It’s heading into mid summer but already college football programs are making plans for the upcoming season. And so too are sports betting experts and bookmakers who have already started to set lines on 2016 college football action.
One of the big questions concerns the defending national champions the University of Alabama and their home conference, the Southeastern Conference or SEC. The SEC is considered to be the best college football conference in the country and clearly at this point Alabama is their standard bearer. They’re not the only team in the conference with championship ambitions though there has been some upheaval at other programs including the retirement of venerable South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier.
To the surprise of no one, Alabama is the top favorite to repeat as National Champion. They’re currently +800 to claim the National Football Title next January. There’s really no reason to think they won’t. Head coach Nick Saban has set a high standard of excellence at the program and he’s done a remarkable job of keeping the Crimson Tide near the top of the national standings. Even when he loses key personnel to graduation he’s had an amazing ability to fill the void. Of course it’s not hard to recruit when a program has won four national championships since 2009.
After Alabama, the highest favorite to win the National Championship among SEC schools is LSU at +1150. The Bayou Bengals have had a very capable program for most of the past decade. Their primary issue is typically on the offensive side of the ball. There have been plenty of occasions where their defensive has been formidable but the offense simply couldn’t put points on the board.
Also in the mix is the rapidly improving program at the University of Tennessee. The Volunteers have come together quickly under head coach Butch Jones but their biggest issue could be off the field. The school is facing a Title IX lawsuit that could have implications within the football program. Last week a similar lawsuit at Baylor University sent heads rolling, including coach Art Briles, University President Kenneth Starr and Athletic Director Ian McCaw. For his part, Jones insists that everything has been above board at the University of Tennessee and there is no comparison between the Baylor situation and his own. Baylor, incidentally, is +2500 to win the National Title.
The University of Mississippi is getting some respect as a National Championship contender, priced at +3500. The University of Georgia is in rebuilding mode after Mark Richt took the vacant job at the University of Miami. Even so, there’s a lot of confidence within the program that they can maintain a high competitive level despite the coaching upheaval. Bookmakers aren’t quite as certain as they’ve got the Bulldogs installed at +4500.
The last SEC team that is on the board at most books is the University of Auburn. The Alabama based school is +7500 to win the title. Odds have also been posted for making the four team National Championship playoff. Alabama is +155 to make the playoffs.
Other SEC teams include:
- LSU (+310)
- Tennessee (+700)
- Mississippi (+875)
- Georgia (+950)
- Florida (+1800)
- Auburn (+1800).
Other proposition wagers involving Alabama include an Over/Under win total set at 9.5 (OV -140, UN +110). There is also an Over/Under win prop for the entire conference at 103.5 (Over/Under -105). Bookmakers should be adding more lines and proposition bets involving SEC teams in the coming months.
Within the SEC itself the conference is as wide open as we’ve seen in years. Of course Alabama is on the top of the heap as a +160 favorite. Ole Miss and Tennessee are also at single digit prices, +325 and +500 respectively. Beyond that, Texas A&M is at +1500 with three more teams listed at +2000. That includes the University of Arkansas–the Razorbacks are the seventh favorite to win the conference title in a tie with Auburn and Florida. Making things all the more challenging for Arkansas and Auburn–they’re in the SEC West with Alabama meaning they’d have to finish ahead of them in the standings just to make the title game.