We're taking a look at the college football futures odds in the SEC divisions and making our picks for which two schools will wind up in the conference championship.
College football bettors are studying every injury report, depth chart and schedule right now hoping to come up with a pick for the eventual 2015 NCAA Champion. The process has become more difficult over the past 15+ years, first with the BCS system that required trying to outsmart computers, and now the new College Football Playoff which is still somewhat mysterious since the 2015 campaign marks just its second go-around.
It all begins picking the four most likely teams that the CFP selection committee will anoint, and that generally means deciding what quartet of conference champions from the Power 5 -- ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC -- make the best wagers. The Big 12 was left out of the mix last year, and barring some situation like we had as recently as 2012 when a squad outside the Power 5 busts the projections, one of those five will be left on the outside looking in with only one rep from the other four making the playoffs.
The only league capable of sending two teams to the playoffs is the Southeastern Conference, and a repeat of the 2011 scenario when it crashed the BCS with both title game combatants is very unlikely given the strength and the depth of the group. The SEC is also the best bet not to be left out of the CFP for the same reasons, so determining the conference champ from this group is crucial to any college football futures odds play on the NCAA Championship.
Dawgs The Consensus Pick In SEC East
If there's an advantage for the top teams in the East Division, it's they basically get two freebies on the schedule, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The disadvantage is the five remaining squads are prone to inconsistency from one season to the next, like in 2014 with Missouri a surprise representative in the SEC Championship despite being blasted by division favorite Georgia early on.
The Bulldogs are once again division favorites, The Greek presently listing Mark Richt's troops at +175 to be at the Georgia Dome on December 5. Georgia has a very tough October ahead with home games vs. Alabama and Missouri, a road trip to Tennessee plus the annual cocktail party in Jacksonville against Florida. That foursome represents Georgia's top 3 challengers in the division plus a Crimson Tide team that is the top choice on the NCAA football futures to win the SEC at 2/1.
Tennessee has become a popular pick in the SEC East (+250) thanks to some solid recruiting by Butch Jones and his staff the last couple of years. The Vols have 18 starters returning from a year ago, but face a pretty tough conference slate with roadies at Florida, Alabama and Mizzou on the slate. Florida ranks next on the betting board at +300 under 1st-year head coach Jim McElwain, and might have the most favorable fixture in the SEC East. Back-to-back away games at Missouri and LSU in mid-October will determine the Gators' fate. Missouri at +500 is beginning to look better to me, while South Carolina at the same price makes less and less sense.
Iron Bowl Should Once Again Decide SEC West
The West is stronger than the East from top to bottom, but it still boils down to only two teams having realistic chances to be in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama is going off right now at -150 to win the division, Auburn close behind at +150 to set up their annual showdown and the end of the regular season as a pre-SEC Championship.
That game will be played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, giving the Tigers an edge to start with. But a lot has to go right for Gus Malzahn's guys before then. Auburn has a key early matchup at LSU, +500 to win the SEC West on the college football odds, but the rest of the schedule leading to the Alabama game is favorable.
Alabama's three conference road tilts other than Auburn are at Georgia, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, and the Crimson Tide get Arkansas (+385 with win West) and LSU at home on October 10 and November 7, respectively.
Arkansas and Mississippi (+400) are the closest challengers for 'Bama and Auburn, but each faces tough schedules; the Razorbacks have Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU on the road, plus Texas A&M in a neutral site affair, while the Rebels are away from Oxford for matchups at Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State.
I'd love to pick anyone but Alabama in the SEC West, but can't. The Crimson Tide will be in the SEC Championship and beat Tennessee for a second time in 2015 to capture the conference crown.