Earlier this season, VSiN discussed the lingering truth that “reality has an SEC bias” when evaluating college football. We have to admit that the conference as a whole has been a disappointment so far in 2019. Tennessee, Missouri, and South Carolina have already lost outright as double-digit favorites. Vanderbilt was crushed by otherwise pathetic Purdue. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss failed to cover their point spreads by double digits last week.
The SEC isn’t underrated “top to bottom” at this point.
But, the league will still play a very big role in crowning the next national champion. It’s conceivable that three of four qualifiers for the eventual playoff will come from the SEC. Even though they’ll be running into each other before then.
▪ Alabama is currently No. 2 in the nation, and will be likely be a market favorite in all remaining games.
▪ Georgia is currently No. 3 in the nation, and would only be an underdog to Alabama in the projected SEC Championship game in December. One-loss Georgia could still get in.
▪ LSU is currently No. 4 in the nation, and would only be an underdog to Alabama in their SEC West clash scheduled for November 9 in Tuscaloosa. (Should LSU and Georgia meet in the SEC title tilt instead, that game is currently projected to be near pick-em.).
Though proponents of other conferences will be touting their powers for playoff inclusion, it’s important to note that Georgia and LSU are already seen as clearly superior to teams from the next tier of top contenders. That’s obvious from the pointspreads in marquee clashes.
▪ Georgia will likely close near a two-touchdown favorite at home against No. 7 Notre Dame Saturday night (CBS, 7 p.m.). That’s been bet up aggressively by sharps from an opener of Georgia -11.5. The late-week line suggests the Bulldogs are seen as about 11 points better than the Irish on a neutral field. If Georgia is that much better than the current #7, it will likely be rated as top four caliber even if it loses to Alabama.
▪ LSU closed at -6.5 in a 45-38 win at current No. 12 (then No. 9) Texas. That would suggest the Tigers were seen as about 9-10 points better than the Longhorns on a neutral field. Texas could still work its way back into the playoff discussion depending on what happens against #5 Oklahoma in the Big 12 race.
Poll rankings by themselves create the illusion of closeness. A team ranked #7 “feels” close to one ranked #3. Recent pointspreads are suggesting that’s an illusion. At the moment, Georgia and LSU are well clear of most other top threats, pending further developments with Oklahoma and #6 Ohio State. (Of course, #8 Auburn of the SEC has a chance to crash the party too…but the Tigers haven’t been priced as a juggernaut in litmus tests. They’ll probably close around +4 at #17 Texas A&M Saturday on CBS at 2:30 p.m.)
Something to think about as you root for your bet Saturday night in Georgia/Notre Dame. VSiN is happy that market evaluations are looming larger over media and public consciousness in the championship chase.
▪ Mississippi State wasn’t ranked in by the AP, but fell out of the Coach’s Poll this week after losing at home to Kansas State 31-24 as a 7-point favorite. It was a tight game throughout. K-State ultimately won yards-per-play 5.1 to 5.0, with both teams turning the ball over three times. This Saturday, State has been bet down to a six-point favorite from an opener of -7.5 at home against Kentucky (SEC Network, 3 p.m.)
▪ Ole Miss (-30) won, but didn’t cover in a 40-29 shootout with Southeast Louisiana last week. The Rebels won total yardage 459-375 and turnovers 4-2. More dominance was expected against such an out-manned opponent. Saturday, Mississippi will enjoy “body clock” and “climate” edges against visiting California from the Pac 12 (ESPNU, 11 a.m.). Sharps bet the hosts from +1.5 to -2.5 through the week. Monitor markets to see how aggressively the key number of three might be tested before kickoff.
▪ Southern Miss will get a lot of national media attention Saturday when visiting Alabama (ESPN2, 11 a.m.) With the early national telecast, highlights will be replayed all day and night. Great chance to make a statement. Though, the focus will likely be on playing clean and staying healthy. Last week, Southern Miss (+3) upset Troy 47-42, running up 514 passing yards and 626 total yards on the arm of Jack Abraham.
▪ In the NFL, it looks like the New Orleans Saints will close in the +4.5 to +5 range on the road Sunday at Seattle (CBS, 3:25 p.m.). The game was expected to be near Saints -1 or pick-em before the injury to Drew Brees.