Every Tigers fan knows that LSU opens the Brian Kelly era and the 2022 season on Sunday, September 4 against the Florida State Seminoles inside the Caesars Superdome. But what other games are on the docket for the other teams of the Southeastern Conference? Are there any other big-name battles on week one or is the opening week’s schedule full of cupcake games? Let’s dive right in and take a look.
The marquee matchup for week one in the SEC is the season opener for the defending national champions. The Georgia Bulldogs, the number three team in the AP Top 25, opens the season against the number 11 ranked Oregon Ducks and new head coach Dan Lanning. This is a big game for Lanning, as he would have been on the opposite sidelines last season as he was the Dawgs’ defensive coordinator, helping Georgia win their first national championship since 1980. Even though the game is considered at a “neutral site” like the LSU game, the game is being played only a little over an hour away from the UGA campus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. As for actual game, it is true that the Bulldogs may have lost several players to the NFL and Oregon does have some talented players on both sides of the ball. However, Georgia has some superstars of their own including defensive tackle Jalen Carter and linebacker Nolan Smith, both of whom could be starting in the NFL right now. The Ducks may keep it close early, but Georgia will showcase the talent that led them to winning the National Championship last season and the Bulldogs will roll in Atlanta in front of a nationally televised audience.
As for the other SEC team that is expected to compete for a spot in the national championship playoff, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide open the season against the lowly Utah State Aggies. Yes, Utah State beat UConn last Saturday, 31-20, in Week 0 action (what is that anyway, Week 0?), but let’s be honest, UConn is already ready for basketball season and these Aggies are nowhere close to the ones from College Station. Look for Alabama’s Heisman hopefuls, both quarterback Bryce Young and edge rusher Will Anderson, Jr. to have monster games. Bama will blow out these Aggies. One take, Easy Bake.
One team that is a popular dark house candidate for the playoff this season are the previously mentioned Texas A&M Aggies. These Aggies also open the season against another overmatched opponent, the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The number six ranked Aggies will be led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Haynes King, the 6-foot-3, 205 pounder out of Longview, Texas. King started the first two games last season before suffering a broken right tibia against Colorado, which ended his season. King, the number three ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 signing class, beat out LSU transfer Max Johnson and true freshman Conner Weigman for the starting job. Regardless of whoever is under center for A&M, the Texas Aggies will make short work of their in-state foe. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.
The other game on Saturday’s SEC schedule that might be actually decent one is the 19th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks hosting the number 23 Cincinnati Bearcats. Arkansas is the six-and-a-half point favorite, especially since the Bearcats lost a number of their players from the College Football Playoff team, including signal caller Desmond Ridder, to the NFL. The Hogs return twelve starters from last year’s 9-4 team who also beat Penn State in last year’s Outback Bowl. Head coach Sam Pittman also brought in a talented group of transfers who have the chance to make an immediate impact for the Razorbacks. Many college football pundits think this game has all the potential of being a closely contested game, but all the so-called experts have Arkansas narrowly defeating Cincinnati in this match-up.
Other games on the schedule for SEC teams in week one of the 2022 season include Tennessee against Ball State, Missouri versus Louisiana Tech, Troy at number 21 Ole Miss, number 7 Utah against Florida in Billy Napier’s coaching debut for the Gators, Miami of Ohio against the number 20 ranked Kentucky Wildcats, Mercer at Auburn, Elon at Vanderbilt, Memphis against Mississippi State and Georgia State at South Carolina.
All in all, with the “true” kickoff of the college season only days away, it is a great time to not only be a LSU fan, but a fan of college football as well.