2014 Odds to Win the SEC Conference for College Football with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/23/2014
For so many years it has been easy to pick the National Champion months in advance - just figure out who is going to win the SEC. Florida State finally changed that last year, and there is a growing murmur that perhaps the league isn't as strong as it has been. So, will we see yet another SEC team on top when the playoffs roll around? Or is it time for some much-needed change? Which perennial contenders are vulnerable? Here are the odds to win the SEC for college football, with picks and predictions thrown in:
The odds (from Bovada)
South Carolina (5/1)
Ole Miss (14/1)
Texas A&M (20/1)
Mississippi State (33/1)
Breaking it all down
Alabama: People seemed determined to see weakness around the Alabama program. There are two big reasons for this - they are breaking in a new quarterback for the first time in seemingly decades now that A.J. McCarron has finally graduated, and the hiring of Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator seems, at the very least, to be bizarre. Still, with the best fleet of running backs in the country, ridiculous talent and depth everywhere thanks to superhuman recruiting, Nick Saban at the helm, and their history of success, this is still the program to beat.
The most interesting storyline to watch - at least early - will be QB Jacob Coker. The recent Florida State transfer will be the likely starter after backing up E.J. Manuel and Jameis Winston the last two years. He has a lot of weight on his shoulders. The good news is that other than a trip to LUS, they play their toughest games at home, and they have the benefit of a week off before that test. By now I don't see much upside in betting against Alabama - especially when they have revenge to motivate them after the embarrassing and bizarre end to their aspirations last year.
Auburn: The biggest thing to like about this squad is Nick Marshall. The QB was mostly excellent last year and should be able to take another step forward this year. If only he could play defense, too. When this team doesn't have the ball there are some real concerns. Their last two conference games are at Georgia and Alabama, so things end with a massive test - too big in my eyes. I am not willing to bet that there will be a repeat conference champ.
Georgia: The Bulldogs may have the best offensive player in the league in RB Todd Gurley, and perhaps the best defensive player in LB Ramik Wilson. Add it all up, though, and I still don't think that it's enough to get the team over the top. I have lost patience with Mark Richt. He can coach well but only up to a point, and I don't believe he can elevate this team to their full potential - and that might not even be enough to win the division or the conference.
South Carolina: I can't shake the feeling that Steve Spurrier could actually feel good about losing a once-in-a-generation defensive talent. Jadeveon Clowney is a very special player, but he was a major distraction last year, and Spurrier doesn't like that at this stage in his career. They have a solid senior at QB and a potential Heisman winner at running back, and that should key what should be a very good offense. If the defense can be decent then they could be a threat. The team has won 11 games three years in a row. It could be time for a step forward. I like this price a lot more than the other two teams at the same price.
LSU: The Tigers should be able to run the ball very well, but QB is a big concern now that Zach Mettenberger is gone, and Odell Beckham isn't around to bail out the new pivot by making the circus catches that made him a first-round pick. Les Miles knows how to win games, but the real sensation around this team is that they aren't quite at the level of his best. This seems more like a reloading year than a championship one. I'll pass on betting on them.
Florida: I sure can't convince myself to get excited by a team coached by Will Muschamp. They have not made progress under him so far, and there are plenty of reasons to doubt dramatic progress his year. They shouldn't be as bad as they were last year, but there is a massive gap between where they were and where they need to be to win it all. This is not a championship team.
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