Last week and Thursday: 7-0 straight up, 6-0 against the spread
Season: 66-10 straight up, 45-21-1 against the spread
Here is where things get real. It's November, the month that decides everything. The East may get wrapped up this weekend. The West could get all but wrapped up, or it could go completely up in the air. The fate of at least one coaching staff will get decided this month. A lot is on the line.
As always, the lines come from the Yahoo pick 'em game.
Florida (-21) over Vanderbilt 23-6
I have two minds about this one. Vandy's defense has held every team it has faced to below its scoring average on the year. Yes, UGA hit 31 against VU and is now averaging 29, but the Bulldogs had two non-offensive TDs in that one. Florida's offense hasn't been that high scoring with Treon Harris running the show, so Vandy doesn't have to hold the Gators to much below either their season average (31 per game) or especially their average in SEC play (26) to make a cover near-impossible.
I could also see Florida covering because its ball hawking defense is going up against a combination of the most generous QB in the conference Johnny McCrary (12 INTs in eight games) and a true freshman in Kyle Shurmur that threw a pick against Houston in his second appearance on the year. I'm tentatively going with a Commodore cover on the idea that UF will get an early lead and sit on it, trying to avoid risk and just get out with an East division clinching win.
Georgia (-14) over Kentucky 24-7
The crazy amount of leaks coming out of Athens suggests a program in trouble, but the recent on-field results from Big Blue aren't exactly that encouraging either. Here's my cockamamie theory on this one: now that it's public knowledge that Jeremy Pruitt will be probably looking for a new job one way or another, his unit will shut down the Wildcats in his first general audition. On top of that, UK's 95th-ranked S&P+ defense will allow just enough points for a cover.
Ole Miss (-10.5) over Arkansas 28-21
If I had a lock of the week, it'd probably be this one. I've had this game circled mentally since before the season, when I noted that the Rebels would be facing the brutally tough Razorbacks in their tenth consecutive game without a bye week. I think they'll still pull it out, but they could give it away at the end as a result of just running out of gas.
Tennessee (-16.5) over South Carolina 40-20
The Volunteers have gotten on a roll of late, but South Carolina has quietly been playing better under Shawn Elliott than it did under Steve Spurrier. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, their defense has been porous on the road. In true road games for Carolina, its opponents have scored at least nine points more than their average against Power 5 teams. Tennessee gets 29 a game against Power 5 opponents, and this one's in Knoxville. I can't see the Gamecock offense getting more than 20 or 21, so this should be a UT cover.
Auburn (+7) over Texas A&M 24-21
Kyler Murray looked good in his starting debut last week, but just about everyone looks good against South Carolina. Auburn's defense is a different animal with Carl Lawson in the lineup, so I expect him to make a difference against the true freshman. Meanwhile, A&M's defense hasn't been all that great against the run. Peyton Barber may be gimpy, but Jovon Robinson is finally healthy and picked up the slack a week ago. I'll take Lawson and Robinson as the difference makers in a Tiger outright upset.
LSU (+6.5) over Alabama 20-14
Having looked over a couple of advanced stats game-by-game breakdowns for Bama, it's a little misleading to say that the Tide has been better away from home this year. It played very well in the neutral site game against Wisconsin, and its domination at Georgia was impressive. Its only true stinker was at home, against Ole Miss. The large margin of the win at A&M was a bit fluky though, as it takes some luck for any defense to return three picks for scores, and the Tide pulled away late with an impressive fourth quarter in a home win over Arkansas. Still, Alabama has been at a disadvantage at home versus on the road this year, for whatever reason.
If you know which Jake Coker will show up, congrats on being clairvoyant. I feel confident that Derrick Henry will have at least one 20+ yard touchdown run, but other than that, I've got no good feel on how the Crimson Tide offense will fare. Alabama is also relying on freshmen in key spots on both sides of the ball: Calvin Ridley on offense, and Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick on defense. No matter how much they've looked like veterans, you can't be 100% sure what you're getting because they're freshmen. Ridley will look like Amari Cooper in one game and then, for instance, catch seven balls for just 6.5 yards per target and a 37.5% success rate prior to garbage time against A&M. Freshmen.
Brandon Harris seems to have turned a corner the past three games, which is tricky. Two of those games were against bad defenses in South Carolina and WKU, but one was against a great pass defense in Florida. He'll probably take some sacks thanks to LSU being below average in sack rate and Bama's defense being one of the best in the same. He'll probably connect on a couple of deep passes to compensate because, while he's inefficient, he's very explosive, and explosiveness is the weakest aspect of Bama's pass defense.
Ultimately, this game comes down to the question of stopping Leonard Fournette. It's fun to talk about quarterbacks, but on Manball Christmas, line play and running will decide the game. It's all very simple, really: I think Fournette is the best player on the field and, with the help of his great offensive line, will win the game for the Tigers. Again: both teams are outstanding. I just see Fournette as the trump card, so I'm picking LSU.