2018 SEC win total picks, predictions: Alabama, Georgia have big numbers to cover
Win total selections and odds for all 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference ahead of the 2018 season
The SEC has established itself as the most dominant conference in college football over the last decade, doing so with a bang in 2017 when Alabama topped SEC champion Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship -- the second time since the 2011 season that two SEC teams met for all the marbles.
It shouldn't come as a shock that the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have the highest projected win totals, Auburn predictably pegged in the No. 3 spot., with defending SEC West champion
Where are the best bets? Which teams are tough to gauge? Where can the majority of the money be made? Projected win totals for every SEC team are listed below with my over/under pick in bold at the end of each section.
|11 wins: Five titles in nine years has made Alabama's win total extremely high under coach Nick Saban. At 11 this year, an unblemished record in the regular season is required to produce a winner in the 12-game regular season. Alabama finished undefeated in the regular season three times under Saban (2008, 2009 and 2016). It's still a steep hill to climb. Alabama is the defending champ, a behemoth and will be picked by most to win the SEC and make the College Football Playoff ... but it's really hard to predict perfection. -- Over EVEN, Under -120|
|6 wins: Odds don't look great for Chad Morris' first year as coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The combination of a new system, no established quarterback and a defense that lacks depth and difference-makers makes it hard to trust the Hogs even if Morris is the right coach long-term. The good news as that the nonconference schedule isn't difficult; they draw Vanderbilt as the rotating cross-division opponent and Missouri as the permanent cross-division game. A push seems like the most likely play here, but I'll err on the side of Arkansas getting upset once. -- Over EVEN, Under -120|
|9 wins: The defending SEC West champs return a filthy defensive front, a quarterback in Jarrett Stidham, who threw eight touchdowns and only one pick during a critical November that included wins over Georgia and Alabama and a solid group of wide receivers. But the schedule is tough again with games vs. Washington, at Georgia and at Alabama. The defense will lead the way, Stidham will win a couple of big games with his arm, and the Tigers will hit double digits by the end of November. -- Over -110, Under -110|
|7.5 wins: New coach Dan Mullen is the right man for the job in Gainesville, but an immediate turnaround isn't likely in his first year. That said, getting to eight wins with an easy early-season schedule, a talented defense, a veteran offensive line and deep rushing attack that features Jordan Scarlett back from a season-long suspension. Consider Georgia a loss right now. But Florida State, LSU, South Carolina and the rest of the conference games are toss-ups or likely wins. The Gators are bound to win one or two of those toss-ups, and at least post a decent season. -- Over -120, Under EVEN|
|10.5 wins: Hello, respect. Georgia earned it last season by coming within an eyelash of the national title. Now the oddsmakers are giving them very little wiggle room. Live in that wiggle room, though. With quarterback Jake Fromm, a solid offensive line and running game, above average wide receivers and an easy schedule in which the only game that stands out is vs. Auburn in Athens (and maybe South Carolina on the road in Week 2 as somewhat "sketchy"), and another 11-1 season should be in the cards. Just hope the Bulldogs don't get caught napping. -- Over -115, Under -105|
|5.5 wins: Two straight bowl games for coach Mark Stoops and the Wildcats apparently hasn't resonated in the desert. Running back Benny Snell, an underrated receiving corps and a superstar linebacker in Josh Allen make them dangerous, but depth in the trenches on both sides might come back to haunt Stoops' crew. Kentucky might need to top Texas A&M on the road in the rotating cross-division game and Louisville on the road to close out the regular season to make it three in a row and hit the over. -- Over -110, Under -110|
|7 wins: LSU used to be the offseason's favorite darling, including two years ago when -- despite former coach Les Miles' shaky ground -- many predicted at Tiger squad led by Brandon Harris to be Alabama's biggest challenger in the West. Four games later, Harris had been benched and Miles was shown the door. With no established quarterback, running back and a secondary that lacks depth, preseason love for LSU is a distant memory. Any idea of a successful season will be gone by mid-October. Miami in the opener, Georgia as the rotating cross-division game and the SEC West gauntlet will make it hard for the Tigers to be relevant. A push is probably the outcome here, but LSU is more likely to be upset along the way than spring one of their own. -- Over -110, Under 110|
|6 wins: Matt Luke was hit-or-miss in a tough situation replacing Hugh Freeze in mid-July 2017, but still managed six wins. A slight improvement with the best wide receiving corps in the country, a full season with Jordan Ta'amu under center (eight touchdowns and two interceptions against winning teams in a pinch last season) and a more stable coaching situation should be expected. The Rebels will be able to score 40 consistently, but might give up 40 consistently too. Still, plan on an upset or two from Luke's crew. -- Over -110, Under -110|
|8.5 wins: The coaching change from Dan Mullen to Joe Moorhead won't faze Mississippi State. At least, according to the oddsmakers. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back, along with a talented running back corps, star defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, and linebacker Leo Lewis. Alabama on the road and Auburn at home will be tough, as will road trips to Kansas State and LSU, and the "Mullen Bowl" in Starkville vs. Florida. But at least two wins out of those games should vault the Bulldogs to the nine-win mark. -- Over -110, Under -110|
|7.5 wins: Year 3 of Barry Odom in Columbia should result in an improvement from his first two seasons according to those setting the lines. Yes, quarterback Drew Lock is amazing. But should an improvement really be the expectation since the Tigers have to go to Alabama and Purdue, and have the typical SEC East schedule that not only includes Georgia, but road trips to South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee? That's asking an awful lot for a program that swapped former offensive coordinator Josh Heupel for Derek Dooley -- who's never had that title in his career. -- Over -110, Under -100|
|7 wins: The Gamecocks get wide receiver/special teams ace Deebo Samuel back to work with fellow receiver Bryan Edwards, have an established quarterback in Jake Bentley and an experienced defense that should be more consistent with more time under coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson. Georgia and Clemson are likely losses, but the rest of the schedule is loaded with toss-ups. Will they lose three more games in addition to the two likely losses to get to a push? I don't see it. -- Over -120, Under EVEN|
|5.5 wins: A bowl game for Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt would be phenomenal in Year 1, and the oddsmakers agree. So where will it come from? Keller Chryst comes over from Stanford to compete for the starting quarterback position with Jarrett Guarantano, Madre London comes from Michigan State to add depth to the backfield and the Vols expect to get wide receiver Jauan Jennings back after he was dismissed by the interim staff last November. West Virginia in the opener, road trips to Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina, and the annual meeting with Alabama make the schedule brutal. Give me the over and a sweat towel. -- Over -110, Under -110|
|7 wins: There isn't a lot of love for new Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher in the desert, but a drop below seven regular season wins would be the first for the program since Mike Sherman's last year in 2011. With experience up front on offense and defense and a solid running game, Fisher's crew should be able to -- at the very least -- pull off a "Kevin Sumlin Special" and make it to eight wins despite having out-of-conference behemoth Clemson on the schedule in Week 2. Quarterback play might be a question. But between Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, somebody is capable of simply not making mistakes. -- Over EVEN, Under -120|
|4 wins: Vanderbilt finished the 2017 season on a high note with a win over Tennessee ... but that was the only high note the Commodores hit in SEC play. Kyle Shurmur is a solid quarterback and the running game is strong, but the 'Dores lack depth up front have to go to Notre Dame in a tough out-of-conference game. Couple that with Group of Five games vs. Middle Tennessee and Nevada, and it isn't even a sure bet that they top .500 in the four games outside of SEC play. -- Over -110, Under -110|
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