The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 19, 2022

SEC Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:00 am

Current Penn State head football coach James Franklin once said when he was the head coach at Vanderbilt that there were three major football leagues in America: The NFC, The AFC, and The SEC. This conference has dominated the National Championship Playoffs placing two teams in the four-team field multiple times. Prior to the Playoff era, it produced multiple BCS Championship Game teams, including an Alabama-LSU game. Prior to the BCS era, it produced multiple mythical national champions. It wasn’t just Alabama. Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee claimed titles. Former member Georgia Tech did as well.

The SEC was the pioneer of divisional play with a conference championship game, when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the league in 1991. It was the first conference to expand to 12 teams. Adding Texas A&M and Missouri, it became the first major conference to expand to 14 teams, and by announcing the addition of Texas and Oklahoma in the near future, it became the first major conference to expand to 16. It isn’t the first attempt at a 16-team league, as the Western Athletic Conference expanded to 16 teams in 1996. That overgrowth lasted three seasons, before the league realized that travel expenses were too high and revenue too low to continue. The Mountain West Conference was formed when the league split in half.

The opposite will be true when a 16-team SEC begins in 2024 or 2025. The media rights package will pay each member school about $100 million apiece. Travel from Gainesvile, Florida to Austin, Texas, or Columbia, South Carolina to Norman, Oklahoma will not be a cost probitive as travel from Houston, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii, as the old WAC had to do. Of course, the TV ratings will be many times greater.

Will the SEC be content to stop at 16 teams in the near future? Commissioner Greg Sankey has admitted multiple times, almost stressing it a bit too far, that multiple school presidents and athletic directors had contacted him about admittance to the league. Sankey wouldn’t continually announce this news if he wasn’t trying to keep it in the news. It looks like a quasi-threat to the other big league that will soon stretch from coast to coast that he can expand to 20 or even 24 teams quite easily.

What about 2022? A year after Alabama and Georgia met in a spectacular National Championship Game, it looks quite possible that the two teams could produce an encore performance. Georgia lost enough talent to form a new team and gain bowl eligibility. Losing that many NFL Draftees, it should lead to a major rebuilding effort. However, Kirby Smart has so much talent on board in Athens. Last year’s Bulldogs’ second team was still the second best team in the SEC East. Those players are a year more experienced, and there is still first team talent remaining. The talent is so abundant with depth that Smart didn’t seek out any added players in the Transfer Portal. Georgia could easily go 12-0 in the regular season again this year, because the rest of the division teams have too many weaknesses.

The second, third, fourth, and fifth best teams all have enough talent to win nine games this year. Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina return exceptional players on both sides of the ball and add players that should contribute this year. But, none of the quartet can go 7-1 in SEC play. Even if Georgia is upset by one of these four, the Bulldogs will go 7-1.

Florida could surprise a lot of people this year. This team has a lot more talent than their 2021 record showed. The team quit on former coach Dan Mullen. They will give their all for new coach Billy Napier, who comes to Gainesville after making the University of Louisiana a top 20 team.

South Carolina could be the other surprise. At this time last year, former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was the early Heisman Trophy candidate. He’s now a Gamecock, and if he can regain his old form, USC has a chance to increase their points per game by 10 points.

Missouri faces a rebuilding effort under second year coach Eliah Drinkwitz. The Tigers have a tough non-conference game at Kansas State, and it may require a win in that game for MU to gain bowl eligibility this year. It isn’t likely to happen.

As for Vanderbilt, second year coach Clarke Lea might have a better team this year than last, but this team is so far behind the rest of the league, that it would be a minor miracle for the Commodores to win a conference game. Vandy has lost its last 18 SEC games, and that number will likely rise to 26 at the end of the year. This isn’t foreign to this school; they once lost 33 consecutive SEC games from 1976 to 1981.

As for the West, here is something scary. Last year, when Alabama went 11-1 in the regular season, slaughtered eventual national champion Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, easily dismissed Cincinnati in the College Football Playoffs as the #1 seed and then sort of blew the National Championship Game against Georgia, it was, according to Coach Nick Saban, a rebuilding season in Tuscaloosa. Saban doesn’t make statements like this often. He’s warning the rest of the nation that he has a team for the ages for 2022. By team for the ages, I refer to legendary college teams like Nebraska in 1971 and 1995, Miami of Florida in 1988 and 2001, and USC in 1972 and 2004. Basically, he is calling this team the equal of the 2020 team that went 13-0 with an average game score of 49-19. If Alabama loses a regular season game, it will make news in 2022.

SEC Preseason PiRate Ratings

East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Georgia130.5128.6132.1130.4
Tennessee115.1114.8115.2115.0
Kentucky112.0112.7113.2112.6
South Carolina109.4108.7108.8109.0
Florida105.8107.9106.2106.6
Missouri103.9104.0102.9103.6
Vanderbilt91.092.289.290.8

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Alabama128.9127.6130.5129.0
Arkansas115.8113.8116.0115.2
Texas A&M113.3114.7114.7114.2
Mississippi St.115.1113.0113.4113.8
L S U112.9112.1112.1112.4
Ole Miss113.3111.3111.7112.1
Auburn112.0110.5110.8111.1

SEC112.8112.3112.6112.6

Preseason Official SEC Media Poll (I voted in this poll)

Votes
#East1st PlaceOverall
1Georgia1721254
2Kentucky4932
3Tennessee1929
4Florida0712
5South Carolina3662
6Missouri0383
7Vanderbilt1196

#West1st PlaceOverall
1Alabama1771262
2Texas A&M3968
3Arkansas1844
4Ole Miss0675
5LSU0591
6Mississippi St.0390
7Auburn0338

ChampionshipOverall
Alabama158
Georgia18
South Carolina3
Vanderbilt1
Texas A&M1

The PiRate Ratings are not designed to look forward past the next week of games like other computer ratings. My ratings factor experience and depth into the power rating number. Teams with exceptional depth might gain points during the season regardless of the outcome of their previous game. Teams lacking experience but possessing exceptional talent might gain points during the year. Teams lacking depth might lose points during the year. Nevertheless, here are the predictions.

Predicted Won-Loss Records

EastConf.Overall
Georgia8-012-1
Kentucky4-48-4
Tennessee4-47-5
Florida4-46-6
South Carolina3-56-6
Missouri1-74-8
Vanderbilt0-82-10

WestConf.Overall
Alabama8-013-0
Arkansas5-39-3
Texas A&M5-39-3
LSU4-48-4
Mississippi State4-48-4
Ole Miss4-48-4
Auburn2-66-6

Coming Monday: The first regular season PiRate Ratings with spreads of Week 0 games. College football kicks off Saturday, August 27.

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