SEC Football: Southbound and Down Pick ‘Em


Here at Southbound and Down, we all consider ourselves avid SEC fans.  Each of us may have a preferred team or two, but we all love the SEC.  Now that SEC football is upon, starting tonight with South Carolina and Vanderbilt, it is time that we put that fandom to the test.

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Welcome to the first annual Southbound and Down Staff Pick ‘Em.  Most of the writers on staff will make weekly picks and we’ll keep track for bragging rights.  Of course I think I’m going to win, but I’ll refrain from trash talking…unless provoked by the staff.  Then…well…it gets even more fun.

I’ll provide a little bit of commentary for each game.  Most staff writers chose not to go this route, but you will notice at least guy guy with a similar last name did the same.  It must be something about that name that makes us feel like we know more than everybody else.  Then again, we were not the only ones to comment on our picks.

But until then…my first pick is me to win this competition for bragging rights.

On to the picks* . . .

Thursday, September 3

South Carolina (-3) V North Carolina


Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


John:  Give me North Carolina and the points here.  To me this is a toss-up and the 3 bonus points push me in favor

of North Carolina.  Heads up I’ll take South Carolina.

Neal Wilkerson:  South Carolina by 8

Ben Murphy (I’m not sure on some of his picks.  I can’t assume who his pick was without the spread.   He only picked

with the spread) :  USC

Ben Richardson:  South Carolina-  The Gamecocks and Spurrier walk away with an easy W.  UNC athletics is an absolute mess right now.

Ryan Summers:  North Carolina by 7

David Waters:  South Carolina, cover

Lee Wardlaw:  In the opener, Steve Spurrier finds a way to outscore Marquise Williams and an explosive offense. Expect the Tar Heels to cover the spread.

Vanderbilt (even) V Western Kentucky

7 PM (CT), SEC Network/WatchESPN


John’s:  Seriously, how did Vanderbilt fall so quickly?  From winning 9 games two straight years to not even viewed

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

as a favorite against Western Kentucky….?  What’s worse?  I’ll take Western Kentucky.

Neal Wilkerson:  Western Kentucky by 9

Ben Murphy :  VANDY

Ben Richardson:  Western Kentucky; See Vandy/Temple game last year.

Ryan Summers:  Vanderbilt by 14

David Waters:  Vandy

Lee Wardlaw:  Vandy will be improved, but still has plenty of questions. I can’t bet against Western Kentucky and their explosive offense.

Saturday, September 4

Georgia (-35) V Louisana Monroe

11 AM (CT), SEC Network/WatchESPN


John’s:  With a newly named quarterback and a lot to prove, Richt won’t his foot off the gas here until he scores 50.

Nov 22, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Brice Ramsey (12) drops back to pass against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Charleston Southern 55-9. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Give me Georgia, keep the points.
Neal Wilkerson:  Georgia by 28

Ben Murphy:  MONROE

Ben Richardson:  After Nick Chubb gets 200 yards in the first half, Coach Richt will want to show off his new QB Greyson Lambert.  If the spread was 50, I’d still take UGA.

Ryan Summers:  Georgia by 21

David Waters:  Georgia, they cover

Lee Wardlaw:  The quarterback situation isn’t ideal in Athens, but it won’t matter with Nick Chubb in the backfield. I’m taking Georgia and the points.

Ole Miss (-25) V Tennessee-Martin

11 AM (CT), SEC Network/WatchESPN


John’s:   This is a surprisingly tough line.  I think Freeze rotates all 3 quarterbacks and costs his team momentum.

Aug 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (5) hits Boise State Broncos quarterback Grant Hedrick (9) as he throws the ball in the first quarter of the 2014 Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

He’ll still sub the second D and TM will score late…it’s a close one but give me Ole Miss to cover.

Neal Wilkerson:  Ole Miss by 30

Ben Murphy:   OLE MISS

Ben Richardson:  Ole Miss, again, by 50.  Chad Kelly has something to prove, and Laquon Treadwell is out to show scouts he is the number 1 wide receiver in the upcoming draft.  The Ole Miss first team defense won’t allow over 50 total yards.

Ryan Summers:  Ole Miss by 33

David Waters:  Ole Miss…to cover…you guessed it

Lee Wardlaw:  The offense might struggle out of the gate, but look for Ole Miss to run away in the second half. I’m taking the Rebels and the points.


Arkansas (-33)  V UTEP

2:30 PM (CT) ESPNU/WatchESPN


John’s:  33 points is an offensive explosion for the offense of Arkansas.  They aren’t shutting UTEP out.  Give me

Dec 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Drew Morgan (80) reacts after the game against the Texas Longhorns in the 2014 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas heads up but UTEP against the spread.

