With fall camp now under way all over the country, just weeks stand between the country and one of it’s favorite pastimes: gambling on unpaid student-athletes. This week, Rivals.com is taking a look at Vegas’ projected win total for each Power Five Conference program and ventures a guess on the over-under for the 12-game regular season. Today, we examine the SEC.
Sports gambling is illegal 49 states, so the following picks should be used for entertainment purposes only. Unless, of course, you live in Nevada, in which case it’s totally cool to bet your children’s’ college tuition based on the halfwit advice imparted below.
Note: Win totals were taken from Betus.com. In the event that no total was listed on the site, the total was bulled from Bovada.lv.
ALABAMA - 10.5
OVER. The contrarian in me badly wants to take the under. But at this point, it’s hard to imagine Alabama losing two regular season games. Betting against Nick Saban is betting against Rocky in a Rocky film. Every once in awhile, you get a Clubber Lang situation but, for the most part, it’s a sucker bet.
ARKANSAS - 7
UNDER. Arkansas opens the seasons with three out of four at home, so that 6-6 finish will sting a little more than usual.
AUBURN - 8.5
OVER. Auburn should have one of the country’s best defenses. And while it’s natural to be skeptical of transfer quarterbacks, Jarrett Stidham’s case is different as there’s no reason to think he isn’t as advertised. If Auburn gets out of a road game at Texas A&M with a win, the over should hit.
FLORIDA - 8
UNDER - Florida, as is the program’s calling card, relied on defense a year ago. And while young defensive back Chanucey Gardner closed out the seasons strong, the Gators will miss Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. No matter how you slice it, the offense will be asked to do more this season and it’s unclear how it will respond to such a task. This one will likely be close and a game with Michigan could determine how it breaks.
GEORGIA - 8.5
OVER. There’s talent here. Lot’s of it. Quarterback Jacob Eason showed flashes as a true freshman a year ago and has a pair of weapons at running back. The defense should be sound, as the entire unit, headed up by Trenton Thompson, returns. The Bulldogs should be able to cruise past Notre Dame. If not, there will be bigger problems in Athens than going 8-4 and missing the under by half a win
KENTUCKY - 7
PUSH. Kentucky has experience and depth and quarterback to go along with more than 15-return starters. Whether or not the Wildcats eclipse the seven-win mark will likely come down to what happens in their season finale against Louisville. And while UK seems to be outmatched by the Cardinals on paper, rivalry games – especially late in the year – seem to always get interesting.
LSU - 9
UNDER. All eyes will be on running back Derrius Guice, who carries lofty expectations into his quest to replace Leonard Fournette. The Tigers lost some firepower at other skill positions, though and games at Florida and Tennessee could go either way.
OLE MISS - No Line
Neither Betus nor Bovada offers a win total for Ole Miss. Will there be more sanctions? Will key players transfer? Will the Rebels have rouge boosters calling the plays? The mystery is the fun. Lines are, however, available for women's basketball and track.
MISSISSIPPI STATE - 5.5
UNDER. The non-conference slate is soft, but having a bad offensive line in the SEC is a receipt for disaster. The league slate could overwhelm the Bulldogs. This is, after all, a team that got bowl eligible based on APR a season ago.
MISSOURI - 6.5
UNDER. Is 2017 Missouri really that different from 2016 Missouri? Surely the Tigers will top last year’s 4-8 mark. But getting to seven wins? At least the booze at Harpo’s is cheap.
SOUTH CAROLINA - 5.5
OVER. Jake Bentley made some noise as a true freshman a year ago and will lead an experienced South Carolina offense that needs to make progress from a season ago. The schedule is as soft as an SEC slate gets, as the Gamecocks avoid Alabama, Auburn and LSU. That said, they close the season with defending national champion Clemson, so collecting six wins early will serve them well.
TENNESSEE - 7.5
OVER. Tennessee’s 2016 was one of peaks, valley, ducks and trucks. The Volunteers ultimately fell just short of expectations. This year means everything for Butch Jones’ job security, and while eight wins won’t inspire a ton of confidence the fan base, it’s an attainable number because of what should be a dangerous offense.
TEXAS A&M - 7
UNDER. Last year felt like the beginning of the end for Kevin Sumlin in College Station and the upcoming one could easily turn into the end of the end. Back is star wide receiver Christian Kirk, but the Aggies will start an inexperienced quarterback. while attempting to replace the defensive production of No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett. A&M will need some breaks to win seven games, and that’s not an ideal spot in which to be.
VANDERBILT - 6
PUSH. Vandy’s schedule is an absolute bear, so a second straight six-win season would likely indicate another step forward. A non-conference game against Kansas State will be an early test. Should the Commodores win that one, seven wins aren’t totally out of the question. Even then, though, it’s no guarantee.