The SEC is supposedly college football’s best conference, yet the national champion has come from the SEC just once in the past four seasons. Slacker! Let’s break down 5Dimes odds to win the SEC this coming season.
A big reason that we have the College Football Playoff is that the powerful SEC was a huge driving force behind it. That arrogant conference thought it had a good chance each year to get two teams into the playoff. Remember, the SEC won an unprecedented seven straight national championships starting in the 2006 season.
However, Auburn lost to unbeaten Florida State in the final BCS National Championship Game following the 2013 season. No SEC club made the first College Football Playoff national title game after Ohio State upset Alabama in the semifinals, with the Buckeyes going on to beat Oregon for the title. Alabama has reached the past two title games, losing to Clemson this past season and beating the Tigers in 2015.
Last year, the SEC simply was not the best conference in the country. That was the Big Ten, which sent a record four schools to New Year’s Six bowls. There are no props out yet on which conference the national champion comes from in the 2017 season, but the SEC should be the favorite because Alabama is the +340 leader to win it all.
Shocker: Tide Are Favored!
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have won three straight and four of the past five SEC titles, and they are -230 5Dimes favorites for 2017. Frankly, previewing Alabama is rather boring these days. Saban loses a handful of guys to the NFL each year and they are early-round draft picks. Four were first-rounders in this year’s draft: cornerback Marlon Humphrey, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, tight end O.J. Howard and linebacker Reuben Foster.
So what? Saban simply plugs in another five-star recruit. The offense should be spectacular with the return of quarterback Jalen Hurts, running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, and receiver Calvin Ridley. Saban does have yet another new offensive coordinator after Steve Sarkisian lasted all of one game. Now it’s former Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll. His last college job was as Saban's graduate assistant at Michigan State from 1998-99.
The Tide will be favored in every regular-season game because they pretty much always are. I realistically only give them two chances of losing: Sept. 2 in Atlanta as a 7-point favorite in a non-conference game vs. Florida State, and the Iron Bowl at Auburn. Alabama’s two other likely toughest opponents, Tennessee and LSU, visit Tuscaloosa. No Florida or Georgia from the East Division. Bama’s win total is 10.5 on 5Dimes, and I recommend ‘over’ there at -380.
Might Have A Chance
I believe only Auburn (+700) has a shot of supplanting the Tide in the West Division simply because the Tigers get that game on the Plains. Auburn welcomes back 15 starters, the most of any West Division team. That doesn’t include the expected staring QB, Jarrett Stidham. He’s a transfer from Baylor who sat out last season. Stidham is competing for the job with incumbent starter Sean White, but everyone expects Stidham to win it. As a freshman at Baylor in 2015, Stidham completely 68.8 percent (75-for-109) of his passes for 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in 10 games, including three starts. Star running back Kamryn Pettway also is back. He led the SEC in rushing yards per game last season with 122.4 per contest. Pettway missed three games due to injury and didn’t get a carry in Auburn’s opener against Clemson.
Because I believe Alabama will be unbeaten in SEC play when it closes the season at Auburn, the Tigers thus could afford to lose just one conference game to have a chance to win the West by beating the Tide in the Iron Bowl. Auburn’s chances thus should be defined in a three-game road stretch: LSU (Oct. 14), Arkansas (Oct. 21) and Texas A&M (Nov. 4). Lose two of those, and the SEC West race is over.
In the East, Florida (+1000) is the two-time division champion, but I like Georgia (+700) to emerge there. The Bulldogs relied heavily on freshmen at key positions in 2016 and finished 8-5. UGA returns 17 starters in 2017, including sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason and 10 of 11 players on defense. Eason has a chance to be a superstar, but the Dawgs likely will be run-heavy with both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returning. That’s one of the best 1-2 punches in the nation.
Georgia avoids Alabama and LSU from the West Division but travels to Auburn on Nov. 11. As usual, the Dawgs face Florida in Jacksonville around Halloween and visit Tennessee on Sept. 30. Even with two conference losses, UGA can win the East. Florida did so at 6-2 in 2016.
Alabama and Georgia haven’t played since a 38-10 Tide win in Athens on Oct. 3, 2015. The 2017 SEC Championship Game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be closer than that, but Bama prevails to reach another College Football Playoff.Bet On College Football Futures At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks