You won’t be surprised in the slightest to find out that Alabama and Georgia are the betting favorites to meet in the SEC championship game.
At least one of the two schools has appeared in each of the last six SEC championship games and in eight of the last 10. The only two SEC title games without either Alabama or Georgia came in 2010 when South Carolina lost to Auburn and in 2013 when Auburn beat Missouri.
Will we see a third Alabama-Georgia SEC title game in nine seasons? It may be more up to Jamie Newman and a revamped Georgia offense to make it happen than anything else.
Newman graduate transferred to Georgia in the offseason from Wake Forest. Newman was a productive player for the Demon Deacons but didn’t have eye-popping stats. He completed 60 percent of his passes for nearly 2,900 yards and threw for 26 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 2019.
Unless USC transfer J.T. Daniels gets immediate eligibility, Newman is the heavy favorite to start in Todd Monken’s offense. The former NFL assistant came back to college to replace James Coley as the team’s offensive coordinator. Coley lasted just one season calling plays at Georgia as the Bulldogs’ offense struggled in 2019 — a big reason why three-year starter Jake Fromm fell to the late rounds of the 2020 NFL draft.
Star freshman wide receiver George Pickens returns for the Bulldogs and so does running back Zamir White, who averaged more than five yards a carry in 2019. The offensive line needs some replenishing under new assistant and former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, but Kirby Smart’s recruited at a high level ever since he got to Georgia. The Bulldogs won’t be searching for good players to put up front.
Full SEC conference title odds via BetMGM
Texas A&M: +1600
Mississippi State: +10000
Ole Miss: +15000
South Carolina: +15000
Yes, a bet on Alabama isn’t going to win you more than you put down. That’s how much of a heavy favorite the Crimson Tide are to win the SEC for the fifth time in seven seasons.
Alabama was one of the biggest winners of the NFL draft declaration deadline. That was a bit of a twist. The Tide usually have a bevy of underclassman talent head to the NFL who then get replaced with four- and five-star recruits. It’s a rinse-and-repeat cycle for Nick Saban.
This year, Alabama returns LB Dylan Moses, RB Najee Harris and WR DeVonta Smith. Smith will pair with Jaylen Waddle to give Alabama the best 1-2 receiving tandem in the conference and QB Mac Jones got some valuable starting experience after Tua Tagovailoa went down against Mississippi State.
Behind Alabama, LSU may be a bit overpriced off its national title. The Tigers were clearly the best team of 2019 and maybe one of the best teams in college football history. But a ton of players from that team are now on NFL rosters and whiz assistant Joe Brady is on an NFL coaching staff. You could do better going with a team from the East to win the conference.
South Carolina: +2500
Texas A&M: +1100
Mississippi State: +2000
Ole Miss: +2500
Best bet: Alabama -150 to win the SEC West
I hate going with the favorite at these odds. But I can’t make a convincing case to bet on anyone else as a best bet. Alabama to win the division is the pick here because the odds are only slightly worse than the conference overall. Yeah, Alabama has to go to Baton Rouge this year, but the Crimson Tide look like the best team in the division by a decent margin.
Best value: Florida +700 to win the SEC
I think the Gators should win the East and who knows what could happen in the SEC title game. So go with Florida at +120 if you’re looking to bet the division, too.
Florida returns QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts on offense and Todd Grantham’s defense should still be one of the better units in the SEC despite the losses of Jonathan Greenard and CJ Henderson. If you’re getting a top-10 team at 7-1 odds to win its conference, you should go ahead and take it.
Sleeper pick: Auburn +1600 to win the SEC
Let’s get crazy. The Tigers have the same odds as Texas A&M, yet I think they’re a much more realistic — albeit as a long shot — team to contend for the SEC title.
The Tigers’ offense should be better in 2020 as long as the offensive line jells quickly. The bigger question is on defense, where Auburn has to replace Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson along the defensive line. Oh, and Auburn has to go to both Georgia and Alabama in 2020.
I’m not trying to talk you out of taking Auburn as a long shot. The Tigers have the best combination of odds and realistic chances among the teams outside the top four to win the SEC. It’s just worth noting how top-heavy the conference is. You have to do a lot of work to convince yourself that someone other than Alabama, Florida, Georgia or LSU will win it.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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