The last three national titles all came out of the Southeastern Conference, and all three came from different universities. So it’s safe to say that the path to the national title is likely once again through the SEC.
The Georgia Bulldogs carry the target on their backs as the defending national champions and Alabama is the defending conference champion. A few schools like Ole Miss and Arkansas are starting to emerge as legitimate conference contenders, while Texas A&M looks to do the unthinkable and defeat Nick Saban in back-to-back seasons.
Here’s how every SEC team should fare in conference for the 2022 college football season.
The Commodores are 5-28 the past three seasons against SEC opponents and there’s no reason to see this season improve.
Credit: Marvin Gentry – USA TODAY Sports
Bryan Harsin’s tenure has been nothing short of tumultuous with a number of coaches leaving for other roles and an alarming number of players entering the transfer portal. Auburn also gets a tough draw for a schedule, so 2022 could be tough for the Tigers.
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri just doesn’t have the same knack for keeping up with a lot of SEC opponents on their schedule. But, on the bright side, they still have some pretty cool uniforms.
Mississippi State (1-7)
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
This might surprise people, but it has less to do with the capacity of Mississippi State than with the difficulty of their schedule. Under Mike Leach, the Bulldogs have been competitive and fun to watch, just meeting LSU on the road, Alabama, Georgia and top 10 Texas A&M.
South Carolina (2-6)
Credit: Jeff Blake – USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina remains the biggest question mark in the conference under second-year head coach Shane Beamer and now with the transfer of highly touted quarterback Spencer Rattler. The Gamecocks might get hot and surprise some people, but they’re probably still rebuilding.
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
In what will be Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge, he’ll establish a culture and bring in his rookies, but that may not translate to first-year wins for LSU. Kelly will bring the Tigers back to national prominence, but not in his first season.
Henry Taylor / The Leaf Chronicle
Despite going 7-6 in 2021, the Volunteers continue to take steps in the right direction. They could be a team of dark horses to watch who may cause a surprise or two along the way.
Ole Miss (5-3)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Lane Kiffin had the Rebels humming for his third season. However, replacing Matt Corral won’t be easy. They landed former TCU star running back Zach Evans out of the transfer gate. Like Tennessee, Ole Miss might surprise some people.
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
The Wildcats enter 2022 with as much optimism for a season as they have ever had in program history. Kentucky returns the talent of first-round quarterback Will Levis and arguably the best running back in the conference to Chris Rodriguez Jr. If they can upset Georgia, the East could be within their reach.
[Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner]2022
The Gators will be under first-year head coach Billy Napier in 2022 after firing Mullen at the end of the 2021 season. Florida maintains a pretty talented roster and they have one of the most favorable schedules in the conference.
Nelson Chenault – USA TODAY Sports
After resuming a 2-10 Arkansas program, Sam Pittman once again has his nationally relevant and competitive team. In 2021, the Razorbacks took on Alabama for all four quarters before ultimately scoring just one touchdown before the upset. Arkansas fires quarterback KJ Jefferson and they will remain a dangerous team in the West.
Texas A&M (7-1)
Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M begins the 2022 season with the goal of winning the west. Their entire season comes down to the Oct. 8 game in Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide for what will likely be the game in Atlanta.
Georgia, Eastern champion (8-0)
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports
Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking down the reigning national champions. Georgia is too talented and too well trained to go wrong against anyone. However, will they be able to beat a revenge-hungry Alabama team?
Alabama, Western Champions (8-0)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Crimson Tide returns arguably the two best players in college football with Bryce Young and Will Anderson, and after coming up short against Georgia in the 2021 national title game, they’re ready to win it all. The Tide faces a series of very difficult matches in October. They will need to survive a brief gauntlet to have any chance of repeating as SEC champions.
The story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire