SEC Report - Week 11
November 10, 2017
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards owns a 46-30 record (60.5%, +13.3 units) in college football this season. Brian is ranked third in overall money out of 37 college-football handicappers on VI! Don't miss out on any of his pay-if-they-win-only selections for Week 12!
Auburn is technically alive for everything despite two defeats. This is evident by its 45/1 odds to win the College Football Playoff at most betting shops. Think about it: If Auburn beats Georgia and Alabama, it would win the West and get a rematch with UGA in Atlanta. If the Tigers could top UGA a second time, they would be SEC champions with a pair of wins over Georgia (currently ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings) and a win over Alabama (currently No. 2 in the CFP rankings).
Now I’m not implying – by any stretch – that those three things are going to happen. However, if they do, Auburn’s losses would be at Clemson (14-6) and at LSU (27-23). Therefore, the only one-loss team that would get in the CFP ahead of AU would be Clemson.
We only point this out to further clarify the ramifications of Saturday’s SEC showdown between Auburn and Georgia on The Plains at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
As of Friday afternoon, most books had Georgia listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 49. The Tigers were available on the money line for a +115 return.
Auburn (7-2 straight up, 4-3-2 against the spread) owns a 4-2 spread record with three outright victories in six games as a home underdog during Gus Malzahn’s five-year tenure. The Tigers are undefeated in four home games this year, going 1-1-2 ATS.
AU has won back-to-back games both SU and ATS since allowing a double-digit lead to get away in the second half of the loss at LSU. Malzahn’s bunch won at Arkansas (52-20) and then after an open date, it went to Texas A&M last week and captured a 42-27 victory as a 14.5-point road favorite.
Texas A&M took a 13-7 lead on a short field with 2:39 left in the second quarter, but Auburn went back in front 14-13 on a 53-yard TD pass from Jarrett Stidham to Darius Slayton with 1:36 remaining until halftime. Then the Tigers seized all momentum (and hooked up its backers for first-half wagers) when they got a blocked punt from Mark Miller, who recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a TD and a 21-13 edge at intermission.
Auburn tacked on two more TDs less than seven minutes into the third quarter and coasted to victory from there. Stidham completed 20-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Kerryon Johnson rushed 29 times for 145 yards and one TD, while Slayton had two receptions for 99 yards and one TD. Ryan Davis added seven catches for 80 yards and one TD, while Johnson had five grabs for 29 yards and one TD.
For the season, Stidham has connected on 66.8 percent of his throws for 1,996 yards with an 11/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Stidham, the former five-star recruit who played one year at Baylor in 2015 before transferring to AU, has nine TD passes compared to merely one interception in his team’s last six games.
Johnson is fourth in the nation with 16 TDs scored. He missed two games, however, so he’s actually No. 1 in the country in points scored per game (13.7 PPG). The junior RB has rushed for 868 yards and 15 TDs while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Johnson also has 13 receptions for 86 yards and one TD.
Johnson has become the featured back due to an injury-riddled campaign for junior RB Kam Pettway, who was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2016 when he produced 1,224 rushing yards and seven TDs. Pettway is currently sidelined indefinitely due to a shoulder injury. He had rushed for 305 yards and six TDs, but was only averaging 4.0 YPC in five games played.
Davis has been Stidham’s favorite target, hauling in 48 receptions for 461 yards and four TDs. Slayton has 13 catches for 401 yards and three TDs, while Will Hastings has grabbed 18 balls for 371 yards and three TDs.
Auburn is ranked ninth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 16.9 points per game. This unit is 14th in the country in total defense, 19th at defending the pass and 24th versus the run. Junior LB Deshaun Davis has a team-high 44 tackles to go with one sack, one tackle for loss and one pass broken up. Sophomore DE Marlon Davidson has recorded 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two TFL’s, two QB hurries, one PBU, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for a 33-yard return.
Georgia (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS) is 3-0 both SU and ATS on the road this season. As a road favorite on second-year head coach Kirby Smart’s watch, UGA has compiled a 4-1 spread record.
Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings for the second straight week. The Bulldogs won a 24-10 decision over South Carolina last week, but they never threatened to cover the 23.5-point spread. Jake Fromm completed 16-of-22 passes for 196 yards and two TDs without an interception.
Nick Chubb ran for 102 yards on 20 carries, while Sony Michel produced 81 rushing yards and one TD on 16 attempts. Terry Godwin had three receptions for 53 yards, while Javon Wims had five catches for 46 yards and one TD.
Fromm replaced former starting QB Jacob Eason early in the first quarter of UGA’s season opener when he sprained his knee. He has remained the starter since then, although Eason has been healthy and ready to play since early October.
