Win totals and odds as of August 20, 2020. These odds are being changed pretty frequently, and
taken on and off sites due to all the unknowns of the upcoming season.*
LSU- o/u7 (-140o/+110u)
I think it’s only fair that we start with the defending national champs. For years, I heard
people say, “Man, if LSU just had a quarterback...,” and I was totally in agreement with them.
Over the last decade, LSU could not stop the tide from rolling. Top ten matchup after top ten
matchup, I watched LSU fight and claw to stay in games with Alabama, but the quarterback play
was never on par. I think the day LSU came to life under Coach Ogeron was on October 13,
2018, when #2 ranked Georgia came to the Bayou and got smacked. I remember watching that
game and thinking, “This Burrow kid is better than Fromm.” Then when LSU opened up the
season at Texas in 2019, I remember thinking, “This Burrow kid could win the Heisman.” Okay,
so this is coming from a guy who knew the caliber of athletes LSU had, knew that they just
needed a quarterback, and knew that they had one in Joe Burrow. I still did not think they were
going to walk into Bryant-Denny stadium and outscore Tua Tugavialoa and his unbelievable cast
of wide receivers, and I definitely did not think that Coach Ogeron was going to out-coach Nick
Saban. I was wrong of course, and the 2019 LSU Tigers went on to have one of the most
impressive college football seasons of all time.
Enough about last year, let’s talk about the upcoming season. LSU is only returning two
starters from its record-setting offense. Myles Brennan at least knows the system, but this is
where losing Ja’Marr Chase really hurts because now he really only has experience with
Marshall. LSU got the number one player in the country coming out of high school, and he’ll be
expected to come in and see immediate playing time at TE. Something that I think is being
overlooked is how good their offensive line was last year. It’s harder for guys to step in and gel
at offensive line compared to other positions. They return five starters on defense, including first
round talents Dereck Stingley and JaCoby Stevens. Having a limited fan capacity will also hurt
LSU, as many regard Death Valley as one of the hardest environments to play in, especially at
night. While I am a believer in Coach O, and I think he is a master motivator and probably a
top-five coach. I don’t see how LSU can even attempt to replicate the passing attack they had in
2019. The loss of OC Joe Brady also hurts themI can’t recall ever seeing an offense that was as
aggressive as LSU’s last year. We’re about to find out how much of that was Brady and how
much was Steve Esminger.
A compelling argument can really be made for LSU either way on this total. Their first
three games are Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Missouri. I think this could possibly give them
enough time to get things clicking with all the new pieces on offense. They play at Florida, at
Auburn, Alabama, and at A&M, but they got really lucky with the scheduling. The only games
that are back-to-back are Alabama after Auburn, and both LSU and Alabama have a bye week
before. I also imagine that the players in the locker room are getting a little tired of hearing about
how last season was basically an anomaly, and that they’re a seven-win team now without
Burrow. Now, on the other hand, I think that the players on Florida, Alabama, and A&M are
probably a little tired of hearing about the, “greatest college football team of all time” and would
love to get some revenge. Like I said, I could go either way on this one.
