Three ranked matchups highlight Week 4 of the SEC schedule as No. 12 Georgia takes on No. 23 Ole Miss, No. 19 Florida squares off against No. 14 Tennessee, and No. 17 Arkansas clashes with No. 10 Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic.
Here’s a look at up-to-date betting information for each contest, complete with analysis and picks from veteran handicapper Brian Edwards.
Edwards, a long-time VegasInsider.com handicapper with an emphasis on SEC football, will provide his thoughts and insights on the line moves throughout the 2016 season. He is a University of Florida graduate and a weekly radio guest in Las Vegas, Omaha and Memphis.
Kent State at No. 1 Alabama
Kickoff: Noon ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Alabama -44 (opened -41.5)
Over/Under: 50 (opened 50)
Public (ATS): 61 percent Crimson Tide
Edwards’ Analysis: “Too many points to get involved here. Alabama is gonna coast through this one, and Kentucky next week, two easy wins. They’ll head into Fayetteville undefeated and will look to remain injury free. (Nick) Saban would like to give (Cooper) Bateman some reps in case (Blake) Barnett or (Jalen) Hurts get hurt, no pun intended.
“Kent State played Penn State okay in the opener, but then again, Penn State isn’t very good. Can’t lay so many points, and not interested in the underdog.”
The Play: Pass
No. 12 Georgia at No. 23 Ole Miss
Kickoff: Noon ET, ESPN
Friday Line: Ole Miss -7 (opened -6)
Over/Under: 62 (opened 61.5)
Public (ATS): 61 percent Rebels
Edwards’ Analysis: “Confidence-building win last weekend for Georgia, especially (Jacob) Eason — connecting on that fourth-down pass at crunch time.
“I can see people questioning where Ole Miss’ psyche is right now. Are they drained physically and mentally? They played two of the tougher teams in the nation. Had 21 and 22-point leads and lost them both. But look at Georgia. It’s played three close games. They (Bulldogs) had to rally from a double-digit deficit late in the third (quarter) to beat North Carolina. The game with Nicholls was close the whole way. Last week was back and forth the whole way, too. Both teams have had it tough overall. But, Ole Miss has the home crowd.
“I’m staying away from this game, but wouldn’t be surprised if Ole Miss puts it on ’em. The Georgia offensive line has some issues.
“I made the number 5, so I think it’s a little bit rich. But I’m just not interested in Georgia here.”
The Play: Pass
No. 19 Florida at No. 14 Tennessee
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Friday Line: Tennessee -6.5 (opened -8)
Over/Under: 43 (opened 43.5)
Public (ATS): 68 percent Gators
Edwards’ Analysis: “Best bet on the board is the Gators. Love ‘em. Money line and on the spread. I got it 7.5 earlier in the week. If it’s at 6.5 buy the half point on principle to get it to a key number.
“Florida has won nine of the last 11 at Neyland (Stadium). If the Gators were 3.5-point underdogs in the last 23 meetings, they would own a 22-1 ATS record. They’ve only lost by more than three once during this stretch, and that was 2003 when Tennessee won 24-10 in the Swamp when Casey Clausen hit a Hail Mary on the last play of the first half. Gator fans call Neyland the ‘Swamp North.’
“The key here will be Tennessee’s offensive line. Florida is gonna get after (Josh) Dobbs. At least the Vols have a quarterback that can scramble. Because he’s going get pressured all day long. The Gators are gonna force a few turnovers as well.
“I don’t have much confidence in Florida’s offense, but the defense will create such good situations for the unit that it will do well in this one. I’ll not be surprised if Florida puts it on Tennessee. Win it by two or three touchdowns is not out of the question.
“Tennessee as a home favorite under Butch Jones: 6-11 against the spread. Florida’s last nine as a road dog, 6-2-1 against the spread with four outright wins. Florida wins this game and convincingly.”
The Play: Florida ML; Florida +7.5
Mississippi State at Massachusetts
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Friday Line: Mississippi St. -22.5 (opened -25)
Over/Under: 47 (opened 45)
Public (ATS): 66 percent Bulldogs
Edwards’ Analysis: “Is Dan Mullen trying to lure Boston recruits to Starkville (Miss.)? I have no idea why they’re playing at UMass, and I have no interest in this game whatsoever.
“I was very impressed with what Mississippi State did last week, though, to get back into that game (LSU). Them and Ole Miss can’t draw up onside kicks any better than that. Score another quick touchdown and then go in for the cover, well done by each last week.
“I can’t lay this many points with Mississippi State right now. Who knows with UMass. They hung around with Florida and easily covered. I want nothing to do with this game.”
