SEC Football: Coming out of the gate early or stumbling in ’22

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

How SEC football teams finish is more important than how they start a season, but stumbling early is still to be avoided. As is the norm for most teams, SEC season openers are populated with less challenging opponents.

In the season week one, seven SEC football teams play Mercer, Miami-Ohio, Georgia State, Ball State, Middle Tennessee State, Sam Houston State and Elon. In week two, there are more pushovers in Samford, Southern University and Central Arkansas.

Three of the SEC’s teams should easily sprint from the opener, past week two at 2-0. Auburn opens with Mercer followed by San Jose State. The Spartans were 5-7 last season and do not have the athletes to seriously challenge Auburn.

Ole Miss starts its season with Troy and Central Arkansas. LSU has FSU and Southern University. A fourth easy start should result in another 2-0 team. Texas A&M opens with Sam Houston State, followed by Appalachian State. App State was 10-4 last season with two losses to Louisiana and a closing, three-touchdown, bowl loss to Western Kentucky.

If the Aggies don’t reach 2-0, high expectations for their 2022 season will quickly dim.

Even with Georgia taking on Oregon in week one, along with the Alabama Crimson Tide facing Texas in week two, both teams should start 2-0. Georgia will have the advantage of an experienced quarterback. Oregon will have Bo Nix.

The same 2-0 result should come to Mississippi State after an opener against Memphis and an away game at Arizona.

The rest of the SEC football teams have tougher starts. Missouri should handle Middle Tennessee State in week one but Kansas State in Manhatten will be a challenge in week two.

South Carolina and Tennessee will have no problems with their openers against Georgia State and Ball State. In week two, the Gamecocks will be underdogs at Arkansas and Tennessee will be favored, but at risk away at Pitt. Both SEC teams could start 1-1, with South Carolina having an SEC loss.

Kentucky also has a chance for an early SEC loss. After dispensing with Miami-Ohio in week one, the Wildcats must go to Gainesville, where Florida should be a slight favorite.

Vanderbilt is expected to get an early win over Elon in week one. The next week the Dores host Wake Forest in what will almost assuredly be the first of many 2022 losses.

SEC football teams starting 0-2?

The two remaining SEC teams to consider are Arkansas and Florida. Neither team has an easy game in their first two contests. The Hogs open with Cincinnati and though the Bearcats have many holes to fill, they will not be pushovers. An improved South Carolina team could also pull off an upset of the Razorbacks in week two. It should not happen, but Arkansas could start 0-2.

The Gators open hosting Utah, followed by Kentucky. Florida might be favored in both games, but like Sam Pittman, Billy Napier could start the season 0-2.

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SEC fall camps are now less than 90 days away. The summer wait always drags for fans but the SEC season will kick off with a bang in September.