SEC Championship Preview
by Joshua Fairbanks - 11/29/2006
This is the week in college football where we separate the men from the boys. In this meeting, the SEC championship is up for grabs between No. 8 Arkansas and No.4 Florida. Will this be the game that Florida can show the BCS they deserve a title shot? Or is it time for Arkansas to finish their Cinderella SEC season? Sports books are under the assumption that this should be a tight one.
The Florida Gators enter this title bout with a very strong 11-1 record. Of course, if you were a Gator bettor, you might be very disappointed with the season. Florida finished the year at a porous 3-8 ATS failing to cover a number of lines. There is the thought that the lines were just too inflated for Florida to cover. Personally, I don't think that was the case. Florida is 1-3 ATS this season when they were favored by less than 10 points. It seems that the Gators are just not a team that can cover even when the line is relatively small. They have played a lot of close games.
Arkansas seems to fall under the same betting trend as Florida. Although the Razorbacks are a solid team, they are just 4-7 ATS this season. Unlike Florida, Arkansas was not a heavy favorite most of the year. Therefore, the Razorbacks did not have the burden of covering large spreads. Arkansas finished the season 2-6 ATS when the line was 10 points or fewer. It seems that neither team does particularly well when they are dealing with small lines. With no strong trend emerging ATS, maybe the total is the key to where the strongest bet lies.
For the season, Arkansas' average total for a given game was 44.5 points. This number, ironically, is the same total that has been put up for this weekend's game. This number is one of the few things to really consider this weekend. Florida's average total this season fell around 41.5 points. This number is also pretty close to the total this week. Florida is 3-8 this season against the total. In contrast, Florida is 2-2 against the total when playing highly ranked teams. Arkansas seems to continue this interesting trend. Although Arkansas is 5-6 against the total, they are a strong 4-2 covering the over when playing highly ranked teams. Maybe the competition brings out the best in both clubs. Consider the fact that both teams played LSU this season. LSU has been, by far, one of college football's best defenses, yet both Arkansas and Florida managed to score 20 plus points against the Tigers. If LSU can't stop these two offenses, I don't think anyone can.
The last time these two teams collided, Florida beat up Arkansas, 45-30. This week, I expect the same trend to reemerge. Although neither team is strong in any betting trend, it seems that both teams know when to step it up. When the game is on the line, Florida and Arkansas will not back down. This is where the play for this week lies. Both Arkansas and Florida have put up large totals when the competition was high. The SEC championship trophy will be enough cause for both teams to go all out this weekend and push the total over 44.5. Don't make your bets too early though. I bet the total drops to 43 by game time. As to the question who will win. I'd say your best bet is to flip a coin.