It’s the middle of November, and the Alabama-LSU game is upon us in the SEC. Usually, Alabama-LSU is one of the three or four biggest games of the year. In 2020, which has upended our sense of what is normal, Tide-versus-Tigers is taking on a very different feel. Let’s look at that game, the online betting odds for it and the rest of a weird SEC slate, keeping in mind that the Auburn-Mississippi State game originally scheduled for this Saturday, November 14, has been postponed due to COVID-19*. Stay tuned for other possible postponements, but as of Monday night, only Auburn-Mississippi State had been officially postponed.
*[Editor’s Note: Four SEC games have now been postponed due to COVID-19 issues, including Alabama-LSU and two others in this article. Please see details here.]
Georgia Bulldogs vs Missouri Tigers*
Sportsbook Odds: Georgia -11.5
The Georgia Bulldogs need a minor miracle to win the SEC East for the fourth consecutive season. They lost their second SEC game of the year this past Saturday, and they lost it to rival Florida. This means that the Bulldogs need two Florida losses to overcome the Gators in the division standings. Georgia is currently one game behind Florida but would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker. Essentially, the Dawgs are two games out and need help. Georgia will try to reset the dial against Missouri.
The Dawgs have a quarterback controversy on their hands. Stetson Bennett started against Florida but then became ineffective. His big problem is that he is simply too small. He cannot see over defensive lines. Way too many of his passes get batted down at the line of scrimmage. His field vision is limited, and that’s a real problem for any quarterback. D’Wan Mathis replaced Bennett against Florida and was not terribly effective. People are wondering why 5-star recruit J.T. Daniels, a transfer from USC, has not been inserted into the Georgia lineup. The Georgia offense is hugely struggling right now, but Missouri could be just the tonic the Bulldogs need. Georgia will need to find who its starting quarterback is. Mathis will probably get a chance to start this game, so that coach Kirby Smart can see what he is capable of.
*[Editor’s Note: The Georgia vs Missouri game has been postponed due to COVID-19. See note above, after first paragraph of this article.]
Vanderbilt Commodores vs Kentucky Wildcats
Odds: Kentucky -17
This is one of the lower-profile SEC games of the week on Saturday. Vanderbilt put up a good fight this past weekend against Mississippi State, but still lost by one score. The Commodores simply haven’t been able to score much this season. Even against a very weak LSU defense a month ago, Vanderbilt couldn’t light up the scoreboard. Kentucky crushed the Mississippi State team which defeated Vanderbilt. The Wildcats beat MSU by a 24-2 score, so it stands to reason that if Kentucky was that much better than Mississippi State, it can beat Vanderbilt by an even larger spread. Kentucky contained Georgia, allowing only 14 points to the Bulldogs, so the UK defense is legitimately strong. The offense isn’t that potent but, against Vanderbilt, it might have one of its better days of the season.
Texas A&M Aggies vs Tennessee Volunteers*
College Football Odds: Texas A&M -13.5
When Texas A&M lost to Alabama by a large margin early in the season, the Aggies seemed to be unprepared to make a run at a significant bowl game this season. However, they upset the Florida Gators in a 41-38 shootout, and they haven’t looked back since. Moreover, A&M has watched annual rivals LSU and Auburn struggle immensely. Out of nowhere, the Aggies are clearly the second-best team in the SEC West and one of the three or four best teams in the SEC. Texas A&M now has a great chance at a New Year’s Six bowl, and it also has a shot at the College Football Playoff if it can win the remainder of its games.
Standing in A&M’s way is a Tennessee team which plays well in first halves but terribly in second halves. Tennessee played Georgia on even terms in the first half a month ago, and then got crushed in the second half. The Volunteers led Arkansas 13-0 this past weekend and then got buried in the second half. Tennessee is capable of playing 30 good minutes, but the Vols haven’t been able to play 60. Is this the week Tennessee figures out how to play a complete game? We shall see.
*[Editor’s Note: The Texas A&M vs Tennessee game has been postponed due to COVID-19. See note above, after first paragraph of this article.]
Alabama Crimson Tide vs LSU Tigers*
Odds: Alabama -28
The Alabama Crimson Tide are rolling. Quarterback Mac Jones, working behind one of the best offensive lines in college football, has a lot of fast receivers to throw to. Alabama has an elite offense, one which scored 41 on Georgia a few weeks ago and shows no signs of slowing down. Alabama lost to LSU last year in a game which decided the SEC West championship. That’s what the Alabama-LSU game usually determines, but this year LSU has fallen off a cliff. The Tigers have lost three games and got bombed by a not-very-good Auburn team in their most recent outing. The losses of players and coaches from last season’s 15-0 team are bigger and more impactful than anyone could have imagined. This game feels like the varsity versus the junior varsity, and that’s why you see a four-touchdown spread.
*[Editor’s Note: The Alabama vs LSU game has been postponed due to COVID-19. See note above, after first paragraph of this article.]
Arkansas Razorbacks vs Florida Gators
Odds: Florida -17.5
The Arkansas Razorbacks are the most pleasantly surprising SEC team of 2020. Sam Pittman is the early favorite for SEC Coach of the Year after taking Arkansas from the very bottom of the conference to the middle of the league in half a season. Pittman has Arkansas playing tough, physical football, which means Florida’s inconsistent defensive line might face a challenge. This game is notable because former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is going up against his former team. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask replaced Franks last season and has become one of the two best quarterbacks in the SEC, alongside Alabama’s Mac Jones. Florida head coach Dan Mullen knows how to plan for Franks, which is something the Gators should benefit from in this game.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs Ole Miss Rebels
Odds: Ole Miss -11
The South Carolina Gamecocks have had a terrible year, especially on defense. The LSU team, which has lost three times this season, was nevertheless able to score 52 points on South Carolina. The Gamecocks’ offense has not been especially consistent; it barely avoided being shut out this past weekend against Texas A&M. Ole Miss doesn’t have a good defense, but South Carolina won’t be able to run up the score against the Rebels – at least not to the extent needed to win. Ole Miss can destroy South Carolina’s defense, but the Gamecocks won’t be able to repay the favor.