They’ve won 21 consecutive games, claimed the past two national championships, and beaten their first four opponents this year all by double-digits. And yet, from a sports betting perspective, it’s getting easy to feel uneasy about the Georgia Bulldogs.
Concerning Factors For The Dawgs
Oh, sure, they’re ranked No. 1 in the country and all that. But did they really look convincing in a sleepwalk of an effort against UAB this past Saturday night, or in a five-alarm fire bell of a wake-up call against South Carolina?
Georgia enters this week 0-3 ATS vs FBS competition, failing to cover 44.5 against Ball State, 27.5 against South Carolina, or 41 last weekend against the Blazers of Birmingham.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart may well be keeping things simple on offense to help break in new quarterback Carson Beck, who threw for three touchdowns against UAB. In fairness, this Bulldogs team still hasn’t come close to being beaten outright. But this start against a woeful nonconference schedule (Tennessee-Martin, Ball State and UAB? Really?) isn’t impressing anyone, sports bettors included.
Maybe this is the weekend the Bulldogs finally flip the switch and cover the number. But then again, Georgia is just 18-16 against the spread since the start of the 2021 season—so maybe not.
Home dogs aplenty
Home underdogs certainly get the attention of sports bettors, and there are plenty such options to choose from this week: aforementioned Auburn is a 14-point home underdog to Georgia, Mississippi State is a 14.5-point home underdog to Alabama, Mississippi is a 2.5-point home underdog to LSU, Arkansas is a 6.5-point home underdog to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt is a 13.5-point home underdog to Missouri.
In games involving SEC teams so far this season, home underdogs are 3-2 outright. Florida beat Tennessee as a 6.5-point home underdog, Miami of Florida handled Texas A&M as a 4.5-point home underdog, Missouri booted a last-second field goal to upset Kansas State as a 4-point home underdog, Vanderbilt fell to Kentucky last week as a 14-point home underdog and Mississippi State was blown out by LSU as a 9.5-point home underdog.
The SEC teams with the best ATS records as home underdogs (according to data from TeamRankings) over the past decade are Georgia at 2-0, Florida at 8-4, Auburn at 10-6, Missouri at 12-8, LSU at 8-5-1 and Arkansas at 15-11-1.
Unsurprisingly, Vanderbilt occupies the basement at 15-25, below Ole Miss is 8-10-1, Tennessee 9-14, South Carolina 11-14-1, Kentucky 12-14 and Mississippi State 11-12. Oh, and as for Alabama? The Crimson Tide have been an underdog exactly three times over the past decade—and never at home.
The best chance of a home underdog prevailing in the SEC this week? Arkansas has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team, blowing a home victory against BYU before giving LSU all it could handle last week in Death Valley.
Texas A&M was a disaster in the one road game it’s played so far, while Razorback Stadium will be in full throat as the Hogs attempt to save their season.
That ’ol sandbagging Nick Saban.
We surmised that the Alabama coach was laying the perfect trap with his strange in-game quarterback tryout against South Florida, a bad team the Crimson Tide probably could have beaten with somebody from Bama Rush under center.
The whole thing was just bizarre: Saban not even playing top QB Jalen Milroe against the Bulls, failing to cover against a Group of 5 opponent for the first time since 2017, and then immediately reinstating Milroe to the starting job for a key SEC showdown against Ole Miss.
It all created an atmosphere of desperation, and basically begged sports bettors to back the Rebels as a 7-point underdog in Tuscaloosa. And of course, we all know what happened next: Milroe and the Tide manhandled Ole Miss 24-10 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score.
Intentional or not, the cagey Saban certainly knew how to lower expectations and spring a trap in a game Alabama had to win to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive.
While Milroe and Alabama both remain a work in progress, the Tide will be likely be favored in every remaining game this season, including against Tennessee and LSU (both of which play in Tuscaloosa).
And next time Saban stands up these between his twin Coke bottles, complains about his quarterback play and suggests making a change— don’t fall for it.
Player Prop Watch
A few SEC players to watch for potential prop bets, should they be made available:
SEC Betting 3-Pack Week 5
Here's your weekly three-pack of SEC betting action.
Missouri -13.5 at Vanderbilt
The undefeated Tigers have beaten the spread in two straight against pretty good competition, shocking favored Kansas State as a 4-point home underdog and then covering by a half-point in a touchdown victory over Memphis.
Vanderbilt is 0-4 ATS vs FBS competition this season, last week losing by 17 to 14.5-point favorite Kentucky at home.
Arkansas +5.5 vs. Texas A&M
Razorbacks quarterback K.J. Jefferson can impact a game all on his own, as he showed in pulling Arkansas into a tie with favored LSU with 5:06 left last week.
Texas A&M has looked great against outmanned competition, but Miami wrote the textbook on how an opposing quarterback can pick the Aggies apart. Expect a high-scoring game in what’s become a must-win contest for the Razorbacks.
Georgia -14 at Auburn
Georgia hasn’t covered a spread this season, and the Tigers have managed just 24 points against power-conference competition. The breadth of Hugh Freeze’s rebuilding project was laid bare in a meek loss at Texas A&M, and the Oldest Rivalry in the South offers Georgia the opportunity to finally beat the spread and look the part of No. 1.