OddsUSA Top Five Prop Bets For The SEC Championship Game

There was going to be a lot on the line this weekend in the SEC Championship game. Not regarding Alabama, of course. Win or lose, they are more than likely going to make the College Football Playoffs. It is just a matter of being the No. 1 seed or the No. 4 seed.

It was Florida that had a lot on the line. With a win and a loss by Clemson/Notre Dame and a win over Alabama, they had an excellent chance of jumping into the playoff picture—but then they lost to LSU last weekend.

Consequently, the stakes will not be as high as they would have been. The odds were really against Florida winning, anyway. Bovada has them listed as 17.5-point underdogs. But with the explosive potential in the Gators’ offense, there is a chance Florida could keep it close.

So, betting on the winner may not be as cut and dry as it might seem—which makes putting money down on one of the many prop bets being offered at Bovada appealing:

If there is one thing fans can count on happening in the SEC title game this year, these two teams will score lots of points. Alabama has been averaging almost 50 points a game this season. Florida has averaged a little over 41.

Alabama’s defense is good, but it is unlikely the Crimson Tide shut down Kyle Trask. At the same time, the Florida defense is not bad, but it is certainly not good enough to shut down or maybe even slow down Mac Jones.

The official total for the game is 74.5, and it would be surprising if the over did not get covered. So, a better question may be just how high a total these teams could cover. It all depends on how well you think both offenses will perform.

Alabama is likely going to be good for their season average, if not more. Florida could exploit Alabama’s secondary and do the same. So, take anything the over on anything over 75 points; anything from 75-80 is probably safe. Anything over 80 is possible, but with an element of risk.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 75 (-105)

#1 Alabama Total Points (O/U)

Over 45.5 (-110)
Under 45.5 (-120)

Alabama has been averaging over 49 points a game this season, and there is little reason to think they can’t hit that mark against Florida this weekend. The Gators’ defense has not been bad this season, but it has not been good enough to slow down the Alabama offense.

If Texas A&M can gain over 500 yards of offense and score 41 points, Alabama can score more than 45.5. Take the over.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 45.5 points (-110)

#7 Florida Total Points (O/U)

Over 28.5 (EVEN)
Under 28.5 (-135)

Florida’s season average of 41.2 points/game makes the over seem like a no-brainer. But when you consider Alabama’s defense has allowed an average of just 16.8, the decision becomes a little more challenging. However, the Alabama defense is not great against the pass (57th), and Kyle Trask is the best quarterback in the nation not named Mac Jones.

Take the over.

Best Prop Bet: OVER 28.5 (EVEN)

‘Bama-Florida Winning Margin

Alabama By 1-6 Points (+600)
Florida By 1-6 Points (+900)

Alabama By 7-12 Points (+550)
Florida By 7-12 Points (+1800)

Alabama By 13-18 Points (+475)
Florida By 13-18 Points (+3000)

Alabama By 19-24 Points (+550)
Florida By 19-24 Points (+5000)

Alabama By 25-30 Points (+650)
Florida By 25-30 Points (+8000)

Alabama By 31-36 Points (+800)
Florida By 31-36 Points (+10000)

Alabama By 37-42 Points (+1400)
Florida By 37-42 Points (+10000)

Alabama By 43 Or More Points (+1000)
Florida By 43 Or More Points (+12500)

The only thing that could be more shocking than Florida’s loss to LSU last weekend would be the blowing out Alabama this weekend. More than likely, the game is going to be a high scoring but close affair with either Alabama or Florida winning by 1-6 points.

But is there a chance Alabama blows out Florida? Eh—yes, but not a great chance. Take Alabama to win by 1-6 points but put a little down on them to win by 13-18 points as well.  

Best Prop Bet: Alabama by 1-6 points (+600); Alabama by 13-18 points (+475)

Race To 40 Points

Florida (+1800)
Alabama (-220)
Neither (+205)

Alabama is the obvious choice for this one, but what if the game ends up being a back and forth affair. If that is the case, then there is an excellent chance Florida is the first to crack 40 points. Now, this wager is not one you want to bet the house on. But with those odds, it could very well be worth it to put a little down on Florida.