Alabama- o/u8 (-170o/+140u)
It appears that people are pretty bearish on Alabama headed into the 2020 season. The
consensus seems to be that Alabama is still a potential playoff team, but a tier below Clemson
and Ohio State. Alabama went undefeated in 2018 until losing to Clemson in the National
Championship game–a year where they practically blew everyone out, and Tua got snubbed out
of a heisman. They lost two games in 2019, 46-41 against LSU and 48-45 against Auburn. So
Saban loses two close games to two good teams, and we start to hear the whispers that he’s done
or that they won’t be able to win without Tua. Look, the defense was the issue for Alabama last
year. I believe they’ll be able to win games with Mac Jones at the helm. They won’t be able to
run the same spread offense as they did with Tua. So what? They didn’t run a spread when they
won a championship with Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron, or Jake Coker. The biggest positive for
this team headed into 2020 was the decision of Alex Leatherwood, Najee Harris, and Devonta
Smith to forego the draft and play their senior season. I think having those guys in the locker
room will help immensely in a season where motivation will be an especially crucial factor. With
some conferences still up in the air about playing football this fall, I can see many players just
going through the motions and focusing more on the draft. I think that as long as these seniors on
Alabama believe that they’ll be able to play against Clemson in January, they'll keep that chip on
their shoulder. As I touched on earlier, I think we could see more singleback offense sets this
season with Mac Jones under center. This team will still be able to throw the ball, and they still
have Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, who should both be first round picks. I think Najee
Harris is going to get a lot more touches in what could be reminiscent of the Derrick Henry or
Eddie Lacy days at Alabama. The Tide returns four out of five offensive lineman. Alex
Leatherwood is the most popular returning starter, but the interior offensive lineman deserves
more recognition. Left guard Evan Neal started all thirteen games as a true freshman and was the
number one offensive line prospect coming out of high school. He is 6’7 360lbs. At center, they
have a redshirt senior who transferred from FSU. He held up very well for the Tide last season.
Deonte Brown is at right guard, a very physical run blocker who is 6’4 340lbs. When the
Heisman odds got released, I liked Najee Harris at 40/1. He’s currently at 30/1 because some
players, who presumably won’t be playing, have been taken off that list. Quarterbacks usually
win the Heisman, and how is Trevor Lawrence going to not win at least once? I think the Harris
bet has some good value though, and is worth some dinner money. If a non-quarterback is going
to win the Heisman, this could be the year.
On defense, the tide lost some significant production out of their secondary with Xavier
McKinney, Trevon Diggs, Shyeim Carter, and Jared Mayden all turning pro. They return
defensive back Patrick Surtain II, a former five star recruit who earned honorable mention All
American honors by pro football focus last season. Surtain II had forty-two tackles last year, as
well as eight pass breakups and three forced fumbles. I think Surtain has first round potential,
and he will have to be the leader of this secondary if they want to improve from last year. Jordan
Battle will most likely play a more pivotal role in the Alabama secondary as well, as he looks to
follow up his solid freshman season where he played in all thirteen games, and started in four.
Battle was a unanimous four star prospect coming out of football powerhouse, St. Thomas
Aquinas in Florida.
Alabama is going to have a fantastic linebacking core this season. Everyone knows about
Dylan Moses returning for his senior season. Moses was one of the most coveted high school
prospects I can remember. Christian Harris and Shane Lee were both thrown into the fire as
freshman last season and responded very well. The two combined for 147 total tackles and
fourteen tackles for loss while both earning freshman All American honors. Moses is 6’3,
240lbs; Lee is 6’0, 240lbs; and Harris is 6’2, 230 lbs–these boys can absolutely bring the wood.
The defensive line was the weakest part of the defense last year, as they were unable to
generate the kind of pass rush we’re accustomed to seeing. Raekwon Davis stayed for his senior
season and played very well. He drew many double teams but did not receive much help from his
supporting cast. They’re also returning Byron Young and Labryan Ray . They have a handful of
four star freshman defensive lineman coming in who could very well improve this unit, but
there’s plenty of uncertainty there. They should be a solid unit. There’s just not that Quinnen
Williams, Jonathan Allen, or Daron Payne standout-type player. Dylan Moses will most likely
play more of an edge rush position, where he’ll be able to help the defensive line this year.
I like this team to go over their win total. In fact, I think they’ll most likely go
undefeated. Georgia is the only team I could realistically see beating them. The offensive line is
just too good, as are their other weapons on offense . I don’t know what film people have been
watching on Mac Jones because the kid can flat out play. Is he as good as Tua? Well, no, not
many are. But we’ve all seen Alabama dominate even with less-than phenomenal quarterbacks,
and Jones is nothing to scoff at. I expect him to impress this year. I also love Jaylen Waddle.
This kid made so many big plays on special teams last year, and I honestly thought he was their
second most valuable receiver behind Jeudy.
