The smell of football is in the air as week one of college football is set to get underway Thursday night, and it is only right that we have an SEC football preview.
The Southeastern Conference runs the college football landscape, no matter how hard the likes of the Big 10 try to flex having the largest TV deal in the sport. The Southeast is God’s country and most of the conference resides in God’s Time Zone (Central Time Zone for those who aren’t familiar).
Here’s my fandom backstory; I grew up in Alabama as a Florida Gators fan and ended up attending Mississippi State University and of course, I get to deal with more heartbreak and the ever-growing purgatory when it comes to football fandom in Starkville, Mississippi. What I will write about my alma mater later in this blog will be completely objective and not at all biased. The same goes for Ole Miss, Arkansas, and every other team I dislike in this conference. I went to State to become a big J Journalist, and that’s what I’m going to be today.
We’ll get started on this SEC football preview in alphabetical order and I’ll be giving every school’s best case and worst case scenario for this season.
University of Alabama
Alabama lost the national championship game last year and has the defending Heisman winner still manning the offense. Seems good if you ask me. This team is built to win another national title for Nick Saban, and I expect them to do so. There’s not a whole lot to be said about this team except that I am absolutely horrified of what they will do to my school.
Alabama is going to throttle teams like the country has never seen before, but if they end up in their worst-case scenario it will seem like the sky is falling. The worst I can see happening to the Crimson Tide is that they lose the Iron Bowl, and somehow draw an Ohio State juggernaut in the first round of the playoffs.
Best Case: 14-0, SEC Champions, National Champions
Worst Case: 12-2, SEC Champions, Lose in playoffs
University of Arkansas
Last season the Razorbacks went 9-3 and the fan base was in hog heaven. Sam Pittman turned this team around, and they ended up being third in the SEC West. Good for them, it’s not happening again this season. They begin the season against one of last year’s playoff teams, Cincinnati, and the next week they get the revamped Gamecocks of South Carolina.
Maybe Pittman is an incredible coach and somehow keeps this success rolling for another year, but I don’t see it in K.J. Jefferson. He was decent last year, but I truly don’t have any faith in this team in 2022.
Best Case: 8-4 with losses to Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Alabama, and one more loss against either Mississippi State, Ole Miss, or LSU
Worst Case: 5-7 losing a majority of SEC games
Bryan Harsin, Auburn’s Head Football Coach, gets to start the season on the hot seat! Last season the Tigers went 5-7, and now they enter their first season without quarterback Bo Nix. Not that Nix was knock-your-socks-off incredible, but he was capable of pulling wins out of his ass against better opponents from time to time.
It looks like T.J. Finley will be the starting quarterback on the plains this season, and that automatically does not give me high hopes for this team. The Tigers are returning stud running back Tank Bigsby after the scare of him transferring at the end of last season.
This team gets to start the season with two cupcakes, and then an unknown Penn State team at home. Auburn gets to host LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M at home but has to travel to Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama.
Best Case: 9-3 if the Tigers sweep every SEC opponent other than Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M
Worst Case: 4-8 and Bryan Harsin gets fired before the Iron Bowl
University of Florida
Exit Dan Mullen, enter Billy Napier. It is yet another era in Florida Gators football as the head coach in waiting from 2008 left with his tail tucked between his legs and a 6-7 record. Mullen is now a high school coach in Georgia, good for him.
Florida fans are desperate for a true contending football team that they haven’t seen since Tim Tebow graduated and Urban Meyer took his antics elsewhere. Can Billy Napier be that guy that establishes another winner in the swamp? Only time will tell.
The Gators have Anthony Richardson, but other than that I haven’t heard any hype surrounding the team. Luckily for Napier, it’s only his first season and expectations shouldn’t be all too high.
The schedule isn’t terribly daunting, but this season could quickly fall off the rails in week one when they host #7 Utah. There are quite a few unknowns in the SEC this season, and Florida has a majority of them on their schedule this year.
Best Case: 9-3 losing their three toughest matchups against Utah, Georgia, and Texas A&M
Worst Case: 5-7 and it would be an UGLY 5-7
University of Georgia
The defending national champions look to be similar to the dynasty of Alabama by retooling and not having to rebuild their teams. They only lost the SEC Championship Game to Alabama before returning the favor in the national title in January.
Stetson Bennett is back and this Bulldogs team should hum through the SEC East once again. Their schedule doesn’t have hardly any question marks except for the week one matchup with Oregon. To be quite honest this team should breeze through the regular season undefeated and end up in Atlanta to play whoever ends up representing the SEC West (it’s Alabama, no need to create any suspense).
Best Case: 14-0 with back-to-back national titles
Worst Case: 12-2 with losses to Oregon and a loss in the SEC Championship Game
University of Kentucky
The Wildcats went 10-3 last season if you don’t remember. What a season for Coach Stoops and their fans. The good news for them is that this season it is entirely possible that they could do it again.
In 2021 they lost three straight games to Georgia, Mississippi State, and Tennessee. The beauty of being in the SEC East is that you don’t have to play one of the best teams in the country every other week, and I could see this team doing some damage to the east.
Best Case: 10-2 with losses to Georgia and one other SEC opponent, because let’s face it, Kentucky will not go 11-1
Worst Case: 7-5 with only SEC losses throughout the season
Louisiana State University
I’m going to be completely honest, I have no idea what to expect from the LSU Tigers in 2022. They hired Brian Kelly away from a comfortable job in Notre Dame, and now he’s faking southern accents to try to fit in on the bayou.
