- Alabama Crimson Tide
Bama would be the obvious front-runner for the 2022 national championship. They bring back their star QB Bryce Young as well as a plethora of other starters on both sides of the ball. While they fell in the last national championship, Bama looks primed for another SEC Championship. They had a young squad last year and it would be surprising to see a dropoff from last year to this year. Alabama is bringing back 10 out of the 11 starters on defense which is likely one of the highest in all of Division 1 football. This is not to mention how talented the defense poses to be on paper. Will Anderson and Jordan Battle are my two favorites to be the highest-drafted players from this defense next year. The Crimson Tide won’t have a super easy path to get there. The Longhorns will be an early challenge for the Tide and it will be interesting to see if they can avenge their loss against Texas A&M. If the Tide can get through the state of Texas they will likely be in the mix for another championship. One loss against the teams in the Lone Star State could end the Tide’s season early.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes put up a great show in the Rose Bowl after Miicchigan ended their season. The defense was the real issue last year for OSU and the passing defense was one of the worst among the elite teams. Allowing 428 yards against Tulsa is not something that championship teams do. OSU did some work in the offseason and hired Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State. The defense should look a lot better than it did the previous year. They also return their star quarterback, running back, and wideout in CJ Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. So. the offense should be fine for the upcoming year. Ohio State plays Notre Dame for the season opener and that game will be extremely influential in determining whether OSU will be a contender. The Big 10 conference play will also be a difficult task for them to get through. I would assume they need to go perfect in conference play to make it as Michigan will still be a strong team this year. If the Buckeyes can get through the conference unscathed they’ll have a shot at it all.
3. Michigan Wolverines
I know, I know Michigan will be losing both their defensive stars Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Still, there is plenty of depth on a Michigan defense that always seems to stay somewhat decent. Players like Mike Morris and Junior Colson will have to step up, but overall the defense is never a huge issue. The offense always seems to not be able to pull it together when they need it the most. Blake Corum, JJ McCarthy or Cade McNamara, and Ronnie Bell are all going to be key this year. Some of you guys are wondering where Ronnie Bell was this year, Bell got hurt against Western Michigan, cutting his season short. Overall Hutchinson and Obajo are going to be guys who are hard to replace, but this Michigan team is not far from where they were last year. A win against Ohio State should put them in a position to make the playoffs if they take care of business before then.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are going through what most national championships teams are going through. Many of their players are leaving to get drafted and they will have to replace most of them. The losses on defense look worse than the offense, but like any SEC team, Georgia can reload. They will have to learn, but eventually, be able to find their way into the mix late in the year. The Bulldogs will simply have to hope that Stenson Bennet is better than the guy he was last year. He had a great year and won a chip, but with a weakened defense it is really up to him to lead this team into the dark. The SEC is never easy, but Georgia will be able to face a much weaker SEC East which will hopefully keep them in the mix as everyone adjusts and prepares for a potential rematch against the Crimson Tide.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
I want to pick Texas, but everyone I do just seem to disappoint me every time. Experts seem to think they can do it this year but if I have to pick anyone out of the Big 12 or PAC 12 I would pick Oklahoma over Utah. The Sooners are going to be a defensive team this year, most likely. If Brett Venables can make this team a defensive first team they will create chaos in the Big 12. It isn’t impossible either, some help in the transfer portal and many returning starters will be able to help Venables transform this team. On offense, OU will have a weakened cast, but star players nevertheless. Transfer QB Dillon Gabriel should steady the ship alongside Marvin Mims and Theo Wease. If OU can keep the same defense as last year they will be in the mix for a playoff berth. Under Venables, I would be surprised if they didn’t look better, to be honest, but only time will tell.
6. Texas A&M Aggies
Can the A&M’s defense have the same effect it had last year? That will be the biggest question going into the 2022 season. The Aggies had plenty of success last year although a lot of it had to do with success on the defensive front 7. It is going to be a huge issue coming into the new season as the Aggies are losing a lot of their firepower in the trenches. With a young defensive line, the Aggies are going to have to learn quickly. The other big question mark for A&M is the quarterback situation. With Calzada transferring it is between LSU transfer Max Johnson, 5-star Connor Weigman, or Haynes King who was last year’s starter. If I were an Aggies fan I would go with Max Johnson who is the most likely to be the most consistent out of the three. Time will only tell who will start for A&M, but with such big questions on both offense and defense, they barely make this list. Although the potential to have a great season is certainly there.
With another uncertain season ahead one can only wonder who will lift the trophy at the end of the season. It would be pretty cool to see a potential two conference playoff if these predictions were to be correct. However, in the vastly unpredictable college landscape, it seems highly unlikely that a two-conference playoff would occur. Before I end this article many are wondering where the Clemson Tigers fit. Well if I am being honest they have gaps on both sides of the ball losing Coach Venables and having a terrible offense compared to their normal standards. Oklahoma State is another one of those dark horse contenders that seem like they can make some noise. The teams in orange will have to wait to prove me wrong although it is only a matter of time before the whistle blows and chaos ensues.
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