It was a wild, brutal season in the SEC. No one finished the regular season without at least 1 conference loss, but despite all the insanity, we didn't have to resort to any tie-breakers to determine who would play in the conference's Championship Game. Missouri and Alabama were the only teams from the SEC who had only 1 conference loss, and so they're heading to Atlanta this Saturday to battle over the conference crown. Alabama is a 14.5-point favorite to win their third SEC title in four appearances in the Championship Game under Nick Saban.
The pick: Mizzou +14.5
Rationale: Alabama somehow only opened as a 1.5-point favorite, but the line leapt almost immediately to its current two-touchdown-plus total. That should really come as no surprise. The Crimson Tide won the tougher Western Division. They've scored more points and allowed fewer points than Missouri. They won their out-of-conference FBS game against a tough West Virginia squad, while Missouri somehow lost theirs to woeful 4-8 Indiana. Outside of an early October loss to Ole Miss, Alabama has looked every bit the championship contender that we've come to expect out of a Nick Saban squad.
Or have they? Against Power 5 competition, the Tide's margin of victory is a seemingly impressive 16 points, but that includes a 59-0 blowout against Texas A&M. Taking that stat-padding victory out leaves a 10-point margin of victory. In fact, since that big win against the Aggies, the Tide's most comfortable conference win was a 34-20 victory over a young Tennessee team. Beyond Tennessee and A&M, the Tide's biggest victory came at home against Florida (42-21), to whom I still cannot believe we lost. In other words, although the Tide have beaten everyone but Ole Miss, they haven't blown anyone out except bad teams.
Missouri is not a bad team, notwithstanding their losses to Indiana and Georgia. In fact, they actually have more impressive wins against Florida (42-13) and Tennessee (29-21) than the Tide.
No one is seriously expecting Mizzou to pull this one out. That's why the line is so high. But it looks like the line may have moved a little too far. Expect a stronger showing from the SEC's newest Tigers than expected.