November 25, 2017
There are three picks today.
#1: Take Kentucky +10 spread against Louisville for 3% of the bankroll.
All of the focus on this matchup, as it is each time Louisville steps on the field, will be Cardinals' QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson is having himself another Heisman worthy season and had it not been for the incredible display that Baker Mayfield has put on this season, would like be a repeat Heisman winner. Jackson is a game-changer with both his arms and his legs, however, it has been proven that he can only carry his team so far. Jackson has been impressive, but as a team, Louisville has had their share of struggles. Aside from Jackson, they lack a strong rushing game. Teams that have been able to limit Jackson's ability to break contain and force him to beat them with his arm has had the most success this season. The Cardinals also have many holes on the defensive side of the ball which has been highly publicized this season. They are not an overly strong defensive unit, especially on the road which should give the Kentucky offense a chance to move the football.
The Kentucky Wildcats are not an overly flashy team, however, they have quietly put together a solid season. At 7-3, this team has a chance to do something it has not done in 33 years, and that is finish with an 8-win season. It's important to mention that Kentucky is a couple of plays away from entering this contest 8-3 or even 9-2 on the year. They are a much improved team than in years past and given the struggles of Lousiville's defense this season, they should be able to exploit their weakness and move the ball up and down the field with relative ease.
The Wildcats not only have the motivation of finishing the season in historic fashion, but they also have the added motivation of already holding a victory over Lamar Jackson in last year's meeting. With all of the focus being on Jackson in this contest, it would be a mistake to overlook the other quarterback on the field. Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson is not in any Heisman conversations, but it's been an intriguing story for Johnson, who began his career at Grambling before spending a year in junior college and making his way to Kentucky last season. He won the job and had a career-defining game against Louisville last year, completing 16-of-27 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns while outplaying his highly touted counterpart. This season, Johnson has completed 162-of-261 passes for 1,938 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Those figures don't approach Jackson's, but in the last home-field performance of his career, Johnson can certainly put in the type of effort he did a year ago.
Louisville is the perceived better team in this contest, however, it would be a mistake to sleep on this much improved Kentucky team, especially in their last home game of the season. The Wildcats were not the team they are this season last year and they managed to beat a much better Louisville team than this year's version. Not many team's get the opportunity to defeat Lamar Jackson twice, and while we don't necessarily believe Kentucky will pull the outright upset, we do believe they can keep this game much more competitive than the oddsmakers think and find a way to stay within this number.
#2: Take Auburn +4.5 spread against Alabama for 3% of the bankroll.
It has been quite some time since the Iron Bowl has held such importance for both teams than it has for this year. This year's Iron Bowl not only hold the key to the SEC Championship game, but for the Auburn Tigers, a victory would also get them one step closer to the CFP.
We don't have to spend a lot of time talking about Alabama in this article. What is there really to say? The Crimson Tide are the consensus number 1 team in the country, led by a Hall of Fame coach. They have an NFL-caliber defense and are a team that doesn't seem to have many weaknesses. That being said, this year's Alabama team has been somewhat vulnerable on the road, as we have seen at times this season. They struggled with Texas A&M and most recently, struggled at Mississippi State before pulling out the victory in overtime. If there was a game that Alabama were to stumble and potentially lose a game this season, it would be this one.
The Auburn Tigers are a quality team. Even with two losses on the season, if Auburn can defeat Alabama in the Iron Bowl as well as Georgia in the SEC Title game, they will have likely done enough to punch their ticket to the CFP. The Tigers have already flexed their muscle on the homefield this season, having not only defeated, but completely dismantled the then #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. It was arguably their most impressive performance of the season and we believe they are capable of duplicating that performance in this matchup tonight.
Auburn poses a direct threat to Alabama in this contest. If we have looked at past teams who have defeated Alabama over the years, they all have similarities in common. Not only did they have top notch defenses, as Auburn does this season, but they have all had duel threat quarterbacks as well. Johnny Manziel, Chad Kelley, Trevor Knight, Deshaun Watson. All of these quarterbacks were able to not only gash the Tide defense through the air, but it was their play with their legs that forced Alabama to change their defensive schemes and left them vulnerable by keeping them off balance. Sophomore transfer Jared Stidham is a duel-threat QB that has shown he is capable not only navigating in the pocket, but also can pick up the needed yards with his legs and is always a threat to run. If the Auburn offensive line can give Stidham time in the pocket and not allow rushers to roam free, Stidham should be able to move the ball in a variety of way against the Tide's defense.
It's not too often that you see the Crimson Tide listed a single-digit favorites and we believe the fact that the oddsmakers opened this line where they did, speaks volumes about how they believe this contest is going to play out. This should be a classic heavyweight battle with both teams landing haymakers throughout. In the end however, we believe this is Auburn's chance to shine and prove to the committee that they are a team worth letting in the CFP. It's always tough to bet against Nick Saban, however, this is the ideal situation for the Tide to stumble. We believe Auburn will pull off the outright upset, however, even if we are wrong with our prediction and Alabama does happen to walk away with a victory, they will be fortunate and we wouldn't be surprised if it came on a last second field goal. The points hold value in this contest.
#3: Take South Carolina +14 spread (buy the half point) against Clemson for 3% of the bankroll.
The South Carolina Gamecocks have been a team that has somewhat flown under the radar this season, but at 8-3, they have had quite a successful season under second year head coach Will Muschamp. They will be in a bowl game this year, but first they have their sights set on the Clemson Tigers, who beat them by a score of 56-7 last year. The Gamecocks were outgained 622 and 218 and they were outfirstdowed 41-14 in that game. It was a thorough beatdown, but this is an improved Scout Carolina team, especially on the defensive side of the ball and that gives them a chance in this game. There is no question that the South Carolina players will be motivated to play the role of spoiler in this contest and given the amount of upsets that have been happening in recent weeks, this could be an ideal situation for another one.
As good as Clemson has been on the offensive side of he football, this will arguably be the best defense that they have faced all season long. The Gamecocks lead the SEC and are tied for 20th nationally with 21 takeaways, which they've turned into 76 points. The Gamecocks are one of five FBS teams that have not allowed 30 or more points in a game this season. The other remaining teams are Alabama, Auburn, Troy and Wisconsin, which are some fairly impressive company. They has also held 10 of their 11 opponents below their season scoring average, including five who scored at least 10 points below their seasonal average mark. Everyone saw with Pittsburgh was able to do to then undefeated Miami yesterday, and it wouldn't be a complete shock to see Carolina pull off something similar.
Clemson could certainly be caught looking ahead in this contest, however, we have already seen them get caught in a lookahead situation on the road this season when they traveled to Syracuse. We don't believe Dabo Swinney will be surprised by anything in this contest, and will likely have his team ready. That being said, being ready and being ready to defeat a team by more than 2 touchdowns on the road are two different things. The South Carolina defense should be able o keep the gamecocks in this matchup and while we do believe the Tigers will make some plays late in the game to come away with the win, the points will prove to be valuable as this matchup ends up being much closer than the oddsmakers predict.
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