5 conclusions about the SEC East based on Vegas odds
When online sportsbook 5Dimes released its preliminary 2015 SEC championship odds last week, it came as no surprise to find Alabama and Auburn sitting atop the list with the best odds to win the conference. After all, the two teams have combined to win five of the last six SEC titles dating back to 2009.
But it was the odds given to the SEC’s other 12 teams, and namely the seven teams from the SEC East, that were most interesting. The conference maintains an obvious disparity between its two division that’s been carried over from last season, and it’s reflected in the 5Dimes odds in a rather obvious way.
You can take a look at our full odds release recap here, but to save time take a look at the odds below. We’ll then discuss five conclusions we can draw about the SEC East based on the odds.
2015 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
- Alabama +300
- Auburn +425
- Georgia +475
- Ole Miss +525
- Tennessee +900
- LSU +1050
- Arkansas +1200
- Missouri +1400
- Texas A&M +1600
- Mississippi State +1600
- South Carolina +2600
- Florida +2600
- Kentucky +8000
- Vanderbilt +15000
1. The East may be worse this year than it was last year. And this is saying a lot, because the East was pretty bad last year. The SEC’s only two non-bowl teams in 2014 hailed from the East, and of the division’s other five teams only Missouri and Georgia managed to win more than six games during the regular season. Entering 2015, the four longest odds to win the conference belong to East teams. Another way to phrase that: According to Vegas, there are four teams from the East worse than the worst team from the West. End-of-year records may not reflect that, as the East and West play most of their games within their own divisions, but it appears more than half the teams in the East are out of the running for an SEC crown before the season even begins.
2. Georgia’s quarterback competition is now the most important in the SEC. We just discussed how bad the East is and how few contenders it has to win the SEC crown. Its best chance at an SEC championship in 2015 lies with its most consistent threat in recent years, the Georgia Bulldogs. The Dawgs, by all accounts, have one of the most talented teams in the nation, and they’ll benefit from returning a number of rising seniors who decided against for the NFL this offseason. With a deep, talented roster in a rather weak division, the stars seem aligned for Georgia to win Mark Richt’s first SEC title since 2005. However, the Bulldogs, like most of the rest of the SEC, have yet to determine a starting quarterback for the fall. UGA’s next quarterback could follow in the footsteps of 2005 quarterback D.J. Shockley, a one-year starter in Athens, but he could also fall flat on his face, undoing an otherwise perfect opportunity for Georgia to dominate the SEC. Thus, due to the lack of depth in the East, it’s Georgia who claims the SEC’s most pivotal quarterback competition this summer.
3. Someone in the East is getting a “get out of jail free” card. Think about it: there are four genuine bottom-feeders stashed in the East, but those teams are all going to play each other this fall. Logic tells us that one of those four teams — South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky or Vanderbilt — will beat up on the other three, padding their record and leading fans to false conclusions come bowl season. Jim McElwain’s Florida roster is as depleted as any Gators team in recent memory, but if he can just beat Kentucky, Vanderbilt and a few weak non-conference foes, he could earn bowl eligibility in his first year. If Steve Spurrier and South Carolina hold off Florida, UK and Vandy, the Gamecocks could quiet talk of the potential end of Spurrier’s run in the SEC. If UK can repeat its win over South Carolina a year ago and avenge a triple-overtime loss to Florida from 2014, it could reach its first bowl game of the Mark Stoops era. You need to win games to reach the postseason, but in the East you don’t need to beat great teams every week to win games. While the teams will remain just as mediocre, someone’s record won’t indicate that.
4. Tennessee picked the perfect year for a youth infusion. The Volunteers may have one of the most talented rosters in the entire SEC, and returning starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs is in the discussion with Dak Prescott and Jeremy Johnson as the SEC’s best player at the position. However, much of Tennessee’s talent on both sides of the ball is young and inexperienced, which might normally cost a talented team a chance at a conference crown as it gets its feet wet in high-profile conference games, especially late in the year. With the East so weak this year, Tennessee can feast on the likes of UK and Florida to remain in the hunt as young players like Jalen Hurd, Derek Barnett and a slew of four- and five-star 2015 signees get a taste of meaningful games in October and November. The Vols played meaningful late-season games last year, but that was just to reach a bowl game. This would be to potentially win the East for the first time since the Phil Fulmer era. It’s apples and oranges. With the East thin on good teams, Tennessee may just win the division anyway on talent alone, overcoming inexperience in the process.
5. Vegas is already counting out Missouri (again), so the Tigers will probably win the East. I mean, come on, guys, we’ve all scoffed at the idea of Missouri sustaining success in the SEC since its move from the Big 12, and all it’s done in that time is win back-to-back East division titles. Now, even after winning the East last year and returning a veteran starting quarterback, a veteran tailback and a star-laden defense, the Tigers have only the eighth-best odds to win the SEC and the third-best odds to win the East. So, if things are going to follow the recently established pattern in the conference, Missouri should find ways to win a weak East division on its way back to Atlanta. All the Tigers really have to do is beat Tennessee and Georgia and it should win the East going away. The fact that many are again picking Mizzou to come up short leads me to believe the opposite. The Tigers have Internet access in CoMo, and they’ve seen the slights. Watch for Mizzou to make noise again in 2015.