Finally, the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs will begin their 2018 college football season!
That may sound a bit harsh heading into this Saturday’s nationally televised battle at #13 LSU (CBS, 2:30 p.m.). But, Georgia has faced a very soft schedule out of the gate. The 6-0 Bulldogs opened as double-digit favorites in every game (they did close at -9 before a 41-17 win at South Carolina).
The second half of the season will be tougher. Though, Georgia could conceivably be double-digit favorites four MORE times…even with a slew of ranked opponents on the immediate horizon.
Georgia’s Remaining Schedule
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- Saturday: at No. 13 LSU (currently -7.5)
- October 27: vs. No. 14 Florida (“look-ahead” near -10)
- November 3: at No. 18 Kentucky
- November 10: vs. No. 21 Auburn
- November 17: vs. Massachusetts
- November 24: vs. Georgia Tech
Longtime football fans know the Georgia/Florida game is played each year at a neutral site in Jacksonville. Early “low-limit” point spreads show Georgia in the -10 to -11 range. That’s consistent with the Bulldogs being favored by 7.5 in Baton Rouge. Equivalent price to around 10 or 11 at a neutral site…and LSU and Florida are seen as even teams.
Unless Georgia is exposed as a pretender its next two games, it will be respected by the market in Lexington too, its final road game. Not listed: the assumed SEC Championship meeting with Alabama on December 1.
Returning to the Final Four is well within reach, even if Georgia is unable to beat powerful ‘Bama. But, the margin for error could be dicey given the current national picture. Alabama is very likely to run the table, and would still have a dominating resume as a one-loss team if there’s an upset. Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame are also currently favored to win out. That’s five teams fighting for four spots.
Current Consensus National Championship Odds
- Alabama 1/2 (67%)
- Ohio State 9/2 (18%)
- Clemson 9/2 (18%)
- Georgia 7/1 (14%)
- Notre Dame 8/1 (11%)
Those win equivalents in parenthesis add up to a lot more than 100% because sports books create a larger universe of percentages to represent their house edge. Markets see it as a five-team race, and those five teams by themselves add up to 128%!
Obviously, if Georgia loses at LSU Saturday, they become the team most likely to be left standing without a chair when the music stops.
Time to get caught up on Mississippi schools…great week!
Results this past Saturday for Mississippi schools…
▪ Mississippi State (+3) upset Auburn 23-9. Bulldogs won total yardage 418-304 on an edge of 5.6 to 5.2 in yards-per-play. A dominant night in the trenches, with a rushing advantage of 349-90. Big bounce back from earlier conference losses to Kentucky and Florida. Handicappers should focus on the opponent’s ability to stop the run when handicapping MSU football the rest of the way. Its passing game is extremely limited vs. quality opposition.
▪ Ole Miss (-24) obliterated Louisiana Monroe 70-21. This team does not take its foot off the gas when things are going well! Rebels won total yardage 826-427, on 11.5 to 5.6 in yards-per-play. Our preseason guidance on quarterback Jordan Ta’amu played out again. He will run up the score on bad pass defenses (21-24-0-374 was his passing line here), but struggle vs. quality.
Early lines for this week’s action…
▪ Southern Miss comes off a bye week for an extremely important Conference USA showdown at North Texas in Denton. Talented North Texas is currently -8.5 or -9 depending on where you shop. That kickoff has been changed to 1 p.m.
▪ Ole Miss (-6) visits Arkansas in a game that’s been moved to 6:30 p.m. for a live telecast on the SEC Network. The 1-5 Hogs are currently the worst-power rated team in the SEC according to market prices, and may be physically drained from battling Alabama last week. Ole Miss is 4-2, but still looking for its first SEC win of the season.
▪ Mississippi State has a bye, before visiting LSU next week in a potential “hangover” spot off physical battles with Florida and Georgia.
Back with you Saturday to preview the huge Kansas City/New England feature on Sunday Night football (NBC, 7:20 p.m) from a sports betting perspective. The New Orleans Saints enjoy a bye week after blowing out Washington 43-19 this past Monday Night.