The Play: Pass
Delaware State at Missouri
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Off
Public (ATS): N/A
Edwards’ Analysis: “Another with little interest here. They (Tigers) have a big game next weekend at LSU, and will try to get a big lead early and rest some guys.
“That was a heartbreaker last week. But I think Missouri feels pretty good about themselves after the fact — not to offer a backhanded compliment or anything. But they felt good because they proved they do have an offense and (I) wasn’t sure where it stood entering the season. I’m much higher on Missouri today than coming into the season, that’s for sure. I think they’ll qualify for a bowl game and have a decent year. They can definitely hang with LSU next week. If they’re getting 14 (points) or more next week, I’ll be very interested.”
The Play: Pass
Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Friday Line: Western Kentucky -8 (opened -7.5)
Over/Under: 51.5 (opened 51.5)
Public (ATS): 64 percent Hilltoppers
Edwards’ Analysis: “Western Kentucky’s best offensive lineman, Forrest Lamp, a first-team All-Conference USA honoree last year with 42 career starts is out. And they might be without their three best running backs, too. Leon Allen is still missing with that injury from last year. Anthony Wales is doubtful with a hamstring. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. DeAndre Ferby is questionable with a shoulder injury.
“The Vandy game was closer last week than the score indicated (38-7). That’s what happens when the offense gives you nothing, the defense gets gassed late. But then when you see how poor Georgia Tech looked last night, it makes you hesitate to have any interest in Vanderbilt here.
“I’m not really interested in laying points with Western Kentucky, either. They were very fortunate to win this matchup last year. Vandy had an easy touchdown pass dropped by the tight end, and they (Commodores) had to settle for a bunch of short field goals. They should have won, and held Western Kentucky to their lowest points and yards per game in the meeting. I think Vandy’s defense goes into this game confident. Whether the offense shows remains to be seen. I think I’ll stay away.”
The Play: Pass
No. 18 LSU at Auburn
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Friday Line: LSU -3.5 (opened -4)
Over/Under: 45 (opened 46)
Public (ATS): 63 percent Bengal Tigers
Edwards’ Analysis: “I like LSU a lot here. You talk about two coaches starving for a big win. (Les) Miles and Cam Cameron, even on their most dysfunctional of evenings, can’t mess this one up. Auburn is in complete disarray. The boo-birds were out in force last week. If LSU can get a lead early, that crowd is gonna turn on this team and the coach, and it’s going to get ugly on the Plains this year just like it got for Gene Chizik.
“Danny Etling. No interceptions last week, plenty of high-percentage passes. He’ll get it to (Malachi) Dupre and (Travin) Dural. (Leonard) Fournette will do his thing, and LSU’s defense is outstanding. Auburn’s offense is deplorable. This matchup is what carries the day for LSU.
“I’m impressed with Auburn’s defense, but as long as Etling doesn’t make mistakes, they should win this game by 10-14 points.
“If the line is -3.5, buy the half point, but I don’t think you’ll necessarily need it.”
The Play: LSU -3
South Carolina at Kentucky
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Kentucky -2.5 (opened -1.5)
Over/Under: 59 (opened 56.5)
Public (ATS): 55 percent Gamecocks
Edwards’ Analysis: “I think the total is real interesting. I made it 54. The under is 3-0 for South Carolina, the over 3-0 for Kentucky. We know Kentucky’s defense is absolutely atrocious. South Carolina’s defense does their thing. East Carolina had so many yards last week, but the Gamecocks would just tighten up in the red zone, and get some turnovers when needed. And it ended up being another easy under for bettors. I lean another one here knowing how (Will) Muschamp will approach this being a tight game and all. I have it a pick ‘em. If Carolina could get three points I’d consider, but lean on the under nonetheless.”
The Play: Lean under 59
No. 17 Arkansas at No. 10 Texas A&M
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Friday Line: Texas A&M -6 (opened -3.5)
Over/Under: 49.5 (opened 49)
Public (ATS): 54 percent Aggies
Edwards’ Analysis: “I made it -4, but I’m not going against the Aggies here. Two overtimes the last two meetings in Arlington, and Arkansas is finding ways to win close games. After the La. Tech scare, they got a huge win at TCU, and just put it on Texas State early and often last week. They have the most underrated wide receivers in the country with Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan.
“A&M, though, have the best wide receivers in the nation. Trevor Knight is playing solid. The defense is playing solid. It’s gonna be a good game. If you’re a Razorbacks believer, then jumping on board at +7 is intriguing, but I can’t bet against this Texas A&M team right now. I think the Aggies win. Whether they cover or not, we’ll see. I’m on the sidelines.”
The Play: Pass