The SEC is generally regarded as the strongest conference in college football and its West Division is considered to house the cream of the conference’s crop. That fact is reflected in the latest 2012 SEC West Division Odds at TheGreek.com. The offshore book maker has last year’s BCS National Champion and SEC West runner up Alabama listed as a 3-2 favorite ($100 to win $150) to win the division this season. However, LSU, last season’s conference champion, and Arkansas are not far behind the Crimson Tide, drawing 7-4 and 7-2 odds, respectively, as second and third picks to win the West.
2012 SEC West Division Picks
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-2): It is impossible to overstate how much talent Alabama lost over the offseason as 11 starters, including seven 2011 All Americans left Tuscaloosa. The last time the Tide had that much turnover was 2009 when they were also coming off a BCS National Championship campaign. Alabama went 10-3 the following year, suffering losses to South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn. Obviously, the odds makers are not expecting much of a drop off this time around.
LSU Tigers (7-4): The Tigers also had some roster turnover, losing nine starters and 25 lettermen; however, like Alabama, LSU returns plenty of big time talent. Additionally, Head Coach Les Miles will supplement the returning stars by welcoming another loaded recruiting class to Baton Rouge. It may be difficult for the Tigers to duplicate last year’s magical run, but make no mistake, they will contend for the West title.
Arkansas Razorbacks (7-2): Arkansas had a wonderful 2011 season, posting an 11-2 record while going 6-2 in conference play. The Razorbacks had a difficult offseason, though, with former Head Coach Bobby Petrino getting fired for his involvement in an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. Despite the Petrino situation, Arkansas, which has a potential Heisman candidate in quarterback Tyler Wilson, will be a strong presence in the West race and a dark horse to win the division.
Auburn Tigers (10-1): Auburn stunned the college football world in 2010, putting together a perfect season that culminated with a BCS National Championship Game victory over Oregon. With Cam Newton and several other high profile players departing in the spring, the Tigers took a step back last year, finishing up with a respectable 8-5 record. It would be foolhardy to suggest the Tigers are on the verge of another unblemished campaign, but they are, perhaps, being a bit underestimated. Auburn returns 15 starters and 48 lettermen, which means the team should improve on both sides of the ball.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-1): Mississippi State closed the 2011 season with seven wins, but the finish disappointed many. The Bulldogs, which returned over 15 starters, were coming off a 9-4 season, creating, perhaps, an unrealistic optimism in Starkville. The hype machine has been dialed down a bit this year, but Mississippi State should, once again, be a solid football team. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, road games at Alabama and LSU will probably prevent them from making any sort of significant move in the division standings.
Texas A&M Aggies (25-1): Texas A&M joins the SEC after a disappointing 7-6 campaign in its final Big 12 run. The Aggies had big expectations going into the 2011 season, but suffered through a number of close conference losses, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Mike Sherman. A&M hired Houston’s Kevin Sumlin to fill Sherman’s shoes and if his past history is any indication, the Aggies should be a formidable squad in the near future. However, with the transition to a new coach and a new conference in 2012, it would be a surprise if Texas A&M makes much headway in the West this season.
Ole Miss Rebels (30-1): Ole Miss had little to cheer about last season, its first under new coach Hugh Freeze, as it posted a 2-10 overall record and a 0-8 mark in SEC play. While the Rebels have a long way to go before threatening the likes of Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas, they should be far more competitive this year. Ole Miss returns 16 starters and 60 lettermen, and all of those players have had over a year to operate in Freeze’s system.
Odds to Win the 2012 SEC West Division:
Alabama Crimson Tide 3-2 ($100 to win $150) LSU Tigers 7-4 ($100 to win $175) Arkansas Razorbacks 7-2 ($100 to win $350) Mississippi State Bulldogs 8-1 ($100 to win $800) Auburn Tigers 10-1 ($100 to win $1000) Texas A&M Aggies 25-1 ($100 to win $2500) Ole Miss Rebels 30-1 ($100 to win $3000)
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