HC - Nick Saban (16th year)
OC - Bill O'Brien (2nd year)
DC - Pete Golding (4th year)
2021 Record: 13-2
Second Order Win Total:
Points/Yards Per Game: 40 points | 488 yards (150 rush | 338 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 20.1 | 304 yards (86 rush | 218 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 2nd
2022 SP+ Offense: 2nd
2022 SP+ Defense: 3rd
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 44th
Offensive Returning Production: 66% (48th)
Defensive Returning Production: 64% (39th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .9598 (1st)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 2nd | 1st in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .9479 (1st)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 1st | 1st
2022 Schedule Strength: 29th
You can make a strong case that Alabama would have beaten Georgia and won back-to-back national championships if both starting wideouts, Jameson Williams and John Metchie, weren't injured for the title game. They averaged 40 points per game for the fourth straight year with an average margin of victory of 20 PPG. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for the Tide though, as their total yardage count of 488 yards was the lowest since 2017 while their rushing output fell to 150 YPG, their worst showing in a decade in a half. Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is back for his encore performance and will be working with a completely new set of starting receivers, with UGA transfer Jermaine Burton set to assume the WR1 role and former five-star recruit Ja'Corey Brooks as the likely WR2, though Traeshon Holden got the starting depth chart nod. You can bet second year OC Bill O'Brien will be looking to improve upon 2021's disappointing 4.1 YPC average with an unsightly 41 sacks allowed and a 33% pressure rate (96th). He's got four OL returning who logged at least 700 snaps last year, with new LT Tyler Steen transferring over from Vanderbilt with 30 SEC starts to his name. They clear the way for dynamic Georgia Tech RB Jahmyr Gibbs, who opened at +6,000 on his Heisman odds and is now down to +3,500, which is still a pretty good deal all things considered. The all-purpose back has already shown elite playmaking ability in bursts for a moribund program, he could finally live up to his highly touted billing behind Bama's Joe Moore contending line and help Bama improve upon their troubling 113th ranking in rushing explosiveness.
Defensively Alabama allowed 20.1 points per game (18th in FBS) which was their highest defensive PPG since HC Nick Saban's first year with the Tide when they went 7-6 in 2007. Fourth year DC Pete Golding led a defensive front that terrorized opposing signal callers by posting an 11.2% sack rate (best in nation) despite blitzing just 19.5% of the time (103rd). With quarterbacks having so little time to throw against a four-man rush, it allowed the defense to post a scorching 5.1% big play rate, which ranked fifth best in FBS. The D returns reigning Bronco Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson who led the country with 82 pressures and finished seventh with a 10.7 pressure rate. IDL D.J. Dale anchors the interior and anchors a defensive front that brings back two starters and occupies blocks for Honorable Mention All-American MLB Henry To'o To'o while SLB Dallas Turner recorded 8.5 sacks as a true freshman. The secondary is going to be lethal, with LSU transfer CB Eli Ricks sliding right in alongside Kool-Aid McKinstry and All-American SS Jordan Battle enforcing over the middle. The Tide's defense will once again be among the nation's very elite units.
Over/Under 10.5 Wins (Over -190)
The Over 10.5 is heavily juiced, and for good reason. The Tide open with Utah State before traveling to Austin where HC takes on his former Lieutenant Steve Sarkisian in a contest where Bama opened as a 14.5 point favorite and is up to 17.5 at present. They face ULM and Vandy in Tuscaloosa before taking on @Arkansas in a trap game spot with a revenge game against Texas A&M looming. @Tennessee is a potential landmine then they face Mississippi State before a Week 9 bye. They go on the road for their next two @LSU (70% win expectancy, lowest of the season) and @Ole Miss then wrap up their regular season against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. I could see Alabama dropping a game to Texas A&M, @Texas or @Tennessee, but they're going to be a force once again this year. There's no way I am taking the Under, but -190 takes the fun out of this Over 10.5 Wins play.
HC - Sam Pittman (3rd year)
OC - Kendall Briles (3rd year)
DC - Barry Odom (2nd year)
2021 Record: 9-4
Second Order Win Total: 8.3 (0.7)
Points/Yards Per Game: 30.9 points | 442 yards (228 rush | 214 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 22.9 points | 367 (154 rush | 214 pass
2022 SP+ Overall: 26th
2022 SP+ Offense: 29th
2022 SP+ Defense: 38th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 36th
Offensive Returning Production: 71% (46th)
Defensive Returning Production: 48% (115th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8839 (22nd)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 24th | 9th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8647 (32nd)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 19th | 7th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 4th
It all came together in year two for HC Sam Pittman, as the longtime OL coach finally got his shot to be a head coach and promptly served up Arkansas' best season since former HC Bobby Petrino took his ill-fated motorcycle ride. The Razorbacks' offense hit big plays at a sensational 15.6% rate (5th in FBS) while still executing their offense effectively with a short field, averaging 4.6 points per scoring opportunity (25th in country). Their problem stemmed from their inability to put themselves in manageable third-down situations, averaging 8.2 yards per third-down (114th in FBS) and resulted in a disappointing 36% third-down success rate. When defenses knew Arkansas was throwing, they pinned their ears back and brought the heat, facing blitzes 34% of the time while allowing a brutal 11.6% sack rate (113th) on passing downs. QB KJ Jefferson is a human battering ram at 6'3/245 who averaged a superb 5.3 yards after contact while leading the team in rushing last year. Jefferson has established himself as a quality SEC signal caller with his Overall PFF grade of 87 ranking 14th among returning starting quarterbacks. He will need a new creative muse with WR Treylon Burks now a Tennessee Titan. Former Georgia wideout Matt Landers went bananas over the second-half of 2021 with Toledo and has earned a starting outside role while former five-star WR Jadon Haselwood will occupy the slot and should have enough playmaking despite losing four of their top-five receivers from last year. RB Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is primed for a big season as the RB1 and will run behind an offensive line that returns 101 starts, four starters, paved the way for 5.0 YPC last year and is now in year three under HC Pittman, who is a virtuoso OL coach.
