Wayne Root: Handicapping The SEC


Handicapping the SEC

The SEC always starts league play earlier than everyone else. A few games are in the books already. Much of the league is involved in marquee matchups Saturday that will be filling the airwaves. With ESPN's new contract with the league, even some non-marquee games are getting national TV coverage. The prime time games on ESPN and ESPN2 are Vanderbilt at South Carolina and Florida at Kentucky. Give me a break!

Even if you're not watching those games, you will be checking out Arkansas/Alabama during the day on CBS, and national championship contender LSU in a non-conference prime time game at West Virginia on ABC. That makes this a good time to review some handicapping keys for betting SEC games.

*The SEC is the closest thing in college football to the NFL. This is a very PHYSICAL league and a very FAST league at the same time. It's smashmouth football in the trenches...but it's also blow and go football when a skill position player gets out into the open field. The SEC recruits from all the Southern football hotbeds. The league is absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball. Remember that in non-conference games (particularly the bowls). And, be careful asking too much of the lesser lights like Vandy and Kentucky because they just can't recruit in the same way that the powers do.

*The SEC is also like the NFL in that many of the powers are flat as a pancake certain weeks! Sometimes you'll see the very best of the NFL blow off a game against somebody like Oakland or Cincinnati. They just can't get the juices flowing because they just played New England or Pittsburgh, or maybe somebody like Green Bay or the NY Jets are on deck. No matter how strong the top SEC teams are, they seem to have at least one or two games per year apiece where they really have to sweat one out as a big favorite. THIS is where you can consider taking a Vandy or a Kentucky...when they're live dogs against a possibly flat favorite. Possibly the single biggest key for handicapping SEC football is understanding the ebb and flow of team motivation on a week-to-week basis.

*The SEC is a lower scoring league than many others because they emphasize defense and the running game. You get a lot more "field position" games in the SEC where the clock is running almost all of the time. That can yield some great Under bets when conditions line up. You saw that last week with LSU-Mississippi State in the Thursday Night game. Ole Miss/Vandy stayed way Under last Saturday even though it was a blowout. Oddsmakers have made some adjustments for this...but not enough in my view, particularly in certain kinds of matchups.

Now, it's true that Auburn was very explosive last season. They had what could turn out to be a once-in-a-generation player in Cam Newton. Let's see how this year's offense performs on the field against the likes of Alabama or LSU. There are certainly a few teams who will play high scoring games in the SEC. It's generally not a league with a lot of wild and crazy scoring shootouts though. There are too many defensive athletes for that to work.

Whenever I'm handicapping an SEC game, I pretty much go in the order I just outlined. I determine who has the better talent. I determine who has the better motivation (some of my biggest SHOCK THE SYSTEM upset calls in recent years have come in the SEC thanks to very motivated underdogs). And, I decide if the total is worth my consideration because oddsmakers have overshot the mark.

If I have a BIG play in this league...it's usually going to be a talented underdog that has a motivational edge on their opponent. I've always emphasized the importance of those motivational edges when finding PINNACLE plays or PERFECT plays.

Is Kentucky talented enough to catch Florida napping if the Gators let down off the win over Tennessee? Is Vandy talented enough to exploit what's turned out to be a soft South Carolina defense? Will the new Arkansas quarterback be able to maintain his composure against Alabama's defense? Is LSU do to get stung by an upset because they're not giving enough respect to a non-conference opponent like West Virginia? Nobody's talking about Georgia-Ole Miss. Maybe THAT'S a game you should pay more attention to.

My Saturday games...which may or may not be emphasizing the SEC this week (sometimes I drop hints in my articles...sometimes I'm throwing oddsmakers off the scent!)...will be available for credit card purchase here at the website Saturday morning. I've been absolutely on fire so far in college football. I strongly encourage you to join me for my Heavyweight Knockout of the Year (see more on my home page video!) that represents my biggest release so far this football season.

If you have any questions, call my office at 1-877-766-8946. As the SEC wars continue this week, it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


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