College football picks, odds for SEC in Week 8: Georgia’s offensive problem, Tennessee’s dysfunction

It’s hard to believe that some SEC teams are already hitting the midway point of their seasons. Of course, that’s not the case for everyone, especially teams who have seen games postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Yet here we are in mid-October with storylines galore. 

No. 2 Alabama used a big second half performance to pull away from No. 4 Georgia last weekend, solidifying itself as the team to beat this season. The Crimson Tide hit the road this week to take on a reeling Tennessee team in the rivalry traditionally known as the “Third Saturday in October” despite getting pushed later this year. That will be your SEC on CBS Game of the Week at 3:30 p.m. ET. No. 17 LSU will hit the field after having last week’s game vs. No. 10 Florida postponed, but it is going to be running into a confident South Carolina team that is fresh off a dramatic win over Auburn.

Let’s break down some of the biggest SEC storylines entering Week 8 and make picks against the spread

Appetizer: Tennessee’s dysfunctional, again

There’s a great book by Mark Nagi called “Decade of Dysfunction” that details just how crazy the last decade was for the Volunteers. The new decade isn’t exactly getting off on the right foot. Jarrett Guarantano has lost his grip on the starting quarterback spot, defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was fired after just four games, and two straight losses have erased the good vibes created by the eight-game winning streak that was broken in Week 3. 

It isn’t going to get any better. The Crimson Tide are rolling into town and could potentially face a new starting quarterback in Harrison Bailey (that is, of course, if you believe linebacker Henry To’o To’o’s Instagram story). No matter who starts under center for the Vols, the Tide defense is fresh off a second half shutout over Georgia. Quarterback issues, combined with an underwhelming offensive line and turmoil up front on defense, should have Vols fans terrified. Forget this week. It’s going to get ugly. It probably won’t be more attractive as the season goes on. But hey, at least Tennessee didn’t hire Mike Leach three years ago like former athletic director John Currie wanted.

Main course: Georgia’s quarterback issues

Georgia on Saturday looked a lot like LSU during the final few years of the Les Miles era against Alabama. It can win games in its somewhat conservative comfort zone that relies heavily on its defense, but it is toast if a team forces it outside of its comfort zone. Why? The offense is limited — specifically the downfield passing attack. That’s on Stetson Bennett IV.

The former walk-on known as the “Mailman” has completed just 26.7% of his passes that travel 15 or more air yards beyond the sticks. For comparison’s sake, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is completing 70.6% of those passes, LSU’s Myles Brennan is at 61.5% and Vanderbilt’s Ken Seals is chiming in at 40%. That despite having George