Georgia-Florida for cocktails

Aug 12, 2008 6:53 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the eighth in a 10-week series running through Aug. 26 focusing on the season openers, betting strengths and weaknesses among college football’s premier conferences. So clip and save.

by Mark Mayer | Two things about the SEC season come to mind, one early and one late.

First right off the bat, Appalachian State has a chance to do to national champion LSU what it did to Michigan at the Big House last year. And that’s win!

Later on, Georgia and Florida have a chance to each be undefeated in Jacksonville at the World’s Largest Cocktail Party. That’s never happened in their long-standing rivalry.

But there’s a whole lot more to the SEC like Auburn winning seven straight times over Alabama, Bobby Petrino taking over at Arkansas and always Steve Spurrier for some fun at South Carolina.

Heck, we haven’t even discussed Tennessee, which could be the sleeper team in the league if first-year QB Jonathan Crompton lives up to his billing.

Florida (9-4 SU, 8-4 ATS): Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow leads an offense that averaged a whopping 42.5 points last year. At +360 (for $100 weekly bets), Florida tied Georgia and Tennessee as the most successful SEC teams to bet on. The Gators have seven home games, including LSU. The toughest league road test looks to be Tennessee.

Georgia (11-2, 8-4): The Bulldogs are the preseason No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno are Heisman candidates. The Bulldogs have a tougher road schedule than Florida, visiting LSU and Auburn.

LSU (12-2, 5-7-2): The Tigers may have won the national title, but they were the second worst team to bet on (-270) in the league. And, the Tigers lost a ton to graduation. Matching last season’s 38.6 points scored on offense and 19.9 allowed defensively will be quite a task.

Tennessee (10-4, 8-4-2): With the Vols not getting the preseason love of Florida and Georgia, this could be an even more profitable year at the betting window. The opener at UCLA will tell a lot. UAB, Northern Illinois and Wyoming are almost sure wins.

Alabama (7-6, 3-8-1): The love affair between the administration and Nick Saban will be severely tested if the Tide falls to Auburn for an eighth straight year. Bama, a -580, was worst team to bet on in the league. Remember that come the season opener with Clemson.

Auburn (9-4, 7-5): The Tigers were a +150 last year thanks to the SEC’s No. 1 defense, allowing just 16.9 points per game. Auburn, however, scored over 24 points just three times. Tommy Tuberville booked patsies Tennessee-Martin and UL-Monroe.

S. Carolina (6-6, 5-5-1): And mediocre has been problem for the Gamecocks, who despite Spurrier’s offensive genius, have yet to produce a big-time QB in his tenure. Carolina lost $50 for supporters at the betting window. A bet-on team if a someone emerges at QB.

Ole Miss (3-9, 6-5): The Rebels did well (+$50), considering the disappointing record. If there’s improvement it must come on defense where Ole Miss yielded an average of 28.5 points per game, second only to Kentucky. Beating Memphis in the opener is a must.

Miss St (8-5, 6-6): The upstart Bulldogs won four of their last five games in Sylvester Croom’s successful rebuilding program, but were a disappointing -$60 at the betting window. The reason was an offense that was second worst in the league (21.5) to rival Ole Miss.

Arkansas (8-5, 7-5): The Razorbacks add new coach Bobby Petrino and subtract RBs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. That’s not an equal trade. Word from a loyal Arkansas alum and Vegas oddsmaker is the Hogs are a year away. That means another +150 or better is doubtful.

Kentucky (8-5, 6-5-1): The overtime win over LSU one of the season’s top games. But QB Andre Woodson is gone and his successor Curtis Pulley was kicked off the team last Tuesday for violating team rules. The defense allowed a league worst 29.6 and Louisville is up first.

Vanderbilt (5-7, 5-6): Word from Nashville is that Vandy has little if anything in the tank. That’s not good in this most competitive of all leagues. The under was 9-2 in Vandy’s games a year ago. That may be the way to go again.

Next week: The WAC.

Copyright 2008 GamingToday
Southeastern Conference
Thursday, Aug. 28
Vanderbilt at Miami, Ohio
Saturday, Aug. 30
Hawaii at Florida
Ga Southern at Georgia
NC State at S. Carolina
Miss St at Louisiana Tech
LA-Monroe at Auburn
Appalachian St at LSU
Alabama at Clemson
W. Illinois at Arkansas
Memphis at Ole Miss
Sunday, Aug. 31
Kentucky at Louisville
Monday, Sept. 1
Tennessee at UCLA