The 2022 college football season is upon us and the SEC, of course, remains the best league in the sport.
Shocker, isn’t it?
The Big Ten has made arguments to knock the SEC from its perch in recent years, but as long as Nick Saban runs the Alabama program and the rest of the conference holds two legitimate national-title contenders, the top is unimpeachable.
It’s the league’s depth this year, though, that should help distinguish itself among the rest of the FBS. Twelve of the 14 teams in the SEC received votes in the preseason Associated Press poll. Barring something strange, 11 of those should qualify for a bowl game.
But how they get there is where the fun lies. The conference is a gauntlet and one loss could damage hopes. Or create them.
Here’s how we have the league standing from a power perspective before all 14 get underway on Saturday.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JANUARY 10: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide scrambles during the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
When is the last time Alabama wasn’t the top team in the SEC in the preseason?
Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) kisses the trophy after winning the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Back-to-back national championships isn’t out of the question.
3. Texas A&M
Oct 16, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) celebrates with wide receiver Ainias Smith (0) after scoring a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Yet again the Aggies harbor College Football Playoff desires.
Nov 26, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) rushes during the seance half as Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Akial Byers (1) pursues at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. Arkansas won 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
A daunting schedule doesn’t keep the Razorbacks and their fans from dreaming of double-digit wins.
(Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Will Levis at quarterback gives Kentucky one of the better offenses in college football.
Dec 30, 2021; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) against the Purdue Boilermakers during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of great quarterbacks, Hendon Hooker is dynamite for the Volunteers.
7. Ole Miss
(Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports)
Ole Miss was magical last year. The Rebels are simply just ‘good’ this year.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 27: Anthony Richardson #15 of the Florida Gators celebrates after defeating the Florida State Seminoles 24-21 in a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
A new coaching staff in Gainesville brings a new attitude.
LSU Football Head Coach Brian Kelly speaks to media following the first spring practice under him. Thursday, March 24, 2022
Lsu Spring Practice 03 24 22
10. Mississippi State
Nov 6, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach talks to an official during the fourth quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
11. South Carolina
Oct 2, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Shane Beamer (right) celebrates a blocked punt by defensive back Jahmar Brown (8) against the Troy Trojans in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin during the A-Day spring practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Nov 26, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eli Drinkwitz looks on during the second quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Vanderbilt Head Coach Clark Lea’s football helmet from when he was a player is displayed during the Vanderbilt interviews in the Hyatt Regency at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Wednesday, July 21, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]
Sec Media Days Vanderbilt