Defensively the Hogs flourished posting their lowest total yards allowed, 367, since 2014 while improving their PPG allowed by almost two touchdowns (34.9-to-22.9 PPG). Arkansas was excellent in the red zone as their 48% RZ TD rate (14th) and 3.5 points per scoring opportunity (29th) will attest. The defensive line did a good job of creating pressure at a 31% rate (44th) but didn't get home often enough on passing downs when teams knew they'd be coming, recording a 5.4% sack rate (113th) in such situations. The linebacker group loses a pair of 100-tackle thumpers in Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry, but does get back All-American WLB Bumper Pool in addition to a top-flight replacement at MLB with former Alabama blue-chip recruit Drew Sanders who should be a force in the middle. The situation at linebacker could be a lot worse for a defense that posted a subpar 85% tackle rate (98th) and an LB group that accounted for a 4.1% havoc rate (76th) last year. The secondary was truly feast or famine, ranking 112th in suppressing explosiveness while also serving as the playmaking unit of the defense by posting a 7.7% havoc rate (14th) with a 16-to-13 TD/INT ratio. 2020 Third Team All-American S Jalen Catalon returns from injury while Arkansas brings in former LSU starting CB Dwight McGlothern to help boost an already pretty experienced and talented unit.
Over/Under 7.5 Wins (Under -145)
This non-conference slate doesn't do Arkansas any favors, as their contests against Cincinnati and @BYU are a pair of very challenging games. They do get the benefit of pulling South Carolina and @Missouri out of the East, but play two winnable SEC West games on the road against @Auburn and @Mississippi State. I only see three comfortable wins on this schedule - Missouri State, Liberty and @Missouri, in the rest Arkansas is likely to be either a very slight favorite or an underdog. While I love what HC Sam Pittman has down with this program, I think the year after hangover and two very competitive non-conference games make it too hard to project eight victories, so i'm backing the Under
HC - Bryan Harsin (2nd year)
OC - Eric Kiesau (1st year)
DC - Jeff Schmedding (1st year)
2021 Record: 6-7
Second Order Win Total: 6.7 (0.7)
Points/Yards Per Game: 28.3 points | 401 yards (161 rush | 240 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 21.8 points | 372 yards (126 rush | 246 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 22nd
2022 SP+ Offense: 40th
2022 SP+ Defense: 11th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 45th
Offensive Returning Production: 56% (95th)
Defensive Returning Production: 64% (65th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8833 (24th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 22nd | 8th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8854
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 8th | 4th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 1st
First year HC Bryan Harsin had a tumultuous initial campaign at Auburn, to the extent that he fired both of his coordinators after the Tigers posted a 6-7 record with five straight losses to end the season. Their offense lacked potency, ranking 81st with an 11.6% explosive play rate and 100th in marginal explosiveness while also averaging a pedestrian 3.3 points per scoring opportunity which ranked 121st nationally. Gone is former two-year starting quarterback Bo Nix who departed in favor of Oregon. LSU transfer QB TJ Finley won a spirited battle over Robby Ashford and Zach Calzada and will be tasked with resurrecting an offense that ranked 56th in SP+ and 6.8 yards per pass (90th). He will be throwing to a nondescript receiving corps that loses two of their top-three. Top returnee, Shedrick Jackson, has failed to distinguish himself over his four seasons on campus, topping out with an uninspiring 60.5 PFF receiving grade last year. Starting RB Tank Bigsby has NFL potential and is coming off an impactful sophomore season where he ran for 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry with a solid 86.3 PFF rushing grade. He has the good fortune of running behind a veteran offensive line that returns four starters and 120 line starts from last year, and bring in top-20 JUCO LT Kilian Zierer. The running game will likely be the engine of Auburn's offense this season as HC Harsin employs a ball control offense while leaning on their 11th ranked SP+ 2022 defense.
Auburn's run defense thrived last year, ranking 30th or better in rushing success rate, stuff rate and explosiveness. However the Tigers ranked 74th or worse in passing success rate (41%) and completion rate (59% = 86th), while struggling mightily to suppress passing explosiveness (108th). They return six starters, including a pair of bonafide SEC caliber defensive ends in Derick Hall and Colby Wooden who helped Auburn's front-four post an 8.4% havoc rate, which was the 15th best mark in the country. Former five-star MLB Owen Pappoe missed eight games last season and will be relied upon to bolster a linebacker room that loses two starters who combined for 189 tackles last year. The much maligned secondary allowed a 64% completion rate (102nd) with a 45% passing success rate (104th), but was objectively excellent at limiting chunk plays, ranking 23rd in passing explosiveness allowed. With their best cover corner, second round NFL DC CB Roger McCreary, now departed Auburn needs junior CB Nehemiah Pritchett to step up and be a true CB1 if they expect to compete in the brutal SEC West.
Over/Under 6.5 Wins (Over +130)
Auburn has the misfortune of playing one of the country's toughest schedules, facing Penn State in non-conference play while drawing Georgia from the SEC East, as is customary. They should go 3-0 against the rest of their non-conference slate and get to play a retooling Missouri as their other SEC East opponent. Assuming they go 4-2 in those six games, the Tigers need to go 3-3 in SEC West play in order to cover the 6.5 Wins Over (+130). I feel like this bet is going to be close, even with the prospect of being fired looming over Harsin's head. With the Under heavily slanted at -150, there's no value in playing it. If I go anywhere near this bet, it would be a flier on the Over at +130.
HC - Brain Kelly (1st year)
OC - Mike Denbrock
DC - Matt House
2021 Record: 6-7
Second Order Win Total: 5.2 (-0.8)
Points/Yards Per Game: 26.5 points | 368 yards
Points/Yards Allowed: 26.6 points | 378 yards
2022 SP+ Overall: 36th
2022 SP+ Offense: 47th
2022 SP+ Defense: 27th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 16th
Offensive Returning Production: 60% (72nd)
Defensive Returning Production: 64% (65th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .9134 (7th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 10th | 5th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .9132 (6th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 2nd | 2nd in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 6th
After 2019's triumphant 15-0 National Championship campaign, LSU HC Ed Orgeron went off the rails finishing his final two years with a combined 10-11 record. The good news for HC Brian Kelly is he inherits a very talented roster that ranks top-seven nationally on both sides of the ball in 247Sports average player rating. He ported in 14 transfers including former ASU QB Jayden Daniels who is battling Garrett Nussmeier for the starting quarterback job, with an announcement expected from HC Kelly at any minute though Daniels is considered the favorite. The run game struggled mightily last season outside of a few big games by Tyrion Davis-Price, ranking 126th in rushing efficiency and 122nd in explosiveness. Former premium RB recruit John Emery is suspended for the first two games and is expected to share the load with Penn State transfer Noah Cain and Armoni Goodwin. The OL is going to be a work in progress as LSU returns just 17 line SEC starts from the projected starting lineup. Still, no matter how bad this line performs it simply has to improve upon the 114 yards per game and 3.3 YPC averages of 2021. Projected 2023 first-round pick, and potentially the top wide receiver off the board, Kayshon Boutte is the alpha of the receivers room while highly touted underclassmen Brian Thomas and Malik Nabers have star potential.
