College Football Futures: SEC Champion Picks
LSU took the SEC by storm last season, will there be a new champion in 2020?
BEST BET: LSU
2019 Record: (15-0, 8-0 CONF)
The LSU Tigers put together one of the greatest seasons in college football history. LSU’s offense put up historical numbers behind the Heisman Trophy winner, and soon to be #1 pick in the NFL Draft, quarterback Joe Burrow.
Not only will LSU lose Burrow to the NFL Draft, but the team’s leading rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the second leading receiver Justin Jefferson - both of whom totaled over 1,000 yards respectively.
The lone key returner for the Tigers is the nation’s leading receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Chase led the nation in both yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20).
Despite the Tigers losing most of the talent from the National Championship team, it’s hard to not consider the defending SEC champions as potential winners. With that said, LSU has the second-best odds to win the conference and will have to fill some major voids if they want to win back-to-back conference titles.
Alabama Crimson Tide
2019 Record: (11-2, 6-2 CONF)
Alabama had an off year for their standards in 2019. The Crimson Tide have won five of the last eight SEC Championships, but found themselves on the outside looking in of the College Football Playoff for the first time in its existence.
Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leaves the Crimson Tide to enter the NFL Draft, and joins wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III as potential first-round picks.
Yet, despite losing three potential first rounders, Alabama still returns the team’s leading rusher and receiver. Running back Najee Harris rushed for 1,224 yards for 13 touchdowns, and added 304 receiving yards with seven receiving touchdowns.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith totaled over 1,000 yards himself posting 1,256 yards with 14 touchdowns.
The winner of the SEC West has won nine of the last 10 SEC Championships, and that is largely courtesy of Alabama. With the Crimson Tide still returning some major pieces on offense, as well as the second-best recruiting class in 2020, they could be poised to return to the top spot in the SEC.
2019 Record: (12-2, 7-1 CONF)
The Georgia Bulldogs put together a nearly perfect regular season aside from a 20-17 double overtime loss to South Carolina. As a result, Georgia reached the SEC Championship as winner of the SEC East for the third consecutive season.
The Bulldogs lose some significant pieces heading into the upcoming season as both starting quarterback Jake Fromm and running back De’Andre Swift both leave to enter the NFL Draft.
Yet, Georgia shouldn’t skip a beat as they inherit the top recruiting class in 2020 to help fill the voids of Fromm and Swift.
As three-time SEC East champions, the Bulldogs have good value at +550 to win it all. Georgia is a strong and safe bet to win the SEC with the good possibility of at least reaching the SEC title game.
2019 Record: (9-4, 5-3 CONF)
The Auburn Tigers have the longest shot to win the SEC of the teams on this list, yet return most of the major pieces of the team that won the Iron Bowl against Alabama last season. Auburn’s three conferences losses came at the hands of #4 Georgia (21-14), #2 LSU (23-20) and #10 Florida (24-13).
The Tigers return the team’s leading rusher and receiver, as well as starting quarterback Bo Nix. He had a stellar freshman season after throwing for 2,542 yards for 16 touchdowns with six interceptions while adding 313 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
Running back JaTarvious Whitlow rushed for 763 yards with 10 touchdowns, and wideout Seth Williams caught 59 passes for 830 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Tigers have the make-up to put together an impressive run in 2020, but will need another Iron Bowl win as well as turning around at least two of the three significant losses they suffered in conference. With the young core returning, I like Auburn at (+1400) as a solid dark-horse bet to win the SEC.