Fromm’s play has made it a no-brainer for Smart to stick with him. The true freshman has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,459 yards with a 15/4 TD-INT ratio. Fromm has also rushed for 98 yards and three scores. Godwin has 19 receptions for 422 yards and five TDs, while Wims has 24 catches for 375 yards and four TDs.
Chubb has run for a team-best 867 yards and nine TDs, averaging 6.2 YPC. Michel has 710 rushing yards, nine rushing TDs and a 7.9 YPC average. Another true freshman, D’Andre Swift, has rushed for 388 yards and one TD while averaging 7.6 YPC.
Georgia is ranked fourth in the nation in total defense, seventh at defending the pass, fifth versus the run and third in scoring (11.7 PPG). This unit is led by junior LB Roquan Smith, who has a team-best 70 tackles along with 2.5 sacks, 0.5 TFL’s, three QB hurries, two PBU and one forced fumble. Senior LB Lorenzo Carter had recorded 32 tackles, four sacks, 2.5 TFL’s, six QB hurries and a pair of forced fumbles.
The ‘under’ is 6-3 overall for UGA, 2-1 in its three true road assignments. The Bulldogs have watched their games average combined scores of 48.2 PPG.
Since the ‘under’ cashed in Auburn’s first three games, the ‘over’ has hit in six in a row. Totals have been a wash (2-2) in AU’s home outings. The Tigers’ games have averaged combined scores of 53.8 PPG.
Georgia has won three in a row over Auburn and five of the last six both SU and ATS, including last year’s 13-7 triumph as a 10-point home underdog. Chubb rushed for 101 yards, Eason threw for 208 yards and the UGA defense limited AU to only 164 yards of total offense.
The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight head-to-head meetings between these bitter rivals and is 5-1 in the last six encounters.
OTHER SEC GAMES
Florida at South Carolina As of Friday afternoon, most books had South Carolina (6-3 SU, 5-2-2 ATS) listed as a 5.5 or six-point favorite with a total of 43.5 or 44. The Gators were +190 on the money line (risk $100 to win $190).
Will Muschamp’s second team at USC went ‘over’ its season win total of 5.5 before the end of October. In last week’s loss at UGA, Jake Bentley threw his first interception since a Sept. 23 win over La. Tech. In fact, he was picked off twice by the Bulldogs. Nevertheless, the true sophomore signal caller has led South Carolina to a 10-6 record in his 16 career starts. He has thrown for 1,986 yards this year with a 14/6 TD-INT ratio.
Since Muschamp took over, the Gamecocks are 2-4-1 ATS as home favorites, 0-2-1 in three such spots this season. They are 3-1 SU and 1-2-1 ATS at home this season, taking its only loss vs. Kentucky back in Week 3.
Florida (3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS) has lost four in a row while going 1-3 ATS in the process. UF fired third-year head coach Jim McElwain after a 42-7 loss to UGA two weeks ago. Randy Shannon, the former player, assistant and head coach at Miami, is serving as the interim head coach. His debut was a disaster last week at Missouri, where the home team spanked UF by a 45-16 count.
Shannon gave Malik Zaire, the grad transfer from Notre Dame, his first start of the season. Zaire completed 13-of-19 passes for 158 yards with one interception. He ran for 17 yards on six attempts. Lamical Perine had 66 rushing yards on 19 carries, in addition to catching four balls for 30 yards and one TD.
However, on the TD grab late in the fourth quarter, Perine injured his knee. He was still listed as ‘questionable’ as of Friday afternoon. Brett Heggie, UF’s second-best offensive lineman, went down at Missouri with a season-ending knee injury. Other starters who won’t make the trip to Columbia due to injuries include senior safety Nick Washington, sophomore LB Kylan Johnson, WR Kadarius Toney, DE Jachai Polite, DE Jordan Sherit, QB Luke Del Rio and leading rusher Malik Davis.
Totals have been a wash both overall (4-4) and on the road (1-1) for UF. The Gators have watched their games average combined scores of 49.0 PPG.
The ‘under’ is 6-3 overall for the Gamecocks, 2-2 in their home games. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 45.1 PPG.
CBS will provide the telecast at noon Eastern.
Alabama at Mississippi State
As of Friday afternoon, most spots had Alabama (9-0 SU, 4-5 ATS) installed as a 13.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 52.5. Gamblers could take MSU to win outright for a +400 return (risk $100 to win $400). Kickoff from Starkville is slated for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
Mississippi State (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS) is 11-10 ATS as a home underdog during Dan Mullen’s nine-year tenure. The Bulldogs are undefeated in five home games this year with a 4-1 spread record. The lone non-cover came in last week’s 34-23 win over UMass as 32-point home ‘chalk.’
