Reviewing SEC Over/Under Preseason Predictions

Kevin C. Cox

Just before the season started, I made a set of over/under predictions on how the season would go. Here's how it played out.

Arkansas - Over/Under: 5.5 Wins - Prediction: Over - Result: 3-9

Hey, it's like I said in August, the season's barely worth following for me if I don't think the Hogs can at least make a bowl game. Admittedly, this is hardly an unbiased prediction, but I certainly never thought the Hogs would finish 3-9. I thought five wins would be a disappointment and four would be worst-case scenario. I was wrong.

I'll probably always pick the Hogs to be bowl eligible in August. And I maintain it was possible this year. Arkansas held fourth quarter leads in three of their losses and were only truly blown out about three times, depending on your definition of "blown out". Looking back now, it's amazing how sharply the team's momentum halted in that 4th quarter at Rutgers. That game, along with Brandon Allen's injury and string of pick-sixes will be tantalizing what-ifs for the next several months.

Next year's over/under will probably also be below 6 wins, but I will be picking the over if for no other reason than than my dumb faith that I do think the Hogs should at least be bowl eligible going into every year.

Alabama - Over/Under 11.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 11-1

Never a doubt! It's so hard to go undefeated. You never know when you're going to miss four field goals and get the last one returned for a touchdown with one second left to lose the game. Happens too frequently to expect anybody to go 12-0.

Auburn - Over/Under 6.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 11-1

Oops. I wrote in August that to get to 7 wins, Auburn would likely have to win three of their games between Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Done and done. Obviously, the Tigers swept the four games and lost only to LSU, and would have cleared the over even without the magical fairy dust that put them in the SEC Championship Game.

Florida - Over/Under 9.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 4-8

Clearly, Arkansas gave Florida such a physical, draining emotional game that the Gators never recovered and lost every game thereafter. That's it.

I mean, I always thought 10 wins was a stretch, but 4? Losing to Georgia Southern? That's absolutely insane. It's crazy to think Florida lost every game after beating Arkansas in early October, but they did (dang it, why couldn't the collapse start just one week earlier?). There were way more issues than injuries here.

Georgia - Over/Under 9.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 8-4

Now this can be the result of injuries. Losing to Missouri and Vanderbilt after Tennessee knocked out like half of Georgia's roster with bionic forearms and chair shots was something no one expected. That and the Despair in Jordan-Hare. That was also unexpected.

Kentucky - Over/Under 3.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 2-10

Any Razorback fan who complains about "even John L Smith won a conference game" but doesn't mention that the 2012 Hogs got to host Kentucky should be stripped of Internet privileges.

LSU - Over/Under 9.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 9-3

A meh season for the Tigers barely missed the 10-win mark thanks to a pair of three-point road losses to Georgia and LSU.

Mississippi State - Over/Under 5.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 6-6

Betting tip: whenever you say something along the lines of, "this is one of the easier ones for me to pick," you are almost certainly making the wrong pick. I thought the Bulldogs would lose their last five. I thought Arkansas, coming off a bye and getting the game at War Memorial, would win easily. Maybe they should have, but they didn't. And for good measure, the Bulldogs won the Egg Bowl. Whoops.

Missouri - Over/Under 5.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 11-1

Basically, I thought Pinkel's Mizzou was a better program than what they showed in 2012. Mizzou does what they normally do. Typically under Pinkel, they've been a solid, underrated program. They don't usually have all the best players, though they do have some very good ones, and they play well. Pinkel-style.

Ole Miss- Over/Under 8.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 7-5

If I'd known up front the Rebels would beat LSU and Texas, I'd have picked them to go over. I didn't think they'd lose to Mississippi State, Missouri, and Auburn (and the Auburn game was early in the season before the Tigers really got it going).

I get that winning at Ole Miss is difficult, and he deserves credit for having winning seasons, but Hugh Freeze's only really good win at Ole Miss so far has been against LSU. Just saying, Texas was self-destructing when the Rebels went to Austin, and the three SEC wins in 2012 were against historically awful Arkansas and Auburn teams - and Mississippi State. That's all I'm saying.

South Carolina - Over/Under 9.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 10-2

A month and a half later, I still don't understand what happened in Fayetteville. It totally and completely changed the mindset of most of the fan base, and Carolina followed that up by the huge let-down in Knoxville a week later. I'll always remember these Gamecocks for that.

Tennessee - Over/Under 5.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 5-7

There was a time growing up when I would have loved for Arkansas to have the same postseason prospects as Florida and Tennessee. Be careful what you wish for, kids.

Things were looking really good in Knoxville when the Vols nearly knocked off Georgia and pulled the aforementioned upset over South Carolina a week later, then everything collapsed. Playing what turned out to be three top-five teams in Alabama, Missouri, and Auburn and losing by a total score of 131-36. The Vols still had a shot at bowl eligibility with a home game against Vanderbilt, but lost a 14-10 heartbreaker that proved to be a swing game for two of these predictions.

But still, among the three new SEC head coaches who didn't re-inherit their own players, Butch Jones has the only two conference victories, so congratulations to him. The three new coaches combined finished 2-22 in SEC play,.

Texas A&M - Over/Under 9.5 - Prediction: Over - Result: 8-4

No other way around it, that was a disappointment. Along with Mississippi State, I thought this was one of the easier picks, and like the Bulldogs, I was wrong. It's not often a fan base is still so in love with their head coach after a disappionting season and likely the upcoming departure of some all-time great players that they give him a raise and extension to become one of the highest paid coaches in the country, but that's the situation in Aggieland. That's the power of promising recruiting classes.

Vanderbilt - Over/Under 7.5 - Prediction: Under - Result: 8-4

Man, the Commodores were 4-4 after getting blown out by A&M to close October, but they swept November to go 8-4 as quietly as you can. They beat Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee this season. That James Franklin's just too slick.

Overall prediction record: 6-8.

Dang, that Vandy/Tennessee game. I told y'all a lot of them would be wrong.

For the record: lines that were on target (within that .5 range): Alabama, LSU, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi State.

Lines within 1.5 games: Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Georgia,

2.5 games: Arkansas

4.5 games: Auburn

5.5 games: Missouri, Florida

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