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NCAAF Week 12 Predictions: 2 SEC Teams on Upset Alert

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NCAAF Week 12 Predictions: 2 SEC Teams on Upset Alert
Terrace Marshall Jr. #6 of the LSU Tigers on October 24, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP

Saturday’s card includes some SEC favorites who look overrated at the best betting sites. Let’s have a look at two likely upsets.

LSU Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Saturday, November 21, 2020 – Noon ET at Razorback Stadium

LSU Offense vs. Arkansas Defense 

After one bad performance, people have forgotten about what LSU quarterback TJ Finley can do. In his debut, he completed 17 of 21 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The difference between his debut and his last performance was run support. He was able to thrive against South Carolina largely because the Gamecocks couldn’t stop LSU’s ground game. The Tigers ran for 276 yards on 54 attempts.

Finley will flex the quality that he showcased in his game against the Gamecocks because LSU can and will run the ball effectively against Arkansas. Similar to South Carolina, the Razorbacks 73rd nationally in allowing 4.4 YPC and 82nd in allowing 183.4 yards per game.

Arkansas finds itself overpowered by opposing ground games because it doesn’t have much size in the trenches. In turn, the Tigers have plenty of size and strength in their run-blockers.  These offensive linemen have an additional, physical advantage, coming into this contest relatively fresh. LSU would have likely taken a beaten last week if its game against Alabama had been played.

With Arkansas focused on containing the Tiger ground game, Finley can do more damage through the air. A thing about Finley is that he won’t need to be terribly accurate. He simply needs to get the ball in the vicinity of top wide receiver Terrace Marshall. Marshall distinguishes himself among a group of two SEC wide receivers who’ve accrued at least two touchdown receptions in four consecutive games.

At 6-3, he has a great frame and great size. He makes difficult catches thanks to his reliable hands and overall ball skills. He presents a strong mismatch for an Arkansas secondary that has already seen its top two cornerbacks opt out of the season. Without some regular starters, the Razorback secondary has to rely on more unproven or poorly proven youth.

Feleipe Franks #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks and Rakeem Boyd #5 on November 7, 2020 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/AFP

COVID

Now, I already wrote why I think this game will be high-scoring. LSU still has an edge that is not being accounted for by College Football Oddsmakers because nothing has really been confirmed yet. Head Coach Sam Pittman is not giving anything away. 

But rumors are circulating rampantly that Arkansas is beleaguered by COVID cases. While there aren’t a lot of positive cases, the main issue is that perhaps sundry players have to enter quarantine. Because of Arkansas’ COVID issues, the game itself was on ice. While LSU is about as healthy as it ever has been since the season opener, the Razorbacks may miss a lot of players. 

So check to see which Razorback players are not suiting up today. The top betting sites opened Arkansas as small favorites and now some sports books even have the Tigers favored. If Arkansas misses multiple key players, you’ll want to bet on LSU before the line keeps moving in LSU’s favor. 

Tigers +1-118
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Harrison Bailey #15 of the Tennessee Volunteers on November 7, 2020 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/AFP

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers

Saturday, November 21, 2020 - 7 PM ET at Jordan-Hare Stadium

Don’t Count Tennessee Out 

A lot of people are counting Tennessee out because of its four-game losing streak. I think that Auburn could easily make the mistake of overlooking Tennessee especially because its next game is against Alabama.

Since the Tigers play their arch rival next Saturday, they find themselves in a tremendous lookahead spot for today’s game against heavily underdogged Tennessee.

Halves 

The fact that Tennessee’s recent final scores tilt heavily in its opponent favor seems to substantiate any loss of faith that people are exhibiting in relation to Tennessee. Casting aside Tennessee’s loss against powerhouse Alabama, the Volunteers are especially weak in the second half of games.

Against strongly favored Georgia, for example, the Volunteers led 21-17 at halftime before being blown out in the second half. Likewise, the Volunteers were up 13-0 after a half in their last game against Arkansas. The Razorbacks then dominated Tennessee in the second half.

This disparity between first- and second-half performances tells us that we should avoid betting on Tennessee to achieve a full-game upset.

Bo Nix
Bo Nix and Eli Stove - Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP

Match-Up

I like Tennessee for the first half because it matches up well with Auburn on both sides of the ball. Auburn owes its two-game win streak largely thanks to the passing performances of quarterback Bo Nix. But it’s not the case that Nix has grown. He’s simply been facing some of the worst passing defenses in the nation by multiple statistical measures.

Even with his last two performances, he’s barely completing 60 percent of his passes on the season. Nix wants to rely on the team’s top receiver, Seth Williams. But Tennessee has a top-caliber cornerback in Bryce Thompson.

Thompson gets overlooked because health-induced bumps earlier in the season and off-field issues last year have prevented him from accruing more accolades. Health-wise, he benefits from the fact that his team’s last game was postponed.  So he’s fresher and he’ll bring the kind of level of performance that helped earn him a spot on the SEC’s All-Freshman squad in 2018. 

He is known partly for his physicality, which is meaningful for his match-up against Williams, who, as it is evident with cornerbacks like Jaycee Horn of South Carolina, he struggles with opposing physicality. In offense, Tennessee will rely on its duo of running backs — preseason All-SEC fourth-teamer Eric Gray and Ty Chandler — and an offensive line filled with five-star talent and veteran experience.

In Auburn’s two losses, against South Carolina and Georgia, its opponent pounded the ball 40+ times. Tennessee wants to do that and has the personnel to do that well.

With your Best Bets, expect Tennessee to flex these match-up strengths in the first half.

NCAAF Pick: Volunteers First-Half +6.5 at -110 with BookMaker

Volunteers +6.5-110
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