If things hadn’t been so crazy in Columbia this season, we’d all be talking about what a wacky year it has been for quarterbacks across the Southeast.
Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee are the only SEC East teams to start the same quarterback every game this season.
South Carolina lost its starter and backup to shoulder injuries. Florida and Missouri lost their starters to suspensions. Georgia, it appears, is on the verge of losing its starter to ineffectiveness.
You could extend this conversation to the nation as Notre Dame, Ohio State and Baylor all have been through more than one starter, but we’ve only got so much space here so let’s jump right into the game of the week in the SEC.
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For Georgia, published reports said it will be third-string Faton Bautu starting in its annual grudge match with Florida. The Bulldogs were inexplicably favored in this game two weeks ago, but common sense has prevailed and the Gators, who are on their backup quarterback, are now 2-point favorites.
Crazy things have a way of happening in this game, but the Gators have been the better and more consistent team all year and there’s no reason to think that will change with the Bulldogs throwing a Hail Mary at the quarterback position.
Against the spread: Florida
Ole Miss (minus-7) at Auburn
The Rebels are the more talented team. The Tigers still are scuffling. This feels like an obvious pick even at Auburn, which is why it’ll probably be wrong.
Straight: Ole Miss
ATS: Ole Miss
Syracuse at Florida State (minus-16.5)
Sensational running back Dalvin Cook won’t play because of a hamstring injury, and the Cuse can cover this spread without Cook on the field and with the Seminoles keeping one eye on next week’s game at Clemson.
Straight: Florida State
Southern Cal (minus-4.5) at Cal
There’s no reason to start using logic to pick the Trojans’ games at this point. After looking ready for a slide after losses to Washington and Notre Dame, they thumped a good Utah team last week. Now, it’s Cal and quarterback Jared Goff. Southern Cal’s 83rd-ranked pass defense will get a workout.
Clemson (minus-10) at N.C. State
I thought the Miami game could be a trap game for the Tigers, and we all know what happened there. I’m rolling with the Tigers until further notice.
Oklahoma State (minus-2.5) at Texas Tech
The Cowboys are undefeated and lurking as a Big 12 spoiler, but they haven’t played TCU, Baylor or Oklahoma yet. They’ll win and cover here, but this ride is going to end soon.
Straight: Oklahoma State
ATS: Oklahoma State
Vanderbilt at Houston (minus-12)
An SEC team as a double-digit underdog against an American Athletic Conference team is shocking, even if that SEC team is Vanderbilt. This might be one of the most interesting games on the schedule, though, because we will find out how good Houston’s offense really is. The Commodores aren’t great, but they can play some good defense.
Miami at Duke (minus-13)
The Canes have some athletes and will rally for a moment behind a new coach.
Oregon State at Utah (minus-26)
The question is: How will the Utes bounce back after a humbling loss against Southern Cal? The answer is: Good enough to cover here.
Tennessee (minus-8.5) at Kentucky
Kentucky is one spot ahead of the Volunteers in the SEC East standings and could almost guarantee itself a finish in the top half of the division with a win here. That would count as progress under Mark Stoops.
Notre Dame (minus-11) at Temple
Temple is 7-0 and hosting ESPN’s College GameDay this week. This is the high point for the Owls.
Straight: Notre Dame
ATS: Notre Dame
Stanford (minus-10.5) at Washington State
Stanford may look back at the season-opening loss to Northwestern as the game that cost it a title shot. Watch Cardinal running back Christian McCaffery if you have some time Saturday night.