July, and - while it might not quite seem this way - college football is right around the corner. So with it, what better time to make some bets than… RIGHT NOW.
Last year, I started the “College Football Betting Podcast” - which dropped its first episode of the season yesterday, looking at SEC East over/under win totals - and what I’ve decided to do is ramp up with the writing as well, by looking at the East.
The East really is fascinating, with the reigning national champion at the top (Georgia), arguably the worst team in the Power 5 below them (sorry, Vandy) and not all that much separating the other five teams. It also makes it more fun to dive in, and talk about each team individually and what it will take for them to exceed expectations.
Below are our thoughts on our best over/under win total bets in the SEC East - but remember, the goal isn’t to promise a million winners, but instead, give you the best information possible and let you make your own decisions.
All over/under win totals are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook:
Best Bet: Georgia OVER 10.5 wins (-215)
In many ways, this is the lamest, and most boring “best bet” that we’ll have for any of these previews.
But when you’re betting Georgia at over/under 10.5, what you’re essentially asking yourself is “Do I really see two losses on their schedule?”
Well, with this schedule, it’s hard to see it.
The Dawgs open against Oregon. The Ducks are good, but Georgia has already been bet up to a 17-point favorite in that game. So if they were to lose to the Ducks, it would literally go down as one of the biggest upsets of the season. Their three other non-conference games are Samford, Kent State and at Georgia Tech (no losses there), and in a cruel twist of fate for a team this good, most of their big in-conference games are either at home or on neutral sites (Auburn and Tennessee, Florida on a neutral).
Their toughest road games are at Kentucky and at South Carolina, so I guess in theory there could be a loss in one of those two games - but again, you need two losses for this bet to hit.
Oh, and if you still don’t believe this is the right side, just basically look at Georgia’s history under Kirby Smart. In the last five years, here is how many regular season losses they’ve ended up with: Zero in 2021, two in 2020, one in 2019, one in 2018 and one in 2017.
Go back and look closely: The only time that Georgia has suffered two regular season losses in the last five years, Alabama was on the schedule.
There’s no Bama this year. And this is my favorite bet.
Most UNDERVALUED team in the division - Tennessee (Over/under 7.5 wins)
So I’m not one of these gambling guys that hands out a million bets, but what I will do is, in addition to handing out my best bet - also give you the team that I believe is most undervalued. And Tennessee, with an over/under of 7.5 fits that bill to a tee for me.
First off, the Vols won seven games last year, so getting to eight wins requires them to win just one more game.
But let’s go back and look at last year’s losses more closely. Here’s what you need to know about them:
There was a home loss to the ACC champs Pitt, where the Vols fell down early with Joe Milton as a starter, put in Hendon Hooker and rallied. Had they played Hooker from the start, chances are pretty good they would’ve won. And that was again, a loss to the eventual ACC champ.
There was a loss to Ole Miss by five. Everyone famously remembers Lane Kiffin nearly getting hit by a golf ball on the way out of Neyland that night. But what many forget is that Tennessee was driving to win the game in the final minute, when Hooker went down, and Milton had to finish the game, with the Vols driving. Not surprisingly, it didn’t end well.
A loss to at Alabama, where the Vols were down just by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter
A loss to Georgia, because, well, everyone lost to Georgia last regular season.
(There was also a controversial bowl loss to Purdue, but obviously bowl game losses don’t count towards the over/under win total. Just regular season)
Put it all together, and i guess what I’m trying to say is this: While I’m by no means saying the Vols should have been an 11-1 team last year, I’d argue they were closer to 9-3 than they were to 5-7.
With 14 starters back including Hooker, and a semi-manageable schedule in which the Vols play four of five at home from September 17th through November 5th, this feels like an eight or nine win football team.
Most OVERVALUED team in the division - Kentucky (Over/Under 7.5 wins)
Kentucky won 10 games last season, returns a potential first round pick in Will Levis and I’m not sure that there has ever been a moment in my life where there was more optimism about Kentucky football.
So this isn’t to rain on the parade of Big Blue Nation. Nor is to say that they can’t get to eight regular season wins to hit this over.
It just means I have concerns. And more than anything, I’m probably just staying away.
First off, for all the excitement coming out of last year, there are some important things to remember: For all the hype about the Wildcats’ revamped offense, the numbers got inflated against some pretty bad teams. They scored 42 against LSU (in what turned out to be Coach O’s final game before he was fired), 52 against New Mexico State, 52 against Louisville and 42 in a loss to Tennessee.
What everyone forgets though, is that offense looked pretty pedestrian in several other games. They put up just 16 points against South Carolina. They put up 20, including a special teams touchdown against Florida. They put up 17 against Mississippi State.
Was the offense that improved? Or did they just put up big totals, against bad teams.
Which is why I have questions about this team coming into the year. Especially with offensive coordinator Liam Coen back in the NFL (I know that new coordinator Rich Scangarello comes from the same coaching tree, but I have concerns) and the loss of Wan’Dale Robinson to the NFL.