Auburn- o/u6.5 (-115o/-115u)
Auburn went 9-4 last season after playing the third hardest schedule in the country. Their
losses came at Florida, LSU, Georgia, and in the Outback Bowl against Minnesota. The offense
was led by true freshman Bo Nix, who threw for 2,500 yards and sixteen touchdowns and ran for
313 yards and seven touchdowns. Nix had four games where his completion percentage was
below fifty percent; those games were against Oregon, Florida, LSU, and Alabama. Nix also
threw all of his interceptions in three of those games. This year, we could see even better pass
production, as Auburn returns its top three pass catchers. Their leading rusher, JaTarvious
Whitlow, however, entered the transfer portal at the end of the 2019 season and is now at
Western Illinois. Apparently, Whitlow and the Auburn coaching staff did not get along. DJ
Williams will be the lead back headed into 2020. The true sophomore averaged 4.8 yards on
eighty-four carries last season. They also have junior Shaun Shivers who averaged 5.2 yards on
fifty-five carries last season. Concerning though is Auburn’s loss of four starters from their
offensive line. They did get a transfer who was rated as the #2 juco offensive lineman in the
country, who should help them reload. I don’t know if the Tigers will be able to run the ball as
effectively as they did last season, especially entering a year where continuity will presumably
play a huge role. Bo Nix may be forced to make more plays with his feet. We should get an idea
of how this line is going to hold up by week two when they face a stellar Georgia defense.
On defense, this team lost some heavy hitters to the draft in Derrick Brown and Marlon
Davidson. They also lost their two leading tacklers from last season, who played in the
secondary. They will have a solid linebacking core that includes: KJ Britt (sr.), Zackoby
McClain (jr.), and Owen Pappoe (soph.). This defense kept them in a lot of games last year, and
Derrick Brown had a large part in that. However, they do have a pretty solid stable of four star
recruits, especially along the defensive line. Auburn is one of those schools that just breeds
defensive lineman. I think Auburn will be able to reload on defense more smoothly than on
This is a talented enough roster, but Bo Nix will have to step up his game if this team is
to go above their win total, which I think he is capable of doing. They face a very tough
schedule, ranked the 7th toughest by ESPN and 11th by Phil Steele. Assuming they can beat
Kentucky, Arkansas, @South Carolina, @Ole Miss, @Miss State, and Tennessee, they will only
have to win one game between @Georgia, LSU, @Alabama, and Texas A&M to go over their
win total. I like the over, but if you want to play it safe, I think their week two game against a
Georgia team that returns almost its entire defense will be a good indicator of how Nix and the
offensive line will perform this year.
Texas A&M- o/u7 (-115o/-115u)
Jimbo Fisher went 9-4 and 8-5 in his first two seasons as head coach for the Aggies.
A&M has the sixth ranked 2020 recruiting class and the fourth ranked 2019 recruiting class.
Kellen Mond is the senior quarterback. I don’t think this season is make or break for Jimbo
Fisher quite yet. A&M is returning eight starters on offense and defense, sixteen total. Spin zone:
their offense was ranked 62nd in PPG and their defense was 38th in opponents PPG last season.
The Aggies played an absolutely brutal schedule last season, and they finished last in the SEC in
turnover margin. They had to play three teams that were ranked number one at the time,
Clemson, Alabama, and LSU. This year, they play at Alabama week two, followed by Florida
week three. They have back-to-back road games at South Carolina with South Carolina off a bye,
then at Tennessee. They finish up the season with LSU and then at Auburn.
Kellen Mond is a very talented player with a big arm, who can also run. However, Mond
is very inconsistent and tends to sail throws occasionally. I don’t put all of the blame on him
though. The offense tends to play pretty passively, to the point where it looks like they’re trying
to lose by a close margin rather than trying to win. When I watched the film, A&M’s offensive
line just didn’t appear to have the same type of guys up front against Auburn and Alabama. They
do return some really talented skill players in Isiah Spiller, Jhamon Ausbon, and Jalen
Wydermyer. Wydermyer is a 6’5 265lb TE. He made eleven starts as a freshman and hauled in
thirty-two catches and six touchdowns. Look for him to improve this year.
