The Circuit’s 2022 CFB Playoff Predictions & Awards
The 2022 regular season is in the books, and it’s now time to look ahead to the College Football Playoff! All that, plus we make our pick for the Heisman winner!
Circuit Top 25 Poll
1- Michigan Wolverines
2- Georgia Bulldogs
3- TCU Horned Frogs
4- USC Trojans
5- Ohio State Buckeyes
6- Alabama Crimson Tide
7- Tennessee Volunteers
8- Penn State Nittany Lions
9- Washington Huskies
10- Utah Utes
11- LSU Tigers
12- Oregon Ducks
13- Clemson Tigers
14- Kansas State Wildcats
15- UCLA Bruins
16- Oregon State Beavers
17- Florida State Seminoles
18- South Carolina Gamecocks
19- Texas Longhorns
20- Tulane Green Wave
21- North Carolina Tar Heels
22- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
23- UTSA Roadrunners
24- Mississippi State Bulldogs
25- UCF Golden Knights
Michigan is the best team I’ve seen play this year. Period. Georgia dominated Oregon back around Labor Day, and since then they’ve struggled against Missouri and beaten up on lesser SEC teams. Michigan, who admittedly had an awful non-conference schedule, have beaten some really good Big Ten teams, including hammering the Buckeyes in Columbus. Michigan won’t be #1, and after Georgia beats LSU they probably should be #1, but right now Michigan is the best team in the country.
TCU is a fun story but ultimately would get smacked by Georgia/Michigan in the playoff. But the next three are where the fun begins! USC is back, Ohio State is still here, and Alabama is peeking from around the bushes Michael Myers style. Personally, I’m rooting for chaos so we can all argue if Ohio State should get in, with Alabama standing there with the knife ready to be resurrected.
And Clemson is so low because they suck on offense. I picked them in the preseason to make the Playoff, but I also thought Dabo would go to Klubnik in October. Had he made that change, I do still think Clemson would be undefeated and going to the Playoff. But he didn’t, and they aren’t.
Circuit Heisman Watch Rankings
1- Caleb Williams (USC QB)
2- CJ Stroud (Ohio State QB)
3- Hendon Hooker (Tennessee QB)
4- Bo Nix (Oregon QB)
5- Blake Corrum (Michigan RB)
Stroud had this in the baaaaaaag. But then he shit his pants on national television in a game that is literally nicknamed “The Game”. Seems like a big deal. Meanwhile, Caleb Williams once again went supernova and thrashed Notre Dame. Williams will win, but there are some great stories here; Hooker will get to go despite the injury, and the same goes for Corrum. And then there’s Bo Nix! Remember him, Auburn fans? When you couldn’t wait to get rid of him? Hopefully you still felt that way when you were getting your teeth kicked in by Alabama. Nix had a magical season in Eugene, and absolutely deserves to be a Heisman finalist.
Let’s look at some things I got right about this season!
USC Would Contend Immediately…
Now I didn’t predict USC to get into the Playoff, or even win the PAC-12, but I did think they would contend. Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams revived USC and have them already knocking on the door of the CFP.
Purdue Would Win the Big Ten West…
Seems like a pretty obscure thing to brag about, doesn’t it? Welp, that's what happens when you make predictions. You get a lot wrong! But before the season I thought Purdue would get to the Big Ten championship, and turns out I was right!
Georgia & Alabama are the Best Teams in the SEC…
But wait, Alabama lost to LSU and aren’t going to the SEC title game? Nope, but they’re still better than LSU. I don’t care what happened that night, Bama is better. If they played 10 times, The Tide probably win 8 or 9. They’re the second best team in a weak conference. Sometimes, head-to-head doesn’t mean one team is better. Ask Patriots fans about 2007 (too soon?)
