2022 College Football Betting Guide: SEC Preview

by Aaron Ogdahl
2022 College Football Betting Guide: SEC Preview

As odd as it is to me that fans of teams in this conference chant "S-E-C," (think if ACC schools chanted A-C-C? ) the SEC is the premier conference in college football. Alabama opens as the consensus # 1 team in the country, and I don't think many would argue it. The conference is loaded with NFL-level talent, and in two years it'll be adding even more prestige to the conference in Oklahoma and Texas.

My College Football Betting Guide series focuses on how to find an edge and preview each team within the Power 5 conferences and beyond. My goal is to take you on a campus tour throughout each conference and find the value.

I’ll provide you with the favorites, the contenders, the dark horses, and well, the donations you could make by selecting teams within each conference. I’ll give you my thoughts on each respective Team Total future bet you could make, some of the better players you could target for DFS Plays, and I’ll also give you my pick for who will raise the trophy as the conference champion, the MVP of the conference, and the +EV Pick.

The +EV Pick may have you scratching your head a little bit as to what it is, but +EV is short for positive expected value. Expected value in sports betting “is a way to measure the probability gap between a bettor’s expectations and the sportsbook’s.” 

In layman's terms, it’s who is going to give you the most bang for your buck: AKA, What’s the most profitable pick if you were to do this over and over again, long term. Because of course, that’s our goal: Long term profit. (and of course, fun!). So say it with me and repeat it to yourself, “Plus EV over everything.”

2022 College Football Betting Guide: SEC Preview

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SEC Conference Odds (via Fanduel)

  • Alabama -140
  • Georgia +160
  • Texas A&M +1800
  • Kentucky +4000
  • Tennessee +5000
  • Ole Miss +5000
  • Florida +6000
  • Arkansas +6000
  • LSU +9000
  • Mississippi St +12000
  • Auburn +15000
  • South Carolina +15000
  • Missouri +25000
  • Vanderbilt +50000

The Favorites

Alabama Crimson Tide (2021 Record: 13-2)

The premier college football program in the nation is once again being led into battle by one of the greatest, Nick Saban. The legendary coach will have maybe the best QB in the nation in Bryce Young to man this electric group of athletes. The NIL deals, the prestige, the market: Alabama is primed to not only be a national champion favorite this year but for years to come. They not only get top recruiting classes, but they reload with top transfer players now. This includes Jermaine Burton, WR, from rival Georgia to potentially step up and replace the largely departed WR core from last year. Jameson Williams and John Metchie, who combined for over 2700 reception yards and 23 TD’s last year, will need to be replaced.

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In order to replace these high-caliber and explosive receivers, Tyler Harrell from Louisville has also transferred into Bama. RB Jahmyr Gibbs from Georgia Tech is also transferring in and look out for this potential Heisman candidate because Gibbs’ explosive play ability will have an immediate impact. Gibbs tallied almost 1800 all-purpose yards last year at Tech and will be the lightning to Jase McClellan’s thunder, as he is coming back from injury.

Even with the crop of talent Saban has brought in, it’ll still be Bryce Young’s team to lead them to the promised land. Young had 4,872 passing yards and 47 passing Td’s. He and CJ Stroud of Ohio State are the likely Heisman favorites and for good reason. Not to mention, highly touted recruit Ty Simpson will likely see the field in some packages, as his outstanding arm and athleticism will soon dazzle Alabama fans in years to come. Again under Bill O’Brien’s offense, the Tide should be an incredibly electric and high-powered offense.

The best defensive player in the nation will patrol the field for the Crimson Tide this year in what should be the best defense in the nation. Will Anderson will lead a defense that causes absolute havoc. The hyper-talented secondary will bring in transfer Eli Ricks from LSU to bolster that unit as well. The NFL-laden defense will be the nation’s top defense and they’re deep on both sides of the ball. Coupled with this incredible offense, it may seem that Alabama may be on a collision course with Ohio St.

