High expectations for SEC programs' over/under win totals


Alabama coach Nick Saban fields questions on the final day of SEC Football Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., on July 17.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 6:38 p.m.

Well, we're back, winding our way past the Peanut Festival and dead gas stations (we counted 11) on Highway 231 and negotiating the construction and tailgaters on I-65 and surviving the sleep-inducing stretch of I-10.

It's good to be home after the longest SEC Media Days to date. I've always felt that you go to Hoover, Ala., with strong opinions and come back with smarter ones after you talk to so many coaches and players and writers.

Of course, sometimes you get fooled. I remember listening to coach Woody Widenhofer at one Media Days and telling everyone Vandy was going to a bowl game (it did not) or being convinced by coach Mike DuBose that Alabama could win the national title in 2000 (the Tide won three games) or that Auburn might be able to win its second national title in three years (coach Gene Chizik was fired at the end of the season).

With this year's Media Days in the rear-view mirror and still a couple of weeks until the start of practice, we have a better feel for what our expectations are for each SEC team. I think this is a wide-open race and my over/under will tell you as much, as there are 10 teams at eight wins or better.

Just because a team doesn't reach the over/under number doesn't mean it has underachieved. Injuries happen. The ball bounces funny. As you know, my mantra about college football is that a season comes down to a handful of plays in a handful of games.

Alabama

Over/under: 10.5 wins.

It's amazing that the media picked a team to win the conference whose likely starting quarterback has never thrown a meaningful pass in a college game. The big question I have is whether last year's finish was a blow to Alabama's swagger or made it more convicted to return to glory. I sensed the latter in Hoover.

Auburn

Over/under: 10.5 wins.

I've been bullish on the Tigers all summer. I think in Year 2 of Gus Malzahn the offense is going to be dominant from the start.

South Carolina

Over/under: 9.5 wins.

The Gamecocks are the wild card in the SEC race for this reason — they could easily be 0-2 by Sept. 14. But if they beat A&M and Georgia, watch out.

LSU

Over/under: 9 wins.

Let's assume freshman running back Leonard Fournette is as good as his high school tape. Let's assume coach Les Miles can plug in new defenders and not miss a beat. Quarterback is still a shaky position for LSU.

Georgia

Over/under: 9 wins.

The Bulldogs will be able to run the ball, but Hutson Mason and the defense are the X-factors. Mason is a fifth-year senior who waited for his chance. Let's see what he does with it.

Florida

Over/under: 8 wins.

The Gators can't possibly have the injuries of last year. They have to keep Jeff Driskel healthy.

Texas A&M

Over/under: 8 wins.

We'll find out a little more about Kevin Sumlin as a coach this year with so many stars gone.

Ole Miss

Over/under: 8 wins.

Hugh Freeze seems to have things headed in the right direction, but I see at least four losses on that schedule.

Mississippi State

Over/under: 7.5 wins.

A lot of the talk in Hoover was about the ceiling for Dan Mullen's program. He's staring at it.

Missouri

Over/under: 7.5 wins.

QB Maty Mauk is really good, but I just wonder who he's going to throw to this season. Interesting that the media picked a four-win Florida team over the defending division champs.

Vanderbilt

Over/under: 6 wins.

I think coach Derek Mason is going to have a tough first year as he tries to make the transition to the Stanford blueprint. The big question is whether the 'Dores go bowling.

Tennessee

Over/under: 5.5 wins.

For all of what coach Butch Jones is selling, he still has to replace both lines of scrimmage and has a rough schedule starting with Utah State on the first Sunday of the season.

Arkansas

Over/under: 5 wins.

The Hogs will be better, but they still won't be very good.

Kentucky

Over/under: 3.5 wins.

And the same goes for coach Mark Stoops and his team.

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

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