I saved my prediction for last because honestly I couldn't make up my mind. Like the other writers' predictions, I am somewhere between six and eight wins, but just can't decide exactly where I felt most comfortable record-wise. I think the reason for my uncomfortableness is that I understand that our margins are pretty thin. Meaning, in order for us to beat teams we are equal to or lesser than, we have to play really sound football with very few mistakes. Last year that didn't happen one time and sure enough we ended up with eight losses. This year we have more depth and experience so I expect us to have just a bit more margin than last year's team, but again not much.
So looking at the schedule, I see four teams that we are definitely better than (SHS, UTEP, ISU & KU). I see the other eight teams as equal or better than us at this point. Versus those eight teams, how many fundamentally sound games can we put together? The last time we did was in the Holiday Bowl versus Arizona State eighteen months ago. This is why I have a hard time believing when we put together zero fundamentally sound games last season, we can all of sudden put four together the next season.
Two signs of fundamentally sound football teams are turnovers and penalties. We have ranked worse than #110 in the nation in both turnover margin and penalties per game in both categories since Kingsbury's arrival on campus. What can be changed this season that hasn't been in his first two seasons? David Gibbs being hired as the defensive coordinator is one. As we all know, he is known for creating turnovers with his defenses. The other is Kingsbury's constant harping on the these two stats. At every opportunity he has mentioned these as his focus for the offseason. He says the quarterback competition will be determined by which quarterback takes of the ball the best. I think for these reasons, we will be improved in both areas which will help improve our record by two games.
That is a longwinded way of saying I think we end the regular season a 6-6 record. We end up with wins versus Sam Houston State, UTEP, Iowa State, Kansas , Kansas State and Oklahoma State. I think we are more competitive in the six losses than last year's team. We get back to a bowl and win it to end the season with a 7-6 record. From there, we start building towards something special on the South Plains.