The dead period in sports has been shortened due to the NBA Finals being played in July.
College football is less than two months away and sportsbooks have had various betting options available since last month. Alabama is currently slated as the +250 ‘chalk’ to win the title at DraftKings, while Clemson has the second-shortest price (+380).
Ohio State (+550), Georgia (+600) and Oklahoma (+750) are the only other teams listed inside of 30/1. Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler is the +650 ‘chalk’ to win the Heisman Trophy. Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei (+750) and Alabama’s Bryce Young (+800) are both expected to contend for the coveted award as well.
DraftKings has season win totals available for every major conference team, and here are a few that I like as the season approaches:
Alabama ‘Under’ 11.5 (-115):
Betting against Nick Saban is never going to be a popular play, but oddsmakers are not giving the Crimson Tide any wiggle room.
Alabama generally enters the season with a win total of 11, but the push has been taken out of play heading into the 2021 slate. There are several question marks surrounding this version of Saban’s dynasty that make me question this win total.
Second-year freshman Bryce Young is replacing Mac Jones as the starting quarterback and is playing behind an offensive line that lost three starters. Young is not the only new face on offense, though, as the wide receiver and running back room are both being revamped.
Alabama had 12 players head to the NFL this offseason. Eight of those players were drafted in the top 30, so there is some serious talent being replaced this year. The departure of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and running backs coach Charles Huff add to the turnover.
The Crimson Tide are projected to be double-digit favorites in all 12 games, but there are several spreads that fall within two touchdowns. They have to go on the road to Florida and Texas A&M, where they are 13.5 and 11.5-point favorites, respectively.
Games against Miami, LSU and Auburn are likely going to be comfortable wins for Alabama, but it’s going to get the best shot from every team it plays. The Crimson Tide have only gone undefeated four times in the last 12 years and this is not the best team Saban has had.
There is a reason they are favored to win another national title, but three road games against ranked opponents is going to be challenging for a young team.
Missouri ‘Over’ 7 (-115):
There is plenty of optimism in Columbia following Eli Drinkwitz’s first season.
The Tigers picked up wins over LSU and Arkansas en route to a 5-5 finish in their all-SEC schedule. They now have one of their best recruiting classes in recent years on campus and will play an easier schedule in 2021.
Connor Bazelak took over as quarterback just a few weeks into his freshman campaign. He completed 67% of his passes for 2,366 yards, including a 406-yard performance against LSU. Bazelak only threw six interceptions and three of those came in the final game of the year.
Running back Larry Roundtree III is off to the NFL, but veteran Tyler Badie is ready to carry the load. He can do damage on the ground and also provides an option in the receiving game. Sophomore Elijah Young is expected to take a step forward as well.
Missouri returns most of its offensive line and it brought in former NFL head coach Steve Wilks to run the defense. The Tigers’ lack of depth on that side of the ball caught up to them down the stretch last season, but there should be improvement this year.
Their schedule is much more manageable, as they avoid Alabama, LSU and Auburn. Missouri has favorable games against Central Michigan, SE Missouri State, North Texas and Vanderbilt on its schedule. The Tigers could reasonably start the season with a 6-0 record if they can pick up wins over Kentucky, Boston College and Tennessee.
Regardless, they should be in a position to record their eighth win against Arkansas in the regular season-finale. I think the worst-case scenario is to push this total, because seven wins should be the floor for this team.