For being the best conference in college football, it is crazy to look at the SEC odds and realize just how imbalanced the league is. It is fair to say that if you put some of these teams in the Big 12, Big Ten, or ACC, they would have far more success and would likely be at the top of the betting board or close to it, alongside teams like Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Clemson.
Being locked into the SEC with Alabama and Georgia doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for other teams. It is a cold, hard reality, but these teams continuously recruit well because high school athletes that want to get noticed and want to go to the NFL want to play against the best on the grandest stages. Until further notice, the SEC remains the best conference in the country.
It is just nuts to think about the number of top-25 teams in this league and see two teams with odds lower than 10/1 to win it. That age-old expression of “it’s why they play the games” really does get tested in the Southeastern Conference. The harsh truth is that finishing higher than Alabama in the standings borders on impossible and it takes a lot of consistency and some schedule assistance to be better than Georgia.
We’ve had seven years of the College Football Playoff. Alabama has participated in six of those years and has been in the National Championship game in five of those years. We’ve even had two SEC teams in the CFP once and those two teams, Alabama and Georgia, played for the title.
It seems like business as usual and more of the same in the conference this year.
2021 SEC Football Championship Odds:
THE PRESEASON SEC CONFERENCE ODDS
Not surprisingly, Alabama is the odds-on favorite to win the league. It’s happened a lot lately. The Crimson Tide have won six SEC championships since 2012. Auburn, Georgia, and LSU are the others. Georgia is the only East Division team to win the SEC Championship Game since 2008. That was Tim Tebow’s Florida Gators with head coach Urban Meyer.
Beating Alabama is hard enough on its own, but the team that does it then has to avoid slipping up in other games. Alabama might lose once or twice a year, but the team that beats Alabama then needs to be good enough to at least post an identical record with the tiebreaker advantage.
It is a similar thing in the East with Georgia. The East is the weaker division top to bottom, but Florida is a very strong team on an annual basis, so the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party can often wind up giving us the winner in that division.
The one thing you notice about the odds is that they are pretty enticing. Teams like Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida all recruit really well and wind up with a lot of talent year in and year out. In most conferences, if you found a team with that kind of upside at that price, you would jump at it, but it is much easier said than done here.
Even with Alabama turning to a new quarterback and replacing two wide receivers and a starting running back, you still have to pause for a long time to see if you actually want to bet against the Crimson Tide. Imagine doing that in any other conference. The ACC with Clemson is probably about it.
THE PRESEASON SEC EAST DIVISION ODDS
Georgia is a heavy favorite here and this may be your best bet for finding some value, however the only team that seems to be priced with a realistic chance to top the Bulldogs is the Florida Gators. Missouri seems to have something of a fighting chance, but the Tigers have not won more than five games in SEC play since 2014, so that seems like a stretch.
There winds up not being a whole lot to talk about with divisions like this one. Georgia will probably win it and Florida will win it if Georgia doesn’t. Teams like Kentucky and Tennessee just aren’t good enough and South Carolina and Vanderbilt will likely be punching bags for the other teams.
Your best bet with every future that you make is to line shop for the best odds. Don’t take +300 when you can have +400 or +500. Don’t take -400 when you can have -300. It is an important practice to get into all of the time, but especially with futures odds.
THE PRESEASON SEC WEST DIVISION ODDS
It is a little bit shocking to see Georgia a bigger favorite in the East Division than Alabama is in the West Division. It speaks to some uncertainty about Alabama’s offense with a lot of roster turnover and even some coaching turnover as well. That hasn’t been enough to stop Alabama from being an overwhelming favorite, but maybe there is hope this season that another team will emerge.
The thing about Texas A&M is that the Aggies have not gotten over the hump. They have not appeared in the SECCG since joining the conference back in 2012. It feels like you’d like to see some sort of historical marker with a team before taking them to beat a program like Alabama.
At least LSU and Auburn have those, but we know that LSU is not the team that we saw with Joe Burrow that rolled over everybody and simply destroyed opponents en route to winning the National Championship. Auburn has had some Iron Bowl wins that have propelled them into championship settings.
SEC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL HANDICAPPING
The SEC has become a really high-scoring conference over the last few seasons. It isn’t that there are bad defensive players, it is just that there have been a lot of great skill position players and a lot of really aggressive head coaches, especially with guys like Lane Kiffin and Dan Mullen in the mix. There are a lot of teams that really like to score points and put up stats and that has been a real big departure from the old defensive slugfests that we used to see around the league. Even a team like Alabama has become more of an offense-first program.
Life is the SEC is tough week in and week out, as you never really get a break from facing talented players, but there are some teams that are clearly at the bottom of the league and those can be some interesting games to handicap. Some teams thrive in a big underdog role and do well to keep games close. Others get blown out pretty regularly because they provide very little resistance.
Most head coaches at the top programs stick around forever, whereas the lesser programs are constantly trying to find a new dealer to shuffle the cards and deal out some new hands. South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt have new coaches. There should be more enthusiasm around those programs for a fresh start, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to hanging around in games in a league where every team can exploit weaknesses.