Those laying money on big SEC favorites over the last few seasons are close to declaring bankruptcy. Need proof? Read more here.
For the fifth time in six years, SEC teams own a losing record against the spread (15-23-2) through the first three weeks of the college football season. What’s the issue? Is the market overvaluing the powerhouse conference? Also, when will bettors see a correction? Let’s look for some answers.Poor Offense
The SEC is 15-23-2 ATS as a conference, falling to a -14.6 average line by 2.1 points per game. Anyone who covers the league can point you to one glaring weakness across most teams: offense. For the majority of programs, playcalling is boring and behind the times, and units highly inefficient, inexperienced, and lacking in dynamic playmakers.
The quarterback position is particularly weak with Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald, and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley just a few household names. Last week’s annual Florida-Tennessee rivalry, a highly anticipated SEC East clash, pitted Feleipe Franks versus Quinten Dormady under center. Who? Exactly. Fans are longing for the days of Peyton Manning, Rex Grossman, or some other gunslinger that can accrue more touchdown passes than interceptions. For what it’s worth, Franks and Dormady combined for 3 TDs, 4 INTs, and a 39.7 QBR.
Sluggish offense and low scores are keeping many contests within reach, particularly those with large double-digit spreads. The SEC is averaging 31.0 points per game, roughly 5 points below market expectations. Defense is holding opponents to an average score of 18.5 points, about 2.5 points below projections. The ‘under’ is 29-11 thus far. The SEC is 2-12-2 ATS hen asked to cover 20 points or more as chalk.FCS & Large Spreads
Most of the contests featuring SEC teams laying 20 points or more are versus FCS programs. The conference is 2-9 ATS in these games in 2017. A closer inspection shows the market splits are close to the above-mentioned figures. SEC offenses are scoring roughly 5 points below their expected team total with opponents averaging nearly a point better. The average game score is 41.9-13.1 against a -35.5 line and 58.3 total.
Is the betting market overvaluing the SEC in these matchups? No. The spread is close to the middle when looking at the number versus FCS programs over the years. In the last decade, the high is -41.6 in 2015, the low -28.2 in 2011. SBR quashed the perception that the FCS is closing the competitive gap between it and FBS programs in an earlier article this season. The betting market is right on target in FBS-FCS matchups. The SEC is just underperforming.
Whether it’s the first three weeks of the season or later, the numbers are frightening as a whole. Since 2015, SEC favorites of 20 points or more are 22-56-4 ATS against non-conference opponents. What a horrid run. LSU and Tennessee, each coming off dismal offensive performances, are the two teams asked to turn the tide this week. The Tigers are laying 23.5 points in Baton Rouge to Syracuse, while the Volunteers are spotting 27 at home to UMass. Our best advice: look at other games when making your college football picks.