Although we still have the long, hot months of July and August to suffer through before college football at last re-enters our lives, prognosticators are already looking ahead. Las Vegas’ Westgate Casino released its odds for the Power 5 conference championships, which contained a few interesting nuggets in the SEC:
#CFB odds to win #SEC Championship game (via @WestgateVegas):#Alabama 5-8#Georgia 5-2#Auburn 7-1#MSU 12-1#LSU 18-1 #Florida 18-1#Mizzou 20-1#TexasAM 30-1#SouthCarolina 30-1#Tennessee 100-1#UK 300-1#Arkansas 300-1#Vanderbilt 500-1 pic.twitter.com/UroY7lM1Tu— SportsLine (@SportsLine) July 10, 2018
Taking a glance at the favorites doesn’t reveal any surprises — Alabama and Georgia are deservedly at the top, followed by West heavyweights Auburn and Mississippi State. At 18-1, Florida appears to have been given quite a bit of additional respect with Dan Mullen now back in Gainesville, and Missouri at 20-1 is...well, it’s an interesting choice. The Gamecocks share middling 30-1 odds with fierce rival Texas A&M, and then the rest of the conference drops off from there. (Ole Miss isn’t on the list, thanks to its NCAA postseason punishment.)
These odds, while more or less fair to South Carolina’s overall chances to win the East and the conference, reminded me of ESPN’s Football Power Index forecast for 2018, which was released earlier this summer. FPI has the Gamecocks pegged at 28th in the country, but projects a 7-5 record this season.
It’s not my intention to play the lack of respect card here, but I do find it unusual there isn’t more positive buzz for the Gamecocks. South Carolina has what is likely its easiest schedule in at least a decade, thanks to a pretty soft out-of-conference slate, and the SEC schedule sets up favorably as well. Throw in the fact the Gamecocks are coming off a nine-win season despite missing their most explosive star in Deebo Samuel — and have tons of other returning talent — and 7-5 would frankly be a disappointment. From an inside perspective, this feels like the type of season that could be a stepping stone, and at the minimum, it’d be surprising if it fell short of last year’s results.
What do y’all think?