Florida was a preseason top 10 team, but the Gators still had plenty of doubters entering a highly anticipated matchup with Auburn last week. They showed why they deserved the early accolades with a 24-13 win.
The Gators gained just shy of 400 yards on offense, while their defense limited one of the nation’s best rushing attacks to 129 yards. Dan Mullen’s squad capitalized on big plays to give the Gators momentum they never relinquished. Repeating that performance away from the Swamp is a completely different kind of challenge.
There are few places more intimidating in college football than a night game at Death Valley. Unlike many previous performances at Tiger Stadium, LSU has a quarterback who is a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate. Joe Burrow’s 372.4 yards per game through the air rank second in the nation, and he’s ranked third in passer rating (216.16).
Florida’s defense is loaded with pass rushers and tied for third in the nation with 26 sacks. It must be at its best to keep the game close. The Gators have not faced a passing attack like this all season, and the only time they were challenged, Sawyer Smith helped Kentucky score 21 points in his first start to nearly pull off an upset in Lexington.
Florida had all of the right ingredients for an upset over Auburn, but bringing that momentum to Baton Rouge is easier said than done.
It’s never wise to bet purely off trends, but it’s also never a bad idea to bet against an inexperienced quarterback who has never seen a comparable challenge on the road.
Pick: LSU -13.5
Each team has been juggling quarterbacks over the last month. Tommy Stevens’ injury has given Garrett Shrader more opportunities for Mississippi State. Aside from a home win over Kentucky, Shrader has been inconsistent, with around a 50% completion rate. Unless Stevens plays the Vols’ home-field advantage and a confident Brian Maurer under center will be enough to cover.
Pick: Tennessee +7
The Aggies have not been efficient offensively since Auburn handed them a loss at Kyle Field. Unable to run the ball effectively or rely on Kellen Mond, the Tide should roll one of Nick Saban’s former assistants—
an SEC tradition unlike any other.
Pick: Alabama -16.5
Georgia has a knack for slowly grinding down opponents in the first half and blowing the game away late. The Gamecocks’ uptempo attack behind Ryan Hilinski should produce enough points to prevent Georgia from the late fourth quarter cover.
Pick: South Carolina +25
Missouri’s defense will have to adjust without Cale Garrett, after the frontrunner for SEC Defensive Player of the Year suffered a torn pectoral tendon against Troy. Even without Garrett, the SEC’s best defense (227.2 yards allowed) should have no problem slowing down the Rebels.
Pick: Missouri -12
Mark Stoops is 6-1 as a home favorite in the SEC, but he is 3-4 ATS in those meetings. UK likely wins, but I'll take the points.
Pick: Arkansas +6.5
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