SEC Notebook - Week 7
October 12, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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Imperial Palace Sports Book, Biloxi, MS.
**Florida at Vanderbilt**
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Florida (5-1 straight up, 5-1 against the spread) installed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 50.5. The Commodores were +240 on the money line (risk $100 to win $240).
-- Since dropping a 27-16 decision at home to Kentucky that ended the longest active winning streak in an FBS rivalry, UF has responded with four consecutive wins both SU and ATS. Dan Mullen’s squad is 3-1 in SEC play after winning 47-21 at Tennessee, 13-6 at Mississippi State and 27-19 vs. LSU in a three-week stretch. If the Gators can prevail in Nashville, they’ll take a 6-1 record and 4-1 mark in conference action into their open date that precedes the annual trip to Jacksonville to face Georgia.
-- Florida captured its biggest win since trouncing Ole Miss at home in 2015 by beating previously-undefeated LSU last week by a 27-19 count as a one-point home underdog. Brad Stewart’s pick-six late in the fourth quarter extended UF’s lead to eight and the defense sealed the deal with a fourth-down interception by Donovan Stiner.
-- Florida is getting incredible play out of DEs Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga. Polite leads the nation in forced fumbles with four and is in a second-place tie in the SEC with six sacks. He has also contributed 24 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, three passes broken up and one QB hurry. Zuniga is tied for fifth in the SEC with 4.5 sacks and has also made 22 tackles to go with three TFL’s and three QB hurries.
-- UF is ranked sixth in the country in pass defense, eighth in scoring ‘D’ (14.8 points per game) and 19th in total defense.
-- Florida third-year sophomore QB Feleipe Franks has exceeded expectations to date. In fact, he’s made me look like a dummy with his solid play over the past few weeks. For the season, Franks has completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,122 yards with a 13/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also had a 15-yard catch on a trick play on the go-ahead drive vs. LSU, and the Wakulla Co. HS (Fla.) product has run for 152 yards and one score.
-- Vanderbilt (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) has won three of four home games while going 2-2 ATS. Meanwhile, UF is 2-0 both SU and ATS in a pair of road assignments.
-- Vandy started the season with home wins both SU and ATS over Middle Tennessee (35-7) and Nevada (41-10). Then Derek Mason’s team went to South Bend and outplayed Notre Dame for four quarters, but a key red-zone turnover, a missed field goal and dropped passes at crunch time resulted in a 22-17 setback. Nevertheless, the Commodores took the money as 14-point underdogs.
-- Vandy is 0-2 in league play after losing 37-14 at home to South Carolina and 41-13 at Georgia last weekend. The Bulldogs covered the spread as 26-point home favorites.
-- Vandy senior QB Kyle Shurmur is completing 60.4 percent of his throws for 1,400 yards with a 9/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His favorite target is junior WR Kalija Lipscomb, who leads the SEC in catches (45), is fourth in receiving yards (496) and second in TD receptions (six).
-- Vandy owns a 9-7 spread record in 16 games as a home underdog during Mason’s five-year tenure.
-- I was in Nashville for this game two season ago when UF won a 13-6 decision but failed to cover the number as a 13-point road favorite. The 19 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 40.5-point tally. Teez Tabor’s late fourth quarter interception sealed the victory. Scarlett rushed 12 times for 55 yards and one TD. Shurmer got pulled after struggling for most of the game with only nine completions on 25 attempts for 82 yards and one interception. Lipscomb had three catches for 43 yards and Blasingame ran for 41 yards on five carries.
-- When these clubs collided at The Swamp last season, Florida picked up a fortunate spread cover as a 9.5-point home favorite in a 38-24 win. Facing a fourth-and-one play at Vandy’s 39, UF’s Malik Davis burst through the line and into the clear and scored on a 39-yard TD run. Although the backdoor was still open, the ‘Dores couldn’t answer with a score in the final minute. The Gators didn’t get ahead of the number for the first time until there was 14:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Perine had three rushing TDs, while Davis ran for 124 yards and two TDs on 17 carries. Davis remains out indefinitely after breaking his foot last month. Shurmur had three TD passes without an interception.
-- The ‘under’ is 5-1 overall for Vandy, 3-1 in its home contests. The Commodores have watched their games average combined scores of 49.2 PPG.
-- Totals have been a wash both overall (3-3) and on the road (1-1) for the Gators this season. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 48.8 PPG. -- The ‘over’ is 6-2 in the past eight of this rivalry.
-- This kick will be at 11:00 a.m. Central local time, noon Eastern, on the SEC Network.
**Texas A&M at South Carolina**
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Texas A&M (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS) listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 52. The Gamecocks were +115 on the money line.
-- South Carolina (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) overcame a 23-14 halftime deficit to pick up a huge 37-35 win over Missouri last week as a one-point home underdog. Since he took over as starting QB in Week 8 of 2016 as a true freshman, junior signal caller Jake Bentley had started 24 consecutive games. But after spraining his knee in a loss at Kentucky two weeks ago, Bentley was unable to go against the Tigers. Making his first career start, senior QB Michael Scarnecchia completed 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards and three TDs without an interception even though the second half was mostly played during a driving rainstorm. In fact, he completely outplayed Missouri senior QB Drew Lock, who most consider to be a sure-fire first-round NFL Draft pick this upcoming spring. Muschamp’s defensive schemes stymied Lock for a third year in a row, as he completed 17-of-36 throws (he connected on just 14-of-32 last year) for merely 204 yards with zero TDs and two interceptions. Deebo Samuel had four receptions for 88 yards and one TD, while Bryan ‘Mama Can’t Spell’ Edwards caught seven balls for 73 yards and a pair of TDs.
-- Despite Scarnecchia’s solid play in his starting debut, Muschamp has been clear all week that Bentley will get the starting nod vs. A&M. Bentley has struggled with a 7/6 TD-INT ratio. Edwards was playing on a sore ankle last week and most injury reports have him listed as ‘questionable.’ Ignore those reports as GamecockCentral.com owner Brian Shoemaker tells me Edwards “has practiced all week and is fine.”
-- Will Muschamp’s club is 2-1 both SU and ATS in three home outings. The Gamecocks are 4-3 ATS in seven games as home underdogs on Muschamp’s watch. Texas A&M lost a 45-23 decision at Alabama in its lone road assignment since Jimbo Fisher took over in College Station. The Aggies covered in backdoor fashion as 24.5-point ‘dogs.
-- Texas A&M handed Kentucky its first loss of the season in last week’s 20-14 overtime win over the Wildcats as a 4.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The Aggies enjoyed a 21-8 edge in first downs and a 390-178 advantage in total offense, but they let UK back in the game when Darius West recovered an A&M fumble and turned it into a 40-yard scoop-and-score TD with 4:17 remaining. Trayvon Williams rushed for 138 yards and one TD on 24 attempts, while Kellen Mond threw for 226 yards and two TDs with one interception.
-- Williams leads the SEC in rushing yards (720), has seven rushing TDs and averages 6.0 yards per carry. Mond has connected on 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,447 yards with a 9/5 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for 230 yards and four TDs.
-- Texas A&M starting senior guard Keaton Sutherland is ‘out’ at South Carolina due to an ankle injury.
-- Totals have been an overall wash (3-3) for the Aggies, with the ‘over’ hitting in their lone road assignment. Their games have averaged combined scores of 53.5 PPG.
-- The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for the Gamecocks, 3-0 in their home games. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 55.8 PPG.
-- The SEC Network will have the broadcast at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
**Georgia at LSU**
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Georgia (6-0 SU, 3-3 ATS) listed as a 7.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 50. The Tigers were +240 to win outright (risk $100 to win $240).
-- LSU (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) is in bounce-back mode for the first time this season after losing 27-19 at Florida as a one-point road favorite. The 46 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 44-point total when UF’s Brad Stewart took Joe Burrow’s first interception of the season back for a pick-six TD. Just as he was at crunch time at Auburn on a money drive, Burrow bounced back and threw a bunch of great balls on the potential game-tying drive. LSU’s WRs simply weren’t up to the task. After Burrow threaded the needle into traffic for a 20-yard completion on 4th and 18, he purposely threw out of bounds to avoid pressure on a first-and-10 play. Then on second down, he hit his WR right in the hands for what would’ve been a big first-down gainer into UF territory. Then on 3rd and 10, he threw another excellent ball along the sidelines that went right through the hands of his target. Even on the 4th-and-10 play, when UF’s Donovan Stiner intercepted Burrow to put the game on ice, the QBs’ throw undoubtedly gave his WR a chance to go up and get it. Stiner simply made a better play on the ball.
-- As loyal readers know, I’m a UF alum and after Joe Alleva’s nonsense in 2016 that netted the Gators back-to-back home games vs. LSU, the Tigers certainly won’t be receiving any Christmas presents from me anytime soon. With that said, I’ve got to go to bat for Burrow again. The criticism this guy has been getting nationally is a bleepin’ joke! Sure, his 53.9 completing percentage isn’t very good. He’s thrown for 1,215 yards with a 6/2 TD-INT ratio. Burrow also has 176 rushing yards and two TDs. He’s been the victim of a lot of drops, including the crucial ones I just noted. Burrow was fantastic on the game-winning drive at Auburn. Until the loss at UF last week, he had a 5-0 record and zero interceptions on a team that he didn’t join until late July. And four of those wins were by 16 points or more, with LSU going conservative in the second half with big leads.
