Predicting the 2013 SEC West

Published on: July 23, 2013 | Written by: Clay Travis

I'm headed to Las Vegas this weekend to make my yearly over/under and BCS title bets for college football.

I'll update you with my decisions in all these bets once I make them, but in the meantime I've been looking at the SEC schedule and trying to think probabilistically about what I believe will happen this season. So it's time for OKTC to dive into each SEC school and predict what I see for the season.

This year we start with the SEC West.

I've broken down each team's schedule using five different categories: definite wins, likely wins, definite losses, likely losses, and toss-ups.

So how do I define those games. 

Definite wins are games that should have spreads of 17+. It's possible that a team could lose these games, but it's incredibly unlikely. If teams lose these games you're probably heading for a Gene Chizik like implosion.

Likely wins are those games that a team should win, but it's not a slam dunk. You're somewhere around a 8-14 point favorite in the game.

Toss ups are games I'm forecasting to have a spread of a touchdown or less. These are basically games where a play or two here or there has a decent chance of determining the outcome. I've also put a few games that will likely have a margin of more than seven points in the toss-up category. For instance, LSU at Alabama will probably see Bama as a touchdown or more favorite, but given LSU and Alabama's history of late, would it really shock anyone if LSU went into Tuscaloosa and found a way to win? I don't think so, hence some of my toss-ups are a function of history, coaching, and my own feelings about the match-ups.

Figure that a toss-up is close to a 65-35 outcome at worst. That is, if the game was played 100 times the underdog would win around 35 of the games. Many of these toss-ups are much closer to 50-50 splits, where one team or the other will be a field goal or less of a favorite.   

Likely losses are the reverse of the likely wins, the team that is likely to lose will be 8-14 point underdog.

Definite losses are games where a team will be a three score or more underdog.  

As a preliminary, no matter how many times I look at these SEC West schedules it's hard for me to see the loser of Bama at A&M on September 14th winning the SEC West. If Bama beats A&M there is zero doubt the Tide will roll into Atlanta. If A&M beats Bama it's hard for me to see the Aggies losing at Ole Miss and at LSU, the only two games on the Aggie schedule I think they could lose with a healthy Johnny Manziel. At worst I think the Aggies would split those games and head to Atlanta with the tiebreak over the Tide. 

I"m not picking who I think will win this game yet -- who knows what could happen in the remaining offseason -- which is why my top two teams in the SEC West have the same 11-1 record right now. 

By the way, it's early, but don't discount the possibility of a rematch between A&M and Alabama in the BCS title game. Seriously. You'd need top teams like Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford, Clemson, whoever emerges in the Big 12, and Florida State to lose, but is that really unbelievable? With the exception of Ohio State all of these teams play several tough games. 

It's very possible that the only game either Alabama or A&M loses all season is this September 14th contest. With a long time to recover from that loss, it's very possible they could end up playing twice. Especially if it's a tight game decided late.   

You'll also see that teams like LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State have the most potential swings. LSU is the wildest, with a potential high end of 12-0 or a potential low end of 6-6. I've split the baby there and figured the Tigers will finish 9-3. 

Okay, now that everyone will agree with every bit of my hypotheses we go:

 

Alabama: 11-1

 

Definite wins (8):

Colorado State, Georgia State, at Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn

Likely wins (2):

Virginia Tech (neutral), Ole Miss

Definite losses (0):

none

Likely losses (0):

none

Toss-ups (2):

at Texas A&M, LSU

 

Texas A&M 11-1

 

Definite Wins (7):

Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU, at Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State, UTEP

Likely wins:

Vandy, at Missouri

Definite losses (0)

none

Likely losses (0)

none

Toss-ups:

Alabama, at Ole Miss, at LSU

 

LSU 9-3

 

Definite Wins (5):

UAB, Kent State, Auburn, Furman, Arkansas

Likely wins (1):

Mississippi State

Definite losses (0):

none

Likely losses (0): 

none

Toss-ups (6):

TCU, at Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss, at Alabama, Texas A&M

 

Ole Miss: 7-5

 

Definite wins (3): 

Southeast Missouri, Idaho, Troy

Likely wins (3):

at Auburn, Arkansas, Missouri

Definite losses (0):

None

Likely losses (2):

at Texas, at Alabama

Toss-ups (4):

at Vandy, Texas A&M, LSU, at Mississippi State   

 

Auburn: 6-6

 

Definite Wins (2):

Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic

Likely Wins (1):

Washington State 

Definite losses (4):

at LSU, at Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama

Likely losses (1):

Ole Miss

Toss-ups (4):

Arkansas State, Mississippi State, Arkansas, at Tennessee

 

Mississippi State 6-6

 

Definite wins:

Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green

Likely wins:

Kentucky

Definite losses:

at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama,

Likely losses:

Oklahoma State, LSU

Toss-ups:

at Auburn, at Arkansas, Ole Miss 

 

Arkansas: 4-8

 

Definite wins (1):

Samford

Likely wins (2):

Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss

Definite losses (5):

Texas A&M, at Florida, South Carolina, at Alabama, at LSU

Likely losses (1): 

Ole Miss

Toss-ups (3):

 Rutgers, Auburn, Mississippi State

...

I'll have my SEC East predictions later this week. 

In the meantime, dive in and react. 

I'm 100% correct, right?