The schedule should be fun. They avoid Georgia and Florida this year, but Alabama travels to Austin in Week 2 to take on Quinn Ewers and the Longhorns. Within the conference, they’ll have to take on Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU away from home. All of these road games could be potential trip wires for Alabama. Going 4-0 in that stretch is no “gimme”, especially with the caliber of athletes the SEC has. The Tide will have Texas A&M and Auburn at home, which helps as these two teams may be the biggest challenge on paper. Never count out Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

This team is has been steamed to -140 to win the SEC and it may seem like free money as Georgia is going to need to replace a lot of pieces from last year. But buyer beware, long-term Alabama betting is not a profitable venture. You have to consider that A LOT can go wrong in a football season. For example, what if Bryce Young gets hurt? Can a young backup really guide this team to the SEC championship? Can they win 4 tough road games? That’s up to you to decide. I know where I’m going…

Prediction: Alabama Team Total Under 11.5

Georgia Bulldogs (2021 Record: 14-1)

The Bulldogs finally did it last year under Kirby Smart. National Champions. Slayed the Saban Dragon. It may have taken a Jameson Williams injury and one of the best defenses in college football history, but the Bulldogs were the best team in college football last year.

The vaunted defense of 2021 lost 8 starters to the draft and their defensive coordinator in Dan Lanning, who will now be the HC for the Oregon Ducks. The defense was incredible, as they only surrendered more than 14 points to two teams: Alabama and Tennessee. Their new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will share duties with Glenn Schumann and will have to be creative this year. They get Nolan Smith back, but it’s time for the next recruiting class to fill the big shoes of the 2021 defense. I’m not going to expect 2021 numbers from Georgia, or from anyone in college football this year, but they still should be a top 5 defense around one of their leaders in Nolan Smith.

Stetson Bennett will once again man the Georgia offense after the Georgia faithful clamored for JT Daniels (now at West Virginia). After losing Zamir White and James Cook (Dalvin’s brother), he’ll rely on Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton at RB and find ways to get the ball to a speedy group of receivers in Ladd McConkey, AD Mitchell, and Kearis Jackson. The passing game is nothing special by SEC standards, however, it will get a boost from one of the top tight ends in college football, Brock Bowers. Behind an offensive line that returns 3 of 5 starters, Bennett and Todd Monken should be able to put points on the board against almost any team.

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Georgia is going to be good, but I think people are going to expect 2021 Georgia and they're just not going to be that. They avoid Bama on the schedule, but we need to realize that each week is a grind in the SEC, and without college football's best defense maybe ever, and just a decent QB, I think we see 2 losses from the Dawgs.

Prediction: Team Total Under 10.5

The Contenders

Texas A&M (2021 Record: 8-4)

Heading into battle in the SEC West, Jimbo Fisher will have to replace Zach Calzada, as he heads to Auburn in the transfer portal. This leaves Haynes King and LSU transfer and son of NFL QB Brad Johnson, Max Johnson. Haynes King actually won the QB battle going into last season, but unfortunately, his 2021 campaign was derailed due to injury. I expect King to win the job, and show off his athleticism for the Aggies.

This offense will be athletic at position player spots as well. Devon Achane is lightning fast, a former track star, and can catch balls out of the backfield. Amari Daniels will also spell Achane and will be used frequently with his versatility.  WR Ainias Smith will also be used as an RB as well. A lot of athleticism and speed makes this offense dangerous. They averaged 29 points a game last season, and I expect that number to increase slightly.

Defensively, new coordinator Mike Elko is now gone and DJ Durkin from Ole Miss will slide in to fill the position. They’ll run the 4-2-5 defense again and will need to continue to cause havoc to upset the likes of Georgia and Alabama for the SEC Crown. This D isn't talked about enough in my opinion. They only allowed 16 points a game last season, good for 3rd best in the nation.

