Texas A&M lays its most points (-17.5) on the road in an SEC contest since joining the conference when it travels to Columbia to square off against South Carolina. The spread is too rich for guest handicapper Brian Edwards’ wallet, but a play on the total is in order. Below, you can find up-to-date betting information for each SEC contest, complete with analysis and picks from the veteran handicapper.
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.
Alcorn State at No. 20 Arkansas
Kickoff: Noon ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Off
Public (ATS): N/A
Edwards’ Analysis: “Arkansas has a big game with ‘Bama on deck, and is coming off a rough one. That game (Texas A&M) was a lot closer than the final score indicated last week. Obviously, they (Razorbacks) just want to get out of this one healthy.
“There’s no line yet, and I won’t be interested in any number here.”
The Play: Pass
No. 23 Florida at Vanderbilt
Kickoff: Noon ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Florida -9.5 (opened -9.5)
Over/Under: 40 (opened 41)
Public (ATS): 73 percent Gators
Edwards’ Analysis: “I re-watched the Florida-Tennessee game. The first three or four possessions in the second half, Florida started inside its own 20-yard line, and holding a decent-sized lead, it’s understandable they were a little cautious with the play-calling. Prior to that, they were lighting up the Tennessee secondary and really should have just stuck with the passing game. I get you got a big lead, but once the crowd got back in the game, you have to stop running the ball on first down and get back to what you were doing so successfully. And they could not do that.
“The defense fell apart. Duke Dawson blew a coverage. (Josh) Dobbs took advantage when (Teez) Tabor was out with cramps for another touchdown. Geez, those are the type of games Florida has been winning over Tennessee for years, and Tennessee finally got one.
“I can see the thought process of fading Florida here: (Noon ET) game, on the road for the second time in two weeks, LSU on deck, and Vanderbilt has given Florida problems the last two meetings. But Florida is mad, and talent will win out here.
“(Luke) Del Rio practiced a little. Sounded like he may be available if (Austin) Appleby gets injured in the game. By the way, Appleby played well last week, and I think he’ll be the guy to go the whole way unless he slips up majorly or gets injured.
“I like the Gators here. Florida as a road favorite was 3-0 against the spread under (Jim) McElwain last year, and 1-0 the year before. As for Vandy, as a home underdog on Derek Mason’s watch, they are 5-3 against the spread. Going back a little further, they are 10-5 in their last 15 as a home dog. Vandy beat Florida (three) seasons ago, and missed out in a close one 9-7 last year on one of the few field goals the Gators made all season.
“Quick note: (Vandy running back) Ralph Webb is from Gainesville, and wasn’t recruited by the Gators. He’ll be fired up with something to prove, and is coming off two big games (in the past three weeks).”
The Play: Gators -9.5
Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Auburn -33 (opened -35)
Over/Under: 56 (opened 55.5)
Public (ATS): 60 percent Tigers
Edwards’ Analysis: “Big win for Auburn (vs. LSU). You wonder if (Gus) Malzahn would have been receiving his pink slip rather than (Les) Miles after that one. Both coaches were in desperate need for a victory, and Malzahn won out.
“Auburn still has issues on offense, but that defense is one of the more surprising units of all this year. I thought losing Will Muschamp and picking up Kevin Steele it may downgrade, but I was wrong. Now Auburn is in a good position. Get a W here as a heavy favorite, and they’ll be 3-2 headed into to Starkville to play Mississippi State. State will have two weeks to prepare, but that looks like a toss-up game, and if they (Tigers) can steal that one, they’ll be 4-2 with an open date to get ready for Arkansas. The season is very salvageable and they need to keep their momentum going.
“I’m not going to lay a ton of points here. I will note that they did cover that big number a few weeks ago against Arkansas State, but I’m going to stay away from this one.”
The Play: Pass
No. 11 Tennessee at No. 25 Georgia
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Friday Line: Tennessee -3.5 (opened -4)
Over/Under: 53 (opened 53)
Public (ATS): 65 percent Volunteers
Edwards’ Analysis: “Vintage letdown situation here. I know it’s a division game, but when you lose 11 in a row to a team (Florida) and then rally from 21-0, all the emotion from that game takes It out of you.
“If Nick Chubb was 100 percent, I would be on Georgia, but it’s looking like he may not play. Sony Michel is a solid backup, but that O-line is poor. Not a lot of confidence in Georgia, even at home.
