It's in-state rivalry week here in the Southeastern Conference. Honestly, I was more excited about FCS week last week, but what can you do? Unfortunately, my excitement did not translate into successful prognostication, and I posted a 1-3 record. This brings our record to 41-35-1 against the spread. That's not great, but it's better than losing to Syracuse at home or getting fired for being blown out by Vanderbilt. At any rate, approach these picks with the same caution you would a prediction that Jon Gruden will be the next head coach at Tennessee: Don't Bet On It!
No. 7 LSU (-12) at Arkansas
LSU's passing defense is tied with Alabama's for first in the conference in terms of aerial yards allowed per play. You may recall that the Tide beat the Hogs 52-0 back in week 3. The Arkansans have improved since then for sure, but they still lost 45-14 to an underwhelming Mississippi State squad last week. (It should come as no surprise that the Bayou Bengals' defense is statistically superior to the Bizarro Bulldogs' in every meaningful category.) Plus, the Arkansawyers' league-worst passing defense should help Zach Mettenberger get his groove back after last week's weak performance against the Rebel Black Bears. LSU wins by at least two TDs on the road.
No. 4 Florida at No. 10 Florida State (-6)
Florida's offense is terrible. The Sunshine State Saurians' 25.8 points per game give them the 80th most prolific offense in the nation, which is behind juggernauts like Vanderbilt, Duke, and Purdue. This is going to be a problem since the Seminoles boast the nation's best rushing defense, passing defense, and total defense on a yards-per-play basis (even ahead of mighty Alabama) and allow just 13.1 points per game. They're also averaging just a hair under 43 points per game. Let's swallow our conference pride and pick Florida State to win by a couple of scores to make it three in a row over their in-state rival.
Vanderbilt (-11.5) at Wake Forest
When a decent SEC team plays a bad ACC team (in football), I'm taking the SEC team to cover every time. (I wish I had a joke or something to put here, but, really, isn't ACC football enough of a joke as it is?)
Auburn at No. 2 Alabama (-31.5)
It's no secret that Alabama is going to win here. It's also no secret that the Dawg Sports staff really hates Auburn. Due to our upcoming date with the Tide in the Dome (and their general insufferability since 2008), it's also time to start hating Alabama in earnest. On what bases should you hate Alabama? How about the fact that they just claimed another national championship while you were reading this? Or the fact that their Bama bangs haircut means that half their players look like Justin Bieber? Have you ever even Google-image searched "Alabama fan"? (Don't do it at work or with small children present.) Ugh. Those people are insufferable. The best thing that I can say about them is that they will whup Auburn at least as badly as we did.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (-1.5)
Dan Mullen hasn't lost an Egg Bowl since he took the reigns in 2009. That's going to change this year. Each team's most impressive victory has come over Arkansas, but the Rebels looked better in their win over Auburn and in losses to LSU and Alabama. Hugh Freeze locks up bowl eligibility with a close win (3-7 points) over the Bizarro Bulldogs.
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 11 Clemson (-4)
For some reason, we all stopped talking about Clemson when they lost to Florida State in week 4. Since then, they've only reeled off seven straight victories by an average of 23.6 points each. The last seven weeks haven't been nearly as kind to the Gamecocks. After absolutely embarrassing us at home, they lost back-to-back games against LSU and Florida, and then lost Marcus Lattimore to a horrific leg injury in a narrow win over Tennessee. Last week, they struggled for three quarters against a team with a Terrier for a mascot, and both Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney suffered foot injuries that may keep them out of this week's contest against their in-state rival. The only reason that this year's edition of the Battle for the Palmetto State might even be as close as the spread indicates is that the Poultry have the psychological edge as the result of winning three in a row. Look for Clemson to take back the Hardee's Trophy (yes, that's a real thing) since they have literally nothing else to play for given the head-to-head loss to FSU.
Missouri at No. 9 Texas A&M (-22)
Missouri lost to Syracuse last week. Texas A&M beat Alabama two weeks ago. Picking the Aggies to cover at home is about the easiest decision we'll make all week because JOHNNY FOOTBALL JOHNNY FOOTBALL JOHNNY FOOTBALL JOHNNY FOOTBALL. /espn'd