College football’s annual media days are set to begin on July 13 when the Big 12 kicks off the show, and each of the Power 5 conferences will host their own media days in the following two weeks. Today, we conclude our power rankings for the Power 5 conferences. We wrap up with the 2022 preseason SEC power rankings, which has a couple of the overwhelming favorites to win the national championship this year.
As coaches and players hit the stage to discuss the upcoming 2022 season, we’ll get a better pulse on where things stand for each program as the offseason nears an unofficial end. Though there may be some changes over the ensuing months as fall camps begin, On3 has a pretty good handle now on how each team looks heading into the fall.
All eyes, of course, will be on the participants in last year’s national title game. Alabama is back with a ton of talent and will be hungry to avenge its loss to Georgia, which returns quarterback Stetson Bennett but must reload defensively.
The SEC West looks as tough as ever with Texas A&M feasting on the recruiting trail, Arkansas’ key stars back after an excellent 2021 campaign, Ole Miss working the transfer portal heavily, Mike Leach returning his quarterback for a third season as the starter in his Air Raid offense and Brian Kelly taking over at LSU.
Georgia is clearly the cream of the crop in the East, but can any of the improving programs in that division provide an actual challenge? Let’s take a look.
Of note: Our SEC power rankings are not meant to be predictive of future outcomes but reflect On3’s view of the current talent and potential of each team at this point in time. It does not take into account 2022 schedules.
2022 Preseason SEC Power Rankings
The Crimson Tide have arguably the two best players in the country in Bryce Young and Will Anderson and have the motivation to go with their excellent leadership. Oh, and an absolutely loaded roster from top to bottom. Not the scenario you want to bet against Nick Saban in. The Tide are pretty firmly at the top of the initial SEC power rankings.
With so many key players on defense departing, the Bulldogs will probably have to be a little more explosive offensively than they were a year ago. But this is where Kirby Smart’s elite recruiting kicks in. Stetson Bennett will have the luxury of working behind a very good O-line, while the Bulldogs are set to plug in a ridiculous amount of star talent to fill for the departures on defense.
3. Texas A&M
The Aggies will have to replace star running back Isaiah Spiller, and inconsistent starting quarterback Zach Calzada transferred out. But whoever captains the ship will be working behind a really solid O-line and has receiver Ainias Smith back. The defense should be very stout, particularly in the back seven. And A&M’s recruiting means several freshmen could be impact players right away, making it hard to have the Aggies any lower in our current SEC power rankings.
The Razorbacks are set to pick up where they left off in 2021, with Sam Pittman’s squad featuring star quarterback KJ Jefferson working behind a veteran, beefy offensive line. The Razorbacks should have an excellent run game. If the defensive front emerges, watch out, because Arkansas should be pretty solid in the back end.
The Volunteers could be extremely dangerous offensively thanks to the return of quarterback Hendon Hooker, running back Jabari Small and receiver Cedric Tillman. The only real question mark is whether the veteran O-line that returns can pass protect better than it did last year. Defensively, the Vols should have a strong pass rush but have to get better in the secondary.
The Gators are a tough team to figure out heading into 2022. On the one hand, Anthony Richardson has superstar potential at quarterback but has struggled to stay healthy. The ground game should be good with a deep stable of backs running behind a veteran O-line. But there are potential issues defensively, especially on the interior of the line. Depth is thin in a few spots. Can the Gators stop the run?
The Wildcats are dealing with a coordinator change on offense but the system shouldn’t change. Meanwhile, quarterback Will Levis is back and has a loaded backfield to hand off to. Replacing Wan’Dale Robinson will be key. Defensively, Mark Stoops has a ton of experience and talent in the back end and always has Kentucky playing well on that side of the ball.
8. Ole Miss
The Rebels were firing on all cylinders last year, but they have to replace a ton. The transfer portal, though, was extremely kind. Chemistry will be worth watching, especially if the Rebels hope to move up the SEC power rankings. Jaxson Dart likely keys the offense at quarterback and has a quality line to work behind. The front seven defensively is deep and talented.
Of the teams in the middle of the league, the Bulldogs might have the best blend of experience returning on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Will Rogers is back, along with his top two backs and a bunch of quality receiving options. Almost the entire front seven defensively returns intact.
The Tigers have dealt with the fallout of their national title the last two years, as a mass exodus of talent hit Baton Rouge hard. In steps Brian Kelly to try to steady the ship. The Tigers have a few options at quarterback, and whoever wins the job has the luxury of star receiver Kayshon Boutte to throw to. The run game and the defensive backfield are going to have to find some playmakers, though.
11. South Carolina
It might seem harsh to have the Gamecocks this low after a strong first season under Shane Beamer and given the addition of Spencer Rattler. Such is life in the SEC. Rattler will have weapons but an O-line that wasn’t very good and returns everyone must get significantly better. The Gamecocks also must improve up front defensively but should once again be stout in the secondary.
The Tigers have dealt with a lot of turmoil in the program surrounding coach Brian Harsin and there’s been a good amount of both player and staff turnover as a result. Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada enters the picture at quarterback, and stud running back Tank Bigsby is back. Not much outside of that inspires confidence, other than perhaps the defensive line.
Elite offensive threat Tyler Badie is gone, and the Tigers are hoping quarterback Brady Cook can perform all year like he did in the Texas Bowl. The O-line is experienced, but Mizzou must find playmakers. The defense was awful a year ago but could get better by way of several transfers. Problem is it probably needs to be a lot better.
The Commodores have both quarterbacks and most of the rushing production from a year ago back, but the offense was putrid last season. The defense really wasn’t any better. Bottom line for the Commodores is they’re in the early stages of Clark Lea’s attempted turnaround of the program, meaning they’ll need younger players to emerge in a big way.