September 12, 2015 (Posted at 11:00 AM ET)
Today's 3 picks were released back on Thursday.
1) Take Mississippi State at +5 spread against LSU risking 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that we believe severely favors Mississippi State. Not only is this game being played in Starksville for the Bulldogs home opener, but it’s against a big named opponent who has yet to take the field this season. LSU had their week 1 matchup with McNeese State cancelled due to inclement weather. While the Tigers no doubt would have ultimately rolled in that contest, the fact that they did not receive a lot of in game reps will likely hurt them in this contest. There is certainly no substitute for in game experience. Every team who took the field this past week had issues either in the running / passing game, defensive assignments or special teams play. Those types of issues usually show up in the first game of the season as teams become more accustomed to playing at game speed and teams are able to work through that in their following games. That didn't happen for LSU. They will unfortunately make their opening game mistakes on the road, against an SEC caliber defense led by a Heisman hopeful quarterback.
As for Mississippi State, they actually received a bit of a wakeup call in their season opener against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles managed to score first and immediately put the pressure on the Bulldogs. The ultimately were able to keep things rather close in Hattiesburg before the disparity in talent prevailed and Miss State pulled away late in the game. The fact that the Bulldogs went into their season opener a little overconfident against a team that the defeated 49-0 last season and were called out because of it will likely have taught them the important lesson of not sleeping on any team. That should pay dividends when LSU comes to Starksville. The Bulldogs managed to defeat LSU last season in Death Valley and the Golden Eagles scare likely prevented them from overlooking this matchup. LSU has also had a ton of success against MSU in the past, even here at Starksville so we don’t see the Bulldogs taking this game lightly at all.
This is not the same Mississippi State team that went on their impressive run last season. They lost a ton of talent up from and a lot of veteran experience, and while many feel that there will be a regression, this is still a quality team but their offense does return their QB in Dak Prescott and his top two receivers from last season in De’Runnya Wilson (47 receptions, 680 yards, 9 TD) and Fred Ross (30, 489, 5 TD). LSU and Les Miles will no doubt be looking to gain revenge on Dan Mullen and his team, however they would likely need to be a completely error free game to come away with the win in this contest and with this being their first game of the season, we simply don't see that happening. Last season Mississippi State dominated LSU for 55 minutes in Death Valley before a rally made the final score more respectable and give the appearance that the game was much closer than it actually was. Prescott completely shredded the Tigers’ defense, a defense which will still be learning a new system under a new defensive coordinator. With this game being played in Starksville, the Bulldogs likely win this game outright, but we'll take the points for the extra added insurance.
2) Take Tennessee at +2 spread against Oklahoma risking 3% of the bankroll.
Tennessee is no doubt a program on the rise under head coach Butch Jones and big things have been expected of the Vols this season. Jones has brought in true SEC-caliber talent over the last few seasons and this year they appear poised to take the next step. A test against the Oklahoma Sooners is exactly what this team needs before entering conference play and could be a make or break game for their season. Tennessee showed an impressive of a running game in their season opener against Bowling Green, as both Alvin Kamara (15 carries, 144 yards) and Jalen Hurd (23 carries, 123) each had more than 100 yards rushing. Quarterback Josh Dobbs also had a solid performance going 15 of 22 for 205yards and two touchdowns. He even contributed close to 100 yards on the ground as well.
The Oklahoma Sooners have gone through a bit of a transformation this year as Coach Bob Stoops brought in Lincoln Riley as the new offensive coordinator. Riley is in the midst of transforming this team into a high power Air-Raid style of offense which has been somewhat different than the style of football Oklahoma has been known for playing. Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield has had some experience running this style of offense, but this is still all new to a majority of the players on the roster. While Oklahoma certainly looked impressive against Akron in their season opener, it did take a while for the offense to become adjusted to the new style of play and start putting points on the board. Against an SEC caliber defense that has shown their ability to be opportunistic, Oklahoma may struggle trying to break in a new offensive gamelan. Tennessee gave up a ton of yards against a Bowling Green team that plays a similar style of Air Raid offense that Oklahoma will try to employ.
