College football conference odds: Will it be Alabama, Georgia or LSU on top of the SEC?

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LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs the ball against Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10) in the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

We’ll preview every major conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision between now and the start of college football season on Aug. 26 through the lens of sports bettors. Each preview will include a shallow dive into the favorites, long shots and our favorite pick(s).

We will provide the full list of odds for the conference, as well as links to other conferences, toward the end.

We’ll start with the non-power five conferences and work our way toward the big fish in the pond, finishing with the Southeastern Conference. When the season begins, you’ll have a comprehensive look at the top divisions in the sport.

We’ll conclude the series today with the SEC.

Last season

The Georgia Bulldogs successfully defended their national championship in 2022 as they went back-to-back last season. The Bulldogs didn’t do it in any ordinary fashion, though, they set records on the way to their fourth national title. Georgia recorded the biggest title game victory in NCAA history with its 65-7 drubbing of the TCU Horned Frogs.

The dominant victory capped off an undefeated season for Kirby Smart and Co. It also marked the 14th time that a school from the SEC has won the national championship in the last 20 years — talk about dominance.

The Bulldogs reached that point by conquering the SEC East and beating LSU 50-30 in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers surprised many by sitting atop the stacked West Division at the end of the season during Brian Kelly’s first year in Baton Rouge.

Alabama (11-2) and Tennessee (11-2) also flirted with College Football Playoff appearances at times in 2022. However, losses to the aforementioned division winners saw them both fall short.

Favorites

Oddsmakers seem confident that the fate of the SEC is set in stone. The two-time defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs have juiced odds to win the SEC for a third straight season. However, the SEC West is up for grabs between Alabama and LSU, so you can never truly rule anything out.

Georgia (-115) as a program has operated with the consistency of a well-oiled machine over the last few seasons. Kirby Smart has his team sitting pretty atop the college football perch and it’s going to take a special effort to knock the Bulldogs down. There’s a reason that Georgia is the title favorite (+230) again.

There is a huge question mark at quarterback with Carson Beck looking to step into Stetson Bennett’s shoes. He’ll have some shiny new toys out wide with Dominic Lovett and RaRa Thomas from the transfer portal to complement Brock Bowers. The defense lost a lot of household names, but is there any question about the quality of that unit with Smart coaching an abundance of five-star talents? The Bulldogs are going to be a force to be reckoned with again in 2023.

There has been a lot of talk lately about Alabama (+240) taking a backseat to Georgia, but I’m not buying it. If anything, these whispers will result in Nick Saban working even harder to restore the Crimson Tide as the sport’s gold standard. Saban has to hit the ground running if he wants to make up for the gap in a short period.

Alabama’s roster is littered with talent across the board, there just isn’t a ton of experience there. The Crimson Tide’s quarterback competition will likely bleed into the fall. The team also gets two new coordinators, so a lot has to go right for Alabama early. Luckily, Saban doesn’t accept anything except perfection and there’s plenty of time to prepare before a Nov. 4 meeting with LSU.

The only other team with shorter than 10/1 odds to win the SEC is last year’s conference runner-up, LSU (+450). Brian Kelly brings back a majority of his offense — which includes quarterback Jayden Daniels, a top-tier receiving corps and all five starters on the offensive line. The Tigers will only continue to get better on that side of the ball.

The concerns come on defense again. LSU has to rebuild its secondary for a second consecutive season. Luckily, the Tigers should have enough talent in the front seven — namely Harold Perkins and Maason Smith — to mask those growing pains early in the season.

Longer shots

Texas A&M (+1200) is expected to enjoy a bounceback year after struggling in 2022. The Aggies were horrendous out of the gate last season, but as the young team gathered more experience down the stretch, there were signs of life.

Quarterback Conner Weigman comes back, as do his top three receiving threats. The questions come in the backfield as Jimbo Fisher is tasked with replacing Devon Achane’s production (1,100+ yards and 11 total touchdowns). He’ll have help from Bobby Petrino, who was brought in to boost the offense, as Texas A&M looks to get back on track.

Tennessee (+1600) enjoyed an insanely successful 2022 campaign that saw them topple the likes of Alabama and LSU. Unfortunately, the Volunteers stumbled over their biggest hurdle of all, Georgia. Nevertheless, Josh Heupel will consider it a success after leading Tennessee to its first 10-win year since 2007.

The Vols have their work cut out for them on offense as they look to replace Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman’s explosiveness. Joe Milton and Bro McCoy showed toward the end of last season that they could fill those roles. The question is, will all of this be enough to beat the Bulldogs in the SEC East?

Value picks

If it’s value you’re looking for, you won’t find it in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs, as we said earlier, are juiced to win the conference as the undisputed No. 1 team in the country right now. Therefore, you’ll have to turn to the top of the SEC West to find a bit of plus juice.

Whether you pick Alabama (+240) and LSU (+450) depends on what you’re looking for in a team.

The Crimson Tide have the best coach in the country and a lot of upside. However, it’s a high-risk, high-reward situation. There has been a lot of turnover at Alabama, but at the end of the day, it’s Alabama we’re talking about here. Do the Crimson Tide have enough talent and consistency at quarterback following Bryce Young’s departure to win the SEC West? That’s a question you need to answer yourself when creating your tickets.

Meanwhile, LSU seems to be the safe choice given all of the returning factors. Kelly’s staff stays together — with an improvement in the special teams department — and he retains a plethora of his players. Consistency could be the key for Kelly as he continues to build the program he inherited. The Tigers haven’t beaten Alabama in back-to-back years since 2010-2011, so there are understandably some concerns with LSU headed to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 4.

Ole Miss (+4000) is one to watch in terms of a value play. The Rebels started the 2022 season a scorching 7-0, but defensive issues down the stretch saw them fade into irrelevancy. Lane Kiffin has three superb quarterbacks (Jaxson Dart, Walker Howard and Spencer Sanders) to choose from next season in addition to a strong transfer class and running back Quinshon Judkins. If there’s a dark horse in the Southeastern Conference, it very well could be Ole Miss.

Full SEC odds and win totals

(Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook, as of Tuesday, August 22)

 Team  Title odds   Win total
 Georgia  -115  11.5 (u-155)
 Alabama  +240  10.5 (u-150)
 LSU  +450  9.5 (o-120)
 Texas A&M  +1200  8.5 (u-170)
 Tennessee  +1600  9 (o-120)
 Ole Miss  +4000  7.5 (u-120)
 Auburn  +5000  6.5 (o-160)
 Florida  +6000  5.5 (o-140)
 Kentucky  +6000  7 (o-145)
 Arkansas  +10000  7 (u-140)
 South Carolina  +10000  6.5 (u-170)
 Mississippi State  +12500  6 (o-140)
 Missouri  +20000  6.5 (u-125)
 Vanderbilt  +75000  4 (u-130)

College football conference pieces

July 12: MAC

July 13: Conference USA

July 19: Mountain West

July 26: Sun Belt

Aug. 2: American Athletic

Aug. 9: Pac-12

Aug. 15: Big 12

 

Aug. 16: ACC

Aug. 22: Big Ten

Aug. 23: SEC

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