Nick Saban’s juggernaut Alabama Crimson Tide are the top team in the Southeastern Conference until an opponent shows otherwise, which is why they are atop the odds to win the SEC championship for the season ahead at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The defending national champions have a new starting quarterback, Cooper Bateman, and a sophomore running back, Bo Scarborough, at the front of the line to replace Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Crimson Tide never rebuild; they merely reload. Consequently, they are listed at +175 to win the conference.
However, Alabama faces a gauntlet of tough SEC games, with an early September 17 showdown against their recent nemesis Mississippi Rebels, as well as road tests against the LSU Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers.
Alabama is vying to become the first SEC team since the 1993-96 Florida Gators to three-peat. Alabama’s biggest obstacle looms in the form of LSU, who are listed at +350. The Tigers are led by dynamic RB Leonard Fournette and have an experienced offense. They will also host the annual showdown with Alabama on the first Saturday in November. That November 5 game could decide who represents the SEC West in the championship game on December 3 in Atlanta.
At +900, the Auburn Tigers have longer odds than they deserve. It is unimaginable that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has won two SEC titles, will allow his team to have another mediocre record like 2015’s 7-6 mark. Four of Auburn’s losses were by eight or fewer points, meaning a turnaround is not that far out of reach.
The Mississippi Rebels, led by QB Chad Kelly, are listed at +1000. Mississippi has defeated Alabama two seasons in a row. The Rebels have the daunting task of playing LSU and Auburn back-to-back in October. Surviving that stretch will be tough.
The SEC East has not produced the conference champion since Tim Tebow was a junior at Florida in 2008. The Tennessee Volunteers, who are listed at +650, are out to reverse the trend. Dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs fronts a Vols team that has 18 returning starters. The Vols won’t necessarily have to beat Alabama on October 15 to win the East, but being competitive against the Tide could boost their confidence for a title-game rematch.
The Georgia Bulldogs, who are listed at +900 on those college football odds, will be an interesting follow for two reasons. New coach Kirby Smart, formerly Alabama’s defensive coordinator, will be eager to reinvigorate his alma mater. Star RB Nick Chubb might not be fully recovered from the leg injury he suffered in October until a few weeks into the season, but many observers feel he is toe-to-toe with Fournette as the conference’s best running back.
Georgia, Florida or Tennessee have combined to win the East 21 times in 24 seasons. Alabama, Auburn and LSU have combined to win the West 20 times.