The SEC is the third conference I’m previewing as I continue through the Power 5 this summer. And I gotta be honest – I think it’s the toughest one for picking season win totals. These numbers are strong.
Below is a look at the SEC East and my picks for every team. Also some betting notes on how to bet these teams this season.
Take a look and listen as you prep for the 2018 college football season.
Jake Fromm will have plenty of starters returning on the O-line and at receiver and the B-dogs are getting loads of hype for good reason. But they also lose eight starters from the defense and the 1-2 punch of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb at running back.
Still, I got 10 wins for them, though they’ll have a tricky schedule stretch that includes at LSU, vs Florida in Jacksonville and vs Auburn over a four-game span from late October into November.
Georgia is 17-11 against the spread under Kirby Smart but watch out for inflated numbers this year.
Florida was a pain in the wallet last season at 3-8 against the spread. That’s what happens when you have no offense (110th in the nation in total O) and not much of a defense (69th in points allowed). Suspensions didn’t help.
There is promise though. I love the flash of sophomore Feliepe Franks at QB although he needs the O-line to be way better. They return all starters there and should have a decent running game with Jordan Scarlett leading the way.
New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is tasked with getting this Gator defense back to a level they’re accustomed to in Gainsville. The O/U is 22-30 in Florida’s last five seasons.
South Carolina 7 (over -150)
South Carolina wants to pick up the tempo of the offense under new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon. Oddsmakers could be challenged to set totals in the early going for these guys as a result.
The Gamecocks were sixth in the SEC in passing yards in 2017 (214.9 per game) despite their other offensive struggles. Jake Bentley returns at QB along with four WRs who all have starting experience. SC needs to replace a bunch of bodies at linebacker and in the secondary. The kicking game is also a big concern after Parker White was just 14-of-25 last season.
South Carolina is a bit of a wild card team for me this year that could go either way. Tricky pick.
Missouri 6 (over -150)
Mizzou started the season 1-5 in 2017 and the defense was such an embarrassment, I wouldn’t bet these guys even if I had a guaranteed refund. But they reeled off seven straight covered spreads through October and November and finished 6-1 straight up.
Now the Felines are understandably getting some love on the OVER for this season. The entire offense essentially returns except for top receiver J’Mon Moore. All the starting linebackers return from a group that made huge strides in 2017, too.
The SEC schedule grind is the only reason I pause a tiny bit here but tough not to like what this team brings into this season.
The Kittens have never been an SEC powerhouse but you especially have to watch out when betting this team on the road. They’ve won just three road games in the last five seasons – three! – while going 7-13 against the spread in conference road games in that span.
There may actually be some road value this season though because I like teams who can run the ball on the road. Kentucky returns four starters on the O-line and running back Benny Snell, who’s the first RB in program history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
On the other hand, the D-line could be a weakness – which I hate for an SEC team on the road – though everyone in the secondary returns. They should be strong at LB also with seniors Josh Allen and Jordan Jones.
With Kentucky missing an experienced QB, I count five wins but I’ll take the….
The Vols weren’t just a disaster for fans at 0-8 in conference play last season – they were also a disaster for bettors with an SEC-worst 3-9 record against the spread.
Jeremy Pruitt is tasked with turning things around. He’s a sharp defensive mind but it’s tough to say how long it will take his team to find its footing as it moves to a 3-4 defensive front. On offense, Keller Chryst is exactly the kind of QB I’d say they want: Efficient, not flashy, one who is comfortable on a team that will rely on the run.
Trouble is, Pruitt is talking about playing two QBs in the season opener along with Jarrett Guarantano. I don’t like it. Neither to lots of other bettors because West Virginia has moved up to a 9.5-point favorite after opening -7 in Charlotte vs the Vols.
The Vols might just have the toughest first-half schedule in college football with WVU, Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn and Alabama among their first six games. Yikes.
The Dores have gotta get better on defense or they don’t have a prayer in the SEC this season. They set the worst kind of conference record in 2017 by allowing 346 points during the eight-game SEC sked (43.3 per game). Ew.
Jason Tarver comes in as the new defensive coordinator and the good news is that he can only go up. On offense, Kyle Shurmur returns at QB but the Vandies need to get their rushing game going. They were worst in the SEC last year with 107 yards per game.
I look for value in conference road games with Vanderbilt, where they’re 30-23 ATS over the last five seasons. I have four wins for Vanderbilt this year but I know I have to pick a side, soooo…