Miami [8.5] We’re high on Costco Al this season. Miami is loaded with returning talent everywhere on offense. If they can improve to average on third downs and in the red zone, they will score a ton of points. If the atrocious defense can improve to below average with nine returning starters, that should be enough for a solid ACC season. They face a rebuilding Florida defense in week two. Miami may not be “back” but they return back to respectability in 2013. Hopefully, Al found a tailor, a supply of fresh towels and some time to hit the beach.
Michigan [8.5] The Wolverines only have 12 returning starters, the fewest in the B1G. But the new ones are talent upgrades and players recruited to fit Michigan’s system. From 8-5 last year, they swap Alabama for UConn non-conference. They play Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State at home, where Brady Hoke is 14-0. Add the road games at Michigan State, at Northwestern and at Penn State. If Michigan can win three of those six, that should be the over.
Missouri  Missouri finished Top 20 in SRS four times in five seasons through 2011. Gary Pinkel’s program is better than believed. Last year, the “young man” offense was ravaged by injuries at the skill positions and on the line. They still, despite disappointing results, held their own against some of the conference’s top teams. The 2013 team should have James Franklin and Henry Josey at full vigor, a healthier offensive line and a more productive Dorial Green-Beckham. They play a softer non-conference schedule. They are not playing an entirely new conference slate. Missouri should surprise someone and get to 3-5 in the SEC. That gets them the over.
South Carolina [9.5] The schedule, finally, works in Steve Spurrier’s favor. So does having the most impactful player in college football at peak intensity. South Carolina’s season comes down to three games. They play Georgia, with a novice defense, in week two. They play Florida and Clemson at home in November. Winning one of those three should get them to 10 wins.
Stanford [9.5] The Cardinal bring back the best defense outside the SEC. Coming off three-straight BCS bowl bids, they are a proven commodity. Both last year’s losses, Washington and Notre Dame, are at home. Stanford also plays ASU, UCLA and Oregon there. They will be favored in their toughest road games, at Oregon State and at USC. The jury is out on Kevin Hogan, but he should at least provide more consistent quarterback play. Barring an implosion, it’s hard to see Stanford suffering more than two losses.
USC [9.5] Yes, we are going to go there. Terrible end to last season. But, it was exacerbated by the Barkley injury. USC plays 13 games, so you’re looking for three losses, not two. The Trojans have about as accommodating a Pac 12 schedule as one could conjure. They get five conference home games. They drop Oregon and Washington. Two of their road games are against Colorado and Cal. Seven wins should be nailed down. They need to win three against Arizona, Stanford and UCLA (home) and ASU, Notre Dame and Oregon State (away). That seems reasonable for this talented of a team.