Reading the markets on SEC showdowns

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

October 30, 2018 11:35 PM

Such a weird season in the SEC. Feels like marquee matchups have been few and far between in terms of the championship chase. Suddenly, BOTH the East and West divisions can be wrapped up on the first Saturday of November in this week’s blockbuster CBS doubleheader. 

  • Georgia is favored by 9.5 points on the road at Kentucky in what will serve as an unofficial “SEC East Championship” game (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET). Both teams enter with one league loss. Both only have one conference game remaining. So…the winner of Bulldogs/Wildcats would own the tie-breaker if needed. Early betting favored Kentucky at the opening line of 10. We may see a battle between “sharps” (pro bettors) and the public through the week…with casual fans laying -9.5 on Georgia, but “value” bettors taking the full 10 with the defensive-minded home underdog.
  • Alabama is favored by 14 points on the road at LSU (CBS, 8 p.m. ET). The undefeated Crimson Tide would clinch the West with a victory. One-loss LSU would still have work to do to lock down a stunning divisional crown. Another defensive-minded home underdog that sharps are looking at seriously. Experienced veterans will wait to see if the public’s tendency to bet Alabama in big games will drive that line higher before kickoff. No reason to take 14 now if 14.5 or 15 might go on the board later in in the week. 

Obviously betting markets are assuming Alabama-Georgia for all the SEC marbles in early December. But those markets have done a horrible job this season of anticipating how well Kentucky and LSU will perform when not laying points. 

Kentucky as an Underdog

Beat Florida 27-16 as a 13.5-point dog

Beat Miss. State 28-7 as a 9.5-point dog

Beat South Carolina 24-10 at pick-em

Lost at Texas A&M 20-14 in OT as a 5-point dog

Beat Missouri 15-14 as a 7.5-point dog

That’s 5-0 against market expectations at the end of regulation, with a heartbreaking (for bettors) non-cover at College Station in overtime. When not favored, Kentucky outperformed 60-minute expectations by 24.5, 30.5, 14, 5, and 8.5 points. An average regulation cover of 16.5 points suggests that the Wildcats will at least have a chance to make Saturday’s showdown interesting. 

For its part, LSU is undefeated straight up and ATS when not favored. All three victories covered by double digits. 

LSU as an Underdog

Beat Miami 33-17 as a 3-point dog

Beat Auburn 22-21 as a 10-point dog

Beat Georgia 36-16 as a 7-point dog

Market wins by 19, 11, and 27 points

Wow…an average cover of exactly 19 points! Do that again…and we’ll have a major upset Saturday night causing playoff chaos.

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