SEC experts pick 2022: Most overrated and underrated teams, projected order of finish, bold predictions – CBS Sports

SEC experts pick 2022: Most overrated and underrated teams, projected order of finish, bold predictions - CBS Sports

Defending national champion Georgia and College Football Playoff title game opponent Alabama enter the 2022 season as the consensus top teams in the SEC. No surprise there. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are powerhouses both on and off the field, but that’s where the similarities stop with another college football campaign approaching.

While Georgia lost many championship-winning starters to the NFL in the offseason, Alabama saw 2021 as a rebuild. The Tide bring in not only Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young but star edge Will Anderson Jr., CBS Sports’ Preseason Player of the Year, as a formidable 1-2 punch against an offense and defense that has Bama once again favored to win likely. the toughest conference in the sport.

Beyond those behemoths, however, there’s plenty of disagreement about how the SEC will shake out in 2022.

Texas A&M is riding high from a record-breaking recruiting class, though it may need those players to mature before it’s ready to contend for the league crown. Florida and LSU are both in rebuilding mode after shedding coaches with national championship-winning experience (Dan Mullen as coordinator under Urban Meyer, Ed Orgeron as the head man), but the Gators and Tigers hope to prove doubters wrong with an immediate rebound. campaigns

Meanwhile, Kentucky and Tennessee have more hype in the SEC East than in recent memory, while Arkansas hopes to continue its surprising rise from a year ago. Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin aims to prove his offense will work at Ole Miss despite the departure of its star quarterback to the NFL.

Our CBS Sports college football experts have provided their picks and predictions for the SEC ahead of the 2022 season.

Most overrated team

Texas A&M: The Aggies begin the year as number 6 in the Preseason AP Top 25 and the consensus favorite to be Alabama’s main challenger in the SEC West after swinging in the highest recruiting class ever. That said, an 8-4 record and fifth-place finish in the SEC West last season doesn’t exactly scream playoff contender. Granted, they lost opening-day starter Haynes King to a season-ending injury early in 2021, but Texas A&M is the only team to finish with fewer than 10 wins in the preseason top 12. The Aggies should be in proof-of-concept mode, especially after losing their four All- SEC players to the NFL. — Shehan Jeyarajah (also Dennis Dodd, Barrett Sallee)

Tennessee: The AP voters have the Volunteers as the No. 26 team in the country, and the coaches aren’t that far behind. That’s aggressive for a team that still has a long way to go defensively, and even the 8.5 win total seems optimistic for a schedule that includes Alabama, Georgia and a game against LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Is Tennessee in a place where it can be trusted to run the table otherwise, winning against the likes of Kentucky, Florida and Pitt while avoiding upsets at every position where the Vols are a sizable favorite? This team just went 7-6 a year ago, so while I certainly acknowledge that Tennessee is a dangerous team, it has another step in development before flirting with double-digit wins. – Chip Patterson (also Tom Fornelli)

Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin’s “portal king” nickname is accurate, but not even the nation’s No. 2 transfer class can replace what the Rebels lost in quarterback Matt Corral, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and defensive coordinator DJ Durkin. Corral was the soul of last season’s 10-3 team, and the personnel will limit what this team can accomplish in the sport’s deepest division. An easy non-conference slate, plus the annual game with Vanderbilt, makes it relatively easy to project bowl potential for Ole Miss, but this team will take a step back. — David Cobb

LSU: Things have quickly gone south for LSU since the Tigers won the national championship in 2019. The Ed Orgeron era ended with back-to-back seasons of .500 or worse records. That’s the first time that’s happened at LSU since coach Gerry DiNardo’s last two seasons in 1998-99. Brian Kelly was lured away from Notre Dame to redo things, and while there is excitement around the program, it will likely require some patience before we see LSU compete for division titles again. — Jerry Palm


