It’s such a cliche these days I hesitate to use it.
Every team has a ceiling. Every team has a floor. That’s a lot of structures.
But they are there whether in the views of fans, media, opponents or basement bloggers.
The great thing about a college football season is that sometimes a team rises too high for the imagined ceiling and busts right through it (see: UCF, 2017). Or it finds a leak in the pipes that causes the floor to collapse (see: Tennessee, 2017).
In the SEC, we think we know, but we can’t know. Still, we present the annual Open House, a look at the ceilings and floors (maybe) for all 14 teams.
Ceiling: Well, you know what it is.
Floor: It’s difficult to imagine Nick Saban losing any more than three games even with half his team gone to the NFL and a revamped coaching staff. The Tide is even immune to catastrophic injuries because of its five-star depth. A 9-3 season would be worse than Dreamland going out of business.
Ceiling: With a first-year coach changing the culture, eight wins would be a great season for the Razorbacks.
Floor: Last year’s 4-8 season was about as low as this program can go. Especially with four gimmees in the non-conference schedule.
Ceiling: Obviously, the Tigers are good enough to make the College Football Playoff and were a game away from it last year.
Floor: We can’t see that personnel and a coach with a fat new contract extension falling below 8-4.
Ceiling: Dan Mullen has a plan, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Still, if the Gators find a quality quarterback, a 10-win season is possible.
Floor: Haven’t we seen the floor twice in the last five years? That would be four wins, but barring another rash of injuries and suspensions, this floor should not be any lower than .500.
Ceiling: The Bulldogs were one play away last season. They can get there again.
Floor: The recruiting has been too impressive (as has Kirby Smart) to imagine anything worse than 8-4.
Ceiling: The Wildcats keep taking baby steps, which should mean eight wins. There’s no reason to think they can’t get to nine.
Floor: It’s still Kentucky. If things go horribly wrong, you could see 5-7.
Ceiling: The personnel is still really special, good enough to win the West and win 10 games.
Floor: There are a lot of people who see the potential for disaster and a coaching change in the Bayou. A 6-6 record should do it.
* Ole Miss
Ceiling: This is a difficult team to figure, but an 8-4 season isn’t out of the question.
Floor: Neither is 4-8.
* Mississippi State
Ceiling: Any time you have a guy like QB Nick Fitzgerald and a pretty soft non-conference slate, you have a chance to get to 10 wins.
Floor: But with a new coach and the beast that is the West, you can also see the potential for 5-7.
Ceiling: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Tigers continue their momentum from last season and win nine games.
Floor: But don’t bet on it. With a schedule that includes a game at Alabama, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Mizzou revert to form and go 5-7.
* South Carolina
Ceiling: Will Muschamp has a new offense and has a real chance to go 9-3 this season.
Floor: And yet, would 6-6 shock anybody?
Ceiling: There’s a new sheriff in town and you could see the Vols winning seven games.
Floor: We saw the floor last year and it was 0-8 in SEC games. So four wins, especially with back-to-back games against Auburn and Alabama, is in play.
* Texas A&M
Ceiling: The Aggies aren’t paying Jimbo Fisher all that money for continued mediocrity. There is a scenario where A&M could go 10-2.
Floor: But it may take awhile for Fisher to get his ducks in a row. You can envision 5-7 with their schedule.
Ceiling: Bowl eligibility is the goal and 7-5 is a real possibility.
Floor: So is a clean slate in SEC play (not in a good way) and a 3-9 mark.