With a month left before the college football season begins, the prediction season is in full force. Preview magazines hit the shelves a month ago, sports talk radio is heating up, and daily college football shows are back on television. But, when Las Vegas starts setting lines, it means kickoff is right around the corner.
Yesterday, we discussed the opening line of Auburn’s week one matchup with Arkansas from Vegas Insider. Now, Bovada has listed each team’s odds to win the SEC title, as well as their respective divisions. First, the big one:
Odds to win the SEC
South Carolina 5/1
Ole Miss 14/1
Texas A&M 25/1
Mississippi State 40/1
My initial reaction to this list, much like everyone else, is that Vegas loves Alabama despite the fact that the Crimson Tide lost their last two games of 2013, in addition to a boat load of talent to the NFL. In fact, Bovada lists Alabama an 11/2 co-favorite with Florida State to win the national championship. The Tide also has an unproven quarterback, will lean on a true freshman at right tackle and must replace eight starters on defense. Can they win? Sure, but 7/5 is a very heavy favorite – especially in the SEC.
Second, it is hard to miss the fact that Auburn must play seven of the top eight teams on this list (excluding themselves, of course). Perhaps the only team with a tougher conference slate is Florida, who must play all five teams listed ahead of them.
Finally, despite all the momentum Mississippi State has heading into the season, and the question marks surrounding Texas A&M, the Aggies are listed with much better odds to win the conference title than the Bulldogs.
Odds to Win the SEC East
South Carolina 8/5
South Carolina and Georgia are co-favorites in the East, which is understandable. It is interesting to note, however, that Bovada gives a slight edge to the Gamecocks in the overall odds to win the SEC. Does this mean that the Gamecocks present a slightly tougher opponent for Alabama in the hypothetical conference championship game?
Georgia plays the five teams considered least likely to win the SEC, and Missouri plays the bottom four. Strength of schedule, or lack thereof, could give both teams a big boost in making it to Atlanta. This becomes especially important since South Carolina must play at Auburn and host Texas A&M, while Florida plays LSU and Alabama – both of which have better odds to take home the trophy than the Gators.
Speaking of Florida, 13/4 does not seem like a very good bet for a team that struggled through a 4-8 season in 2013. Yes, the Gators will be improved on offense, and should certainly be healthier. But, as previously mentioned, Florida has the East’s toughest pair of division crossover opponents.
Odds to Win the SEC West
Ole Miss 9/1
Texas A&M 14/1
Mississippi State 16/1
Last, but certainly not least, we take a look at the West. Again we see Alabama atop the odds to win the SEC West. 5/7 is a very surprising number in this case. Not only is the SEC West the toughest division in college football, but also Bovada would favor the Tide against the field, or in other words, over the rest of the teams in the division combined. Is the number truly a reflection on Vegas’ respect for the strength of the Tide’s roster, or is the public perception of Average Joe Fan inflating it?
However, it is fair to rank Alabama ahead of Auburn. Again, when looking at the schedule, the Tigers must face the two best teams in the East, while Alabama plays rebuilding Florida and Tennessee – two teams that failed to make it to a bowl game last season. But, 4/1 is a pretty good bet on the Tigers, who are truly a legitimate threat to make it back to the national championship game.
On a final note, LSU at 5/1 does not appear to be a good bet. In my own personal rankings, I have LSU 5th in the West, behind both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but slightly ahead of Texas A&M. The Bayou Bengals have so many question marks at offensive skill positions and will rely too heavily on true freshmen, in my opinion, to compete in the West.
What do you think? Does Bovada have it right? If not, where would you place your bets? Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: Auburn Tigers