thursday, 8-29-13, 6 p.m.

ESPN - XM 91 - Sirius 91

Can it get any better than this to kick off the 2013 College Football season with a solid SEC versus ACC Football matchup featuring the No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels at the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks?

North Carolina is a solid up-and-coming team in the ACC that could easily be in the ACC Title game this season. Head coach Larry Fedora has done great things and enters his year two opener looking for his first signature win.

On the flip side of the ball is the Old Ball Coach; Steve Spurrier who knows he has all the pieces to make a run for the SEC crown as well as a BCS national title. It is the signature game, the first official game of the 2013 season, and Spurrier will have his Gamecocks ready to put on a show.

And with the points set at South Carolina giving 12.5 at home, something is bound to give.

Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks defense will shine early in the first quarter, but Bryn Renner and the UNC high tempo spread offense will take control during the middle of the game. North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron and running back A.J. Blue have the beef to take on Clowney that will allow Renner to shine.

But in the end, the SEC always finds a way to beat the ACC. Connor Shaw or Dylan Thompson will have a huge fourth quarter and Clowney will probably make a game-winning play as the Gamecocks hold off the Tar Heels 34-31 to win the game but they won't cover.

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Ole Miss Rebels at Vanderbilt Commodores (+3)

Ole Miss vs Vandy
Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss Rebels at Vanderbilt Commodores (+3)

Thursday, 8-29-13, 9:15 p.m.

ESPN - XM 91 - Sirius 91

So the nightcap to finish off the opening evening of College Football once again features the SEC in an early conference battle for supremecy between the Eastern and Western divisions as the Ole Miss Rebels travel to face the Vanderbilt Commodores.

A game of the senior up-and-coming Commodores versus the junior up-and-coming Rebels.

Vandy opened giving 1.5 points to Ole Miss, but all the activity recently has shifted the line to the Rebels on the road giving 3 back to the Commodores. But what does all that mean?

To be honest, who knows at this point? It is the first game of the season with two pretty evenly matched teams from a talent standpoint that have some young players who will make mistakes and mature right before our eyes this year.

Both Vandy head coach James Franklin and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze will have their teams ready to go and this could be one of those amazing overtime games folks talk about for a long, long time.

In the end, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has more experience than Vandy’s first-year signal-caller Austin Carta-Samuels and, despite not starting, top incoming freshman Robert Nkemdiche will make a game-saving play as the Rebels cover and take out Vandy, 38-33.

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Toledo Rockets at No. 10 Florida Gators (-23.5)

Toledo vs Florida
Derick E Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Toledo Rockets at No. 10 Florida Gators (-23.5)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 12:21 p.m.

SEC Network - XM 201 - Sirius 136

The first game to kick off the big action on Saturday will have the Toledo Rockets traveling to The Swamp to try and tackle the 10th-ranked Florida Gators.

There is no doubt that Florida head coach Will Muschamp wants to handle things very cautiously with his players who have constantly been nicked up since the spring. But this is a luxury he may not be able to afford as the Rockets are far from a pushover due in large part to senior quarterback Terrance Owens, who will be a name fans in Gainesville and watching on the SEC Network will be tired of hearing by around 3:00 p.m.

But The Swamp will be hot and humid and the Gators will find a way to pull the game out despite Toledo’s talent and Florida looking ahead to the matchup next week against the Miami Hurricanes.

Florida wins, 33-24, but does not cover.

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Rice Owls at No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies (-26.5)

Rice vs A&M
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Rice Owls at No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies(-26.5)

Saturday 8-31-13, 1 p.m.

ESPN - XM 199 - Sirius 93

The battle between the Rice Owls and No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies is really nothing to write home about, but it will end up being one of the most watched games on Saturday thanks to the NCAA and their idiotic suspension of Johnny Manziel for the first half.

Manziel was probably going to be sitting much of the second half in this game anyway, so I guess the Aggies and the NCAA figure it would be good to teach him a lesson by trotting out in the second half of a blowout game to sweat a gallon of perspiration in College Station. Let’s just hope and pray this doesn’t lead to an injury for Manziel who will be playing with and against mostly second-string competition at that point.

