Quick Thoughts on the SEC Over/Unders for 2015

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    Jalen Hurd-1-2The sportsbook 5Dimes released college football win total over/unders for the 2015 season earlier this week.

    Here are some quick thoughts on the SEC regular-season win totals.

    Alabama: 9.5

    First impression: Under. It might be foolish to bet against Nick Saban, but it’s easy to see how the Tide could lose at least three games with another trip through the loaded West, a respectable out-of-conference foe in Wisconsin and a tougher East draw with a trip to Georgia and an improving Tennessee team coming to Tuscaloosa.

    Arkansas: 8.5

    First impression: 
    This one’s tough. The non-conference schedule, as usual, is very favorable and should hand the improving Razorbacks four wins. There are no gimmes outside of that with the tough West and crossover games at Tennessee and at home against Missouri – two teams looking to contend in the SEC. I think the Razorbacks can get Mississippi State at home and maybe A&M at the neutral site. Can they do that and then find three more wins between Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Missouri and Ole Miss? Really hard to say. I wouldn’t touch this one.

    Auburn: 8.5

    First impression: Over. I like this one. The Tigers are going to be sneaky good this year with a revamped defense under Will Muschamp and Gus Malzahn is going to make names like Jeremy Johnson, Duke Williams and Jovon Robinson well known around the SEC. They need to take care of business against Bobby Petrino and Louisville in the opener in Atlanta, but if they do that, they’re fine in the non-conference schedule, they should beat Kentucky, and then they can get at least four wins against the West and Georgia.

    Florida: 7.5

    First impression: Under. The Gators have some talent in spots, but I don’t love this roster overall. Playing in the weaker East gives them a chance to go over, but I see them closer to 6-7 wins under new head coach Jim McElwain. They’ll need to beat teams like Vandy, Kentucky, SC and Tennessee, and perhaps split against the West (Ole Miss, LSU) to get to the over. Not sure they’ll be able to get there.

    Georgia: 9

    First impression: Push. I think the Bulldogs are the most talented team in the East, but the schedule works against them with crossover games against Alabama and Auburn and that pesky, in-state rival Georgia Tech, which beat UGA last year always on the schedule. Could see them dropping both games to the Alabama schools and then maybe one in the SEC East. They’re in danger of going under, but that strong rushing attack should keep them from slipping too far.

    Kentucky: 6

    First impression: Push. They have three gimmes in non-conference play, and I think they can find three more Ws against Louisville, the SEC East and Mississippi State, which is one of their crossover opponents. Kentucky doesn’t really scare me heading into 2015, but Mark Stoops has done a good of job upping the talent level there that the ‘Cats can play with a lot of teams on its schedule.

    LSU: 8

    First impression: Push. Think LSU runs its non-conference slate and then gets some help from a more manageable crossover schedule that includes Florida and South Carolina. If they take care of business there, or even get 5/6 of those listed, that means even a mediocre run through the West gets the Tigers to eight. This team certainly has questions at quarterback, and that should keep them out of the title hunt, but Leonard Fournette and an athletic defense gets them to eight wins.

    Ole Miss: 8.5

    First impression: Over. I don’t have a ton of confidence here with QB questions in Oxford, but I like the overall talent Hugh Freeze has assembled in Oxford, and I like the schedule. The Rebels can sweep their non-conference slate and beat Vanderbilt and Florida. If they do that, they can find at least three wins in the West. Even if you concede losses at Auburn and at Alabama, that still leaves manageable home games against Arkansas, LSU and A&M to get the Rebels to nine with the Egg Bowl against an MSU team that lost a ton from 2014 as an insurance game.

    Mississippi State: 7

    First impression: Not touching this one. Not sure what to do with this team. I love Dak Prescott, but MSU was gutted with departures over the offseason. The Bulldogs might have the best QB in each game they play, but what about the rest of the roster? I feel good about them getting to five with the non-conference schedule and a very manageable home game against Kentucky. Can they find a couple wins in the SEC West? Hard to say.

    Missouri: 7.5

    First impression: Over. Missouri – the team everybody always sleeps on – is being overlooked again. Yes, they lost some talent on the defensive side of the ball and will take a hit there. But Gary Pinkel just wins football games, and he can get to at least eight with this schedule. Quarterback Maty Mauk – though enigmatic – does just enough to keep the Tigers in contention. The schedule works out well. Assuming they don’t have a slip-up like Indiana last year, the Tigers should be able to handle BYU, UConn, SE Missouri and Arkansas State. Manageable road trips to Vandy and Kentucky can get them to six, then a string of toss-up games at home – South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State – gives them a great chance to grab at least two, which gets them to eight, even before factoring in any chance they have at Georgia or Arkansas. I feel good about this one.

    South Carolina: 7

    First impression: Under. The Gamecocks only got six last year, and I’m not sure they’ll top that this year. The Citadel might be the only non-conference gimme with three 2014 bowl teams – North Carolina, UCF and Clemson – all on the schedule. Home games against Kentucky and Vandy should give them a decent shot at a couple SEC wins, but even if they get those and three out of conference wins, can they find two on the rest of the schedule? Maybe. But there are a lot of questions and “ifs” surrounding this team, so I’m not confident in them getting seven.

    Tennessee 7.5

    First impression: Over. The Oklahoma game is irrelevant for UT’s East hopes, but it might be the biggest game of the year if the Vols are going to get eight. Get that one and they probably have all four out-of-conference in the bag and then they have a good shot to get to seven with home games against Vandy and SC and a Halloween trip to Kentucky. Seems reasonable that they could find at least one more with home games against Georgia and Arkansas and trips to Alabama, Florida and Missouri. The Vols are one of the more intriguing teams in the SEC. Personally, I wouldn’t mess with this over/under since the Vols haven’t won eight since 2007, but if I had to, I’d say they’ll get there.

    Texas A&M: 7.5

    First impression: Don’t touch it. Good luck figuring this one out. I love some of A&M’s talent and am intrigued by their quarterbacks options, but don’t have a great feel for how many wins they can get. Their opener against 10-win Arizona State should be a good indicator. If they get that one, the odds of getting to eight go way up. The East draw looks good for them with a trip to Vandy and a home game against an SC team that they crushed last year. But hard to say how they’ll stack up in the West at this point, so stay away.

    Vanderbilt: 3

    First impression: Push. Anything can happen, and surely Vandy makes some kind of step forward after a disastrous 2014, but it’s impossible to project an SEC win for the Commodores at this point, so it comes down to the non-conference schedule, which is tougher than normal for Vandy. It wouldn’t stun me to see Vandy go under, honestly. But I’ll give the Commodores the benefit of the doubt that they can get at least three out of four against Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, MTSU and Houston. We’ll see.