College football picks, odds for SEC in Week 4: LSU rolls over Mississippi State, Kentucky hangs with Auburn


It’s finally here. SEC football will return to our TVs and our hearts on Saturday afternoon with seven compelling matchups leading off the 10-game, conference-only schedule. No. 23 Kentucky will travel to No. 8 Auburn in the only ranked-on-ranked matchup of the day, while No. 6 LSU will kick off its SEC and national title defense on the SEC on CBS Game of the Week at 3:30 p.m. ET.

It’s safe to say that making picks in this COVID-19 era is going to be remarkably difficult. It’s unknown — especially on Wednesday when these picks are published — exactly who will be available on any given team by the time that toe meets leather. So I’ll do the best that I can. 

It’s time to let them fly. Let’s see if I can improve upon my 62-45-2 (57.8%) record against the spread from last season.

Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (-16.5): All eyes will be on Myles Brennan as he looks to replace a legend in 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. The intrigue goes beyond that, though. It’s like the world completely forgot that Bo Pelini was hired to replace former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Both sides will click. LSU will want to put on a show if, for no other reason, to know that it can do it. Perhaps even more important is the debut of Mike Leach as Mississippi State’s head coach. That system, which spreads everybody out including the offensive line, won’t fly in the SEC. LSU’s size and speed on defense — especially up front — will lead the Tigers to an easy win and cover. Pick: LSU (-16.5)

No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn (-7.5): The Tigers have to replace defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson after the dynamic duo moved on to the NFL. That alone should be concerning. When that defensive front has to go up against Kentucky’s offensive line — one of the best in the nation — it’s difficult to find a way where this one won’t be close in the fourth quarter. Tigers quarterback Bo Nix and a four-headed monster at running back will put the game away late, but Kentucky will keep it a one-touchdown game. Pick: Kentucky (+7.5)

No. 2 Alabama (-27) at Missouri: Alabama starting quarterback Mac Jones will take the snaps for the Crimson Tide against a Tigers defense that is pretty salty. The Tide offense, however, is as sweet as sugar thanks to Jones, star running back Najee Harris, offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood and the wide receiver duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Tigers linebacker Nick Bolton is a star … but he can’t do it all. The Tide will empty the bench but keep their foot on the gas for a full four quarters in order to build depth that will be needed when the schedule toughens up. Pick: Alabama (-27)

No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas (+26): All eyes will be under center. Georgia will trot out either redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis or USC transfer JT Daniels as its starting quarterback. The offense is going to be a work-in-progress no matter who is slinging it around the yard. The Bulldogs, led by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, have questions along the offensive line and at wide receiver, where they’re still looking for a viable No. 2 option to take pressure off of George Pickens. My guess is that Mathis will be the starter, but that they’ll want to be very careful with him heading into next week’s showdown with No. 8 Auburn. Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd will find the end zone late against the Bulldogs second-team defense to give the Hogs a back door cover. Pick: Arkansas (+26)

No. 5 Florida (-14.5) at Ole Miss: The Lane Kiffin era will kick off in Oxford against a Gators squad that has the College Football Playoff in mind. Kiffin has a flare for the dramatic, and running back Jerrion Ealy and wide receiver Elijah Moore are certainly capable of providing that spark. The Gators are still my pick to win the East, but their defense is going to have to force multiple mistakes to make this a blowout. That won’t happen. The Rebels have enough on offense — whether it’s John Rhys Plumlee or Matt Corral taking the snaps — to keep this one close. Pick: Ole Miss (+14.5)

Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M (-30.5): Man, those are a lot of points to lay considering how whacky this season could be. With that said, lay ’em. Lay ’em with confidence. The Commodores still have a four-man race at quarterback, which tells you all that you need to know about where they stand after fall camp. Meanwhile, the Aggies have a stout defense, led by defensive lineman Bobby Brown Jr. and linebacker Buddy Johnson, that will keep the ‘Dores in single-digits. Expect Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller to put the hammer down and build confidence heading into next week’s showdown with Alabama. Pick: Texas A&M (-30.5)

No. 16 Tennessee (-3.5) at South CarolinaThe game with the smallest line of the week will be a big test for a Tennessee team that many, including yours truly, think can make a big step forward. The Vols have a great one-two punch at running back and a stout offensive line. The core of the defense is back after it led a six-game winning streak to close out last season. The question, as it always seems to be on Rocky Top, is at quarterback. Jarrett Guarantano doesn’t seem to have the upside that they need to win the division. However, his experience will play a huge role on Saturday since he knows what to expect from his playmakers. Gamecocks quarterback Collin Hill won’t be able to hang. Pick: Tennessee (-3.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 4? And which SEC favorite goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover in Week 4, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,800 in profit over the past four-plus seasons, and find out.





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