SEC Media Days are over. The preseason selections have been made. You’ve gotten a taste of the conventional wisdom. Fall camps start next week.
It’s a perfect time to take your temperature about how you see the conference schools doing this year.
Here’s how we’ll do it: I’ll post Football Outsiders most likely projected regular season win total for each school (per their College Football Almanac 2010) with a little commentary and then give you the chance in a poll to call that number too high or too low. I’ll give you the West today and the East tomorrow.
A little bit about the methodology behind the projected win numbers: Football Outsiders provides probabilities for a range of win totals for each school. What I’ve done is to select the sweet spot where the highest percentage lies. In all cases but two, that’s between two numbers, which is why you’ll see most wins expressed in halves. Arkansas is one exception to that, because the win probabilities wound up being equally distributed around eight. So you’ll get three choices for the Hogs and two for the other five SEC West schools.
Don’t forget to leave your comments.
ALABAMA: 11.5 wins
I don’t think the Tide will run the table this season, but when you look at their schedule, it’s hard to see them losing more than once without there being a big upset along the way. Color me slightly pessimistic.
ARKANSAS: 8 wins
Looking at the schedule, Arkansas only plays four road games, plus one neutral site game against Texas A&M. That’s good, because the Hogs haven’t shown themselves to be very good performers on the road in conference games. To get to eight wins means they have to win at least one of the four (Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State) or beat LSU or Alabama at home. That looks doable. More would mean that the defense and special teams improved over last year’s versions and that regression to the mean didn’t bite them in the butt as to their +15 turnover margin in 2009. That’s a bigger stretch. I’m gonna stick with eight, although I bet I’m in the minority on that.
AUBURN: 7.5 wins
I have questions about Newton, Roof and depth on defense. But I don’t have questions about what Malzahn’s offense will do going into its second year. And I really don’t have questions about Auburn’s schedule. These guys look to get nine wins, easy. (Unless Newton is the second coming of Brent Schaeffer, which, I admit, is a possibility.)
LSU: 8.5 wins
Ugh, tough call. I have a hard time understanding how a team with this much talent struggles, but they did it last year and look to do the same this year unless Gary Crowton gets his act together. I think the key to the Tigers’ year will be the opener: lose to North Carolina and they won’t do better than eight wins. Since I think they win that game, I’ll go with them to improve on the 8.5.
MISSISSIPPI: 8.5 wins
Don’t snicker. This one’s closer than you think when you look at Ole Miss’ schedule. They miss Georgia, Florida and South Carolina out of the East and shouldn’t lose any of the non-conference games. To get to nine, they’ll have to get a win out of one of their road games with Alabama, LSU or Arkansas or the home game against Auburn and hold serve against the rest. I’m not sure if there’s enough on offense for that, so count me as a pessimist here.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: 4.5 wins
Dan Mullen is a confident guy and this is a team that won five games last year, so my initial response is to say that number’s on the low side. But when you look at the schedule and start counting wins, you can make a case that MSU won’t do better than four. These Dogs are going to miss Anthony Dixon. But I think they’ll be better on the defensive side of the ball and that’s why I’ll pick ’em to do better than the 4.5.