SEC Football Week 5: Preview and Predictions Against the Spread
Week four was full of big games, thrilling finishes and disappointments for some SEC teams.
The top teams in the conference began to slowly separate themselves from those at the bottom.
It should be no different in Week 5, as there are several big in-conference matchups, including Alabama at Florida, and Auburn at South Carolina. An out of conference clash between Arkansas and Texas A&M is big as well.
As I do each week, I will preview each SEC game and make a prediction against the spread.
I will also be held accountable for my picks by posting updated results each and every week (I include my Week 4 picks below):
Record Straight-Up Week 4: 7-0
Record Straight-Up Season: 33-5
Record Against the Spread Week 4: 6-1
Record Against the Spread Season: 22-13
No. 18 Arkansas vs. No. 14 Texas A&M
Saturday, October 1, 12:00 PM ET (ESPN)
Now that Texas A&M has announced it will join the SEC, this ironically becomes a conference battle. While it clearly doesn't count in the SEC standings for 2011, make no mistake that the battle for recruits and divisional position has already begun.
Arkansas will need QB Tyler Wilson to have a big day to earn a victory on Saturday. Look for him and the Razorbacks to rebound well from the disappointing loss last weekend.
Conversely, Alabama and Trent Richardson showed that you can run on the Hogs, and the Aggie's coaches will feed the ball to their talented back, Cyrus Gray, early and often.
It will be a seesaw battle with both offenses productive, and whoever has the ball last under the lights in Dallas, in the Jerry's palace, will win.
Predicted MVP: Texas A&M RB Cyrus Gray
Predicted Score: Texas A&M 33, Arkansas 31 (line: Arkansas -2.5)
Mississippi State at Georgia
Saturday, October 1, 12:00 PM ET
Neither set of Bulldogs wanted to have two losses at this point in the season. A disappointing start for both teams, no doubt. However, I can assure you that three losses in just five games would be much worse for either program.
Look for both teams to play hard and with a certain level of desperation in this one.
Georgia will feed it to talented freshman RB Isaiah Crowell, and Mississippi State will rely on the running of big RB Vick Ballard and QB Chris Relf.
Both teams will have a bit of trouble stopping the run, but the difference will be the poise and passing of Georgia QB Aaron Murray. He will connect on a couple big passes that put the game away for the home Dawgs.
Predicted MVP: Georgia QB Aaron Murray
Predicted Score: Georgia 28, Mississippi State 24 (line: Georgia -4.5)
Kentucky at No. 1 LSU
Saturday, October 1, 12:21 PM ET
These two SEC programs couldn't be going in any more opposite directions this season.
Kentucky is 2-2 with a loss to rival Louisville and a blowout defeat to Florida last weekend and may not be able to earn a sixth straight bowl invite.
LSU is 4-0, ranked No. 1 in the nation and primed to make a potential run for an SEC and national championship.
The Kentucky defense is a solid group and could give LSU a few issues, but the Kentucky offense is so poor, especially with the disappointing play of promising QB Morgan Newton, that LSU should win this one with ease.
Predicted MVP: LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu
Predicted Score: LSU 38, Kentucky 9 (line: LSU -27.5)
Buffalo at Tennessee
Saturday, October 1, 12:30 PM ET
Tennessee will use this game against outmatched Buffalo to regain momentum and confidence after a loss to Florida two weeks ago.
Buffalo will run talented RB Brandon Oliver as much as possible and hope he can break some big runs to keep the game close in the first half.
However, Volunteers QB Tyler Bray will hook up with star wide out Da'Rick Rogers too many times for the Bulls to keep up.
Predicted MVP: Tennessee WR Da'Rick Rogers
Predicted Score: Tennessee 45, Buffalo 10 (line: Tennessee -28)
Auburn at No. 10 South Carolina
Saturday, October 1, 3:30 PM ET (CBS)
Revenge will be the word of the day in Columbia on Saturday, after Auburn beat South Carolina twice last season (including a bad beating in the SEC Championship Game last December).
If Carolina wants redemption, they will have to hand the ball off to star running back Marcus Lattimore all game long, have better play from embattled QB Stephen Garcia and get the ball in the hands of all-world receiver Alshon Jeffery at least a few times.
That offense will prove to be too much for a poor Tiger defense that has given up plenty of yards and points this year.
However, don't expect South Carolina to stop the Auburn offense, as the Tigers have weapons of their own in solid RB Michael Dyer and WR Emory Blake.
It will be a relatively close game, with Lattimore putting in another huge performance to lift the home team to victory.
Predicted MVP: South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
Predicted Score: South Carolina 37, Auburn 29 (line: South Carolina -10)
No. 3 Alabama at No. 12 Florida
Saturday, October 1, 8:00 PM ET (CBS)
This is the obvious game of the week in the SEC. Undefeated Florida and undefeated Alabama battling it out in the Swamp.
It will come down to a potentially dangerous Florida offense, specifically the running game and screen passes, against a dominant-looking Alabama defense.
Look for Dont'a Hightower and the Crimson Tide defensive front seven to wreak havoc on the Gator backs all game long. However, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey will get in open space a few times and generate a few big plays for Florida.
It won't be enough, as Trent Richardson and the Alabama offense will play a steady game and grind out just enough yards and points to earn the huge road win.
Predicted MVP: Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Predicted Score: Alabama 28, Florida 20 (line: Alabama -4)
Ole Miss at Fresno State
Saturday, October 1, 9:15 PM ET (ESPN2)
Ole Miss is a disastrous 1-3 to start the season and is the underdog against a WAC team this Saturday. Things are not good for Rebel head coach Houston Nutt.
If Ole Miss loses on Saturday, especially if it's another ugly performance, Nutt could be (or should be?) gone by Tuesday of next week.
The Rebels will try to run the football more and try and avoid turnovers in the passing game.
The turnovers and quarterback play have killed them this season; look for a better day of ball control and focus from Ole Miss and a much-needed victory for the road team.
Predicted MVP: Ole Miss RB Jeff Scott
Predicted Score: Ole Miss 24, Fresno State 23 (line: Fresno State -4.5)