It’s another week in the SEC, and as we write this preview, keep in mind that some more COVID-19 postponements could occur. Right now, Kentucky is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak which has placed its game against Florida in jeopardy. If you know that a game is in danger of being postponed or canceled, take that under advisement. With that note out of the way, let’s look at these games, including Kentucky-Florida, though you’ll want to keep an eye out for breaking online betting news later in the week.
Vanderbilt Commodores vs Missouri Tigers
Sportsbook odds: Missouri -15.5
The Vanderbilt Commodores played the Florida Gators tough for two and a half quarters this past Saturday, but they weren’t able to last for four full quarters. Vanderbilt showed that its defense – which played poorly a few weeks ago versus Kentucky – is capable of performing at a high level.
In a year when Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has been lighting up opposing defenses and scoring in the 50s and 60s in some games, Vanderbilt “limited” Florida to 38 points. This could potentially give the Commodores confidence as they move toward the stretch run of their 2020 schedule. Vanderbilt also knows that it might have found its quarterback of the future. Freshman Ken Seals threw for 319 yards against Florida and has shown flashes of real promise.
The problem for Vanderbilt is that Florida didn’t play especially well. One could make the argument that Florida was bored and emotionally flat against the Commodores. Similarly, Missouri’s offense played one of its worst games of the season despite beating South Carolina this past weekend. South Carolina had allowed over 50 points in multiple SEC games this season. Missouri scored only 17 against the Gamecocks, as quarterback Connor Bazelak struggled.
If these teams were measured solely on their Week 12 performances, Missouri would be a five-point favorite, but it could very well be the case that Vanderbilt maxed out against Florida and Missouri underperformed versus South Carolina. If VU comes back down to earth and Missouri rises to the mean, the Tigers could win this game in a romp.
LSU Tigers vs Texas A&M Aggies
Odds: Texas A&M -14
This is a game of role reversal. Last year, LSU was the team chasing a spot in the College Football Playoff with A&M drifting toward an unsatisfying overall record and a mediocre bowl game. This year A&M is the team with legitimate championship ambitions and LSU owning three losses and no meaningful postseason prospects. LSU has been hammered by roster attrition and has had to play a lot of young players at important positions.
The Tigers don’t necessarily face a talent deficit, but they simply don’t have the experience or polish the Aggies do. It is going to be a distinctly uphill battle for LSU on the road in College Station. Texas A&M hasn’t been spectacular, but it has taken care of business while other SEC rivals have faltered this season.
Auburn Tigers vs Alabama Crimson Tide
College Football Odds: Alabama -24.5
Alabama will not have Nick Saban on the sidelines, or in the press box, or anywhere inside Bryant-Denny Stadium to coach this game, because Saban tested positive for COVID-19. This is not a false-positive test, unlike what Saban had before the Georgia game a month ago.
This is a confirmed positive test, and so Saban is out for this game. Will it matter? Only if the game is close, and Auburn might have a hard time creating a close game. Alabama has one of the best offensive lines in the country, enabling Mac Jones to sit comfortably in the pocket and pick apart defenses. Since Alabama running back Najee Harris has had a very productive year, defenses can’t assume Alabama will pass the ball.
The Tide are balanced, and from that balance comes the ability to do whatever they want. Auburn’s defensive line has to find a way to outplay Alabama’s offensive line. That’s not likely, but creating havoc and forcing turnovers from Jones is the only realistic Auburn path to victory. Auburn’s offense might make a few occasional big plays, but the Tigers don’t have nearly as many weapons as Alabama has. There is a huge imbalance of skill in this matchup.
Kentucky Wildcats vs Florida Gators
Odds: Florida -23.5
The game might be postponed due to COVID-19, but if it manages to be played as scheduled, Florida is in the driver’s seat. Kyle Pitts, the excellent tight end who was the favorite target of quarterback Kyle Trask before getting injured, is going to be back from his injury. This beefs up what has already been a very good Gator passing game. Trask has been excellent at spreading the ball to various receivers.
No one tries to claim all the credit. Everyone in the receiver corps is happy to share. This has created a lethal downfield attack which puts linebackers and safeties in impossible situations. Florida coach Dan Mullen is a gifted play-caller who knows how to consistently get receivers open against all kinds of coverages. Kentucky’s defense gave up 63 to Alabama this past week. Florida can put up a similar number if it wants to.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Ole Miss Rebels
Odds: Ole Miss -9.5
The Ole Miss Rebels committed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of last year’s Egg Bowl rivalry game against Mississippi State. The penalty came before a tying point after touchdown attempt. Ole Miss subsequently missed the PAT kick, and Mississippi State won the game in shocking fashion. Every Ole Miss player will be highly motivated to gain revenge this year. Moreover, Ole Miss’s offense has been consistently better than MSU’s attack this season. MSU played well in Week 1 versus LSU and did reasonably well this past Saturday against Georgia, but Ole Miss has gained steadier and more reliable production throughout the season. The Rebels figure to have the clear upper hand here.
Georgia Bulldogs vs South Carolina Gamecocks
Odds: Georgia -21.5
The Georgia Bulldogs might have found a quarterback this past weekend. J.T. Daniels, the USC transfer who had not previously played this season, was inserted into the starting lineup against Mississippi State. He threw for nearly 400 yards and piled up four touchdowns in an explosive outing for the Georgia offense. Daniels can see the field more easily than fellow Bulldog quarterback Stetson Bennett.
He, therefore, doesn’t get passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, which was one of Bennett’s main problems. Georgia is going up against a South Carolina team that has been in a tailspin over the past month. Coach Will Muschamp was fired, and the Gamecocks are searching for their next head coach. This has the makings of a Georgia blowout, with Daniels leading the way.