Best Prop Bet: Gators +1800

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 7 Florida Gators Betting Preview

Saturday, December 19, 2020, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia. 8:10 p.m. ET

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Betting Preview: Crimson Tide (-17), Gators (+17)

Crimson Tide

Alabama’s Mac Jones enters the Southeastern Conference Championship Game as a strong Heisman Trophy contender despite a low-key performance (208 yards passing, no scores) in a 52-3 rout at Arkansas last week,

Jones’ numbers this season are video-game quality: 3,321 yards passing, 76.4 completion percentage, 27 touchdowns, three interceptions. They are a major reason for the overwhelming success of the No. 1 Crimson Tide (10-0, 10-0 SEC), whose closest game has been a 63-48 win at Ole Miss.

They have averaged nearly 50 points a game (49.5) while holding their opponents to under 17 (16.8).

While a cynic might say that throwing to the likes of DeVonta Smith and John Metchie — and handing off to Najee Harris — could make any quarterback productive, the fact is that the Tua Tagovailoa-led offense from last year has skipped zero beats with Jones running it.

The moniker “game manager” has been used to describe Jones, and he doesn’t disagree with it.

“Nothing is really offensive about it,” he told al.com. “I mean, I try to manage the game. It’s kind of my job to do that. Honestly, I have a lot of great players around me, so that’s my job – to get them the ball.”

Smith (83 catches, 1,327 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Metchie (40-720-6) have more than made up for the absence of big-play threat Jaylen Waddle, who was averaging 140 yards per game before suffering a season-ending injury while returning the opening kickoff Oct. 24 at Tennessee.

The Tide enters the title game averaging 49.5 points and 537.8 yards per game, No. 3 and No. 5 in the nation, respectively.

Harris has averaged 108.4 yards a game rushing with 22 touchdowns. He also has 27 receptions for 249 yards.

Gators

Marco Wilson’s thrown shoe was as much metaphor as cause.

Florida’s hopes of qualifying for the College Football Playoff were in peril before the defensive back heaved opposing tight end Kole Taylor’s footwear 20 yards downfield to celebrate a third-down stop late last week against heavy underdog LSU.

The ensuing 15-yard penalty kept alive a drive that ended in a 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds left and snapped a 34-34 tie. When the Gators’ Evan McPherson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide as time expired, so had the Gators’ chances of playing for a national title with the 37-34 loss.

Without the national title in sight, the No. 7 Gators (8-2, 8-2 SEC) have to match up with top-ranked Alabama (10-0, 10-0 SEC) for the conference crown.

While keyboard jockeys and social media warriors heaped blame on Wilson, his teammates saw turnovers and shaky defense as the deciding factors in the loss. Florida offset 609 yards of offense with three crucial turnovers, including a pick-six, and gave up 418 yards to a team using its backup quarterback.

“Turning the ball over that many times, it’s hard to win games,” Florida quarterback Kyle Trask said. “I take full responsibility. I just got to play cleaner. It’s not the way you want to go out as your last home game in the Swamp.”

For the Gators to have a chance at beating the Crimson Tide, Trask will have to eliminate the turnovers and play perhaps his best game. He threw his 40th touchdown pass of the season in his 10th game last week to surpass Danny Wuerffel’s single-season school record for touchdown passes.

Trask, who passed for an average of 377..7 yards a game, will have Kyle Pitts, perhaps the nation’s top tight end, back as a target this week. Pitts sat out the LSU game with an undisclosed injury. He has 36 catches for 641 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns in his seven appearances.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators  Betting Pick for December 19, 2020

Two recent scores against a common opponent bear heavily in the Tide’s favor. The Tide romped past LSU 55-17 in Tiger Stadium just a week before LSU beat Florida 37-34 in Gainesville.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Betting Pick:

 Crimson Tide 48, Gators 31

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Best Bet for December 19, 2020

The Tide is coming off a pair of 50-point performances in wins over LSU (55-17) and Arkansas (52-3) the last two weeks, giving them five games with at least 52 points. The Gators have shown they can score as well with 42.2 per game scoring average, but they also have given up some big numbers, like 41 in a loss at Texas A&M  and 35 in a win over Arkansas in addition to the 37 surrendered last week to a freshman LSU quarterback.

Crimson Tide vs. Gators Best Bet: OVER 74.5

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Preview

Saturday, December 12, 2020, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas, noon. ET

Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Preview: Crimson Tide (-31), Razorbacks (+31)

Crimson Tide

No. 1 Alabama will be going for its seventh Southeastern Conference title under coach Nick Saban when it meets Florida in the league’s championship game on Dec. 19, but first the Crimson Tide (9-0, 9-0 SEC) has business to tend to at Arkansas.

