Disappointing results in inter-conference play continued for the SEC this past weekend, adding further fuel to critics’ fiery commentary suggesting the league is overrated.
▪ Georgia (-16) had to rally in the second half to survive a visit from Notre Dame. The Bulldogs’ 23-17 victory missed the closing spread by double digits after sharps (professional wagerers) had pounded the favorite all week. You’ll recall that Notre Dame was badly outclassed by Clemson in last season’s playoff. The Irish were very competitive Saturday in Athens, only losing total yardage 339-321 on 5.7 to 5.3 yards-per-play. Georgia came nowhere near playing to expectations.
This is the same Georgia team that was a big disappointment in last season’s Sugar Bowl…losing to Texas 28-21 as a 13-point favorite. That’s two straight “flunked tests” in terms of informed projections after blowing a fourth quarter lead vs. Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship game. At least the straight up victory keeps Georgia in the playoff picture.
▪ Ole Miss (-3) lost outright to California 28-20. Granting the controversial ending, the Rebels were still just hoping for a regulation tie in the final moments…as a home favorite facing a visiting underdog from the west coast. That means a visitor dealing with “bad body clock” and climate issues. California, even with its late fade in high humidity, won yards-per-play 6.3 to 6.1, third downs 50% to 29%, and engineered four touchdown drives of 70 yards or more.
▪ Arkansas (-20) was shocked outright by San Jose State 31-24 (a 27-point miss!). How humbling for the deep south to lose two home games to opponents from northern California! San Jose State won total yardage 503-487 on 6.9 to 5.9 yards-per-play. Arkansas committed five turnovers against a bad defense. Earlier this season, Arkansas (-30) only beat Portland State 20-13. The SEC used to chew up visitors like this and spit them out.
These results came on the heels of earlier shockers like Tennessee (-24) losing outright to Georgia Southern, Missouri (-15) losing outright to Wyoming, South Carolina (-12) losing outright to North Carolina, and Mississippi State (-7) losing outright to Kansas State.
Elites have still impressed. National #2 Alabama (behind Clemson) is running roughshod as usual. LSU legitimately joined the national championship chase thanks to the newly built offense that was showcased in a big interconference win at Texas. Auburn may have started pounding on the door too with a statement win at Texas A&M. There could still be two or three SEC teams in the Final Four.
Bettors must be aware that many non-contenders are veering in the wrong direction. And, even a few bowl-caliber teams are getting too much pointspread respect. File that away for future reference during the bowls.
▪ Ole Miss becomes the second team from The Magnolia State to take on the Alabama juggernaut (Saturday, CBS, 2:30 p.m.). Southern Miss (+37) was dominated last Saturday 49-7. The Rebels will likely close near five touchdown underdogs in Tuscaloosa as well. Mississippi State will get its shot at ‘Bama November 16 in Starkville.
▪ This week, Mississippi State visits fast-improving and #7 ranked Auburn (ESPN, 6 p.m.). The point spread rose to Auburn -11 on the heels of the Tigers upset in College Station. After listening to national media pick the Aggies -3.5 in virtually unanimous fashion, Auburn led from wire-to-wire.
▪ Southern Miss opens Conference USA play as a big favorite at home against Texas-El Paso (6 p.m.). Nothing but league action left for the Golden Eagles. They’re 2-2 straight up and ATS, with win/covers over Alcorn State and Troy. UTEP is 1-2 straight up, 0-3 against the spread. The victory was only by two points over Houston Baptist as a 17-point favorite. That’s why Southern Miss will likely close as a favorite of -25 to -27 points Saturday evening in Hattiesburg.
▪ No national blockbusters to preview this weekend. Those won’t be plentiful this season until the SEC powers start banging heads. VSiN can’t wait for the Alabama-LSU-Auburn round robin to begin.
▪ A rare marquee NFL telecast Thursday night (FOX and NFL Network, 7:20 p.m.) when playoff hopefuls Philadelphia and Green Bay square off at Lambeau Field. A composite from offshore sports books shows the Packers around 13/1 to win the Super Bowl after their undefeated start versus Chicago, Minnesota, and Denver. Philadelphia has dropped to 20/1 after losses the last two weeks to Atlanta and Detroit. New England (7/2) and Kansas City (11/2) are still on top of futures boards.
VSiN returns Saturday to recap the New Orleans Saints’ big upset of the Seattle Seahawks this past weekend, and to preview Sunday night’s nationally televised showdown vs. the Dallas Cowboys. Note that the Saints are currently around 14/1 to win the Lombardi Trophy, but would rise quickly if backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to win games until Drew Brees returns.