SEC College Football Season Preview & Predictions East Division

Date | AuthorRichard Lammons

Last Updated: 2019-07-31

The SEC East is the little brother to the big bad SEC West. But let’s be clear, this little brother had three 10-win teams last season compared to the West’s two teams. This side of the SEC may be a little top-heavy as Georgia will be looking to make a third straight trip to Atlanta for the SEC crown. Although the odds suggest they should make it, it won’t be a cakewalk in 2019.

Dan Mullen will be looking for the Gators to take a step forward in his second year and have the returning talent to challenge Georgia for the SEC East Crown. Missouri played the transfer portal dating game and came out with a former national champion QB in Kelly Bryant so they might shake things up.

Kentucky just had an unexpected 10-win season and will be looking to build on that success. Tennessee beat Auburn and Kentucky somehow, and while their 2018 season wasn’t exactly what we call “good,” they do get nearly the entire offense back for 2019. South Carolina has the most talent on the roster in the Muschamp era. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is located in the best town of any of the schools and was a very nice 8-4 ATS last season.

SEC East Win Total Best Bet

Missouri Over 8 (-148 Bookmaker) – Drew Lock is gone and (cue game show music) coming from the transfer portal is former Clemson QB, Kelly Bryant. His arrival sparked some excitement on Columbia, and why not? This dual-threat QB knows how to win (he does have a ring), the majority of the O line is back last year’s leading rusher returns, and several receiving threats are back for 2019. Yes, there is some optimism for the Tigers.

The other upside is their schedule. Missouri gets Ole Miss and Arkansas from the SEC West and will look to be a favorite in 10 games this season. They even lucked out on their away schedule as they have three very winnable conference games (Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Arkansas. The downside for this team is that their defense will likely regress due to loss of production and lack of talent. This defense was middle of the conference last year in most defense statistics.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected wins comes out to 7.89, but I’m still leaning with the over. It is juicy, but even with a below-average defense, this offense should be able to secure the W’s throughout the season given their schedule. You may also want to look at overs for this team on a week-by-week basis if that defensive regression does come along.

The Rest

Georgia over 10.5 (-145 Bookmaker) – Georgia had Bama on its heels in the SEC championship game last season and blew it again. This year they may get their opportunity for revenge as goals are high for the Bulldogs in 2019. How high? Playoff-bound high. Coach Kirby Smart and company are ready to get the sour taste of how their 2018 campaign ended out (don’t forget the bowl loss to Texas). QB Jake Fromm is a Junior, and some have him tabbed as a Heisman contender for this year, but he won’t be alone in that category on this team as RB D’Andre Swift is in the backfield and maybe the best back in the conference this year. In addition to a stud QB and RB, four starters are back on the O-Line, and while the WRs don’t have much experience, there is talent.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 10.63. Georgia should be a favorite in every regular-season game this year and the SEC East is still weaker than the West, and their toughest games away from home are a neutral site game against Florida and at Auburn (who will be starting an inexperienced QB). I think Smart is a quality coach to ensure that if there is a mistake, it won’t be a recurring mistake. Take the over if you don’t mind a little juice.

Florida Lean Over 9 (+135 Bookmaker) – In Dan Mullen’s first year in the swamp, all he did was take a 4-7 team and turn it to a ten-win team after pounding Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Now he enters his second year, and the team returns QB Feleipe Franks along with the teams leading rusher and the entire receiving corps. It sounds like Florida might be ready for a big year, right? Well, the biggest question mark for this offense will be the O-Line. Last year, the O-Line allowed the 2nd fewest sacks in conference play. This year, they only return one starter. This will be an extremely inexperienced unit, but Florida can recruit top-level talent to replace the departed starters.

The defense, on the other hand, returns eight starters and might be one of the more well-rounded units in the conference (aside from Bama, Georgia, and LSU). That experience will surely help them as they open the season against Miami to renew the Florida Cup for the first time since 2013. Miami has a new head coach, and Florida should be favored by nearly a touchdown. The Gators will have about five or six games to get that offensive line up to speed before they get tested against Auburn and at LSU in weeks six and seven, respectively.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 8.87, which gives some value to the under. But at the current price, I wouldn’t recommend playing it. That’s why I will fade the market and lean over nine wins at plus money. Given their talent and schedule, another nine-win (or more) regular season looks to be in the cards for the Gators.

