When it comes to college football, the SEC is the top of the mountain.
With respect to the occasional arguments rolled out in favor of the Pac-10 or the Big 12, there’s really no other conference that can match the SEC for talent, toughness and competitive balance from top to bottom.
Hey, it’s hard to argue against a league that houses the last two national champions, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the Defensive Player of the Year.
But while the big dogs of the SEC, namely the Georgia Bulldogs, Florida Gators and LSU Tigers, dominate the discussion boards and preseason polls, another team in the Deep South is taking big strides toward what looks like it could be not just an improvement over last year, but also a very profitable season for backers.
The Ole Miss Rebels are easy to overlook among the titans of the SEC, but with the arrival of Houston Nutt as the new head coach in Oxford, there is a legitimate reason to believe that this team could get a lot better very soon.
And the best part is, nobody is talking about them because the conference is so crowded with Top 25 teams and National Championship contenders. That means in spite of all the positive changes afoot, bettors probably won’t see much difference in the pointspreads between this year and last year.
"The changes in Ole Miss will have an effect on the way oddsmakers set the lines," says BetEd.com oddsmaker Randy Scott, "but mainly setting the over/under game totals. Ole Miss has a chance to score more points, unlike the past three years where they had a hard time scoring twenty points per game."
Of course, Ole Miss is a team coming off a disastrous 2007 season in terms of wins and losses, but one that was actually pretty good for their backers at the sportsbook.
Unsurprisingly after a season like that, the Rebels are listed at +6000 to win the SEC, longest odds of any team in the conference. We’re not recommending anybody take that wager, but we are saying that under their new coach and with the addition of some promising new players, they have a great shot to cover a lot of spreads and make some cash for backers.
Even last year, despite the fact that the Rebels went winless in conference play (yeah, they even lost to Vanderbilt), they were a very profitable 6-3 against the spread (ATS) versus SEC opponents.
And they made that money with an offense that was downright pathetic. It featured a tandem of Brent Schaeffer and Seth Adams at quarterback, neither of whom looked like true SEC quality QB and combined for 17 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions last year.
Under Nutt’s guiding hand and with the addition of some key newcomers, this year promises to be much more productive – particularly on the offensive side, where Nutt has made his name as an innovative tactician.
Perhaps the best news for suffering Rebels fans is the presence of quarterback Jevan Snead in uniform. If you don’t remember the name, Snead was a Parade All-American quarterback out of high school two years ago who went to Texas with high hopes of replacing Vince Young, but narrowly lost the starting job to Colt McCo