Former Kentucky DC Matt House takes over a defense that finished 57th in SP+ and returns five starters from a unit that was brutal in the red zone, allowing a touchdown 74% of the time which was the seventh worst mark in the country. Fortunately the Tigers bring back a pair of exceptional defensive ends in BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye who should maintain last year's strong level of line play, as their 8.2% havoc rate ranked 18th in FBS. The linebacker room loses MLB Damone Clark who led the SEC in tackles with 135 in addition to 10 TFL. Fortunately returning WLB Micah Baskerville was second on the team in tackles while Clemson transplant Mike Jones Jr. slides over to MLB. The secondary is rebuilt after losing Derek Stingley (#3 overall NFL DC) and Eli Ricks (Bama). DC House brings in All-Big 12 Oklahoma State CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse and former starting Ohio State CB Sevyn Banks, along with Arkansas transfer S Joe Foucha who should help to improve last year's troubling 64% completion rate allowed (99th).
Over/Under 7 Wins (Over -120)
LSU plays the 6th toughest schedule in the land, an unfortunate byproduct of being in the SEC West, and will likely be within a field goal spread in five games that are essentially toss-ups. They open in the Superdome against Florida State before Mississippi State Week 3 and @Auburn in Week 5 which ends their four-game Louisiana homestand. In fact LSU only has four true away games the entire season, but they're all tough games - @Auburn, @Florida, @Arkansas and @Texas A&M to wrap up the regular season. The Tigers unfortunately draw Florida and Tennessee out of the East, but have a good shot at sweeping their non-conference slate versus FSU, Southern, New Mexico and UAB. The way their schedule is structured is about as good as LSU can expect strategically, as they get Southern before Miss State, New Mexico before @Auburn, a bye before Bama and UAB before Texas A&M. I hate season lines without the .5 hook, so this is a stay away for me in Year 1 of HC Kelly. But I think LSU at least wins 7 games with the potential for 8 thanks to an avalanche of talent and an HC that hasn't fully checked out since 2019 like former HC Orgeron.
HC - Lane Kiffin (3rd year)
OC - Charlie Weis Jr. (1st year)
DC - Maurice Crum (1st)
2021 Record: 10-3
Second Order Win Total: 8.2 (-1.8)
Points/Yards Per Game: 33.7 points | 492 yards (218 rush | 275 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 24.7 points | 420 yards (190 rush | 230 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 17th
2022 SP+ Offense: 22nd
2022 SP+ Defense: 26th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 51st
Offensive Returning Production: 49% (106th)
Defensive Returning Production: 56% (90th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8841 (21st)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 8th | 3rd in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8766 (22nd)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 28th | 12th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 30th
Oxford, MS was all aboard the Lane Train last season as the Rebels won 10 games in just his second year at the helm. There will be major changes on offense, as OC Jeff Lebby, QB Matt Corral, the top-three running backs and top-three wideouts all depart. The initial depth chart lists sophomore QB Luke Altmeyer as the QB1 with a dreaded “or” between him and USC transfer Jaxson Dart, indicating the job is far from settled as the season approaches. Whoever settles in as the starter has an array of weapons at his disposal. At the NFL Scouting Combine in March, I asked former Ole Miss wideouts Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders who they thought the breakout star of the WR corps would be, both said Jonathan Mingo who is set to start on the outside. UCF transfer Jaylon Robinson is a potent speed threat while TE Michael Trigg completely dominated the spring game and looks like he could surpass even former TE Kenny Yeboah's strong production of two years ago. TCU refugee Zach Evans has averaged 7.3 YPC with a ridiculous 4.8 yards after contact over his first two seasons and is a top-5 2023 NFL Draft eligible RB. He only logged 92 carries last year due to a nagging turf toe injury and could be a monster this year if he can stay on the field. Or he could be focused on his NFL career and never reach his full collegiate potential. He will have the benefit of running behind an offensive line that returns four starters and 111 line starts while importing First Team All-CUSA RT Mason Brooks from Western Kentucky. Despite losing C Orlando Umana, their pass protection should improve greatly after allowing a 7.8% sack rate (98th), as Umana was responsible for the most pressures allowed, 22, on the team. Offensive guru HC Kiffin will have the Rebels in the 35 PPG and 500 total YPG ballpark for the third consecutive season.
The defense was built around the central tenet of keeping the other team from making big plays, ranking 5th in IsoPPP and 6th in marginal explosiveness. Co-DC's DJ Durkin (now DC of Texas A&M) and Chris Partridge's defense gave up yardage on the ground (123nd in success rate and 125th in rushing efficiency), but an exceptional front-four generated consistent pressure by accruing 39 sacks and an 8% sack rate (31st) despite blitzing just 18% of the time (112th least in FBS). Co-DC Partridge returns so those same principles will be in play and they add former Western Kentucky DC Maurice Crum as his fellow Co-DC. Though All-American DE Sam Williams moves on (#2DC Dallas), three starters return on the defensive line, including edge rusher Cedric Johnson who tallied 40 pressures and 6.5 sacks last year, while adding in multiple Power Five transfers. The linebacker group loses two NFL draft choices in Chance Campbell and Mark Robinson, so Kiffin hit the portal and brought in two-time First Team All-MAC WLB Troy Brown and TCU LB Khari Coleman to boost their ranks. Four starters return in addition to the addition of former Big 12 Freshman of the Year Isheem Young who started 21 games for the Cyclones over the last two years. While the safeties are loaded, CB depth is a concern as Deantre Prince and Miles Battle have just 8 starts of experience between them. With seven returning starters and multiple highly sought after transfers entering the fray, Ole Miss will have another solid defensive unit.
