We went 3-3 last week but it could have been better. It also could have been a lot worse:
**--Georgia wore down Notre Dame in an old-fashioned defensive struggle 23-17. The Bulldogs probably would have covered the 14 ½ points but they muffed a punt inside the 10-yard line which the Irish converted into a touchdown. Coach Kirby Smart also kicked a late field goal on fourth and short instead of going for the touchdown. That was upsetting to the folks who had given the points.
**--I took South Carolina and the 8 ½ points on the road at Missouri. The Gamecocks basically didn’t show up, losing 34-14. Things in Columbia, MO are pretty good (3-1). Things in Columbia, SC (1-3) are not.
**--I picked Kentucky, a six-point underdog, to win straight up at Mississippi State. Instead, the Wildcats had a post-Florida hangover and got handled 28-13.
I was right on Auburn winning outright at Texas A&M, Florida thumping Tennessee (34-3) in The Swamp and LSU covering the 23 ½ at Vanderbilt. The only problem with that group of games is that Vanderbilt ran out of beer.
So after four weeks we are 15-9 against the spread. Let’s see if we can do better.
The game: Ole Miss (plus 38) at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS.
Over/Under: 61 ½.
The pick: Alabama
The score: Alabama 52, Ole Miss 10.
The skinny: Ole Miss (2-2) has the No. 12 pass defense in the SEC, giving up 288.5 yards per game. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has completed 77.6 percent of his passes in four games for an average of 325 yards with no interceptions. Thirty-eight points is a big number but Alabama will score late and cover.
The game: Mississippi State (plus 11) at Auburn, 7 p.m., ESPN.
Over/Under: 46 ½.
The pick: Mississippi State.
The score: Auburn 21 , Miss. State 14.
The skinny: No. 7 Auburn (4-0) went on the road last week and recorded a big win (28-20) at Texas A&M. Now the No. 7 Tigers have to be on guard with a trip to No. 9 Florida coming up next week. Mississippi State had an impressive 28-13 win over Kentucky last week and is quietly putting together a good 1-2 punch on offense with Kylin Hill, the leading rusher in the SEC (137.8 ypg) and freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader. I like Auburn to win but not cover.
The game: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (plus 23) in Arlington, Tex., Noon, ESPN.
Over/Under: 57 1/2
The pick: Texas A&M.
The score: Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 17.
The skinny: With a loss to SEC West foe Auburn last week, Texas A&M (2-2) now has no margin for error the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see how the Aggies respond this week with No. 2 Alabama coming to College Station next week. There is no nice way to say it: Arkansas is a bad, bad football team and there is really no reason to believe it’s going to get better this season. With an open date coming up, the Aggies will not be totally focused at Jerry World but they still cover.
The game: Kentucky (plus 3) at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network.
The pick: South Carolina.
The score: South Carolina 24, Kentucky 20
The skinny: South Carolina’s Will Muschamp is catching a lot of heat because of a 1-3 start and a 34-14 thrashing last week at Missouri. South Carolina director of athletics Ray Tanner has supported Muschamp publicly and I still believe he’ll be back next season. Still, the only way to get any relief is to snap a five-game losing to Kentucky. South Carolina wins and covers the three points.
The game: Northern Illinois (plus 6) at Vanderbilt, Noon, SEC Network.
Over/Under: 54 1/2
The pick: Vanderbilt
The score: Vanderbilt 27, Northern Illinois 20.
The skinny: The Commodores are 0-3 but two of those losses have been to No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 LSU. The other loss was on the road at Purdue. Simply put, Vanderbilt is a better team that what it has been able to show. That ends this week against Northern Illinois (1-2), which has had a week off since getting thumped (44-8) by Nebraska.
The game: Washington State (plus 5) at Utah, 10 p.m., FS1.
Over/Under: 55 1/2
The pick: Utah.
The score: Utah 31-28.
The skinny: These teams are both coming off crazy losses. Washington State blew a 32-point lead in losing to UCLA 67-63. Utah lost at USC 30-23 when the backup quarterback, Matt Fink, came off the bench to throw for 351 yards. Utah is the pick here unless quarterback Tyler Huntley (foot) and running back Zack Moss (foot) can’t go. Both are expected to play. Utah wins but it doesn’t cover.