SEC Football Picks, Predictions and Odds
WagerTalk handicapper Steve Merril offers his thoughts on the SEC football landscape this season from a variety of handicapping angles. The 89th season for the strongest conference in college football which has won 11 of the past 15 national championship titles, with an incredible four different winners during that span (Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn), while only three other teams from all the other conferences combined (Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson) have won a national title since 2006.
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SEC Football Overview
There will be four new head coaches this season after four SEC coaches were fired. Bryan Harsin leaves Boise State to take over at Auburn for Gus Malzahn after eight seasons. Shan Beamer, son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, replaces Will Muschamp at South Carolina after five seasons. Former UCF head coach Josh Heupel replaces Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee after just three seasons. Clark Lea replaces Derek Mason at Vanderbilt after seven years.
SEC East Preview
Georgia (8-2 SU) was a young team last season with only three returning starters on offense, yet the Bulldogs still averaged 32 points per game and 4.8 yards per rush. Georgia now returns a veteran offense with eight returning starters which includes their top five rushers from last year. Head coach Kirby Smart is now 52-14 SU (37-25 ATS) in his five seasons as head coach, and he will have to revamp a young, but talented defense that returns just five starters. Georgia continues to attract the best talent in the nation and they should be loaded this year after ranking 1st, 2nd and 1st the past three years in recruiting. The Bulldogs will be tested with neutral site games versus Clemson and Florida, but Georgia does avoid playing Alabama in the regular season this year.
Florida (8-4 SU) started last season 8-1 SU, before finishing with three straight losses versus LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. They now return one of the youngest teams in the nation with only 9 returning starters (4 offense, 5 defense) which includes the loss of several offense weapons such as quarterback Kyle Trask, tight end Kyle Pitts, and receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes that helped the Gators average 40 points and 511 total yards per game last year. Florida does benefit from the arrival of running back Demarkcus Bowman from Clemson and LSU tight end Arik Gilbert, along with experienced backup quarterback Emory Jones. Florida has a tough conference schedule versus division foes Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri, and non-division games versus Alabama and LSU.
Missouri (5-5 SU) should continue to improve after the first season for head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. The Tigers now return 16 starters (8 offense, 8 defense) to an inconsistent team that scored 41 points or more three times last season, while scoring 20 points or less in six other games. The defense lost linebacker Nick Bolton to the NFL, but has gained a solid safety in Blaze Allredge from Rice. The schedule is manageable as Missouri avoids Alabama, LSU and Auburn, while playing Texas A&M and Florida at home. Missouri’s toughest game of the season will be on November 6th at Georgia.
— Steve Merril (@SteveMerril) September 2, 2021
SEC West Division Preview
Alabama (13-0 SU) was a team on a mission last season, finishing with a perfect record, the most wins in the nation, and their sixth national championship in the past twelve seasons, including their fifth appearance in the finals during the past six years. Alabama will have to replace six first-round NFL draft picks that were taken in the Top 24 overall, including five offensive players. The Crimson Tide now returns only three starters on offense, but as always they have a ton of talent and potential waiting to step in thanks to the best recruiting class in the nation, including highly touted quarterback Bryce Young and running back Brian Robinson. The defense will be potent with eight returning starters from a stop-unit that allowed just 19 points per game and 3.2 yards per rush, despite facing a tough schedule of opponents that consisted of ten bowl teams from the previous year. Despite facing inflated pointspreads all season, Alabama still went a solid 9-4 ATS last year. The home schedule is easy this year, but the road schedule will be challenging with a neutral field opener versus Miami Florida and road games at Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn.
Texas A&M (9-1 SU) will present a challenge on October 9th when they host Alabama, in a game that will likely decide this division winner. It is a huge revenge spot for A&M after losing 52-24 as an 18-point road underdog last year at Alabama in the second game of the season. Overall, the Aggies were an impressive 9-1 SU last year and now enter head coach Jimbo Fisher’s fourth season with 15 returning starters (6 offense, 9 defense). Despite averaging only 33 points per game last year, the team had a balanced offensive attack with 234 passing yards and 205 rushing yards per game on 5.5 yards per carry. Texas A&M returns several weapons at the skill positions, but they must rebuild the offensive line and find a replacement at quarterback. The defense was especially strong last season, allowing only 22 points per game, including a stellar 92 rushing yards on just 3.3 yards per rush.
