The summer has officially begun. When the Las Vegas sports books come out with the 2016 season win totals and "best games" lists it's an exciting time. Make fun of me if you want, but I could spend hours looking over this stuff and I will for each SEC school over the coming weeks.
Vegas win totals give fans a good idea of what the oddsmakers think of their team. It's also a chance to make a little money if you're into gambling a little bit and gives us a conversation piece. And then when the money starts rolling in in the next few months we can start all over again depending where the money has moved the odds (the money, not the win total).
Which brings us to the first team in our series of Over or Under: Arkansas. The Razorbacks, according to South Point in Las Vegas, are projected at 7.5 wins with the over coming in at -120 (bet $120 to win $100) and the under at even money (bet $100, win $100).
A couple of things come to mind when I try to make a decision. Obviously, Arkansas' schedule slaps you in the face. Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU all come to Fayetteville this season in a six-week span with a BYE and a trip to Auburn squeezed in. Even the Cleveland Browns wouldn't feel completely comfortable playing that stretch.
The Razorbacks, before the annual bloodbath kicks off, host Louisiana Tech – who shouldn't be taken lightly to begin with – and Texas State on campus and mighty Alcorn State in Little Rock (woo!), so you'd like to believe Arkansas needs just five more wins to hit the over so you can take home some money.
Here are the other nine, though. Take your pick of five:
- at TCU (O/U 8 wins)
- Texas A&M* (O/U 6 wins)
- Alabama (O/U 10 wins)
- Ole Miss (O/U 8.5 wins)
- at Auburn (O/U 6.5 wins)
- Florida (O/U 7.5 wins)
- LSU (O/U 10 wins)
- at Mississippi State (O/U 6.5 wins)
- at Missouri (O/U 5.5 wins)
Just looking at the nine games Arkansas absolutely has to show up for, it appears four of the five best chances at a win – as of now – come away from home. The Razorbacks displayed they were more than capable of winning on the road last season, but you can't just rely on that for this year considering the new parts.
Of the nine, I'm comfortable saying Arkansas should, and I think will, beat Missouri. Plain and simple, the Tigers are a mess. I'm confident there, so we have four. Here's some info on the others:
TCU: They've got to find new answers on offense and that won't be easy after losing freak receiver Josh Doctson and quarterback Trevone Boykin. But believe it or not, the Horned Frogs may have one of the Big 12's top defenses. This could be one of the most important games on the schedule. Perhaps Arkansas could catch TCU before they gel in week two. Maybe.
Texas A&M: A lot depends on whether Trevor Knight or Jake Hubenak can grasp control of the offense quickly. Christian Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones are back for either QB to throw it to, and the defense could improve under John Chavis. I give it a good chance.
Alabama: Probably not. Sorry.
Ole Miss: Machine Gun Kelley is back (I had to look it up), and so is tight end Evan Engram, who's a big problem. The defense should be good again, and I expect another interesting game like we've kind of become accustomed to with the Black Rebel Bears. Maybe.
Auburn: No matter what, Jordan-Hare is a tough place to play. But last year the Tigers were a mess because of instability at quarterback (and their defense). Crazy as it sounds, though, the other side of the ball could be the best unit with a healthy Carl Lawson back. Good chance.
Florida: The Gators are counting on either Jack Del Rio's son or a Purdue transfer at quarterback. If Arkansas can muster 13-17 points they should win.
LSU: Oh, God. Leonard Fournette is going to be so mad about losing to Arkansas his first two years. But, like Florida, the Tigers have to rely on defense and either Brandon Harris (again) or a Purdue transfer. LSU returns 18 starters, though, so that's something to think about. Unconfident maybe.
Mississippi State: It's going to be odd seeing an MSU team without Dak Prescott, but receiver Fred Ross (1,000-yard junior year) is back and will likely be their star. We'll see just how good Dan Mullen is. Maybe.
My prediction, as of now, is seven wins – the aforementioned four, plus Texas A&M, Auburn and Florida. I'm in the under crowd, but it could change. I mean, it is early June. I'm on the fence with Mississippi State, too.
How about you?