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NCAA Football Futures: Who Will Win the SEC?

NCAA Football - Alabama Crimson Tide

If you’re a fan of the SEC, you may like what I have to say today. If you are not a fan of any SEC teams, this might be a little painful for you as it is almost every single year that the SEC produces a National Title winner.

Hate on the SEC all you want. It is just a slightly higher level than what many of the other college teams are playing at. I saw on ESPN recently where a 14-year-old kid was suited up in full gear and practicing with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Maybe, it was the practice squad. It’s possible he could have been just playing with the freshmen. Either way, he looked like a full grown very large man.

Nick Saban has been leading the way for college coaches to start recruiting younger and younger players. I could see the college coaches spotting a couple freshmen or sophomores when they visit a high school, but now we are seeing middle schoolers making commitments to certain programs and coaches.

We could go much deeper into this argument, and even on to why or why not college athletes should be monetarily reimbursed for all of their sacrifices that led to their coaches, athletic directors, and other university officials becoming rich.

Let’s not go that deep, at least not today.

I have a fun and hopefully highly accurate SEC football preview for you today with betting odds on who will win the conference.

BetOnline has provided the odds for us, and as you might have guessed from how last season ended the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs are the teams to beat in the Southeastern Conference.

As my #1 resource for predictions, I used the FPI or Football Power Index. Projected results from the FPI are determined by 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season.

Right now, Clemson is #1 with Alabama 2nd and Georgia comes in at #3 even though the Bulldogs have a 7% better chance to win the conference than do the Tide.

This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise to you as last year reminded us of the fact that you don’t necessarily have to win your conference to secure a birth in the College Football Playoffs and possibly win the whole thing.

Let’s go ahead and look at some of the teams that have sucker bet odds you should stay away from as well as a few contenders and a pick to win the SEC Championship.

Teams You Should Stay Away From

LSU Tigers: +2000

The Louisiana State University Tigers are ranked 6th among SEC teams in the FPI with an overall FPI of 26th. One major focus one must have when deciding where a team will place in their conference is their strength of schedule. The most important questions don’t regard any games played outside of the conference unless it’s a very tough road game played a week before a conference or division rival matchup.

What I looked for was fairly simple. What conference opponents do they play at home and which teams will they have to travel to play?

They host Alabama and Georgia, so that’s a good thing right?

Eh, not so much. Even at home, I don’t think either game is very winnable. The Alabama game will be much more important since the Tide is the clear favorite to win the West Division.

The games that they do have a good shot at winning are almost all on the road, though. They play at Auburn, Florida, as well as dealing with the 12th Man at Texas A&M.

The Tigers will have a home game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on October 20th that may decide who finishes 2nd in the West, but we all know how individuals coaching or playing at the world-class level feel about 2nd place. It sucks.

It will be tough to beat the Bulldogs even down in the Bayou as the Tigers will be coming off tough games in back-to-back weeks opposite the Gators and Georgia Bulldogs respectively while Miss St. will be rested coming off of a bye week.

A good team that isn’t great along with a brutal schedule doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the LSU Tigers this season. They will learn and should have several opportunities to play spoiler this year.

Auburn Tigers: +800

The other Tigers of the SEC are ranked very high in the FPI at 7th and even have an 11.4% chance of winning the conference. While the Auburn Tigers will have division foes LSU and Texas A&M at home, they will be traveling to Georgia, Mississippi State, and to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl opposite their state rivals the Crimson Tide.

I feel like Miss St will have 1-2 losses in the conference so Auburn would likely have to beat them to win the West. The Tigers have the squad and the coaching to win, but to beat Alabama too?

I think the Auburn Tigers fall short in the SEC West finishing 3rd behind Miss St and the Crimson Tide of Alabama.

The Contenders

Florida Gators: +1600

The Gators come into the 2018 football season with significantly less of a chance to win the SEC (3.2%) than the aforementioned LSU Tigers (11.4%). So, what makes the Gators contenders and Auburn pretenders?

Well, Florida plays in the SEC East while the SEC West simply has better teams right now. This is taking nothing away from the Georgia Bulldogs as I still think they will win the East.

The difference here is the Gators don’t have to run the gauntlet of several top 25 FPI teams to reach the SEC title game.

Florida plays Miss St on the road Sept 29th in what should be a great game between SEC East and West divisional contenders, but they could get away with losing this one and still contend.

The Gators will have a bye week before they play Georgia at the neutral site of Jacksonville, FL. Other than that, all of their tough games will be at home in the Swamp.

They will have to beat Georgia, of course, but they can lose another game and still be #1 in the East with the tiebreaker.

Mississippi State Bulldogs: +1200

Projected to go 8-4 or 9-3 this year, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State are strong contenders for the SEC crown outside of the UGA and Alabama.

The FPI gives Miss St similar chances to win the SEC (3%) as they did the Florida Gators. Their situation is much like that of Florida, though, as they can likely afford one conference loss as long as it isn’t against the divisional favorite Alabama Crimson Tide.

Their toughest road game will likely be coming off of a bye week opposite the LSU Tigers. They can probably lose this one or a home game against Florida or Auburn, and they will still be in a position to win the division. This is, of course, if they can beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Georgia Bulldogs: +350

Since I am only picking one favorite to win the SEC, I have to include the Bulldogs as a contender. While I clearly expect them to win the East, I don’t think they will be able to beat Bama.

QB Jake Fromm comes into this season with some major hype but in my opinion, the Dogs were carried by their incredible backfield last year of now NFL’ers Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.

The Bulldogs have a very easy schedule this year, even by SEC standards. They should win out and play Alabama in the title game.

I don’t think they have the talent to beat Alabama consistently or 3 out of 5 games. They don’t have to, though. This is football, and one game can change everything.

The Favorite

Alabama Crimson Tide: -125

Wow, so I’ve already sung their praises enough already, right?

No.

They lost their coordinators, though.

True.

They lost much of their defense to the NFL Draft.

So.

Coach Saban had the guts as a coach to bench his winning starter Jalen Hurts for the second half of the national title game to play a freshman that hadn’t seen action all year.

Boy, did that quarterback show out. I’m not an expert on quarterbacks or a scientist of throwing motions, but Tua Tagovailoa is something special. I’ve never seen a QB play that well with that much potential in his first start, ever. The kid obviously has ice in his veins as well.

Conclusion

Georgia may very well have much better value at +350, and they may end up defeating the Tide and go on to win the national title, but I believe this is Tua’s year. I believe he will win the Heisman as he is almost the favorite at +800 on BetOnline. He was (+2000) just a couple weeks ago, so what happened?

Somebody in charge of oddsmaking has been attending Alabama practices and witnessing potential greatness.

I got the Tide this year to win the SEC and the National Title as well.

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