8/27, 1:45pm ET: SEC Win Totals
I was on such a roll, I figured I might as well come back and bang out the last conference while I'm here. A lot of things in the SEC are properly rated, like Alabama and Georgia being the best teams in their respective divisions. Even the gap between Alabama and Auburn in pricing is justifiable because Auburn's schedule is so brutal (even though there really is not that big of a talent gap between the 2 schools at all this year, and you would give Auburn a huge OC/DC edge). Everything kind of falls into place for the most part, with a couple notable exceptions.
Tennessee over 5.5 wins -130
No win total may come back to haunt me more than this one, because of the...unique...vocal fans of the SEC. This one's actually incredibly straightforward though. In larger conceptual terms, the team has recruited like crazy throughout Butch Jones' time, and he was simply unable to take that talent and convert it to on-field performance, for a variety of reasons. Much of that talent remains, even if it's currently being rated poorly. And in this conference, talent is required to be competitive. Great coaching just can't make a dent in meaningful ways without it because of the athletes on the field. I don't know if Jeremy Pruitt is a good coach, as the Nick Saban lineage has actually been quite dicey in terms of on-field results, with some extreme positives and negatives. What I do know is that the old regime were NOT good coaches, and were to be routinely faded at all turns. At least now the fading can stop for a little bit, and that has to mean something. Tyson Helton and Kevin Sherrer at least have lots of potential, even if it's so far unproven in the coordinator roles they now occupy.
More to the point, this schedule is somehow beatable, which doesn't make sense when you consider that they drew Alabama and Auburn. I'm not even sure Tennessee has to be that good to win 6 games. If they're good, they can win 8 or 9. If you read my post on the Big 12, I mentioned how, if you're a lower-tier team trying to overachieve, it can actually help to have your sure losses be road games, in sort of a "kill 2 birds with 1 stone" mentality. You weren't going to win anyway, might as well knock out a road game too. It seems almost too simple to be effective, but Tennessee isn't sniffing the playoff this year, they just want to be good again, and that type of luck in scheduling has an impact on the difference between 5 wins and 7. While Alabama is unfortunately a home loss, Georgia and Auburn, the next 2 toughest games by far, knock out 2 of their conference road games. Yay! So you need to win 6 of 9 against the following slate: vs West Virginia, vs ETSU, vs UTEP, vs Florida, at SC, vs Charlotte, vs Kentucky, vs Missouri, at Vanderbilt. Sorry my friends, but that's 6-3 or better a LOT of the time. There are lots of cases to be made for the rise of Florida and South Carolina, but the gap between these teams isn't nearly what is currently being rated. Ultimately, it comes to this: the value in the over stems from the fact that this team should be playing it's best football BY FAR at the end of the season, and the 4 games in a row to close are all VERY likely wins. The projected spreads in those games, especially the pick-em being laid out for home vs Kentucky and at Vanderbilt will most likely appear laughable just a month from now. It's bottom-of-the-barrel ratings for a team that's perennially underachieved, and the numbers have only one direction to move barring injury or a complete flame-out by Pruitt. This sets up perfectly for a team trying to build momentum into Year 2.
Mississippi State over (RIP)
I had this great paragraph written out, and I really like this team this year still, but the markets are suspended because Nick Fitzgerald is suspended, and there's enough going on here that now I'm passy passerson in the interim.