The Tide will arrive in Fayetteville with the SEC’s highest-scoring offense (49.2 points per game), toughest defense (18.3 ppg) and a plethora of major college football award candidates on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Mac Jones (75.7 completion percentage, 27 touchdown passes, 345.9 average passing per game), running back Najee Harris (20 touchdowns, 115.3 rushing yards per game), and wide receiver DeVonta Smith (80 receptions, 1,305 yards, 15 touchdowns) highlight the offense.

But the backbone of the group has been one of the most consistent offensive lines in college football this season anchored by Outland Trophy semifinalists Landon Dickerson at center and Alex Leatherwood at left tackle. The group has only allowed seven sacks while Jones is playing.

On defense, cornerback Patrick Surtain is a Thorpe Award semifinalist and freshman Malachi Moore leads the team with three interceptions.

“Their offense is incredible,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “They can do it all. They can run. They can pass protect. They get out on toss sweeps. And their defense is the same as it always has been. Teams are running up-tempo things and getting a few more yards than they have in the past, but they’re outstanding.”

Despite the seemingly lopsided advantage, Saban warned against looking past the Razorbacks, who lead the conference in turnover margin (plus-8) and are tied for the most interceptions (13).

“They present some unique challenges with the fastball offense they run,” Saban said. “We need to respect their team. They’re capable of beating anybody and they’ve demonstrated them all year long.”

Razorbacks

Arkansas (3-6, 3-6 SEC) is coming off a heartbreaking, 50-48 loss to Missouri that ended with Harrison Mevis’ fifth field goal of the game for the Tigers — a 32-yarder as time expired. The Razorbacks let a 14-point fourth quarter lead slip away and gave up 633 total yards, losing the game despite gaining 566 yards on offense and scoring seven touchdowns.

Against Missouri, Razorbacks’ freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson made his first career start with Feleipe Franks out with a rib injury. Jefferson went 18-of-33 passing for 274 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Jefferson’s top target was wide receiver Treylon Burks, who caught 10 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown against Missouri. He is one of four receivers in the SEC averaging 100 or more yards per game.

Jefferson might get another chance with Franks still questionable.

The Hogs’ hopes of slowing Alabama’s seemingly unstoppable offense will take a hit if Montaric Brown (six passes defended, one interception) and linebacker Grant Morgan are not able to play because of injuries. Brown (undisclosed) is credited with six passes defended and one interception. Morgan (knee) is the Hogs’ leading tackler with 111 stops.

Cornerback Hudson Clark and safety Jalen Catalon each have three interceptions for the Razorbacks,

Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Pick for December 12, 2020

The Tide has dominated the series by a 23-7 margin that includes an 8-4 advantage in games played at Fayetteville. The Tide’s 48-7 rout last year in Tuscaloosa was their 13th consecutive win in the series, and they won the last meeting in Fayetteville 65-31 in 2018.

Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Pick:

Crimson Tide 52, Razorbacks 14

Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Best Bet for December 12, 2020

The Tide enjoys a big edge in the numbers with a 48.5-28.2 advantage in scoring and 18.5-33 cushion in scoring defense. The Tide has averaged 535.6 yards a game in total offense to 414.1 for the Razorbacks, who gave up 50 points and 653 yards in a 2-point loss to Missouri last week.

Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Best Bet: UNDER 68.5

Iron Bowl 2020 Betting Preview: No. 22 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama

Saturday, November 28, 2020, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET

Tigers at Crimson Tide Betting Preview: Tigers (+24.5), Crimson Tide (-24.5)

No. 22 Auburn Tigers Betting Preview

Auburn sophomore quarterback Bo Nix has passed for 1,627 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, with five interceptions. But the key for the No. 22 Tigers (5-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) could be which team runs the ball more efficiently.

Auburn could be short-handed in that department if freshman Tank Bigsby (527 yards rushing, five touchdowns, 5.73 yards per carry) can’t play. Bigsby suffered a hip injury early in last week’s win over Tennessee and is questionable, according to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.

Right tackle Brodarious Hamm and left tackle Alec Jackson also are questionable.

Junior Shaun Shivers, who scored the decisive touchdown in last year’s Iron Bowl win for Auburn, would be in line to get more carries again, as well as sophomore D.J. Williams. The two combined for 131 yards and a touchdown last week.

Alabama’s run defense ranks 26th in the nation, allowing an average of 118.9 yards per game.

“Obviously, it’s no secret right now that we’ve been beat up, up front offensively,” Malzahn said. “We’ll see if we’re able to get our tackles back. … It’s next man up. And just got to step up and get the job done. So that’s our mindset.”