Matt Joeckel will step in and look amazing with all the weapons he has around him with the Aggies. Manziel will come in to clean things up as A&M rolls 58-22 to win and cover.

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Mississippi State Bulldogs vs No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-12.5)

Miss St vs Ok State
Derick E Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-12.5)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 3:30 p.m.

ABC/ESPN2 - XM 91 - Sirius 91

And here is the first intersting major SEC out-of-conference matchup of the day as the Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to tangle with the No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Bulldogs are a lower, middle-of-the-pack SEC team this year that will be getting 12.5 points against the Cowboys, who are preseason favorites to win the Big 12. But can you ever really count out the SEC or even make them a double-digit underdog on the road, or really anywhere?

This game will provide a ton of motivation for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen as he will have his players ready to show the nation just how deep and talented the SEC is from top to bottom. Plus, the game will be in Houston and not in Stillwater which is huge for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State fans will travel just as well as Oklahoma State fans and when you add the fact Bulldogs senior quarterback Tyler Russell might be the best signal-caller the Cowboys will face all season, that 12.5 cushion looks pretty good for Mullen.

The Bulldogs hold on late, win and cover, 27-25.

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Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at Arkansas Razorbacks (-10.5)

Louisiana-Lafayette vs Arkansas
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Arkansas Razorbacks (-10.5)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 4 p.m.

Fox Sports Net - XM 201 - Sirius 136

The Bret Bielema era will get off and rolling in front of the home folks in Fayetteville as the Arkansas Razorbacks host the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

This will be an interesting matchup to see exactly what kind of impact Bielema has had on the Arkansas program since he arrived. The Ragin’ Cajuns are a very talented team led by junior quarterback Terrance Broadway and are one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt.

The Razorbacks will be challenged early and often, but there is no way the no-nonsense Bielema is going to let his team lose this game. Arkansas wins and covers, 34-21.

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No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs Virginia Tech Hokies (+20)

Bama vs Va Tech
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs Virginia Tech Hokies (+20)

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic

Saturday, 8-31-13, 5:30 p.m.

ESPN - XM 199 - Sirius 86

The last time we left the Alabama Crimson Tide they were wiping their shoes off after squashing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to retain their No. 1 ranking. And not much has changed since in Tuscaloosa.

A.J. McCarron is still the quarterback, Nick Saban still is the best coach in the game and the Tide is loaded three deep at every position.

So with all that being said, how in the world is one of the historically better teams in ACC Football in the Virginia Tech Hokies supposed to even hang with the juggernat that has become Alabama? There is no doubt Hokies head coach Frank Beamer has done everything in his power to prepare his team to take on the challenge of the best team in the SEC and the nation.

But 20 points? It just stinks of a sucker bet, doesn’t it? Anyone with any knowledge of College Football history knows Beamer is not Ron Zook. Virginia Tech does have a intriguing talent in senior quarterback Logan Thomas and some very talented players across the board, so they should be able to stay within 20 points, right?

Here is one lesson to learn early about Vegas and Alabama: This line has gone up from where it started at -18 for the Tide. Most every other line in the country has gone down, which means the money has started and stayed with Alabama. You might even see this line continue to move up before kickoff.

Bottom line, 20 points is just three touchdowns to cover. And Saban has had eight months to prepare for the Hokies.

Long story short, Alabama will win and cover, 38-17.

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Austin Peay Governors at Tennessee Volunteers (-50)

Austin Peay at Tennessee
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Peay Governors at Tennessee Volunteers (-50)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 6 p.m.

Local/PPV - XM 196 - Sirius 136

Yeah, we won't be spending much time on the Austin Peay Governors traveling to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.

Let’s just say Volunteers Head Coach Butch Jones will make a big orange splash in his first game in Knoxville. Take Tennessee to win and cover despite the -50 points, 62-10.

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Washington State Cougars at Auburn Tigers (-16)

Wash St at Auburn
J.D. Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State Cougars at Auburn Tigers (-16)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 7 p.m.

