Betting the SEC: There’s Alabama, then who?

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·Betting analyst
·3-min read
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Alabama

Season win total: OVER 11.5 (-105), UNDER (+110)

Win SEC West (-400)

Win SEC (-165)

Reach the playoff (-350)

Win national championship (+260)

All lines from BetMGM.

Since 2009, Alabama has won the SEC championship seven times and two of the last years. Gone is 2020 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, first-round pick WR Jaylen Waddle, quarterback Mac Jones, and a slew of other players that led Alabama to the national championship last year.

Nick Saban is still the head coach, though, and Alabama still had the No. 1 recruiting class entering the season. This is a team that reloads every year. So if not gauging the players, then evaluate the schedule.

There's a big matchup right out of the gate with Miami in Week 1. The Hurricanes ranked bottom third in quarterback protection last year, while Alabama was top 30 in quarterback sacks. Even if Miami improves, that is a large differential to overcome from one season to the next.

Alabama then heads to Florida in Week 3. The Gators are likely to have a quarterback with less passing production than Kyle Trask did last year, but with more rushing yards, based on the dual-threat quarterbacks listed as options on the UF depth chart. Alabama’s best defense is against the run. Considering it will be Bama quarterback Bryce Young’s first true road game, I’ll be expecting the Crimson Tide defense to win the game.

Week 5 against Mississippi will be a fun one. Twice we have seen a Nick Saban defense vulnerable to a high-octane passing quarterback from Ole Miss. First came in 2017 in a 43-37 loss to then-quarterback Chad Kelly. Kelly passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns. It was that game that helped me cash big on backing Ole Miss as 24-point underdogs to Bama last year and the over at 74. Why? QB Matt Corral and this offense resembled the 2017 Rebels. Saban is 2-0 straight-up against Lane Kiffin in the last two seasons, but 0-2 ATS. It could be another high-scoring affair, but Alabama should come through with another win.

Alabama then plays in back-to-back road trips to Texas A&M (new quarterback and new offensive line), at Mississippi State (4-7 in 2020), and at home against Tennessee (3-7 in 2020). Other opponents on Bama’s schedule: New Mexico State (played just two games in 2020), and Arkansas (new quarterback after winning three games in a season for the first time since 2017).

The two games on Alabama’s schedule to watch out for: home against LSU in November and the season closer at Auburn. Ed Orgeron’s Tigers are my underrated team in the SEC. Alabama does have an 8-1 record against LSU and are 6-2 ATS in that time. Alabama is also 12-7 ATS as home favorites in the last three seasons, while going 5-0 ATS as home favorites last year.

The closer at Auburn is an interesting one. In the last four seasons, Auburn has won both matchups at home, winning 26-14 in 2017 and 48-45 in 2019. Who was quarterback back then for Auburn? Returning starter Bo Nix. The Tigers are 26-6 at home since 2015 and Nix is 10-2 at home as a starter.

If there was one team I’d bet Alabama can lose to, I’d put my money on Auburn.

Alabama could very well go undefeated again this year. Rather than taking a four-month-long bet on a season win total, I’d be looking to back Auburn at home as 17-point underdogs and pancake sprinkle on +550 moneyline. This look-ahead line is juicy.

Even with a single loss, however, Bama is primed to win another SEC title and make a run at the national championship.

Betting Option: Alabama to win the SEC -165

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