SEC Week 12 picks: Kentucky vs. Alabama & 4 more
Last week’s SEC schedule was turned upside down by COVID-19, as four games, all featuring ranked teams, got postponed.
This week, the conference is hopeful six games will be played, including a battle between top-ranked Alabama and Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide ranks first in the SEC in points per game (47.2), while the Wildcats surrender the second-fewest points per contest (21.3).
Let’s dissect this matchup of opposites with a preview and pick, along with four more SEC games scheduled for Week 12.
Kentucky vs. #1 Alabama
Sat, November 21 2020, 9:00 PM
Alabama Crimson Tide
No one is expecting Kentucky to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and for good reason.
In 40 games between the Crimson Tide and the Wildcats, Kentucky has only won twice — both times at home, in 1922 and 1997.
The question is whether Alabama can cover a large spread against the SEC’s second-ranked scoring defense.
In Week 9, the Tide had no problem as a 30-point home favorite against Mississippi State, which had the second-best pass defense in the conference.
Quarterback Mac Jones threw for 291 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs, while Mississippi State generated 200 yards of total offense and failed to score any points.
Mac Jones has been ridiculous.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 16, 2020
78.5% completions, 12.4 ypa, 16/2 TD/INT, 210.3 Rating
62.71% success rate, 27.68% big play rate, 6.78% PBU/INT, 3.80% sack rate
Worth nothing he had his worst game against Mississippi State in their first full game without Jaylen Waddle.
Kentucky’s offense has been almost as ineffective as Mississippi State’s.
In a loss to Missouri, the Wildcats got 50 combined passing yards out of quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood. Their normally dynamic rushing attack gained just 95 yards.
A week later, against Georgia, UK accumulated 229 yards of offense in a 14-3 loss.
The Wildcats bounced back for a win last week, when Wilson threw for 110 yards and ran for 83 more. That came against 0-6 Vanderbilt, which lost by just three points in Lexington.
Kentucky’s offense has little hope against Alabama’s defense, especially because the Tide’s biggest weakness on that side of the ball is against the pass.
With Kentucky’s passing game no threat, the Wildcats need more from their run game. Alabama gives up the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the conference.
Kentucky’s best shot against the No. 1 team in college football is to shut down passing lanes and force the Tide to run.
That won’t prevent Alabama running back Najee Harris (714 yards, 14 touchdowns) from scoring, but it will slow the game down enough to prevent Alabama from covering the hefty spread.
#6 Florida vs. Vanderbilt
Sat, November 21 2020, 5:00 PM
Upstart Arkansas was no match for Florida, which dominated the Razorbacks, 63-35, last week.
Now the Gators will face a winless Vanderbilt squad that kept it close against Kentucky, a team that averages 123 passing yards per game (worst in the SEC).
Florida is a whole different beast, with quarterback Kyle Trask running the offense. The Gators rank second in the SEC in both passing yards (371.7) and points per game (45.8).
A 31.5-point spread isn’t too much for Florida, considering it beat Vanderbilt 56-0 last season.
LSU vs. Arkansas
Sat, November 21 2020, 5:00 PM
In last week’s demolition by Florida, Arkansas failed to cover for the first time all season.
The Hogs should be able to bounce back against an LSU team that got trounced by Auburn last time out. However, a COVID-19 outbreak could affect Arkansas, depending on which players are unavailable, and give LSU a bit of a break.
The Tigers are last in the SEC in pass defense and second to last in yards surrendered.
Razorbacks quarterback Feleipe Franks should have a field day, while the Arkansas defense will frustrate freshman TJ Finley, who committed three turnovers against Auburn.
Tennessee vs. #23 Auburn
Sun, November 22 2020, 12:00 AM
The Volunteers are on a four-game losing streak and have turned the ball over 10 times across those four losses.
The last time Auburn played (Oct. 31), it earned its best win of the season, a 48-11 romp of LSU, in which Auburn forced three turnovers.
The Tigers’ matchup against Mississippi State was postponed last week, because of a COVID-19 outbreak within MSU’s program. This week, Auburn is expected to miss a few players because of positive COVID-19 tests.
Even with the uncertainty, the Tigers should handle Tennessee at home and cover the spread against the Vols, who have lost by an average of 23 points over the past four games.
Mississippi State vs. #13 Georgia
Sun, November 22 2020, 12:30 AM
Mississippi State Bulldogs
USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels will get the start for Georgia, in place of the injured Stetson Bennett, who struggled over the past three games.
The change will come against a Mississippi State defense that gives up the second-fewest passing yards in the SEC.
While State’s defense could give Georgia trouble early, the Bulldogs offense has been a sore spot all season. It managed 24 points against winless Vanderbilt in Week 10, but in three prior losses, State averaged 5.3 points per game.
Going up against Georgia’s stingy defense (21.3 points per game) will bring MSU back down to earth for another embarrassing defeat.