Other than LSU and Alabama, the SEC has been tough to figure against the spread this year. Surprisingly, that's not all that surprising.
After the Tigers and the Crimson Tide -- the nation's top two ranked teams -- there is little quarterback continuity around the league.
After the Tigers and the Tide, there is a familiar refrain of youth around the league.
"We'll see how much improvement [our young guys] will show," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said this week about the struggling Wildcats' emerging from a bye week.
It was a less-than-auspicious start when USA Today oddsmaker Danny Sheridan pegged UK as a 9-point underdog against FCS team Jacksonville State. Sheridan's original line was a mistake, but it created quite the stir among Wildcats players, who felt disrepected.
That Kentucky players even were open to the idea that they could be a 9-point home 'dog to JSU screams how much improvement is needed in Lexington. Wow.
Last week's SEC guesses: 5-0 overall, 3-2 against the spread
Season's SEC guesses: 45-9 overall, 32-18-3 against the spread
Jacksonville State at Kentucky
Noon, Commonwealth Stadium
Breakdown: OK, quick, who is the most highly regarded prospect in this game? If you said JSU running back Washaun Ealey, give yourself a pat on the back. Kentucky has two players -- Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy -- ranked in the nation's top 10 in tackles. That means those two guys can play and the Kentucky offense is flat-out awful.
The line: Kentucky minus-6
The pick: Kentucky, 27-20
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Arkansas at Ole Miss
12:21 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Breakdown: Last week against Alabama and the SEC's best defense, Ole Miss suspended four offensive contributors. This week, against Arkansas and the SEC's best passing attack, the Rebels will go without pass rusher Wayne Dorsey and cornerback Marcus Temple. Ouch. If it wasn't for bad luck, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt would have no luck at all.
The line: Arkansas minus-17
The pick: Arkansas, 48-14
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Auburn at LSU
3:30 p.m., Tiger Stadium
Breakdown: Without their two best players, the LSU Tigers still have more talent than the defending national champions. Plus, with away-from-home wins against three teams ranked in the top 15 and a win in Knoxville, top-ranked LSU has been tested. Even battle-tested coach Les Miles complimented the "thong" of fans at Neyland-Stadium. Seriously. He praised the "thong" of fans at UT. Les Miles is the gift that keeps on giving.
The line: LSU minus-21 1/2
The pick: LSU, 31-26
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Army at Vanderbilt
7 p.m., Vanderbilt Stadium
Breakdown: Vandy will be without starting center Logan Stewart, who was suspended for the first half of today's game after his decidedly cheap shot at the knees of Georgia defensive tackle Kwame Geathers. Apparently it takes a full sleeper hold or the figure-four leg lock to get a full-game suspension these days. That said, head coach James Franklin wisely had Vandy preparing for Army during the preseason for a two big reasons: The Cadets' option attack is tough to get ready for in one week; Vandy's bowl hopes could hinge on a win today.
The line: Vandy minus-11
The pick: Vandy, 27-14
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Tennessee at Alabama
7:15 p.m., Bryant-Denny Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPN2/106.5, 97.3 & 99.3 FM
Breakdown: The line has swelled to record heights -- the Tide's 30-point spread is almost two touchdowns greater than the previous high. Each team has been favored by 17 in this long series. It's hard to see where the Vols can hang their hat in tonight's matchup: Alabama is by far the nation's best run defense and has the nation's best running back in Trent Richardson. UT's lone elite weapon -- 6-foot-3 receiver Da'Rick Rogers -- will see a lot of Dre Kirkpatrick, the Tide's physical, 6-3 cornerback.
The line: Alabama minus-30
The pick: Alabama, 45-9
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...