Having to go to Bama and Auburn will be tough this year, but an early season test with the Miami Hurricanes coming into College Station to face the 12th man will be a fun preview of what this team has to offer. With only 3 SEC games at home this year, it may be challenging for the Aggies to get to 9. With the best recruiting class in the nation, A&M is only going to get better, but I think the hype of the recruiting class beating Bama pushed this number slightly too high for a team total.

Prediction: Team Total Under 9

Ole Miss Rebels (2021 Record: 10-3)

The fast-paced, high-scoring offense of the Ole Miss Rebels will need a lot of players to step up this year. Lane Kiffin’s offense will only have 43% of their returning production back for the 2022 season.

Matt Corral is now playing for the Panthers in the NFL and Lane Kiffin did what he does best; he went to the transfer portal to replace all of what was lost.

Jaxon Dart, a transfer from USC, will likely lead the Rebels at the quarterback position. The former 4-star recruit is an accurate passer that has good arm strength and can operate from a lot of different sets. He may be the wildcard Kiffin needs this year.

At RB, Kiffin went to Texas. Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley from TCU and SMU, respectively, will attempt to replace the very talented Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner.

Additionally, the top 3 pass catchers from last year are gone too. So of course, Kiffin again went out shopping. Jordan Watkins from Louisville, Jaylon Robinson from UCF, Jaylen Knox from Missouri, and Malik Heath from Mississippi State will try to gel with Dart this year to rack up points from last year. The talented Michael Trigg from USC will likely play the majority of snaps at tight end and Jonathan Mingo is back from injury to contribute at the WR position.

The line will be the place for stability as they bring back 4 starters to protect Dart and manage the insanely fast-paced offense.

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The schedule for Ole Miss should yield 4 victories in non-conference play and we can log at least one more with Vanderbilt. The determiner of Ole Miss’ season will likely hinge on games with Kentucky, LSU, Auburn, and of course, Mississippi State. They avoid Georgia but will get Alabama in The Grove. Hotty Toddy. I think the new offense comes together and the defense plays similar to last season. With very little stability offensively besides the offensive line, 8 wins may be the ceiling, even considering there is a strong likelihood the team could start 6-1 before heading into LSU.

Team Total: Take the 8.5 Under and 7.5 Over

Kentucky Wildcats (2021 Record: 10-3)

The Kentucky Wildcats are headed into 2022 with high expectations. They’re led into battle by Will Levis, potentially the first QB off the board in next year’s draft. Levis threw for 2,826 yards last season, 24 TD’s, and ran for another 9. Speaking of running, Chris Rodriguez will also be ready for his senior campaign after showing off his tough running style. He ended 2021 with over 1400 yards. Rodriguez and Levis were big reasons the offense averaged 32.3 points a game, finished 10-3, and tallied a Citrus Bowl win over Iowa.

Questions remain, however. The Wildcats lost their center and both NFL talent level tackles so Mark Stoops will have to have younger players fill in. He went to the transfer portal to add an offensive lineman, but also a talented WR in Tayvion Robinson from Virginia Tech.

On defense, they’ll have to have the same kind of production from a crew that only surrendered a little over 22 points per game last year. Despite them having to go to The Grove and The Swamp in their first 2 away games this year, they avoid Alabama on the schedule and get Georgia at home. Their team total is set at 8.5, and this may be tough to get to with the line replacements necessary and some question marks in experience at the WR position. They have to go to Neyland and pull off a victory there against the Vols. Then, they'll have to go 2-0 against both South Carolina and Mississippi State to hit the over. I just don’t see the magic happening again in the tough SEC, even with a top-tier QB and RB combination.

Prediction: Team Total Under 8.5

Arkansas Razorbacks (2021 Record: 9-4)

The Razorbacks and Sam Pittman come off an impressive 9-4 season and an Outback Bowl win against Penn St. Can we expect the same for the 2022 season?

