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SEC football picks: Auburn vs. Florida & 2 more

Profile Picture: Nick Roush

October 3rd, 2019

There's a reason College Gameday is in Gainesville for the first time since 2012.

#7 Auburn at #10 Florida, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Over 48.5
Under 48.5
Not only is Saturday's Auburn-Florida game a top-10 matchup, but each team is considered the main threat to knock off the stalwarts at the top of their respective SEC divisions. Even if Florida can't upset Georgia or if Auburn comes up short in the Iron Bowl, a win Saturday will bolster their résumé enough to potentially be a one-loss College Football Playoff team.

Auburn has not visited Gainesville in a dozen years, but they've experienced similar environments. They started the season with a win over Oregon at a neutral site and handled Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

After he threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the season-opener, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has not asked much from true freshman quarterback Bo Nix. He has not thrown more than 21 passes in any of his last three games and has acted as a game-manager in the Tigers' run-pass option attack. This will limit Florida's greatest strengthrushing the passer. Florida is tied for second in the country with 24 sacks. The Gators will have to earn the right to put pressure on Nix by stopping the run.
This sets up to be a classic SEC battle in the trenches. Auburn's 14th-ranked rush offense will face the Gators' 16th-ranked rush defense. On the other side, Auburn boasts a top-20 rush defense against a Florida team that has struggled to consistently gain yards on the ground. If the Gators cannot put quarterback Kyle Trask in manageable third downs, the Tigers' impressive defensive line (ranked in the top 25 in sacks and tackles for loss) will tee off against a quarterback that is starting in just his third game.

Nix quickly proved he can handle the atmosphere in big-time college football games. Unless Florida can find a way to rattle him, the Tigers have the upper hand. The game opened as a 3-point spread. That extra half-point is too juicy to turn down, especially when you consider the Tigers are 5-0 ATS in 2019.

Pick: Auburn -2.5

Utah State at #5 LSU (-27.5), Saturday, noon ET, SEC Network

LSU has been excellent in 2019, even against monstrous spreads. The only time the Tigers did not cover was when they defeated Northwestern State by 51—as a 52-point favorite.

The highest-scoring team in the country will face a different challenge this week, when Utah State comes to Death Valley. The Aggies rank in the top 20 in scoring offense at 38.5 points per game. LSU has already given up 38 points twice, against Texas and Vanderbilt.

The two combine for just shy of 97 points per game. Betting Over 73.5 will be tempting, but you should side with the underdog. Coming off a bye week, Tiger Stadium will still be asleep for the 11 a.m. kickoff. With a prime-time matchup against Florida next week, this is the definition of a trap game.

Pick: Utah State +27.5

#3 Georgia at Tennessee (+24.5), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Tennessee is fortunate to have a bye week to prepare for the Georgia Bulldogs. Even with the extra week, Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt has not revealed who will be the first quarterback to take the field, even though Jarrett Guarantano will likely get the nod over true freshman Brian Maurer.

Whoever is taking snaps for the Vols, they will have to play their best game to give Tennessee a chance to score against the physical Georgia defense, which ranks fifth against the rush. When the Dogs have the ball, they should be able to run at-will against a Tennessee defense that ranks near the bottom of the SEC in stopping the run. It's a lot of points, but I don't think the downtrodden Vols have enough in the tank to play the inspired football required to keep the game close.

Pick: Georgia -24.5

Saturdays in the fall mean college football. Find all the NCAAF betting action you need at BetAmerica!