2021 SEC Football Picks & Predictions: Is It Georgia's Time To Shine?
The Southeastern Conference has been in the news this week for developments that won’t come to fruition until some time after the 2021 season. The addition of Texas and Oklahoma, whenever it happens, will make the country’s strongest league stronger (at the expense of just about everyone else in college football). As big news as that is, it’ll eventually move to the backburner when the season kicks off this fall. Per usual, the SEC will have a lot going on.
Here are six futures picks I like in the league this fall. Futures can be a good value opportunity if you don’t mind letting a sportsbook hang onto your cash for a few months, and they can also be a fun way to track a team’s progress over the course of a season. The odds here are via DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, and they might vary depending on where you place your bet. You should also check your book’s policy on how it treats canceled games.
SEC Futures Picks
Georgia To Win The SEC @ +225
The Dawgs’ biggest problem the last few years has been the lack of a top-end quarterback to supplement their absurd talent just about everywhere else on the roster. I am cautiously optimistic that Kirby Smart has addressed that issue. JT Daniels was great after taking over the starting job at Thanksgiving time in 2020, and his five-star recruiting pedigree further suggests that he gives UGA a lot of upside at the game’s most important position. He’ll have arguably the best offensive line and best receiving group in the SEC to help him. The Dawgs are replacing a lot in the secondary, but I’m OK trusting that Smart’s recruiting will pay off and the newbies will play well. I like this conference bet more than a team win total bet, because there’s a fair chance UGA will lose a season-opening non-conference game to Clemson. That, of course, would not do anything to hurt them in the SEC standings.
Texas A&M To Win SEC West @ +600
Texas A&M Over 9.5 Wins@ +100
To me, the Aggies at +600 are considerably better value than Alabama at -425, or whatever number you’ll find the Tide at. Bama is the eternal favorite in this division, and for good reason: The Tide have the track record and the recruiting to be the likeliest winner every year. But Bama has a tricky league schedule and is replacing a lot this year even by its own lofty standards, and A&M has great depth just about everywhere but quarterback. I am willing to bet on Jimbo Fisher’s ability to get enough out of the QB room to make a serious run in the West. It helps that the Aggies-Tide game on October 9 is in College Station rather than Tuscaloosa.
To the same point, I like the over on a 9.5 A&M win total. It’s extremely unlikely that the Aggies drop any of their four non-conference games against Kent State, Colorado, New Mexico, and Prairie View A&M. (The former two might be pretty good teams this year, but Kent State in particular won’t have the muscle to keep up with the Aggies.) That means A&M will need to go 6-2 in the SEC to cash the over, and I think the Aggies can get there even with a loss to Bama.
Missouri Under 7 Wins @ +110
Mizzou was one of the better stories of the 2020 season. Some thought the Tigers would be the worst non-Vanderbilt team in the SEC, but they managed a 5-5 record and proved able to win both slugfests and shootouts. But .500 is a lot closer to their ceiling than their floor, and it will take a lot for them to push (let alone beat) a seven-win total. Connor Bazelak should be one of the league’s better quarterbacks, but I have real questions about his supporting cast, both at receiver and on the offensive line. (His best receiver, Damon Hazelton, is gone, as is arguably his best offensive lineman, Larry Borom.) The Tigers’ schedule only has two-slam dunk losses, against Georgia and Florida, but it doesn’t have more than three or four highly likely wins. The bet here is that enough tossups will break against Mizzou for the under to pay out.
Vanderbilt Under 3.5 Wins @ -110
The 2020 Commodores went 0-9 and were one of the worst teams in SEC history. I do not see any reason they should win a conference game in 2021, either, as new coach Clark Lea embarks one of the most significant rebuilds in the country. Of course, the ‘Dores get to play four non-conference games this year, and they should beat FCS East Tennessee State and even UConn. But if they don’t also beat one of Stanford (not going to happen) and Colorado State (maybe not going to happen either), there’s almost no way they get to four wins. I’m willing to bet on either a 2-2 non-conference slate and one SEC win, or 3-1 and 0-8.
Kentucky Over 7 Wins @ -120
Mark Stoops has a knack for churning out sneaky good teams in the SEC East, and he’s poised to do it again this fall. The Wildcats are likely to have one of the SEC’s more powerful running games, as they frequently have over the last handful of seasons, thanks to a nice group of running backs and offensive linemen. I’m not sure if either Will Levis or Joey Gatewood, two transfer QBs, will turn out to be much good. But the beauty of Kentucky’s situation is that they might not have to be good in order for UK to win eight games. The Cats’ schedule includes ULM, Chattanooga, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and New Mexico State, and that could be seven wins right there before even getting into opportunities against Mizzou, LSU, and a shaky Louisville. Only two games (Florida and Georgia) feel like close-to-sure losses, and I expect Kentucky to pile up wins pretty quickly against this schedule.