The Georgia Bulldogs are not only gunning for their second consecutive SEC title but their third national title in as many seasons, but they will have plenty of competition from the usual suspects in the nation’s toughest conference as Alabama and LSU are, according to the college football futures, their stiffest challengers to claim the SEC crown.
• Georgia was 13-of-15 (87%) in fourth down conversions while holding the opposition to just 12-of-32 (27%) while outscoring their opponents 139-37 in the first quarter which led to their share of blowouts.
• Alabama averaged over seven flags per game in 2021 and nearly eight per contest last year. In their 52-49 loss to Tennessee, the Tide had a whopping 17 penalties! The discipline normally associated with a Nick Saban-coached team will have to return if they are to win the SEC and notch a spot in the CFP.
• Running is essential to LSU winning as they were 10-1 last season when running for 140 yards or more and 0-3 when failing to meet that rushing threshold.
• The defections to the transfer portal for Texas A&M were many with 31 players now elsewhere.
• The Vols are 15-3 under head coach Josh Heupel when crossing the 155-yard rushing mark and 3-7 when they do not.
Odds to Win SEC Championship
|Team||Odds to Win SEC Championship|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||+275|
|Texas A&M Aggies||+1400|
|Ole Miss Rebels||+4000|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||+8000|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||+12,500|
SEC’s Fab Five
- 2022 Conference Record: 8-0
- 2022 Overall Record: 15-0
It’s not unusual that the reining SEC champ would be the odds-on-favorite to win the title again, and the same can be said for the national champion of which Georgia is one and the same. But is this simply a kneejerk reaction or is there any substance behind it?
In this case, there is plenty of talent on this roster to back up the claims but there will be a new man under center in lightly tested junior quarterback, Carson Beck, who will need to be near or equal to the lofty standards set by Stetson Bennett.
The biggest advantages the Bulldogs will enjoy on offense are a superior line and their top two pass catchers returning in tight end Brock Bowers (63 receptions, 942 receiving yards, 7 TDs) and Ladd McConkey (58 receptions, 762 receiving yards, 7 TDs) while their defense is supremely talented with a multitude of returning stars.
The key to Georgia’s success will be their total domination on fourth down conversions which saw the Dawgs convert a staggering 13-of-15 (87%) while holding the opposition to just 12-of-32 (27%). And it doesn’t take this team any time to get revved up as they outscored their opponents 139-37, in the first quarter which led to their share of blowouts.
Alabama Crimson Tide
- 2022 Conference Record: 6-2
- 2022 Overall Record: 11-2
Lofty expectations are just part and parcel of the juggernaut Nick Saban has created since he arrived in Tuscaloosa. This year is no different but the Tide will have to tighten up on taking penalties as they averaged over seven flags per game in 2021 and nearly eight per contest last year. In their 52-49 loss to Tennessee, the Tide had a whopping 17 penalties!
The discipline normally associated with a Nick Saban-coached team will have to return if they are to win the SEC and notch a spot in the CFP. Alabama is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, per usual, and has the chops to dethrone Georgia and win it all. But foolish mistakes can derail those plans which is why getting this team tight will be imperative.
As for this year’s edition on offense, the Tide got themselves a burner in wideout Malik Benson who torched the JUCO rankings with 97 catches for 21 touchdowns and north of 2300 receiving yards over two seasons. If he can make the leap to D-1, this offense will soar.
But the million-dollar question in Tuscaloosa is the same as in the one in Athens. What kind of performance will the team get from its newly installed quarterback? Jalen Milroe appears to have a slight edge over Notre Dame transfer, Tyler Buchner, but either way, taking advantage of their returning top targets from last year, Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks, will be key while running back Jase McClellan proved he has the goods to replace last year’s starter, Jahmyr Gibbs.
This conference champion will be determined by a flip of the coin between Georgia and Alabama but because we are getting better college odds on the latter, we will side with the Tide to win the championship and return to the CFP.
