ESPN updates way-too-early CFB rankings: How does the SEC stack up?

ESPN has updated its way-too-early college football rankings for the 2024 season. Since ESPN released its initial rankings, Nick Saban retired, Washington lost its head coach and much of its roster, and numerous Alabama players transferred.

Not too much has changed for the Georgia Bulldogs over the past several weeks. Georgia has the nation’s No. 13 incoming transfer portal class, the country’s No. 1 incoming recruiting class, and returns numerous experienced players from last season’s team.

Overall, the SEC has 10 teams in ESPN’s updated way-too-early college football rankings. Spring practice is coming up soon. The transfer portal will open again in April after spring football games, so there will still be a few twists and turns before the college football season gets started in August.

How does the SEC stack up in ESPN’s latest college football rankings?

Texas A&M Aggies

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 25

Texas A&M is one of the most talented teams in the country. The Aggies have seen a significant talent drain in recent seasons, but added one of the SEC’s best transfer classes. Texas A&M is new to ESPN’s top-25.

A little discipline and structure might go a long way at Texas A&M, which lost its footing under former coach Jimbo Fisher. New Aggies coach Mike Elko knows the program well after working as Fisher’s defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021.

Get more Texas A&M news, analysis, and opinions on Aggies Wire

Kentucky Wildcats

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Ranking: No. 23

Kentucky added a pair of elite transfers in Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff and linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson. The Wildcats have the pieces to be competitive with most teams in the SEC. Kentucky is another new team in ESPN’s top-25.

The Wildcats are banking on former Georgia backup quarterback Brock Vandagriff to help them revive the offense. Vandagriff was one of the most highly recruited dual-threat quarterbacks in the country

UK Wildcats Wire

Tennessee Volunteers

Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 16

ESPN has moved Tennessee up from No. 17 to No. 16. ESPN dropped Washington, who was previously No. 11, from its entire top-25 after the Huskies lost numerous top players following Kalen DeBoer’s departure for Alabama.

Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava could be one of the SEC’s best signal-callers in 2024. The Volunteers improved defensively in 2023, but took a significant step back offensively.

Iamaleava will have plenty of playmakers available on offense, including Squirrel White, Bru McCoy and Chris Brazzell II, who was Tulane’s leading pass-catcher in 2023.

Get more Tennessee news, analysis, and opinions on Vols Wire

Oklahoma Sooners

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 14

Oklahoma quarterback Jackson Arnold is a former five-star recruit and could help the Sooners succeed in the SEC this season. The Sooners have the nation’s No. 30 incoming transfer portal class.

Four of five starting offensive linemen will have to be replaced, along with Drake Stoops, the leading receiver.

Get more Oklahoma news, analysis, and opinions on Sooners Wire

LSU Tigers

 John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 12

Brian Kelly and LSU are looking to get back on track defensively in 2024. The Tigers also have to replace star quarterback Jayden Daniels along with their two leading receivers. The LSU offense should be in good hands with Garrett Nussmeier taking over.

The Tigers added three players from the portal — cornerback Jyaire Brown (Ohio State) and safeties Austin Ausberry (Auburn) and Jardin Gilbert (Texas A&M) — to help a surprisingly porous secondary.

Get more LSU news, analysis, and opinions on LSU Tigers Wire

Alabama Crimson Tide

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 9

Alabama fell from No. 4 in ESPN’s first edition of way-too-early rankings. The Crimson Tide lost several key players to the transfer portal including offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor, safety Caleb Downs, and wide receiver Isaiah Bond. There’s no doubt that Alabama will miss these elite talents, but the Crimson Tide still have a strong roster and should add a few top players in the transfer portal this spring.

The Tide added three Washington transfers in quarterback Austin Mack, receiver Germie Bernard and offensive lineman Parker Brailsford. Defensive lineman LT Overton (Texas A&M) and cornerback Domani Jackson (USC) were nice pickups on defense. DeBoer knows how to build a championship program, but Alabama fans may need to be patient.

Get more Alabama news, analysis, and opinions on Roll Tide Wire

Missouri Tigers

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 7

It will be fascinating to see how Missouri responds to the preseason hype. The Tigers will have a target on their back after completing an impressive 11-2 season in 2023. Missouri returns starting quarterback Brady Cook, star receiver Luther Burden, and more from a team that exceeded expectations a year ago.

Tailback Marcus Carroll ran for 1,350 yards with 13 touchdowns at Georgia State last season. Cornerback Toriano Pride Jr. (Clemson), linebacker Darris Smith (Georgia) and defensive lineman Chris McClellan (Florida) were key portal pickups on defense.

Ole Miss Rebels

The Clarion-Ledger
The Clarion-Ledger

Ranking: No. 6

Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss are bringing in the SEC’s No. 1 transfer portal class. The Rebels, who went 11-2 in 2023, return quarterback Jaxson Dart and should be explosive on offense. If Ole Miss can make significant strides defensively, then the Rebels have shot to make the SEC championship.

Defensive tackle Walter Nolen (Texas A&M), defensive end Princely Umanmielen (Florida) and linebacker Chris Paul Jr. (Arkansas) should help right away. Adding former Washington starters Julius Buelow and Nate Kalepo should improve the offensive line.

Texas Longhorns

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 4

Texas returns quarterback Quinn Ewers and will be one of the most talented teams in the SEC. The Longhorns proved they can win anywhere with a win on the road at Alabama last season. Texas fell from No. 2 primarily because of Ohio State’s recent transfer additions.

We’ll probably have to wait another season for the Arch Manning era with quarterback Quinn Ewers coming back. He’ll need to find new targets this spring with receivers Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders jumping to the NFL. Transfers Isaiah Bond (Alabama) and Matthew Golden (Houston) are plenty capable.

Get more Texas news, analysis, and opinions on Longhorns Wire

Georgia Bulldogs

Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: No. 1

Georgia remains No. 1 in ESPN’s way-too-early rankings. The Bulldogs added a few top transfers and the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in the 2024 cycle. Georgia returns Carson Beck and several key pieces in the trenches including offensive guard Tate Ratledge, offensive tackle Xavier Truss, defensive tackle Nazir Stackhouse, and defensive tackle Warren Brinson.

Running back Trevor Etienne (Florida), receivers London Humphreys (Vanderbilt), Colbie Young (Miami) and Michael Jackson III (USC) and tight end Benjamin Yurosek (Stanford) could help fill holes on offense. The schedule will be difficult with an opener against Clemson in Atlanta and SEC road games at Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss. Shoring up the secondary, which lost cornerback Kamari Lassiter and safeties Tykee Smith and Javon Bullard, will be a focus in the spring.

We really like Georgia’s talent in the secondary, so it will be interesting to see who starts opposite safety Malaki Starks and cornerback Daylen Everette. Georgia plays six teams ranked in ESPN’s way-too-early top-25 in 2024. The Bulldogs are national championship favorites (plus 350) per BetMGM.

[gambcom-standard rankid=”3011″ ]

Story originally appeared on UGA Wire