Trey’s Take: Four SEC Football Teams That Must Make The Most Out Of September

For four SEC football teams, September could make or break the season.

Setting the tone for October and November is pivotal, but getting out of September unscathed will be difficult. Here’s a look at which SEC football programs need to be ready right out of the gate.

Texas A&M 

Sept. 3 — vs. Sam Houston State
Sept. 10 — vs. Appalachian State
Sept. 17 — vs. Miami
Sept. 24 — vs. Arkansas (in Dallas)

It’s time for Jimbo Fisher to live up to the hype in College Station. More than just knocking off a SEC football power, it’s about climbing the ladder of relevance. Since Jimbo took the job, there have been too many moments of uncertainty or bad play. Whether that’s bad luck or the injury bug, it doesn’t matter anymore. This team has enough talent to be contending for a playoff spot, which is why he was hired. How do the Aggies get to this point in 2022?

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Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King. (Getty Images)

Well, for one, make sure both quarterbacks are ready to go. In 2021, Haynes King’s injury set back the Aggies. But King is back and Max Johnson has transferred into the program. QB play shouldn’t be a problem in 2022. The defense has talent and the offense has the playmakers needed to cause problems for opponents. In September there are games that the Aggies cannot afford to lose. Yes, Miami comes to town in the third week, followed by a matchup with Arkansas at Jerry’s World. So if Fisher wants to make noise, he better come out of the month 4-0.

Florida

Sept. 3 — vs. Utah
Sept. 10 — vs. Kentucky
Sept. 17 — vs. South Florida
Sept. 24 — at Tennessee

Billy Napier inherited a mess in Gainesville. Can the Gators put together enough on offense to make up for the fact they are still trying to see what this defense can actually accomplish? This is the question that many Florida fans are asking. This team has talent leftover from last season, starting with quarterback Anthony Richardson.

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Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. (Getty Images)

The Gators open with No. 7 Utah in Gainesville and it will be a challenge. But a win would do wonders for the trajectory this season. Now, if they lose and then have to deal with Kentucky the next week, followed by a trip to Tennessee just two weeks later, this could wind up being a 1-3 month. Splitting the first four games is a must. Fans wouldn’t be ecstatic with a home loss to the Wildcats.

Tennessee

Sept. 1 — vs. Ball State
Sept. 10 — at Pittsburgh
Sept. 17 — vs. Akron
Sept. 24 — vs. Florida

No more messing around and heading into October 2-2. This team will be a problem on offense, with Hendon Hooker leading an up-tempo scheme. Tennessee should be better on defense with depth at key spots. But Josh Heupel isn’t slowing down his offense, so the defensive unit better figure out a 3-deep along the line of scrimmage. There will be times that the Vols will have to score 35 points or more to win a game.

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Hendon Hooker
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. (Getty Images)

The Vols won’t have a problem with Ball State, but the contest with Pittsburgh on the road could set the tone. The Vols don’t want to lose that game and then have to come home and play Akron, before hosting Florida. The fanbase will not fill up the stadium to see the Joe Moorhead-led Akron Zips. Pittsburgh could be the most important game on the Vols schedule. Start 3-0 with the Gators coming to town? Now that will be a season-setting game. Start 1-3 and the fanbase will not show up for a weak home schedule anyway.

Arkansas 

Sept. 3 — vs. Cincinnati
Sept. 10 — vs. South Carolina
Sept. 17 — vs. Missouri State
Sept. 24 — vs. Texas A&M (in Dallas)

The Razorbacks continue to build something special in Fayetteville, but don’t tell Sam Pittman that. For a team that surprised many in 2021, the head coach doesn’t want it getting in the heads of his players. K.J. Jefferson is a difference maker at quarterback. The Razorbacks have to replace WR Treylon Burks, but there’s enough depth on offense to cause problems with Kendal Briles calling plays. The most valuable person on defense, besides LB Bumper Pool, is defensive coordinator Barry Odom. The Razorbacks have a chance to cause problems on defense with Odom stacking the box and getting after the quarterback.

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Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson. (Getty Images)

Opening with Cincinnati at home should be a win, but having to host a different-looking South Carolina team in Week 2 should bring problems. There is a lot of hype surrounding the Gamecocks because Spencer Rattler is such an unknown in this offense, but has so much talent. Then, two weeks later the Hogs will play Texas A&M in Dallas, with a chance to cause chaos in the SEC West. The Hogs can’t afford to drop that game against the Gamecocks, especially with the Aggies closing out the month.

A number of teams made honorable mention that will be released later this week.

Continue following @TreyWallace_ for SEC football coverage of the upcoming season.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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