Over/Under 7.5 Wins (Over +110)
Ole Miss has a very appealing non-conference lineup against Troy, Central Arkansas, @Georgia Tech and Tulsa where they should be double-digit favorites in all of them. They get a good draw from the SEC East Kentucky playing Kentucky and @Vanderbilt, which gives them an excellent chance of going 5-1 through that stretch. That means Miss has to go 3-3 through their SEC West schedule where they are likely underdogs in road games against @LSU, @Texas A&M and @Arkansas. It's a tough call here, as I think this line is priced right with the Under juiced to -130. Since we're getting +110 odds on the Over 7.5 Wins, that's the tiebreaker for me.
HC - Mike Leach (3rd year)
OC - Mike Leach is his own OC
DC - Zach Arnett (3rd year)
2021 Record: 7-6
Second Order Win Total: 8.8 (1.8)
Points/Yards Per Game: 29.1 points | 441 yards (63 rush | 378 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 25.9 points | 345 yards (113 rush | 232 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 15th
2022 SP+ Offense: 28th
2022 SP+ Defense: 17th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 125th
Offensive Returning Production: 80% (18th)
Defensive Returning Production: 80% (14th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8662 (36th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 25th | 10th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8746 (23rd)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 20th | 8th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 2nd
It was a nice turnaround for HC Mike Leach, as the quirky air raid emperor improved from 4-7 to 7-6 while also recording a tidy 8.8 second order win total that suggests MSU was better than their record indicates. There isn't a lot of nuance to HC Leach's approach, he's going to call an onslaught of short, precision passes (5.7 air yards per pass = 129th) that QB Will Rogers completed at a 74% rate (1st in FBS) with an outstanding 50% passing success rate (5th). The drawback of this system is Miss State ranked dead last in passing explosiveness since just 7.4% of their passes went 20+ yards in the air (129th) while 36% of their throws were at or behind the line of scrimmage (3rd most). QB Will Rogers is back after being named as an All-SEC signal caller and should throw for well over 4,000 yards again (4,739 in 2021). Though his favorite target, Makai Polk, leaves and takes his 105 receptions with him, MSU returns nine of their top-11 receivers and will be well stocked in that department. Both co-starting running backs, Dillon Johnson and Jo'quaviuos Marks, return to form a dependable backfield duo that helped the Bulldogs achieve a 51% rushing success rate (14th in FBS) despite having the lowest run rate in the country. They run behind a line that returns three starters from a group that allowed a sensational 18% pressure rate (2nd best in FBS!) while still plowing the way for an 85% success rate in power situations, but loses first round NFL DC LT Charles Cross. With 82 line starts coming back and six OL with starting experience in the two-deep, MSU should continue to post strong offensive efficiency numbers.
Former San Diego State DC Zach Arnett has done exceptional work with the defense, as MSU ranked top-40 in success rate (40%), three-and-out percentage (33%) and marginal efficiency in 2021. Despite their commendable 34th place finish in defensive SP+, their 88th ranking in IsoPPP and 97th finish in marginal explosiveness indicate there is still room for improvement. Despite the offense employing an up-tempo, air raid attack which can put pressure on the team's defense, Miss State faced just 62 plays per game last year, 11th least in the country. They are one of the most experienced defenses in the country, returning 80% of their production which is the 14th most in FBS. The front-seven returns almost completely intact and get back starting DE Jordan Davis who was out for the year with a training camp injury. LB Tyrus Wheat racked up 7.5 sacks during his Second Team All-SEC campaign while the team's MLB Nathaniel Watson and WLB Jett Johnson led the tackles with all three back this season. Their secondary was susceptible to the big play, ranking 98th in passing explosiveness and 99th with 8 air-yards per pass as teams attempted to stretch the defense vertically. CB Martin Emerson was selected in the third round by the Cleveland Browns, but luckily CB Emmanuel Forbes has 21 starts under his belt as an All-SEC level cornerback and will assume the CB1 role. Both safeties return, so the big question mark will be who steps up to assume the CB2 role.
Over/Under 6.5 Wins (Over -130)
MSU is saddled with the 2nd toughest schedule in the country, but such is life in the SEC West. Their off conference slate has a couple of potential landmines, opening against Memphis before a Week 2 cross-country trip to @Arizona. The Bulldogs then travel to Baton Rouge to face off against @LSU in Week 3, not the easiest start. They play Bowling Green in Week 4 before running the gauntlet against Texas A&M, Arkansas, @Kentucky and @Alabama before a well earned Week 9 bye. They finish with a four-game stretch versus Auburn, Georgia, East Tennessee State and @Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Pulling UGA and Kentucky out of the East is no picnic, but MSU had a post game win expectancy above 50% in three of their five regular season losses. Despite the tough schedule, HC Leach has this team molded in his visage for his Year 3 season and can get to 7 Wins again, so i'm laying the -130 and taking the Over 6.5.
HC - Jimbo Fisher(5th year)
OC - Darrell Dickey (5th year)
DC - DJ Durkin (1st)
2021 Record: 8-4
Second Order Win Total: 8.4 (0.4)
Points/Yards Per Game: 29.3 points | 392 (183 rush | 209 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 16 points | 328 (135 rush | 193 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 8th
2022 SP+ Offense: 36th
2022 SP+ Defense: 6th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 4th
Offensive Returning Production: 59%
Defensive Returning Production: 56%
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .9218 (5th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 13th | 6th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .9243 (5th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 24th | 10th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 11th
Coming off a breakout 2020 where A&M checked in with a tidy 9-1 record, HC Jimbo Fisher finished 8-4 last season after losing starting QB Haynes King 35 passes into his season. Accordingly, their game plan was built around a run game where they ranked top-30 in rushing success rate and explosiveness. Their heavy reliance on the run was necessitated by the ineffectiveness of the A&M passing attack that ranked 106th in passing explosiveness with a 56% completion rate (108th), but that's what happens when you have backup QB Zach Calzada leading the offense. Fortunately King is back and has a pair of elite freshmen wideouts to target, courtesy of their number one ranked 2022 recruiting class, in addition to all-purpose maestro Ainias Smith. Former Olympic hopeful sprinter and current starting running back Devon Achane is on the small side (5'9/190), but runs like lightning in a bottle, averaging 4.32 yards after contact for his career with back-to-back seasons of a 90+ PFF offensive grade. The offensive had just one returning starter last year and posted 183 rushing YPG with just 19 sacks. This year they get three back and have an arsenal of super talented recruits from the past two years to sift through. The offense should be in the 32-25 PPG range so long as they can avoid key injuries like last year.
