Here's what happens when you've been meaning to write a column all summer and never got around to it. All of a sudden there comes a mythical day, a day long held in local legend but never realized, in which games are actually scheduled to be played and I haven't gotten my over/under picks in.
Over/under picks are some of my favorite predictions to make because I enjoy taking a look at which programs might be over or underrated going into the season. As always, these lines are based purely on regular season games. The SEC Championship and bowl games are not included.
Arkansas (over/under 5.5 wins)
In all honesty, just thinking about taking the under kills all the joy and excitement for the season that I have. And I don't want to feel like that. Considering the over gets everything going. The over makes me want to have the most elaborate tailgate, splurge on the best tickets, dress in the best new cardinal-and-white clothes, and drink only top-shelf, choice drinks. It's where hangovers don't exist and game temperatures are irrelevant. So I'm taking the over.
In all seriousness, Arkansas *should* start out 4-0, and I think the Mississippi State game is a victory (in Little Rock off a bye week and I don't think they'll be that good. I think their best chance is if Arkansas comes in on a long losing streak and has quit fighting) and the Razorbacks pick up #6 somewhere along the way. It's pretty much a faith thing, really. I recognize that.
This is the "Tiger vs the field" bet of the SEC season. The only reason to pick the under is history. They'll have to accomplish things this season that no one has ever done before to pull off the over. But they do have the schedule to do it. I think the Tide beat A&M (Bama actually won the last three quarters in the loss in Tuscalossa last year by a score of 24-9) and that leaves the best shot at losing at home to LSU. It's worth noting that as dominant as Alabama has been, they have suffered home losses in each of the last three seasons (Auburn in 2010, LSU in 2011, and A&M in 2012). So I'm taking the under on the chance that either LSU beats them or they hiccup somewhere else. History rarely loses. Under.
Auburn should go 4-0 in non-conference (Don't tell Arkansas State fans that. They think they've got a great chance to get revenge on Gus.), but it's hard to see where the three SEC wins will come from. They'd probably have to win three of the four games between
Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Tennessee and only two of those games are at home. A lot of people are assuming Gus Malzahn will have the Tigers' offense back to operating with at least some level of competency, but the defense is a bigger question. In fact, most hurry-up-no-huddle teams don't have a great defense. Perhaps this shirt to the right, targeted at Bret Bielema and Nick Saban, should actually be targeted toward the Auburn defensive coaches. Under.
The Gators would have to win four out of six games outside The Swamp in order to pull off the over. And that's if they sweep their home games, which includes Florida State (and, yes, I know, Arkansas. But considering the Hogs haven't beaten the Gators since joining the SEC, excuse me if I'm joining the chorus in calling this a sexy upset pick). Three of their road games are tossups at best: LSU, South Carolina, and the Cocktail Party. Not to mention a trip to Miami). A lot will have to go right for the Gators to hit 10 wins this year and they've already lost two major contributors for the year (OL Chaz Green and WR Andre Debose) due to injuries in fall camp. Clearly, Will Muschamp needs to work harder at making things go right (now I run away in fear of Muschamp). Under.
Georgia could have their season is ruined by Week 2. But if they do survive the opener at Clemson and hosting South Carolina in Week 2, they can do it. Clemson is definitely their toughest road game, getting LSU and South Carolina at home, and of course Florida is in the neutral site in Jacksonville. If they win just two of those four games they should hit the over. And Mark Richt is a really nice guy, so give the Bulldogs a little extra benefit of the doubt. Over. Also remember that little freshman quarterback Georgia had when Arkansas pulled off that great win in Athens back in 2010? Guess what, he's still there! And now he's an all-grown-up senior. That seems like forever ago.
Seriously? If you're an SEC team and your over/under is 3.5 you've made some serious mistakes, my friend. I know Kentucky's rarely very good, but still, 3.5 should be insulting. No SEC team should ever be a 3.5. But, that being said, they beat Alabama State (probably), and maybe Miami (OH). Their only home SEC game that is conceivably winnable is Missouri and I think the Tigers win that. But their recruiting class is really good, so congratulations. Also, anybody else really looking forward to seeing Western Kentucky and Bobby Petrino take on the Wildcats in the season opener? I am. Under. And why did the SEC take this return game away from Arkansas? We sure could have used it.
