College Football Betting Primer: SEC

By Ryan Fowler @FreelanceFowler

We're at the point where the challenge is to make a case against Alabama winning the SEC Championship game than for any of the remaining 13 teams. And while his top-ranked 2016 defense (13.0 PAPG) allowed Clemson to rack up 35 points, Nick Saban nearly won a National Championship with a true freshman at quarterback. Somebody is always stepping up for the Crimson Tide. They've won or shared the West Division five consecutive seasons and the SEC Championships four out of the past five campaigns. The word dynasty gets tossed around a lot, but Alabama as a college powerhouse is about as close as it gets.

Prediction Machine SEC Favorite – Alabama
So, it won't be a shock to know the Crimson Tide (-150) is Prediction Machine's favorite to win the SEC title. However, what is a little jarring is our college football model projects them to win (only) 66.2 percent of the time. Blame the lower-than-presumed projection on the overall strength of the SEC, but the Tide beat SEC foes by an average of 23.4 points per game during the 2016 regular season.
The program lost a lot of talent on the defensive front side of the football, but retains an experienced secondary, quarterback Jalen Hurts, leading rusher (7.2 YPR) Damien Harris and leading receiver (72 recs.) Calvin Ridley. All-American Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett and Ronnie Harrison – all starters a year ago – look to improve the 24th-ranked pass defense, which allowed less than 198 pass yards per game in 2016.

Prediction Machine SEC Value Pick – Georgia
The Bulldogs ranked 36th in rush, 16th in pass and 16th in total defense last season. Those looking to back Georgia will be thrilled to know they return 10 of 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball – all are juniors and seniors. Experience will be needed if the Bulldogs are going to win the East Division, which Prediction Machine college pick engine projects 36.3 percent and snipe off (presumably) Alabama in the SEC Championship game, which Prediction Machine projects 6.4 percent of the time.

The experience on the defensive side of the ball paired with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returning to the Bulldogs backfield makes the (+700 Futures Bet) a longshot option. Chubb and Michel combined for 376 carries, 1,970 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Prediction Machine SEC Team to Fade – LSU
Before they even considered competing in the 2017 SEC Championship game, the Tigers would need to beat the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in early-November. Granted, LSU lost to Alabama 10-0 last year. So, the 2016 Tigers kept it close with college football's national runner-up. Prediction Machine projects the Tigers chances at 14.2 percent to win the West and 10.3 percent to win the SEC Championship. One-in-ten odds are better than expected, but the (+500 Future Odds) aren't enough to sway me to invest in LSU over Alabama.

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