Handicapping the SEC West: A Mid-Season Review
Today I’ll take a look at the West.
Alabama has cruised through its opposition (Michigan, Western Kentucky, Arkansas, FAU, Ole Miss and Missouri) with an undefeated record much as I predicted. In my game predictions I listed Michigan as a “toss-up” and my reasoning was, “As a courtesy to a conference that was once relevant I listed the Michigan game as a Toss-up, as anything can happen in weird, neutral site season openers.”
I pegged Alabama for 11-12 wins and also put the LSU as a toss-up seeing more threat from the Tigers than the Wolverines. Alabama will most certainly hit that eleven win figure, and I feel more confident in their capability to reach twelve than I did at the beginning of the season. But, an undefeated season is still far from guaranteed.
The whole Petrino thing has hurt the Razorbacks more than some though. But this picture still brings a smile to everyone’s face.
I expressed hesitation regarding the Razorbacks back in August saying, “Yes, Arkansas returns a lot of firepower – but the director of their offensive assault is gone. Tyler Wilson could be All-SEC or he could have a slump like Ryan Mallett did after he got hot press and teams schemed for him. Knile Davis is back from injury and if healthy is a threat – but that remains a big ‘if.’”
These statements turned out to be understatements. I pegged Arkansas for 7-8 wins and unless the Hogs manage to win out against opposition like South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU that won’t happen. I missed the huge upset to Louisiana-Monroe, the loss to Rutgers and the Razorbacks also lost a game to Texas A&M that I dubbed a “toss-up” but would have sided with Arkansas on.
I also expected a slide from Auburn, but once again my 6-7 win projection was giving them too much credit. My concerns regarding Auburn’s QB play and general talent seem more than validated as Auburn has lost 4 “toss-up” games (Clemson, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss) and another game to LSU. I caught a lot of flack from Auburn fans for listing Mississippi State and Ole Miss as “toss-ups,” who knew I could be so wrong?
Much like Alabama, LSU seemed to be rolling through their schedule until they arrived at the Swamp and were greeted by a harsh Florida defense and handed a 14-6 loss. I’ll talk more about an improved Florida team tomorrow, but with that lone exception LSU has largely performed as I anticipated. But, I do think their offensive struggles will keep them susceptible to upsets in the future.
For all the hype surrounding Mississippi State they still haven’t won a game that I labeled as a “loss” before the season began. And, I still don’t think they’re that good. Mississippi State had three toss-up games and I think all three opponents (Auburn at home, at Kentucky and Tennessee at home) have turned out to be a little bit worse than I expected. The Bulldogs have capitalized on an easy schedule and to their credit handled business. That being said I, I pegged them for 7-8 wins and that higher number may not be far off with games against Bama, A&M, LSU and an explosive Arkansas offense remaining.
Cousin Eddie Dan Mullen is doing a fine job with Mississippi State
The Rebels hot start seems great at this point, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves as they still have five SEC games left to play – all of which could very well be losses. But kudos to the Rebels for winning what I felt was a toss-up with UTEP and upsetting Auburn.
Given the sharp decline of Arkansas and the dramatic rise of Florida, the Aggies are exactly where they should be in the SEC. They have a tough stretch coming up with LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama remaining, but I’d expect them to surpass the 7-8 wins I initially predicted for him.
For What It’s Worth
I took Alabama to finish with over 10.5 wins and I still feel good about that.
I took Arkansas to finish with under 8.5 points, and I think that’s as good as locked down.
I took Auburn under the projected 7.5 and that has already been won.
I took the under on LSU’s 10 wins and that looks unlikely, but is still possible.
I took the over on Mississippi State’s 7 wins and that’s all but finalized as a win.
I took the over on Texas A&M’s projected 7 wins and that is shaping up to look nice.
There was no consensus line on Ole Miss provided by sportsbook.com.
All in all, it looks like I should finish no worse than 5-1 on these. I’ll take that any day of the week. I don’t think I’ll do as well in the east.
That’s all I got/