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SEC football picks: #8 Auburn at #17 Texas A&M & 4 more

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September 19th, 2019

+3.5 (-110)
O 48 (-110)
Texas A&M
-3.5 (-110)
U 48 (-110)
Auburn and Texas A&M each received a difficult non-conference test before beginning SEC play this Saturday at Kyle Field. It was a tale of two quarterbacks.

After an exceptional conclusion to his 2018 campaign, A&M’s Kellen Mond could not do anything right at Clemson. The dual-threat quarterback fumbled a first-down run on the first possession, which set the tone for the rest of the afternoon in Death Valley. He completed just 57% of his passes for 236 yards, had a pair of turnovers and got a late touchdown for the backdoor cover.
Auburn’s Bo Nix does not have as much as experience, but in his biggest game to date, the Tigers’ quarterback played hero ball. The true freshman made true-freshman mistakes, but recovered in time to throw a 26-yard touchdown with nine seconds remaining to secure a victory over Oregon in his first start.

If Nix minimizes mistakes this game will be decided by a clash in the trenches between the Auburn offensive line and A&M's stout rush defense. The Tigers average 281.2 yards per game on the ground (11th in the nation). On the other side the Aggies have surrendered just 87.7 rushing yards per contest.

This game is set up to be a classic SEC grind. Even though A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher prefers to air the ball out, Auburn's dynamic defensive line will deter the Aggies from getting too risky. The typical bettor would side with the experienced quarterback and home-field advantage, but not in this series.

Since A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team won every single game in this series until Auburn's 28-24 victory last year. It may take some time, but Gus Malzahn's run-pass options with Nix will eventually bust a big play that gives Auburn the victory. Take the Tigers and the points.

Pick: Auburn +3.5

Tennessee at #9 Florida (-14), Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN

The Volunteers finally figured out how to put together a win with last week's victory over Chattanooga. However, they have not figured out how to win in the Swamp since 2003. The SEC’s No. 12 rush defense (157 ypg) will let Lamical Perine get back on track, take the pressure off first-time starter Kyle Trask and give Florida a comfortable victory.

Pick: Florida -14

#4 LSU (-24) at Vanderbilt, Saturday, Noon ET, SEC Network

This isn’t your grandfather’s LSU. The Tigers are averaging 55 points per game, while Vanderbilt has not scored more than 24 in a game this season. Without any sort of home field advantage in Nashville, the math checks out for a huge LSU win.

Pick: LSU -24

Kentucky at Mississippi State (-6.5), Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Both teams enter this matchup off close home losses. Each team is also dealing with issues at quarterback. However, if Tommy Stevens cannot play, UK has the upper hand at that position, after a formidable debut from Sawyer Smith last week. Kentucky has not won in Starkville since 2008, but the Wildcats are 3-0 outright after close losses to Florida under Mark Stoops.

Pick: Kentucky +6.5

Southern Miss at #2 Alabama (-38.5), Saturday, Noon, ESPN2

Big lines have not been kind to Alabama bettors in 2019. South Carolina scored late for a backdoor cover, and in the season opener against Duke, the Crimson Tide was four points away from a push. The Tide will eventually roll, but this trend will hold for at least one more week.

Pick: Southern Miss +38.5

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