MSU fell victim to the classic look-ahead situation against the Minutemen. In fact, Mullen’s team trailed by seven at intermission, prompting me to jump all over MSU as a 14.5-point favorite for second-half wagers. When the Bulldogs scored a pair of quick third-quarter TDs, I thought I was poised to cash an easy winner.
It didn’t go like that, though. In fact, I was fortunate that MSU forced a short field goal on a UMass drive into the red zone early in the fourth quarter. Then I just got downright lucky when Deddrick Thomas busted an 83-yard punt return for a TD with 5:00 left, as MSU won a 34-23 decision and covered the number on halftime bets (-7.5 adjusted).
Nick Fitzgerald threw for only 139 yards and was intercepted twice. To his credit, however, the junior signal caller ran for a team-best 135 yards and two TDs on 17 carries. For the season, Fitzgerald has run for 801 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 6.9 YPC. He has completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,459 yards with a 13/10 TD-INT ratio.
MSU is ranked seventh in the nation in total defense, eighth in pass defense, 23rd versus the run and 15th in scoring (18.0 PPG). Mullen made perhaps the best hire of the offseason when he snagged defensive coordinator Todd Grantham away from Bobby Petrino at Louisville.
Alabama lost senior leader and starting LB Shaun Dion Hamilton to a season-ending knee injury in last week’s 24-10 non-covering home win over LSU. Dion Hamilton had recorded 40 tackles (second-best on the team), 2.5 sacks, three TFL’s, two QB hurries, one forced fumble and two PBU. Dion Hamilton is the fourth Alabama linebacker to go down with a season-ending injury. On the bright side, star DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) has been upgraded to ‘probable’ at MSU.
Alabama is ranked second in the nation in total defense, first in scoring ‘D’ (9.8 PPG), second in run defense and ninth at defending the pass. The ‘under’ is 3-1 in its last four games.
Nick Saban’s squad has won eight of its nine games by 14 points or more. The only one-possession game it has played came in a 27-19 win at Texas A&M. This is its second-smallest spread of the season and its shortest number since being favored by 19.5 at Vandy in Week 4. Remember, the Tide was only favored by 7.5 against then-third-ranked FSU in the season opener in Atlanta.
Alabama has won nine in a row over Mississippi State, going 6-3 ATS during that streak. MSU last tasted victory over the Tide in 2007, Saban’s first year at the helm, when it won 17-12 as a four-point home underdog.
Arkansas at LSU LSU (6-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) had a 306-299 advantage over Alabama in total offense and easily covered the spread as a 20.5-point underdog in last week’s 24-10 loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tigers limited the Tide to merely 116 rushing yards on 36 attempts (3.2 YPC average) in a valiant defensive effort.
Ed Orgeron’s team returns home to face Arkansas as a 17-point favorite. The Tigers have won three of four home games, going 1-2-1 ATS. They took massive defeats to Arkansas in 2014 (17-0) and ’15 (31-14), but avenged those defeats with last year’s 38-10 win in Fayetteville. Derrius Guice torched the Razorbacks for 252 rushing yards and two TDs on 21 carries.
Arkansas (4-5 SU, 2-6 ATS) is a remarkable 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games as a road underdog. The Razorbacks will get starting QB Austin Allen back after he was sidelined for four consecutive games with a shoulder injury. Allen threw for only 152 yards and was intercepted twice vs. LSU last season. Allen has an 8/4 TD-INT ratio this year.
Bret Bielema’s fifth season at Arkansas has been a major struggle, one that has his job security (and perhaps that of AD Jeff Long’s as well) is major jeopardy. The Razorbacks have won back-to-back games, rallying from 24 points down to win on a last-second FG at Ole Miss two weeks ago. However, last week’s 39-38 victory over a one-win Coastal Carolina squad was nearly a disaster.
Arkansas had to rally from a 38-25 fourth-quarter deficit to pull out the ugly win as a 24.5-point home favorite. T.J Hammonds got the comeback started with an 88-yard TD run with 10:09 remaining. Then with 1:55 left, Cole Kelley scored on a one-yard plunge to provide the winning points.
The ‘under’ is 5-4 overall for LSU, but the ‘over’ has hit at a 3-1 clip in its four home outings. Meanwhile, the ‘over’ is on a 6-1 run for the Hogs to improve to 6-3 overall. They’ve seen the ‘over’ go 2-1 in their road assignments and their games have averaged combined scores of 66.0 PPG (regardless of the venue).