LSU (5-5 SU) is a possible dark horse as the Tigers are coming off a rebuilding season after winning the national championship two years ago with a perfect 15-0 SU mark. Ed Orgeron enters his fifth season as head coach and stands 45-15 SU overall in Baton Rouge, including an incredibly profitable 37-18-1 ATS. LSU enters with the third best recruiting class in the nation and returns 17 starters (9 offense, 8 defense) to a young team that improved down the stretch last season, including a 37-34 upset win at Florida as a 23-point underdog. LSU gets Florida and Texas A&M at home this season, with a tough road game at Alabama on November 6th.
|SEC Championship Odds from Caesars||As of August 19|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||-140|
|Texas A&M Aggies||+900|
|Ole Miss Rebels||+2500|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||+10000|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||+15000|
|SEC Regular Season Win Totals||As of August 19|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||11.5 (o EV / u -120)|
|Georgia Bulldogs||10.5 (o -130 / u +110)|
|Texas A&M Aggies||9.5 (o +110 / u -130)|
|LSU Tigers||8.5 (o EV / u -120)|
|Florida Gators||9 (o +105 / u -125)|
|Auburn Tigers||7 (o +125 / u -145)|
|Ole Miss Rebels||7.5 (o -135 / u +115)|
|Missouri Tigers||7 (o -130 / u +110)|
|Kentucky Wildcats||7 (o -150 / u +130)|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||6 (o -115 / u -105)|
|Tennessee Volunteers||6 (o +110 / u -130)|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||3.5 (o -165 / u +145)|
|Arkansas Razorbacks||5.5 (o -105 / u -115)|
|Vanderbilt Commodores||3 (o -140 / u +120)|
Meet the Capper: Steve Merril
Steve Merril has won consistently for 25+ years as one of the best sports analysts in the nation. He credits his success to employing a variety of different handicapping techniques such as statistical analysis, quantitative systems, and fundamentals such as matchups and emotion. By relying on numerous handicapping methods, Steve continues to beat the pointspread on a consistent basis in both college and pro football, college and pro basketball, baseball and racing. Steve has numerous documented #1 finishes in all major sports and was the first person to ever win the prestigious $100,000 Insider’s Handicapping Invitational. Steve Merril’s unique knowledge and understanding of the gaming industry is what separates him from other handicappers. Steve has spent the past 25+ years studying the odds and probabilities associated with all forms of gambling such as poker, casino games, and even the financial markets. Steve has transferred this unique knowledge and understanding of statistics and probabilities into the sports world, which has enabled him to win on a consistent basis. The most popular part of Steve Merril’s award-winning selections is the fact he backs each game with a full detailed report and analysis. Steve is heard each week on numerous radio and TV shows across the nation. You will learn while you earn with Steve Merril’s daily Best Bets as each selection is packed full of detailed information. Join forces with the most knowledgeable gaming expert in the industry and have your most profitable season ever!
WagerTalk’s Live Odds Screen
Since the conclusion of last season’s National Championship game, WagerTalk has continued to improve and enhance our Live Odds screen. Bettors can view the up-to-the-minute odds from a variety of offshore and Vegas-based sports books. Color-coded alerts will let you know when and how a line has moved. Click on the individual cells to view a line history at each sports book. Interested in knowing what a point spread was on a previous game? Use the “archive” feature to find a previous matchup. View real-time odds on nearly every point spread market: Full games, first halves, first quarters, team totals and moneylines.
College Football Offseason Previews
In this week’s edition of The Best Damn College Football Show, Drew Martin and Rob Veno offer an early look toward the SEC East Division. Rob and Drew take a look at the new coaches and quarterback transfers that are coming into the SEC East this season. Who is a mid-pack team that might surprise some people and make a move up this year, and who is a team to fade that might struggle this year?
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