“I will say, the total, I made it 56 and it’s at 53 now. The last four meetings have gone over 65 points or more in each. With the O-line struggling, Georgia may go to the air more, and the defense is giving up plenty this season. I lean the over here, need to do a little more homework before making a play.”
The Play: Lean over 53
No. 9 Texas A&M at South Carolina
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: Texas A&M -17.5 (opened -15.5)
Over/Under: 48 (opened 47.5)
Public (ATS): 59 percent Aggies
Edwards’ Analysis: “I’m not looking at the side here, making the game 14.5 points. A&M is a play-on team right now, not a play-against team. I’m looking at the under, as it is 4-0 in South Carolina games this season. Their combined scores have been 27, 35, 41, and 23. The offense hasn’t scored more than 20, and this is by far the best defense it has gone up against.
“This is vintage (Will) Muschamp, these low-scoring games. The fear is if Texas A&M will score a lot, but Muschamp puts his defensive personnel in positions to make plays. I can see the Aggies D holding the South Carolina offense to 14 or less. I made the total 45 here. Under here is the play. Texas A&M will likely nurse a big lead late and call it conservatively.”
The Play: Under 48
Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Friday Line: Alabama -35 (opened -34.5)
Over/Under: 57.5 (opened 57.5)
Public (ATS): 64 percent Crimson Tide
Edwards’ Analysis: “I made it -31, so I think it’s a tad high. It’s hard for me to say Kentucky is gaining confidence, I mean, they’ve won back-to-back. Still, I’m not going to mess with it. Too many points.
“Alabama is looking ahead to Arkansas next week, and will get a quick comfortable lead here. The back door could be open for Kentucky, but it’s not one I want anything to do with. (Mark) Stoops as a road dog is 5-9 against the spread since taking over Kentucky. Number is a little high, but I’m not tempted.”
The Play: Pass
Memphis at No. 16 Ole Miss
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Friday Line: Ole Miss -15 (opened -13.5)
Over/Under: 68.5 (opened 66.5)
Public (ATS): 62 percent Rebels
Edwards’ Analysis: “I haven’t seen Memphis play yet this season. On paper, they haven’t played anybody of significance. They’re scoring some points, though.
“Obviously, a huge revenge spot here for Ole Miss after losing last season. The Rebels were so high after beating Alabama the week before, they were a little caught off guard in that game —still Memphis was pretty good and Paxton Lynch entered red-hot. Ole Miss will be ready this year.
“I lean to Ole Miss here; that offense is so darn nasty. If you can get it at -14 rather -14.5, that’s good. If it drops below two touchdowns than I may take it. I just am in the dark on Memphis this year, so it’s tough to lay a big number against. Slight lean to Ole Miss due to the revenge angle.”
The Play: Lean Ole Miss -14
Missouri at LSU
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Friday Line: LSU -13 (opened -14.5)
Over/Under: 53.5 (opened 53.5)
Public (ATS): 55 percent Mizzou
Edwards’ Analysis: “I’m playing Missouri. Just so impressed with Drew Lock: third in the nation in passing yards (1,508), confidence is soaring, a 14-to-3 TD:INT ratio. I don’t know if Missouri scored 167 points the entire year last season (it didn’t), but they have the last three games. Missouri is 12-6 against the spread in its last 18 as a road underdog.
“Coach O (Ed Orgeron), he did a heck of a job as an interim (head coach) at USC a couple of years ago. He really rallied that team, and put together a nice winning streak to salvage that season (2013) for the Trojans. He’s a fiery guy — no doubt he’ll spark some energy. But this team just isn’t playing very good. Losing (Les) Miles is a distraction this week, and likely plays on their psyche. I mean, you never know how people will react to that. Sometimes players are fired up about it, while for others it serves as a major disturbance. You got the (Leonard) Fournette situation, too, where he is questionable for the game.
“But I don’t think any of that matters here. Even if LSU won that game last week, and Miles was still the coach, I still like Missouri. Missouri is a lot better than I thought they would be. Heck, I figured the defense would be good and not the offense, but it’s kind of the other way around right now. I mean, the defense is not bad. Regardless, I don’t think LSU should be favored by double digits over anybody right now.”
The Play: Missouri +13