SDS Roundtable: Which SEC team's win projection is the most off-base?
Each SDS roundtable discussion involves the SDS staff providing individual answers and comments to questions covering a wide range of sports and non-sports topics. In this discussion, we ask the question: Which SEC team’s win projection is the most off-base?
A bit of background …
BetOnline.ag recently released its preseason over/under win totals for every SEC team. A few jumped out as too optimistic or too conservative. Which do we think was the most off-base?
Here are the 2020 Projected Team Win Totals and betting odds for every team in the SEC. Who’s your lock?
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) April 20, 2020
Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist
I hate that Auburn number. Over the course of last offseason, I went from being extremely down on the Tigers to talking myself into predicting them to win 9 games. This offseason, I think I’m becoming more and more pessimistic about the Tigers’ 2020 outlook.
Repeating 9 wins in the regular season seems like such a tall task for a variety of reasons. The talent lost on that defensive line with Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson is obvious.
But really, it’s the uncertainty in the trenches. Replacing 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line is a troubling thought. Last year, Gus Malzahn kept his job because of how well the Tigers hung with elite competition. The play up front was the foundation of that. Now, you’re asking a mostly new offensive line to protect Bo Nix playing with a new play-caller in Chad Morris. Yeah, I have concerns about that.
That’s before mentioning the fact that the Tigers have 4 games vs. teams that figure to start in the top 15 (Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M) with tricky matchups against fringe Top 25 UNC and a road matchup against Mike Leach’s new-look Mississippi State squad. Am I betting the farm on Auburn to essentially split those 6 games? Nope. Not this year.
Chris Marler, The SDS Podcast co-host
The most accurate win totals I see are LSU and Auburn. LSU plays Texas, Alabama, A&M, Auburn and Florida. And they just lost 1.5 coordinators, a Heisman Trophy winner, and almost 83% of its offensive production. To be honest, 9.5 wins is the ceiling. Then there’s Auburn. Surprisingly the line is set at -210 for the over. However, they have back-to-back games vs. LSU/UGA and Bama/A&M. They lost a lot on defense and will also face a really good UNC offense in early September. Those two numbers seem pretty spot on.
Michael Bratton, News editor
Kentucky is the best bet on the board to go over, while Auburn is the best bet to go under.
Kentucky’s defense looks to be much improved next season and the Wildcats feature a deeper pool of quarterbacks and running backs than in recent seasons. The schedule is key when picking over/unders and the Wildcats are current favorites to win in 7 matchups (vs. Eastern Michigan, vs. Kent State, vs. South Carolina, vs. Eastern Illinois, vs. Vanderbilt, at Missouri, at Louisville) and could conceivably win at Florida, at Auburn, at Tennessee and against Mississippi State.
Auburn’s defense won’t be better than it was last season and Gus Malzahn hired Chad Morris, so it’s safe to say the offense isn’t getting much better next season. The Tigers will be rebuilding both lines of scrimmage and its stout secondary from last season. I’m not convinced Auburn makes a bowl game next season, take the under while you can.
Neil Blackmon, Florida columnist
The most inaccurate? That Tennessee number sure is high.
Sure, the Vols don’t have to play Georgia State in Neyland this fall, which is a big break, but there are at least 4 preseason top 10 teams on the slate in Oklahoma (in Norman), Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
That leaves very little margin for error elsewhere, and I just don’t see how the Vols get through the quartet of at South Carolina, at Arkansas, Kentucky and Mizzou unscathed. Lose all 4 of the top 10 games and 1 more, and they hit the under. Lose 2 and it’s a 6-win campaign, which sounds about right for a program devoid of perimeter playmakers and replacing plenty of guys on defense.
Still, I don’t think that number is as inaccurate as the 8.5 I see by Auburn.
The Tigers will go 4-0 in the nonconference, which means they only must go 5-3 in the league to survive. They get Georgia early, which is a huge break this season, and they get A&M at home. Win one of those and handle business in games where they will be favored (Arkansas, Kentucky, at Ole Miss, at Miss State) and they are already over the number.
I think that’s a 10-win team on The Plains and you won’t convince me otherwise.
Adam Spencer, Newsletter editor
Honestly, I think Vanderbilt’s total is a little high. Yes, I think the Commodores will struggle to win 4 games this year. Mercer in Week 1 is a gimme, but outside of that, the Commodores will have trouble finding victories. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go winless in SEC play. Then, in nonconference action, a trip to Kansas State looks like a loss. A home game against Colorado State isn’t a guaranteed win, and a Week 12 home game against Louisiana Tech will be trickier than it seems.
This all comes down to Vandy’s QB situation. There has been a mass exodus of quarterbacks from the Vandy program this offseason, and losing spring practices hasn’t helped them find a potential starter. This could be a 1- or 2-win season for the Commodores.
Chris Wright, Executive editor
First, I love how nobody can agree on what to expect from Auburn.
That’s the most Auburn football thing ever. I say every year that I’m not going to go back, I’m not going to believe, and there I am, 2 a.m., looking at the athletes, the 4.3 40s, the NFL-ready defensive linemen and thinking: Of course Auburn is going to win it all! And then the Tigers somehow lose 2 games they shouldn’t. But I am staying away from all things Auburn this time, absolutely convinced that the Tigers will win between 5 and 12 games.
I think a couple of these totals are too low. I think Arkansas will win at least 4 games. I think 10-2 should be the floor for Texas A&M this season.
But the one projection I think that is the most off-base is Georgia.
The Dawgs’ over/under is 10.5 wins. I’ll take the under.
If Kirby Smart goes 11-1 in the regular season, this will be his best coaching job to date. He has the defense to do it. But there are so many questions surrounding that offense, starting at quarterback.
Draft analysts already are projecting Jamie Newman as a 1st-round pick next April. That would be quite a story for the 3-star QB who was the No. 649 player in his 2016 recruiting class. Alas, many of those same analysts projected Jake Fromm to be a 1st-rounder this year, too. So accept those opinions for what they’re worth.
I’m in complete wait-and-see mode with Newman.
Talk to me after he faces Alabama in Week 3. I can see Georgia losing to Alabama, Florida and Auburn before I see Newman leading the Dawgs to an 11-1 season and 4th consecutive SEC East title.
Previous roundtable discussions:
- If you could change 1 thing about college football, what would it be?
- What are you watching right now?
- Who is your favorite SEC football player of all-time?
- What are your 3 favorite postseason moments involving SEC teams?
- Which 4 SEC athletes are on your Mount Rushmore?
- What is your most painful sports memory?
- The greatest team I ever saw …
- Which school’s all-time position group is the best in SEC history?
- Who are your way-too-early picks to make the College Football Playoff?
- If and when the SEC expands, which 2 teams should it add?
- Who is your pick to win the SEC East, SEC West in 2020?
- Who is your favorite player from every SEC program?
- Who is your favorite SEC personality to follow on Twitter?
- Which SEC program produced best pro sports duo?
- Which prop bet would you risk stimulus check on?
- Which former assistant is first to beat Nick Saban?
- Which SEC helmet absolutely needs to be redesigned?
- Which Day 2 or 3 SEC pick will have best NFL career?
- Which SEC 1st-round pick will have best rookie season?
- Which SEC player could go No. 1 overall in 2021 draft?
- Who throws for more TDs as rookie: Burrow or Tua?