It’s never too early to look into who will be ranked come week 1 of the college football season. With the season a little over 4 months away, we take a look at who we have inside our preseason top 25.
25. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2021: 11-3)
24. Wisconsin Badgers (2021: 9-4)
23. Florida Gators (2021: 6-7)
Our list begins in the ACC with Wake Forest coming in at #25. The Demon Deacons finished off 2021 with a 11-3 record and a Gator Bowl win. Wake Forest returns veteran QB, Sam Hartman; who should reconsidered on of the better quarterbacks returning in college football. Wisconsin returns a veteran team that will compete against anyone in the Big Ten. Wisconsin is probably one of the most consistent programs over the last decade. Outside of 4 seasons, the Badgers have won 10+ games and have never been below 8 wins over the decade. (2020 is excluded due to shorten season).
The Florida Gators are a sleeper in my book. They are definitely considered a program trying to rebuild. With new head coach Billy Napier, I expect Florida to come out slow in 2022. It will take some time for the team to buy in to the new regime. Florida will, unlike other rebuilding programs, have a legit starting quarterback. Redshirt freshman QB, Anthony Richardson, has the size and arm talent to win games for the Gators. The question that needs answering is whether or not Richardson will stay healthy.
22. North Carolina Tar Heels (2021: 6-7)
21. Oregon Ducks (2021: 10-4)
20. Kentucky Wildcats (2021: 10-3)
19. Miami Hurricanes (2021: 7-5)
North Carolina will have a new quarterback under center, but that shouldn’t stop the Tar Heels from competing and possibly winning the coastal. Oregon will have a new coaching staff as well in 2022. The Ducks have lost a lot more than they probably thought they would. With that being said, new head coach Dan Lanning will have enough pieces on the roster to make a run at the Pac-12 championship in year 1. Kentucky, like Wisconsin, return a veteran team who will be tough to beat every single week. Kentucky might shock a few team in 2022.
Miami comes in at #19. The Canes finished 2021 with a 7-5 record, but head into 2022 with a new veteran head coach in Mario Cristobal. Cristobal is an alum of Miami and comes in with a winning attitude. He lead Oregon to 2 Pac-12 championships in 3 appearances, was apart of a few Alabama Crimson Tide championships under Nick Saban, and has a hunger to win bigger at Miami. The Canes return a young but veteran team with QB Tyler Van Dykes expected to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Cristobal brought in a remarkable coaching staff with 2021 Broyles Award winner, Josh Gattis, as the offensive coordinator and the highlight of the new staff. The Canes schedule is doable, but we won’t know if Miami is for real until they go face Texas A&M.
18. Ole Miss Rebels (2021: 10-3)
17. Penn State Nittany Lions (2021: 7-6)
16. Michigan State Spartans (2021: 11-2)
15. Utah Utes (2021: 10-4)
Ole Miss did better than many expected last season. They will lose QB Matt Corral to the NFL, but they bring in USC transfer QB Jaxson Dart. Ole Miss will have a difficult road, but the SEC West might be a little easier in 2022 than any other year prior. Penn State should have a chip on their shoulders going into 2022. The last 2 years have been forgettable to say the least. Head coach James Franklin will look to turn his team around and back into a Power House. Michigan State surprised a lot of people last year with a 11 game win season. The run first team was a force in 2021, but in 2022 will look to QB Payton Thorne to take them to the next level. The one thing to look at on defense is whether or not the pass defense will improve. Utah is the defending Pac-12 champion and will have a target on their backs. Unlike most preseason ballots, I believe Utah will win the Pac-12 again in 2022 and a real shot at the college football playoffs. They return QB Cameron Rising and a lot of the key players from the 2021 season. Unless USC can make a big jump under head coach Lincoln Riley in year 1, the conference is theirs to lose.
14. Arkansas Razorbacks (2021: 9-4)
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys (2021: 12-2)
12. Baylor Bears (2021: 12-2)
11. Texas A&M Aggies (2021: 8-4)
Arkansas were the team that surprised a lot of people when we watch them play Texas early into the 2021 season. Not only did that wax Texas, but they did the same to Texas A&M just 2 weeks later. The Razorbacks won’t sneak up on anyone in 2022, but they do return some really good pieces and added a star receiver in former 5-star recruit Jadon Haselwood. Oklahoma State fell short of a conference title to Baylor, but they will be favored to return to the Big 12 championship game if all goes well in 2022. Baylor sits one spot ahead of Oklahoma State because of their last head to head meeting in the Big 12 Championship game. Dave Aranda will be looking to take his Baylor Bears to the next level and reach the college football playoffs in 2022.
The Texas A&M Aggies are a team with a lot of high expectations. They brought in one of the highest rated recruiting classes in the modern era. The QB has not been named yet, but I can remember when head coach Jimbo Fisher was leading the Florida State Seminoles and waited to name his starting QB. That guy named was eventual Heisman Trophy winner and 1st overall pick QB, Jameis Winston.
10. Pittsburgh Panthers (2021: 11-2)
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2021: 11-2)
8. Texas Longhorns (2021: 5-7)
7. Oklahoma Sooners (2021: 11-2)
The Pitt Panthers enter our rankings higher than they have ever been. They lose their Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett at quarterback, but the return enough talent to make another run at defending their ACC championship. The Marcus Freeman era begins at Notre Dame, and Freeman has added some top level assistance to his staff and brings back a solid core team. The question for Notre Dame will be if Freeman is the guy to get Notre Dame back to winning big games. Texas did not win many games in 2021, but they were in almost every game. Steve Sarkisian brought in a solid 2022 recruiting class and a the top QB recruit from the 2021 class Quinn Ewers. Ewers is a transfer from Ohio State. Oklahoma sits at #7 with a new head coach Brent Venables. Venables was essential to the Clemson Tiger rise to prominence under head coach Dabo Swinney. Oklahoma is hoping the prodigal son returns and usher in a new age of Oklahoma championship football.
6. Clemson Tigers (2021: 10-3)
5. Michigan Wolverines (2021: 12-2)
It is odd to have a preseason top 25 when you have only 24 teams ranked. We left a blank for the 4th best team headed into the 2022 season because there is a great divide between the 5th best and the 3rd best team. Clemson and Michigan return a lot of great players on their team but have holes in key spots. Clemsons returning QB DJ Uiagalelei will be fighting to jeep his starting spot all year long and with a new offensive coordinator calling the plays. The quarterback spot will either elevate Clemson or hold them back. Michigan has a similar situation at QB and at the coordinator spots. These two programs have the talent on the roster, but it is up to the coaches to put the right players on the field for these two to have success in 2022.
3. Georgia Bulldogs (2021: 14-1)
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (2021: 11-2)
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2021: 13-2)
Georgia are attempting to repeat their championship run of 2021. QB Stetson Bennett returns as the presumably starting quarterback for the Bulldogs in 2022. Although the Bulldogs lost some very important pieces from that historic defense, they are reloading and not rebuilding. Ohio State is a program that only reloads talent. The loss of receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the NFL would hurt many programs, but because the Buckeyes are always stacked at the receiver position they won’t drop off. QB CJ Stroud is looking to put together a Heisman like season and a National title run in 2022 before heading off to the NFL. Alabama is the team at the top this year. They loss a lot of talent like usual, but they bring a defense that will be formidable all year long. The offense is lead by 2021 Heisman Award winner Bryce Young who will be looking to complete his time at Alabama with a championship as well. Georgia, Ohio State, and Alabama are the cream of the crop in college football.