- 2022 Conference Record: 6-2
- 2022 Overall Record: 10-4
Brian Kelly left the security and tranquility of the Golden Dome for the rough-and-tumble SEC last year and the results were what one might expect from one of the best college football coaching minds in the business – an impressive turnaround.
The Louisiana team went from a 6-7 also ran in 2021 to a 10-4 SEC West champion last year and more big things are expected this season. The Tigers have a luxury that Georgia and Alabama don’t have – a returning big-name quarterback in Jayden Daniels.
The 6’4” senior is a dual threat as evidenced by his 68.6 completion percentage, throwing for over 2900 yards with a 17:3 TD-to-interception ratio coupled with 885 rushing yards for 11 TDs on the ground. But running is essential to LSU winning as they were 10-1 last season when running for 140 yards or more and 0-3 when failing to meet that rushing threshold.
And if Tigers fans want to hang their hats on something, then we should point out that Jayden Daniels and running back Josh Williams were the team’s top two rushers in 2022 and both are back in Baton Rouge this year.
I’m not sure the Tigers have the chops to compete with the high-flying Bulldogs or Tide but a date in early November against Alabama will tell the tale. However, don’t think for a moment that Nick Saban won’t have that November 5th date circled on his calendar after losing a 32-31 overtime heartbreaker to the Tigers last season.
Texas A&M Aggies
- 2022 Conference Record: 2-6
- 2022 Overall Record: 5-7
Last season was atrocious. The Aggies wound up mired in the muck of the SEC West with a 2-6 conference mark and a 5-7 overall record but that hasn’t daunted the top sportsbooks who have made them the fourth choice at +1400 to win the conference. A complete overhaul will be needed to make that happen, and even then, it’s unlikely A&M has the wherewithal to survive in the talent-laden SEC.
The team played musical chairs at the most important position with Haynes King, now at Georgia Tech, getting the bulk of the playing time. Sophomore Conner Weigman appears to be the man with the plan this season after completing 73-of-132 passes last season for 896 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions.
The defections to the transfer portal for Texas A&M were many with 31 players now elsewhere while two of the more notable departures, leading rusher DeVon Achane and star Antonio Johnson, now playing their trade in the NFL.
Yet, the defense remains the strength of this team but the offense will have to do better – much better – than 84th in passing (219.4 YPG), 81st in rushing (141.3 YPG), and 70th in scoring (27.9 PPG) to contend.
- 2022 Conference Record: 6-2
- 2022 Overall Record: 11-2
Don’t sleep on the Volunteers, especially after last season’s offensive juggernaut in which they led the nation in total yards per game (525.5 YPG) and scoring (46.1 PPG). However, Hendon Hooker is not walking through that locker room door after elevating to the NFL in April’s draft.
He will be replaced by senior quarterback Joe Milton III who made quite an impression in relief of Hooker last year with 10 touchdowns, no picks, and a 204.3 passer rating on 53-of-82 passing attempts. However, if the Vols are to have any success they will need to set up the pass with the run because when they get their wagon moving it has been nothing but success.
Key to Success in a Ruthless SEC
Last season, Tennessee was 9-0 when rushing north of 155 yards, and when falling short they had a narrow overtime win over Pittsburgh and a defensive gem against Clemson in their 31-14 Orange Bowl victory. The other two instances were losses to Georgia (27-13) and a defensive meltdown against South Carolina (63-38).
And if you need more evidence that this team thrives when the rushing game is on track then consider the Vols are 15-3 under head coach Josh Heupel when crossing the 155-yard rushing mark and 3-7 when they do not.
Defensively, Tennessee will be in good stead, especially with BYU linebacker, Keenan Pili, coming to Knoxville through the transfer portal. Nevertheless, they reside in the SEC where dreams go to die.
NCAAF Pick: Alabama to Win the SEC (+275) at BetRivers