Auburn’s run defense ranks 64th, allowing 165.1 yards per game, and will be challenged by an Alabama rushing offense that ranks 48th among FBS teams, averaging 182.4 yards a game. Tide senior Najee Harris (137 carries for 797 yards) leads the nation with 16 rushing touchdowns.

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Preview

Unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama can earn some payback when it hosts instate rival Auburn in the 85th Iron Bowl.

The Crimson Tide (7-0, 7-0 SEC) are more than three-touchdown favorites against the Tigers, who have not won in Tuscaloosa since 2010. The Tigers knocked Alabama out of playoff contention last season in a 48-45 victory – only the Tigers’ third win in the series in the past decade.

“This is going to be a very challenging game for us in a lot of ways,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We certainly need to play our best football of the season to be able to have success in this game.”

Both teams won last week following layoffs due to COVID-19 issues.

Alabama routed Kentucky 63-3 in Tuscaloosa and Auburn won its third consecutive game by beating Tennessee 30-17 at home.

Alabama enters the game with the third-highest-scoring offense in the nation (49.4 points per game) and third-most-prolific passing offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate Mac Jones at quarterback.

Jones made his third career start in last year’s Iron Bowl, throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns. In seven games this season, Jones has the third-highest passer rating in the nation (205.06) while averaging 12.1 yards per attempt and 346.6 yards per game. 

“People are playing us different,” Jones said. “Maybe a little more conservative and rightfully so, but each week a team is going to have a different plan for us.”

Iron Bowl Betting Pick

The Tigers will take a three-game winning streak into the game after splitting their first four games of the season. They also have won two of the last three meetings with the Tide, including a 48-45 win at home last year, returning two interceptions off Jones for touchdowns. Jones had four touchdown passes. Alabama leads the all-time Iron Bowl series 46-37-1.

Tigers at Crimson Tide Betting Pick:

Crimson Tide 48, Tigers 28

The Iron Bowl Best Bet

Alabama has failed to top the 40-point mark only once this season, and that was in the opening 38-19 win over Missouri. The Tide is coming off a 63-3 rout of Kentucky while the Tigers ended a 21-day span between games with a 30-17 win over Tennessee.

Tigers at Crimson Tide Best Bet: OVER 62.5

–Field Level Media

SEC College Basketball 2020/21 Preview

The premier college football conference in the country is also quite the formidable conference when it comes to college basketball, but last season the SEC was in a down year that would eventually be wiped away from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The SEC was likely looking at a max of four bids in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, a far cry from the previous season that saw the conference send seven teams to the dance.  The 2020-21 season figures to be just as top-heavy as the conference was a season ago, but the contenders in this conference are amongst the best teams in all of college basketball, giving the SEC a very realistic shot of seeing one of their schools land in the 2021 Final Four.

How does the conference as a whole shake out?  Let’s take a look at the SEC.

The Contenders

#10 Kentucky (+120 to Win SEC)

This will surprise absolutely nobody who follows the sport of college basketball, but guess what?  John Calipari landed the #1 recruiting class in the country again! 

Once again Coach Cal’s ‘Cats are poised for a roster reboot as his next class of phenom freshmen finds their way to Lexington.  Seven freshmen in all will decorate the Kentucky roster, most notably of the combo of BJ Boston (7th overall ranked recruit) and Terrence Clarke (10th overall ranked recruit).

The freshmen wing tandem is, naturally, extremely athletic and talented and will give SEC defenses fits in their likely lone season playing for Big Blue Nation.  The tandem is already projected to be drafted in the lottery of next season’s NBA Draft, with Boston being in the mix to potentially go #1 overall. 

This season, however, Calipari adds a new wrinkle by adding two key senior transfers in former Wake Forest big Olivier Sarr (13.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and former Creighton shooting threat Davion Mintz (9.7 ppg in 2018/19).

Kentucky is once again absolutely loaded with talent, and once again it’s a roster that will get better as the season goes on.  The Wildcats are considered the odds-on favorite to win the SEC for a reason, they should be considered the team to beat in this conference and have a very real shot to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in early April.

#12 Tennessee (+350 to Win SEC)

If there’s a team capable of ruining Kentucky’s jaunt to the top of the SEC standings, look no further than Rick Barnes’ Tennessee Volunteers.  The Vols enter the new season as the preseason #1 team in the conference, yet a lot of people are not aware of how good this team can be.

The Vols in fact could be one of the biggest sleepers in the country. 

