A popular barstool debate has evolved into a fascinating prop bet on one of the world’s most prodigious online sportsbooks. Its presence will undoubtedly generate familiar “S-E-C” rallying cries from the unruly fans in the back—don’t mind them; they’re just excited—and dismissive eyebrow rolls from those situated outside the Southeast.
Who will win this year’s BCS National Championship: the SEC...or anybody else?
The online gambling hub, Bovada.lv, is allowing users to wager their hard-earned dollars on whether this record stretch of dominance will continue.
Forget about picking which team—or conference—will topple the SEC, all this exercise requires is a yes or no. It’s that simple, and the two options are practically even in terms of value.
Welcome to college football in 2013, where the nation’s best conference is continuing to separate and the current landscape of the game is on display. Fourteen teams versus an entire nation of hopefuls—take your pick.
It’s easy to pick against the SEC by simply leaning in favor of the overwhelming numbers and teams. It becomes much more difficult when assessing legitimate contenders.
If the SEC isn’t winning the final BCS National Championship, what conference is?
The argument for the SEC starts, of course, with the nation’s most dominant team. Alabama is an unprecedented favorite to win its third title in four years, and Nick Saban has a deadly combination of talent—there is an absurd amount of it—senior leadership and a surprisingly manageable schedule by SEC standards.
Alabama can make a strong case that they have the top player in CFB at these positions: WR, RB, LT, ILB and FS.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) July 15, 2013
If Alabama is able to get past Texas A&M on Sept. 14, Ole Miss and LSU serve as the major regular-season roadblocks. Both of these games will be played in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The SEC Championship Game could also serve as a potential roadblock, although perhaps not for the entire conference. After all, the 2012 SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia turned out to be pseudo-semifinal playoff game.
This scenario may not materialize, but the SEC again has ample firepower beyond its likeliest contender.
Of the top-12 teams listed on Bovada’s BCS National Championship betting, six call the SEC home. Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, Florida and South Carolina join Alabama at the top, making an impressive stable of potential title contenders.
With this kind of conference depth, many of these teams will eventually clash, serving as the others’ undoing. Regular-season losses could finally cannibalize the conference out of the BCS title picture.
Thus far, such self-destruction has not surfaced.
If you’re betting against the SEC, perhaps this is the reason. (Well, beyond suffering from the facial exhaustion of rolling your eyebrows for this long.)
Or, perhaps a team outside the conference is poised for a magical season. There are certainly options, and none will be mentioned more than the Ohio State Buckeyes.
With Braxton Miller at quarterback, a defense with playmakers at every level and a regular-season schedule that doesn’t exactly seem daunting on paper, the Buckeyes appear to be the most likely contender to dethrone the SEC.
Ohio State’s toughest games will come at Northwestern and Michigan during the regular season. It will also include a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game if all goes well.
If it doesn’t, there are other non-SEC options.
Oregon and Stanford have unknowns—one has a new coach, the other yet another new batch of tight ends—but both give the Pac-12 plenty of title hopes.
In the ACC, Clemson returns both Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins on offense. The Tigers will have the opportunity to derail Georgia’s championship aspirations in Week 1 at home.
Louisville has the nation’s easiest BCS Championship path, but it may not be good enough. Even if the Cardinals go unbeaten, they need help to get into the title game. Still, help could come.
Notre Dame will move on without its starting quarterback and many key pieces on offense, and it will do so against a schedule with few holes. The defense will be outstanding—perhaps even better than it was last season—and another long run wouldn’t be shocking.
The Big 12 remains a mystery, but Texas, Oklahoma State or TCU could exceed expectations and play their way into the title game if things go right.
Then, of course, there are others. All others. Well, outside the SEC, of course.
The list of teams capable of ending the SEC’s streak is noteworthy. The contenders can alter history—at least for one season. But even with an entire canvas of teams to select from, picking against the SEC feels like an uphill climb in 2013. Picking against Alabama alone feels like a diabolical task.
Drastically outnumbered (again), it may not matter.
The unpredictable nature of the sport, with chaos likely to hit throughout the regular season, will undoubtedly create a more complex picture than the paths on paper. The presence of this prop bet, however, does more than just provide the masses with another bizarre way to gamble.
It outlines a football movement seven years in the making.