SEC college football picks, odds in Week 4: Texas A&M handles Arkansas, LSU gets revenge vs. Mississippi State


Week 4 of the college football season is when things really get going in the SEC. There are six conference games, including a big-time battle between No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 16 Arkansas in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. The Aggies have fought through a massive early-season injury to starting quarterback Haynes King to move to 3-0 for the first time under coach Jimbo Fisher. The Razorbacks have been a pleasant surprise, throttling Texas two weeks ago and dispatching of Georgia Southern with relative ease last week. 

There are other big games on the slate as well. First up, LSU is looking for revenge vs. Mississippi State after last season’s debacle in Baton Rouge. Tennessee will also rekindle its rivalry with No. 11 Florida, while No. 2 Georgia squares off against 1-2 Vanderbilt.

Let’s break down the top storylines and make picks for Week 4 in the SEC:

Appetizer: LSU must get ground game going

LSU’s 2021 season started out as a hot mess when it fell to UCLA, but a quick fix to the running game could salvage the season. The Tigers rank 120th in the nation at 86.7 rushing yards per game and 119th at 3.09 rushing yards per carry. That won’t cut it under normal circumstances, much less for a team like LSU that has a relatively experienced offensive line and talented running back room.

Granted, presumed starter John Emery Jr. will miss the season due to an eligibility issue, but Corey Kiner and Tyrion Davis-Price should be able to pick up the slack. Kiner leads the team with 129 yards and two touchdowns, but will still serve as a backup in what should be a committee approach.

“Tyrion Davis-Price is still our starter, but we will use a three-man and four-man rotation,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “You will see Armoni Goodwin this week and hopefully Tre Bradford can get eligible. We have not found out anything yet, but he is practicing, and as soon as he is eligible we will play him, too.”

Main course: KJ Jefferson needs to ball out

Jefferson, the starting quarterback for the upstart Razorbacks, will be the key factor against Texas A&M in Jerry World. The dual-threat sophomore has been a weapon in the multi-dimensional rushing attack, but ranks seventh in the SEC in passing yards per game (210.7) and is tied for 11th in touchdown passes (four).

He’ll have to be more effective with his arm to beat Texas A&M’s defense. 

The Aggies defensive front, led by junior DeMarvin Leal, is one of the deepest and most versatile groups in the country. Sure, Arkansas’ running backs will get their touches, but it’s unlikely that Trelon Smith and Co. will be able to run all over the Aggies like they did against Texas.

Jefferson ranks sixth in the SEC with nine passing plays of 20 or more, which has been good enough through three games. However, he needs to have the best game of his career through the air on Saturday to keep the Texas A&M defense honest. 

Dessert: Daniels finds his groove

Georgia’s offense didn’t really fire on all cylinders until Week 3 against South Carolina. The Bulldogs were stagnant in the opener vs. Clemson, and backup quarterback Stetson Bennett started vs. UAB in Week 2 in place of injured starter JT Daniels. Returning last Saturday, Daniels showed once again why he’s a star, completing 74.2% of his passes for 303 yards — at nearly 10 yards per attempt — and three touchdowns. Sure, it’s one game, but the downfield passing attack was the one lingering question about this Georgia offense.

Daniels has that covered as the Bulldogs prepare for the Commodores. He played the role of game-manager against the Tigers in a battle controlled by defense. After a brief stint on the sideline, he returned to full effectiveness last week. That indicates he’s smart and doesn’t put himself, or his team, in unnecessarily risky situations that could upend the season.

Watch out, Georgia might be the most complete team in the conference at this point. 

SEC picks, Week 4

Straight up: 34-5 | Against the spread: 16-13
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

No. 2 Georgia at Vanderbilt

The Bulldogs can play dial-a-score against Vanderbilt, which has the worst offense in the SEC at 4.46 yards per play and 353.7 yards per game. Georgia’s defensive front, led by monster nose guard Jordan Davis, is going to feast. Vandy will be lucky to reach the end zone and Georgia’s offense will want to make sure it’s tuned up with Arkansas and Auburn coming up. Pick: Georgia (-34.5)

LSU at Mississippi State

Latest Odds:

LSU Tigers
-2.5

I got burned by LSU against UCLA, but I’m going to run it back and trust the Tigers one more time. Coach O got embarrassed by the Bulldogs in 2020, and there’s no chance he’s going to let Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense repeat that feat. As bad as LSU has been on the ground, Mississippi State has worse (45.33 YPG). The running game isn’t a huge part of Leach’s offense, but I find it hard to believe that Oregron will sit in man coverage all afternoon like he did last season. Pick: LSU (-2.5)

Missouri at Boston College

Latest Odds:

Missouri Tigers
-1.5

Can we talk about Connor Bazelak for a second? The Tigers’ second-year starting quarterback has quietly put up solid numbers with 299 yards per game, nine touchdowns and only one interception in an offense averaging 7.1 yards per play. It’ll be strength vs. strength going against an Eagles defense that ranks second in the ACC in pass defense (153 YPG). This should be a fun one, but since a field goal nets a Missouri cover, I’ll side with Eli Drinkwitz’ crew. Pick: Missouri (-2.5)

No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 16 Arkansas 

Latest Odds:

Arkansas Razorbacks
+5.5

This one will come down to Jefferson, but he won’t have enough juice in the passing game to pull off the upset. Arkansas has to establish the run in order to set up the pass and Texas A&M’s monstrous front seven will do enough to prevent it from getting downhill on a consistent basis. Meanwhile, Fisher learned a lot about quarterback Zach Calzada in the New Mexico game and will allow Calzada to spread the ball around. Arkansas just doesn’t have the speed on defense to keep up. Pick: Texas A&M (-5.5)

Georgia State at No. 23 Auburn (-27)

Latest Odds:

Auburn Tigers
-27

After what happened last week in the loss to Penn State, a third straight home game featuring at least 60 points might be in the cards for Auburn. Coach Bryan Harsin has to find a way to become more balanced, so expect quarterback Bo Nix to light up a Georgia State defense that has yet to record an interception.. Pick: Auburn (-27)

Tennessee at No. 11 Florida

Latest Odds:

Florida Gators
-19

Florida showed up in its close loss to Alabama, which makes this a prime letdown spot. Tennessee has found an offensive identity with quarterback Hendon Hooker, and its defense looked strong in the shutout over Tennessee Tech. There’s no doubt the Vols can handle Florida’s zone-read attack and keep this a two-touchdown game. Florida will be in control, it just won’t cover. Pick: Tennessee (+20)

Kentucky at South Carolina

Latest Odds:

Kentucky Wildcats
-5

The Wildcats looked like they were sleepwalking against Chattanooga. That has to change in a night game at the always-wild Williams Brice Stadium. It will. Quarterback Will Levis will take advantage of a porous Gamecocks pass defense and post his second 300-plus yard passing performance in four games. That will open up the running game for Kentucky’s talented running backs to rip off chunk plays in a double-digit win. Pick: Kentucky (-5.5)

Southern Miss at No. 1 Alabama 

Alabama coach Nick Saban got the luxury of yelling at his team all week after it struggled to hold off Florida. The Crimson Tide will take it out on a Golden Eagles team that ranks 126th nationally on offense at just four yards per play. Southern Miss won’t get to double digits on the scoreboard and Saban will keep his foot on the gas deep into the second half. The Tide score 60 points, easy. Pick: Alabama (-44.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 4, and which Top 25 favorite goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,000 in profit over the past five-plus season — and find out.





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