SEC 2011 Betting Preview & Odds
When it comes to major football conferences, the SEC has earned its place at the top of the list. The last five national champions have come from this conference and there is a good chance one of its teams will make it six in-a-row this season.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton led Auburn on an improbable run to last year’s title. Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide ended-up on top in 2009, while Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators claimed two of the BCS Championships in 2008 and 2006. The LSU Tigers round out the recent run with a championship in 2007.
Here is a look at a couple of teams that have a legitimate shot at keeping the SEC’s national title streak intact along with their current odds as provided by Bodog.
The list has to start with Alabama, which has been opened at 10/11 to win the SEC-West and at 9/5 to win the conference. The Crimson Tide are also the second-favorite to win the BCS title at 11/2. They lost some key players from last season’s 10-3 squad, but have seven starters back on offense including RB Trent Richardson and WR’s Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze. It appears that Phillip Sims will get the nod as the starting quarterback on opening day against Kent State, but they still have A.J. McCarron waiting in the wings as both these players have more than enough ability to lead this team to a title..
There are nine starters back on defense, which will undoubtedly be Alabama’s strength this season. Last year the Tide were ranked third in the nation in points allowed and should be right up there again with the entire secondary and linebacking corps intact. The few holes that do exist should be easily filled by the current level of talent on this roster.
Florida enters a new era this year with Will Muschamp taking over for Meyers as head coach. Despite last season’s fall to 8-5, the odds makers are confident that Gators will be able to quickly reload to make a run at the conference title. They are 7/4 favorites to win the SEC-East, second favorites at 9/2 to win the conference, and listed at 16/1 to win a national title. Muschamp has turned the keys to the offense over to Charlie Weis, who will move away from Florida’s spread formation to more of a pro set. This change will allow the Gators to better utilize the capabilities of QB John Brantley, who struggled in the previous system.
Florida returns just two starters from last year’s defense, but it should be able to quickly reload with the wealth of talent that Meyer was able to bring in while still running the team. The one thing that could work against the Gators is a schedule that includes Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina in a six-week span.
LSU is the second favorite to win the West at 5/2 and third-favorite to win the SEC at 5/1. It is tied with Oregon as the fifth-favorite to win the BCS at 14/1. Some recent off-field trouble with four of his players aside, Les Miles’ Tigers could be the team to watch in the SEC this season. They return nine starters on offense including QB Jordan Jefferson, who can both effectively throw and run the ball, and RB Spencer Ware, who averaged 7.3 yards a carry in a back-up role last season.
The real strength of this LSU team remains on the defensive side of the ball. It returns seven starters from a unit that gave up an average of just 18.2 points a game, which was 11th best in the country. DE Sam Montgomery will anchor the line while Ryan Baker and Stefoin Francois both add some tremendous speed from the linebacker position. The secondary will be led by All-American candidate Morris Claiborne and SS Brandon Taylor.
The odds for the remainder of the teams to win the conference have Arkansas at 14/1, Mississippi State at 22/1, Auburn at 22/1, and Mississippi at 66/1 in the West Division and Georgia at 5/1, South Carolina at 6/1, Tennessee at 18/1, Kentucky at 66/1, and Vanderbilt at 150/1 in the East.
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