Defensively, they’re losing tackle Justin Madubuike, who was probably their best pass
rusher. They should still be strong up front thoughTyree Johnson and Bobby Brown were both
named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2018 and combined for twenty-one starts last season.
Their linebackers are Anthony Hines III and Buddy Johnson. Buddy Johnson started all thirteen
games for the Aggies last year, leading the team in tackles. They have Demani Richardson at
safety. He was third on the team in tackles and named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. They also
have Jaylon Jones coming in, the number one ranked safety in the country. He could have an
instant impact on this defense.
This win total is a tough one for me. I think they lose to Alabama week two. They’re
going to have to win two games between Florida, LSU, and Auburn to reach eight wins. With the
line at seven, I think this is a push to under. I just don’t know which Kellen Mond I’m going to
see week in and week out. Could I see them winning eight games? Yes. It’s just not something
I’d put my money on. I know he’s only been there two years and they play a brutal schedule, but
Jimbo hasn’t convinced me yet.
Mississippi State- o/u4 (+140o/-170u)
New Head Coach, Mike Leach, got rid of Moorehead after going 8-5 and 6-7. They
played the 7th toughest schedule in the country last year. Unfortunately for them, they will face
the 2nd toughest schedule in the country this year. We all know Mike Leach as this kind of
oddball coach who runs this crazy aggressive air raid offense. Some fans may be thinking that,
you know, “It’s 2020. Our offense already threw the ball a decent amount last year. This
transition won’t be bad.” Wrong. Mississippi State ran the ball on roughly 63% of its plays last
year. A Mike Leach offense throws the ball close to 80% of the time. This team is just in a really,
really bad situation coming into the season with the lack of spring practices. Making such a huge
transition is hard, especially when you are about to play the second toughest schedule in the
country. The Bulldogs start out at LSU, followed by Arkansas, at KY, and A&M. Will Leach try
to maybe ease his team into his air raid offense, or will he go out against LSU week one and
throw the ball fifty times? I know which way I’m leaning. Just to be clear, I’m not knocking
Mike Leach or his offense. He’s shown he can win games at a high level. His all-time record is
139-90, but he had slow starts at Texas Tech and Washington State. I just think the transition is
going to be especially hard this season, and we’re definitely going to see some growing pains.
K.J. Costello transferred in the spring from Stanford. Leach said he is familiar with the
high school Costello graduated from, as well as from watching him play in the same conference.
Garrett Shrader stepped up and played nicely as a true freshman last year. He’s a really gritty
guy, who can run and throw. Coach Leach said there will be open competition for the starting
job. Kylin Hill is a stud running back and a true workhorse. He averaged over 100 yards a game
last year and has not fumbled in 430 career carries. They return leading WR Osirus Mitchell.
Returning starters along the offensive line are Greg Eiland and Dareuan Parker. Eiland is 6’8,
335lbs. He moved from left tackle to right tackle last season and is a very physical run blocker.
They’re pretty young along the defensive line, and this was a unit that didn’t produce
much of a pass rush last year. Jordan Davis will probably see some playing time as a freshman.
They lost three safeties and a linebacker to the NFL, and while these aren’t guys that went in the
first or second rounds, it’s still very hard to replace guys like that. They return their leading
tackler in Erroll Thompson. He will most likely be the leader and the voice of this defense.
Overall though, this defense is really young. I know they’re reloading with talented kids, but so
is everyone in the SEC, most at a higher level than Mississippi State.
I think this team is in a similar situation as Ole Miss, but they definitely have it worse. I
mean their schedule is absolutely terrible. They’re not going to have a second to catch their
breath. I think four wins would be a really successful season for this team. I really do. I think
they could finish as bad as 2-8 or even 1-9.