Defensively former DC Mike Elko moves on while new DC DJ Durkin (formerly DC at Ole Miss last two years) takes over a unit that finished top-10 nationally in points per game (15.9), points per drive (1.28), yards per pass (5.9) and EPA/Play. The Aggies aren't just replacing their DC, as six starters from their front-seven depart, including their entire defensive line that posted an exceptional 8.2% havoc rate (18th). As mentioned above, they have a slew of elite recruits ready to step in and make their mark, but they will need to come together by Week 2 against the Hurricanes of Miami, or they could be vulnerable to upsets when the schedule stiffens up. Fortunately for the Aggies their secondary returns all four members and is legitimately one of the best in the country, allowing just a 58% completion rate with a 13-to-10 TD/INT ratio. With the Aggies losing their DC and a bevy of impact NFL talent from the front-seven, they could have a hard time matching up with some of the more physical SEC West programs in the trenches.
Over/Under 8.5 Wins (Over -150)
Their non-con slate includes Sam Houston, Appalachian State, Miami and UMass. That Week 3 game against Miami is going to be a bellwether for just how good this A&M team is. They take on Arkansas in Jerry World before two road games @Miss State and @Alabama, that's a helluva four game stretch heading into a Week 7 bye. @SoCar awaits them off bye before a pair of home games against Ole Miss and Florida. They then travel to Auburn before a homestand against UMass and LSU to end the regular season. While more inexperienced, this team is loaded with talent and should clear the Over 8.5 at -150 so long as they don't have to deal with attrition at the QB position again.
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HC - Billy Napier (1st)
OC - Rob Sale
2021 Record: 6-7
Second Order Win Total: 7.4 (1.4)
Points/Yards Per Game: 30.7 points | 463 yards (209 rush | 254 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 26.8 points | 368 yards (164 rush | 204 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 23rd
2022 SP+ Offense: 25th
2022 SP+ Defense: 33rd
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 94th
Offensive Returning Production: 50% (104th)
Defensive Returning Production: 63% (67th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8804 (19th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 26th | 11th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .9135 (8th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 5th | 3rd in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 19th
Florida ended the Will Muschamp era after a disappointing 6-7 record and brought in former Louisiana HC Billy Napier who produced double-digit win seasons in each of the past three years. Anthony Richardson returns and will finally have the QB job to himself with Emory Jones now at Arizona State and could vault himself into NFL Draft consideration with his rocket arm and unnatural speed to compliment a 6'3/237 frame. HC Napier is infamous for employing a three-running back rotation led by Nay'Quan Wright and former Ragin' Cajun transfer Montrell Johnson Jr. alongside four-star freshman Trevor Etienne who is getting his feet wet at the college level. The receiver corps is set to roll with ASU transfer Ricky Pearsall, former five-star Justin Shorter and Xzavier Henderson, but there probably won't be a 1,000 yard performer since that's not the structure of HC Napier's offense. The line returns three starters who tallied 98 total starts from a line that ranked 5th in sack rate allowed (3%) in addition to Louisiana transfer and two-time All-SBC RG O'Cyrus Torrence. The Gators' line actually cleared the way for 5.5 YPC with 2.8 line yards per carry (27th), so they're in a good spot to transition to HC Napier's run-heavy approach.
HC Napier inherits a D that ranks 5th overall in terms of roster strength and averages .9135 in 247Sports player rating, which is the eighth most talented unit in FBS. The defensive line loses 3rd round DC Zach Carter and has just three total linemen with starting experience from a unit that posted a 4.5% havoc rate (88th) last year. DT Gervon Dexter has All-SEC potential while Brenton Cox is a monster off the edge, recording 8.5 sacks last year. Starting All-SEC LB Ventrell Miller was injured just 46 snaps into the season and will anchor a unit that has just eight starts from the rest of the unit, with all eight credited to Amari Burney. Florida's secondary is loaded with experience, returning four starters from 2021 and Jaydon Hill returns from injury. CB Jason Marshall is a premium talent who is ready to come into his own while S Trey Dean will look to repeat his excellent performance from last year where he led the team in tackles and recorded 9 PBU. The defensive backfield is the strength of the defense and a top-20 unit.
Over/Under 7 Wins (Over -130)
Florida draws Utah, USF, Eastern Washington and @Florida State in non-conference play, which puts them at a slight disadvantage for this Over compared to some other SEC programs with lighter schedules. They draw LSU and @Texas A&M out of the West but have just four true road games which gives UF a boost, especially with one of them being a borderline layup against Vandy. I see HC Napier elevating the Gators to an eight win season, making this an Over play for me.
