I’d like to personally and publicly welcome Ross Agee to 4 Down Territory. With Levi focusing on his law degree, and I have school of my own to worry about, 4 Down needed some more brainpower and a fresh voice. Ross will do a fantastic job, while consistently ribbing me for my inability to be anything more than mediocre at picking football games. Speaking of which, I had an even 2-2 split both outright and against the spread last week. This brings me up to 7-5 outright and 4-8 ATS records on the year. Anyway, this week’s slate (as you saw if you read Ross’ post earlier) includes all-SEC games with Georgia vs. Tennessee, Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt, Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, and South Carolina vs. Missouri.
Georgia vs. Tennessee
The Dawgs are gonna try to get there first conference win this weekend when the Vols roll in to town. Tennessee is probably a year away from making major noise in the SEC East, but they are still a scary team with plenty of talent. Georgia will look to get its ground game going after Sony Michel proved last week that the Dawgs have four running backs for teams to worry about stopping.
For the second time this season, I’ve not included the Dawgs stable of backs in my key matchup for their game. This game will be won or lost in the trenches though. This is particularly true for the Tennessee offensive line. They have 5 new starters on the line, so to call them green might be an understatement. Georgia exhibited a ferocious pass rush in the opener against Clemson, but had some trouble getting to Dylan Thompson in Week 2. If the Georgia front seven can pressure Justin Worley, and make it difficult for him to get the ball to his talented wideouts, then Georgia wins big.
Prediction: Georgia-34 Tennessee-20 Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt I firmly believed that Vandy had a shot to go 0-12 after they were blown out by Temple and Ole Miss in weeks 1 and 2, but they’ve shown a modicum of resilience and improvement by beating a woeful UMass team (albeit by only 3) and hanging around with South Carolina. They are still bad though, and Kentucky has shown more signs of life this season than in a long time.
The key for Kentucky in this one will be to use its experienced receiving corps to exploit the inexperienced Vandy secondary. This will end up being the difference in the game.
Prediction: Kentucky-28 Vanderbilt-17 Texas A&M vs. Arkansas A classic showdown between former Southwest Conference rivals will be played in Arlington on Saturday. Hopefully for the Razorbacks, “Jerry World” is friendlier to Jones’ alma mater than it is to the team he owns. I doubt it though. Texas A&M has a dominant offense, and Kenny Trill (I think it’s a boss nickname despite what Ross says) is putting together a Heisman caliber campaign so far in 2014. Arkansas might can hang around if they can get their running game going and keep the ball out of Hill’s hands though.
Arkansas running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams are the keys for a Razorback victory every week, but that is especially the case this week. Myles Garrett is an emerging star at defensive end for the Aggies, but Texas A&M is still vulnerable on defense. If Collins and Williams can run wild, and particularly if they can put together several long, clock-draining drives, then they will be able to hang around.
Prediction: Texas A&M-42 Arkansas-28 South Carolina vs. Missouri South Carolina has been enigmatic, to be kind, this season. After getting trounced by Texas A&M, they beat an ECU team that looks like a legitimate contender for that Group of Five New Year’s automatic bid. Then, they put together a solid game to beat Georgia, and then played a game against Vanderbilt that would’ve been a loss against any other SEC team and sparked a classic Steve Spurrier press conference. Missouri was rolling along and looking like the favorite in the East until they dropped a game to Indiana last week. That is, they lost to the same Indiana team who lost to Bowling Green the previous week. Missouri may still be a legitimate East contender, but none of your staunch SEC pundits are going to champion a team that lost to a Big 10 team.
South Carolina’s secondary got roasted by Texas A&M. They need to be good on Saturday to give their team a chance to win. Maty Mauk was one of the more highly regarded QBs in the SEC coming into the season after making the SEC All-Freshman team last season, and challenging Bo Wallace for the best flow of any QB in the SEC. He has been mildly disappointing posting a 54.1 Adjusted QBR; 23.8 points lower than last season. He does have 14 touchdowns to 4 picks so far though in 2014, and if he plays lights out on Saturday then Missouri wins going away.