Earlier this season we told you that reality had an SEC bias. College football’s power conference was underrated out of the gate by betting markets in non-conference action. Time to dust off that theme because the league is about to embark on a new series of battles against outsiders.
At the moment, the SEC is 26-16-1 against the point spread vs. other leagues. That’s a 62% cover rate. Due to the unique scheduling philosophy of the SEC, there are EIGHT non-conference games on tap this Saturday. Five more remain the following week, keyed by classic rivalries featuring SEC and ACC foes.
Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s non-conference matchups. Early point spreads are subject to change by kickoff, particularly in games with such large numbers. Games are listed in market rotation order…
“SEC Against the World” Saturday
Georgia (-44) hosts Massachusetts
Kentucky (-14) hosts Middle Tennessee
Auburn (-28.5) hosts Liberty
Texas A&M (-16) hosts UAB
LSU (-44) hosts Rice
Florida (-39.5) hosts Idaho
Alabama (-51) hosts The Citadel
South Carolina (-30) hosts Chattanooga
VSiN isn’t suggesting bettors should flock to the windows to lay all that chalk (industry slang for favorites because point spreads were written on chalkboards back in the old days). At the very least, investors should evaluate whether or not the market has made enough of an adjustment from that early season dominance. It’s possible that the SEC will be properly priced moving forward, or even “over-rated” because of an over-adjustment.
Obviously, most of those are “paycheck” games where the SEC entry gets an easy straight up win against a visitor that collects funds to help its program. But, a couple might be “proxies” that foreshadow bowl performances. UAB (9-1 and leading CUSA West) could give Texas A&M a big fight. Middle Tennessee (7-3 and leading CUSA East) won’t be a pushover if Kentucky shows up flat.
Five additional non-conference games remain after this weekend. On Nov. 23, it’s South Carolina at Clemson, Kentucky at Louisville, and Florida at Florida State. On Nov. 24, Georgia hosts Georgia Tech. And, in a weather make-up, South Carolina hosts Akron on Dec. 1.
Bettors should already be thinking about the postseason. And, not just Alabama’s foray into the final four. MOST of the league has already earned bowl bids. If the market misreads the SEC, you can profit throughout the slate.
Already postseason eligible: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri.
Virtual Lock: South Carolina.
Can Still Qualify: Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Definitely Out: Ole Miss (sanctions) and Arkansas (awful record)
VSiN looks forward to covering the bowls for you from a market perspective on these pages next month. Now it’s time for our weekly wrap-up of what’s happening for Mississippi schools. First, this past Saturday’s results…
▪ Mississippi State (+21.5) lost at Alabama 24-0. Turned out to be a defensive struggle, with Alabama winning total yardage 305-169 on an edge of 4.2 to 3.4 in yards-per-play. The Bulldogs fall to 6-4, but will be favored in their last two games.
▪ Ole Miss (+13) lost at Texas A&M 38-24. Bad loss for Rebel backers because A&M was running out the clock with a very late 31-24 lead but busted a big play for a touchdown. The Aggies won total yardage 502-440. Ole Miss won yards-per-play, 6.8 to 6.6. Key stats for A&M were third down conversions (58% to 9%) and rushing yardage (266-67). Ole Miss fell to 5-5 and must win on the road at Vanderbilt or at home Thanksgiving night vs. Mississippi State to avoid a losing record in 2018.
▪ Southern Miss (+13) lost an overtime heartbreaker 26-23 to C-USA West champ UAB. Another defensive struggle, with Birmingham winning total yardage 304-165 on 4.3 to 2.3 yards-per-play. Southern Miss quarterback Tate Whatley continued to struggle in his baptism under fire. The Golden Eagles did manage TD drives of 78 and 50 yards, but gained virtually nothing on their other possessions. Southern fell to 4-5 and must win its last two games to become bowl eligible.
On tap this week
▪ Mississippi State (-20) hosts Arkansas in a game that’s been time-changed to 11 a.m. for a national telecast on ESPN. Arkansas is the worst team in the SEC this season both in won-lost record (2-8) and market Power Ratings.
▪ Ole Miss (+3) visits Vanderbilt in a game that’s been time-changed to 6:30 p.m. to air on the SEC Network. Both teams are a disappointing 1-5 in conference play.
▪ Southern Miss (+2.5) hosts Louisiana Tech at 6:30 p.m. Southern Miss is 3-3 in C-USA action, while Louisiana Tech enters at 5-1.