ESPN Senior Writer
- College Football Reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- University of Tennessee graduate
Alex Ska Burrough
ESPN Staff Writer
- covers the SEC.
- Joined ESPN in 2012.
- Auburn University graduate.
The more college football changes, the more they change in the SEC.
Of course we have a playoff now and it seems like every week there is talk of conference reshuffles, free agency through transfer portals and even high school recruits with names and images and likenesses Big money in the guise of rules.
But through it all, the SEC continues to dominate the sport and has produced 12 of the past 16 national championships. Five different SEC schools have won championships during that time, and only once in the past 16 seasons has an SEC school not appeared in a national championship game. Two SEC schools (Alabama and Georgia) have competed for the championship twice in the past five years.
Here’s a preview of the 2022 SEC season as Georgia attempts to become the first school to repeat as a national champion since Alabama in 2011-12.
Storyline to watch
1. Saban vs. Jimbo
Oh, you thought the spat between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher was over? Of course, since Saban claimed the Aggies’ top recruiting class was bought and paid for with change, Fisher shot back, calling Saban a narcissist, and they’ve all been right, but who really believes that’s the end? Don’t forget what happened last season when Texas A&M’s last-second shot in College Town disappointed Alabama. Alabama players haven’t forgotten when fans stormed the field. Against that backdrop, Texas A&M’s Oct. 8 trip to Alabama will be a must-see TV show given Saban and Fisher’s broken relationship. Not to mention the potential divisional impact of the Aggies looking to eventually replace Tide and fight for the SEC title.
2. Georgia Reload
This offseason the word “rebuild” has become a bit of a stretch. First, let’s get Saban to say last season was a year of rebuilding for Tide — despite winning the SEC and appearing in the national championship game. And then there’s Kirby Smart, whose Georgia Bulldogs beat Alabama in the championship game, who said that despite losing more than a dozen players in the NFL draft, including five defensive first-rounders, they didn’t. No rebuild. And he may not be wrong. Defensive lineman Jalen Carter, likely next year’s No. 1 overall pick, is back. So does linebacker Nolan Smith. Additionally, Athens has four consecutive top-three recruiting classes to choose from. Aside from a possible championship hangover, it will be interesting to see how all of this talent replaces all of this experience sooner rather than later.
3. New Coach
This is not the craziest coach ever recorded by the SEC Carousel, but it’s worth noting that Brian Kelly replaced Ed Ogron at LSU and Billy Napier replaced Dan Mullen at Florida. Orgeron is less than two years away from a national championship, and Mullen is six months away from signing a three-year extension after appearing in the SEC title race. But the work that has been done has been done, with both Kelly and Napier going all out to reshape rosters that have been depleted by the transfer portal. But when it comes to the quarterback position, there’s reason to be hopeful. At LSU, Kelly persuaded veteran Myles Brennan to return and bring in former Arizona State starter Jayden Daniels to fight for the starting spot after an initial entry into the gate. In Florida, losing last year’s starter Emery Jones isn’t ideal. But as Jones’ backup, Anthony Richardson, who has shown Cam Newton-esque dual-threat ability, joins high expectations as a possible first-round pick.
Surprise, surprise. A usual suspect at the top of the SEC, setting up rematches of conferences and national championships.
3. Texas A&M University 4. Arkansas
5. Kentucky 6. Tennessee 7. Miss Ole 8. Louisiana State University
9. South Carolina 10. Auburn
Five must-see games
FL, TN, September 24 Day
There was a time when Florida vs Tennessee was One of the most important games is in college football. Well, the Gators haven’t won an SEC championship since 2008, and the Vols’ SEC championship drought dates back to 1998. Josh Heupel’s first season on Rocky Top gave a win-hungry fanbase some hope. But with Florida State and first-year coach Napier coming to Knoxville, it feels like Walls has to win if they’re going to capitalize on the momentum surrounding the program. They are just 4-38 against arch-rivals Alabama, Florida and Georgia since Philip Fulmer’s final season in 2008.
October 8 at Texas A&M (Alabama)
Easily the conference’s most anticipated game — in the offseason After the fireworks between Saban in Bama and Fisher in Texas A&M – this game has everything. Crimson Tide was already heartbroken by being beaten by the Aggies last season, as Fisher became the first of Saban’s former assistants to beat him. With the venue moving to Tuscaloosa this season, there is no doubt that the Crimson Tide is ready. The Aggies stock elite talent under Fisher. They could really create ripples throughout the conference by canceling Tide for the second year in a row.
October 1 at Louisiana State University, Auburn
A while ago After letting him twist in the wind, it looks like Bryan Harsin might not see a second season as Auburn’s coach. But the determined Hashin survived, feeling his team only got stronger through that ordeal. Auburn played its first five games at home, the fourth of which was against LSU and first-year coach Kelly. The winner of this game has the potential to be a surprise for the league this season.
KY, Tennessee, October 29
Despite John Calipari’s recent comments that Kentucky is a basketball school, Mark Stopps works tirelessly Trying to make the Wildcats football-related too. They have won 10 games in two of the past four seasons and brought home one of the league’s most talented passers, quarterback Will Levis. What Kentucky hasn’t done is beat rival Tennessee. The Stoops are only 2-7 against Tennessee, and a late October clash in Knoxville could go a long way in determining who is best equipped to challenge Georgia in the SEC East.
November 19 at Miss Ole Arkansas
No SEC game a year ago was more fun than Ole Miss’s 52-51 win over Arkansas , when the Hogs made a 2-point conversion and won at the end of the game, and it was too late. Last season, the Rebels won 10 games in his second year under Ryan Kiffin, while the Wild Boars won nine games in his second year under Sam Pittman. The SEC West is a very tough division, and these two teams are bent on making more noise in an Alabama-dominated division game.
Preseason All-ACC Team
More Surprise, because Alabama has a team-high six-man selection team in our plenary.
offense QB Bryce Young, Alabama RB Tank Bigsby, Auburn RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
WR Kayshon Boutte, Louisiana State University
WR Cedric Tillman, Tennessee AP Jaheim Bell, South Carolina
TE Brock Bowers, Georgia
OL Javon Foster, Missouri
OL Layden Robinson, Texas A&M OL Warren McClendon, Georgia
OL Nick Bullock, Miss Ole C Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
DL BJ Ojulari, Louisiana State University
DL Derick Hall, Auburn
LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
LB Nolan Smith, Georgia
LB Bumper Pool, Arkansas LB Dallas Turner, Alabama DB Jordan Battle, Alabama
DB Cam Smith, South Carolina
DB Eli Ricks, Alabama
DB Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
NB Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
Special Team P Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M K Anders Carlson, Auburn
RS Ainias Smith, Texas A&M
Alabama beat Georgia.
- College Football Reporter