After five straight weeks of beating the spread, we came back down to Earth with a 3-4 record in last week's picks. In our defense, though, one of those lost picks resulted in Joker Philips being fired and the other came as a result of Zach Mettenberger playing a better game than A.J. McCarron. We're still sporting a respectable 36-40-1 record against the spread in our conference picks, but this week's slate of games isn't exactly a walk in the park. In case this is your first time reading our picks, we're picking these games hastily and purely for entertainment purposes, so when we give you a selection against the spread, Don't Bet On It!
As a more serious aside, please take a few minutes to stop by your local polling place to vote today. If you've already done that, please consider donating $10 to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many have lost their homes, many more are without power, and temperatures are dropping in the northeast. Every bit helps. Now, on to the (extremely questionable) picks:
Arkansas at No. 8 South Carolina (-14)
The Razorbacks have the worst pass defense in the conference; they give up a full 8 yards per pass attempt to the tune of more than 292 yards per game. The Gamecocks are tied with Tennessee for the third most efficient passing attack, racking up 8.4 yards per aerial attempt. The Palmetto State Poultry are also adept at defending the pass, averaging a league-high 3.33 sacks per game while allowing just 6.5 yards per pass attempt. South Carolina should easily cover a two TD spread.
Louisiana-Lafayette (+26) at No. 6 Florida
Are you confident that Florida will can score 26 points on anybody? What if I told you that Ragin' Cajuns have an above-average rush defense? Yeah, that's what I thought. We're taking Louisiana-Lafayette plus the points.
Missouri at Tennessee (-3.5)
Fun fact: Mizzou has more conference wins than Tennessee this year. Calling Derek Dooley's seat hot is like calling Nick Fairley dirty. Nevertheless, my brain is telling me to take Tennessee to cover: Mizzou's offense is in shambles. Nearly every offensive lineman is currently injured or recovering from an injury, and quarterback James Franklin played perhaps the worst game of his career last week against Florida. Tennessee's defense may have had its worst game ever last week, but it's hard to believe that the conference's newest Tigers can take advantage. Plus, for all their defensive woes, Tennessee is poised to break offensive records set during Peyton Manning's senior season (passing yards, receptions, and total offense). Thus, despite the fact that Double D will be looking for a new job in four weeks, we'll take Tennessee to cover at home.
No. 15 Texas A&M (+13.5) at No. 1 Alabama
The Aggies lead the SEC in scoring offense and rushing offense, and they trail only Tennessee in passing yards per game. They have a big, experienced offensive line. They should be able to move the ball on Alabama. Unfortunately, their defense isn't nearly as good as LSU's, so Bama should also be able to put up some points. But the Aggies have lost their two games by a total of 8 points, so we're looking for Texas A&M to cover against an Alabama team that should be emotionally exhausted after last week's big win. [A.J. McCarron crying.gif goes here.]
No. 21 Mississippi State at No. 7 LSU (-14)
LSU was within 51 seconds of beating the Tahd last week. Mississippi State was getting drilled by a team with a first-year head coach in its first year in the conference. The Bizarro Bulldogs haven't beaten anyone with a defensive pulse this year, and their offense appears to be regressing. We all thought LSU's offense would improve this year, and we finally saw signs of it last week. The Bayou Bengals should pick up an impressive victory at home, and Dan Mullen should start to consider whether he wants to throw his hat in the ring for some of the jobs that are starting to open up around the league.
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (-3)
Both of these teams are one win away from bowl eligibility. We're going to pick Swole Miss to cover at home because Hugh Freeze has his team pointed in the right direction and James Franklin is still a jerk. Also, the Commies barely beat Auburn at home. Auburn is terrible. So there's that.