Ole Miss- o/u4 (-115o/-115u)
The Rebels acquired a new Head Coach in Lane Kiffin this off-season, a hire that I really
like. I think Lane will be great on the recruiting trail, and he has SEC coaching experience. As
far as this season goes though, I’m not too high on the Rebels. According to their practice
reports, the coaches really want to open up the offense. “Fast” is the word most commonly used
to describe it. Matt Corral has been taking most of the first team reps at QB, not John Plumlee. I
like Corral over Plumlee. They were both utilized last year in the offense. Plumlee is a pretty
good runner, but I think Corral is definitely the superior passer. This team is really deep at
running back, and the offense is designed to get them the ball in space. Jerrion Ealy will receive
the bulk of the workload. He averaged 6.9 YPC and 8.6 YPR last season. He’s a really fun player
to watch. The Rebels also bring back their leading receiver in Elijiah Moore. I think it’s going to
be a challenge implementing this new offense with the limited number of spring practices. They
still haven’t really said who their starting quarterback is going to be. I think it’ll be Corral, but
Plumlee could still get a decent amount of snaps.
Defense returns 64% of its production to a unit that was pretty bad last season. Ole Miss
was one of the worst teams in the FBS against the pass. Against the run, they are boom or bust.
The Rebels’ defense gave up less than sixty-four rush yards in games that they won, as opposed
to 176 in games they lost. They return their top two leading tacklers in Lakia Henry and Jacquez
Jones. Senior linebacker and team sack leader, Sam Williams, has been suspended for conduct
detrimental to the team. This is a big blow to this defense. Quinten Bivens and Tarigious Tisdale
will have to improve if this team is to generate any kind of threatening pass rush.
This team could very well start off 0-3. They play Florida week one, then they head to
Kentucky to play a team that runs the ball very well and has lots of returning production along
the offensive line. Week three they play Alabama. I’ll give them a win against Arkansas, loss
against Auburn, and a win against Vandy. That leaves SC, A&M, Miss State, and LSU. Could I
see Lane pulling off an upset against A&M or LSU late in the season? Yes, especially
considering that A&M has Ole Miss after back-to-back road games and before they play LSU.
Maybe they get caught in a look ahead spot, a real possibility. The talent gap is still pretty wide
between Ole Miss and the top teams in the conference though. I just can’t back this team under a
new head coach in a year with limited spring practices, especially with a tough beginning to the
schedule. I like the trajectory of this team under Lane Kiffin though. I think we could see a lot of
Ole Miss overs this season.
Arkansas- o/u1.5 (+125o/-155u)
Arkansas went 2-8 last year, including a loss to San Jose State and Western Kentucky.
Also, they didn’t just lose to Western Kentucky. They got gashed by Western Kentucky.
Arkansas started five different quarterbacks last year. This year, Felipe Franks will presumably
be the starting quarterback. I think Felipe is fine, and they have Rakeem Boyd at running back,
who is an absolute stud. I think many people were puzzled when he said he was going to stay for
his senior season. Arkansas lost four starters off their offensive line, and they’re bringing in a
new coach, Sam Pittman. I know a lot of people are high on Sam Pittman, but this team has a
brand new quarterback who is playing behind a new offensive line on a team that didn’t have a
single spring practice AND hasn’t won an SEC game since 2016! I’ll talk about the defense for a
little now. They’re bad too! They gave up almost 37 points per game last season. That ranks
124th out of 130th. If I was going to try to talk someone into Arkansas, I’d say that the team quit
on the coach last year, and they're excited to play for Pittman. I think it’s too little too late
though. Oh, and not to mention that they play what some are calling the hardest schedule in
college football history next year! I think the only winnable game on their schedule is week two
at Mississippi State. I think most people are looking towards the under here, and I get pretty
tempted to against what seems like a consensus pick. Not on this one though–I’ll take the under.
You can follow Nick on Twitter @NickHebenstreit