The Southeastern Conference has established itself as the premier football conference in the nation. A member of the SEC has captured the National Championship in each of the past four seasons and six of the past ten years. For years, Alabama was the dominant program, but the Georgia Bulldogs have taken the crown and are now the standard bearer in college football. The Bulldogs are looking for a three-peat and are the favorites to win another national title. However, several SEC schools have premier talent and can push Georgia for supremacy.
SEC Favorite: Georgia Bulldogs -110
The Georgia Bulldogs are without quarterback Stetson Bennett. Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo, and Christopher Smith also moved on to the NFL. Despite that, Georgia does not rebuild, they reload, and the Bulldogs have an incredible roster poised to capture another national title. Carson Beck will be the starting quarterback, and Georgia added Rara Thomas and Dominic Lovett to give him more weapons. Regardless of position, Brock Bowers might be the best player in collegiate football. The defense has a lot of experience on the line and immense talent and potential at linebacker and with their edge rushers. The secondary returns three starters and should again be a strength. Georgia does not play LSU, Alabama, or Texas A&M, and only three preseason-ranked teams are on the schedule. None of those three teams (Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tennessee) are in the top ten, and only Tennessee is on the road.
SEC Sleeper Prediction: Tennessee +1400
If you look at the SEC Championship odds, Alabama and LSU are next in line after the Georgia Bulldogs. Those teams are in the top ten and can hardly be classified as “sleepers.” The Tennessee Volunteers, while highly unlikely to dethrone the Georgia Bulldogs in the East, are +1400 to win the league, but a case can be made. Josh Heupel has improved this program dramatically, and Tennessee won double-digit games in 2022, the first time the program reached ten wins since 2007. Joe Milton is the new starting quarterback, but five-star phenom Nico Iamaleava could step in if he falters. If either of those players can play like Hendon Hooker did before his injury, the offense will be humming. Bru McCoy and Squirrel White should be all-conference caliber wideouts, and the offensive line reloaded in the transfer portal. The most significant improvements have to be made by the defense. That unit improved from 2021 to 2022, but they must take another step forward in 2023. The Volunteers have to play at Alabama on October 21, but if they can clear that hurdle and avoid any upsets, they could host the Georgia Bulldogs with a chance to win the SEC East.
Favorite Over SEC Pick: LSU – 9.5 Wins
LSU won ten games in 2022 and claimed the SEC West Title. They should be even better in 2023. Jayden Daniels is the key at quarterback and one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. He will be throwing to one of the best wide receiver corps in the country, with Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas Jr., and Aaron Anderson leading the way, plus tight end Mason Taylor. Logan Diggs transferred from Notre Dame after rushing for 822 yards in 2022 and should immediately upgrade the rushing attack. The offensive line returns all five starters, and the defense is loaded. Harold Perkins Jr. is a future top-five draft pick and a dominant force, Maason Smith is back after an injury in the 2022 opener, and the secondary has high-profile transfers that should help. Two top-ten teams are on the schedule, and both games are away from home. They play Florida State in Orlando in week one and then at Alabama on November 4. They could lose both games and still go over! That includes away trips to both Mississippi schools and Missouri and then home games against Grambling State, Auburn, Army, Florida, Georgia State, and Texas A&M. They will be heavy favorites in all of those games.
Favorite Under SEC Ten Pick: Alabama – 10 Wins
It might seem crazy to take a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team to go under the posted win total, but the Crimson Tide went 10-2 in 2022 and no longer have the terrific Bryce Young at quarterback or Will Anderson on defense. There is also a value here, with the under at +130. The schedule is quite tricky with Texas in the second week, Ole Miss in the fourth week, road trips to Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Auburn, plus tough home tests against Tennessee and LSU. Which of Tyler Buchner, Jalen Milroe, or Ty Simpson will start at quarterback? And are any of them capable of raising a supporting cast like Young did? The Tide do not appear to have the usual difference-makers at wide receiver and running back this season, so the offense could struggle some. The defense should be pretty good and is full of four and five-star prospects, but do they have the game-wrecking pass rusher? Alabama is recruiting incredibly well, so the program is far from done, and Saban is not done contending for titles, but there is value in the under in 2023.
Top SEC Heisman Candidate: Jayden Daniels +1000
The top Heisman Trophy candidate in the Southeastern Conference is Jayden Daniels, with odds of +1000. That number places him directly behind Caleb Williams and ahead of everyone else in the country. Daniels threw for nearly 3,000 yards with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions and added 885 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground in his first year in Baton Rouge after transferring from Arizona State. Other SEC players listed include Carson Beck at +1800, Joe Milton at +2500, and Connor Weigman at +4000.
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