Last year at this time, trendy underdogs to unseat Alabama for supremacy in the SEC were all the rage.
Clubs such as LSU and upstarts such as Tennessee were in vogue as teams that could potentially knock off the Crimson Tide.
But Alabama removed all doubt in resounding fashion, as only one SEC opponent stayed within singles figures of the Tide and none did so in the final 10 weeks of the regular season.
Will the upcoming year result in another runaway for heavily favored Alabama? Or do any of the tempting underdogs stand a viable chance.
|Odds To Win SEC
(courtesy of Golden Nugget)
| Texas A&M
| Mississippi State
| South Carolina
| Ole Miss
Here is our initial look at the future odds to win the SEC, with odds (courtesy of the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas) and analysis of the teams:
Alabama (2/3): Unlike recent seasons, Alabama enters the 2017 campaign with few concerns on the offensive side.
The Crimson tide have two potential Heisman finalists in quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver Calvin Ridley. They will also have a fearsome backfield led by 1,000-yard rusher Damien Harris and the explosive Bo Scarbrough.
CBS SPORTS: SABAN HEATED ABOUT RULES CHANGES
Alabama will have to restock the cargo on the defensive side after sending its annual shipment of talent to the NFL. But this is nothing new in the era of Nick Saban, who has repeatedly proved that Tide fans should never have concerns for the defense.
Moreover, Alabama benefits from a favorable schedule, with a road trip for the Iron Bowl looming as the biggest obstacle. When you combine the best team with a promising path, there?s little question why Alabama is such a huge chalk to repeat as SEC champion.
LSU (5/1): The schedule sets up fairly well for the Tigers in their first full season under coach Ed Oregron. Moreover, running back Derrius Grice has a chance to join Hurst in the Heisman ceremony, and might end up leaving a longer-lasting legacy with the program than his predecessor, Leonard Fournette.
CBS SPORTS: STATES THAT PRODUCE THE MOST RECRUITS
Even so, the Tigers have several holes to fill on a defense that was inconsistent at times last year and is losing the key components to their secondary and linebacker corps.
LSU always seems like a tempting underdog in these spots, but the deciding factor is that it would likely have to win at Alabama to reach the SEC title game, and that's too lofty a concession to make and place this wager for a somewhat meager return.
Florida (8/1): Last year, the Gators made a repeat trip to the SEC title game despite a woeful offense that failed to produce more than 24 points in their last six conference games.
The injury loss of quarterback Luke Del Rio for the latter part of the season played a part in the downfall of the offense. He will return, but redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks is reported to be the front-runner for the starting job.
Florida also returns a sloid core of playmakers, and benefits from a favorable schedule that includes getting Tennessee and LSU at home. The Gators benefit from a relatively easier route to the title game coming out of the SEC East because they don?t have to go through Alabama to get there.
Look for Florida to again emerge from the SEC East, which makes the overlay at this price a value position.
Auburn (8/1): Last year, the Tigers fixed a once-leaky defense and emerged as one of the country?s most stout units.
But in an unlikely about-face for a Gus Malzahn-coached team, offensive production ended up being Auburn?s crutch. The Tigers used a revolving door of quarterbacks to no avail as Malzahn looked for a consistent signal-caller.
Highly touted Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham should fill that void, as he fits the profile of the explosive dual-threat quarterback capable of running the run-pass option plays that Malzahn covets to create havoc with opposing defensive units.
Auburn should also be in good shape in the running game with a strong returning core and ample options on the perimeter.
However, any program that resides in the SEC West alongside Alabama has to be considered a long shot. But the Tigers will benefit from having Iron Bowl at home, and there is some value here on what is likely the second-most talented team in the SEC.
VIEW MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL FUTURES ODDS BY CLICKING HERE
Alabama (2/3): In past seasons, I've made the mistake in finding "value" in other SEC teams, and the paper those wagers were printed on were worth less than fool's gold.
Although I give Auburn a fighting chance as an underdog, if I were wagering today I'd go ahead and lay the price with the Tide.