Florida over 7.5 wins (-140): Things can only go up for Florida after finishing 4-8 last season and having a roster filled with injured players. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is healthy and I think he will play up to his potential this season. Will Muschamp knows he is on the hot seat and you can always count on his defense to play well. Look for sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III to be a household name by the end of the season. Florida’s schedule is challenging with cross-division conference games at Alabama and home against LSU. They make the trip at the end of the season to Tallahassee to play Florida State. I think they will win one of the two games against Georgia and South Carolina. I also think they will beat LSU. Great programs rebound after a disappointing season and I think Florida will win nine games.
Vanderbilt under 6 (-160): James Franklin built a great program in Nashville and the Commodores have been the state’s best team in the last three seasons. Franklin left for Penn State and Vanderbilt replaced him with Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason. I think Vanderbilt will go winless or win only one game in conference play. Their SEC cross-divsion games are against Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I think Tennessee will get double revenge on Vanderbilt, which leaves the games against improving Kentucky as the only game I can see them winning. The loss of quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels won’t be a huge blow but replacing wide receiver Jordan Matthews will be a more difficult task for the Commodores.
Tennessee under 5.5 wins (+110): Second year coach Butch Jones has the Tennessee program in the right direction. However, the young Volunteers will have one more mediocre season before becoming a real force in the SEC East. Quarterback Justin Worley will have a lot of pressure on him early to keep his starting role. Utah State to open the season isn’t an easy game at all. A week 3 trip to Oklahoma will be a great learning opportunity for Tennessee but won’t help them this season. They have to travel to Georgia at the end of the September. They host Florida the next week and have trips to Ole Miss and South Carolina later in the season with a home game against Alabama sandwiched between. They finish against Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt, and I think the Volunteers will have six losses before those three games. They will drop one of the last three games and won’t be bowl eligible again.
South Carolina over 9.5 wins (-125): I have the Gamecocks winning the SEC East. A big reason is playing Georgia at home this year. Away trips to Auburn, Florida and Clemson won’t be easy but I still think the Gamecocks will win double-digit games for the fourth straight season.
Auburn under 9 wins (+105): Auburn has the potential to have one of the best offenses in the country. That is the only reason why Auburn isn’t in the best bets section for under their win total. Everything went Auburn’s way last season and teams like Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama will be looking for revenge when they meet the Tigers. Auburn also has to play South Carolina along with the grueling SEC West slate, and a Thursday night away game at Kansas State.
LSU under 9 wins (-105): LSU has a new quarterback and will rely on a pair of true freshman offensively in running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Malachi Dupre. LSU open the season against Wisconsin, so their new players will be tested immediately. The SEC West schedule and a trip to Florida will make it hard for the Tigers to win nine games. However, it’s hard to confidently pick against a Les Miles team when there aren’t many expectations.
Ole Miss over 8 wins (-115): The Rebels have an experienced quarterback in Bo Wallace and Hugh Freeze’s loaded recruiting classes are starting to play a major part in the program. They have a reasonable schedule outside the SEC West with an opener against Boise State, at Vanderbilt and home against Tennessee.
Mississippi State over 7.5 wins (-115): Mississippi State can win eight games this year. I think quarterback Dak Prescott will have a huge season in Dan Mullen’s offense. It’s hard to confidently back a team with away trips to LSU, Alabama and revenge-minded Ole Miss as part of their schedule.
1. South Carolina
2. Ole Miss
5. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M