Georgia wins! South Carolina loses! Oh my God, Ole Miss is doomed! Most initial reactions to the release of the 2012 SEC football schedule followed the same lines; it makes sense, really, as those things all appear to be true. But what else can we learn about the 2012 slate? Using 2011 numbers, quite a bit.
One of the better ways to imagine the impact of the 2012 schedule is to look at the impact it would have had in 2011. Using F/+ numbers and actual 2011 results, we can come up with a loose set of projections. Some guidelines:
1. If the two teams really played, that result is used. Only, in almost every case, the home-road status of the game is flipped. In those instances, we will flip the score by approximately seven points in favor of the home team. That is a generally-accepted number for home-field advantage -- you lose about 3.5 points going from home field to a neutral site, and you lose about another 3.5 points going from neutral to road.
2. For games that did not take place (i.e. most Missouri and Texas A&M games, plus a few others), we will use F/+ projections as our guide (those results are in bold). These ratings will change slightly once bowl results are factored in, but this is still a solid place to start.
|30-Aug||South Carolina||Vanderbilt||South Carolina by 11|
|8-Sep||Auburn||Mississippi State||Mississippi State by 1|
|8-Sep||Florida||Texas A&M||Texas A&M by 8|
|8-Sep||Georgia||Missouri||Georgia by 3|
The main problem with using F/+ projections: they don't really take Texas A&M's late-game collapses into account. Using every play and every drive of 2011, A&M was a pretty damn good team, ranking 18th overall. The timeliness of their poor plays and drives was staggering. Perhaps they would have indeed beaten Florida by eight, but who knows how the tendency toward collapse would have factored in. Meanwhile, No. 14 Georgia is able to edge out No. 33 Missouri.
|15-Sep||Alabama||Arkansas||Alabama by 17|
|15-Sep||Florida||Tennessee||Florida by 3|
|22-Sep||LSU||Auburn||LSU by 28|
|22-Sep||Kentucky||Florida||Florida by 45|
|22-Sep||Vanderbilt||Georgia||Georgia by 12|
|22-Sep||Missouri||South Carolina||South Carolina by 5|
Home field carries South Carolina over Missouri in Columbia No. 1 (or is it Columbia No. 2?).
|29-Sep||Ole Miss||Alabama||Alabama by 52|
|29-Sep||Arkansas||Texas A&M||Arkansas by 1|
|29-Sep||Tennessee||Georgia||Georgia by 15|
|29-Sep||South Carolina||Kentucky||South Carolina by 44|
Arkansas beat Texas A&M by four points at Jerry World; a flip to College Station would be worth about three points.
|6-Oct||Mississippi State||Kentucky||Mississippi State by 12|
|6-Oct||Arkansas||Auburn||Arkansas by 17|
|6-Oct||LSU||Florida||LSU by 23|
|6-Oct||Georgia||South Carolina||South Carolina by 10|
|6-Oct||Texas A&M||Ole Miss||Texas A&M by 16|
|6-Oct||Vanderbilt||Missouri||Missouri by 6|
Safe to say, the Collapse Factor would not have been enough to cost A&M against Ole Miss. Meanwhile, Missouri earns Win No. 1 at home over Vandy.
|13-Oct||Alabama||Missouri||Alabama by 16|
|13-Oct||Kentucky||Arkansas||Arkansas by 23|
|13-Oct||Auburn||Ole Miss||Auburn by 11|
|13-Oct||Florida||Vanderbilt||Vanderbilt by 2|
|13-Oct||South Carolina||LSU||LSU by 29|
|13-Oct||Tennessee||Mississippi State||Mississippi State by 7|
Drawing LSU certainly does South Carolina no favors, eh? Meanwhile, Bama slowly pulls away from Missouri just like they slowly pulled away from most SEC opponents. And flipping Florida-Vandy to Nashville flips the result, too. This will become a trend for the 'Dores.
