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I don't think most of the media thinks we'll struggle, as in winning 4 or 5 games. I think they just expect a drop off. And since we won 14 games last year, even 9 wins this year will be a sizable "drop off". 9 wins is only 64% of 14 wins, so that is a big step back. When you were #1, you can take a step back and still be pretty good.
Keep in mind, being so young and talented, we are likely to be a bit inconsistent. We'll probably lose a game two to teams we feel we should beat. And we'll probably win a game or two in which we're the underdog.
I break us down into "definite win", "should win", "toss up", "most likely loss", and "definite loss".
Most likely a loss:
@ South Carolina
That comes out to 7-5 for the regular season, and I'll always assume a win in a bowl game, so I'm guessing 8-5 for the year.
With a bowl win, 10 wins isn't too much of a stretch. It would probably mean we go 3-1 in "toss up" games against @ Clemson, Miss State, Florida, and @ Georgia, and also go 2-2 in "most likely a loss" games against @ S Carolina, @ Arkansas, Alabama, and @ LSU.
The schedule is what makes that tough. Having 3 of those 4 "likely loss" games on the road is really tough. Those are four good teams, playing 3 of them on the road is quite a challenge.
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