Week 1 was… not great for the SEC.

Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, etc., beat down on the cupcake opponents they paid millions of dollars to dispose of, sure. The SEC finished Week 1 11-3 with only South Carolina, Florida and LSU falling to 0-1.

But each SEC team that played another team of consequence struggled.

FSU proved it is a legitimate CFP contender, but LSU looked rough in the 2nd half Sunday night. For what it’s worth, I believe Sunday’s win was much more about Florida State being legit than LSU taking a huge step back. Still, they’ll have plenty to fix moving forward and have to be demoted to the ReliaQuest Bowl with the Vols taking their place in the Peach Bowl. It was pretty tough not to place them even lower, too.

Then there’s Florida, which has placed itself firmly on the other side of the spectrum.

The Gators absolutely had their chances against No. 14 Utah but couldn’t get out of their own way. Inopportune penalties, improper lineups and general disarray plagued Billy Napier’s squad Thursday night in Salt Lake City. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Florida will have a tough time winning 6 games in 2023. They have talent, but winning is about so much more than that.

South Carolina has a few problems to address, chief among them being the offensive line and, in turn, the run game. The Gamecocks rushed for -2 yards Saturday. Spencer Rattler was sacked 9 times. The Tar Heels finished with 16 (sixteen!) tackles for loss. That’s inexcusable stuff.

After dropping Game 1 in that fashion and taking into account their tough schedule, I’d say I’m being nice by putting the Gamecocks in the Liberty Bowl vs. TCU.

An evergreen note regarding SEC bowl tie-ins in 2023: The Mayo Bowl will be played between the SEC and ACC this season after the B1G faced the ACC in 2022. The Las Vegas Bowl rotates out each year too, which is why the SEC will not be heading to Sin City to end 2023.

Let the wait for Week 2 begin.

SEC college football bowl projections prior to Week 0

Sugar Bowl (Playoff semifinal): Georgia vs. Ohio State

Rose Bowl (Playoff semifinal): Michigan vs. Florida State

Orange Bowl: Alabama vs. USC

Peach Bowl: Tennessee vs. Texas

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin

ReliaQuest Bowl: LSU vs. Iowa

Mayo Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Pitt

Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. Maryland

Texas Bowl: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

Gator Bowl: Arkansas vs. Miami

Liberty Bowl: South Carolina vs. TCU

Birmingham Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Kansas

Gasparilla Bowl: Mizzou vs. Coastal Carolina