The Razorbacks will need the outstanding play of KJ Jefferson again to repeat their 2021 performance. Jefferson took care of the ball. He had only 4 interceptions to his 21 TD’s and 2,700 yards passing. Not only that, he added 6 scores on his feet and rushed for over 600 yards in that category too. And that’s one thing the Razorbacks did extremely well.

Jefferson along with Trelon Smith, Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, and Dominique Johnson all ran for over 600 yards and over 5 yards per carry. The Razorbacks simply ran it down opponents’ throats with their physical play and offensive line. Sanders and Johnson will return to run the ball behind 4 returning offensive linemen. Sam Pittman, being an OL coach by trade, should be able to replicate the running game and replace the lost starter just fine. They lost their star receiver to the NFL, but Jadon Haselwood from Oklahoma will transfer in to try and fill that void.

The team averaged 31 points per game last season on offense and 23 points per game on defense in the deep SEC West.  I predict the Razorbacks will once again finish in the top 10 nationally in rushing in 2022 and this is undoubtedly a formula for success.

Arkansas will have to deal with playing a tougher non-conference schedule coupled with a brutal SEC-west schedule. They’ll open the season with Cincinnati, who will be without Desmond Ridder and the majority of their outstanding defense last year. They’ll have to go to Provo, Utah to battle BYU, who I am very high on this year. I think they get to 4-3 before their BYE week and will have LSU, Auburn, Liberty, Ole Miss and Missouri.

With this much experience returning offensively and a solid defense, I think the team’s floor is 7 wins.

Prediction: Team Total Over 7 wins

Florida Gators (2021 Record: 6-7)

The Gators, with arguably the best home field advantage in The Swamp, will be led by 1st year HC Billy Napier, who has earned his way into coaching one of the premier programs in college football. Napier comes from UL Lafayette, who rattled off double-digit wins the past 3 seasons in the Fun Belt. What will 2022 have to offer the Gators, who finished 6-7 a year ago under Dan Mullen?

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Florida will have the Heisman hopeful Anthony Richardson at the QB position, and already, this team is going to be better. Emory Jones has since departed to the Pac-12 (Arizona St) and it’s the hyper-talented Richardson’s time to shine. Richardson averaged almost 8 yards per carry last year as a QB and will give a lot of defenses headaches. His athleticism alone is going to be the reason Florida upsets a couple of teams as underdogs.

To go along with the Heisman hopeful, Napier has brought in his own RB in Montrell Johnson from UL, who as a freshman, rushed for over 838 yards. To catch out of the backfield, the Gators return Nay’Quan Wright and to catch balls as receivers, Xzavier Henderson, Justin Shorter, and Trent Whittemore, and Ricky Pearsall (transfer for Arizona St) should be formidable to keep the offense rolling for Florida. Here’s the thing, the offense wasn’t the issue last season for the Gators.

The defense will need to improve if they want to make that big jump under Napier. Patrick Toney who followed Napier from Louisiana and Sean Spencer will both serve as DC’s to plug the holes on defense.

The tone will be set right away as the Gators will be featured in a marquee matchup in week 1 as they’ll take on Utah. I’m quite high on Utah this year, as they return so much stability. In a battle of stability vs instability and talent, I’ll take stability every time (Utah -2). They’ll then get Kentucky at home as well. If the Gators can get 1 of those 2 games, they’re primed to make a run. However, if they start 0-2, Napier might be in for a longer season. If they can get 1, I see 6-8 wins on the season and what would like like a positive start in the right direction for this powerhouse program.

Prediction Team Total Over 7

The Dark Horses

South Carolina Gamecocks (2021 Record: 7-6)

Enter, Spencer Rattler. This incredibly talented QB didn’t live up to the hype at Oklahoma in Lincoln Riley’s offense. It makes me skeptical that the transfer to the SEC is going to produce better results for Rattler, the 2021 favorite to win the Heisman trophy. He will be the frontman for a team that was 7-6 last year, even though they averaged a measly 22.6 points a game, good for 104th in the nation. Luckily, Shane Beamer had a tremendous defense that only surrendered 24 a game.