|20-Oct||Alabama||Tennessee||Alabama by 24|
|20-Oct||Auburn||Vanderbilt||Vanderbilt by 7|
|20-Oct||South Carolina||Florida||Florida by 2|
|20-Oct||Georgia||Kentucky||Georgia by 2|
|20-Oct||LSU||Texas A&M||LSU by 19|
With S.C.-Florida taking place at the Swamp, the Gators steal a win, leaving South Carolina two games in the hole with the new slate.
|27-Oct||Ole Miss||Arkansas||Arkansas by 12|
|27-Oct||Texas A&M||Auburn||Texas A&M by 7|
|27-Oct||Florida||Georgia||Georgia by 4|
|27-Oct||Kentucky||Missouri||Missouri by 18|
|27-Oct||Tennessee||South Carolina||South Carolina by 18|
|27-Oct||Mississippi State||Alabama||Alabama by 24|
Does A&M hold on in Auburn? Meanwhile, Homecoming No. 1 for Missouri goes swimmingly.
|3-Nov||Alabama||LSU||LSU by 10|
|3-Nov||Missouri||Florida||Florida by 3|
|3-Nov||Ole Miss||Georgia||Georgia by 21|
|3-Nov||Vanderbilt||Kentucky||Vanderbilt by 23|
|3-Nov||Texas A&M||Mississippi State||Texas A&M by 4|
Missouri is done no favors by facing South Carolina and Florida on the road. Flip those two games and send them to Athens, and the Tigers go 2-1. As is, they go 0-3. Also: does A&M hold on in Starkville?
|10-Nov||Texas A&M||Alabama||Alabama by 19|
|10-Nov||Arkansas||South Carolina||Arkansas by 9|
|10-Nov||Georgia||Auburn||Georgia by 31|
|10-Nov||Mississippi State||LSU||LSU by 20|
|10-Nov||Vanderbilt||Ole Miss||Vanderbilt by 16|
|10-Nov||Missouri||Tennessee||Missouri by 3|
Home-road status makes no difference on the Tigers' first trip to Knoxville.
|17-Nov||Arkansas||Mississippi State||Arkansas by 20|
|17-Nov||Ole Miss||LSU||LSU by 56|
|17-Nov||Tennessee||Vanderbilt||Vanderbilt by 1|
Flipping Tennessee-Vandy to Nashville swings the game in Vandy's favor, and ... poor Ole Miss. These margins are horrendous.
|24-Nov||Auburn||Alabama||Alabama by 35|
|24-Nov||LSU||Arkansas||LSU by 17|
|24-Nov||Kentucky||Tennessee||Tennessee by 4|
|24-Nov||Mississippi State||Ole Miss||Mississippi State by 21|
|24-Nov||Missouri||Texas A&M||Missouri by 7|
All is right with the world: Tennessee beats Kentucky in Knoxville. And Missouri still wins at College Station. (Fun note: they will have the chance to win in College Station for the third consecutive year next fall. An odd scheduling quirk.)
|South Carolina||5-3||9-3||-1 Win|
Your big winner: Vanderbilt. They draw Auburn (at home) instead of Arkansas, and sending Florida and Tennessee to Nashville flips those tight results. (This assumes, of course, that Vandy has the same homefield advantage as other SEC schools. Everybody got the same seven-point flip in this exercise.) This does suggest that, if James Franklin's Commodores are going to make a move, next year would be a pretty good time.
Meanwhile, even if Missouri loses to Arizona State, they finish with the same overall record thanks to the addition of an extra cupcake opponent. And yes, South Carolina is done no favors here, even if they don't suffer as much as others.
|Mississippi State||4-4||8-4||+2 Wins|
|Texas A&M||4-4||8-4||+2 Wins|
Obviously things at the top of the West were not going to change much. Your three most impacted teams are Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Auburn, though A&M's collapsibility (that's a word now) could have resulted in no change at all for them. Auburn is hurt the worst in this new arrangement, while Mississippi State, in drawing Tennessee at home and getting Auburn in Starkville, benefits quite a bit.