The SEC is the dry-aged, bone-in rib eye of college football. It is the premier cut of beef, and the remaining options simply don’t compare. It also seems quite appropriate to use a meat metaphor to assess the SEC’s greatness. Served rare, of course.
As good as the SEC is, it’s also become very top-heavy over the past few seasons. That’s not to say that the teams outside of the top few aren’t talented, but it instead highlights just how good these top few teams have become.
5Dimes, an online sportsbook, is the first website to post SEC championship odds for the 2012 season. These odds are also the first that account for Missouri and Texas A&M as they embark on their first SEC campaign, although the oddsmakers don’t foresee the new guys as favorites early on.
Something to keep in mind with these odds is the vast difference between divisions within the conference. LSU, Alabama and Arkansas will likely beat each other up plenty in the West. In the East, things are much more wide open, and Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are poised to get themselves to the SEC championship game.
Alabama and LSU are heavy favorites, but there is some value to be had.
The SEC champs are again the SEC fave, and it’s easy to understand why. Their offensive and defensive lines are loaded, and Zach Mettenberger has had a tremendous spring. South Carolina and Alabama will make trips to Baton Rouge, although visits to Florida and then a finale at Arkansas are far from gimmies.
On the surface, 8/5 seems appropriate, but those are tough odds to lay given the difficulty of that schedule. Safe bet, but looking for more value.
Don’t let its smashed Coaches' Trophy fool you; Alabama will be very good again in 2012.
The Tide are losing an incredible amount of talent, however, which will make getting to the SEC championship game a tough task. They play at Arkansas, at Missouri and at LSU, which is enough for me to stay away from these short odds as well. It’s difficult to bet against Nick Saban, but there are far too many questions at this price.
Now here’s an interesting team at a price that makes some sense. Georgia doesn’t play Alabama, LSU or Arkansas during the regular season, and its toughest road tests are at Missouri, South Carolina and Auburn. The Bulldogs also draw Florida, although they have the lightest schedule of any contender in the SEC. That doesn’t always provide an adequate forecast, but they have a great shot to get back to the SEC championship, which is all you can ask for.
At 5/1, this makes a lot of sense.
Bobby Petrino is out, but the Hogs still have a very talented team in place. Tyler Wilson alone is enough for some to bet on Arkansas to win the SEC, although the latest controversy will no doubt play a role in how it performs.
Unlike Georgia, Arkansas does play Alabama and LSU, but it does so in its own building. The Hogs' odds at 5/1 feels about right, but they’ll have to get through the two SEC favorites to even make it to the title game, and controversy is still swarming.
South Carolina: 9/1
Steve Spurrier is already spitting off vintage Ol’ Ball Coach lingo, which means he’s liking his team. And there is plenty to like.
Marcus Lattimore should (hopefully) be healthy by the start of the season, and QB Connor Shaw seems to be getting more comfortable with each snap.
Still, road games at LSU and Florida are tough tasks to take on. They’ll also play UGA at home. The 9/1 odds is a very nice price and could be worth a look if you’re buying the Ol’ Ball Coach in 2012.
Here’s an interesting team at an interesting price. The Gators will have to be leaps and bounds better than they were in 2011 to be in the SEC picture, but a new offensive coordinator should help out immensely. Early road tests at Texas A&M and Tennessee will be telling, and UF will get LSU, South Carolina and Georgia at the World's Largest Outdoor [NAME REDACTED].
The defense should be very good, although scoring points will still be an issue. The Gators' odds at 14/1 make them worth a look, however, especially in the SEC East.
Auburn can be had for the price of 18/1, and while the odds are promising, the prospects of cashing in on them are not. In fact, 18/1 isn’t enough to entice me to jump in.
Auburn plays LSU, Arkansas, Georgia and then Alabama in the Iron Bowl, which will be a challenge. Kiehl Frazier will be much better at quarterback, although it simply won’t be enough to take down those above the Tigers in their division.
Mississippi State: 20/1
Dan Mullen’s crew also has the task of playing in the dreaded SEC West. How’s this for a four-game stretch in late October through mid-November: at Alabama, at home against Texas A&M, at LSU and home versus Arkansas. You will not find a tougher stretch in all the land, and no, 20/1 is not enough to warrant your money. Not even close.
Welcome to the SEC, Mizzou! Here’s what you have in your welcome basket: Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida to start.
One huge item of note is that Missouri does get to compete in the SEC East, and it should also have a pretty talented team assuming the throwing shoulder of James Franklin is healed by the summer. At 25/1, I could see a value bet and hope the Tigers somehow work their way into the title game. Unlikely, but crazier proclamations have been made.
If you’re one to bet on urgency, then here’s your team. Derek Dooley isn’t on the hot seat yet, but it is warm, and the Vols are coming off a season where they were 1-7 in the conference.
In 2012, the schedule is somewhat favorable (by SEC standards), but they still travel to Georgia and South Carolina and will get Florida and Alabama at home. They miss LSU and Arkansas during the regular season, and they play in the SEC East, but 30/1 just isn’t enough value.
Texas A&M: 40/1
Another new team, another rude awakening. Its schedule is on the brutal side, like Missouri’s, only A&M has the pleasure (note: not actually a pleasure) of playing in the SEC West.
It'll have to get through LSU, Alabama and Arkansas to do so, and with a new head coach and QB, that’s simply too much to ask for even at 40/1.
The momentum is there, and Vanderbilt will get considerably better over the next few seasons. You also have to absolutely love its schedule compared to much of the SEC. The Commodores miss Alabama, LSU and Arkansas and get both South Carolina and Florida at home. The problem, however, is they just aren’t there yet, but 50/1 might be worth a flyer based on what they have in front of them.
The good news is that Kentucky won’t play LSU or Alabama in 2012. The bad news is it's still Kentucky, which is why it's listed as a robust 80/1. Even in the weaker SEC East, these odds aren’t enough to generate much (any?) action.
Note: You will not get 80/1 on Kentucky’s basketball team next year.
Ole Miss: 125/1
The SEC West is a cruel place to be in 2012, and these odds certainly reflect that. Hugh Freeze will eventually have this team competitive again, but not now and not yet.
The Rebels have the toughest schedule in college football (which includes a fun out-of-conference trip to Texas), and they’ll also play at Alabama, at Arkansas, at Georgia and at LSU. The odds are that way for a reason, folks.
Save your Ole Miss money and go buy your wife something nice instead.