Computer prediction says Tennessee will win 7.8 games in 2012


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — What if you played the college football season 50,000 times? Well, you’d be very tired, and there would probably be a lot of injuries, but you’d also eliminate many of the flukes and vagaries of a single season to produce an accurate measure of a team’s talent.

That’s the idea behind the Prediction Machine, which simulated the college football season 50,000 times and release its results a few days ago.

I can’t vouch for the methodology. Here’s what the site says: “In sports, matchups dictate outcomes. Instead of data mining to attempt to find historical trends that may lend some insight into future games – a common, yet misleading approach for many other predictive models –’s accuracy stems from the Predictalator (a fancy name for the Machine), which plays an upcoming game 50,000 times before it’s actually played.”

So, uh, take that for what you will.

Anyway, like all preseason projections, this one will provide fodder for discussion if nothing else, and the SEC picks aren’t far outside the consensus.

1. Alabama, 10.9-1.1
2. Georgia, 10.6-1.4
3. LSU, 10.1-1.9
4. Arkansas, 8.4-3.6
5. South Carolina, 8-4

6. Tennessee, 7.8-4.2

7. Florida, 7.2-4.8
8. Missouri, 6.9-5.1
9. Auburn, 6.4-5.6
10. Texas A&M, 6-6
10. Vanderbilt, 6-6
10. Miss. State, 6-6
13. Ole Miss, 4.5-7.5
14. Kentucky, 4.2-7.8

As you can see, Tennessee fares quite well. Assuming three non-conference wins against Georgia State, Akron and Troy, that would leave the Vols at 4.8-4.2 in their eight conference games and one neutral-site matchup. Not earth-shattering, but certainly progress.

It’s Sunday, so I’m not going to hit all 11 points today. Check out today’s paper for a really good column by John Adams about Big Dan McCullers, who was affable and good-humored in his media debut yesterday. It’s not easy being a giant, I’m sure, but he handled all the questions about his size with ease, even though he’s heard them 1,000 times.

Mike Strange wrote about the value of playing as a freshman rather than redshirt. Derek Dooley said it helps even if you “stunk” as a freshman. There seems to be less redshirting than there was a decade ago, perhaps because so few players make it to the end of their college eligibility. Coaches wisely figure it’s best to use the players while they can.

The Vols are back on the practice field this afternoon. We’ll see if they start to tone down the intensity of practice a bit. The first game is only 12 days away and coaches want to make sure legs are fresh and players are healthy for the opener.

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