This is a team that does not have any apparent weaknesses.  It returns four of the top scorers from a season ago, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year in senior Yves Pons (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg), and the 3rd best-recruiting class in the nation led by potential NBA lottery pick Jaden Springer.

That doesn’t even mention the addition of Sacred Heart grad-transfer E.J. Anosike (15.7 ppg, 11.6 rpg) or the return of senior forward John Fulkerson (13.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

The 2019/20 season was a rebuilding season of sorts for the Vols after they watched as Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone, and Kyle Alexander all departed the program either through graduation or going pro.  The season was made even more challenging when Barnes lost star Lamonte Turner for the season just 11-games into the year.

This season should see the Vols bouncing back in a big way, however, and Tennessee is not only a viable contender to unseat Kentucky at the top, but they’re also a dark horse for a deep run in March.  This team has it all and will be worth your attention all season.  

The Dangerous Dark Horses

LSU (+500 to Win SEC)

While a lot of attention this season will be on Kentucky and Tennessee, don’t forget about Will Wade’s LSU Tigers as a potentially dangerous sleeper in the conference.

The Tigers boast one of the deeper rosters in the country and return sophomore standout Trendon Watford (13.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) along with the junior tandem of Ja’vonte Smart (12.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Darius Days (11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg).  Mix in a top-10 recruiting class headlined by sharpshooting guard Cameron Thomas, sprinkle in a couple of transfers like Shareef O’Neal (UCLA), Bryan Penn-Johnson (Washington), and Josh LeBlanc (Georgetown) and LSU has a potentially lethal offensive group once again.

LSU’s bugaboo a season ago came on the defensive side of the floor, however, as the Tigers were social distancing before it was cool.  Time and time again the Tigers would see big leads evaporate as LSU just could not clamp down on the defensive end of the floor.  Wade should get a boost from his two big transfers in O’Neal and Penn-Johnson, but ultimately how well they defend will determine how far they go this season.

One thing’s for certain, however, and that is the fact that LSU will be one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch again.  Look for the Tigers to be involved in a lot of high-scoring thrillers throughout the season.

Florida (+900 to Win SEC)

The Florida Gators enter the 2020/21 season hoping to erase a disappointing 2019/20 campaign that saw the Gators vastly underperform to their preseason expectations.

Mike White’s Gators were tabbed as the #6 overall team when the first rankings came out a season ago, but the Gators played anything like the sixth-best team in the nation on their way to a 19-12 season with an 11-7 record in the SEC.

While that’s certainly not the worst season in the world, it still fell far short of Florida’s aspirations for the season to contend for a conference title and make a deep run in the tournament.

The Gators may not be down for too long, however, as they return the bulk of last season’s team including All-SEC wing player Keyontae Johnson (14.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and rising-star sophomore Scottie Lewis (8.5 ppg), and bolster their bench by adding two key transfers in former Cleveland State guard Tyree Appleby (17.2 ppg, 5.6 apg) and former Louisiana Tech forward Anthony Duruji (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

Florida did lose Virginia Tech grad-transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. to graduation and standout point guard Andrew Nembhard (11.2 ppg, 5.6 apg) transferred to Gonzaga, but there should be enough talent on the roster to mitigate those losses.

Once again, the Gators look like a dangerous team on paper but it remains to be seen how that will translate to the floor.  If they can play closer to their potential this season, the Gators are a legitimate threat to make a lot of noise in the SEC.

Arkansas (+1200 to Win SEC)

Rarely can a team stomach the loss of six of your top seven scorers and come back and be projected to be even better in the following season, but that’s what’s on tap for Eric Musselman’s Arkansas Razorbacks in year two of his coaching tenure.

The Hogs do not return a single starter from a season ago as free-shooting Isaiah Joe (16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and first-team All-SEC guard Mason Jones each departed for the NBA, but they do add six impactful transfers and inked the 7th best-recruiting class in the land to quickly reload the roster, leaving Musselman’s team loaded with talent at every position.

Notable transfers to keep an eye on for the Hogs include Northern Kentucky grad-transfer Jalen Tate (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and New Mexico grad-transfer Vance Jackson (11.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). They will likely join Indiana transfer Justin Smith (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) in the Razorbacks’ starting five and should immediately contribute in Musselman’s free-flowing offense.

The biggest question circling this team entering the season is whether or not Musselman may actually have too much talent.  Hammering out the rotations and getting the right chemistry will ultimately determine the fate of a team that’s so dependent on the influx of new talent.  If the talent comes together as expected and the team gels, this is a dark horse to make a run in March.  But if the chemistry just never comes together, we’ve seen many teams that have unraveled with the heavy transfer approach.