HC - Kirby Smart (7th year)
OC - Todd Monken (3rd year)
DC - Glen Schuman (4th year) and Will Muschamp (1st year)
2021 Record: 14-1
Second Order Win Total: 13.8 (-0.2)
Points/Yards Per Game: 38.6 points | 442 yards (191 rush | 252 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 10.2 points | 269 yards (79 rush | 190 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 3rd
2022 SP+ Offense: 3rd
2022 SP+ Defense: 7th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 30th
Offensive Returning Production: 72% (38th)
Defensive Returning Production: 44% (120th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .9163 (4th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 9th | 4th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .9351 (3rd)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 12th | 5th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 58th
We are all aware of the sensational 2021 National Championship campaign of last season, but the question at hand is whether or not the Dawgs can maintain their sky-high level of play. Offensively they quietly scored 39 PPG and, unlike the defense, returns 72% of their production. QB Stetson Bennett is back to lead an underrated unit that ranked top-20 in success rate (9th), IsoPPP (19th), explosive play rate (12th) and points per scoring opportunity (12th). UGA rosters the deepest and most talented TE room in the country with Brock Bowers, Arik Gilbert and freshman spring game star, Oscar Delp, while WR Adonai Mitchell is ready to take over as the main receiver target on the outside. Their new RB tandem of Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh are both top-10 rated RBs from their prep classes, as their workload should be a rerun of last year's approach. Their offensive line returns three starters in addition to five-star sophomore LT Broderick Jones who has the potential to be a brick wall in pass protection. They cleared the way for 5.4 YPC while ranking first overall with a 1.8% sack rate on passing downs and should be a top-10 overall line. I expect the offense to finally breach the 40 PPG barrier
The D loses nine…NINE NFL draft choices from their title team but has recruited at a top-3 level each of the last four seasons and is well positioned to absorb the departures from one of the truly great defenses of our time. Zero starters return on UGA's three-man front, but NT Jalen Carter is already an All-SEC level performer and will anchor the D-line group that boasts a bevy of young talent ready to step in. LB Nolan Smith was the top-rated LB from his freshman class and is the leading returning tackler for the Bulldogs, while Robert Beal is back and had 6.5 sacks to his name last season. Kelee Ringo is locked in as CB1 and SS Christopher Smith will be the sentry of the defense. S Dan Jackson logged 455 snaps last year, as the safeties are well equipped to shut down any deep shots that come their way.
Over/Under 10.5 Wins (Over -205)
Not that Georgia needs it, but their 58th ranked schedule is just what the doctor ordered for a team that will likely need a few weeks to gel on defense. They open in Atlanta against Oregon and former DC Dan Lanning before a winnable four game stretch against Samford, @South Carolina, Kent State and @Mizzou. Drawing Auburn and @Miss State out of the West is a gift while they get Tennessee at home, @Kentucky and the season finale against in-state doormat Georgia Tech. While I cannot in good conscience pick UGA to go Under 10.5 Wins, I also don't recommend this play as it ties up valuable capital that can be utilized on weekly plays.
HC - Mark Stoops (10th)
OC - Rick Scangarello (1st)
DC - Brad White (3rd)
2021 Record: 10-3
Second Order Win Total: 9.0 (-1.0)
Points/Yards Per Game: 32.3 points | 425 yards (200 rush | 226 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 21.7 points | 340 yards (122 rush | 219 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 20th
2022 SP+ Offense: 32nd
2022 SP+ Defense: 18th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 46th
Offensive Returning Production: 58% (80th)
Defensive Returning Production: 66% (52nd)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8720 (29th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 34th | 12th in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8817 (20th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 27th | 11th in SEC
2022 Schedule Strength: 35th
HC Mark Stoops has done an incredible job in his 9 years with the Wildcats, bringing them to bowls in six of those campaigns. Kentucky returns six starters on offense including QB Will Levis who has generated substantial NFL Draft buzz in the offseason thanks to his prototypical frame (6'3/232) and powerful arm. He will miss Wan'Dale Robinson who was responsible for possibly the greatest receiving season in school history (104 recs, 1,334 yards, 7 TDs). Fortunately Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson steps in to Wan'Dale's role and was electric during the spring in that role. They also bring in a pair of blue chip WR recruits in Dane Key and Barrion Brown, both are expected to have substantial roles. RB Christopher Rodriguez is slated to miss the first four weeks due to an offseason legal incident. “Pass the” Kavosiey Smoke will lead the charge for the first four contests with transfer Ramon Jefferson backing him up in the early going. The line loses three starters, with the most consequential departures being All-American RT Darrian Kinnard and First Team All-SEC C Luke Fortner. With UK steamrolling their competition to the tune of a 54% rushing success rate (4th overall), 12% stuff rate (8th) and 3.1 line yards per carry (4th) on standard downs, the new look offensive line will be vital to Kentucky's success. The offense might dip a bit from their 32 PPG average last season, which was their highest PPG total of HC Stoops' tenure.
The defense checked in at 35th in SP+ and was excellent at suppressing explosive plays, ranking 19th in IsoPPP and 21st in marginal explosiveness, but struggled in the pass game by allowing a dreadful 67% completion rate (119th) with a 45% success rate against (105th). The defensive line loses their best player in All-American DE Josh Paschal, but do return All-SEC Edge JJ Weaver who led the team with six sacks, and super-heavyweight NG Justin Rogers who was an elite recruit and is now ready to flourish in his third season on campus. The linebacker group with be the strength of the D with leading 2021 tackler Jacquez Jones and #3 tackler DeAndre Square both back to wreak havoc on opposing ball carriers. The secondary had trouble in coverage and making plays, as their 20-to-9 TD/INT ratio contributed to their hideous -12 turnover margin that ranked fifth-worst in the country. CB1 Carrington Valentine has an incredible name in addition to being the best corner on the roster while SS Tyrell Ajian has 22 starts to his name. It's going to be tough for Kentucky to repeat their rock solid 21.7 PPG and 340 YPG allowed of last season.
Over/Under 7.5 Wins (Over -160)
UK plays the 35th ranked schedule in the country, taking on Miami (OH), Youngstown State, Northern Illinois and their in-state rival Louisville in the final week. They face the Egg Bowl participants, Mississippi State and Mississippi, from the SEC West and play just four total road games against @Mizzou, @Tennessee, @Ole Miss and @Mizzou. There is a pretty reasonable path to 8 Wins on this slate, but it's going to cost you -160 juice, so this is a stay away for me with a lean towards the Under due to the +135 odds.
