Georgia topped Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January to claim its first national title since 1980 while establishing the Bulldogs as a national power with no sign of slowing down. Coach Kirby Smart now has the difficult task of sustaining that success and creating a dynasty.
That's easier said than done, though. Alabama is still the 800-pound gorilla and will enter the 2022 season as the favorite to win the SEC -- something it accomplished last season before falling to the Bulldogs in Indianapolis.
There are potential contenders outside of the conference's two behemoths. Texas A&M is in search of its first conference title since joining the SEC in 2012. Ole Miss has the potential to be extremely explosive under coach Lane Kiffin. Florida, a sleeping giant under first-year coach Billy Napier, is always a threat to return to glory.
Caesars Sportsbook has SEC championship odds for the upcoming season. Let's break them down and dish out some takes on where the oddsmakers got it right and wrong.
Best bet -- Alabama (-140): Yeah, it's chalky to pick the favorite here, but there's no reason to out-think the room. The Crimson Tide have college football's two best players -- quarterback Bryce Young and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. -- and the greatest coach in history calling the shots, along with a pedigree of success and revenge on their mind.
The path to get to Atlanta is relatively easy, with the only tough road test coming Nov. 5 at LSU. Simply put, it'll be a massive shock if Alabama doesn't wind up in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 3. That's when the "revenge tour" comes to a head. It's unlikely that Alabama will have the same bad injury luck that it had late last season, and it's going to be difficult for any defense to slow down Young's air prowess and Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs's bruising running style.
Worst wager -- Texas A&M (+1600): Here we go again with the offseason love for the Aggies. Admittedly, I've fallen into that trap before. Not this year, though. Not with the third-best odds.
It's hard to trust any of the three contenders for the starting quarterback job. Yes, Max Johnson had some moments over the last two seasons at LSU inside a dysfunctional program. He's the likely frontrunner going into fall camp -- "likely" being the operative word. It seems like coach Jimbo Fisher is still high on Haynes King after he won the starting job last year, but we didn't get to see much of what he could do from an athleticism standpoint, as his season ended early in the second game. I like Devon Achane at running back and Ainias Smith's ability to make plays in space, but I'm not sure if Texas A&M has enough weapons to keep up in what has become an offense-driven division.
The Aggies get Florida as their rotating opponent out of the East, plus they have Alabama on the road. They also always seem get into a wild one with Arkansas at AT&T Stadium and have consistently suffered at least one or two let downs per season. I'm in "see it before I believe it" mode with Aggies until further notice.
Value pick -- Ole Miss (+3000): The Rebels have upgraded at running back with the arrival of Zach Evans from TCU and Ulysses Bentley IV from SMU. They also have a dynamic big man in tight end Michael Trigg, a true Swiss Army Knife in Jaylon Robinson and a healthy quarterback situation with Jaxson Dart and Luke Altmyer vying for the top spot on the depth chart. While it's true that neither quarterback is as dangerous as Matt Corral was, coach Lane Kiffin seems confident that both are capable of handling what he demands out of them.
The Rebels get Alabama and rival Mississippi State at home, and they draw Vanderbilt and Kentucky out of the East. If they can spring the upset over the Crimson Tide and earn that head-to-head tiebreaker, they could be the SEC West's representative in Atlanta for the first time.
Longshot -- Tennessee (+5000): Styles make fights, and Tennessee at its peak can dictate style more than any other team in the conference. Josh Heupel's Volunteers like to go fast, and that speed should increase now that dual-threat weapon Hendon Hooker is entrenched as the starting quarterback. Running back Jabari Small and wide receivers Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt all have shown to be difference-makers, and the offensive line should be fine if it can stay healthy.
The Vols are capable of upsetting Alabama and/or Georgia if they catch them on the right day. Because of that, it is a good idea to put a little down on Tennessee with those odds.