What do the SEC and Pinky and the Brain have in common? They try to take over the world, of course. But, with Oklahoma and Texas not joining the SEC until 2025, let’s turn our attention to this season, which could be one of the most intriguing in years.
Can Nick Saban and defending national champion Alabama orchestrate another quick turnaround, or can Georgia finally become the class of the conference? Plus, LSU is primed to bounce back, while Lane Kiffin will try to shock the world in Year 2 at Ole Miss.
Here’s our 2021 SEC college football betting preview.
SEC futures odds
|Team||Odds to win SEC||Win total O/U|
SEC betting preview
Alabama is the betting favorite to win its eighth SEC title in the Nick Saban era, despite having to replace its starting QB, RB, top two WRs, and three offensive linemen. But, if there is anyone that can handle that, it's Saban.
Alabama’s biggest challenge should come from rival Georgia. The Bulldogs looked like a different team with JT Daniels under center down the stretch, going 4-0 and scoring 37.3 points per game while Daniels posted a 178.5 passer rating. And, the Bulldogs should have another elite defense in 2021.
But, don’t overlook teams like LSU and Ole Miss. After an expected letdown following arguably the greatest season of all-time, the Bayou Bengals are ready to pounce back as they return nine starters on offense and will have one of the strongest secondaries in the country. Lane Kiffin and the Rebels, meanwhile, took 'Bama to the brink last season and it’s exciting to think what he has in store for Year 2.
SEC best ATS bet for 2021: Florida (Fade)
There is a lot of turnover in the SEC this season, but the team that is staring the biggest setback in the face is the Florida Gators. The Gators are coming off a strong 8-2 record in SEC play last season, which included a big win over rival Georgia.
However, no team in the SEC is returning fewer starters than the Gators. They have to replace a historic performance from QB Kyle Trask as well as his top three pass catchers in Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, and Trevon Grimes. But, it’s the Gators’ defense that could be the bigger problem, as a unit that allowed 30.8 points and 428 yards per game will only return five starters this season.
Florida also just has three true home SEC games and has to play both Alabama and LSU out of the West. The Gators are very publicy bet team in a tough spot this season and could be in for a letdown. While they were already just a modest 14-12-1 ATS in conference play with Dan Mullen at the helm, “Fade Florida” could become a motto for ATS bettors this year.
SEC best O/U for 2021: Auburn (Unders)
The Auburn Tigers are going through a transition. Out goes Gus Malzahn, and in comes former Boise State headman Bryan Harsin after three disappointing seasons for the Tigers. Harsin went 69-19 at Boise and won three conference championships but he could be in a tough first season at Auburn.
It all starts with QB Bo Nix. The junior signal-caller has proven himself to be an inefficient passer over his first two seasons, completing just 58.7 percent of his passes, a number that drops to 54.5 percent when playing on the road. Now, he is without his top two WRs from a season ago, as Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz departed for the NFL.
What Auburn does have is one of the best running backs in the country in Tank Bigsby (great running back name by the way) and an offensive line that returns five starters. Bigsby ran for 834 yards at a clip of 6.0 yards per carry in his freshman season.
Harsin and Auburn will also rely on a defense that returns seven starters led by a strong linebacking corps. With an inaccurate QB, an experienced WR core, a great back and o-line, and what should be a strong defense, Auburn could have the perfect recipe to cash Unders by the bunches this season.
SEC best win total bet for 2021: Ole Miss Over 7.5
Lane Kiffin gave former boss Nick Saban all he could handle, as Ole Miss was tied at 42 with Alabama in the fourth quarter of last season’s matchup. But an expected letdown the following week and some tough losses in the second half of the season resulted in a 5-5 year. So, what does Kiffin have in store for us in Year 2 of his tenure?
Kiffin gets 17 starters back in 2021, including quarterback and dark horse Heisman candidate Matt Corral. The dual-threat QB had an excellent first season with Kiffin calling the offense. He finished with 3,337 passing yards with a 70.9 completion percentage and 29 TDs to 14 interceptions while adding another 506 yards on the ground.
While Corral lost his top two pass catchers to the NFL Draft, the offense should be just as high-octane with RB Jerrion Early and wideouts Jonathan Mingo and Dontario Drummond. The defense should be much improved, too. That, plus the Rebels' schedule, and you’ve got to love the Over on their win total.
With non-conference matchups against Louisville, Austin Peay, Tulane, and Liberty, Ole Miss has a strong chance to go 4-0. They also draw Tennessee and Vanderbilt from the East and have winnable games against Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Jump on the Lane Train early, it should be a fun ride.
Three must-bet SEC games for 2021
Ole Miss at Alabama, Oct. 2: This game is currently off the board, but you can bet Alabama won’t be 24-point favorites this time around, even at home. This matchup was tied at 42 in the fourth quarter last season and Lane Kiffin is 0-2 SU against his old boss but 2-0 ATS.
Alabama at Texas A&M, Oct. 9: The Aggies want to prove their fifth-place finish in the final CFP ranking last season was no joke. The Tide are 9.5-point road faves and Saban is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS with a 23 point average margin of victory vs. Jimbo Fisher since he took over at Texas A&M. This one could determine who comes out on top in the SEC West.
Georgia vs Florida, Oct. 30: The World’s Largest Cocktail Party is currently off the betting board but expect Georgia to be favored and motivated in this one. The Bulldogs were 3-point faves last season but lost 44-28. The favorite was 6-0 ATS prior to last year’s game.
Best value to win the SEC: Georgia (+200)
Hold up. This does not mean I think Georgia will win the SEC but betting the Bulldogs to win is the best value. The reason is that Georgia is clearly the class of the SEC East this season and their schedule is as cushy as the conference can get.
Georgia’s offense really opened up with JT Daniels under center, they have one of the deepest and most talented running back groups in the country, and the defense should be one of the best in college football.
But, it’s the schedule that’s the real kicker. They only have three SEC road games, at Vandy, Auburn, and Tennessee (the Cocktail Party vs. Florida is a neutral site), and they avoid the top three teams in the SEC West. The path to the SEC title game is clear.
Pick to win the SEC: Alabama (-160)
Because 'Bama. Yes, I know they have to replace QB Mac Jones, lead RB Najee Harris, Heisman winner WR Devonta Smith, and running mate Jaylen Waddle, plus three OL. And the SEC West will be tough, but this is the same story with Alabama every year.
Saban will restock the shelves with oodles of talent and the Tide will be in the CFP conversation once again. Sophomore QB Bryce Young is the highest-rated QB Saban has ever had, and this might be his best defense since 2017.
They have won the SEC title seven times under Saban and until he shows signs of slowing down this is the bet.
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