SEC Notebook - Week 2
September 7, 2018
By Brian Edwards
My Bookie.ag updated its odds to win the SEC Championship Game this week, with Alabama listed as the -140 ‘chalk.’ The next-shortest odds belonged to Georgia (+150), Auburn (+550) and the Gators, who saw their odds drastically reduced after an impressive debut to the Dan Mullen Era.
The rest of the odds look like this: LSU (12/1), Mississippi St. (12/1), Texas A&M (12/1), South Carolina (14/1), Missouri (25/1), Tennessee (35/1), Arkansas (55/1), Ole Miss (75/1), Kentucky (100/1) and Vanderbilt (500/1). Note: Ole Miss is currently ineligible for the SEC Championship Game and a bowl bid, but the school has filed an appeal that should be ruled on soon and isn’t expected to be granted.
The SEC West was a perfect 7-0 both straight up and against the spread in Week 1, covering the closing number by an average of 10 points per game. The lone outright loser in the league was Tennessee in its loss to West Virginia up in Charlotte. The SEC went 13-1 SU and 11-3 ATS overall.
Now let’s look at the Week 2 action around the SEC…
**Mississippi State at Kansas State**
-- As of early Friday night, most books had Mississippi State (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) installed as a seven-point road favorite with a total of 53.5. The Bulldogs opened as 8.5-point ‘chalk’ at most spots and the number moved up to 9.5 on Monday. Some shops got as high as 10, but the line starting steadily dropping Thursday afternoon. It was down to 8.5 by lunch on Friday and moved to seven shortly after 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The total opened at 54 points. The Wildcats were +230 on the money line (risk $100 to win $230).
-- Joe Moorhead’s debut came without star QB Nick Fitzgerald, the senior who was serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules back in March. This development was no help for Stephen F. Austin, the victim of a 63-6 beatdown from MSU in Starkville last Saturday. The Bulldogs took the cash as 47.5-point favorites. Fitzgerald is still undoubtedly the starter, but there’s no question that his heir apparent, true sophomore Keytaon Thompson, is someone who can win ballgames for you if Fitzgerald gets injured Thompson threw for 364 yards and five TDs without an interception against the Lumberjacks, in addition to rushing for a team-best 109 yards and two TDs on only 10 carries.
-- MSU senior RB Aeris Williams will be fresh for KSU. He only had to carry the ball twice last week for 15 yards. Williams ran for 1,107 yards and six TDs with a 4.7 yards-per-carry average in 2017.
-- Kansas State had a shaky season debut last week, beating South Dakota 27-24 thanks to 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to recover from a 24-12 deficit. With 12:12 remaining, the Wildcats got an 85-yard punt return for a TD by Isaiah Zuber to trim the deficit to 24-19. Then with 7:21 left, Zuber hauled in a 10-yard TD reception from QB Skylar Thompson. Bill Snyder’s club was minus four in the turnover department. Junior RB Alex Barnes rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries. Thompson completed 8-of-14 throws for 61 yards and one TD with one interception. He also ran for 58 yards on 11 carries, while QB Alex Delton produced 78 rushing yards on 12 totes. Delton connected on just 5-of-14 passes for 91 yards and zero TDs with one pick.
-- Kansas State last hosted an SEC team in 2014 when fifth-ranked Auburn came to Manhattan as a 7.5-point road favorite. The Wildcats dropped a 20-14 heartbreaker on that night. They’re winless in a pair of encounters with MSU, but the last meeting was way back in 1977.
-- Kansas State is 12-6 ATS as home underdog during Snyder’s second tour of duty at the school that dates back to 2009.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for noon Eastern on ESPN.
**Arkansas State at Alabama**
-- As of early Friday evening, most betting shops had Alabama (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) listed as a 36-point favorite with a total of 65.5.
-- Alabama is 4-13 ATS in its past 17 games as a favorite of 35 points or more. Since 2010, the Crimson Tide is 5-15-1 ATS in 21 games as a ‘chalk’ of 25.5 points or more versus non-conference opponents. Also, they’re 6-15-1 ATS when favored by 28.5 points or more since 2012.
-- Nick Saban’s squad trounced Louisville 51-14 as a 24-point favorite at Camping World Stadium in Orlando last Saturday night. The 65 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 60-point total thanks to a U of L touchdown with 1:55 remaining. Tua Tagovailoa completed 12-of-16 throws for 227 yards and two TDs without an interception. He also had 26 rushing yards and one TD on five carries. Jerry Jeudy had four receptions for 64 yards and a pair of TDs. The Tide covered for first quarter bets (-7) and first-half wagers (-14).
-- Arkansas State is 10-7 ATS in its past 17 games as a double-digit underdog. During Blake Anderson’s tenure, the Red Wolves are 4-6 ATS in 10 games as road ‘dogs.
