Football isn’t math. There isn’t just one answer.

And expectations are relative. Almost every SEC team could be trending upward in 2016 and still not catch Alabama, which doesn’t look as formidable as the 2015 squad that won the national championship.

Keep that in mind as we determine the direction each team is trending in 2016.

Alabama — Down. Almost always, there’s nowhere else to go when you’re on top. The running game will always reload and the defense indeed looks scary, but good offenses scored on the Tide’s great defense last year. Can Alabama’s quarterback keep pace and win a shootout in 2016? Not based on what we’ve seen thus far. Nick Saban warned us not to make conclusions. Down is relative to the Tide’s high of a national championship. And also remember this: Alabama’s “down” is a 10-2 year, second or third in the West, both of which sound about right.

Arkansas — Down. Arkansas lost a lot of the same key pieces that Alabama lost, but Bret Bielema’s shelves aren’t quite as stacked as Saban’s. Austin Allen has replaced his brother and won big before, but that was in high school. Arkansas finished 8-5 last season, won at Tennessee, at Ole Miss, at LSU. Doesn’t get much higher than that in this league.

Auburn — Up. Again, based on where the Tigers finished 2015, which was on their backs after dropping four of their final five SEC games en route to a 2-6 finish. The question this season — aside from the obvious one about the starting quarterback situation — is how high can the Tigers climb? The running game looks loaded, but we’ll know before October as the Tigers open with Clemson, then face Texas A&M and Ole Miss in Weeks 3 and 4.

Florida — Up. The Gators reached the SEC title game based on the first half of 2015, not the second half, when they struggled to beat Vanderbilt and South Carolina and closed with three consecutive losses. Luke Del Rio is an upgrade at quarterback over Treon Harris and JUCO running back Mark Thompson was impressive this spring.

And, of course, the Gators have a kicker after a season of wide rights, wide lefts and blocks.

Georgia — Down. The Bulldogs won 10 games in 2015. Their three losses were to the national champion, the SEC East champion and the hottest team in the East by season’s end — and the latter two came without Nick Chubb.

Can Kirby Smart replicate that in Year 1, possibly with a freshman quarterback? Unlikely. The future, however, is trending up because Smart has his quarterback, is reinventing the culture and aggressively recruiting Georgia.

Kentucky — Up. The Wildcats started hot, then smoldered — again — dropping six of their final seven in 2015. Inconsistent quarterback play contributed to the fall. Drew Barker has been named the starter. Receivers still are dropping too many passes, but there is talent, depth and experience, the key survival tools in the SEC.

And the Wildcats have an emerging star in cornerback Chris Westry.

LSU: Up. The “If not now, When?” team of 2016. And not just in the SEC. We’ve written it dozens of times, but the combination of 17 returning starters, impact freshmen, getting Ole Miss and Alabama at home, etc., makes the Tigers the team to beat. None of which will matter if Brandon Harris isn’t up to the task.

Mississippi State: Down. The Bulldogs don’t have a plug-in-and-play history, and they actually regressed slightly last season with Dak Prescott. There are too many significant holes to fill to expect another 9-win season in 2016. And the schedule certainly won’t help: at LSU, at BYU, at Alabama and at Ole Miss. The reasonable goal would be stretching their program-record bowl streak to seven consecutive years.

Missouri: Up. Restoring stability after a 1-7 SEC finish will signal success in 2016. Anything else that Barry Odom and Josh Heupel can accomplish in Year 1 is a bonus. Missouri’s offense will be underrated, but it is improved.

Ole Miss: Up. There’s still another floor or two of stairs for Hugh Freeze to climb. He’s beaten Alabama in consecutive years, a rarity, but also had puzzling losses (Memphis last year, Arkansas the year before) that kept good seasons from being great. The Rebels lost a lost of talent, but still have a lot of talent. They get Alabama, Georgia and Auburn at home.

South Carolina: Up. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain is inspiring confidence, demonstrating an unusual amount of poise for a true freshman. Expectations will be moderate, at best, for the Gamecocks in 2016 after a 3-9, 1-7 SEC finish.

Tennessee: Up. The runner-up to LSU in the “If not now, when?” championship game. The Vols are talking big, and why not. They also return 17 starters, including many stars. They have a chance to end two long losing streaks — 11 to Florida, nine to Alabama — both at home.

Texas A&M: Up. Last year was a mess. Trevor Knight’s arrival coincides with Noel Mazzone’s, and together they’ll get the Aggies’ offense back on a path toward 40 points per game. The Aggies get Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU in College Station. Fans have grown impatient, waiting for Kevin Sumlin to break through. This might be the season.

Vanderbilt: Down. Part of this projection beyond the Commodores’ control. The SEC East will be better in 2016 than in 2015 — and Vandy’s only two SEC wins last year were against Kentucky and Missouri, two programs trending up. This year, the Commodores visit both. If they don’t beat South Carolina at home in the opener, it’s difficult to project an SEC win.