SEC college football picks, odds for Week 4: Alabama looks to stay hot, Florida-Tennessee a tossup?

SEC play gets cranked up in a big way in Week 4 with critical divisional matchups from noon to midnight.

No. 22 Texas A&M will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 1 Alabama in a game that features two national-championship winning coaches -- Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban. The Florida-Tennessee rivalry takes the stage Saturday night on Rocky Top, which will means one first-year coach -- Dan Mullen or Jeremy Pruitt -- will notch a big win for the first time this season.

What will happen in Week 4? Let's break it down, make some picks and hopefully make a comeback against the spread.

Record straight up: 29-6 (6-3 last week)
Record against the spread: 8-16 (2-7 last week)
*Games without lines are not counted in the ATS record

Main courses

No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama (-27)

  • Vegas isn't falling for A&M hype
  • Tua show for the fourth game in a row
  • Turn it sideways, Tide

I'm sorry, what? A ranked team is a 27-point underdog? Well, Texas A&M is still building and Alabama looks like one of those flying sharks in Sharknado that terrorizes Tara Reid. Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond looked poised and composed against the dangerous Clemson defense two weeks ago, but won't have the same luck on the road against a Crimson Tide defense that is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 43.8 percent of their passes -- fifth-nationally. The Aggies will put up a fight for a minute or too before the Crimson Tide goes full Mike Tyson and issues knockout blow after knockout blow. Pick: Alabama (-27)

Florida at Tennessee (+4.5)

  • First signature win
  • Vols D has been sneaky
  • Comes down to quarterbacks

OK, a battle between unranked teams doesn't exactly scream "big game." But an old-school SEC rivalry between two teams with new coaches adds some sizzle to this one. Dan Mullen's Gators fell to Kentucky for the first time in 31 years two weeks ago and hasn't exactly thrived through the air. Feleipe Franks is completing just 52.3 percent of his passes, and going up against a Volunteers defense that is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 53.5 percent. On the flip side, Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is completing 72.2 percent of his passes and averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. Both defenses will shine and Guarantano will do enough to pull the upset. Pick: Tennessee (+4.5)

Strong cocktails

No. 2 Georgia at Missouri (+14)

  • Big test for Georgia D
  • Get down and dirty
  • Fromm the key

It's a cliche, but it's true. In college football, you have to run the ball and play defense to win at an elite level, and Missouri just isn't running the ball as effectively as it needs to in order to be a threat in the SEC East. The Tigers are averaging just 4.41 yards per attempt (No. 12 in the SEC), and is going up against a defense that is giving up just 3.38. Drew Lock, Emanuel Hall and Missouri's passing attack will test the Georgia secondary a little bit, but the Bulldogs will pound Missouri to a point where it can key in on the pass and force Lock into mistakes. Meanwhile, Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (completing 80.4 percent of his passes) shouldn't have any problem dissecting a Tigers pass defense that is the second-worst in the conference (305 yards per game). Pick: Georgia (-14)

No. 14 Mississippi State at Kentucky (+10)

  • Is Kentucky for real?
  • Battle of the running backs
  • Won in the trenches

Kentucky will be back on the national stage Saturday night when it takes on a Mississippi State squad that is rolling after three big wins. If you like running backs, this one's for you. Benny Snell has been a staple in the Wildcats backfield for his entire career, while the duo of Aeris Williams and Kylin Hill lead a punishing Bulldogs attack that is supplemented by dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. This one comes down to the battle along the offensive line, and Mississippi State will prove that it's the contender, Kentucky is the pretender and manage to cover late. Pick: Mississippi State (-10)

Appetizers

Arkansas at No. 9 Auburn (-29.5)

  • Auburn needs a running game
  • Can Arkansas win in the trenches?
  • Auburn can't cover with the twos

One week after losing at the gun to LSU, Auburn will host an Arkansas team that blew a lead to Colorado State and then got smoked by North Texas. Auburn will control it from the outset thanks to an advantage on both lines of scrimmage. Gus Malzahn's crew will try out several running backs to try to find the guy who can be the true No. 1. This game will be sideways early, but Auburn's twos won't be able to stop the Arkansas ones enough to find a way to cover the massive spread. Pick: Arkansas (+29.5)

South Carolina at Vanderbilt (+2)

  • Need some explosive plays
  • Shurmur to the rescue?
  • Vandy DBs tested

South Carolina got an unexpected week off last week after its game vs. Marshall was canceled because of Hurricane Florence. Hopefully they tweaked some things on offense because the Gamecocks only have one play of 30 or more yards this year. That plays into Vanderbilt's defensive strength, because the Commodores have given up just two explosive plays all year. With that said, Vanderbilt's secondary will have some trouble covering Gamecocks receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards. This one will be close for a full four quarters, but South Carolina's defense will force a late mistake from Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur to seal it. Pick: South Carolina (-2)

Side dishes

Louisiana Tech at No. 6 LSU (-21)

  • Uncle Mo
  • Stay healthy
  • Tigers secondary shines

I'm honestly surprised the line is only 21 points in this one. The LSU defense stymied Auburn last week at their place, so how exactly is Louisiana Tech going to score? Yes, the Bulldogs have the top offense in Conference USA (526.5 yards per game) and second-best passing attack (318 yards per game). But can they throw against Greedy Williams and the Tigers secondary? Nope. Pick: LSU (-21)

Kent State at Ole Miss (-28)

  • Rebs rebound
  • Find something defensively

The bad news for Ole Miss is that it has given up 62 unanswered points. The good news is that all of them were scored by Alabama, and the Crimson Tide will be replaced by Nick Saban's alma mater Kent State on Saturday afternoon in Oxford. The Golden Flashes pass defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 50.6 percent of their passes this year, and held Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to just 50 percent a week ago. The Rebels will have offensive success, but won't stop quarterback Woody Barrett enough to cover. Pick: Kent State (+28)

What college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 4? And what title contender will get the scare of a lifetime? Visit SportsLine to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,200 in profit over the past three seasons and was all over BYU's stunning upset of Wisconsin in Week 3.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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