Alabama’s loss to Clemson in last year’s title game rematch doesn’t change the fact the SEC is still the best. With that said, conferences like the ACC and Big Ten appear to be closing the gap.
I also think that most would agree that last year was a down season for the conference. The Crimson Tide were the only team that finished ranked inside the Top 10. Note that in 2013 they had four teams ranked in the top 7 of the AP Top 25.
Still, out of the 14-teams that make up the league, 12 were invited to a bowl game.
SEC College Football Preview & Predictions
One of the things I like to look at when breaking down each conference is the new head coaches entering the league. This year the league technically doesn’t have any new coaches. However, this will be LSU’s Ed Orgeron’s first full season on the job. Orgeron replaced Les Miles after he was fired just 4 games in.
Orgeron joins some promising young coaches in the league. Though most of them are on the East side of things. Each of the other six head guys in the West has all been with their programs for at least 4 years.
As we turn our full attention to the 2017 campaign, the big question has to be if anyone can dethrone Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won or shared the West title each of the last 5 years. They are also the only team out of the conference to play in the College Football Playoff.
Below I’ve put together a complete breakdown of how I see the conference playing out this year. I’ve included both the projected overall and league records for all 14 teams. As well, as numerous betting odds.
2017 SEC Projected Standings, Rankings & Betting Odds
|Pos.||Team||Conf||Overall||West Odds||SEC Odds|
As much as I would like to see someone knock off Alabama, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The Tide are absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball.
The only real concern is how the loss of Lane Kiffin impacts the offense. Still, it’s hard to see them having trouble scoring. They have a sophomore QB in Jalen Hurts that shined as a true freshman. Not to mention a loaded backfield and one of the best wide outs in the country in Calvin Ridley.
As you can see, I think there’s one legit threat to the Crimson Tide and that’s in-state rival Auburn. The Tigers have disappointed the last 3 years as they have struggled to find an answer at quarterback. That doesn’t figure to be a problem anymore. Auburn will add highly touted transfer Jarrett Stidham, who comes over from Baylor.
Keep in mind the defense at Auburn took a massive step forward last year. The Tigers went from giving up 26.0 ppg to 17.1 ppg. It came in the first season under defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
I’m sure a lot of people will have LSU as the top contender. It’s not that I think LSU will be bad. It’s the fact they play a brutal schedule. They only have 6 home games on the year and have to play 5 of their 8 conference games on the road. They aren’t easy either, with the 5 being Miss St, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Tennessee.
While I have LSU right there with the likes of Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State, I think they are a step ahead of these three. If I had to pick a surprise team out of the bunch, it would have to be the Razorbacks. Arkansas has a talented and experienced senior signal caller in Austin Allen to go with one of the better coaches in Brett Bielema. If new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads can get the defense to take a big step forward, this team will be in the mix.
You might be wondering how I have Ole Miss pegged for the basement. That’s because the Rebels have a self-imposed bowl ban, making the 2017 season meaningless. Not to mention this team has to replace a ton of talent on offense. I just don’t think the fight will be there for them to win more than a couple games in league play.
|Pos.||Team||Conf||Overall||East Odds||SEC Odds|
It wasn’t easy narrowing down the East side of things, but I’m going to go with the Gators taking it for a third straight year. Head coach Jim McElwain has 19 wins in his first two seasons on the job. This is now McElwain’s third year on the job and I think this team is poised to explode on the offensive side of the ball. Florida has only averaged 23.2 ppg and 23.9 ppg the past two seasons.
This year the Gators return 9 starters on offense. They also add in talented Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire to compete for the starting job. McElwain has done a tremendous job with the little talent he has had at the quarterback position. It also doesn’t hurt that Florida’s only three true road games in league play are against Kentucky, Missouri, and South Carolina.
Those that don’t pick the Gators to win the East will likely have Georgia on top the standings. It’s not hard to see why. The Bulldogs will be in year two under Kirby Smart and are loaded with 17 returning starters. However, it all comes down to the improvement of sophomore QB Jacob Eason.
A lot of people are going to write off Tennessee, simply due to the loss of starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs. That could prove to be a mistake. The Volunteers have 14 starters back from a team that won 9 games. They also have been recruiting extremely well under Butch Jones.
After the top 3 there’s a decent drop in talent, but all four at the bottom appear on the rise. South Carolina was a lot better than anyone expected last year and have 16 starters back. Kentucky returns 17 starters and was in the East race for a good chunk of last season. Missouri brings back 15 starters and should feature a dynamic offense. Vanderbilt doesn’t have the talent as most of the SEC programs but are extremely well coached under Derek Mason.
SEC Championship Game Prediction: Alabama Defeats Florida
|Players (Pos, School)||Odds|
|Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)||+1500|
|Jalen Hurts (QB, Alabama)||+2000|
|Bo Scarbrough (RB, Alabama)||+2000|
|Jarrett Stidham (QB, Auburn)||+2500|
|Nick Chub (RB, Georgia)||+4000|
|Kamryn Pettway (RB, Auburn)||+4500|
|Nick Fitzgerald (QB, Mississippi St)||+10000|
|Jacob Eason (QB, Georgia)||+10000|
|Malik Zaire (QB, Florida)||+12500|
|Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)||+15000|
|Kerryon Johnson (RB, Auburn)||+17500|
|Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)||+20000|
|Shea Patterson (QB, Ole Miss)||+20000|
|Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)||+20000|
Click on the link for a full list of Heisman odds for the 2017 season.
Want to know the payouts for each team to win it all? Check out our playoff odds to see a complete list of all FBS teams.