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SEC Futures, Win Totals | Action Analytics’ 2023 Betting Preview

SEC Futures, Win Totals | Action Analytics’ 2023 Betting Preview article feature image

Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Milton III (Tennessee)

Last, but certainly not least, for the Action Analytics 2023 betting previews is the SEC.

What else is there to say about the league, which is coming off yet another CFP title. Georgia absolutely embarrassed TCU on a national stage after one of the greatest CFP semifinal rounds of all time.

However, is this the first year both Georgia and Alabama are vulnerable? Could another program come up and take the crown?

Both Alabama and Georgia lost their long-time starting quarterbacks, their best defensive player(s) and may have staunch challengers in their respective divisions.

But who's going to rise up?

Is it going to be Tennessee, riding the success of last season? Kentucky, with its new high-profile transfer quarterback (boy does that sound familiar)? Or will it be LSU, which opens the season against Florida State in Atlanta?

Read on to find out!

Tennessee Under 8.5 Wins (+145)

We're starting this article out with the rare "alternate" win total. This can be found under wins -> alternate win totals on DraftKings.

The reason for this bet is simple: I don't believe Joe Milton III can be a consistently good quarterback in the SEC. There's no denying that he has an absolute cannon attached to his right arm and can make some absolutely beautiful throws.

However, I'm not a believer that he can do it week in and week out.

So much of this Tennessee offense is about scheming people open and quick decisions from the quarterback. Tennessee's low returning production numbers makes me question if the unit will be nearly as potent as last season.

The Volunteers will definitely be our most controversial Power 5 ranking, as we have a pronounced difference in our power rating versus other rankings — such as SP.

But that's OK.

If everyone was high and low on the same teams this would be a boring job.

I don't think I could actually hold any stock in our preseason projections if I didn't take this under; we only have Tennessee favored in six games.

At the end of the day, this bet comes down to how Milton plays. If he can be a very good quarterback consistently, I'm going to look like a moron. If he can't, I think this bet cashes easily.

Kentucky Over 7 Wins (-115)

Kentucky Wildcat fans will forget all about Will Levis (which, being honest, isn't too tall of a task) when they see Devin Leary play.

Leary transfers into Lexington after a very successful career at NC State. He posted PFF grades of 78.9 and 84.6 in 2021 and 2022, respectively, guiding the Wolfpack to a 17-4 record as a starter.

The hype was starting to build last offseason — culminating in being named ACC Preseason of the Year — until he went down with a season-ending injury against Florida State.

I'm sure he's hoping for a fresh start and a chance to rebuild his draft stock at Kentucky. (If you want to talk about QBs rocketing up draft boards over the course of a single season, keep an eye here.)

Leary is expected to revive an offense that was anemic last year under Levis.

Meanwhile, outside of the pass rush, the defense is ready to go. While not returning a ton of production on the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats still rank a very respectable 63rd in defensive returning production.

If they want to turn the corner in 2023, they must be able to put more pressure on the quarterback. A havoc ranking of 103rd in 2023 won't be enough to hit eight wins.

What is the Wildcats' path to eight wins? Well, starting your schedule off with Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, Akron and Vanderbilt certainly helps. Their first real test will be in Week 5 against Florida, but even then, they get the Gators at home.

In fact, outside of Georgia, they play some of their toughest opponents (Tennessee, Florida and Alabama) at home.

However, ending their schedule at South Carolina and Louisville could be a back breaker if they're coming into that stretch with six or seven wins.

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LSU to Win SEC (+460)

Last year, I saw something I never thought I would see: Brian Kelly out-coached Nick Saban. Flat out.

LSU vs. Alabama was one of the most exciting games of the 2023 season, but make no mistake, despite going to OT, the better team won that night.

In particular, I think the two-point conversion call showcased a lot of growth on Kelly's part. Why take a game to OT when you can essentially run a pick play with no risk? If a penalty is called, you just take the extra point.

Unlike Alabama and Georgia, we're going to know right away how good this LSU team is when it takes on Florida State in Week 1. And spoiler: I think we're going to find out the Tigers are a championship contender.

They may have the most electrifying offensive player in the country in Jayden Daniels and the most electrifying defensive player in Harold Perkins Jr. That's an excellent start to any team.

However, it's not going to be a two man show down in Baton Rouge, as the Tigers are returning a ton of production on both sides of the ball.

The setup of the Tigers' schedule is somewhat favorable as well, with Ole Miss and Alabama being their two tough away games. They managed to avoid Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky, and they close out conference play with two home games against Florida and Texas A&M.

I know LSU closed out a lot of one-possession games last year, but you know what? Sometimes that's indicative of a good team that's ready to make the leap.

Alternatively, it could be because the Tigers got lucky. But I'm willing to bet that wasn't the case.

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