Georgia may have spent one week outside the top spot in the SEC Power Rankings, but that was it.
In fact, the Bulldogs were about the only consistent team in the entire league.
The defending national champions looked like the best team in the country again in 2022 more often than not and within their own conference, they were rarely truly tested. If Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game during championship week, a College Football Playoff No. 1 seed is surely to follow.
As for everyone in the SEC, who knows. It’s hard to imagine a second team cracking the CFP top four without a Bulldogs loss. But Alabama, LSU and Tennessee have proven themselves quality enough over the course of 12 games to play in the big-time bowls that follow the Playoff in the hierarchy.
But if that’s messy, wait until you see the rest of the conference. The league cannibalized itself as bad as any in recent memory. Arkansas was the poster-child for it, finishing 6-6 with four losses coming by one possession.
Those are the breaks, though, playing with the best the sport has to offer. This is how we see the SEC shaking out for 2022.
1. Georgia (last week 1)
Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10) and linebacker Smael Mondon Jr. (2) celebrates during the first quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
What a shocker, huh? Even that one week they weren’t No. 1 in SEC was dumb. No one but Michigan – and maybe TCU – have given quality week-in and week-out like Georgia.
2. Alabama (3)
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – OCTOBER 01: Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with an official in the first half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images).
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Alabama had its “worst” team in years but still went 10-2.
3. Tennessee (4)
Nov 19, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) is assisted off the field after suffering an apparent injury against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee fans probably don’t feel it completely yet, but 2022 was a magical season for the Vols. It just hurt badly.
4. LSU (2)
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 12: Head Coach Brian Kelly of the LSU Tigers talks to the officials in the first half of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Doink. LSU’s regular season ended in a fitting manner. It’s not that the Tigers felt like frauds all year, but three of its nine wins came by a possession. In other words, Bizarro Arkansas.
5. Mississippi State (7)
Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) throws under pressure from Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Whaddya know? Mississippi State finished 8-4. Another improvement under Mike Leach. And winning the Egg Bowl? Well, that’s just…golden.
6. Ole Miss (6)
Sep 10, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin looks at the scoreboard during a timeout against the Central Arkansas Bears during the second quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to say if Ole Miss ran out of gas or if teams just figured the Rebels out. Losing four of its last five and they’re still sixth in the SEC? Yeah, every team to which they lost was legit. Even Arkansas.
7. South Carolina (8)
Oct 22, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) runs the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Just going to throw this out there. Food for thought:
Is Spencer Rattler elite?
Talk amongst yourselves.
Shane Beamer is, we know that much, anyway.
8. Kentucky (9)
Sep 18, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) lines up a pass during the fourth quarter against the Chattanooga Mocs at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
We discovered very little about Kentucky football this year. We discovered Will Levis probably isn’t the No. 1 pick in the draft as was projected before the season. But we also discovered Mike Stoops can bring consistency.
9. Arkansas (5)
Nov 25, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Jadon Haselwood (9) runs against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Ah, what could have been. Three losses by one possession. Arkansas was awfully close to 9-3. But, really, they never should have been. This team has far too many holes on its roster to be that good. They also shouldn’t have lost to Liberty or Texas A&M at all. Them’s the breaks.
10. Missouri (11)
Nov 25, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A helmet of a Missouri Tigers player during the first half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Shouldn’t the SEC stop making fun of Missouri? They’ve not elite, but they’re just as good as Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and, frankly, Auburn (outside of two AU seasons) for the last 20 years.
11. Texas A&M (14)
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 03: Kam Dewberry #75 of the Texas A&M Aggies stands with Head Coach Jimbo Fisher following their 31-0 win over the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Kyle Field on September 03, 2022 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Beating LSU to end the season was nice, but it meant nothing for an Aggies team that has serious problems and needs an offseason to discover itself.
12. Florida (10)
Sep 24, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier during the first quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Florida football. It feels like the Gators lost a lot of games. Feels like they lost more than they actually did. That’s because the only legitimate win of the year came in Week 11 against South Carolina. No, we’re not counting Utah. Florida feels a bit directionless heading into 2023.
13. Vanderbilt (12)
Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea head to the locker room after the first half of the game against ETSU at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
(Tennessean photo / USA TODAY Network)
Vanderbilt isn’t directionless. Clark Lea has them on the rise.
OK, no. Not totally. You’re going to read that elsewhere, though.
Vandy has ceiling. That ceiling hasn’t been tapped yet and it could be. But let’s not kid ourselves about the program in the long run.
Fun year, though.
14. Auburn (14)
Oct 29, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Jordan-Hare Stadium is reflected in a mellophone as the Auburn Tigers band plays before the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Hire Cadillac Williams.