Will new coach Lane Kiffin make Ole Miss a good team to bet on next season?
That will depend as much on market expectations as it will on whether Kiffin can improve the Rebels on both sides of the ball and make them more competitive in the talent-rich SEC West.
Let’s say Kiffin improves Ole Miss by a field goal in Power Ratings. If the market was expecting a 5- to 6-point improvement, the Rebels will fall short of point spreads and lose bettors money. The team would be better, but risking money on it would be ill-advised.
But if the market expects little and Kiffin delivers a lot, Ole Miss will be a team to bet with confidence. Bettors should always remember to evaluate the market besides just studying players and teams.
Given Kiffin’s checkered past, you should be skeptical but open-minded. He was exposed as in over his head as an NFL coach with the Oakland Raiders back in 2007-08. Then he couldn’t satisfy alumni and boosters in one season at Tennessee or three-plus seasons at USC.
But after a few years as an assistant, his return to lead Florida Atlantic from 2017-19 was successful. FAU was 22-17 against the spread in his three seasons, including 9-4 ATS this year. Of course, Conference USA isn’t the SEC.
Maybe Kiffin is now ready to quash criticism and thrive at a major-conference program. Be ready for that possibility. Just remember to incorporate market analysis into your betting strategy.
Ole Miss didn’t qualify for a bowl this season with a 4-8 straight-up record. But Mississippi State and Southern Miss earned postseason bids.
— Mississippi State will play Louisville on Dec. 30 at the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. The Bulldogs have stood pat as favorites of -3.5 points since lines hit the board at sportsbooks. Sharps weren’t interested in either team at the opening price. The line could change through the month if news develops regarding suspensions or injuries.
— Southern Miss won’t play until next year! The Golden Eagles wait until Jan. 4 to tackle Tulane in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. An opening line of Tulane -7.5 was quickly bet down. Within 24 hours, stores globally were showing -7 or -6.5. It was telling that Southern Miss received sharp support at the key number or above.
Fans of SEC teams have a busy few weeks ahead of them. Here’s a quick review of early betting in all bowl or playoff games involving the SEC.
— Texas A&M opened at -4 over Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 in Houston. The Aggies were bet up to -6 in short order. Sharps often hit SEC openers because of the league’s stellar bowl history. A&M is respected by smart money because it was battle-tested by a brutal schedule this season.
— LSU opened at -11.5 over Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 in Atlanta, and it’s the first of two national championship semifinals. The Tigers were bet all the way up to -13 and -13.5 soon after. Oddsmakers continue to underprice the Tigers in big games. In the other semifinal later that day, Clemson was bet from -1 to -2 over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
— Florida opened at -14 over Virginia in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 in Miami. Sharps faded the SEC with early money on the underdog, causing the number to drop a point to -13.
— Kentucky opened at 3 vs. Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 31 in Charlotte, N.C. That point spread stood pat, lost in the shuffle of more enticing matchups.
— Alabama opened at -7 over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla. This will be one of the most heavily bet games of the entire bowl slate. Both teams have national constituencies that will love their teams at this price. Sharps seem hesitant to lay a touchdown with Bama backup quarterback Mac Jones.
— Auburn opened at -8 over Minnesota in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla. Stores may hop between -8 and -7.5 through the month pending personnel news. The Tigers would be a popular take at -7. Minnesota has been attracting sharp dog lovers at the full 8.
— Georgia opened at -8 over Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Similar story here, with a line that may hop between -7.5 and -8 for the time being. Both are coming off losses in their conference championship games.
— Tennessee opened at pick-’em vs. Indiana in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. Many shops globally were soon showing the Vols -1 or -1.5. By kickoff, you’ll know how other SEC East and midlevel Big Ten teams have performed. That should shape your thinking on game day.
VSiN will keep you posted on bowl betting developments the next few weeks. We’ll be back Saturday to review last Sunday’s 49ers-Saints fireworks show and preview Monday night’s critical Colts-Saints game from a market perspective.