ESPNU - XM 203 - Sirius 158

And here we have the big matchup of the week between the SEC and the Pac-12 as the Washinton State Cougars travel across the country to take on the Auburn Tigers. This is a contest between two schools that are about middle-to-the-bottom of their respective conferences, which means it's a pick‘em game, right?

Well, it looks like Vegas knows something the rest of us don't realize as the game has been right around the -16 mark for Auburn since it opened. But still, it has you scratching your head thinking this is an easy bet with the Cougars getting 16 points, right?

This guy agrees totally. The Tigers will win the battle of the big cats but they will not cover, 34-24.

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Kentucky Wildcats (-4.5)

WKU at UK
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Kentucky Wildcats (-4.5)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 7 p.m.

ESPNews - XM 192 - Sirius 132

Normally this would be another quick game that we would just fly over, but there is something special brewing as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers come calling to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. And that brew is a strong-willed, poor motorcycle driver in Hilltoppers head coach Bobby Petrino taking on the first-year savior of the program in the Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops. This game just has grease fire written all over it.

And with the points being only with Kentucky giving 4.5, one would have to think Petrino will have his team ready to make a statement. The side bet is to see how many jokes ESPN will make about Petrino and his Big Red Machine.

Anyway, Kentucky pulls out the win, but does not cover, 33-31.

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Murray State Racers at Missouri Tigers (-40)

Murray St at Mizzou
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Murray State Racers at Missouri Tigers (-40)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 7 p.m.

Local/PPV - Sirius 139

What can you say exactly about the Murray State Racers taking on the Missouri Tigers?

Murray State has a new quarterback in KD Humphries who will make his first start on the road in the SEC. Oh, and the Racers' defense gave up an average of 513 yards per game last season and they will be facing Missouri senior suarterback James Franklin, who knows how to put up points and yards in a hurry.

The Tigers win and cover, 66-13.

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No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs at No. 8 Clemson Tigers (+1.5)

UGA at Clemson
Daniel Shiry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs at No. 8 Clemson Tigers (+1.5)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 8 p.m.

ABC - XM 200 - Sirius 138

Folks, it just does not get any better than this game for the beginning of the 2013 College Football season! It has every single thing you want when it comes to a power football game as the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs travel to Death Valley to match talent and wits with the No. 8 Clemson Tigers.

It’s two of the best teams in the nation that have a shot at playing again in the final game of the season for all the marbles. It’s SEC versus ACC Football. It’s Aaron Murray versus Tajh Boyd. It’s the cool poker face of Mark Richt versus the enthusiam of a fraternity social chair in Dabo Swinney. It’s two old brothers getting back together for some good ole southern football.

So if you can’t get a little fired up for this game, then you can send in your college football fan card to my attention.

But the best thing about this game is that it will live up to the hype. The over is one of the highest of all games this week at 70.5. This is not because both defenses are bad; it's just simply because both Georgia and Clemson are probably 1A and 1B when it comes to offenses in the entire game.

This guy has been all over the map with this game for the past few months. Death Valley at night is a tough place to win, but Georgia has the experience to overcome what the Tiger faithful can do to disrupt things.

The game will come down to turnovers and whether Malcolm Mitchell or Sammy Watkins makes a play late. Let’s just say it goes into five overtimes and Georgia pulls off the win and covers, 48-45.

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No. 12 LSU Tigers vs No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs (+4)

LSU vs TCU
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 LSU Tigers vs No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs (+4)

Saturday, 8-31-13, 9 p.m.

ESPN - XM 199 - Sirius 93

And what better way to finish up a great first weekend than a battle in Jerry’s World that features the No. 12 LSU Tigers and the 19th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs. This is a comparable battle between the SEC and the Big 12 that should be a very fun watch.

Personally, this guy hates any line at 3.5 or 4, especially when you have a couple of decently matched teams. They'll be at least decently matched for about three quarters because there is just no way TCU can run for four quarters with any SEC team.

But there is a great chance the Horned Frogs jump out early by a few scores off maybe a turnover for a score. Eventually, Zach Mettenberger will find the gaps in TCU’s 4-2-5 (nickel) defense while the LSU defense will settle in nicely by the fourth quarter.

Les Miles's bunch pulls off the win and covers, 27-20.

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.