The Georgia Bulldogs have won 27 consecutive games, and haven’t truly been threatened by an opponent in over a year. And yet, the two-time defending national champions have seemed a dubious prospect at best for sports bettors—until now.
The nation’s best team absolutely looked the part this past weekend in a 35-point shredding of a top-10 Ole Miss squad that had entered Athens as an 11-point underdog. Quarterback Carson Beck threw for over 300 yards for the fifth time in his last seven outings. The Bulldogs churned out 300 more yards on the ground. And tight end Brock Bowers, Georgia’s best player, returned to catch a touchdown pass just three weeks after undergoing surgery for a high ankle sprain.
It was the most complete—and to be fair, the most terrifying—Georgia has looked all season. A Bulldogs team that started 0-4 ATS against FBS competition has now covered three of its last five, absolutely torching a pair of ranked opponents along the way. And there’s another on deck for Saturday: Tennessee, which looked toothless in losing by 29 at Missouri as a 2.5-point road favorite. The Bulldogs are a 10-point favorite on Rocky Top.
And right now, that number looks like a steal for bettors willing to back a Georgia team that’s firing on all cylinders, and likely playing ticked off because they haven’t been No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
It’s all bad news for Tennessee, which managed just 83 rushing yards against Missouri and saw the Tigers control the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Mizzou gashed the Vols defense for 530 yards, 255 on the ground. Guess what Georgia excels at? Playing defense and running the ball to control the clock.
Unlike earlier in the season, when Georgia was struggling to put away—and by extension failing to cover against—the likes of South Carolina, Auburn and UAB, the Bulldogs now are plainly exerting their will on opponents.
The two times Georgia hasn’t covered in its last five games: against a huge number at Vanderbilt in the game where Bowers went down, and against a Missouri team that looks more impressive with each passing week.
Tennessee, meanwhile, is headed in the opposite direction, failing to cover against its last two ranked opponents. Georgia is a 10-point favorite Saturday in Knoxville, will be a bigger favorite than that in two weeks at Georgia Tech, and is already booked for a clash with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 2.
The Bulldogs are a confident, complete team right now. Sports betting is all about striking at the right time, and for Georgia, this may be it.
Tigers And a 71.5-Point Total
Powered by spectacular quarterback Jayden Daniels, the LSU total train keeps on chugging, this past weekend notching its ninth OVER in as many games against FBS competition. Saturday against Florida wasn’t even close: the opening total of 63 was eclipsed with 2:18 still remaining in the third quarter, when Daniels hit Noah Cain with a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 38-28 lead. LSU covered for good measure, winning by 17 as a 13-point home favorite.
But it’s the LSU totals that have commanded the attention of sports bettors this season, and toward that end this week brings a doozy. LSU’s home game Saturday against Georgia State, out of the Sun Belt Conference, features a total that opened at 71.5—the highest total the Tigers have faced this season, and the highest opening total for any game featuring an SEC team this year.
The previous high for LSU was 63.5, for the Ole Miss game in which the teams combined to put up 104 points. The previous high total for any FBS game involving an SEC team was the 64.5 for Texas at Alabama, which the teams fell UNDER after combining for 58 points.
So yeah, that 71.5 will make you think twice. It’s easy for envision a situation in which LSU gets out to a huge lead, Daniels goes to the bench, and the opponent scores little if anything at all—exactly the scenario which nearly ended this run of OVERs in Week 8 against Army, when it took a breakaway touchdown by a Tigers freshman running back in the final minute to eclipse a 58-point total in a 62-0 LSU victory.
And speaking of Daniels, last weekend’s 372-yard passing, 234-yard rushing, five-touchdown performance against the Gators thrust the LSU quarterback into the thick of the Heisman Trophy race, where sportsbooks now have him as a +380 option behind only +120 Bo Nix of Oregon and +300 Michael Penix Jr. of Washington.
Should LSU win out, the Tigers would finish the regular season 9-3. Eleven past Heisman winners have been on three-loss teams, among them Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Ricky Williams, Tim Brown, Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen.
On Guard Against the G5
The penultimate weekend of the regular season brings the traditional onslaught of games pitting SEC programs against lower-division opponents, a function of teams wanting to be fresh and healthy for big rivalry matchups the following week. Alabama and Texas A&M are hosting FCS foes. But of the five games involving Group of Five opponents, only one has an opening spread smaller than three touchdowns: Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are a mere 13.5-point favorite, further evidence of what a dreadful season it’s been in Starkville. After beating the spread for the first (and so far, only) time this season in a hideous 7-3 victory over Arkansas, the Bullies have proceeded to get blown out by Auburn, Kentucky and Texas A&M in succession. With quarterback Will Rogers out since Oct. 7 with a shoulder injury, Mississippi State has managed just 29 points over its past four games combined.
The Golden Eagles hardly shape up as giant killers, but they have covered three straight—two of those against Appalachian State and Louisiana, traditionally two of the better teams in the Sun Belt.
Southern Miss has played some competitive games in Starkville before, and with the Bulldogs headed into the final few games of a disappointing season—well, let’s just say we don’t expect the cowbells to be clanging quite as enthusiastically as they might be otherwise.
There’s also one other SEC-G5 game worth watching: Auburn hosting New Mexico State, which is 8-3 and comes to Plains on a six-game winning streak. The Aggies, a 22-point underdog in Jordan-Hare, have covered the spread in all but three games this season, including in all six outings in their current win streak.
While Auburn blasted a 1-11 NMSU team 42-7 the last time the Aggies visited the Plains, this is a far better program now under former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill.
Player Prop Watch
A few SEC players to watch this week for potential prop bets, should they be made available:
SEC Pick 3, Week 12
Let's pull the trigger on the Bulldogs as one of my three picks for Week 12.
Missouri -10.5 vs. Florida
The Tigers are on the brink of a great season, one that would be better if they’d played defense in the final five minutes against LSU. Regardless, Mizzou has now covered four straight, and few SEC teams have enjoyed more impressive back-to-back weeks—pushing Georgia to the fourth quarter in Athens, and then overpowering Tennessee.
The Gators, meanwhile, have lost three straight both overall and against the spread, and at this point in the season will likely show little stomach for the smash-mouth brand of football they’ll face in CoMo.
South Carolina +1.5 vs. Kentucky
The Gamecocks have pulled themselves out of a tailspin by beating Jacksonville State and hammering Vanderbilt, giving us a reminder of how fantastic quarterback Spencer Rattler can be when he doesn’t have a papier-mache offensive line in front of him.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has bottomed out with losses in four of its last five, and the Wildcats’ ball-control offense has proven little match against opponents with more sophisticated passing games. Even worse, UK’s defense has been unable to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and is giving up yardage in huge chunks.
Georgia -10 at Tennessee
Georgia has won six straight games against Tennessee, all of them by double-digit margins, and it’s easy to envision that trend continuing after the events of last week.
If the Vols can’t maintain possession against Missouri, how are they going to do it against a Georgia team that takes exerting its will at the line of scrimmage to another level? Yes, the game is in Knoxville, and yes, Tennessee has a week to try and fix all that went wrong last Saturday. But watching the Bulldogs put the heel of their hobnail boot on Ole Miss and grind them into the turf should leave no doubt about what this team is capable of right now.