Take the over on SEC teams

Florida coach Will Muschamp guided the Gators to an 11-2 record last season following two straight campaigns with at least five losses.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

Every SEC team — and every serious football team in the country — has a fan base with unreal expectations. It's just the way it is. There are 14 teams in the conference we watch, and most of them truly believe they can win the national title.

And while this league has more teams that realistically can do it, it's still unrealistic to expect half of the teams to catch lightning in a bottle.

Instead, the fan bases should have more modest goals. But then, they wouldn't be fans would they?

As we perspire through the summer in the general direction of another college football season, it's time to do something I used to do when I had my own radio show. In the dog days of June and July before SEC Media Days (which get earlier every year; I think next year it will be the week after the SEC Basketball Tournament), we would play the over/under game.

These numbers aren't what the fans think. They are not what the preseason mags think. They are only what I think. They are what I think a team needs to do to live up to expectations. And the numbers include bowl games.

In descending order:

Alabama: 12.

Anything less than 12 wins would be a surprise. Nick Saban's dynastic program is not only built on talent but on the understanding that there is a process that must be embraced. Less than 12 would probably mean no SEC title.

Georgia: 12.

Mark Richt lost a lot on defense, and the schedule got a little bit more difficult. Still, this should be a team that either wins the SEC or its bowl game.

South Carolina: 11.

Certainly, there are a lot of Gamecock fans who think this is a low number. But Steve Spurrier's teams in Columbia always seem to have that one game.

Florida: 10.

I've said it before that I think this team will be better than last year's but may not win as many games. Under 10 would be a dip.

LSU: 10.

I know that there are people who think Les Miles will just roll out another national title contender, but I don't see a team that lost so much getting through that schedule without two or three losses.

Texas A&M: 10.

Even with Johnny Twitter at the controls, it's going to be difficult for this team to duplicate last season. I think it's more important not to slide into single digits. What? You want the over? OK.

Vanderbilt: 9.

Soft schedule should help the Commodores get to this figure, especially after they win the Liberty Bowl.

Mississippi State: 8.

The Bulldogs could end up being pretty good, but it seems to me that there is a ceiling in Starkville.

Arkansas: 8.

The big thing this year is to have a winning season and get to a bowl game. Anything else would be gravy.

Ole Miss: 8.

A surprise team last year, every team will see the Rebels coming this year.

Auburn: 7.

The Tigers have to be better, but I don't see a giant step forward this year.

Missouri: 7.

I have to believe the seat is warm for Gary Pinkel. Let's see how he responds.

Tennessee: 7.

A winning season would be uplifting on Rocky Top.

Kentucky: 6.

New coach, same players. Would a 6-7 bowl season be considered a success?

Now, you may be confused. How can all 14 SEC teams win at least six games? That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying those are their over/unders. Over the number would be considered overachieving. Under would be not necessarily be underachieving, because things happen. But it would be less than I expected out of a team which means it would be way less than what the fans expect.

Right on the number, and I look like a genius.

And there is no over/under on the number of times you'll think that.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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