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SEC professional picks 2022: Most overrated and underrated groups, projected order of end, daring predictions



Defending nationwide champion Georgia and School Soccer Playoff title sport opponent Alabama enter the 2022 season because the consensus prime groups within the SEC. No shock there. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are powerhouses each on and off the sphere, however that is the place the similarities cease with one other faculty soccer marketing campaign approaching.

Whereas Georgia misplaced quite a few championship-winning starters to the NFL within the offseason, Alabama noticed 2021 as a rebuild. The Tide convey again not solely Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Younger however star edge Will Anderson Jr., CBS Sports activities’ Preseason Participant of the Yr, as a formidable 1-2 punch on offense and protection that has Bama as soon as once more favored to win arguably the hardest convention within the sport.

Past these behemoths, although, there’s loads of disagreement concerning how the SEC will shake out in 2022.

Texas A&M is using excessive off a record-setting recruiting class, although it might want these gamers to mature earlier than it is able to vault into rivalry for the league crown. Florida and LSU are each in rebuilding mode after jettisoning coaches with nationwide championship-winning expertise (Dan Mullen as a coordinator below City Meyer, Ed Orgeron because the lead man), however the Gators and Tigers hope to show doubters improper with instant bounce-back campaigns.

In the meantime, Kentucky and Tennessee have extra hype within the SEC East than in current reminiscence, whereas Arkansas hopes to proceed its stunning ascension from a yr in the past. In the meantime, Lane Kiffin goals to show his offense will work at Ole Miss regardless of his star quarterback’s departure to the NFL.

Our CBS Sports activities faculty soccer consultants have supplied their picks and predictions for the SEC forward of the 2022 season.

Most overrated crew

Texas A&M: The Aggies start the yr as No. 6 within the Preseason AP Prime 25 and the consensus favourite to be Alabama’s prime contender within the SEC West after reeling within the prime recruiting class of all-time. That stated, an 8-4 file and fifth-place end within the SEC West final season would not precisely scream playoff contender. Granted, they misplaced opening-day starter Haynes King to a season-ending harm early in 2021, however Texas A&M is the one crew to complete with fewer than 10 wins within the preseason prime 12. The Aggies ought to be in prove-it mode, particularly after dropping their 4 All-SEC gamers to the NFL. — Shehan Jeyarajah (additionally Dennis Dodd, Barrett Sallee)

Tennessee: The AP voters have the Volunteers because the No. 26 crew within the nation, and the coaches aren’t that far behind. That is aggressive for a crew that also has an extended method to go defensively, and even the 8.5 win complete appears optimistic for a schedule that features Alabama, Georgia and a sport in opposition to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Is Tennessee in a spot the place it may be trusted to run the desk in any other case, profitable in opposition to the likes of Kentucky, Florida and Pitt whereas avoiding slip-ups in each place the place the Vols are a large favourite? This crew simply went 7-6 a yr in the past, so whereas I positively acknowledge Tennessee is a harmful crew, it is bought one other step in growth earlier than flirting with double-digit wins. — Chip Patterson (additionally Tom Fornelli)

Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin’s “portal king” nickname is correct, however not even the nation’s No. 2 switch class can substitute what the Rebels misplaced with quarterback Matt Corral, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. Corral was the soul of final season’s 10-3 crew, and the workers turnover will cap what this crew can accomplish within the sport’s deepest division. A straightforward nonconference slate, plus the annual sport with Vanderbilt, make it comparatively easy to challenge bowl eligibility for Ole Miss, however this crew will take a step again. — David Cobb

LSU: Issues have gone south shortly for LSU for the reason that Tigers received the nationwide championship in 2019. The Ed Orgeron period ended with back-to-back seasons of .500 or worse data. That is the primary time that is occurred at LSU since coach Gerry DiNardo’s final two seasons in 1998-99.  Brian Kelly was lured away from Notre Dame to get issues again on observe, and whereas there’s pleasure across the program, it’s going to in all probability require some persistence earlier than we see LSU competing for division titles once more. — Jerry Palm

