We’re only one business day away from SEC Media Days, so that means it must be football season, right? Maybe not, but being out of season has never stopped me from talking about football. With that in mind, I sat down and did my first ever very unofficial SEC season predictions.
For this exercise, I didn’t just pick numbers at random, I went through and picked a winner for each game on the schedule, and these are the results.
Alabama Crimson Tide: 12-0 (8-0)
Not exactly a bold prediction here, but I think the Tide are ready to go on a roll after embarrassingly losing two whole games in 2021. They take their nearly 90% blue chip ratio, finish undefeated and win the West, as is tradition. Eat at Arby’s.
2. Texas A&M Aggies: 11-1 (8-1)
Obviously if Bama goes undefeated, that means the Aggies’ one loss is the Crimson Tide’s revenge game in Tuscaloosa. In most of my season predictions I’ve tried to be more conservative and say that A&M will drop one other game along the way and go 10-2, but when it came down to choosing individual games, I just couldn’t resist putting A&M on top in every game but one. The Ags finish second in the West for the third time in five years and set themselves up nicely for a New Year’s Six Bowl (and a very outside chance at a Playoff spot if some weirdness happens).
3. Arkansas Razorbacks: 9-3 (6-2)
Arkansas is a team that’s very hard to predict. They had an outstanding 2021 season, but lost a fair amount of production with several super seniors and WR Treylon Burks. They also return QB KJ Jefferson and made some good additions in the portal, including Bama LB Drew Sanders. But the Hogs schedule is brutal, opening the season by hosting Cincinnati before traveling to BYU later in the season, in addition to their SEC West slate. I have them losing to A&M and Bama, and also dropping the game in Provo to BYU (who I think could be a darkhorse playoff contender in 2022).
4. Ole Miss Rebels: 8-4 (4-4)
Ole Miss is coming off a fantastic 2021, but has a lot of turnover entering 2022. They replaced Matt Corral and Jerrion Ealy via the portal with Jaxson Dart (elite QB name) from USC and Zach Evans from TCU. But perhaps more importantly, lost both coordinators (Lebby to OU, Durkin to A&M). I think that lack of continuity could cost them some close games, and the way the schedule falls, I have them starting 8-0 only to drop each of their last four games to A&M, Bama, Arkansas and (miserably for Rebel fans), the Egg Bowl to Mississippi State.
5. Mississippi State Bulldogs: 7-5 (3-5)
Bulldog fans may end up viewing this as a disappointment, especially since they lead the SEC in returning production. But having a letdown when expectations seem to be highest is vintage Mike Leach. They’ll take down LSU, Auburn and Ole Miss (which may salvage their season emotionally, at least), but lose their remaining SEC games, which includes a pretty brutal stretch that sees them host A&M and Arkansas before road games at Kentucky and Alabama. Oh and throw Georgia in there for good measure.
6. LSU Tigers: 5-7 (1-7)
Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge falls about as flat as his attempted southern accent. The Tigers will get off to a promising 4-1 start, including wins over Florida State and Auburn, but an absolute gauntlet looms in the back half of the year: Tennessee, at Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, at Arkansas, UAB, at A&M. I think they lose a couple and then the snowball effect has them Texas-ing this thing to bowl ineligibility despite a talented roster.
7. Auburn Tigers: 4-8 (1-7)
Goodnight, Bryan Harsin. Auburn brings back Tank Bigsby, but outside of that this may be the least talented squad they’ve had there in quite some time, especially after losing Bo Nix to the transfer portal and signing the 9th-best class in the conference. At least Vanderbilt is there to keep them from going winless in conference play for the first time since the Gene Chizik era.
1. Georgia Bulldogs: 12-0 (8-0)
Much like Bama in the West, Georgia continues their run of dominance. Especially since their West foes this year are Auburn and Mississippi State, it’s hard to see anyone posing too much of a challenge, though I think Tennessee and Kentucky have a chance.
2. Tennessee Volunteers: 10-2 (6-2)
Despite losing to Alabama and Georgia, the Vols run the rest of the table and get to their first 10-win season since the Phil Fulmer era. With Hendon Hooker leading Josh Huepel’s offense, I think Tennessee has the firepower to keep up with almost anyone this season. Hopefully their defense (90th in college football) can improve enough to make that a reality.
3. Kentucky Wildcats: 9-3 (5-3)
The fact that some people in Lexington will view this as a disappointment shows how far Mark Stoops has taken this program since he took over in 2013. I have the Wildcats starting the season 6-1 (dropping the game vs. Ole Miss) before losing two of their final five games (vs. Tennessee and Georgia). The good news? They’re about to have a two-game win streak over Florida for the first time in almost 50 years.
4. Florida Gators: 7-5 (4-4)
Florida is one of the harder teams to predict this season. After a very subpar 2021, Billy Napier comes to Gainesville from Lafayette hoping to right the ship. With a 60% blue chip ratio, they still have the talent to compete, and that alone may win them a few games, but I think it’s too soon to expect them to seriously contend. The Gators will have an inauspicious start to the season, going 1-3 against Utah, Kentucky, USF (W) and Tennessee, but will win six of their final eight games (losing only to Georgia and A&M), capping off the season with a win over rival FSU for the fourth straight year.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks: 5-7 (2-6)
I like what Shane Beamer is doing in Columbia, but they probably overachieved a bit when they went 7-6 (including a bowl win over North Carolina). But their schedule is a beast. In addition to the SEC East foes, they get A&M and Arkansas from the West, and of course finish the season with what I believe will be a Clemson teams that returns to contender status. I think they lose those games, as well as to Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.
6. Missouri Tigers: 4-8 (1-7)
I want to believe in Mizzou, but the cards seem to be stacked against them this year, especially after losing QB Connor Bazelak to the transfer portal (now at Indiana). Sadly, the only Power 5 team I see them beating this year is Vanderbilt. Their projected win total this year is around 5.5, so I guess give me the under.
7. Vanderbilt Commodores: 1-11 (0-8)
Ah, Vandy. It’s just so hard to see them doing anything meaningful in the SEC, even though guys like Derek Mason and James Franklin have gotten them to respectability a few times in the past decade. But the ‘Dores haven’t won a conference game sine 2019, and I don’t see that changing this year.