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Final SEC power rankings and grades: After bowl season

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Our national champions never relinquished the top spot.

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

“Another season in the books,” as that Fansville dude said.

2021 was overall a big success for the Southeastern Conference, with another championship game between two members and Georgia winning their first national championship in over four decades.

Bowl season was interesting for the league —13 of the 14 teams got in, but obviously some were too proud to be 6-6 and in the lower crust of the bowl berths and didn’t show up (I’m looking at you, LSU), so the league went 5-7.

Of course, they won the ones that mattered most—Georgia and Bama advanced to the championship, and Kentucky and Arkansas chipped in some high-profile wins over the Big Ten. Still, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU, Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Missouri all whiffing (with some not even close) was embarrassing.

The grades are in—here’s your final SEC report for the 2021 season:

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2021 had one dominant team playing at a level no one else could match, and that team deserves in every way the national championship trophy they’d waited so long for. Congrats, Dawgs.

Bowl Grades: A+

Season Grade: A+

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

In a bit of a shaky year by Alabama standards, the Tide returned to the championship game and lost late in the fourth quarter to the best team they’ve played since Joe Burrow’s LSU. Another fantastic job by Nick Saban.

Bowl Grades: A

Season Grade: A

3. Ole Miss

So unfortunate that Matt Corral opted-in to try to carry his team to a Sugar Bowl and got hurt early. That shouldn’t be proof of why NFL picks should opt out, because that injury was a fluke, but that’s probably what it’ll be used for. Either way, a strong effort by the Rebels without him wasn’t nearly enough against the Big 12 Champions.

Bowl Grade: B

Season Grade: A+

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Piggies’ dream season ended happily with an Outback Bowl victory over Penn State, continuing an outstanding turnaround for the program under Coach Pittman. What a year it’s been for the Hogs.

Bowl Grade: A+

Season Grade: A+

5. Kentucky Wildcats

And what a season it’s been for the Wildcats! Going from 6-0 to 6-3 to 10-3, Kentucky found a way to win more games than all but three of the league’s teams en route to a Citrus Bowl Championship year. What an amazing Citrus Bowl performance as well—to hold on with so many hurt and sick defenders is a testament to the elite level UK can play at. Recruits have taken notice as well, and with multiple star players returning 2022 looks to be filled with many more A’s for the BBN.

Bowl Grade: A+

Season Grade: A+

6. Texas A&M Aggies

Tough luck for the Aggies, whose record will have to remain 8-4 as they couldn’t play in the Gator Bowl. The Alabama win counts as 5 billion though, so that’s all that matters. While they sure wish they could’ve turned that into a berth in the SEC Championship game, getting the win still makes this an A-worthy season.

Bowl Grade: N/A

Season Grade: A-

7. Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols earn the award for most entertaining bowl game of the year, but came up about 0.002 inches short (or not short at all, depending on who you ask). Not much was expected of them, and they finished 7-6, but they played a brutal schedule and really were much better than that record would indicate (unfortunately).

Bowl Grade: B+

Season Grade: B+

8. South Carolina Gamecocks

Well, what have we here! Who would’ve thought the Gamecocks would be occupying such a high spot at the end of the season? After squeaking into the postseason 6-6, South Carolina rolled past their rival Tar Heel siblings and celebrated with a mayo bath. They exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Bowl Grade: A+

Season Grade: A+

9. Auburn Tigers

Oh, what could’ve been. That’s probably what’s on most Auburn fans minds right now as they watched their team fall from 6-2 to 6-7 with a gut-wrenching loss in an Iron Bowl they came so close to winning.

Bowl Grade: B-

Season Grade: C-

10. Mississippi State Bulldogs

I don’t know how to rank all these putrid 6-7 teams. What a horrible performance against Texas Tech in a game they totally should’ve won, not get mauled by 27.

Bowl Grade: F

Season Grade: C+

11. Missouri Tigers

Mizzou went from a team with expectations, to completely stinking, to somehow making a bowl, to barely losing said bowl. I guess it could’ve been worse.

Bowl Grade: B

Season Grade: C

12. Florida Gators

If you look up “crash and burn” in the dictionary, you might find Florida’s 2021 football season helpfully supplied as an example. What a nosedive after coming a two-point conversion away from taking Alabama to overtime.

Bowl Grade: D

Season Grade: F

13. LSU Tigers

LSU’s Texas Bowl performance was so laughably terrible that it drops them below Florida. The LSU Tigers won their regular season finale in a thriller against Texas A&M, then Coach O and about two-thirds of the team, including almost all of the starters, decided not to fly to Texas for their bowl game. So the LSU practice squad, or the LSU Kittens, got trounced like an FCS team at the hands of mediocre Kansas State. Yuck. Y’know your season has 13 games in it, right? Your fans want to enjoy watching all 13, so maybe show up for the last one?

Bowl Grade: F

Season Grade: D

14. Vanderbilt Commodores

Oh hi, Vandy. Guess it gets kind of quiet down here at the bottom because I barely noticed you. We just finished praising or blasting each team’s bowl performance and evaluating their season overall. Yeah, I enjoyed the Music City bowl too. Welp, see ya next year.

Season Grade: D