Most underrated crew

Florida: Expectations for the Gators appear rooted in final season’s 6-7 file, however that efficiency was hardly indicative of the chances given the crew’s roster. Relative to everybody else within the SEC East besides Georgia, Florida nonetheless has essentially the most full crew. Motivation appeared missing in 2021 as Dan Mullen’s tenure limped to completion, and the crew fully imploded down the stretch. That shouldn’t be a difficulty this season with a brand new coach in Billy Napier and defensive coordinator in Patrick Toney, each of whom have confirmed observe data of success. Cobb (additionally Jeyarajah)

Tennessee: Josh Heupel has a quarterback (Hendon Hooker). If in case you have that within the SEC, you might have an opportunity. Squint and you’ll see the Volunteers profitable 9 video games, however they may simply as simply go in the other way. Nonetheless, Tennessee is clearly on the rise. — Dodd

Ole Miss: An excessive amount of has been product of the absence of Corral and never sufficient has been product of the upgraded operating again corps, versatile receivers/tight ends and a quarterback scenario that — on the very least — is secure. With Kiffin on the helm, that stability remodeling into excellence is extra doubtless than not. I do not care what the protection seems like on a constant foundation as a result of Ole Miss goes to click on in a giant manner in opposition to just about each crew it faces. — Sallee

LSU: It is practically unimaginable to fee this LSU crew coming into the season. What I can inform you is what the Tigers are usually not, and that is the fifth-best crew within the SEC West. That is the place they landed within the preseason media ballot. Each the high-end degree of expertise and depth of choices at receiver make virtually some other crew within the league envious of what Kelly is inheriting, and if the defensive position can keep wholesome, that group might be actually nasty at line of scrimmage. With a number of future execs at extensive receiver and a probably dominant defensive entrance, LSU has two of the three or 4 most vital constructing blocks for fulfillment within the trendy faculty sport. If Kelly can get quarterback found out, the ceiling for this crew is way increased than many count on. — Patterson

Mississippi State: Has any SEC program flown additional below the radar this offseason than Mike Leach’s Mississippi State? We’re speaking a few Bulldogs crew that returns a veteran quarterback acquainted with all of the ins and outs of Leach’s playbook and practically all the manufacturing from a protection that was higher than most realized final season. The Bulldogs are going to drag off at the least one main upset and end increased within the SEC West than most count on. — Fornelli

Kentucky: On the threat of offending coach Mark Stoops, Kentucky is certainly a basketball faculty. That’s the major motive why his program flies below the radar. Nevertheless, Stoops has taken Kentucky to 6 consecutive bowl video games, together with two Citrus Bowls, and it has 4 straight bowl wins. The Wildcats might not be able to compete with Georgia within the SEC East, however they match up effectively with everybody else. Not dangerous for a “basketball faculty.” — Palm

Daring predictions

  • Dennis Dodd: Mark Stoops will win 10 at Kentucky, work out he is hit his ceiling in Lexington and can take the not-so-suddenly open place at Auburn. 
  • Tom Fornelli: Each crew within the SEC West will go bowling, however solely Alabama and Texas A&M will win greater than eight video games in the course of the common season.
  • Chip Patterson: Vanderbilt will hit its over-under win complete by the top of September. 
  • Barrett Sallee: Ole Miss will run the desk in the course of the first two months of the season. The Rebels will hit the bye week on Nov. 5 with a battle in opposition to undefeated Alabama looming on Nov. 12. If they will spring the upset, coach Lane Kiffin’s squad may make a legit push for the School Soccer Playoff.
  • Shehan Jeyarajah: After overwhelming divisional favorites Alabama and Georgia, no different SEC squad finds their manner into the postseason prime 10. 
  • David Cobb: Yr 1 of the Brian Kelly experiment will go poorly because the ex-Notre Dame coach experiences the nation’s hardest division for the primary time. The Tigers will miss a bowl sport however end with a top-10 signing class anyway.
  • Jerry Palm: The SEC will put two groups within the School Soccer Playoff once more this season and have a 3rd crew within the prime six.

SEC predicted order of end

SEC champion

Alabama: There is no motive to try to out-think the room right here. The Crimson Tide have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Younger, one of the best participant in faculty soccer in EDGE Will Anderson Jr. and the bitter style of final season’s nationwide title sport loss of their mouths. Younger could have a fair higher season behind a significantly-improved offensive line, the secondary will emerge because the nation’s finest, and the schedule units up effectively for coach Nick Saban win win his second straight convention title. — Sallee (unanimous)




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