Neal Wilkerson:  Arkansas by 35

Ben Murphy:  ARKANSAS

Ben Richardson:  I like UTEP to cover.  Run, run, run will only get you ahead by more than 33 a few times a year.  I’m interested to see the Arkansas D versus an offense with a little bit of potential.

Ryan Summers:  Arkansas by 3

David Waters:  Arkansas wins and covers

Lee Wardlaw:  Brandon Allen will have a field day, and UTEP will have a hard time scoring against an Arkansas defense that returns many players to a top 15 unit from ’14.

Auburn (-10.5) V Louisville

2:30 PM (CT) CBS


John’s:  This is a pick where Vegas will make a lot of money.  10.5 is a great line for this game.  I think Aubun’s

Oct 26, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) looks to pass against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Owls 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

offense clicks big time and Muschamp’s improvements are enough that Auburn will clear the spread.

Neal Wilkerson:  Auburn by 17

Ben Murphy:  AUBURN

Ben Richardson:  Auburn covers. I like Auburn to go nuts this year.  Auburn may as well be an oversized Harley with a co-ed on the back, because Petrino is going to drop it.

Ryan Summers:  No pick

David Waters:  Auburn wins and covers

Lee Wardlaw:  The Cardinals take Aubie to the wire at the Georgia Dome. I’m going with Louisville to cover the spread.

Mizzou (-25) V SEMO

3:00 PM (CT) SEC Network/ESPN


John’s:  Everyone on staff has full-time commitments.  In order to make these picks, we have to use the spreads that

Jan 1, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk (7) celebrates a 18 yard touchdown run Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

are available when we make them.  If this has not changed to -40 I’ll be shocked.  Mizzou to cover.

Neal Wilkerson:  Mizzou by 20

Ben Murphy:  MIZZOU

Ben Richardson:  Is this even real?  SEC East back to back winner, being 25 point favorites is an insult.  Mizzou, by 50

Ryan Summers:  Mizzou by 31

David Waters:  Mizzou Wins and covers

Lee Wardlaw:  Missouri should beat the spread against instate cupcake Southeastern Missouri.

Tennessee (-20.5) V Bowling Green

3:00 PM (CT) SEC Network/WatchEspn


John’s:  A tough line to pick.  I feel like Tennessee will struggle to live up to the hype early.  But I’ll take Tennessee to

Sep 27, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd (1) runs against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Tennessee 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

win by 21.

Neal Wilkerson:  Tennessee by 24

Ben Murphy:  TENN

Ben Richardson:   Bowling Green covers.  Calm down, I didn’t say wins, I said covers!  UT is a young team trying to manage some huge expectations.  Expect silly mistakes early and often

Ryan Summers:  Tennessee by 18

David Waters:  Tennessee for the W and the cover

Lee Wardlaw:  Joshua Dobbs and an offense that returns eleven starters shouldn’t have any problem against MAC competition in the Music City. I’m taking Tennessee and the points.

Texas A&M (+3) V Arizona State

6:00 PM (CT) ESPN/WatchESPN


John’s:  This game has moved to A&M being the favorite.  For good reason…I’ll take A&M and the points.

Nov 27, 2014; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen (10) before a game against the LSU Tigers at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Neal Wilkerson:  Texas A&M by 4

Ben Murphy:  A AND M

Ben Richardson:  Easily the hardest pick of the slate of games.  Does Texas A&M have a defense?  I mean, ANY DEFENSE WILL SUFFICE!  I believe John Chavis can single handedly make A&M the surprise team from the West, and I think ASU will be surprised with a much better defensive showing from A&M.  I’m taking the Aggies to cover and to win.

Ryan Summers:  Arizona State by 21

David Waters:  Texas A&M

Lee Wardlaw:  A de-facto home game in Houston, the Aggies pop Arizona State’s playoff balloon in week one in a high scoring affair.

Kentucky (-17.5) V Lousiana Lafayette

6:00 PM (CT) ESPNU/WatchESPN


John’s:  Kentucky, keep the points.  Next.

Nov 29, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles (14) looks to pass against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Papa John

Neal Wilkerson:  Kentucky by 14

Ben Murphy:   KENTUCKY

Ben Richardson:  If UK gets lulled to sleep, not only will they not cover, but they will get beat. ULL finished 9-4 last year, but they got crushed by superior talent.  Outside Patrick Towles, I don’t believe UK has superior talent.  Towles won’t let UK lose, but ULL covers.

Ryan Summers:  Kentucky by 3

David Waters:  Kentucky and they cover

Lee Wardlaw:  Louisiana-Lafayette keeps it closer than expected in Big Blue Country. Pick the Cajuns to beat the spread.

