2020 Record: 48-30
Last Week: 11-6
Mortal Lock of the Week: 6-0 — over 57 was super-easy with Aggy & Gata doomed to derp it up.
I have to do some poll monitor training today and then early voting begins here in Tennessee tomorrow. So this issue of GAM going up a day early and will likely be truncated. I know you shall miss my sweet snark. But, dear reader, democracy beckons me like a harlot from the balcony of Lane’s palatial digs in Oxford.
We got back on track last week, mercifully. This week is a bit thornier, as most spreads are pretty thin. And for those conferences that began early, we are fully into the 4th - 6th game of a conference-only crunch. Tighter games, tighter spreads.
But, as Quasimodo taught Esmeralda the sole keening wail available to him — the one tone that he could hear as it escaped the lips of his cloyingly seductive Gallic Roma — we also will just have to work with what we’ve got. (Thank you for reading Roll ‘Bama Roll, your source for ‘Bama football content and early 19th century French Gothic literature.)
Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
Auburn -3 1⁄2 at South Carolina — Man, I just get the feeling the Tigers are walking into a snake pit as we are treated to Breakfast with the Barn in Columbia. This team has looked like an out of control barrel of Donkey Kong ass every game this year, and in a just world they should be 1-2. The Gamecocks are a very different team at home too. The spreadsheet says that Auburn is an unadjusted 1.7 point underdog, meaning Sakerlina should win by about five. That weirdly sounds right. Like 22-17 USC? But I don’t trust it enough to wager on it.
Literally none of the Midmajor weekday games —We are in for a three-day treat beginning tomorrow. Four big games; all should be fun; and all are meaningful for one reason or another...and I don’t trust 2020’s small data set enough to bet on the outcome of any of them. Coastal (+7.5) at ULL, Ark. State (-3.5) vs. Ga. State, SMU (-6.5) at Tulane, and BYU -3 at Houston. I may change my mind tomorrow and put up a weeknight game thread, but for now, avoid ‘em.
Underdogs with Bite
Boston College + 11 1⁄2 at Virginia Tech — The Hokies have been decimated by the ‘Rona, and that doesn’t look to improve this week. Who knew that one of the most potent offenses in the ACC is actually BC. They throw the ball at a pace that gives Mike Leach some wood. It’s beginning to translate into some point too. Throw in some fundamentally sound-ish defense by the Eagles, and this game is probably going to be closer than the names on the jerseys suggest. Beware the outright upset too, Hokies.
North Texas +6 1⁄2 at MTSU — That MTSU offense is absolutely grisly to behold. The Mean Green defense is just as bad, so they’ll get scored on even facing this limp Blue Raider team. But those MTSU defensive numbers are skewed by facing Army and run-first Troy. When teams threw at the Raiders, they have had some success. The Eagles have one of the nation’s best passing attacks, so this seems to set up much more as a field goal type game.
Bet the House, Baby
So. Miss.-4 1⁄2 at UTEP — Yes, the Miners have been better in 2020, but it is still a very bad team, and particularly its young offense which has had a hard time getting off the ground. The rebounding Eagles get it done on the road.
Texas A&M - 6 1⁄2 at Mississippi State — Leach has to be drooling at an Aggies secondary that has been scorched repeatedly. But, the Bulldogs will have to cut down on turnovers, and I see no indication that they can even begin to stop the bleeding on that front. Despite being somewhat hungover, the Aggies turn it over to their potent running game, bully the Bulldogs, and get it done on the road.
Ole Miss -3 at Arkansas — Speaking of hangovers, did LMFK tell his players that moral victories aren’t acceptable? Because this is a must-win for the Rebels against a team that should be 2-1. The Piggies’ breakdowns have largely come when defending the pass — mainly receivers in space. That’s pretty gross when you consider the passing attacks the Hogs have seen — Auburn and Georgia among them. That doesn’t look to change this week, as a thin team that wants to be deliberative and keep it close, meets the nation’s fastest team against the nation’s best at putting players in space. Rebels win a closer one than you think on the road, but still cover.
NC State -4 1⁄2 vs. Duke — Okay, I’m sorry I doubted you Wolfpack. You’ve been leaps and bounds better in 2020. After shelling Wake and winning B2B games against bowl teams, NCSU takes another step closer to bowl eligibility against a team with interception problems. Ride the hot hand, and trust Duke to turn it over in critical situations. Pack by two scores.
UVA -3 at Wake Forest — Wake has serious questions at quarterback...then again, so do the Hoos. This is some peak #GoACC action. But the Cavs shake off last week’s hangover from the Clemson debacle and get it done. Bronco is too good of a coach to drop this winnable contest. It won’t be pretty though. Virginia by a touchdown.
