Our record suggests that we're starting to figure out the contours of the conference. Last week we correctly called comfortable victories for LSU and Mizzou. While we whiffed on Auburn's upset of Ole Miss, it's not called an upset because people saw it coming. That brings us to 7-4 in the conference on the season. We're due for a serious regression to the mean with this week's SEC Game of Interest: Florida at LSU (-7).
The pick: LSU -7
Why you should care: Florida and Georgia are tied for first place in the East at 3-0 in conference play with a loss to an ACC rival. (Mizzou remains undefeated but has only played one conference game.) We're also rooting for LSU because every Tiger victory makes our September look that much more impressive.
Rationale: You don't think we're picking Florida, do you? Florida's offense is still terrible. They're last in the SEC in rushing yards per play (no, really), next-to-last in scoring offense, and 11th in total offense.
After last weekend's romp over Arkansas, they actually rank 5th in the conference in passing yards per play, but let's dissect what happened in that game. QB Tyler Murphy, who's replacing the injured Jeff Driskel, posted an impressive line: 16/22 for 240 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. Senior receiver Solomon Patton accounted for 2 of those TDs and 124 of those yards on 6 receptions. One of those TD catches was a 15 yard completion after which Patton slipped a tackle and raced 51 total yards to the end zone. Patton's other TD catch was an 8 yard completion after which he slipped a tackle and ran 38 total yards to pay dirt. In other words, a senior receiver who has only ever had one other 100-yard game in his career (at Miami earlier this season) picked up some serious yardage after the catch because of the Razorbacks' poor tackling. Take out those two plays and Murphy is left with a pedestrian (yet efficient) 14/20 for 151 yards and 1 TD.
All of that is a long way of saying that I still don't trust Florida's offense, especially against a unit coached by veteran SEC DC John Chavis. It seems to me that you have to attack LSU's secondary to have a shot, and nothing Florida's done so far this year tells me that they can do that. Sure, the Gators' defense is stout, but they're going to spend a long time on the field. Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, and the rest of the Bayou Bengals' offense are eventually going to wear them down and wear them out.
Bonus pick (that I'm almost certainly going to regret): Texas A&M -6.5 at Ole Miss. I know the Aggies defense is bad, but Auburn hung 30 on Colonel Reb. The Fightin' Johnny Footballs should be able to score at will. This line is suspiciously low.
Quick takes: I'd love to take South Carolina, but things seem to be going sideways in Columbia. Alabama is going to murder Kentucky, but picking that game just seems cruel. Mississippi State is only a 10-point favorite at home against Bowling Green; Dan Mullen's seat is getting warm.