published Friday, October 25th, 2013

Greeson: SEC Blitz: Fab 4 picks plus 1

Auburn/Florida Atlantic over 51: OK, here's our number crunching for the week. We know that Auburn rushes for more than 300 yards per game, which is good, and tries to have 80-plus offensive plays a game, which is especially good for entertainment wagers who like the over. We also know that Florida Atlantic is a 24-point underdog that is 2-5 overall but an amazing 6-1 against the spread this year. Go figure, right? So if trends continue, for the Owls to cover the 24-point spread, for this game to go over, all you need from the Tigers is 37 points.

Missouri minus-2.5 over South Carolina: Maybe this is the week that the Tigers wake up. Maybe this is the week that Steve Spurrier starts acting like Steve Spurrier again. Maybe this is the week that Jadeveon Clowney has a "My goodness, did you see that!" moment. Maybe this is the week Mike Davis gets the recognition his workhorse type season has merited. Or maybe this is the week that we finally realize that Missouri is pretty dang good and the Tigers' closest game was a 15-point win at Georgia. Did we mention that Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw is not going to start because of injury?

Baylor/Kansas over the 66: Texas Tech put 54 points on Kansas in Lawrence. This just in: Baylor's offense is pretty potent. Also in the news, the sun rises in the East and taxes stink. The only reason this one gives us pause is the "if a line looks too good to be true, it normally is" postulate that is one of the entertainment-risking rules. But, hey, it's a rule not a law. And like Fletch says, there has been a lot of changes in the law.

BYU minus-7 against Boise State: The Cougars are grown men with a defense that harbors few loose souls. Boise State is 5-2 in a rebuilding year, which is a statement of where they are in Smurf Turf country. That said, these Broncos are 1-2 away from the Smurf Turf and the trip to BYU is a chore.

Buffalo plus-2 over Kent State: We were tempted by several other games -- and if you want to risk your entertainment on Vanderbilt getting a ton of points against the offensive defense that is Texas A&M, feel free -- but we stopped here for two reasons. Granted, we seldom pick underdogs, but the points here are just a byproduct. We would stay with the Bulls -- and can we all agree that the Buffalo Bulls is an awful nickname? -- even if Buffalo was giving 4. If you can find a team you would still like if the line was 6 points greater than it is, then you have to go with it.

Last week against the spread: 2-3

Overall this season against the spread 23-16-1 (59 percent)


Five SEC things

How do the Vols handle success?

Tennessee fans have been walking around with their chests puffed out and their heads held high, and with good reason after last week's thrilling 23-21 win over South Carolina. (And if you rewatched it on one of the replays this week, well, you are not alone.) It was UT's first win over a ranked foe since East Tennessee viewed Lane Kiffin as a prince rather than a punk. So it goes. Now, how do the Butch-mobile and the Tennessee players handle a week of smiles with an afternoon of hurdles on the horizon? And we'll ask you this: Should Butch play this one close to the vest, limiting possessions and big plays looking for a chance late rather than standing toe-to-toe with college football's version of pre-Robin Givens Mike Tyson? Is playing for a chance late, knowing that chance is small considering the machine that is the Crimson Tide, wise or waving the white flag? On the flip side, do you go to a gunfight when your trigger man is, by comparison, wielding a butter knife? Lots of questions and not sure Saturday is going to deliver a slew of answers considering the divide in talent between the current teams. We do know this: This game is way more interesting this morning than it was last month or at any point in the last three years, and that is a significant step for Butch Jones and the brick-by-brick battalion.

How does Alabama handle the Vols' success?

Alabama is a 28-point favorite over Tennessee. If that seems like a lot, well, it is. Remember last week when we said that Alabama punishes teams that are one-dimensional before laying four TDs against a pass-challenged Arkansas bunch? Well, after a 52-0 pasting in which Arkansas passed for 90 yards against the Tide, the Razorbacks are 114th nationally in passing yards per game. Tennessee is 109th. Remember, too, how we mentioned that Alabama coach Nick Saban seldom covers big spreads against overmatched foes but has been a steamroller against conference foes, especially ones against which he may recruit? We think Nick may have noticed Butch Jones' top-five national recruiting class and has every intention of sending a message that building brick-by-brick is fine, but the penthouse in Tuscaloosa already has been mortared. Finally, remember that crazy thing called the BCS, and how voters look for weird trends to rank the elite in the sport? Well, Tennessee is going to be a pretty fair litmus test considering that after this weekend, the Vols will have played road games at No. 1 Alabama and at No. 3 Oregon. Think Nick the Quick will try to match the Ducks' 59-14 whipping of UT last month?

How does Auburn deal with a whirlwind week?

One big win can change anything. It can erase a historically bad 2012. It can recalibrate goals. It can alter the time frame of a rebuilding project. Conversely, one rotten loss can change goals and time frame as well. Auburn catapulted to No. 11 in the Associated Press poll with last week's 45-41 win at Texas A&M. It could plummet if it does not handle its BID-ness against an overmatched Owls team. One game can change everything, and that, friends, is the beauty of college football's glorious regular season. It's the marathon that is a weekly sprint. And now with hurdles.

Can the Gamecocks rebound?

Missouri for all intents and purposes could win the SEC East on Saturday. Read that sentence again. Missour ... clinching the East ... in October. A win over a banged-up and beat-down South Carolina, which was topped by Tennessee last week, would give the Tigers a two-game lead with tiebreaker edges over Georgia, Florida and the Gamecocks. Wow. That said, it's hard to see a Steve Spurrier team going down without a fight. Well, unless as has been whispered in some circles that Spurrier may be ready to exit stage left. This could be a very educational game in the ledger and for a legend.

Can Vandy deal Texas A&M its third home loss?

Freshman Patton Robinette will make his first start for the Commodores this weekend as Vanderbilt heads to College Station. Here's the good news for young master Robinette: All-world wide receiver Jordan Matthews will make the trip with him. Here's some more good news for the Commodores: The Aggies have played four SEC games and have allowed an average of 41.3 points per game. And one of those was against offensively anemic Arkansas. Here's the hurdle for the freshman QB with an all-country-club nickname: Johnny Football and the Aggies are going to score. Period. Are you ready to score with them, Mr. Robinette?

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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