Kentucky Lean Under 6.5 (+135 BetOnline) – Kentucky might have been the surprise of the season in 2018 as they finished with ten wins after a bowl victory. The offense struggled and was near the bottom for several conference statistics: yard-per-play (13th), points-per-game (13th), and red zone scoring percentage (14th). However, their defense was the star of this team. Bad news for 2019 though because lots of production and experience are now gone. The defense only returns four starters from last year’s squad, and regression looks likely for the Wildcats.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 5.93, which gives good value to the under, especially at the current price. Their schedule isn’t too bad and sweeping their non-conference games looks likely. That makes this play less appealing as they will probably make a bowl game. However, I’m not sure if QB Terry Wilson and the offense will be able to improve enough to make up for the lost talent and production on the defensive side of the ball.

Tennessee Lean Under 6.5 (+120 Bookmaker) – I can still hear the Volunteer fans singing Rocky Top after upsetting Auburn on the road and Kentucky at home last year. Other than those results, the Volunteer nation probably wants to forget the 2018 season happened. It was a rough coaching debut for Jeremy Pruitt as they finished 5-7 straight up and 2-10 ATS while losing by an average of 16 points in conference games.

There is a new OC, Jim Chaney, who was previously at Georgia and Tennessee in the same role. He has to be ecstatic to find that there are ten returning starters on offense for 2019. TEN! There is even additional depth back on the roster from last year. Now let’s get something straight. Returning starters doesn’t guarantee success, and sometimes players aren’t as talented as others. That might be the case here, but playing experience is always helpful.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 6.43, which gives us some value to the under, especially at the current price. Like Kentucky, sweeping their non-conference games looks likely. That makes this play less appealing. They do have four games in a six-week span in which they will face an opponent coming off a bye (that may be more beneficial weekly, but worth noting here). I’m also not too sure how much this team can improve. Pruitt is still an unproven commodity, and nothing impressed me from last year to make me think this team can improve, especially since the offense will have to learn new schemes.

South Carolina Lean Over 5.5 (-146 Bookmaker) – The Gamecocks get seven starters back on offense, including senior QB Jake Bentley. The defense gets seven starters back as well. There is talent and returning production all over the field on both sides of the ball. The leading rusher, multiple receiving threats, the top tackler, and the top sack man will suit up again. So why is 4th-year coach Will Muschamp not smiling? Probably because he saw the schedule.

Non-conference games include North Carolina and Clemson. To make their schedule brutal, they play Alabama at home and travel to TAMU from the SEC West. Ouch. This is probably Muschamp’s most talented roster yet, but this schedule is brutal.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 5.61. I’m going to follow the market and lean to the over, although it’s probably too juicy to play. There is talent on the roster, but that schedule is awful. I still think the Gamecocks get to six wins and a bowl game though.

Vanderbilt Lean Under 5 (-125 BetOnline) – Vandy was able to win three of its last four games to squeak into bowl eligibility. But those wins came against Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Tennessee; not exactly the best of the conference last season. The offense was mediocre, and the defense was one of the conferences’ worst. The 2018 Commodores were last in the SEC in opponents 3rd down conversion percentage, they allowed the 2nd most yards, and had the 2nd fewest sacks.

But 2019 is a new year, and while there may only be five returning starters on defense, that may not be a bad thing. There is a new OC, Gerry Gdowski (I have no idea how to pronounce that name properly) who was formerly the QB coach here last year. There is also a new QB from the (cue game show music) transfer portal! Riley Neal looks to get the start, but this will be a big step up in class compared to his time at Ball State.

Using Bang the Book’s power ratings, the expected win total comes out to 4.68, which gives some value to the under. Although coach Derek Mason has been able to get this team to a bowl two of the last three years, I don’t think the Commodores will go bowling this year. The schedule includes a trip to Purdue, and LSU comes for a visit as well. They may only be a favorite just three times this season.

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(339) W MICHIGAN @ (340) SYRACUSE | 12:00 pm 9/21/2019

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