Week One SEC Picks – Early Edition


Apr 12, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks mascot Cocky during halftime of the South Carolina spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Auburn Tigers fans. Every week this season, I’ll give you my SEC picks against the spread for every game that features a Southeastern Conference team.

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Usually, the picks will be posted on Friday, but with so many SEC teams opening the season tomorrow – and because we all can’t wait– you’ll get a bonus edition today with the first three games of the week. Check back Friday for the rest of the lineup.

If you’re a betting man or woman – and I know some of you are – be sure to wager responsibly. Lines used are taken from Bovada, and rankings are via the Associated Press Top 25.

#21 Texas A&M at #9 South Carolina (-11)

The first live college football game on the SEC Network will be a doozy, as the Aggies and Gamecocks meet in a conference clash of ranked teams.

South Carolina has been between an 11 or 10-point favorite since the early lines were posted in July because the Gamecocks are considered to be the co-favorites in the East with Georgia, and despite losing quarterback Connor Shaw, are one of the most experienced teams in the league. Carolina has an All-SEC caliber running back and one of the best offensive lines in college football, which should feast on a Texas A&M defensive line that allowed an SEC worst 222.3 rushing yards per game last season.

But, don’t count out the Aggies. As you know, season openers are difficult, especially when you open against a conference foe. Texas A&M lost a lot of firepower from last season – specifically QB Johnny Manziel and WR Mike Evans – but the replacements are more than capable of putting up points in head coach Kevin Sumlin’s high-flying offense.

Expect the Gamecocks to win, but for A&M to give them everything they can handle.

South Carolina 31, Texas A&M 24

As a bonus pick, you may want to take the under (60). I know, the paragraphs above really touted the offenses. But, it’s the first game of the season – against a conference opponent – with two new starting quarterbacks. It may take the offenses a while to get warmed up.

#18 Ole Miss (-11) vs. Boise State (in Atlanta)

It has been a long time since Boise State has had a new head coach, and it will be very interesting to see how the Broncos perform without Chris Petersen calling the shots. The best of the BCS busters won the last time they played an SEC opponent (Georgia) in the Georgia Dome (2011). But, things have changed quite a bit since then – for both Boise and their opponent.

Ole Miss enters 2014 as a trendy pick to make a splash in the SEC West. Head coach Hugh Freeze has added a lot of talent to the roster in the last three years, and the Rebels have playmakers (and future NFL first rounders) on both sides of the football. Expect Bo Wallace and Laquan Treadwell to put up big numbers this season, starting Thursday night.

Ole Miss 37, Boise State 17

Temple at Vanderbilt (-14)

Among the season’s first three contests, this one has seen the most line movement. When it opened in July, the Commodores were seen as a 17-point favorite, but the action has been placed firmly on Temple in the last month. The Owls are likely to be bowl representatives out of the American Athletic Conference, and Vanderbilt is beginning a complete rebuild after the best three-year stretch in school history.

Derek Mason is the new head coach in Nashville, and he comes to town after a stint as Stanford’s defensive coordinator. Under Mason, the Commodores will be implementing a new 3-4 defense and a pro-style offense similar to the ones the Cardinal utilize in the Pac-12. It will take some time, but both schemes should be effective for Mason and Vandy in the long run.

Had you made your pick in July, 17-points would have been a great number for Temple. However, if you’re late to the party, 14 looks good for Vandy. I think they split it.

Vanderbilt 31, Temple 16

What do you think? Make your picks in the comments below. Also, be sure to check back on Friday for Week One SEC Picks – Saturday Selections, including the Auburn Tigers and the rest of the week’s SEC match ups.