Is the SEC West the best division in football?
I’ll say yes but it’s getting close these days with the ACC Atlantic and Big Ten East not far behind. With that in mind, it’s tough to find value in these numbers but I got Scott Prather from Sports Radio ESPN 1420 in Lafayette to help me wade through the SEC on the podcast.
For now, let’s head west...
Alabama 11 (under -135)
Alabama is installed once again as national championship faves at +175 and they’re -210 to win the SEC West. So they’re good. We know this.
The QB battle between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa is interesting but it basically means the Tide are in great shape there – especially since four of five starting O-linemen return from an incredible unit.
Defense is a bigger question mark. We all assume Nick Saban just reloads more studs to make up the best D in college year after year. But this D only returns three starters, and linebacker is a place that has more question marks than usual. OLB Terrell Lewis was also just lost for the season with a knee injury, which is a huge blow. So that’s why the juice is on the UNDER here on this lofty win total.
Important betting tip: Alabama has much more value on the road under Nick Saban with a 25-16-1 ATS record (32-35-1 at home).
I love this Auburn team and I took them on futures at +3000 also. Those odds are obviously as high as they are because you-know-who is in their division.
I think Jarrett Stidham is the best QB in the SEC and they should have a solid, although somewhat new offensive line again this year. Kam Martin should give them a solid running game again even though Kerryon Johnson is a huge loss as he moves on to the NFL.
The defensive line is the other reason I love this team and once again it should be one of the best in the nation with three starters returning. A great D-line will help you go places in the SEC. It’s also helped Auburn be a profitable UNDER bet at home in Gus Malzahn’s five seasons at Auburn at 15-21 O/U.
Pick: OVER (despite a nasty schedule that includes Washington, Georgia and Alabama)
Mississippi State 8
If Nick Fitzgerald can stay healthy at QB and incoming DC Bob Shoop can keep the momentum on defense going, eight wins doesn’t seem like nearly enough for Miss State.
The offense is loaded with upperclassmen who started last season and Fitzgerald is a two-way threat who can leave defenses feeling motion-sick. The strength of the defense is at the line where all four starters return from last year. They were top five in the conference in 2017 in tackles for a loss, sacks and turnovers – a big reason the Bulldogs went a healthy 8-5-1 ATS.
Miss State should collect four wins with its non-con schedule of SFA, at Kansas State, UL Lafayette and La. Tech. Five wins in the SEC from there is definitely doable.
Texas A&M 7.5
The Aggies have been one of the worst bets in the SEC recently, going just 22-34 ATS over the last five campaigns, which is even propped up by an 8-4-1 ATS season last year.
In comes Jimbo Fisher faster than you can throw a Christmas tree to the curb and I gotta admit, I’m a little baffled as to what will happen in College Sportsbook this season. Fifteen starters return but not a QB and not much of a defense.
A&M allowed 35 or more points in six games in 2017 and they ranked ninth in total defense in the SEC. This is a transition year for the Aggies and I think they slide UNDER their win total.
LSU needs a stud quarterback. It’s been a challenge for a few seasons now and though sophomore Myles Brennan looks like the front-runner, Ed Orgeron should spread duties around this season.
The Tigers won’t have a tested running back returning for the first time in decades so that’s not going to help any. They also have a new offensive coordinator in promoted tight ends coach Steve Ensminger. So a lot of question marks on offense.
We always seem to be able to depend on the defense at LSU which we can see by the team’s 66-86-4 OVER/UNDER record going back to 1994.
Ole Miss 6 (over -135)
The Rebs were the top OVER bet in the SEC last season at 9-3 O/U. That was the result of an explosive passing game that ranked 11th in the nation and a pathetic defense that ranked 116th in total D.
The defense was especially horrifying against the run, allowing 245 yards per game (124th). You just can’t win that way in the SEC. Ole Miss aims to be more physical this year with a defense that only returns four starters.
The offense should be high-powered again. Senior Jordan Ta’amu takes over at QB for transfer Shea Patterson and he’ll have outstanding receivers. That includes AJ Brown, who led the conference with over 1,200 yards last season.
Arkansas 5 (over -140)
Incoming head coach Chuck Morris has completely flipped the offense to a fast-paced, power spread. That’s a big change from a possession-oriented pro offense in Fayetteville last season.
I’m taking a wait-and-see approach early on before I put any money on the Piggies. I do like the change back to a 4-3 on defense, though, under new DC John Chavis. I felt the Razor Hogs got bullied at the line on defense last season and they got zero pressure on the QB, ranking worst in sacks (19). I think this might help them change that with five returning starters on the D-line and linebacker and a new formation.
Arkansas was the third-worst bet in the SEC last season at 4-8 ATS and they are in rebuilding mode. But my bud Scott Prather talked me into the OVER here because of a favorable schedule that sees a lot of home games through the first couple of months.
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