The Middle of the Pack

Alabama (+1600 to Win SEC)

While Alabama’s basketball season doesn’t officially start for many Tide boosters until Nick Saban’s playoff run concludes, Bama faithful may have a lot to look forward to from their basketball team this season.

Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats enters his second season in Tuscaloosa with an arsenal of offensive weapons, most notably the backcourt combination of Jaden Shackelford (15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and John Petty (14.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg).  Oats will also have the services of Villanova point guard Jahvon Quinerly and Yale grad-transfer Jordan Bruner (10.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg), and the Crimson Tide’s starting five looks as good as any in the conference.

Alabama will miss star guard Kira Lewis, who was drafted 13th overall by the Pelicans, but they get back four-star talent Juwan Gary and top-five JUCO product James Rojas who were both lost for the season a year ago with ACL tears suffered in practice.

That potentially gives Oats a roster deep in talent, but if the Tide are to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament this season and a possible top-four standing in the conference they will need to tighten up a defense that gave up nearly 80 points a contest a season ago.

South Carolina (+1600 to Win SEC)

Frank Martin’s Gamecocks overachieved a season ago as they finished above .500 in conference play at 10-8 and went 18-13 overall on the season after being projected to finish 10th in the SEC before the season began.

South Carolina enters the new season with heightened expectations as they return all but two players from a season ago and have one of the more experienced teams in the entire conference.

Unlike LSU and Alabama, Frank Martin’s Gamecocks defend the hell out of opponents and this has been his calling card since his Kansas State days.  Last season South Carolina had the 16th best scoring defense and 19th best three-point shooting defense according to KenPom and this season should not be much different.  Martin’s group has been incredibly consistent dating all the way back to South Carolina’s random run to the Final Four and have ranked in the Top 50 for defensive efficiency in four of the past five seasons.

Offensively is where South Carolina tends to sputter, however.  Per KenPom rankings, South Carolina’s best offensive team came back in 2017 when they were the 91st overall ranked unit, and a season ago they were ranked 122nd in the country.  Essentially they are a bit of a mess in the half-court and generate a lot of their best offense from their tenacious 2-3 matchup defense.  The Gamecocks will lock teams down, but will also endure long scoring droughts of their own.  It’s just a stable of Frank Martin’s team.

The best scoring threats on the roster come in the Carolina backcourt with leading scorer A.J. Lawson (13.4 ppg) returning for his junior season and redshirt sophomore Jermaine Couisnard (12.1 ppg) playing alongside him at point guard. 

Ultimately, the fate of South Carolina’s season lies in improving an offense that can flat out disappear for long periods.  If they can match their strong defensive play with a consistent scoring attack, the Gamecocks have sleeper potential to crack the top-six of the conference.  In all likelihood, though they will be very similar to last season’s team and trade upsets with losses to teams they shouldn’t lose to.

The Long Shots

Auburn (+4000 to Win SEC)
Missouri (+5000 to Win SEC)
Ole Miss (+6000 to Win SEC)
Georgia (+10000 to Win SEC)
Mississippi State (+10000 to Win SEC)
Texas A&M (+10000 to Win SEC)
Vanderbilt (+10000 to Win SEC)

Out of all the power conferences in the country, the SEC is by far the most top-heavy.  The ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are very easy to spot in the SEC this season.  Here’s a quick look at the long shots to win the conference.

Auburn lost all five starters from a season ago, including NBA lottery pick Issac Okoro, leaving Bruce Pearl to have a 2020/21 transitional season of sorts.  Pearl did land one of the biggest recruits in the country in Sharife Cooper (20th overall recruit), but Cooper’s eligibility still remains in question and as of this writing he is not cleared to play.  Couple that with Auburn self-imposing a postseason ban for the 2020/21 season, and we do not expect much from Pearl’s Tigers this season.

Missouri returns eight players that started a game for the Tigers a season ago but are still expected to finish towards the bottom of the conference as the eight players returning aren’t exactly the 2014/15 Kentucky Wildcats.  Cuanzo Martin does get back the guard tandem of Xavier Pinson (11.1 ppg) and Mark Smith (10.0 ppg), however, after injury-riddled seasons plagued each of Martin’s two best players. 

