I think as soon as you clicked on this article you knew that Alabama was going to be at the very top of this list, as they are and virtually have been every season over the last decade-plus. As you can expect as well, the Crimson Tide are currently the favorites to win the 2022 CFP Championship at +200, with the defending champs Georgia right behind them at +350. College football is about as predictable as the sun rising the next day, with the same teams at the top every year and very few changes, because right behind Georgia is Ohio State and Clemson. Big surprise, I know.
What's really incredible is how well and how efficient Nick Saban has continued to run this Alabama program after all these years, never missing a beat and almost always making it to either the title game or high-profile bowl game. Last season, they made it to the CFP Championship with a roster full of new faces, which is incredible on its own. Of course, their QB Bryce Young had a lot to do with their success, as the freshman signal-caller won the Heisman Trophy in his first year starting. They also had former Texans head coach Bill O'Brien serving his first year as offensive coordinator and helping Young develop into what he became.
Now in 2022, both of these guys will be back, and they get a whole slew of new superstars from the transfer portal that might just make this offense unstoppable. The defense brings almost all of its players back this season, which as you know, is a massive plus for any team to have that veteran leadership.
I'd be shocked if Alabama didn't run the table, especially since they don't have to play Georgia this year. I'd take the over.
Yup, that's how big of a gap there is between the second projected team and Alabama. They were in this same spot last year, but now the Crimson Tide will be even better, which could spell doom for anyone else on this list. Don't get me wrong, Texas A&M will be a good football team in 2022, but they won't be able to snatch the SEC West from 'Bama. Despite having multiple top-10 recruiting classes over the past several years, they still won't be able to compete with the Crimson Tide.
Mike Elko left his defensive coordinator role to become the new head coach at Duke, which will hurt the Aggies as they get adjusted to a new coach, but apparently, they won't be changing their scheme. Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that their scheme would remain the same, even after hiring DJ Durkin away from Ole Miss. That sounds pretty risky to me, having a new coordinator has to adjust and create an entirely different scheme than what he knows, but who am I to tell a guy making millions to do this.
A change at QB will also happen, as Max Johnson comes in from LSU and Zach Calzada makes his way to Auburn. With so many different and critical changes, as well as only having three home games in SEC play in 2022, this team will be a big risk to take the over. The number seems about right to me.
Matt Corral is gone. Sorry, that was pretty much the only thing I have to say about this team. Lane Kiffin, try as he might, isn't going to be able to replicate the explosive offense he had with Corral next season with QB Jaxson Dart and RB Zach Evans, whom he scooped up from the transfer portal to hopefully have some semblance of last season's success. While his scheme is going to remain the same, the players will not, and that is certainly going to have an impact on the field. Kiffin is a great offensive mind, but it's going to take some magic and luck for this team to continue to produce wins.
As I mentioned earlier, defensive coordinator DJ Durkin is gone, but Kiffin insists the scheme will remain the same. This seems to be a trend now. Durkin made vast improvements on defense last year for the Rebels, finally doing something to stop them from giving up huge plays down the field. It remains to be seen whether or not that will continue now that he is gone.
This just feels like a year where Ole Miss takes a step back after the departure of Corral. There are too many new faces in important places, and this isn't Alabama's football program. I'd take the under here.
Mike Leach is back of course, running his high-flying air raid offense for a Bulldogs team that had plenty of success in that department for the first time in quite a while. Will Rogers returns at quarterback as well, so this offense for the most part remains in tact to build off of the production they saw last season. The offensive line still needs some work, as they were the obvious weak point of this offense in 2021, but the team managed to have great production even with their struggles. I expect more of the same in 2022.
Defensively, defensive coordinator Zach Arnett returns, which could be looked at as a good thing or bad thing. While it is great too have some consistency when it comes to scheme and coaching, it matters a lot whether that coaching is good or bad. Arnett's defense gave up a ton of yards last season, getting ripped for big chunks at times. Plus, they lost a bunch of players on the defensive front, which only hurts their ability to get to the passer and stop him from burning them.
The good news is that Mississippi State has an easier schedule overall this season. I'd take the over here, even with the defensive struggles the team is probably going to have again. Either that, or just stay away from this one entirely if you so choose.
KJ Jefferson will return at quarterback for the Razorbacks, which is excellent news for their hopes of winning football games. They did lose star Treylon Burks, and it will be hard to replace that type of production, but Arkansas has already shown that they can win without him with their offensive line and running back play. They beat up on Penn State in the Outback Bowl this way, and they can do that again if necessary. This is a team that is built around their backs, and if a team simply doesn't have the ability to stop them, then the game is over. Arkansas will kill you in the run game.
Head coach Sam Pittman is back, and he has done an excellent job in turning this program into more than what it ever thought it could be. He'll also retain all of his coordinators this season, which is a big step toward keeping consistency within the program. The defense should largely improve with the return of most of its stars as well, and some new faces from the transfer portal will be an added bonus. Offensively, the Razorbacks will look to do more with their talented quarterback when they can. If there was one knock on Jefferson, he threw into double coverage way too often just trying to force the ball to Burks, which didn't always work out. He needs to learn to be more patient, and throw the ball away if necessary.
Still, this team has all the makings of one of those that improve dramatically. I love the over here at this low number.
All of the Brian Kelly memes will be on full display when the Tigers take the field for the first time with him as their head coach. It was quite a shock to the system when Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU. Just about everyone on offense left the team after last season when Ed Orgeron was canned, so Kelly has been tasked with building an entirely new one. Mike Denbrock comes over from Cincinnati, a team that was just in the college football playoff, to help Kelly this season and manage a new group of guys. Myles Brennan and Jayden Daniels look like they will have the first crack at who will be the starting QB for the team.
The defense should be where this team plays the best, as they still have quite a few defensive stars on the team. Jaquelin Roy and Maason Smith wreak havoc on the defensive line, and the secondary has a ton of talent coming in from the transfer portal. That doesn't always work however, again with the new faces in new places bit.
LSU's schedule is unbelievably hard, as it always is, and I would be shocked to see Kelly's Tigers really competing just yet with the top tier teams of the SEC. While the talent is coming, and some is already there, there is just too much "new" for me to back the Tigers. I'd take the under here if anything.
Tigers at the bottom, it seems. With all the allegations of inappropriate behavior against head coach Bryan Harsin, it was unclear whether he would stay in place, but following the investigation, he remains head coach. That doesn't mean that things are all shiny and back to normal. This is a program in disarray, and almost everyone could see it. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason left for the same position at Oklahoma State, taking a large salary cut just to say sayonara to the Tigers. The offensive coordinator position may be even more volatile, as this will be the third one in only a single year. Mike Bobo was fired and Austin Davis turned in his resignation. What a disaster.
Quarterback Bo Nix, once the hope of all Tigers fans that he could bring them a national championship, has transferred to Oregon. This leaves a very underwhelming QB battle to commence. The only hope on offense this season will be RB Tank Bigsby, who will need to literally carry Auburn this season under a new coordinator.
Here's the good news finally. Auburn has what some might call a "cupcake" schedule this season. They have just four games on the road all season, and those games are against some pretty awful teams. Even with all the turmoil and ridiculous drama going on, the team has enough talent still against poor competition that they should make it to 6 wins. I'll take the over.
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