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Your Guide to SEC Spreads and Hating FPI, Week 1

There are no big statement picks from FPI, but Bill Connelly is giving USM a decent chance against Kentucky.

Football has begun.  Cal, favored by 22 in their game located in Australia, managed to beat Hawaii by only 20, so we have already seen one of those games where watching the spread is more entertaining than the outcome of the game.  Despite starting the college football season in Australia, there are several entertaining matchups occurring in our own nation this week.  Spreads, predictions from ESPN's infamous FPI and Bill Connelly's S&P system, comments on each SEC game, and a few other potentially entertaining games are below.  Spreads are from Vegas Insider.

Appalachian State at Tennessee

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas UT 20.5
FPI UT 25
S&P UT 16

Appalachian State actually has a decent chance of winning the Sun Belt, but they still aren't good enough to keep it very close with Tennessee.

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas VU 3.5
FPI VU 4
S&P VU 2

The Muschamp era in South Carolina begins with being underdogs to Vanderbilt, who has been mentioned as contending for a spot in a bowl game this year.  This one should be extremely low scoring, which increases our chances of seeing Muschamp get angry.  I was going to pick out an example of Muschamp getting angry, but I'll just leave my search results from Youtube here.   He did get a very nice house in South Carolina during the offseason.

South Alabama at Mississippi State

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas MSU 29.5
FPI MSU 31
S&P MSU 31.5

Remember the Troy game from last year where MSU went up by 30 in the first quarter, and was even with Troy the rest of the way?  Stay away from this one, because we have no idea how much the backups will get to play.  That being said, South Alabama is supposed to have a decent secondary, a good runningback, and a couple of good receivers, but this one shouldn't be close.

Missouri at West Virginia

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas WVU 9.5
FPI WVU 12
S&P WVU 4

Missouri probably never planned to fly this far east to play a Big 12 opponent.  Their defense should be good.  Expectations for their offense are not as high.

UCLA at Texas A&M

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas TAMU 3
FPI TAMU 3
S&P UCLA 1

After an offseason of sharing his political analysis and views on amateurism in college athletics, Josh Rosen will provide us with some actual football related things to talk about.  Texas A&M is one of my sleeper teams this season.  They are loaded with talent at defensive line and wide receiver.  Their biggest weakness is offensive line depth, which is admittedly a big one.  They have a lot of toss up games this year, with UCLA, Arkansas, and Tennessee at home.

LSU at Wisconsin (at Green Bay)

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas LSU 10
FPI LSU 13
S&P LSU 18.5

There is finally some agreement between the two experts that the spread will be wrong.  Lambeau Field is counted as a home game for Wisconsin, so LSU would have been favored by 16 at an actual neutral site.  Brandon Harris had some very good games last year that were overshadowed by a couple of bad games against a few of the top defenses in the nation.  He has enough experience at this point to where fans should expect more out of him than simply not turning over the ball and handing it off to Fournette.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas ARK 25.5
FPI ARK 21
S&P ARK 22.5

All of a sudden, we have two games in a row where the spread is being disputed.  LA Tech does have to replace some of their most productive players from last year on offense, but so does Arkansas.  Arkansas should still win without the outcome being in doubt, but 25 points might be a little high,

Georgia at North Carolina (at the Georgia Dome)

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas UGA 3
FPI UGA 3
S&P UGA 8.8

Why is UNC listed as the home team in this "neutral" site game?  Why did Larry Fedora hire Tim Beckman, who got fired at Illinois for all this stuff, or not winning enough games, tell the media Beckman wouldn't be in contact with players, only to have a reporter take a picture of Beckman talking to a player at practice the next day?

Southern Miss at Kentucky

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas UK 6.5
FPI UK 11
S&P USM 2

I admit I had to double check these.  Bill Connelly really doesn't like Kentucky this year.  With his 12-24 record, and a 4-20 SEC record in a weaker than usual SEC East, this is probably win or get rich of your buyout time for Stoops.

Massachusetts at Florida

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas UF 35.5
FPI UF 35
S&P UF 36

I will not be scouting UMass this week.

USC at Alabama (in Arlington)

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas Alabama 10.5
FPI Alabama 4
S&P Alabama 13.1

FPI loves recruiting rankings, which is why it is giving USC a better chance than Vegas or S&P here.  It should be interesting to see how Alabama's new QB and Derrick Henry's replacement does under the spotlight.

Clemson at Auburn

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas Clemson 7.5
FPI Clemson 7
S&P Clemson 11.8

Gus Malzahn should have a good defense, but a lack of depth at runningback and wide receiver could mean Auburn will struggle on offense.  I did not ever think I would be typing anything like the previous sentence about Malzahn.  Anyway, Malzahn has plenty of time to rebound, since his athletic director said he expects him to be the coach at Auburn for a very long time.

Mississippi at Florida State (at Orlando)

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas FSU 4.5
FPI FSU 7
S&P OM 1

The Black Bears have had an eventful offseason, so I won't bother going into more detail here. Florida State had a QB battle going on, but a freshman won it by default after Sean Maguire got injured.  Once Maguire is healthy, competition for the starting spot could resume.

Oklahoma at Houston (but not on Houston's home field)

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas OU 10
FPI OU 19
S&P OU 15.3

So maybe don't bet on Houston this weekend? I don't know much about the Cougars besides that their coach became the highest paid non-Power 5 coach this offeseason.  In the top 25, Oklahoma is 3rd and Houston is 15th, so this is an interesting one to keep track of.  This is counted as a neutral site game, because it is at the Texan's stadium, and Oklahoma should have enough fans that either live in or will travel to Houston to make this a neutral site game

Notre Dame at Texas

Winner Margin of Victory
Vegas ND 3.5
FPI Texas 2
S&P ND 7

I listed this one because it is the only Sunday game, and reputation alone makes it a big one.  Notre Dame might be over ranked at 10th in the nation, but both of these teams are good enough to finish the season in the top 25.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of great games this weekend, and the SB nation expert Bill Connelly likes a few of the spreads.  His previews that he does for every FBS team are the only preseason previews I read.  When I looked back halfway during last season, FPI accurately predicted who would cover the spread 52% of them time in SEC games, so I am keeping track of how that does more out of curiosity than anything.  Connelly's system should disagree with the spread a lot more in week 2, because people will overreact to what ever happens in the first game.