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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
What awaits Texas A&M in the SEC?

By David Ubben

Football Outsiders' Brian Fremeau crunched the numbers for ESPN Insider to project Texas A&M's future in the SEC Insider.

They're interesting numbers I'll admit I don't fully understand, but you can always ask the man himself on Twitter about them. Here's what he had to say:
On average, an SEC conference schedule should result in a loss of about one extra game per year for the Aggies. In terms of the likelihood of competing for a national championship, the road through the SEC is so much more difficult. A team of Texas A&M's strength would have a small (2 percent) chance of running the table against its Big 12 schedule this year. Against Arkansas' schedule, that small opportunity all but vanishes (0.2 percent).

All these figures are based on the current ratings of SEC teams, and it is difficult to predict whether the Aggies will be able to improve their program power strength or whether they may take a step back. Heading into the season, Texas A&M ranked No. 56 in Program FEI, a five-year weighted measure of program strength and the baseline for preseason projections. Only top-20 Program FEI teams can expect to compete for a national championship the following season.

The Aggies would carry an FEI rating of No. 6 in the Big 12, but would be ahead of only Vanderbilt in the SEC.
Of course, those Program FEI ratings are based on a five-year period in which Texas A&M wasn't particularly strong. But for each of those Aggies teams, the grind of an SEC schedule would have been even tougher than the Big 12 road it faced. That's almost entirely because the middle and lower tiers of the SEC have been consistently stronger than those of any other conference.

That might be something we've heard before, but it's always interesting to see it expressed via data analysis. What do you think?