Most underrated team

Florida: Expectations for the Gators seem rooted in last season’s 6-7 record, but that performance was hardly indicative of the possibilities given the team’s roster. Relative to everyone else in the SEC East except Georgia, Florida continues to have the most complete team. Motivation seemed lacking in 2021 as Dan Mullen’s tenure limped to completion, and the team completely imploded down the stretch. That shouldn’t be a problem this season with a new coach in Billy Napier and defensive coordinator in Patrick Toney, both of whom have proven records of success. Cobb (also Jeyarajah)

Tennessee: Josh Heupel has a quarterback (Hendon Hooker). If you have that in the SEC, you have a chance. Squint and you can see the Volunteers winning nine games, but they could just as easily go in the opposite direction. However, Tennessee is clearly on the rise. — Dodd

Ole Miss: Too much was made of Corral’s absence and not enough was made of the upgraded running back corps, versatile receivers/tight ends and a quarterback situation that — at least — is stable. With Kiffin at the helm, that stability turning into excellence is more likely than not. I don’t care what the defense looks like on a consistent basis because Ole Miss is going to click a lot against almost every team it faces. — Sallee

LSU: It’s nearly impossible to rate this LSU team entering the season. What I can tell you is what the Tigers are not, and that is the fifth best team in the SEC West. That’s where they landed in the preseason media poll. Both the elite talent and depth of options at receiver make almost any other team in the league envious of what Kelly inherits, and if the defensive line can stay healthy, that group could be really bad at the line of scrimmage. With multiple future pros at wide receiver and a potentially dominant defensive front, LSU has two of the three or four most important building blocks for success in the modern college game. If Kelly can figure out a quarterback, the ceiling for this team is much higher than many expect. — Patterson

Mississippi State: Has any SEC program flown more under the radar this offseason than Mike Leach’s Mississippi State? We’re talking about a Bulldogs team that returns a veteran quarterback familiar with all the ins and outs of Leach’s playbook and nearly all of the production from a defense that was better than most realized last season. The Bulldogs will pull off at least one major upset and finish higher in the SEC West than most expect. — Oven

Kentucky: At the risk of offending coach Mark Stoops, Kentucky is definitely a basketball school. That is the main reason why his program flies under the radar. However, Stoops has taken Kentucky to six consecutive bowl games, including two Citrus Bowls, and it has four straight bowl wins. The Wildcats may not be ready to compete with Georgia in the SEC East, but they match up well with everyone else. Not bad for a “basketball school”. — Palm tree


Bold predictions

  • Dennis Dodd: Mark Stoops will score 10 at Kentucky, realize he hit his ceiling in Lexington and take the not-so-suddenly open position at Auburn.
  • Tom Fornelli: Every team in the SEC West will go bowl, but only Alabama and Texas A&M will win more than eight games during the regular season.
  • Chip Patterson: Vanderbilt will hit its top win total before the end of September.
  • Barrett Sallee: Ole Miss will run the table for the first two months of the season. The Rebels will hit the bye week on November 5th with a battle against undefeated Alabama looming on November 12th. If they can pull off the upset, coach Lane Kiffin’s squad could make a legitimate push for the College Football Playoff.
  • Shehan Jeyarajah: After overwhelming division favorites Alabama and Georgia, no other SEC squad finds its way into the postseason top 10.
  • David Cobb: Year 1 of the Brian Kelly experiment is about to go wrong as the former Notre Dame coach experiences the nation’s toughest division for the first time. The Tigers will miss a bowl game but end up with a top 10 signing class anyway.
  • Jerry Palm: The SEC will put two teams in the College Football Playoff again this season and have a third team in the top six.

SEC predicted a termination order

SEC champion

Alabama: There’s no reason to try to outthink the room here. The Crimson Tide has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Young, the best player in college football in EDGE Will Anderson Jr. and the sour taste of last season’s national title game loss in their mouths. Young will have an even better season behind a significantly improved offensive line, the secondary will emerge as the nation’s best, and the schedule is setting up nicely for coach Nick Saban to win his second straight conference title. — Sallee (unanimous)

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