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Bill Connelly previewed the SEC West, and it isn’t pretty

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Let’s play ‘good news, bad news’

WASHINGTON, DC-May 6: Hand-cranked meat grinder with pork meat Photo by Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post

Bill Connelly (formerly of SB Nation and now with ESPN) does some of the most detailed statistical breakdowns and previews you can find, and he’s back yet again with this year’s SEC West preview. While he says some kind things about A&M as a team, his data is far less kind.

The good news, his S&P+* predicts the Texas A&M Aggies to be the 13th best team in the country. The bad news? That’s good for a fifth place finish in the division.

While fifth is a hard number to swallow (behind Bama, LSU, Auburn and [cringe] Mississippi State), it basically comes down to A&M facing what is easily one of the most difficult schedules in college football this coming season.

You see, A&M now has to play at Clemson and replaced a Kentucky home game with a trip to Georgia in interdivision play. If you’re keeping score at home, then, that means a home game against S&P+’s projected No. 1 team (Alabama) and trips to Nos. 2-4 (Clemson in September, Georgia and LSU in November). Oh yeah, and three other projected top-20 teams visit College Station.

Goodness.

Connelly’s formula has the Aggies predicted at 6.9 wins, which drives home the reality that while many of our fans might lament another 8-4 season, that in and out itself would be an accomplishment given the gauntlet this team has to face in 2019. While nobody wants to write off a season before it starts. Connelly points toward 2020 as a season when A&M could legitimately start challenging for a title (something I’ve said ever since 2018 ended).

But maybe the numbers are wrong. Maybe the physical development of the players combined with the scheme of this coaching staff will belie expectations. Maybe this team is ready to compete right now. These are the rationalizations of every college football fan in July, and every once in a while, they’re right.

*S&P+ is the tempo- and opponent-adjusted efficiency measure Connelly created at Football Outsiders in 2008.

Poll

What will be A&M’s 2019 win total?

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    6
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  • 15%
    7
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    8
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    10+
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