SEC Games to Circle

It’s a slow time in the sports calendar, which makes it a perfect time to start preparing for football season. I looked through the conference schedules for the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 to look for favorable situations to support teams and bad situations to fade teams. Games are at least two months away, and I wouldn’t automatically pick these games but it’s something that could be helpful down the road. I will post the other four conferences next week. For now, here are games you should keep an eye on in the SEC:

September 26- Missouri at Kentucky: Missouri has three favorable non-conference games before their first SEC game at Kentucky. The Tigers will likely be a favorite against an up-and-coming Wildcats team that needs to win these games if they want to make a bowl. Missouri plays South Carolina the week after. Last year the Tigers shockingly lost to Indiana the week before playing the Gamecocks in a classic “look ahead” situation. Missouri may be looking past Kentucky with bigger games on deck so possibly take Kentucky if they are an underdog in this game.

October 10- Georgia at Tennessee: Georgia is coming off a home game against Alabama. A trip to Knoxville is less than ideal the week after such a big contest for the Bulldogs. The Volunteers host Arkansas the week before and a have a bye the week after. Tennessee might end up being a favorite in this game and I would likely take them if the spread is a south of a field goal.

October 17- Alabama at Texas A&M: Alabama has had favorable conference schedules the last few seasons. However, things change in 2015 as they draw Georgia and Tennessee from the SEC East. They play the two SEC East foes in part of a four-week stretch that also includes games against Arkansas and Texas A&M. The game against Texas A&M is on the road and I can see the Crimson Tide slipping up here. The Aggies will have revenge on their mind after being trounced 59-0 against Alabama last season. Texas A&M also has a favorable early season schedule, and they don’t leave the state of Texas until the eighth week of the season. I don’t know if Alabama will lose this game but I can see them failing to cover the spread.

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Basketball Picks: January 6

Georgia (-3.5) over Arkansas: It’s always a good idea to pick against a Mike Anderson team on the road. The Razorbacks are ranked but 1-2 in true road games this season. Georgia didn’t lose a game in December and their wins included Colorado, Seton Hall and Kansas State. The Bulldogs were very good at home in conference last year. Georgia isn’t ranked but there is a reason they are the favorite here.

TaxSlayer Bowl Preview

Tennessee is a four-point favorite against Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Volunteers are a young team with shaky offensive line. They probably wouldn’t be a favorite against Iowa on a neutral field in the regular season. However, this is a bowl game and Tennessee has to be thrilled to be in this situation. The Volunteers haven’t been in a bowl game since 2010, and earned six wins this season with a tough schedule.

Iowa had high expectations this season and had a shot to win their division with a very favorable schedule. They finished 7-5 and ended the year with a very disappointing loss to Nebraska at home.

Tennessee’s young offensive stars will show up and the rest of the team will be motivated. I like Butch Jones over Kirk Ferentz in this situation, and the mediocre SEC team over the underachieving Big Ten squad.

Pick: Tennessee (-4) over Iowa

Outback Bowl Preview

Auburn and Wisconsin play in the first New Year’s Day game. Auburn didn’t meet their season expectations and finished their brutal schedule with a 8-4 record. Wisconsin won the weak Big Ten West, and were embarrassed by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Auburn may have not met their season goals but I still think there will be motivation and effort from the Tigers. Winning this game would get the program back on the right path after losing three games in November. Former Florida head coach Will Muschamp has already been named the defensive coordinator for 2015. There will be a lot of preseason hype about Auburn and I think they will use this bowl as a way to get momentum before the spring. Auburn still has a quick strike offense and they probably enjoyed watching Wisconsin’s defense on film against Ohio State.

Since the nightmare against Ohio State, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen shockingly left for Oregon State. Former coach and current Athletic Director Barry Alvarez will be on the sideline just like he was for the 2013 Rose Bowl. The focus might not be there for the Badgers after Andersen departed out of nowhere. Auburn has a very weak passing defense but Wisconsin’s pass offense might be even worse. If the Badgers can’t get running back Melvin Gordon going, then Auburn should contain the Wisconsin offense and score plenty of points of their own.

Pick: Auburn (-6.5) over Wisconsin

Belk Bowl Preview

The storyline of the Belk Bowl between Georgia and Louisville is Cardinal Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham, who held the same role at Georgia from 2010-13. Grantham joined Bobby Petrino’s staff at Louisville and he has improved the Cardinal defense.

The Grantham factor might be the only motivation that Georgia has in this game. The Bulldogs had a golden chance to win the SEC East this season but lost to South Carolina and Florida. They had aspirations of playing in the SEC Championship Game, and that goal wasn’t met.

Louisville finished 9-3 in Petrino’s first season. They aren’t as talented as Georgia but there is motivation here to beat a SEC team. Petrino is familiar with the SEC from his days in Arkansas so he will make sure his team is ready to play in Charlotte.

Pick: Louisville (+7) over Georgia

College Football: Week 8 Picks

Here are my Week 8 college football picks and the rest of the pool plays:

Iowa (+4.5) over Maryland

California (+7) over UCLA

Alabama (-13) over Texas A&M

Over 64 in Alabama vs Texas A&M

Tennessee (+16) over Ole Miss

Under 47 in Ole Miss vs Tennessee

LSU (-10) over Kentucky

Iowa State (+12.5) over Texas

Pool Plays 

Wake Forest (+5) over Syracuse

Purdue (+14) over Minnesota

West Virginia (+8.5) over Baylor

Kansas State (+7.5) over Oklahoma

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College Football: Week 7 Picks

Here are my Week 7 college football picks and the rest of the pool plays:

Minnesota (-4) over Northwestern

UL Monroe (+21.5) over Kentucky

Oregon (-3) over UCLA

Washington (+3.5) over California

Texas A&M (-2) over Ole Miss

Arizona (+3) over USC

Pool Plays 

Washington State (+17) over Stanford- Friday Night

Louisville (+9.5) over Clemson

Kansas (+20.5) over Oklahoma State

Penn State (+1) over Michigan

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