With Alabama kicking off against Wisconsin in less than two weeks, now is as good a time as any to take a look at Bovada’s over/under regular season wins for SEC teams.
Alabama – 9.5 OVER
Alabama won’t go undefeated this season, but it’s hard for me to see them only winning nine games. They return a stacked defense, a darkhorse Heisman contender in Derrick Henry, and the best coach in the game. The only games I could see them losing are either Georgia or Auburn, and they’ll most likely split those.
Auburn – 8.5 OVER
Similar to Alabama, Auburn has too much talent to only win eight games. Auburn was predicted to finish second in the SEC, and for good reason. Gus Malzahn will have another quarterback to drive his offense in Jeremy Johnson, and he also added Will Muschamp as his defensive coordinator. Muschamp wasn’t a great head coach at Florida, but he sure as hell can coach a defense. Even if Johnson doesn’t live up to the hype, a minimum of nine wins is a realistic expectation.
Florida – 7 UNDER
Florida has a new head coach in Jim McElwain, who comes over from Colorado, and will downgrade defensively after losing Muschamp. On top of this, they lost eight players to the NFL, including starters running back Matt Jones, linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. The Gators also don’t have a great option at quarterback. McElwain will either go with Treon Harris, who has proven his inability to throw a football, or redshirt freshman Will Grier. Grier was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, but is still an unknown at this point. You’ll have a hard time convincing me a team that lost that much talent along with a questionable quarterback situation will win more than six games.
Georgia – 9 OVER
In my season preview of Georgia, I said they have the potential to win 11 games and possibly go undefeated. The only games that really worry me are against Alabama and Auburn, and I think they can beat Auburn. Sure, Richt will be Richt and could lose a game he has no business losing (like last year’s 38-20 loss to Florida), but nine wins seems low for this team. They have super-athlete running back Nick Chubb, a solid offensive line, and a veteran defense. Give me the over on this any day.
Kentucky – 5.5 OVER
Extremely tough pick here, but Kentucky can eek it’s way to six wins. They start off against UL-Lafayette, South Carolina, and Florida in consecutive weeks to begin the season, and they could win all three games. That puts us halfway to six wins. Throw in two non-conference games against Eastern Kentucky and Charlotte later in the season, and then a game against Vanderbilt, and Kentucky is sitting pretty at .500 for the season. The main reason I have confidence in this pick is because of quarterback Patrick Towles. Patty-Ice threw for almost 3,000 yards, and added another 300 on the ground. If Towles cuts back on the interceptions (he threw 10 last season), he could do some damage in the SEC.
LSU – 8.5 OVER
LSU just barely gets to nine wins. This year’s only losses come from Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M. Yes, their quarterback situation is dicey, but they have a bunch of young, athletic players at skill positions. Leonard Fournette could be the best running back in the SEC this season, and Malachi Dupree and Travin Dural will be a potent wide receiver tandem. Had Arkansas not lost Jonathan Williams for the season, I would’ve gone with the under, but his injury really caps the Razorbacks’ ceiling. Losing Jalen Mills hurts the secondary big time, but he’s only out 4-6 weeks; which means he should be back by early-to-late September. There’s enough talent on this team, and Les Miles knows how to win; they’ll get to nine wins this season.
Mississippi State – 7 UNDER
Dan Mullen said he likes it when his team is underrated, but I’d be worried if I were him. The Bulldogs will be lucky if they win three conference games. I’m going to be bold here and say that they only win six games. They sweep their out-of-conference opponents (Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, and LA Tech), and pull out wins against Kentucky and potentially Ole Miss or Arkansas (which I’m still not sold on). It’s going to be the Dak Prescott Show in Starkville all season, but even he won’t be enough to beat an SEC West team by himself.
Missouri – 8 OVER
I’m as big as a Missouri homer as their is, but a minimum of nine wins for this Missouri team is not out of the question. They could start off the season going 6-0 before their October 17th matchup against Georgia in Athens. Then they get a streak of Vanderbilt-BYU-Mississippi State, which are all winnable games for the Tigers. Their last two games of the season are against Tennessee and Arkansas, and I believe they’ll lose to UT and beat Arkansas. The Tigers have the ceiling of eleven wins (which I doubt they’ll reach), and a floor of nine wins. Their defense will have a very strong front seven, while the offense sports a 1,000-yard rusher in Russell Hansbrough and a healthy Maty Mauk. That’s enough to win nine in the SEC East.
Ole Miss – 8.5 UNDER
I’m really not sure what to think about Ole Miss this season. I know they’ll have a strong defense, but a fair amount of question marks remain on offense. Ryan Buchanan and transfer Chad Kelly are battling for the starting quarterback position, but neither figure to be any better than above average. They do have the benefit of getting star receiver Laquon Treadwell back from his grotesque fibula injury, but he’s really the only standout on that offense. I think the Rebels win eight games this season, but their lack of talent on offense limits their ability to compete against the powerhouses of the SEC West.
South Carolina – 6.5 UNDER
When I look at South Carolina’s schedule, I only see three games that I can mark as “confident wins”, UCF, Vanderbilt, and Citadel. They could beat Florida, Kentucky, and UNC, but those will be competitive games for a Gamecock squad that figures to be a dumpster fire. Quarterback Connor Mitch will be the starter to begin the season, and he has a grand total of six career pass attempts. The Gamecocks also lost two of their offensive linemen to the NFL, as well as tight end Rory Anderson. The defense does have some bright spots, but they don’t figure to be at the level where they’re winning games for the team. Since USC plays UNC, Kentucky, and Florida to start off the season, and I have a hard time believing they won’t lose at least one of those games. It will be a miracle if South Carolina gets to six wins, which is why I put them under 6.5 wins.
Tennessee – 8 OVER
By this point, the lauds of the Volunteers have been sung. The wunderkinds like Josh Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, and Derek Barnett are well-known to even the most casual of college football fans. Tennessee can get to nine wins, but they play a brutal schedule the first portion of the season. They play Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama in the first seven weeks of the year. That’s a trio of teams that are top-ten caliber, and Tennessee will have to bring their best. The Vols could win one of those, but I’m not going to be so bold as to outright claim that. Outside of those three games, the only other game they could lose is against Missouri on November 21st. Missouri is a great November team, but Tennessee has lost to the Tigers three years in a row and will be out for revenge. I believe they’ll get it, putting them at nine wins.
Texas A&M – 8 OVER
While Tennessee keeps getting all the attention as the SEC’s breakout team, the Aggies are quietly over in College Station wringing their hands ready to show the league why they deserved more offseason praise. They have two quarterbacks who would start for any SEC team, an extremely talented group of wide receivers, and they had the coup of the offseason, stealing defensive coordinator John Chavis away from LSU. The Aggies offense could return to the levels it was at during the Johnny Football days, and Chavis will do wonders to a defensive unit with a bad reputation. The Aggies will give some teams a run for their money, and I picked them as a potential upset over Alabama on October 17th. It’s not a stretch to see the Aggies get to ten wins this season.
Vanderbilt – 3.5 UNDER
Vanderbilt wins their three of their out-of-conference games against Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, and Middle Tennessee. They play Houston on Halloween, and the Cougars won eight games last season, I think Vandy loses this one. Vanderbilt could potentially upset South Carolina or Florida, but I still think that’s a stretch. The Commodores win three games and continue to be the doormat of the SEC.
There’s a big disparity in talent this year in the SEC, with some teams (UF, USC) looking like sub-.500 teams, while TAMU, Alabama, and Auburn are primed for some big seasons. Let me know what you think about my predictions in the comments below.