HC - Eliah Drinkwitz (3rd year)
OC - Eliah Drinkwitz
DC - Blake Baker
2021 Record: 6-7
Second Order Win Total: 6.3 (0.3)
Points/Yards Per Game: 29.1 points | 413 yards (180 rush | 234 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 33.8 points | 434 yards (227 rush | 207 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 52nd
2022 SP+ Offense: 44th
2022 SP+ Defense: 40th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 11th
Offensive Returning Production: 58% (80th)
Defensive Returning Production: 66% (52nd)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8720 (29th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 34th | 12th
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8817 (20th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 27th | 11th
2022 Schedule Strength: 37th
HC Eli Drinkwitz is looking for Mizzou to take a step this year after a ho-hum 11-12 record over his first two seasons. The Tigers will start a new quarterback in Brady Cook who showed potential in his brief stint under center last season, completing 47-of-59 passes for 350 yards, an 80% completion rate and two touchdowns with no picks. With the Tigers averaging 6.7 yards per pass (5th lowest in FBS), an accurate quarterback is imperative. He can also run, logging 22 carries for 92 yards and a TD on the ground. He will be throwing to freshman phenom Luther Burden who is the consensus #1WR from the 2022 class and is expected to receive manufactured rushing touches in addition to his receiving work. Their line returns four starters from a unit that ranked 17th in rushing explosiveness with a 70% power success rate (40th). The OL group was especially proficient in pass protection averaging a 3.8% sack rate and a 23.4% pressure rate (12th), and should be just as good in 2022. RB Tyler Badie departs after an All-American campaign that made him a 6th round NFL Draft selection. Stanford transfer Nathaniel Peat is expected to be the primary ball carrier, with Elijah Young and four-star freshman Tavorus Jones positioned to battle for the backup snaps. Though Badie is gone, the offense should remain in the 29 PPG ballpark they recorded last year.
The defense returns eight starters from a young 2021 group that returns five juniors and five sophomores that are projected to start and is much more experienced. Missouri's run defense was amongst the nation's dirt-worst over the first half of the season before bringing in DL coach Al Davis (no relation to the Raiders owner) to right the ship, with the Tigers improving substantially in the second half. Their pass rush was a clear strength last year, ranking 18th overall with an 8.8% sack rate and a 33% pressure rate (34th), as both starting defensive ends return to harass quarterbacks again this season. The linebacker group brings back two starters and adds in Florida transfer Ty'Ron Hopper who recorded 65 tackles last year for the Gators. The secondary did a pretty good job in allowing a 59% completion rate, however they game up far too many big plays through the air, ranking 108th in passing explosiveness while allowing 25 touchdown passes. Three of the top six tacklers on the team are from this group and all return with six players having started at least one game. Mizzou will be better than last year's iteration that allowed 34 PPG and 227 rushing YPG.
Over/Under 5.5 Wins (Over +100)
Mizzou draws Louisiana Tech, @Kansas State, Abilene Christian and New Mexico State in non-conference play, and should be able to win at least three games and will be a touchdown+ underdog vs. KSU. They take on @Auburn and Arkansas from the West and face @Florida, @South Carolina and @Tennessee on the road. They get an easy game against Vandy to get to four wins but is going to need some magic to get two more wins to clear this Over. 5.5 Wins is a good line, but I am going Under since I don't think they win three SEC games against this schedule.
HC - Shane Beamer (2nd)
OC - Marcus Satterfield (2nd)
DC - Clayton White (2nd)
2021 Record: 7-5
Second Order Win Total: 6.4 (-0.6)
Points/Yards Per Game: 22.6 points | 338 yards (136 rush | 202 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 24 points | 356 yards (175 rush | 181 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 46th
2022 SP+ Offense: 54th
2022 SP+ Defense: 40th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 9th
Offensive Returning Production: 77% (23rd)
Defensive Returning Production: 63% (66th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8916 (13th)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 4th | 2nd in SEC
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8712 (26th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 39th | 13th
2022 Schedule Strength: 17th
Rookie HC Shane Beamer made a splash by taking a South Carolina team that went 6-16 over the previous two seasons and achieved a winning record despite employing a lackluster three-man quarterback rotation that held back the offense with their lack of talent and passing acumen. This year SoCar may have the most improved quarterback situation in the Power Five as they bring in former number one overall QB recruit from the 2019 class, Spencer Rattler. Hopefully Rattler is over his deep passing woes that had PFF College ranking him 145th 45.5 pass grade) among FBS starters on throws 20+ yards downfield. He will be throwing to a potentially dangerous corps of receivers including the top-two pass catchers from 2021 in WR Josh Vann and TE Jaheim Bell in addition to James Madison's two-time FCS All -American transfer wideout Antwane Wells who opened eyes in training camp. Perhaps the most complete unit on the team is their offensive line that gets back all five of their linemen and 129 line starts. It will be interesting to see how much the run game will improve now that they won't be facing stacked boxes every play, as last year's 136 yards per game average was the team's lowest since 2017. Wake Forest transfer RB Christian Beal-Smith and returnee MarShawn Lloyd will share the workload and are all but assured of boosting SC's pedestrian 3.8 YPC in 2021. With nine total starters back, the offense is going to add another touchdown+ to their 22.6 PPG average of last season.
While the offense is seasoned and ready to take a step forward, South Carolina's defense only gets five starters back but is in the second year of DC Clayton White's system after improving by a staggering 12 PPG last season. They lose three of four starters from a defensive line that got crushed in run defense and power situations, allowing a 47% rush success rate and a 12% stuff rate (126th, but put up a solid 6.6% havoc rate (40th). LB Brad Johnson is a steady veteran presence and the leading returning tackler (74) on the team, though he will need some more help this year if SoCar's LB group wants to improve their 2.6% havoc rate (117th) from last year. Their secondary was the best defensive unit on the roster last year, allowing just a 58% completion rate with a sterling 16-to-15 ratio. The DBs have three starters back including CB1 Cam Smith who was first in the SEC with 11 PBU, and SS RJ Roderick who put up 64 tackles last year. Though there is roster turnover, HC Beamer is in year two of his system and has more of “his guys” in the mix.
Over/Under 6 Wins (Under -135)
SoCar opens with Georgia State in addition to Charlotte, South Carolina State and their natural rival @Clemson in the non-conference slate. You have to feel for SC in drawing Clemson every year. @Arkansas and Texas A&M are a pair of bonafide SEC West teams that can play with anyone. Their SEC East road games are @Kentucky, @Florida, @Vandy, with home tilts against Georgia, Mizzou and Tennessee. I don't like this bet at 6 wins with no hook, but would go Under -135 if forced to choose.
