Here comes the SEC!
Vanderbilt takes the field Thursday night, starting a run of 11 SEC bowl appearances the next six days. Though the league made big money for backers in non-conference action during the regular season (34-21-1, 62 percent against the spread), sharps betting early have been a bit skeptical about the nation’s power league running roughshod over bowl opponents.
- Vanderbilt (-4) battles Baylor Wednesday night in the Texas Bowl (ESPN, 9 p.m.). That’s down from an opener of -4¹/₂. Keep in mind the lines you see at local sports books on game day may have been adjusted from those widely available at publication deadlines.
- Auburn (-3¹/₂) meets Purdue Thursday in the Music City Bowl (ESPN, 1:30 p.m.). That’s down from an opener of -4.
- Florida (+6¹/₂) has a tough challenge versus Michigan Friday in the Peach Bowl (ESPN, noon). This one opened at Michigan -6, and was bet toward the key number of seven (though stores testing Michigan -7 do see interest in Florida).
- South Carolina (-5) takes on Virginia at the same time Friday in the Belk Bowl (ABC, noon). That’s down from an opener of -6.
- Alabama (-14) is the first SEC team to receive early betting support, as an opener of -13¹/₂ was bet up to the key number of -14 versus Oklahoma (ESPN, 8 p.m.). This, of course, is one of the national championship semifinal wars. VSiN will provide more market analysis on Alabama/Oklahoma and Clemson/Notre Dame in Saturday’s Post.
- Missouri (-8¹/₂) moves the SEC back in the spotlight Monday (New Year’s Eve) after college football takes Sunday off for the NFL. The Tigers opened at a much higher -9¹/₂ over Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl (ESPN, 3:45 p.m.)
- Texas A&M (-7) received very strong support after opening at -4¹/₂ over North Carolina State in Monday night’s Gator Bowl (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.). Biggest endorsement yet for an SEC team.
- Mississippi State (-7) kicks off New Year’s Day Tuesday versus Iowa in the Outback Bowl (ESPN2, noon). This is up from an opener of -6. A tone is already being set for early action supporting stronger SEC teams, but fading the middle of the pack.
- Kentucky (+6) will have its hand full with Penn State in the Citrus Bowl (ABC, 1 p.m.). The favored Nittany Lions were bet up from an opener of -5. Note that Kentucky and Florida are the only two SEC underdogs out of 11 invites.
- LSU (-7) will try to end Central Florida’s 25-game winning streak in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN, 1 p.m.) That line is down from an opener of -8.
- Georgia (-13) has been pounded by sharps who think Texas will be outmanned in the Sugar Bowl (ESPN, 8:45 p.m.) The Bulldogs opened almost a field goal lower at -10¹/₂ .
That’s betting support for four SEC teams (Alabama, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Georgia); but skepticism at early prices for Vanderbilt, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and LSU.