-- LSU is unbeaten in three home games with a 1-2 spread record. The Tigers have been home underdogs twice since Ed Oregon took over, losing 10-0 vs. Alabama in 2016 as 7.5-point puppies. They rallied to clip Auburn 27-23 last year as seven-point ‘dogs.
-- UGA is 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS on the road this year. As a road ‘chalk’ during Kirby Smart’s tenure, the Bulldogs are 8-1 SU and 6-3 ATS.
-- Georgia has won all its games by margins of at least 14 points. The Bulldogs thumped Vandy 41-14 as 26-point home ‘chalk.’ Jake Fromm hit 17-of-23 passes for 276 yards and three TDs without an interception. For the season, Fromm has connected on 72.8 percent of his passes for 1,200 yards with a 12/2 TD-INT ratio.
-- Georgia is ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, 13th versus the pass, 19th against the run and second in scoring ‘D’ (13.0 PPG). As for its offense, UGA is ranked 15th in scoring with its 42.8 PPG average.
-- The ‘over’ is 4-2 overall for the Tigers, 2-1 in their home games. They’ve watched their games average combined scores of 48.3 PPG.
-- The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for UGA, but the ‘over’ has hit in both of its road assignments. The Bulldogs’ games have produced average combined scores of 55.8 PPG.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
**Missouri at Alabama**
-- Let’s once again hit on how to bet this Alabama team, especially in the wake of seeing its backers get beaten in backdoor fashion for a third straight time last week at Arkansas. Not all gamblers will necessarily have access to bet team totals and maybe not even first-quarter wagers. However, most offshore shops and many in Nevada, Mississippi and (I would guess) New Jersey do offer them. If bettors have taken Alabama in the first quarter and the first half, in addition to backing the Crimson Tide’s team total to go ‘over’ in the first quarter, first half and the game, those players have gone 29-0-1 ATS. It’s a system of five bets that basically are ON Alabama’s offense. That’s 30 plays over six games and the lone blemish is the push when ‘Bama was a seven-point favorite to A&M in the first quarte and led 14-7 going into the second.
-- As of Friday afternoon, most spots had Alabama (6-0 SU, 3-3 ATS) listed as a 28-point favorite with a total of 74.5. The Tigers had 25/1 money-line odds at South Point in Vegas.
-- Nick Saban’s team covered the number (for the game) its first three times out, but it has failed to get the money three games in a row with its offense stalling with big leads and its third-strangers on defense giving up late scores. That was the case at Arkansas last week when the Razorbacks covered the spread as 35-point home underdogs in a 65-31 loss. Alabama went ahead of the number when Brian Robinson’s five-yard TD run put the Tide ahead 65-24 with 1:59 remaining. However, the Hogs’ Cole Kelly scored on a one-yard TD run with 13 ticks left and the PAT gave them the backdoor cover. Tagovailoa completed 10-of-13 passes for 334 yards and four TDs without an interception. Jerry Jeudy had four catches for 135 yards and two TDs, while Damien Harris ran for 111 yards and two scores on only 15 carries.
-- Tagovailoa has connected on 75.2 percent of his passes for 1,495 yards and 18 TDs without an interception. He’s also run for 122 yards and two scores with a 5.3 YPC average. Jeudy is enjoying a breakout campaign as a sophomore, catching 23 balls for 558 yards and eight TDs. Henry Ruggs III has 17 receptions for 329 yards and six TDs, while Irv Smith Jr. has 16 grabs for 332 yards and three TDs.
-- RB Najee Harris paces the Tide in rushing yards with 382 and has four TDs and a 6.8 YPC average. Harris has run for 361 yards and three TDs while averaging 7.1 YPC.
-- Alabama leads the country in scoring with its 56.0 PPG average, and that’s with sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa usually only playing two or parts of three quarters. I’m not 100 percent certain on this, but I’m at least 95 percent confident that he’s yet to take a snap in the fourth quarter this season. The Tide is ranked third in the nation in total offense, sixth in passing and 27th in rushing. The Tide is 12th in the country in scoring defense (16.0 PPG).
-- Alabama lost junior CB Trevon Diggs to a season-ending foot injury in last week’s win in Fayetteville. Diggs had recorded 20 tackles, six PBU, one forced fumble and one interception.
-- Missouri (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) is ranked ninth in the nation in total offense, 15th in passing yards and 26th in scoring with a 39.0 PPG average. I had my doubts about the hire of former UT HC Derek Dooley as the Tigers’ new OC after Josh Heupel left to become the HC at UCF, but Dooley has done an outstanding job to date. Lock has completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 1,487 yards with an 11/4 TD-INT ratio.