I’ll never forgive him for that, but alas, LSU is moving on from Ed Orgeron with another quite successful coach in Kelly. The Tigers don’t appear to have a starting quarterback, and they finished last in the SEC West in 2021 with a 6-7 overall record.
No one expected what the 2019 LSU team was going to do, so I’m not going to rule out an insane LSU team showing up this year. I’m also not going to rule out that Brian Kelly stinks it up and the people of Louisiana start to lose their minds.
Best Case: 10-2 with losses to Alabama and Texas A&M
Worst Case: 4-8 and Brian Kelly gets eaten alive by a real tiger
Mississippi State University
My alma mater, and I promise to not be biased. Mike Leach is entering his third year with the program, and historically, Leach’s offense takes off in his third year with the new school.
The Bulldogs were 7-6 last season with a few weird losses, and some comeback wins. They are returning eight offensive starters, and nine defensive starters, which is the most in the conference. The team gets a favorable out-of-conference schedule, but they still reside in the SEC West. They’ll play LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, and Ole Miss this season as they almost always do.
Best Case: 10-2 with at least one fluky Mike Leach win against one of Texas A&M, Alabama, or Georgia
Worst Case: 3-9 with only out-of-conference wins and Mike Leach gets tossed to the curb after receiving a new extension this offseason
University of Mississippi
I promise not to say anything about Lane Kiffin needing Ole Miss more than Ole Miss needs Lane Kiffin, I swear.
In all seriousness, Ole Miss was incredibly good last year and I hated every second of it. They went 10-3 and were second in the SEC West, Matt Corral had one of the best seasons in Ole Miss history, and Lane Kiffin was one of the most beloved coaches across the country from what I could tell on social media.
While Kiffin hasn’t truly named a starting quarterback yet, there’s a real possibility that this team is undefeated heading into the matchup with Texas A&M on October 29. I’m not sure what to make of this team, but on the other hand, this could be another one of Kiffin’s disasters and Ole Miss fans turn on him by the middle of October. I truly don’t know what to think of them yet.
Best Case: 11-1 only losing to Alabama
Worst Case: 8-4 and I hated typing that as I’m staring at their schedule, it’s so favorable for Ole Miss
University of Missouri
Missouri fans, you know you don’t really belong in the SEC, right? Every time they play an SEC game I’m caught off guard and have to remember they’ve been in the SEC Championship Game multiple times since joining the conference. It makes less sense than USC and UCLA joining the Big 10, I’m sorry.
I won’t lie, I know nothing about this team, but they went 6-7 last season. They play in the SEC East so their schedule is obviously lighter than one they should have if they were properly placed in the SEC West. If you’re a Missouri fan, you probably hate me because I pay you no mind, but I’m not going to change. It’s my SEC Football Preview after all.
Best Case: 8-4 I’m 100000% guessing here
Worst Case: 4-8 refer to my statement above
University of South Carolina
South Carolina has been in a bit of purgatory in football for the last few years, but they got a massive incoming transfer of quarterback Spencer Rattler. The star of QB1 on Netflix and a five-star recruit left Oklahoma to finally join a real conference.
The Gamecocks could be a tad bit better than 2021’s record of 7-6, but Rattler could also let the fan base down and everything goes to hell. There’s not really an in-between scenario for this team.
Best Case: 8-4 the Gamecocks don’t have the most favorable schedule in the world
Worst Case: 4-8 and the Rattler experiment blows up in their face
University of Tennessee
Josh Heupel lead this team to a 7-6 record last year. Tennessee has been dreaming of 1998 since 1998 happened. It’s not happening any time soon, Vols fans.
Once again, I’m not sure what to expect from this team. Their schedule isn’t frightening as other teams in the conference, but there are still a few unknown teams that they have to deal with like LSU, Florida, and South Carolina. I don’t believe Pitt is as much of a threat as they were last year with Kenny Pickett running their offense.
Best Case: 9-3 with losses to Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia
Worst Case: 6-6 I see them as a middle-of-the-road team at worst due to the SEC East schedule
Texas A&M University
Shoutout to our very own Apollo Cult leader, Jay Arnold. He’s our Aggie confidant and will more than likely be able to give you a better analysis of the team with the biggest NIL budget in the country. Maybe he’ll do his own SEC football preview on his podcast.
Last year the Aggies beat Alabama at home and still only went 8-4 for the season. Not great, Jimbo! 2022 seems to be a bit more promising with the amount of five-star recruits they’ve gotten. Yes, I know, five stars don’t equate to wins, but Jimbo has turned a program into a juggernaut before, and I still have faith that he can do it again.
Best Case: 12-0 heading into the SEC Championship Game with a real shot at going to the playoffs for the first time
Worst Case: 9-3 with disappointing losses to Miami, Arkansas, and Alabama and another season of Jimbo having the tools without getting the proper results
I’ve put aside my biases for this entire SEC football preview and I can’t do it anymore. Vandy is a fake SEC team that is only in the conference to boost the academic stature of the conference. Nashville is a great city, but it’s not an SEC city. I hate it. They’re a baseball school that can’t get people to go to their games. They’re pretentious fans because they think they’re smarter than everyone else. Get them outta my conference.
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