What's interesting is that LSU loses about the same number of players to the NFL as Alabama, has close to the same ranking in recruiting classes, has won almost the same number of games over the last three years, but is given so much less respect. I guess that's what happens when Les Miles is Les Miles, regardless his victories. I think LSU can have a really good year. I'm really interested in the game against Texas A&M in the next to last week of the season. That's not getting hardly any attention because it's so late in the year, but that has potential to be just as big as Alabama vs Texas A&M. I like the Tigers this year. I think they can go at least 10-2. Over.
Mississippi State (5.5)
This is one of the easier ones for me to pick. I have the Bulldogs losing their last five games, and I think they lose to Oklahoma State and LSU earlier in the year. That puts them at 5-7 and they still have to play at Auburn. Doesn't it feel like Hugh Freeze has taken back all the momentum Mississippi State had those first few Dan Mullen years? Under.
I don't mean this as a joke. Missouri travels to Indiana in Week 4 and that's a dangerous game for them. But if they can hang on and James Franklin stays healthy this year, I think they can pull off six wins. They'd start off 4-0 (again, sorry Arkansas State, I don't think you're winning this either) and still get Tennessee in Columbia and road trips to Kentucky (win) and Vanderbilt (tossup). They'd need two of those three to get to 6 wins and barring injury I think they get there. Over. But if they don't, bye bye Pinkel. And the watch to see if they hire Bobby Petrino and throw gasoline on the potential Arkansas/Missouri rivalry begins.
Ole Miss (8.5)
This line is basically asking, "Can Ole Miss upset either Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, or Texas?" The Rebels have to win at least one of those games to hit the over, and they still have to play at Vanderbilt, at Auburn, and at Mississippi State. When you're counting on a team that might be kinda overrated to win three road games, that's not a good strategy for winning the day. In fact, they go through one five-game stretch that's at Texas, at Alabama, at Auburn, and then host LSU and host A&M with one bye week in the middle of all that. Under. I think they win 7 or 8 this year. BUT THAT RECRUITING CLASS THOUGH
South Carolina (9.5)
I do think the Gamecocks might be a tad overrated this year, and I have them losing to Georgia, but after that where do the other two losses come from? The most likely candidates are Florida and Clemson, and both teams go to Columbia. They do play three straight road games in October against Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri, and three straight road games is usually a prime upset stretch (Arkansas, pretty please?). My prediction is that South Carolina goes 10-2 with an upset loss in one of those three road games. Over.
Along with their game against Kentucky, I'm anxious to see Bobby Petrino's Western Kentucky team against Tennessee in Week 2. If WKU knocks off Kentucky in the opener, folks in Knoxville could be feeling pretty uneasy about the Hilltoppers coming to town, and rightfully so. And if the Vols can't handle Petrino & co, they'll probably have to sweep November (at Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky) to hit the over. Can they do it? I think so. Beat WKU and they only need to win three of the four, and they still get home games against Georgia and South Carolina, so there's upset potential. Over.
Texas A&M (9.5)
JOHNNY GON' PLAY! JOHNNY GON' PLAY! I mean, the Aggies will be definite favorites in at least 10 games, right? I've got the Fightin Johnnys winning at least 10 (but not Bama). Over.
We've heard it all summer. "Vandy's coming on strong!" "But they didn't beat anybody good last year!" The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Their biggest three swing games this year are tonight's opener against Ole Miss, Missouri, and the trip to Knoxville in November. Vandy probably has to win all three to win eight games this season, and I don't think that'll happen. The Commodores should reach a bowl again, though. Under.
So there you have it. At least half of these are probably wrong, on account of college football being college football. Have a great weekend, y'all.
*What entertainment means to you is up to you.