Sidelines with John Clay

College football and NFL picks: Can underdog Kentucky win at Missouri?

I’m in need of a rebound. Ben just wants to keep his momentum going. We’re both back for this week’s college football and NFL predictions.

Ben went 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread last week. He’s now 49-31 overall and 42-36-2 against the spread for the season. I went 6-4 straight up and 3-7 against the spread last week. For the season, I’m 50-30 overall but 34-44-2 against the spread.

Here are our picks this week:

No. 12 Kentucky at Missouri

Saturday, 4 p.m., SEC Network

Line: Missouri by 7

John: Kentucky 28, Missouri 27

You’re the No. 12 team in the country and you’re a seven-point underdog against a team that is 0-3 in your same conference. Always tough to go against the guys in Vegas, but not buying that one.

Against the spread: Kentucky

Ben: Kentucky 27, Missouri 23

The Tigers have given up at least 33 points in each of their last five games (and an average of 39.7 points in their three SEC losses). UK’s defense should hold Saturday, and here’s guessing the offense shows more than it has lately.

Against the spread: Kentucky

[Son of former UK football star Jerry Blanton now tight end at Missouri]

Vanderbilt at Arkansas

Saturday, Noon, SEC Network

Line: Vanderbilt by 1.5

John: Vanderbilt 21, Arkansas 20

Had Vandy not been facing the Kentucky defense, the Commodores would have pulled out an SEC win last week. Arkansas is improving, but Derek Mason’s club gets the win on the road.

Against the spread: Arkansas

Ben: Vanderbilt 26, Arkansas 20

Last weekend, the Hogs beat an FBS-level team (Tulsa) for the first time this season. Congratulations. This is, by far, their best chance for an SEC victory, but don’t think it’ll happen.

Against the spread: Vanderbilt

No. 2 Clemson at Florida State

Saturday, Noon, ABC

Line: Clemson by 17

John: Clemson 39, Florida State 20

With Ohio State losing last week, Clemson now heads the list of teams most likely to lose to Alabama in the national title game. Florida State has played better of late, but the ‘Noles are not in Clemson’s league.

Against the spread: Clemson

Ben: Clemson 38, Florida State 17

After struggling to beat Syracuse a few weeks back. Clemson has shellacked Wake Forest and N.C. State by a combined score of 104-10. This one will be more like those.

Against the spread: Clemson

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No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Line: Georgia by 6.5

John: Georgia 28, Florida 23

Welcome to the annual renewal of the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.” Florida’s Dan Mullen is challenging UK’s Mark Stoops for SEC Coach of the Year, but Georgia has had two weeks to brood over its 20-point loss at LSU. The Dawgs will be ready.

Against the spread: Florida

Ben: Georgia 31, Florida 20

The Gators have been rolling since that home loss to Kentucky, but the Dawgs have had two weeks to think about the egg they laid in Baton Rouge. They’ll be ready.

Against the spread: Georgia

No. 16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State

Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN

Line: Mississippi State by 2

John: Mississippi State 17, Texas A&M 16

If this game was in College Station, I’d go with the Aggies in a romp. But Starkville is a whole other matter. Cowbells and all that. Plus, State is desperate. Hail State pulls it out.

Against the spread: Texas A&M

Ben: Texas A&M 23, Mississippi State 17

A&M is 6-1 against the spread this season, and its only two losses are to Alabama and Clemson. Aggies have been finding a way to get it done against similarly talented opponents all year.

Against the spread: Texas A&M

Tennessee at South Carolina

Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Line: South Carolina by 8

John: South Carolina 23, Tennessee 14

That Tennessee found a way to beat Auburn two weeks ago is an indictment on Auburn’s season. South Carolina should handle the Vols without too much trouble.

Against the spread: South Carolina

[This will be the difference in Tennessee-South Carolina game]

Ben: South Carolina 34, Tennessee 20

Still not sure what got into the Vols two weeks ago at Auburn. Whatever it was has been lacking in every other one of their games against a quality opponent this fall.

Against the spread: South Carolina

No. 6 Texas at Oklahoma State

Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC

Line: Texas by 3.5

John: Texas 34, Oklahoma State 31

Tom Herman has it going in Austin, but the Longhorns are on the road at Stillwater. Mike Gundy and his mullet will make it closer than you might think, or Texas wants.

Against the spread: Oklahoma State

Ben: Texas 40, Oklahoma State 23

Still not sold on the Longhorns, but Oklahoma State has lost three of four in Big 12 play (and the Cowboys were favored by at least eight points in all of those games). Not a great stat going into their toughest league test yet.

Against the spread: Texas

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

Line: Bengals by 4.5

John: Bengals 24, Buccaneers 20

Marvin Lewis and Company have to pull themselves up off the mat after being crushed at Kansas City. Back at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati will heal some of their wounds with a win over the Bucs.

Against the spread: Buccaneers

Ben: Bengals 35, Buccaneers 20

I’ve been picking on the Bengals here the past few weeks, but feel like they’re out to prove something, back home after last week’s blowout and the strange ending against the Steelers a week before that.

Against the spread: Bengals

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Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: Rams by 9.5

John: Rams 34, Packers 24

Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC, but the Rams are the best team in all of football. The Men of Sean McVay roll on by beating back the Pack.

Against the spread: Rams

Ben: Rams 45, Packers 21

Take Aaron Rodgers off the Pack and they’re a 4-12 team. This roster is not good, and the Rams might very well be the best team in the league. Could get ugly. Probably will.

Against the spread: Rams

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New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Line: Vikings by 1

John: Saints 24, Vikings 23

Saints have a score to settle the way they lost the NFC divisional playoff game last year to the Vikings. Were it not for Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees would be the NFL mid-season MVP.

Against the spread: Saints

Ben: Vikings 30, Saints 28

Play-makers all over the field in this evenly matched game. When in doubt, go with the home team.

Against the spread: Vikings

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