But Beamer hit the transfer portal hard. He stocked up with Austin Stogner, TE and former teammate of Rattler. He added Christian Beal-Smith at RB and a slew of receivers.

There are going to be a lot of moving parts for this Gamecocks offense, but even with all of the instability, I think they’ll be better than 22.6 points a game. The number one pass defense in the SEC will be good again, but I’m not sure Beamer will be able to produce the numbers of last year with the team of virtually all newcomers. For bettors, volatility is a good thing, and we could see South Carolina as either a very good team this year, or a very bad one.

Prediction: Team Total Under 6

Auburn Tigers (2021 Record: 6-7)

Bryan Harsin enters his 2nd year at Auburn. The Tigers were 6-7 last season and will come in sporting one of the best run defenses in 2022. However, there are some reasons to believe that the Tigers have some dirty laundry, especially amid an investigation for inappropriate behavior that resulted in Bryan Harsin keeping his job. Not to mention that Derek Mason, the defensive coordinator, took a salary cut for the same position at Oklahoma State. Regardless, it’s all speculation and as sports bettors, we like numbers. Let’s dive into them.

The Tigers will have to replace Bo Nix (now at Oregon) first and foremost. TJ Finley, originally from LSU, was ok last season but dealt with quite a few injuries. Harsin also brought in Zach Calzada from Texas A&M and Robby Ashford from Oregon. I think Calzada wins the job. After all, he did transfer into the program after being the starter at a better one.

Tank Bigsby will need to carry the ball and carry the ball well if the Tigers hope to win. Calzada should help the passing game to take pressure off the run game which I expect to yield a big increase in offensive production this year. It’s win at all costs and Harsin has the pedigree, as he went 69-19 at Boise St.

If the defense can clean it up in the secondary and the linebacking position, this team can be very good. They’ve added from the transfer portal to help in that category, but we will see if they can back up the stout front 4.

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The team is soiled in dirty laundry and I think this is a perfect opportunity to pounce on the team total. Bettors and the public are down on the Tigers because they dropped the last 5 games of the season, but people forget Auburn almost beat Alabama last year. They’ll leave The Jungle only 4 times this year! With their caliber of athletes and 8 games at home, hit the over now.

Prediction: Team Total Over 6

LSU Tigers (2021 Record: 6-7)

Hopes are high with Brian Kelly in Baton Rouge. The Tigers finished 6-7 last season under long-time coach Ed Orgeron, but even with the national championship in 2020, it wasn’t enough to keep his job. This makes 3 national championships since 2003 under 3 different coaches.  The Tigers’ expectations are high and are going to remain high, but first, they’ll have to figure out the QB position.

Jayden Daniels, the slick, slim, and athletic QB from Arizona St has transferred in and he will beat out Nussmeier and Myles Brennan out for the starting position no problem. Noah Cain has transferred in from Penn State and will likely forge a stable of running backs with Tre Bradford and John Emery. They’ll run and throw behind an above average offensive line, talent-wise, as well. However, they’ll need to put up results because it was abysmal last season.

I expect the defense to be solid and the schedule to be tough for the Tigers. Half of all games are expected to be within one score. They’ll likely struggle with Bama and A&M, but don’t count out Daniels, Kelly, and the new-look Tigers offense under new OC Mike Denbrock from Cincinnati. If there is one thing Brian Kelly does, it’s win, regardless of if you like him or not.

Prediction: Team Total Over 6

Mississippi State Bulldogs (2021 Record: 7-6)

Get the cowbells ready because Will Rogers is coming back to gun it with Mike Leach, entering his 3rd year as the Bulldogs’ HC. I’m high on this offense and high on this team this year. Rogers comes off a season where he threw for 4739 yards, 36 TDs. He was #1 in the nation in pass completions (505) and #1 in the nation in completion percentage (73.9%). He led the Bulldogs to a 7-6 record and now entering his Jr season, I expect another jump in his play.

