David Wunderlich revisits his study of peer programs each SEC team will face in 2016 in order to come up with some win projections. Here’s his methodology:
… I did a dead-simple estimation for this part. For every game against a team above its peer group, I gave that team a loss. For every game against a team below its peer group, I gave that team a win—this includes FCS opponents, as they’re not included in S&P+. And then, I had team would win half of its games against its peers. They’re toss up games, so let’s just make them coin tosses for now.
And here are his results.
So, even with Tennessee sporting a better S&P+ ranking than Georgia, both teams finish with the same number of projected wins. One big factor for that is that the Vols have to punch above their class once, against Alabama, while Georgia doesn’t face a similar challenge. Is that enough to make the difference in which team emerges as the winner of the East?
It might be. The bottom of the division appears weak and you’d have to expect both programs get through that unscathed. That’s four wins right there. Historically speaking, Florida presents a similar challenge to both UT and Georgia. That leaves the head-to-head matchup, which is in Athens this year, and the cross-division meetings where Georgia travels to Ole Miss and hosts Auburn while Tennessee has Alabama at home and Texas A&M on the road.
It doesn’t mean that Tennessee’s chances to return to Atlanta are totally dashed if it can’t beat the Tide, but you can make a decent argument that its margin for error is virtually wiped out if it doesn’t, especially if the Dawgs pull off a win in Oxford.
Georgia-Tennessee in Athens is huge, but the third Saturday in October may be shaping up to matter almost as much.