LITTLE ROCK — Based on the over-under for total wins in the Eastern Division of the SEC, Arkansas, Auburn, and Texas A&M have the most difficult league schedules in the West.
The Razorbacks, Tigers, and Aggies each have two Eastern Division opponents with an over-under number of 8.5, a total of 17. For Arkansas, it is Georgia and Missouri; for Auburn, it’s Georgia and South Carolina; for the Aggies, it’s South Carolina and Missouri.
Over-under totals indicate the other teams in the West have a much easier way to go. Alabama is a 12 with Florida (7.5) and Tennessee (4.5). LSU is at 11.5, Ole Miss at 10.5. Kentucky and Vanderbilt add up to 10 for Mississippi State.
Interestingly, CBSSports.com and Saturday Down South used different betting lines when looking at the over-under numbers in the SEC.
In the West, the lines were identical on Alabama at 10.5 and LSU at 8.5 and a half-game one way or the other on Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.
But, there was a one-game discrepancy — a huge number for both the sports books and the bettors — on Arkansas and A&M.
One site had Arkansas at 4.5 and the other settled on 5.5. The site that had Arkansas at the low number pegged A&M at 7.5 while the other posted 8.5.
Betting football is a personal no-no, but, if I participated, I would try to cash twice on the Razorbacks. On record with a 5-7 prediction for Arkansas, I would go over at 4.5 and under at 5.5.
More than one person has tried to “middle” a football game, taking the underdog and six points and then backing the favorite when the line drops to three. The favorite winning by 21-17 cashes tickets.
In my scenario, Arkansas’ five Ws include a victory against A&M. If that is correct, there is no way the Aggies will go over the 7.5 number, much less 8.5. The A&M hurry-up is intact, but the trigger man is in the NFL with Cleveland. If the Aggies lose to Arkansas, they could wind up 2-0 against Mississippi schools and 0-6 vs. others in the SEC.
The betting line quoted by CBS has a minimum number of 7.5 for the six teams in the West other than Arkansas and it might be mathematically impossible for all six to go over.
Guesses on the other over-under numbers in the SEC are solely conversation starters:
• Alabama, 10.5, OVER. Yes, I know A.J. McCarron is gone, but the Crimson Tide won’t do worse than split with LSU and Auburn and will beat the other 10. Defense is a given in Tuscaloosa and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin says there probably aren’t three more talented tailbacks on one NFL roster than T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, and Derrick Henry.
• Auburn, 9.5, OVER. Quarterback Nick Marshall is impeccable reading the option and the offensive line will help with the transition from running back Tre Mason to a new workhorse. Under would be the play if quarterback Aaron Murray was still at Georgia.
• LSU, 8.5, OVER. Each of the past four years, the Tigers have won at least 10. Athletes are a guarantee in Baton Rouge and defensive coordinator John Chavis is worth every bit of his $1.1 million salary.
• Mississippi State, 7.5, OVER. Start with Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, and UT-Martin, then add Kentucky and Vanderbilt. For those who believe in the home field, swing games against Arkansas and A&M are in Starkville.
• Ole Miss, 7.5, UNDER. Instead of four gimmes, the Rebels’ non-conference schedule includes Boise State in Atlanta. And, those aforementioned swing games are in Fayetteville and College Station.
Among the three Eastern Division teams with an over-under of 8.5, at least one will win nine or more and Missouri has the easiest schedule. The best of the Tigers’ non-conference opponents is the University of Central Florida minus Blake Bortles. Plus, both Georgia and South Carolina play Auburn.
Harry King is a sports columnist. His email is HLeonK42@gmail.com.