The air raid offense will put up points, but I’m afraid the holes will reside on the defensive side of the ball. The defense in Starkville will only return 26% of their production from last year, which is the lowest in the FBS. DC Zach Arnett will have to find ways to get pressure on the opposing teams quarterbacks and play with a lot of inexperience. This is the X factor for the Bulldogs this season.

The team is built for upsets, but not consistency. As a bettor, I would stay away from team totals, but rather find opportunities to take the Bulldogs as …well dogs. This offense will score and in some games, they’ll score in bunches, especially with a prolific passer in Will Rogers.

The schedule has ETSU (FCS), Bowling Green, and Arizona. Mississippi State should escape those unscathed, but after that, the middle of the pack in the SEC is going to be a slugfest this year. Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, State, Arkansas…the list goes on of teams around the 6-8 win total. Week in and week out, it’s going to be a fun one.

Prediction Team Total Over 6.5

Tennessee Volunteers (2021 Record: 7-6)

The Volunteers look to improve off their 7-6 inaugural season with HC Josh Heupel. The team’s potent offense scored 39.3 points a game last year, and we should expect more of the same.

The offense for Tennessee is returning 68% of their production from the 2021 season. That’s bad news for a lot of defenses as Hendon Hooker and company moved the ball seemingly at will under Josh Heupel’s offense. Hooker could be flying under the radar to many people, but he’s incredible. Hooker passed for 2945 yards, 31 TD’s, and only 3 interceptions. Not only that, he’s extremely mobile. He finished 2nd on the team in rushing with 616 yards and 5 TD’s behind Jabari Small, who is back again.

And mind you, he replaced Joe Milton after a few games last year. He is going to put up BIG numbers for the Vols.

Cedric Tillman, Tennessee’s top WR last year who accumulated 1,081 yards and 12 TD’s, is also back for the Vols. Bru McCoy has transferred in from USC and should be a dark horse to catch a lot of passes as Tillman will assuredly get attention from the opposing secondaries.

Rocky Top is going to see fireworks this year.

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The fan base in Tennessee is excited. Their offense is going to put up points. The Vols defense is going to give up points. Their schedule has marquee games, including a matchup with Bama mid-October at Neyland. They’ll have their hands full this season, and I project 8 wins, which would be another solid season under Heupel.

Team Total Prediction Over 7.5

The Donations

Vanderbilt Commodores (2021 Record: 2-10)

Hey, at least they have a beautiful campus. The Commodores aren’t likely going to win any SEC games, but they return quite a bit of experience on both the offense and the defense. Money spends the same whether it’s on Alabama or Vanderbilt when it comes to betting and their non-conference schedule includes Hawaii, who absolutely was demolished by the transfer portal and returning players. It also includes FCS Elon. Ok, we may have two wins here. If they can grab a W against Northern Illinois or Missouri, we may be onto something. Shop for the best number here, but Vanderbilt likely has 2, maybe 3 wins.

Team Total: Over 2.5

Missouri Tigers (2021 Record: 6-7)

They don’t have a lot of returning production as Connor Bazelak transferred to Indiana and RB Tyler Badie is also gone. He had 14 TD’s and 1600 yards on the ground. This team is in trouble this year. They probably have 3 non conference wins and Vanderbilt on the schedule. Do I think they can get 2 more victories in the SEC? I don’t. I see 5 as a ceiling for this Tigers team.

Team Total: Under 5.5

Postseason Award Ceremony

  • MVP: Bryce Young
    • Runner Up: Hendon Hooker. This guy's projected numbers merit a flyer on a Heisman future.
  • SEC Champion: Alabama
  • The +EV Pick: Arkansas Razorbacks. Don't be surprised if we see Sam Pittman's crew have a better season than last season and make a run for the title.

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