-- Emanuel Hall, a first-team All-SEC selection in 2017, has 18 receptions for 430 yards and three TDs. However, he is not expected to play in Tuscaloosa due to a groin injury. Also, WR Nate Brown is listed as ‘questionable’ with a groin issue. Brown has 12 catches for 129 yards. Johnathon Johnson will receive a lot of attention from Alabama’s secondary. Johnson has 21 receptions for 240 yards and three TDs. Lock, who is No. 25 on Mel Kiper’s most recent Big Board for the 2019 NFL Draft, also has an elite TE to target. Albert Okwuegbunam has 27 grabs for 194 yards and two TDs.
-- Missouri has three capable RBs at its disposal. Larry Rountree has run for a team-best 383 yards and four TDs while average 5.6 YPC. Damaris Crockett has 353 rushing yards, three TDs and a 5.0 YPC average, while Tyler Badie has run for 234 yards and one score.
-- The ‘over’ is 4-0-1 for Mizzou, 2-0 in its road assignments. The Tigers’ games have produced average combined scores of 67.8 PPG.
-- The ‘over’ is 5-1 overall for ‘Bama, 4-0 in its home contests. The Tide has seen its games average combined scores of 72.0 PPG.
-- This is the highest total for ‘over/under’ wagers in the storied history of Alabama football. It is also the highest tally Missouri has seen this year.
-- ESPN will have the broadcast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- I got a little nervous late Tuesday night in Santa Rosa Beach, where I live about 25 miles West of Panama City Beach and 35-40 miles West of Panama City, where the eye (or at least the Westerly side of the eye) of Hurricane Michael made landfall early Wednesday morning. Therefore, I made the three-hour (and small change) drive to Biloxi, where I’ve been staying at The Imperial Palace for the last three nights (and at least one more). I introduced myself to the IP’s Sports Book Director George Cole on Thursday. Cole said, “Things have been going very well since we opened on Aug. 3. We’re driven by the business we get on Saturdays, but we certainly get enough play during the week to be open daily. The most popular teams our customers have been betting on are Alabama, LSU and Georgia. It was brutal the way Alabama beat us the first few weeks, but these recent backdoor covers against them have helped us. And Florida knocking off LSU was a big help last week.”
-- Auburn will welcome Tennessee to The Plains for a noon Eastern kick on the SEC Network. The Volunteers have had two weeks to prepare for the Tigers, who are off a soul-crushing 23-9 loss at Mississippi State as three-point road favorites. Jarrett Stidham missed an easy TD pass when he overthrew a wide-open receiver and RB JaTarvious Whitlow fumbled just inches before reaching the ball across the plane of the end zone for a TD. The ‘under’ improved to 5-1 overall for AU and it is 4-1 in its home games. As of Friday afternoon, most books had Auburn (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) installed as a 14.5-point favorite with a total of 45.5. The Vols had +475 odds to win outright. Tennessee (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) has lost its first two SEC games vs. UF (47-21) and at UGA (38-12) and also got smashed 40-14 by West Virginia in its opener in Charlotte. Jeremy Pruitt’s team picked up its wins at home over East Tennessee State (59-3) and UTEP (24-0).
-- As of Friday afternoon, most books had Ole Miss (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) listed as a 6.5-point favorite at Arkansas with a total of 67.5. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network. The Rebels will be without DBs Kendarius Webster and C.J. Moore. They’re seventh in the nation in total offense, fifth in passing yards and 16th in scoring with a 42.3 PPG average. QB Jordan Ta’amu has completed 64.2 percent of his throws for 1,911 yards with a 13/4 TD-INT ratio. A.J. Brown, who was sixth on Kiper’s first Big Board shortly after the 2018 NFL Draft, is no longer in Kiper’s Top 25. Nevertheless, he has 44 receptions for 586 yards and four TDs. D.K. Metcalf has 25 catches for 520 yards and five TDs. The ‘over’ is 4-2 overall for the Rebels, 2-0 in their road outings. Arkansas (1-5 SU, 2-3-1 ATS) has lost five straight games since winning its opener over Eastern Illinois by a 55-20 count. We should note, however, that the Hogs have covered the spread in back-to-back outings. They easily took the money in a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M as 20-point ‘dogs two weeks ago at Jerry World.
-- Mississippi State and Kentucky have their byes this weekend.
-- The updated line for the Iron Bowl at 5Dimes.eu is Alabama -20.5 vs. Auburn. Other look-ahead lines for key SEC games include LSU -4.5 vs. Mississippi State, UGA -11 vs. UF, UGA -12.5 at UK, Alabama -16 at LSU, ‘Bama -23 vs. MSU, UGA -14 vs. Auburn and LSU pick ‘em at Texas A&M.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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