Again, if I had to bet on this team, my guess is that they hit eight wins, especially with an out of conference schedule that includes home games against Louisville, Miami (OH), Youngstown State and Northern Illinois.
But I do think they’re a bit overvalued coming into the season.
Biggest STAY AWAY in the division - Florida (7 wins)
I know Florida fans are a little frustrated with Billy Napier right now, but let me just say: I still believe in the guy. I believe he can get them around long-term, and get them back competing at the top of the SEC.
I’m just not totally sure this is the year we see it.
First off, I just don’t think we can realistically know what to expect from Anthony Richardson this year. Yeah, he showed flashes in 2021. But he also threw a grand total of 65 passes last season, five of which ended in interceptions. Most of the Gators’ best skill position players are gone (although they added star Arizona State wide receiver Ricky Pearsall in the portal) and the defense fell apart late last year.
Really though, the bigger reason I have my concerns are because of the schedule. It’s brutal. Florida’s cross-division games this year are their annual game against LSU, with the second game coming with a trip to Texas A&M. Outside of Alabama, there isn’t a tougher trip in the SEC West this year.
Then there’s the out of conference, and poor Napier gets the defending Pac-12 champ Utah Utes on opening night in the Swamp. It’s one thing to face a reigning Pac-12 champ in your opener (not usually a tall task). It’s quite another to get the physical, tough, mean Utes walking into town, with eight starters returning on offense. The same offense which put up 45 points on Ohio State in the Rose Bowl the last time we saw them.
Add in a late season game with an improving Florida State squad, and it’s just tough for me to see where eight wins come from.
I’m 1000 percent staying away. But would lean “under” if I had to choose.
Thoughts on everyone else - with leans:
Again, when it comes to gambling, it’s always important to remember that you don’t need to have an opinion on every team, and wager on every outcome possible.
So rather than pretending to have a strong opinion on South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt, let me share some quick thoughts, and a strong lean. But I won’t be betting any of these teams:
South Carolina - Over/Under 5.5
Including a bowl win, the Gamecocks finished with seven wins last season. So, when you add in a monster haul in the portal that included former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, the obvious pick here is to go over, right?
I’m honestly not so sure.
First off, the Gamecocks finished 111th nationally in total offense last year, and lost their best skill position player in running back Kevin Harris. Even if Rattler provides an upgrade at the quarterback position, will it really be enough?
Beyond that, the schedule isn’t easy with cross-division games at Arkansas and with Texas A&M at home, and there’s always the season-ending rivalry game with Clemson.
More importantly, there’s one question I’ve been chewing on for a while now: Was South Carolina really that improved late last season? Or did they take advantage of two programs that were completely falling apart when they played them, in Florida and Auburn (which were both wins).
The schedule is just as thankless this year. And with swing games against Florida and Kentucky both on the road, I’m staying away.
But my lean is the under.
Lean: South Carolina UNDER 5.5 (+105)
Missouri - Over/Under 5.5
Missouri is another team that took advantage of Florida’s meltdown to get bowl eligible, beating the Gators in what turned out to be Dan Mullen’s final game. They did it in a season where they rotated quarterbacks, had the worst defense in the SEC, and where their only other SEC wins (besides Florida) were by three points against South Carolina and against Vanderbilt.
And I’m supposed to confidently bet that team one way or another in 2022? I’ll gladly pass.
I do see a scenario where the Tigers get to six wins, but it won’t be easy. They play at Kansas State in the out conference and get most of their big, swing games on the road this year, including games at Tennessee, at South Carolina and at Florida. Their SEC cross-division games aren’t brutal, but they almost certainly won’t be favored at Auburn or against Arkansas either.
Add in the fact that, again, this defense was abominable last year, and they have no established quarterback in 2022, and I’ll gladly pass.
Lean: Missouri UNDER 5.5 (+100)
Vanderbilt - Over/Under 2.5
This one is an obvious stay away to me.
Mainly because while there is a path to three wins, it won’t be easy.
First off, just remember, this team was bad last year. Like really, really, really bad. They finished 2-10, with one of their wins coming on a last second field goal to UConn. They lost to FCS school East Tennessee State by 20 and lost three SEC games by at least 35 points.
And while they have a decent amount of returning production (13 starters back) also have a pretty thankless schedule. It includes cross-division games at Alabama and against Ole Miss, as well as an out of conference game with defending ACC-runner up Wake Forest. Oh, and at a school like Vanderbilt, where you need every scheduling break you can get, they have two, true road games out of conference. The games are at Hawaii and at Northern Illinois, which shouldn’t be bad. But again this is Vanderbilt.
Again, there is a path to three wins. But I don’t feel great about them getting there.
Lean: OVER 2.5 (-140)
To see all the over/under win totals, visit DraftKings Sportsbook:
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