The second installment of my NCAAF predictions for 2022 features the Southeastern Conference which is split into East and West. Since the SEC is split, this list will feature the predictions for the SEC East, with the next installment featuring the West.
7. Vanderbilt Commodores
Football is definitely not Vanderbilts’ sport, as they finished 2-10 last season. Vanderbilt went 0-8 in conference play last season, adding to their streak of not beating a conference opponent since 2019. With how awful Vandy has been in recent years, a season with more than two wins should count as a success.
More wins are a possibility for the Commodores with quarterbacks Mike Wright and Ken Seals returning alongside runningback duo Re’Mahn Davis and Rocko Griffin. Vanderbilts’ defense struggled last season, giving up 39.6 points per game against their conference rivals. Vanderbilt has potential, but playing in a conference like the SEC you need to be perfect, and Vanderbilt has a long way to go, so it’s best that they stick to baseball for now.
6. Missouri Tigers
The Tigers didn’t do too badly last season, finishing 6-7 on the season. Much like other schools across the country, Missouri needs new recruits; Missouri’s biggest focus is finding a new running back after the departure of Tyler Badie. The Tigers have lots of room for growth with a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job that will commence this spring.
Missouri’s defense is a unit to watch for. After a disappointing first year for Steve Wilks, this unit should be better next season, and they have to be if they want to compete with Georgia, Florida, and the rest of the SEC.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina shocked the NCAAF world when they landed former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. The Gamecocks are definitely a team to keep an eye on this season, as they have a legit chance to reach the top 25.
With Rattler at the helm, South Carolina has one of the best QBs in the SEC and will look to continue to upgrade through the transfer portal and signings. South Carolina is ranked fifth on this list, but don’t expect them to stay here, if everything goes right, the Gamecocks could be contending for an SEC title in the near future.
4. Florida Gators
The Gators underwent some changes thus far in the offseason, most notably the hiring of Billy Napier to help recruit and build Florida back to its former glory. Patrick Toney takes over as the defensive coordinator for Florida, who gave up 26.8 points a game last season.
Florida did show they can contend with powerhouses like Alabama last season and will look to dethrone Georgia this year. With not a lot of players departing, Florida will be a threat in the East in ’22.
3. Tennesse Volunteers
Tennesse surprised lots of people last year in head coach Josh Heupel’s first year. The Volunteers look to repeat that success in ’22, and could possibly emerge as a top 25 team.
Tennesse has lots of talent returning this year and if they can upgrade the offensive and defensive line this offseason, the Volunteers will be big contenders going into 2022.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats are in the same boat as the Volunteers, they surprised lots of people and will look to repeat past success. Kentucky is coming off of their second 10+ win season under head coach Mark Stoops and much like Tennesse, they also have key players returning.
The only flaw that Kentucky has going into the new season is their secondary. Once they upgrade that, the Wildcats should be able to take the next step in the SEC.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
It’s no surprise that the defending champs rank first. The Bulldogs were dominant last season and won the National Championship as a result. Georgia did lose some key players to the NFL draft which as it stands would be their only flaw.
This season won’t be a cakewalk for the Dawgs, but they should still be the top dog (pun intended) in the SEC East.