As the dog days of the offseason approach and fans are left yearning for college football to return, speculation reigns supreme. Fortunately for fans, the Las Vegas sports books are at your service.
Vegas sports book CG Technology last week released odds on 2017 regular-season win totals for nearly 50 college football teams, including most in the SEC. After checking out the SEC West numbers, SEC reporters Edward Aschoff and Sam Khan Jr. take a look at the SEC West team totals and give their take on whether those teams will go over or under.
Note: Win totals are for the 12-game regular season only (excluding any conference championship games, bowl games or playoff games). CG Technology did not offer a win total for Ole Miss.
Aschoff: So, I like this Alabama offense a lot. I think Jalen Hurts will be even better, and that running game should be spectacular with all 10 of those NFL backs. But I think the defense takes a step back in 2017 because of all that front seven talent that vanished after being the heart and soul of this team. Alabama will be good, but not 11 wins in the regular season good. UNDER
Khan: C'mon now. We know better than to doubt Nick Saban’s team at this point. Sure, there are some personnel replacements to make but they’re still head and shoulders above every other SEC team in terms of talent. OVER
Aschoff: Arkansas has a long way to go on both sides of the ball. Austin Allen might be the SEC's best returning quarterback, but he has an unproven receiving corps to work with. Top back Rawleigh Williams is gone, and that defense has nothing but an uphill battle in front of it. UNDER
Khan: The Razorbacks have one of the best returning QBs in the league (Allen) but they still have to improve defensively and the loss of Williams thins out the backfield some. They’re shifting to a new defense and they certainly have to be a little better there than they were in 2016, right? I say they beat the total by a hair. OVER
Aschoff: Here we go again. The Auburn hype is picking up because of the arrival of QB Jarrett Stidham and that defense should only be better. These Tigers are the trendy pick to push Alabama off its SEC throne and they'll come close. OVER
Khan: Assuming Stidham is as good as advertised, this team should be better offensively in the tough games than it was in 2016. I think that pushes them over last year’s eight-win mark with at minimum a modest improvement to nine. OVER
Aschoff: Spring games don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but in the weather-shortened game that LSU had, the offense didn't look very good at all. Derrius Guice is great, but who's going to take pressure off of him? And that defense lost a lot, especially at linebacker and in the secondary. UNDER
Khan: The schedule makes a 5-0 start quite feasible, meaning the Tigers would need to win four of their last seven to hit the number. There are still too many question marks -- particularly offensively -- at this moment in time for me to go over here. I think this is probably a nine-win team, but it’s no fun taking a push, so... UNDER
Mississippi State: 5.5
Aschoff: Could this be a dark-horse SEC team? Nick Fitzgerald is an absolute stud, but what I like is the defense's potential. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has a handful of junior-college players to mix in with some talented youngsters returning, especially along the defensive line. OVER
Khan: Scoring isn’t a problem for this group as Fitzgerald enters his second season as a starter. If the defense improves even a little bit under Grantham, this is a bowl-eligible team. OVER
Texas A&M: 7
Aschoff: Honestly, I'm torn on the Aggies. The quarterback battle doesn't tell me anything because any QB works with Kevin Sumlin at the helm. But receiver is concerning, as is the front seven, which lost All-World end Myles Garrett. Part of me thinks this will be an average team, but the other half thinks it will surprise a lot of people. OVER
Khan: They won’t be great but they won’t be bad, either. Regardless of who the quarterback is, they have enough offensive talent to score plenty. They’ll miss their elite pass rushers, but have built the kind of interior defensive-line depth needed to be better against the run -- which has been their Achilles’ heel. I think this is probably an eight-win ballclub. OVER