Bowling Green was able to take advantage of a secondary that was at time caught napping in the backfield. While it's not overly surprising that Tennessee may have taken their matchup with the Falcons lightly, we don't expect that to be the case in this contest. Oklahoma had their way with the Vols last season enroute to a 34-10 victory in Norman. This Tennessee team is leaps and bounds more improved over last year’s team and will no doubt be looking for payback in this contest.
Oklahoma is one of the powerhouse teams that many sports bettors love to bet on week in and week out. They have a quality coach, they recruit well and each and every year they have a solid overall team. Learning a new offensive scheme and having to travel to play an SEC team is no easy feat. This will likely be a closely contested game, but we believe the Vols have the edge in this contest. We believe they learned a lot from the passing attack of Bowling Green last week and will have studied the tape which will make them more prepared for the Sooner's Air Raid attack. Tennessee will likely win the battle in the trenches and wear Oklahoma out on the ground which will end up paying dividends come the 4th quarter. Playing at home in front of a packed house, look for the Volunteers to come away with the victory.
3) Take Georgia Southern at +4 spread against Western Michigan risking 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup where the perceptions of these two teams are skewed. The Western Michigan Bronco's head into this contest after putting forth a valiant second half rally against the #5 ranked Michigan State Spartans at home last week in the season opener. Zach Terrell was the offensive catalyst completing 33 of his 50 passes for 365 yards and 2 TDs but also threw 2 interceptions on the night. While the passing game had success, the ground game however was non-existent; gaining just 18 yards on 23 carries. The Broncos had a lot to get up for in that contest with a highly ranked team in an in-state rivalry game in their home opener. Ultimately, they were down by 17 at the half and were only allowed back into that contest due to Michigan State relaxing somewhat on the defensive end.
Many had predicted that Georgia Southern would be in line for a potential upset bid last week against West Virginia given the amount of success that they had in their first year of FBS competition. That proved to not be the case as they were ultimately routed on the road 44-0. Opening up on the road in the first game of the season is no easy feat, especially for a predominately ground based attacking team like the Eagles. Georgia Sothern’s triple option stalled too many times with the ground game gaining just 195 yards on 57 carries. The pass game was also a complete detriment to the team with Favian Upshaw completing just 2 of 13 passes for 29 yards with 4 interceptions. Georgia Southern couldn't have played a worse game last week and that is sometimes expected in the first game of the season.
As we mentioned, Georgia Southern runs a vaunted Triple-Option ground based spread attack. It is a highly skilled and precise offensive running game that forces defenses to play extremely well disciplined football. West Virginia had months to prepare to slow down that type of attack and they were well prepared. We don't believe a 1 week turnaround will be enough for Western Michigan to show up with the same preparedness. Michigan State used three backs in their matchup with WMU and they were able to simply gash their defense, ripping off huge chunks of yards at any given time. The lack of rush defense could be problem for Western Michigan in this contest if GSU is able to build any kind of momentum on the ground. All it takes is one missed tackle or one blown assignment for Michael Breida or any other number of backs to make a house call. The Broncos haven’t had a lot of success against teams who have excelled in the ground game. It’s certainly worth noting that Western Michigan is just 1-20 SU when they have given up more than 200 yards rushing, which includes losing 15 straight!
Western Michigan is still living on their laurels from last year's impressive season and Georgia Southern is getting somewhat of a bad rap given their performance against West Virginia. Western Michigan's run defense will surely be tested in this contest and we don't believe they will have the answer. The Eagles should challenge for the outright victory in this one and even if they fall short and Western Michigan manages to win this game, we don't believe it will be by more than a field goal. The points are precious in this contest.
Please refer to the important SPS Bankroll System instructions received via email upon joining.