Now let’s have some fun! Here are the things I really whiffed on…
Ohio State Would be Better than Michigan…
This is one of those rivalries that sports fans have to take sides, whether they have a connection to the teams or not. Red Sox-Yankees, Duke-UNC, Ohio State-Michigan. It feels like there are two groups among those rivalries; Yankees-Duke-Michigan fans, and Red Sox-UNC-Ohio State fans (tell me I’m wrong about those groups, I dare you). I am firmly in the Yankees-Duke-Michigan camp. However, I thought the Buckeyes were far better than the Wolverines this season, but I’m happy to admit I was wrong! Michigan kicked their ass for 3 hours, and it was delightful to watch.
Utah Would Run the Table…
Before the season I predicted Utah would go 12-0 and make the CFP. They did not. They did beat USC though, which was by far the best team they played. If they get them again this weekend, I’ll feel a little better about this one.
Clemson Would be Good…
Was I wrong about this? They looked awesome those 2 quarters they played with Klubnik, and I assumed he would be the starter by Whatever-We’re-Supposed-To-Call-It-Now Day in October. But Dabo didn’t have the balls, and ultimately it cost them an undefeated season. So I was wrong, but was I?
Now for some conference championship predictions!
SEC Championship: Georgia def LSU
This would have been a really fun game had LSU not gotten trucked by a sub-.500 A&M in the final week of the season. Had they won, and then beaten Georgia, we were legitimately looking at a scenario that could have seen 3 SEC teams get in (no really, it could’ve happened). Instead, Georgia is in no matter what, and LSU is out no matter what.
Big Ten Championship: Michigan def Purdue
Michigan looks like the best team in the country, so they should kill Purdue. What makes me nervous about this game, and the reason I wouldn’t bet on it, is that A) Purdue has a really good defense and B) Michigan is in the Playoff no matter what. This isn’t like last season where had they lost to Iowa they might not have gotten in. Michigan will get in even if they lose by 30, so they might not be motivated. I think they win, but don’t feel overly confident about it.
ACC Championship: North Carolina def Clemson
Clemson is just anemic on offense. Both these teams are stumbling into this game, but give me the team with the electric quarterback and the team that doesn’t feel like their season has been an enormous disappointment.
Pac 12 Championship: USC def Utah
Revenge game! The only loss this season for the Trojans came at the hands of the Utes, so this would be cathartic and extremely helpful for them in the CFP race. A win doesn’t guarantee that they’re in, but it certainly helps.
Big 12 Championship: Kansas State def TCU
UPSET ALERT!! This is what I’m rooting for. Is TCU the better team? Yes. Is TCU probably going to win? Also yes. I fell for Cincinnati last season, I don’t want to see TCU in the Playoff. At least with the Bearcats, we thought there might be a chance for a mid-major to compete with the big Dawgs. But we all know this TCU team can’t beat Georgia or Michigan, and probably can’t beat USC or Alabama either. So please, win this game Kansas State!
Let’s turn to the College Football Playoff! Who gets in? Who doesn’t? Who advances to the title game???
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl:
1 Georgia Bulldogs def 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
With TCU losing, the Buckeyes sneak in over Alabama at #4. Georgia gets #1 because beating LSU will be more impressive (barely) than Michigan beating Purdue. This game could be interesting, but Georgia will get the win and roll into the national championship game.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl:
2 Michigan Wolverines def 3 USC Trojans
Harbough, you son of a bitch, you did it! Michigan gets back to the Playoff and avenges their tough loss in the semis last year by knocking out the Heisman winner. USC has a defense that is shaky, and the Wolverines are going to run all over them.
National Championship Game:
2 Michigan Wolverines def 1 Georgia Bulldogs
That’s right! Michigan is the best team I’ve seen in 2022; they have the best offensive line, a phenomenal running game, a quarterback who can break the top off of the defense, and Harbough feels due for a title on some level, doesn’t he?
There you have it! My College Football Playoff predictions! Make sure to check back in and see how I did, and come back next fall for the 2023 college football predictions!