HC - Josh Heupel (2nd)
OC - Alex Golesh
DC - Tim Banks
2021 Record: 7-6
Second Order Win Total: 8.4 (1.4)
Points/Yards Per Game: 39.3 points | 475 yards (218 rush | 257 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 29.1 points | 422 yards (149 rush | 273 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 9th
2022 SP+ Offense: 3rd
2022 SP+ Defense: 7th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 12th
Offensive Returning Production:
Defensive Returning Production:
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: 77% (23rd)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: .8916 (13th)
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: 63% (66th)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: .8712 (26th)
2022 Schedule Strength: 27th
Second year HC Josh Heupel has filled the UT fanbase with legitimate optimism for the first time since former HC Phillip Fullmer departed over a decade ago. The Vols played at the fastest pace in the country last year and were aggressive stretching the field vertically with 17% of the team's passes going downfield (26th). QB Hendon Hooker was marvelous last season, completing 68% of his passes with a 31-to-3 ratio and 9.7 yards per attempt while also rushing for 616 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as a true dual-threat QB. He will be throwing to Second Team All-SEC wideout Cedric Tillman who emerged in a big way last season and was superb in contested catch situations, securing 13-of-18 targets. WR Jalin Hyatt is also a dynamic player who is looking to breakout, while former #1WR recruit Bru McCoy is eligible and ready to contribute. Their offensive line is loaded with four returning starters and is now more acclimated with HC Heupel's system after rushing for 3.1 line yards per carry on standard downs. They will need to sharpen their pass protection though, finishing ninth-worst in the country with a 10.1% sack rate. Jabari Small is the entrenched starter at running back now that Tiyon Evans departs and should be able to cross the 1,000 yard barrier if he remains healthy. With eight returning starters, HC Heupel's high powered offense should challenge the 40 PPG mark once again.
While the offense was riding high, the defense had some first-year growing pains with a 72% red zone TD rate (119th) in addition to allowing 4.3 points per scoring opportunity. Edge Byron Young leads a defensive front that accounted for 20.5 of the team's 34 sacks and formed the backbone of the Tennessee run defense that averaged a respectable 149 rushing yards on a 3.7 yards per carry average. The linebacker group loses 6th round NFL DC Theo Jackson but returns WLB Jeremy Banks who was second in the SEC in tackles last year (126) while posting 44 stops. 2020 starter Juwan Mitchell returns after playing in just three games while second leading tackler MLB Aaron Beasley (84 tackles, 6.0 TFL) is also back for this battle tested unit. The defensive backfield returns three of five starters who allowed a sizable 273 passing yards per game while ranking 75th in defending passing explosiveness. DC Tim Banks also has the benefit of adding four-star S Andre Turrentine from OSU for what should be a noticeably improved secondary and defense overall.
Over/Under 7.5 Wins (Over -160)
Though UT faces the nation's 27th ranked schedule, they are well positioned in the non-conference portion of the season, opening with Ball State before taking on @Pitt, Akron and UT Martin in what could be a 4-0 clean sweep. They don't get any favors from the SEC West though, drawing Alabama and @LSU. They do have the benefit of playing Florida, Kentucky and Missouri at home, while taking on the league doormat @Vandy and a still coming together @South Carolina team. I love Tennessee to clear this 7.5 Wins mark, even at -160.
HC - Clark Lea (2nd year)
OC - Joey Lynch (1st)
DC - Nick Howell (1st)
2021 Record: 2-10
Second Order Win Total: 1.2 (-0.8)
Points/Yards Per Game: 15.8 points | 313 yards (123 rush | 189 pass)
Points/Yards Allowed: 35.8 points | 458 yards (193 rush | 264 pass)
2022 SP+ Overall: 115th
2022 SP+ Offense: 109th
2022 SP+ Defense: 108th
2021 SP+ Special Teams: 105th
Offensive Returning Production: 71% (44th)
Defensive Returning Production: 74% (26th)
247Sports Avg. Offensive Player Rating: .8518 (51st)
2022 Offensive Unit Strength: 80th | 13th
247Sports Avg. Defensive Player Rating: .8578 (52nd)
2022 Defensive Unit Strength: 39th | 13th
2022 Schedule Strength: 5th
2nd year HC Clark Lea faced a true Year Zero rebuild at Vandy last season following a draining 0-9 campaign in 2020. With a 247Sports average player ranking of 51st overall, they're at least moving in the right direction from a roster standpoint and return seven players on each side of the ball. New QB Mike Wright is a true dual-threat that adds an extra dynamic to the offense that wasn't present last year under Ken Seals. Will Sheppard leads the receivers and has explosive potential, breaking 14 tackles on 43 receptions last year. Temple transfer Re'Mahn Davis is back from injury along with last year's top rusher Rocko Griffin who will look to beat last year's 123 YPG and 3.5 YPC averages. On the line they lose two starters, with All-SEC LT Tyler Steen breaking hearts in Nashville by transferring to Alabama in the offseason. Seven OL return who have started at least one game and they transfer in two-time All-CUSA North Texas LT Jacob Brammer. Vanderbilt could increase their scoring output by a full touchdown in year two of the HC Lea regime.
Defensively the Commodores have a long way to go, as they posted a certifiably morose nine sacks that is the lowest full season for any team in the last 25 years. A truly staggering achievement. They were pretty poor at just about everything except for short and medium distance third-down situations. The problem is that teams gained first downs on their first two plays 77% of the time, fourth worst in the nation. The D returns seven starters but added just one transfer to help lift the pass rush. MLB Ethan Barr is a baller who recorded 85 tackles with three interceptions last year, while WLB Anfernee Orji was all over the field against Hawaii. Vandy's linebacker room is the heart and soul of the defense. The secondary brings back two starters, including CB Jaylen Mahoney who is earned a solid 79.2 run defense grade from PFF last year. Though their defensive backfield ranked a troubling 119th last year, they can't fall much farther and are in HC Lea's (former Notre Dame DC) second year.
Over/Under 2.5 Wins (Over +125)
Hawaii and Elon are pretty much in the books, which means they need to upset one of @Northern Illinois, @Mizzou or Wake Forest based on their schedule. I would never bet this, but at +125 i'd let it ride on the Over at +125 odds and pray for an upset.
Source material completed from @CFBWinningEdge, Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, PFF, Football Reference, SP+.