Vols -6 1⁄2 vs. Kentucky — The annual hatefest between two of the conference’s less sophisticated schools, this rivalry is often pretty close. But, the Wildcats must win on the ground, where the Vols have been the stouter unit. Meanwhile, UT can win on the ground, but even Gitmo can get it done against a UK secondary that has been set alight by everyone not named KJ Costello. Hell, the Wildcats were even victimized by Bo Nix. The Tennessee passing game, its home field, and a deep defensive front make the difference here. UT 27 — UK 16
I Also Like
Florida - 13 1⁄2 vs LSU — I have no idea how that Tigers defense would keep the Gators from hitting 60 points on a neutral field. Now, add a freakish ankle injury to Stingley, a road trip to the Swamp, and the first SEC-contending sort of team the Tigers have seen all year, and it’s going to be ugly. I remind you, LSU has played MSU (1-2), Missouri (1-2) and Vanderbilt (0-3). Against that slate, LSU is 1-2 and the Whos have given the Tigers and Bulldogs their only win of the season. The Tigers will get some scores, esp. with a defensive coordinator change, but not nearly enough. Gators in a romp.
Clemson -26 at Georgia Tech — Hey, look! The Beees are trying to flirt with a bowl this year. They won’t get a W this week, though. A Tech defense that is in the middle of the pack against the pass and gives up 190 yards a game on the ground is not a good combination for stopping the Tigers here. The heart of the GT offense is also its ground attack, an area where Clemson enjoys a tremendous talent advantage. 45ish-13ish seems right in yet another ugly blowout in the ACC. Expect a big day for Etienne.
UMass + 28 at Georgia Southern — The wretched Minutemen finally get to play a game and their reward for the first game of the season is a road trip against a triple option team. God have mercy on your souls. Georgia Southern Eagles big.
Notre Dame -16 1⁄2 vs. Louisville — Sorry, Cardinals. This just isn’t your year. Another home game for the Irish, more turnovers to be forced, another bad game for Malik Cunningham, and another beating for Luhvl upcoming. Notre Dame wins by three or four scores.
Army -7 at UTSA — Why is this spread so low? Seen the Roadrunners defense this year? They have been super-stout and play a full 60 minutes of disciplined football (must be nice, huh?) On offense, they lean on a strong running game. Their greatest weakness has been holding up on the ground late in games. That’s the kind of contest Army wants to see, especially with their own lights-out rushing defense. Again, it’ll be closer than the reputations suggest, but I trust the Black Knights here. Army by 10.
UAB -13 1⁄2 vs Western Kentucky — Pigrome just isn’t getting it done under center, and for a team that wants to win through the air, that’s bad enough. On the road against one of the Midmajor’s best defenses, that’s even worse. Throw in a flaky secondary that has been scorched repeatedly, and it sets up for another bad loss. The Blazers keep ringing up fools like a Walmart register on Black Friday. UAB by three scores.
UNC -13 1⁄2 at FSU — Props to FSU for not folding last week against Notre Dame in what was their super bowl of the season. Still, the ‘Noles turn it over far too often; the back seven is far too suspect; and the Tarheels lines are outstanding. Two scores seems about right to entice Seminole fans, but three is the more likely outcome. UNC 34-FSU 17
Mortal Lock of the Week
Alabama -6 vs Georgia:
Yep. We’re here. Risking my 6-0 record on the season to give you an ironclad guarantee — Alabama will win this game, and will do so by double digits. Why?
First of all, the ‘Dawgs are undoubtedly impressive up front. They’ve bullied Auburn, turned it on against Arkansas, and slopped around versus Tennessee before finally pulling away. But in no case has the offense been impressive doing so. And it is just an offense that matches up better with an intellectually challenged Alabama defense, with inexperience all over the place. Hat-on-a-hat, UGA doesn’t want to trick you; they want to punish you up front. And that simple violence is precisely what this defense can likely counter the best. See Mizzou and Aggy.
On defense, the Bulldogs have seen absolutely nothing like the hellfire that can be dumped over their head in gooey buckets as they will on Saturday. Do they want to blitz against UA’s outstanding pass-blocking line and leave some iffy corners on an island against the speedy ‘Bama wide receivers? This says nothing of Mac Jones, who’s shown the willingness to scorch people over the top. Do the Dawgs sit back in a zone, where Mac is coming off a career game picking apart the same? Will they crowd the box on standard downs to sell-out against Najee, leaving screens and and dangerous double-move play-action passes open? We’ve not even seen what the Tide offense can do outside of the very vanilla plays its been tormenting opponents with to date.
And it’s on the road, where Road Kirby is not Home Kirby and the ‘Dawgs were gifted the Vols and Barn at home. Thus, their biggest test is on the road, against a man and a team that they’ve come to expect heartache from, and against whom Kirby has made some woeful coaching calls.
Yes, it will be a step up in class for the Tide offense. We won’t see stupid track meets that have become a fixture of Saturdays in 2020. Yes. We will still see screwups in execution by the Tide, particularly with Battle sitting for a half. And we will still see some frustrating big plays allowed and aggravating missed tackles. But, at the end of the day, a smart Mac Jones and too much team speed wins games.
If we’ve learned anything the last half-decade it’s that elite offense beats elite defenses 99 times out of 100...or certainly when it matters most. And the best one on the field will be wearing crimson. The Tide gets a garbage score late to make it look worse than it is, but ‘Bama covers: Alabama 34 — Georgia 20