-- Anderson’s team opened the season with a 48-21 non-covering victory over SE Missouri St. as a 32-point home favorite. The Red Wolves were led by senior QB Justice Hansen, who began his career as a four-star recruit at Oklahoma. Hansen completed 26 passes on 36 attempts for 423 yards and six TDs with one interception last week. He also ran for 31 yards on five carries. True freshman RB Marcel Murray had a team-high 54 rushing yards on 10 carries and also had two catches for 75 yards and one TD.
-- Hansen was the Sun Belt Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 when he threw for 3,967 yards with a 37/16 TD-INT ratio. He also produced 665 yards rushing yards (before subtracting 243 yards from sacks) and seven TDs. The Red Wolves finished 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS last year, dropping a 35-30 decision to Middle Tennessee as 5.5-point underdogs at the Camellia Bowl. They returned seven starters on offense and five on defense.
-- Arkansas State is 4-6 ATS in 10 games as a road underdog during Anderson’s tenure.
-- ESPN2 will have the broadcast at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
**Georgia at South Carolina**
-- Here’s your Upset Alert that could have national ramifications in Week 2. South Carolina (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) is 55-16 SU at Williams-Brice Stadium over the past decade. The Gamecocks are 3-2 ATS in five games as home underdogs during Will Muschamp’s three-year tenure.
-- As of Friday night, most books had Georgia (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) favored by 10 points with a total of 56. The Gamecocks were in the +300 neighborhood to win outright.
-- Muschamp’s team downed Coastal Carolina 49-15 as a 30.5-point home favorite in last week’s opener in Columbia. The Gamecocks outgained the Chanticleers 561-243 in total offense. Junior signal caller Jake Bentley, who is poised to make his 22nd career start Saturday, was sharp vs. Coastal Carolina. He completed 22-of-29 passes for 250 yards and four TDs without an interception. Senior WR Deebo Samuel, who had scored six TDs before going down with a season-ending injury (broken leg) in Week 3 last year vs. Kentucky, made a triumphant return to the field. Samuel had seven receptions for 56 yards and one TD, and he also an 11-yard run and 45 yards on a pair of kick returns. Rico Dowdle, one of three veteran RBs on the USC roster, had a 27-yard TD catch and rushed for a team-best 105 yards and one TD on 15 carries. Ty’Son Williams had 82 rushing yards and one TD on 11 totes, while Shi Smith had four catches for 63 yards. Bryan Edwards added four grabs for 53 yards and one TD.
-- UGA took it to Austin Peay in a 45-0 non-covering win as a 48.5-point home ‘chalk’ last week in Athens. The Bulldogs enjoyed a 508-152 advantage in total yards. Jake Fromm connected on 12-of-16 passes for 157 yards and two TDs without an interception. Justin Fields, a true freshman who was a decorated five-star recruit, completed 7-of-8 throws for 63 yards and one TD without an interception. Fields rushed for 33 yards on three attempts. Demetris Robertson, the former 5-star recruit out of Savannah who signed with California out of high school in 2016, had an impressive UGA debut despite getting only one touch. That touch came in the form of a 72-yard TD run.
-- UGA has compiled a 5-2 spread record in seven games as a road favorite on Kirby Smart’s watch.
-- UGA senior WR Terry Godwin missed the season opener due to a calf injury, but he’s been upgraded to ‘probable’ at USC. Godwin had 38 receptions for 639 yards and six TDs last year.
-- Georgia is 50-18-2 in the all-time series with three consecutive victories, including last year’s non-covering 24-10 win as a 23.5-point home favorite. Gamblers should keep in mind that Samuel wasn’t on the field that day, nor was LB Bryson Allen-Williams, who is now healthy.
-- CBS will provide the telecast at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
**Kentucky at Florida**
-- As of early Friday night, most betting shops had Florida installed as a 13.5-point favorite with a total of 51. The Wildcats, who haven’t tasted a victory in Gainesville since 1979, were +425 to win outright.
-- Dan Mullen’s return to Gainesville was a successful one last Saturday night at The Swamp, where UF cruised to a 53-6 win over Charleston Southern as a 43-point home favorite. Third-year sophomore QB Feleipe Franks enjoyed the best performance of his career, completing 16-of-24 passes for 219 yards and five TDs without an interception. The Gators led 38-0 at halftime, rushed for 203 yards on 39 attempts (5.2 YPC) and committed only three penalties for 20 yards. Van Jefferson, a former 5-star recruit to Ole Miss, had four receptions for 34 yards and two TDs. Another former 5-star recruit who transferred to UF from Ohio St., Trevon Grimes, had three catches for 50 yards and one TD.
-- Florida has won 31 straight games over Kentucky, including last year’s improbable 28-27 comeback victory as a 2.5-point road favorite. UF scored twice on plays when the Wildcats failed to put a defender on the WR split out wide. The first instance came late in the second half on fourth-and-three play at about midfield. The second came on third and goal (out of a timeout!) in the final minute when Luke Del Rio found Freddie Swain for a short TD pass. The ‘Cats missed a potential game-winning field goal from 56 yards out on the game’s final play.
