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College Football Betting: 2020 SEC Preview

It is time for SEC football in 2020, One wondered if this moment would come but it is finally here. September 26 would have been Week 4 under normal circumstances, but these pandemic conditions have created an adjusted schedule in which this marks Week 1 of SEC play.

Every team will play a 10-game conference schedule with no non-conference games. This makes each team’s schedule a lot more difficult. Which teams will survive the gauntlet and play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta this December?

Patrick Surtain II and Xavier McKinney of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Zach Charbonnet of the Michigan Wolverines
Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP

Team That Will Surprise: LSU

NCAA Conference Odds: +1800

The LSU Tigers lost more than a dozen players to the 2020 NFL Draft, and have had other prime players such as receiver Ja’Marr Chase opt-out of the 2020 college football season in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. This could easily be viewed as a team that will plummet in the standings, maybe to fourth place in the SEC West.

Moreover, given LSU just won a national championship, it might be viewed as a disappointment if the Tigers do anything other than win the SEC West once again.

Yet, their enormous roster losses should allow for a balanced viewpoint. The Tigers aren’t going to win the SEC West. Alabama will have too much for the Tigers. If LSU had retained a few more key players, maybe Ed Orgeron’s team would be able to win the division.

Nevertheless, it would be a real success for LSU if — under these noteworthy circumstances and all the player attrition it has suffered — it could still finish higher than rivals Auburn and Texas A&M, winding up second behind Alabama.

Some people would certainly regard that as a surprise. The Tigers are in a position to do that, and the best reason is that they have Derek Stingley.

He might have been overshadowed by Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and the rest of a dynamic 2019 LSU roster, but Stingley was already viewed as the best cover cornerback in college football last year.

He will be better this year. His ability to take away half of the field will make it hard for opposing quarterbacks to throw against LSU. The Tigers’ defense will keep them in games, and they will shut down Auburn and A&M en route to second place. Normally, that wouldn’t be a pleasant surprise. This year, however, it would be impressive.

Team That Will Disappoint: Texas A&M

NCAA Conference Odds: +1200

The Texas A&M Aggies are going to be on the other side of the coin in the SEC West. Whereas LSU loses a ton of players, A&M returns a lot of players. Whereas LSU has less pressure because of all of its attritional deficits, A&M is expected – more than it was in the past few years – to produce.

Yet, it’s hard to see the Aggies making the right adjustments. This is primarily because their quarterback, Kellen Mond, hasn’t made the advancements in technique and form he should have.

If he hasn’t figured out the quarterback position at this point, why should he be expected to have a huge 2020 season? If he can do so, then A&M could actually take second place in the SEC West behind Alabama, but no one should rely on Mond, and for that primary reason, the Aggies will continue to underachieve.

Prediction

The Alabama Crimson Tide won’t have a superstar quarterback this year. Tua Tagovailoa is gone, and Mac Jones is in. One could look at that reality and say the Tide will not roll. However, one has to realize that Alabama was insanely unlucky with injuries in 2019.

The whole linebacker corps was wiped out. Much of the defense was banged up and missed a lot of accumulated games. If Alabama gets normal injury luck – not great, but merely decent – the Tide’s defense should be strong, if only because so many players lower on the depth chart gained valuable experience last season and should be ready to contribute at a higher level.

Alabama and Georgia are not astoundingly great teams. Other Alabama and Georgia teams have been better than the 2020 versions. However, compared to the rest of the SEC – such as a depleted LSU team or an overrated Tennessee team – ‘Bama and Georgia are still the class of the league. Alabama will beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The Tide are the favorite in the sportsbook but they’re also the best bet.

Prediction: Alabama Wins SEC

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