Ole Miss enters season three under former Mid Tennessee State head coach Kermit Davis and is coming off of a disappointing 15-17 season that saw the Rebels go a miserable 1-10 when they went on the road.  Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic shrunken crowds will help Ole Miss cure their road woes?  The team does add three key grad transfers in former CS-Bakersfield guard Jarkell Joiner (15.6 ppg), former Rider wing Dimencio Vaughn (14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg), and former Arizona State rim protector Romello White (10.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg).  The Rebels are unlikely to contend for an SEC crown, but if everything comes together they could very well be in the mix for a postseason bid.

Georgia loses #1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards and four of the team’s top six scorers from a season ago, leaving Tom Crean faced with the task of retooling a roster on the fly.  Georgia will have eight new players in all, with Sahvir Wheeler (9.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) being the best returning Bulldog.  Crean also welcomes in three transfers including that of former Stony Brook product Andrew Garcia (13.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and former Virginia Tech forward P.J. Horne (7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), but the cupboard will need another season to restock.

Mississippi State is down three starters from a season ago, including the 2020 co-SEC player of the year Reggie Perry.  Ben Howland has also watched four other players leave the program via the transfer portal, leaving the Bulldogs in a full-blown rebuilding season for 2020/21.  Howland should turn it around and get the Bulldogs back to the middle of the conference in the coming seasons, but this year will be one where they figure to take several lumps from their conference foes.  Four-star freshman Deivon Smith will be a fun player to pay attention to for Howland’s ‘Dogs, however.

Texas A&M enters season two under coach Buzz Williams and while the Aggies program is slowly turning back around, it’s not quite there yet.  Seniors Savion Flagg (10.4 ppg), Quenton Jackson (8.8 ppg), and Quinnipiac grad-transfer Kevin Marfo (10.2 ppg, 13.3 rpg) will be the catalyst’s for Williams team this season, but TAMU figures to still be at least a year or two away from seriously contending in the conference. 

Vanderbilt is just bad.  They will be the SEC’s whipping boy for the third-consecutive season. 

SEC Projected Order of Finish:

  1. Tennessee
  2. Kentucky
  3. LSU
  4. Arkansas
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. South Carolina
  8. Ole Miss
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Mississippi State
  11. Auburn
  12. Missouri
  13. Georgia
  14. Vanderbilt

NCAAF National Championship Odds for Week 13: Is it Alabama’s to Lose?

Nothing extraordinary happened over the weekend. No contenders lost. A new contender did not emerge. Theoretically, the national championship picture did not change. But it still might have been one of the more impactful weekends of the season.

How so?

Well, Clemson saw their game get postponed at the last minute. Assuming they get to play this week against Pitt, they will have had three weeks off since their last game (the loss to Notre Dame). Trevor Lawrence has not played in over a month.   

Few coaches prepare their teams as well as Dabo Swinney does, but if there happens to be a little rust and the Tigers do not play well… An upset loss at this point will eliminate them from playoff consideration.

Clemson is favored by close to four touchdowns, but this is 2020—crazier things have happened.

But Clemson not playing is far from the most impactful thing that happened over the weekend regarding the national championship picture.

College Football National Championship Odds: There’s A Chink in the Alabama Armor

Clemson’s (+350; odds via DraftKings) long layoff could prove problematic for them. With the loss to Notre Dame, they must run the table to make the playoffs. A loss, whether it is to Notre Dame in the ACC title game, or someone else will eliminate them.

Notre Dame (+1400) was off last weekend, so their outlook has not changed. They might remain in the top four if they lose to Clemson in the ACC title game, but they will be out more than likely.

Alabama (+135) did not face much of a challenge against Kentucky, so we learned nothing new about them. But from what we have seen, teams can score on Alabama. However, the hard part for most teams will be stopping Alabama from scoring.

The most interesting development over the weekend had to be the close call that Ohio State (+225) had. In their first three games, the Buckeyes did not face much of a challenge from anyone. Subsequently, they appeared to be fantastic on both sides of the ball—and nearly impossible to beat.

But then Indiana almost pulled it off by throwing for nearly 500 yards against the Ohio State defense.

Now, the Buckeyes are not going to be facing another good passing team until the playoffs. But if Indiana can decimate their secondary, Clemson and Alabama will be able to do so much more.

Florida (+1000) still belongs in the conversation and looked great in a win over Vanderbilt. But even if they beat Alabama in the SEC title game, they might not get in. Their best hope is to beat Alabama and for Notre Dame to beat Clemson.

That way, Notre Dame moves up to No. 1, but Alabama will not fall out of the top four. But a Clemson loss will knock the Tigers out, which would make room for Florida to move in. If they make it in, they have the kind of offense that could win it all.