-- Kentucky failed to cover the number in its 35-20 season-opening win over Central Michigan as a 17-point home favorite. The 55 combined points went ‘over’ the 50.5-point total on a four-yard TD run by UK’s Asim Rose on the first play of the final stanza. Terry Wilson, UK’s starting QB who is a juco transfer that originally signed with Oregon in the 2016 class, committed three turnovers and struggled mightily. He completed 11-of-18 throws for merely 78 yards without a TD and two interceptions. Wilson rushed nine times for 38 yards. Benny Snell led UK with 125 rushing yards and two TDs on 20 carries.
-- UF smashed UK by a 45-7 count in the last encounter two years ago in Gainesville.
-- Kentucky owns an 11-11 spread record in 22 games as a road underdog during Mark Stoops’s six-year tenure.
-- UK is Mississippi State’s annual rivalry game with an SEC East opponent. Mullen went 8-1 against the ‘Cats during his nine-year tenure in Starkville.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Vanderbilt will play host to Nevada from out of the Mountain West Conference at noon Eastern on the SEC Network. As of Friday night, most books had the Commodores favored by 10 points with a total of 61. The Wolf Pack was +300 on the money line. Vandy thumped Middle Tennessee by a 35-7 count as a three-point home favorite in last week’s opener. Kyle Shurmur threw for 170 yards and two TDs without an interception to pace the ‘Dores, who took the lead for good early in the second quarter on a three-yard scoop-and-score fumble return by Dare Odeyingbo. The 42 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 56.5-point total, as the Vandy defense held Brent Stockstill to only 178 passing yards. Nevada dealt out woodshed treatment to Portland St. this past Friday night, coasting to a 72-19 victory as a 28-point home ‘chalk.’ The Wolf Pack is winless in four previous trips into SEC country during its program’s history.
-- As of Friday night, most spots had Missouri (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) listed as a 19.5-point home favorite vs. Wyoming. The total was 52 for this 7:00 p.m. Eastern showdown on ESPNU. Barry Odom’s club smashed UT-Martin 51-14 as a 35.5-point home favorite in Week 1. Senior QB Drew Lock connected on 19-of-25 passes for 289 yards and four TDs without an interception. The Tigers will be without WR Richaud Floyd, who is recovering from a leg injury that’ll keep him out until at least late September. Floyd had 14 catches for 170 yards and two TDs last year. He’s most known for his special-team talents, averaging 19.8 yards per punt return with two TDs in 2017. Wyoming opened the season with a 29-7 win at New Mexico State, but the Cowboys lost a 41-19 decision to Washington St. last week as 3.5-point home underdogs. They led 16-13 at intermission but were outscored 21-0 by the Cougars in the fourth quarter.
-- In a third SEC-MWC showdown on Saturday’s docket, Arkansas travels to Ft. Collins to take on Colorado State as a 13.5-point road favorite. The total was 70 as of Friday night, while the Rams were +425 to win outright. The Razorbacks pushed past Eastern Illinois 55-20 as 35-point home favorites in Chad Morris’s debut as head coach. Ty Storey was the catalyst, completing 12-of-17 throws for 261 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran for 15 yards and one score on three attempts. Mike Bobo’s team is off to a terrible start, losing its opener to Hawaii 43-34 as a 17-point home ‘chalk’ before getting demolished by Colorado 45-13 in Denver last weekend. As a home underdog on Bobo’s watch, CSU has compiled a 3-3 spread record. The CBS Sports College Network will have the broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
-- Ole Miss went to Houston and captured a 47-27 win over Texas Tech in a pick ‘em affair last Saturday. I cashed an ‘over’ 66.5 ticket when the 74 combined points jumped above the number. The Rebels will welcome FCS foe Southern Illinois to Oxford for a 4:00 p.m. Eastern kick on the SEC Network. They were favored by 30 points at a few offshores on Friday night. The Salukis won a 49-10 decision at Murray State as 16-point road favorites last Thursday night. They faced one FBS opponent last season, losing 44-31 at Memphis.
-- LSU is on a short week after beating up on Miami 33-17 as a three-point underdog in Sunday night’s showdown at Jerry World in Arlington, TX. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Joe Burrow, the new starting QB who has two years of eligibility remaining after coming to Baton Rouge as a grad transfer from Ohio St., didn’t have flashy numbers against the Hurricanes. But that’s only because the Tigers got out to such a big lead early that the passing game wasn’t really needed. Nevertheless, Burrow certainly passed “my eye test’ with flying colors. Ed Orgeron’s team will host SE Louisiana at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. The Tigers were favored by 40.5 points at a couple of offshore shops Friday night.
-- Tennessee will take on East Tennessee St. at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network. The Buccaneers are coached by former Phil Fulmer assistant Randy Sanders, who played at UT and was recently on staffs at FSU and Kentucky. The Volunteers, who lost 40-14 to West Virginia as 10-point underdogs in Jeremy Pruitt’s HC debut in Charlotte, were favored by 37.5 point at a few offshores Friday night.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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