There are still months to go until college football teams hit the gridiron for the 2022 season, but it’s never too early to start looking into how things could shake out down the line.
Here’s a look into what the 2022 SEC West and SEC East standings could look like by the end of the year.
If there’s one thing we know for certain about Alabama, it’s that they are never short of depth. Alabama will arguably return one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Bryce Young and this Tide offense will be ready to roll. Nick Saban has Alabama primed and ready to make another College Football Playoff appearance. However, pay close attention to road tests at Arkansas and at Ole Miss.
Texas A&M is a team to watch out for this season. The Aggies have the number one recruiting class of 2022 to add to an already impressive roster including transfer quarterback Max Johnson. However, the road to success for Jimbo Fisher will run into a couple of bumps as the Aggies will face a tough three-game stretch in which they play against Arkansas in Arlington, followed by a trip to Starkville to play MSU, before finally capping off the grueling stretch by traveling to Bryant Denny Stadium to play Alabama. The Aggies team is one to keep an eye on this season.
Sam Pittman has turned Arkansas around in a huge way, and the Razorbacks will be looking to make some noise this year in the SEC West. With KJ Jefferson leading the Razorbacks, this Arkansas team is dangerous. The culture and attitude around football in Fayetteville has dramatically shifted, but is Arkansas at the point where they can compete with teams such as Alabama and Texas A&M? The SEC West should be on the lookout for the Razorbacks this year.
The Bulldogs will face the toughest schedule in the nation this year, but with that comes the opportunity to show the country that this program is ready to take its game to the next level. Will Rogers will likely be under center for Mike Leach and the air raid offense, but State does have some holes to fill at tackle with Charles Cross entering the NFL Draft. MSU will have plenty of chances to show improvement, as they will face the likes of Arkansas, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama, and to cap off the season MSU will travel to Oxford to play Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. MSU will show some major improvement in 2022 but winning in the SEC does not come easy.
Ole Miss will be without one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Matt Corral this season. The Rebels will likely have transfer Jaxson Dart from USC taking snaps in 2022. Kiffin also recruited an outstanding running back from TCU in Zach Evans to go along with the already high-powered offense. The schedule for the Rebels is very manageable, but the “Lane Train” will run into a few obstacles towards the end of the season including trips to Fayetteville and College Station. Overall, this Ole Miss team has the talent to compete against anyone in the SEC, but there are some uncertainties especially on the defensive side of the ball for the Rebels this season.
There are too many questions concerning this LSU football team. The Tigers will be led by new head coach Brian Kelly, and Kelly will be looking to bring some excitement back to Baton Rouge. LSU is one of the many teams in the SEC in rebuild mode after losing its coach and many other key players in 2021. The Tigers have some tough road trips during 2022 against Arkansas, Florida, and Texas A&M. Can Brian Kelly find the guys to fill missing positions for LSU? Will Kelly be able to thrive with the grueling SEC schedule?
Scroll to Continue
At the bottom of the SEC West is the Auburn Tigers. It has been a rough couple of seasons for War Eagle and it’s reasonable to expect more of the same this year. Auburn lost arguably one of the toughest quarterbacks in the nation in Bo Nix to the transfer portal. The Tigers will return Tank Bigsby at running back, but will that be enough to compete in the SEC West? There are too many questions, and not enough answers on the Plains this year.
The Georgia Bulldogs had a season to remember in 2021 winning their first national championship since 1980. Defensively the Bulldogs lost some key players in defensive tackle Jordan Davis and standout linebacker Nakobe Dean. However, on the offensive side Georgia will be returning quarterback Stetson Bennett who really started to improve his game towards the end of the season last year. Look for Georgia to remain dominant in the SEC East this year.
Tennessee has some major talent and will be a team to look out for this year in the SEC East. The Volunteers will return quarterback Hendon Hooker, as well as some standout transfer targets for Hooker to throw to this year. Josh Heupel is slowly but surely rebuilding this team and could possibly lead them back to compete at the top of the SEC East. Tennessee showed much improvement during 2021, but they are not quite ready to compete against the top teams in the SEC such as Alabama and Georgia.
The Gamecocks are a team that everyone should be aware of this season. In the offseason, South Carolina recruited quarterback Spencer Rattler and one of Spencer’s main targets in Austin Stogner. It will be interesting to see how Spencer Rattler and this offense click this season, but if they do it’s going to mean trouble for opposing teams this season. Head coach Shane Beamer has this team headed in the right direction, and that could mean causing issues for some of the top teams in the SEC.
Kentucky has the talent to easily compete at the top of the SEC East this year. Mark Stoops has led the Wildcats to two 10-win seasons during his tenure as head coach. Kentucky will also be returning quarterback Will Levis along with running back Chris Rodriguez on the offensive side of the ball. The SEC East will have some major competition this year all around. Kentucky can easily be above South Carolina and Tennessee. However, the Wildcats were very inconsistent last year, and face a tough schedule in 2022. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky competes in against the rest of the SEC East this season.
The Gators, like many teams in the SEC, are in rebuild mode. Florida has moved on from former head coach Dan Mullen and are now all in with Billy Napier. Napier was brought in with hopes to restore some energy and excitement into the program. The Gators will be a competitive team to keep an eye on this year, but there are many spots that need to be filled. Florida will also be returning quarterback Anthony Richardson who will likely be taking snaps for the Gators this year. Richardson had some impressive moments during 2021 but will need to be more consistent if the Gators are going to be successful this year.
The Missouri Tigers are a team coming in with many questions this year. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz brought in a top 15 recruiting class in 2022. Missouri is filled with many outstanding freshman talent, but the SEC is filled with too much firepower that the Tigers are not quite ready for yet. Expect Mizzou to pull out some victories and make a bowl game, but it may be a couple years before we see the Tigers competing at the top of the SEC.
At the bottom of the SEC East is the Commodores. Vandy has won only one SEC game since 2019, and it is looking like more of the same for the Commodores. Once again, there is way too much talent in the SEC for Vandy to compete with. Head coach Clark Lea is hoping to rebuild and revamp the culture in Nashville, but the Commodores have some grueling tests ahead of them this season.
This season has the chance to be one of the most competitive seasons within the SEC we have seen in years. Which teams will impress? What teams will disappoint? How will the new head coaches compete in their respective divisions? These questions will be answered and more as we prepare for the 2022 college football season.