SEC Championship Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Alabama vs. Florida
Photo Credit: UA Athletics & Courtney Culbreath/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Najee Harris (22) and Kyle Pitts (84).
- The SEC Championship may not be as high stakes as it was expected after Florida lost to Alabama, but there is still plenty to play for.
- The Crimson Tide have not been slowed all season. If the Gators could do so, it would be a huge accomplishment.
- Our staff broke down their favorite picks for the game, ranging from spread picks to a player prop on a Heisman hopeful.
Alabama vs. Florida Odds
While Florida’s chances at receiving a College Football Playoff bid are almost completely out the window, there’s still a lot to play for in Saturday’s SEC Championship.
Alabama has been on a roll of late, covering in every game since Oct. 10. It can cement its status as the clear-cut top team in the country with an impressive performance against Florida, allowing it to gain momentum ahead of the Playoff semifinals.
The Gators, meanwhile, want to shut out the thought of losing to LSU ahead of a quality bowl game appearance.
Most of our staff, though, sees Alabama rolling and putting up plenty of points in the process. Check out each of our staff’s five betting picks complete with analysis below.
Alabama vs. Florida Staff Best Bets
Our staff broke down five bets for Saturday’s SEC Championship, including a spread pick on Florida, a spread pick on Alabama, two Rolling Tide team totals and a prop bet on Heisman-hopeful Mac Jones.
Click on any of our staff’s picks in the table of contents below to skip to an individual author’s betting analysis.
Alabama faced three competent offenses to start the year in Missouri, Texas A&M and Mississippi. After that game against the Rebels, there were real questions about the Crimson Tide’s pass defense, which allowed Lane Kiffin’s bunch to throw for just under 400 yards (with an average of 13.1 per attempt) en route to a 48-point outburst.
Well, the consensus since seems to have shifted to the opposite belief, with Alabama resolving the issues on the back end of a very inexperienced secondary outside of future NFL corner Patrick Surtain Jr.
For me, I’m not so sure about that. Just take a look at the offenses the Crimson Tide have faced since, with the opponent’s quarterbacks in parentheses:
- Georgia (Stetson Bennett)
- Mississippi State (K.J. Costello)
- Tennessee (Jarrett Guarantano)
- LSU (TJ Finley)
… all five starting quarterbacks for those passing offenses have since been benched.
The others include Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas. Three passing offenses that aren’t world beaters by any stretch. And for that Arkansas game, Feleipe Franks started after being questionable, moved the ball some and then re-aggravated his injury in the first quarter, which brought in KJ Jefferson, who then got hurt.
My point is I still have questions about Alabama’s pass defense against an elite aerial attack like the one Florida possesses. I think Florida can get enough scores to stay within this number. And if the Gators down, say 21 points late, they can certainly sneak in the backdoor cover.
Alabama is clearly the best team in the nation and I don’t expect Florida to get many stops, but I still only make this line a touch under 14 points. I truly think we are getting value based on last week’s results.
I believe Florida was simply caught with its pants down looking ahead to Alabama, as evidenced by the fact it sat star Kyle Pitts, who has been a top-three pass catcher among all tight ends and receivers in the nation. He’s a matchup nightmare for any defense he faces.
Also, keep an eye on special teams, which likely won’t determine this outcome, but could have a big say in the cover. Florida has the edge there, with one of the best units in the nation. I wouldn’t take this below 17.
Quarterback Mac Jones and the Alabama offense is actually just as good as it was last season.
The Crimson Tide are gaining a crazy 7.7 yards per play, which matches their average from their previous campaign. Jones himself looks like he might just win the Heisman Trophy, as he is averaging a crazy 11.7 yards per attempt. He also has 27 touchdown passes in only 10 games this season.
However, it’s easy to look good playing quarterback when you have the best player in college football on your roster. DeVonta Smith is the most dynamic skill-position player in the country, with the senior wideout recording 83 receptions and 15 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. Smith is also averaging 16.0 yards per catch for unbeaten Alabama.
Florida’s defense flat stinks versus the pass, allowing 7.3 yards per attempt and is 97th in explosive passing allowed.
Whenever Alabama wants, it can also run the ball down the opposing defense’s throat with Najee Harris, who is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has racked 22 touchdowns this season. The Gators are 87th in defensive rushing success, so the Crimson Tide should be able to move the ball with ease.