Can the Boys from Bryant Make a Bang in the NCAAF National Championship Odds?

However, depending on how the Committee seats Florida and Texas A&M, the Aggies could be the team moving into the top four (+20000). With how well their defense is playing and their run game, they might be able to make things interesting if they make it in.

But they are going to be massive underdogs to whoever they face.

One team that has not been in the national title conversation, and will probably not win it, could impact it. But Northwestern could certainly affect who plays in the title game. With how well their defense is playing, Ohio State will have their hands full in the Big Ten title game.

If Northwestern (+5000) does win the Big Ten, they will probably not make the playoffs. But they will knock Ohio State out of the running—and potentially open a door for Florida or Texas A&M.

So, the teams viewed as contenders going into the weekend still are. But no one really looks as invulnerable as they once did. If any contenders play less than their best the rest of the way, their national championship dreams could end.

Kentucky Wildcats at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Preview

Saturday, November 21, 2020, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 4 p.m. ET

Wildcats at Crimson Tide Betting Preview: Wildcats (+30.5), Crimson Tide (-30.5)

Kentucky Wildcats Betting Preview

The Wildcats (3-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) are coming off a 38-35 win over Vanderbilt last weekend. Chris Rodriguez rushed for a career high 149 yards on 13 carries, including two scores, but the Wildcats struggled to put away the Commodores.

Vandy rallied from two second-half deficits of 17 points to make it a tight game. The defensive effort didn’t sit well with Wildcats coach Mark Stoops.

“Defensively, terribly inconsistent,” Stoops said. “We have a lot of work to do. There’s no excuse. They want somebody else to make the play, they want some miraculous call to stop the play.”

Stoops is still waiting to see a good effort on both sides of the ball in the same game.

“We’re terribly inconsistent on one side or the other. We’ve not put it all together. It’s frustrating. I can promise you this, it’s not for lack of effort,” he said. “The sense of urgency needs to be greater, the attention to detail throughout an entire game needs to be greater.”

Rodriguez and his 568 rushing yards lead the Wildcats, and Josh Ali’s 34 catches and 343 yard lead the receivers. Senior quarterback Terry Wilson averages 119 passing yards and 56 rushing yards per game.

Crimson Tide Betting Preview

No. 1 Alabama hasn’t played since Halloween after last week’s scheduled meeting with LSU was postponed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Tigers. The Crimson Tide (6-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) had a scheduled open date on Nov. 7.

The Tide’s high-powered offense is averaging 46.5 points per game at home, with an average of 555 yards per game over six contests. On defense, Alabama shut out Mississippi State 41-0 in Tuscaloosa the last time out.

“We fully intend to be able to play this game and we certainly have enough players that are healthy enough to do that,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Physically we’ve been able to take care of our players, psychologically is the real challenge for them to be able to stay focused on the things that they need to do continue to improve and play at a high level, especially when we’re halfway through the season.”

Next week, Alabama is planning its usual holiday fare: the Iron Bowl, Nov. 28 against Auburn.

Running back Najee Harris has 718 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, and senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith is the leading receiver with 56 catches for 759 yards and eight touchdowns.

Smith caught all four of quarterback Mac Jones’ touchdown passes against the Bulldogs. Jones has thrown for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. His passing yards are the most by any Alabama quarterback through the first six games of a season in program history.

The Tide have scored 35 or more points in 19 straight games, the longest streak in major college football history, and have 29 straight wins over SEC East opponents.

Wildcats at Crimson Tide Betting Pick

The Tide lead the series 37-2-1 and have won all 11 meetings in Tuscaloosa and six in a row overall. The two teams have played five common opponents this year with Alabama owning wins over Missouri 38-19, Ole Miss 63-48, Georgia 41-24, Tennessee 48-17, and Mississippi State 41-8 and Kentucky losing to Missouri 20-10, Ole Miss 42-41 in overtime, and Georgia 14-3, and beating Mississippi State 24-2 and Tennessee 34-7.

Wildcats at Crimson Tide Betting Pick:

Crimson Tide 45, Wildcats 17

Wildcats at Crimson Tide Best Bet

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones needs one more 400-yard passing game to tie the SEC record currently shared by LSU’s Joe Burrow (2019), Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (213), and Kentucky’s Tim Couch (1998). The Wildcats have allowed only one foe (Ole Miss with 325) to top the 300-yard mark this season.

Wildcats at Crimson Tide Best Bet: OVER 57.5

–Field Level Media