We managed to get back to 3-3 last week thanks to Kentucky, which beat South Carolina at home (24-10), LSU, which easily covered the 11 against Ole Miss, and Penn State, which lost to Ohio State 27-26 but the three points put the Nittany Lions in the win column for your humble scribe. That’s the good news. The bad news is that from this point forward the games are only going to get tougher.
On the season we’re 14-18 against ATS. Let’s hope to make up some more ground as October begins. Here we go:
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The game: LSU at Florida (Plus 2).
The skinny: The line started the week at Florida plus-3 and has dropped a point. This will mark the second straight year that LSU has played at Florida. The Tigers won in the Swamp last season 17-16 (When Florida missed an extra point). It will be a defensive battle that will come down to quarterback play and who can make a field goal in the clutch. I like LSU’s Joe Burrow, who has not thrown an interception this season, and kicker Cole Tracy. Take LSU and give the 2.
The score: LSU 17, Florida 14.
The game: Kentucky (plus 5 1/2) at Texas A&M.
The skinny: Kentucky has been for real in its first five games, beating Florida on the road and Mississippi State and South Carolina at home. Here’s the key. Kentucky’s Benny Snell is the SEC’s leading rusher (127.80 ypg). Texas A&M has the SEC’s best rush defense (85 ypg), holding Clemson to 115 and Alabama to 109. This would be yet another magical win for Kentucky but I think Snell gets held to under 100. Take the Aggies and lay the points.
The score: Texas A&M 24, Kentucky 17.
The game: Auburn at Mississippi State (plus 3 ½)
The skinny: It’s only the first Saturday in October but both of these teams have to win. A loss gives Mississippi State an 0-3 start in the SEC, something no one expected. Auburn (whose only loss is to No. 5 LSU 22-21) has to win in order make the November games with No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia still relevant. Key stats: Auburn has been held to under 100 yards rushing in each of its last two games. But Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele saw how Florida confused Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald and he took notes. Take Auburn and give the points.
The score: Auburn 17, Mississippi State 13.
The game: Missouri (plus 2) at South Carolina
The skinny: South Carolina, picked to finish second in the SEC East, has already lost to Georgia and Kentucky. The Gamecocks badly need a win to get back on track. The problem? Quarterback Jake Bentley tweaked a knee against Kentucky and might not be able to go. If he can go he may be limited. Missouri, of course, has a future NFL first-rounder at quarterback in Drew Lock. South Carolina’s secondary has had some problems getting on the same page this season. Oops. A 1-3 start in the SEC is not what the South Carolina fans were expecting. Missouri wins straight up.
The score: Missouri 21, South Carolina 17.
The game: Texas (plus 7) vs. Oklahoma (Dallas).
The skinny: Since an inexplicable loss to Maryland in the opener, Texas (4-1) seems to have gotten its act together. The Longhorns beat USC after trailing 14-3 and were impressive in handling TCU (31-16) as a home underdog. Here is the deal: Oklahoma really has no margin for error if it wants to make the playoffs. So the Sooners and Kyler Murray are going to win, but they are not going to cover. Take Texas and the points.
The score: Oklahoma 42, Texas 38 (plus 7).
The game: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech (plus 7).
The skinny: Notre Dame started the week as a 1 ½-point favorite and by Friday the line was up to 7. The Irish looked pretty strong against Stanford with Ian Book at quarterback. For Notre Dame this will be a tough road game at Blacksburg. Expect Bud Foster, the Virginia Tech DC, to come up with something to confuse Book. But Notre Dame was very impressive handling Stanford (38-17). Win this one and the Irish are in the playoff discussion for real. Take Notre Dame and give the points.
The score: Notre Dame 24, Virginia Tech 14