Kyle Trask looked like he was going to win the Heisman before a poor performance against LSU. The senior quarterback has still thrown for 10.1 yards per attempt and 40 touchdowns this season. He will get Kyle Pitts back at tight end after the star missed the LSU game due to injury. Pitts and Trask have a connection like Jones and Smith do, with Pitts averaging 17.8 yards per catch that has ned 11 touchdowns this season.
Alabama is top 25 in both defensive passing success and explosive passing allowed, per College Football Data. So, Trask facing that Crimson Tide secondary will be an interesting matchup.
Florida doesn’t have much of a run game to speak of, only averaging 4.2 yards per carry as a team. Alabama is yielding just 3.2 yards per attempt, so the Gators might be forced to go one dimensional in Atlanta.
I have Alabama projected as a -23.21 favorite, so I think there is some value in the team at minus-17 points. Plus you know the old saying: “You don’t get rich betting against Alabama.”
Nick Saban and Alabama have now covered in 7 straight games 💰 pic.twitter.com/c9g3o2haGl
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 12, 2020
If I had to make a bet on the side, I do think Alabama covers the spread, but I think a safer bet is on the Crimson Tide’s team total of 45.5.
Alabama has averaged 49.5 points per game this season, and has eclipsed 46 points in six of its 10 games.
That is impressive on its own, but even better when you consider how often the Tide pull their starters early. Quarterback Mac Jones has just 14 passing attempts in the fourth quarter all season.
Jones, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith have been an unstoppable three-headed monster this season, leading Alabama to the No. 1 Success Rate in the country. The Tide rank second in rushing Success Rate and third in Passing Success Rate.
The Florida defense ranks 72nd in Success Rate, and if Florida can score enough to force Bama to keep its starters in for four quarters, the Tide should have no problem cooking up a 50-burger in this one.
Alabama comes into this game with an offense firing on all cylinders. The Crimson Tide have the fifth-ranked total offense in FBS, averaging 537.8 yards per game, and an offensive Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of 0.45, which ranks third.
Also, they allow havoc on just 11.2% of plays, which is fifth-best in the country. Redshirt junior QB Mac Jones has a great offensive line that affords him time to read the field and make smart decisions.
Florida comes into the game with the 50th-ranked defense in country, giving up 384.7 yards per game. The Gators have a defensive PPA per play of 0.18, ranking 74th nationally. They generate havoc for opposing offenses on just 16.4% of plays.
Do you think there is any way that Florida can hold Alabama under 400 yards? 450? I don’t.
Alabama’s offense is going to have its way with the Florida defense. Florida will not be able to fluster Mac Jones behind his rock-solid line. I think that Florida may be able to keep this close for a little while, but the only chance they have is to turn this into a shootout.
I expect the Crimson Tide to have their foot on the gas the entire game as they make a statement heading into the playoff. Take the over on Alabama.
I’m a Florida fan, so I’ve had the displeasure of watching its defense every single week. I can promise you one thing: Alabama is going to light it up.
The Gators haven’t found a single reliable player all year long outside of cornerback Kaiir Elam. Its other cornerbacks with significant snaps played are Marco Wilson (53.5 PFF grade); Jaydon Hill (60.5 PFF); and, Brad Stewart (48.1 PFF in the slot). At safety, Florida is starting two guys with coverage grades of 60.8 and 54.1. DeVonta Smith, John Metchie and Jaylen Waddle (maybe?) will have many advantageous matchups.
What doesn’t show up in the stats is how much this defense has struggled getting lined up. There have been so many times where players have no idea where they are supposed to be, and you frequently see them looking around yelling at each other while the ball is being snapped.
Its defensive metrics look better than they should, due to a post-September schedule of Missouri, Georgia (with Stetson Bennett at quarterback), Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU. There have been so many times where Florida has been bailed out by bad throws after letting a guy run wide open down the field. Bottom line, Smith and Heisman Trophy candidate Mac Jones aren’t going to miss those chances.
I don’t have a play on a side or total, but I really think Jones’ yardage prop is a good look. He has thrown for more than 10 yards per attempt in seven of his 10 games this season and thrown for less than nine YPA just once.
In a game where Florida can put up points in bunches, I don’t see Alabama just sitting on the ball and running clock. Jones should definitely have more attempts than his season average of 28 in this game.