The SEC may not have won either of the last two National Championships on the gridiron, but the league will still be a major player this fall on the college football odds.
What's this?! Two years in a row without a team from the Southeastern Conference winning the National Championship? Why, it's enough to make one occasionally glance up at the skies to see if pigs have finally mastered flight.
Despite not winning the crown either of the last two seasons, nobody should feel sorry for the SEC entering the 2015 college football betting season and beyond. That notion is especially true on the recruiting front where the league continues to bring in the best of the best high schoolers year after year. Texas A&M ranked sixth in the SEC on the recruiting trail this past winter -- behind Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Auburn -- yet brought in a new class as strong as the top schools in the Big 12, ACC and Big Ten.
The Alabama Crimson Tide certainly aren't going away anytime soon. Nick Saban's squad is the 5/2 favorite to win the SEC Championship the first Saturday in December at the Georgia Dome. College football odds also suggest the Crimson Tide will be part of the College Football Playoff for a second consecutive year; Alabama is 8/1 to add to its national title trophy case, third after Ohio State (4/1) and TCU (13/2).
Spring Quarterback Battle Top Question In Tuscaloosa
Saban and the Tide landed the top recruiting class in the country to add to the collection of talent they picked up the year before and the year before that, and so on and so on. That plethora of studs should come in handy since 'Bama will be replacing two key skill positions at QB and WR due to the departure of Blake Sims and Amari Cooper.
All signs point to former Florida State transfer Jake Coker taking over under center for the Crimson Tide, but that's not written in ink just yet. Alabama also has true freshman Blake Barnett and redshirt frosh David Cornwell in the mix, giving Saban and OC Lane Kiffin a tough choice to make...and a lot of depth.
Replacing Cooper might prove tougher. One new kid who could burst onto the collegiate scene is Calvin Ridley, rated by many the top high school wide receiver in 2014, and look for tight end OJ Howard to get worked into the scheme more. Alabama opens the college football betting season against Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin, plus has conference roadies at Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn.
SEC West Still Stacked From Top To Bottom
The Tide led all seven teams from the SEC West into the 2014 bowl season where the group was expected to dominate after winning all 28 nonconference regular season games. Instead, they went 2-5 with the only victories posted by Texas A&M and Arkansas, the two teams that finished at the bottom of the division standings.
Despite the bowl season stumble, the West Division should still be as strong as any other group of seven teams in the country. Auburn is only slightly behind 'Bama on the NCAA football futures odds to win the SEC (7/2), and the double-Tigers matchup at LSU (8/1) in Week 3 should be one of the most crucial games on the 2015 schedule.
Like Alabama, Ole Miss (13/2) is also looking for a new quarterback to replace Bo Wallace. Chad Kelly, dismissed from Clemson a year ago, appears to be the answer, but his penchant for getting into trouble is a storyline to watch in Oxford.
Arkansas and Mississippi State are both 8/1 to win the SEC while Texas A&M brings up the rear of the division at 12/1.
For more NCAA Football updates, keep checking our college football picks!
Georgia Remains Class Of East As Vols & Gators Improve
The team most likely to square off against the West winner in the SEC Championship is Georgia, the top choice from the East Division at 5/1 on the college football futures to win the league crown. Once again, questions loom at QB after Hutson Mason's graduation, with Brice Ramsey the leading candidate. A tough October slate also looms, though three of the four games against Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida are in Athens.
Tennessee and Florida, each 8/1 to win the SEC, are Georgia's top challengers. The Volunteers landed a very strong recruiting class, second in the conference behind Alabama, and return 18 starters to give Butch Jones his strongest team yet. The Gators have a lot of questions on offense, plus will be working under new head coach Jim McElwain for the first time. Florida hosts Tennessee on the final Saturday of September in a contest that could ultimately determine the SEC East winner.