This is a noon Eastern kick from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge on ESPN.
Tennessee at Missouri Missouri junior QB Drew Lock is absolutely on fire, throwing 21 TD passes compared to merely three interceptions in his team’s last five games. For the season, Lock has completed 60.7 percent of his throws for 2,795 yards with a 31/9 TD-INT ratio. J’Mon Moore is his favorite target, hauling in 44 receptions for 740 yards and eight TDs.
Missouri (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) picked up its first SEC win in last week’s 45-16 destruction of Florida as a 1.5-point home favorite. The Tigers have won three in a row and even better for our purposes, they’ve covered the number in five consecutive games.
Since Barry Odom took over for Gary Pinkel before the 2016 season, Missouri is 5-5 ATS as a home favorite. The Tigers went 0-4 ATS in their first four home games this year, but they’ve taken the money in back-to-back home outings.
After missing three straight games with a shoulder injury, sophomore RB Damarea Crockett has been upgraded to ‘probable’ vs. UT. Crockett rushed for 1,062 yards and 10 TDs with a 6.9 YPC average to garner third-team All-SEC honors as a true freshman in 2016. In Missouri’s first six games this year, he had run for 481 yards and two TDs.
Tennessee (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS) is winless in three road games, but it has managed to produce a 2-1 ATS record. The Volunteers are 6-6-1 ATS as road underdogs during Butch Jones’s five-year tenure.
As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Missouri listed as a 12.5-point favorite with a total of 62. The Vols were +375 on the money line (risk $100 to win $375).
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Texas A&M will take on New Mexico at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU. The Aggies will be attempting to avoid a third straight loss after setbacks vs. Mississippi State (35-14) and vs. Auburn (42-27). They were favored by 17.5 at most spots late Friday afternoon. The ‘under’ had cashed in four straight A&M games until last week’s loss to Auburn saw the ‘over’ appear. As for New Mexico, it has seen the ‘under’ go 8-1 overall after hitting in four consecutive contests. The Lobos have dropped four in a row while going 1-3 ATS.
-- Vanderbilt (4-5 SU, 3-5-1 ATS) will face Kentucky in Nashville at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network. Most spots had Vandy favored by 2.5 with a 53.5-point total as of late Friday afternoon. The Commodores snapped a five-game losing streak with last week’s 31-17 win over Western Ky. as a 12.5-point favorite. I went 6-1 last weekend and my only loss was the ‘over’ in this game, with the 48 combined points sliding ‘under’ the 54.5-point total. The ‘over’ had hit in five straight for Vandy before last week’s result on the total. Ralph Webb, the all-time leading rusher in Vandy history even before his senior season started, led the ‘Dores with 104 rushing yards on 23 carries. Junior QB Kyle Shurmur threw for 220 yards and two TDs without an interception. For the season, Shurmur has a stellar 20/3 TD-INT ratio. Vandy has won four of the last six head-to-head meetings with UK, but it had covered the spread in five in a row against UK until dropping a 20-13 decision in Lexington as a three-point road ‘dog last year.
-- Kentucky (6-3 SU, 2-7 ATS) has won outright in two of its three road outings, going 1-2 ATS. The Wildcats have failed to cover the number in five straight games, including last week’s 37-34 home loss to Ole Miss as 3.5-point ‘chalk.’ The Rebels rallied to win thanks to a seven-yard TD pass from Jordan Ta’amu to D.K. Metcalf with five seconds remaining. In the losing effort, UK sophomore RB Benny Snell had 176 rushing yards and three TDs on 28 carries.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed in five consecutive Vandy-UK games.
-- Ole Miss (4-5 SU, 2-6-1 ATS) will take on UL-Lafayette as a 19-point home favorite at noon Eastern on the SEC Network. The Rebels, who are 3-2 SU but just 1-4 ATS at home this season, avoided a three-game losing streak with last week’s come-from-behind victory at UK. Ta’amu was sensational in his second career start for the injured Shea Patterson. The juco transfer hit on 31-of-40 throws for 382 yards and four TDs without an interception. During Mark Hudspeth seven-year tenure with the Ragin’ Cajuns, they’ve compiled a 19-11-1 spread record in 30 games as road underdogs.
-- The ‘over’ is 8-1 overall for Ole Miss after cashing in each of its last six games. The total vs. UL-Lafayette was up to 67 as of late Friday afternoon.
-- 5Dimes.eu currently has Alabama listed as a seven-point favorite vs. UGA in a potential matchup at the SEC Championship Game.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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