The college football season rolls into Week 8 with the SEC taking a break from the center of the national spotlight. Tennessee beat Alabama in Week 7 to shake things up, but there are no really huge SEC games this week. The bigger battles are down the line, but it is true that a number of teams which have recently lost need to get back in the win column this week. That list begins with the defending SEC champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide
Odds: Alabama -21
This is a bounce-back game for both teams, not just Alabama. The Crimson Tide did lose to Tennessee, and they will certainly be intent on avoiding a two-game losing streak. However, Mississippi State also lost last week, falling to Kentucky. The Bulldogs also need to fight back and shrug off a brutal night with an improved performance this week. Alabama is very likely to win the game, but Mississippi State has a defense which – while not completely airtight – has not been blown out this season.
The MSU defense is good at limiting damage and preventing opposing offenses from running wild. Alabama has shown its weakness along its offensive line. The Crimson Tide just aren’t as tough in the trenches as they have been in previous years, particularly their 2020 national championship season. This kind of deficiency takes a whole season to fix. It probably won’t be figured out in one game – not enough, at least, fore Alabama to cover the very large point spread here.
Pick: Mississippi State +21
Ole Miss Rebels at LSU Tigers
Odds: LSU -1.5
The Ole Miss Rebels are unbeaten. They haven’t been playing amazing football, but they have been playing well enough to win. They managed a 48-34 win over Auburn this past week, a game which raised a lot of questions, chiefly this one: Was Ole Miss looking ahead to this LSU game, or are the Rebels simply weaker than many people think? Ole Miss played great defense in a very close and hard-fought win over Kentucky a few weeks ago. Giving up 34 points to Auburn could suggest that the Rebels overperformed against Kentucky, and that the Auburn game was a truer reflection of the quality of their defense.
However, the Auburn game could be a case of Ole Miss emotionally drifting through that game and not providing 100-percent concentration and intensity. If you think Ole Miss drifted through the Auburn game and will be a lot more forceful against LSU, you should pick Ole Miss. If you think Ole Miss’ defense is truly weak and vulnerable, you should pick LSU.
Pick: Ole Miss +1.5
Texas A&M Aggies at South Carolina Gamecocks
Odds: Texas A&M -3
This is a game in which one should expect a lot of defense. Texas A&M and South Carolina have both struggled a lot on offense this year. They both have far less than ideal quarterback situations. The better wins for these teams this year have been games in which the defenses saved the offenses. Texas A&M needed a long fumble recovery and return for a touchdown to beat Arkansas. South Carolina limited Kentucky to 14 points in a road win over the Wildcats. This game figures to be very close and low-scoring, but A&M appears to have more speed and physicality on defense, giving the Aggies a small but real edge.