LSU (-28) V McNeese State

6:30 PM (CT) SEC Network/WatchESPN


John’s:  28?  That’s it?  LSU doesn’t need a quarterback to score 50 against McNeese.  I got LSU covering, keep the

Oct 25, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Mississippi Rebels defensive back Senquez Golson (21) in the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Mississippi 10-7. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports


Neal Wilkerson:  LSU by 31

Ben Murphy:  No pick

Ben Richardson:  Leonard Fournette will have 150 yards and 4 touchdowns by himself.  LSU D/ST scores 2 touchdowns.  LSU covers easy.

Ryan Summers:  LSU by 31

David Waters:  LSU, cover

Lee Wardlaw:  FCS’s #23 preseason pick, McNeese State nearly beat Nebraska in Lincoln last season. Behind a strong run game and rock solid defense, LSU won’t be on upset alert.

Florida (-37) V New Mexico State

6:30 PM (CT) SEC Network/WatchESPN


John’s:  If this happened later in the year I’d take Florida to cover.  Since I think they’ll still be working out some

Nov 22, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA;Florida Gators running back Kelvin Taylor (21) runs the ball in for a touchdown during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

kinks, I think they’ll score 37 and win…but not cover.

Neal Wilkerson:   Florida by 20

Ben Murphy:  FLORIDA

Ben Richardson:  Expect McElwain to push the envelope with Grier and Harris.  He wants to see who can make the plays to push them to the top of the SEC East, and New Mexico State is the practice defense.  I hope they are getting paid a million plus for this beat down.  UF covers.

Ryan Summers:  Florida by 23

David Waters:  Florida, cover

Lee Wardlaw:  The Gators should smoke a lowly Aggies team in the Swamp, but pick NM State to beat the spread. UF’s offense needs improvement.

Alabama (-10) V Wisconsin

7:00 PM (CT) ABC/WatchESPN


John’s:  Everything in me wants to say Alabama, push.  Every time I doubt Bama in one of these openers, I look

Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (27) against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half of the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

dumb.  Give me the Tide to cover.

Neal Wilkerson:  Alabama by 10 (push)

Ben Murphy:   ALABAMA

Ben Richardson:  Wisconsin played one quality opponent last year, Ohio State, annnnnnnd….yeah.

Alabama covers.  There is a reason Gary Andersen left for Oregon State.  This game we will find out why.

Ryan Summers:  Alabama by 13

David Waters:   Alabama covers

Lee Wardlaw:  Wisconsin will be strong again this season, but ‘Bama won’t have a problem stopping the Badgers offense in Week One. Stop Wisky, and all the Elephants have to do is hand it off to Derrick Henry.

Mississippi State (-23.5) V Southern Miss

9:00 PM (CT) FOXS1


John’s:   Dak Prescott will be responsible for more than 23.5 points by himself.   State covers, easy.

Dec 31, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) in the second half of the Orange Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated the Bulldogs 49-34. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Neal Wilkerson:  MSU by 27

Ben Murphy:  Southern Miss

Ben Richardson:  Last year USM lost this game 49-0 and Mississippi State was being heralded as a “dark horse” candidate.  This year, Mississippi State is the popular pick to finish last in the SEC West and Dak Prescott will be looking to send a message, or seven.  Mississippi State could win by 100 and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Ryan Summers:  MSU by 7

David Waters:  MSU covers

Lee Wardlaw:  The Dak Prescott express takes a tour stop in Hattiesburg. Without a doubt, take Maroon and the points.


Bonus Pick (Non-SEC, double points)

Ohio State (-27)  V Virginia Tech

Monday, 7:00 PM (CT), ESPN/WatchESPN


John’s:  If Ohio State didn’t have several players suspended, I’d say they’ll cover.   Since they do, though, I’ll take

Jan 24, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) with the college football coaches trophy at the national championship celebration at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State to win but not to cover.

Ben Murphy:  No Pick

Ben Richardson:  The first line I literally laughed at.  Urban Meyer is a very prideful man, and he won’t admit it, but I think “vengeful” could be a fantastic word to describe Urban’s game plan.  Virginia Tech is the sole reason his buckeyes had to crush Wisconsin by 50+ just to get to the 4th spot in the playoff.  I haven’t heard a lot of Frank Beemer’s retirement talks, but after this game, talk will begin.  Coach Beemer, give Coach Fulmer a call so he can help you through the times ahead.  Ohio State, covers half way through the 2nd quarter.

Ryan Summers:  Ohio State by 36

David Waters:  Ohio State covers
Lee Wardlaw:  I’m expecting the Hokies to come out strong in the first half, but the Buckeyes will come away with the dub. They won’t beat the spread, but they’ll win by at least two touchdowns.

*Game times and viewing options taken from

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