College football is back baby! One of the greatest seasons on the sports calendar kicks off this weekend, so it’s time to make some predictions about who will win the Heisman, who will make the College Football Playoff and most importantly, where the hell are these teams playing???
Hot take: college football is better than professional football. The kids care more. The fans want it more. There are bands, and Lee Corso dresses up like a mascot each Saturday. What more do you want? Before we get into my awards and predictions, let’s kick things off (get it?) with my preseason top 25!
Circuit Top 25 Poll
1- Georgia Bulldogs
2- Michigan Wolverines
3- Ohio State Buckeyes
4- Alabama Crimson Tide
5- USC Trojans
6- LSU Tigers
7- Clemson Tigers
8- Penn State Nittany Lions
9- Florida State Seminoles
10- Texas Longhorns
11- Washington Huskies
12- Utah Utes
13- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
14- Oregon Ducks
15- Texas A&M Aggies
16- Wisconsin Badgers
17- Tennessee Volunteers
18- Kansas State Wildcats
19- North Carolina Tar Heels
20- Ole Miss Rebels
21- Oklahoma Sooners
22- TCU Horned Frogs
23- Oregon State Beavers
24- Tulane Green Wave
25- UCLA Bruins
I actually think Michigan is the best team in college football this year, but respect must be paid to the back-to-back champs. Not even Saban has been able to win consecutive national championships in the playoff era, so what the ‘Dawgs have done is nothing short of historic. But after those top two… things get messy. Are Alabama and Ohio State going to be as good as they normally are? Is Texas finally back? Can USC stop a nosebleed? There’s a lot of parity across the country after Georgia and Michigan, and 20 teams can legitimately talk themselves into making the playoff this winter, which is a much bigger number than we're accustomed to.
Now let’s take a look at my preseason All-America team:
QB- Caleb Williams (USC)
RB- Blake Corum (Michigan)
WR- Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)
WR- Xavier Worthy (Texas)
TE- Brock Bowers (Georgia)
TE- Bryson Nesbit (North Carolina)
OL- Olu Fashano (Penn State)
OL- Joe Alt (Notre Dame)
OL- Amarius Mims (Georgia)
OL- JC Latham (Alabama)
OL- Zak Zinter (Michigan)
DT- Tyler Davis (Clemson)
DT- Masson Smith (LSU)
DE- Jared Verse (Florida State)
DE- Dallas Turner (Alabama)
LB- Tommy Eichenberg (Ohio State)
LB- Harold Perkins Jr. (LSU)
LB- Barrett Carter (Clemson)
CB- Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)
CB- Cooper DeJean (Iowa)
S- Calen Bullock (USC)
S- Javon Bullard (Georgia)
K- Dennis Lynch (USC)
P- Tory Taylor (Iowa)
RS- Jimmy Horn Jr. (Colorado)
USC, Alabama and Georgia lead the way with three preseason All-Americans a piece, with Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson and LSU aren’t far behind with two each. While a lot of these spots will likely go to players we don’t see coming, there are a few names that feel like locks; Caleb Williams, Marvin Harrison Jr., Brock Bowers, Jared Verse and Kool-Aid McKinstry would have to have truly disastrous seasons to not be on this team at the end of the season.
Circuit Heisman Watch Rankings:
1- Caleb Williams (USC QB)
2- Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
3- Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)
4- Bo Nix (Oregon)
5- Jared Verse (Florida State)
Guys don’t typically win two of these things in a row; Tim Tebow in 2008, Johnny Manziel in 2013, Jameis Winston in 2014 and Lamar Jackson in 2017, to name a few, couldn’t do it. Caleb Williams is a tremendous talent, and has a great shot at going back-to-back. But the other top quarterbacks in his own conference are going to push him with inflated numbers out on the west coast. Could Marvin Harrison Jr. repeat what Smith at Alabama did a couple years ago? And could a defensive player FINALLY break through down in Tallahassee??? In the end, the future #1 pick of the NFL draft will win his second straight Heisman and go down in history.
But enough about the individuals! I’m a team guy. Let’s preview each of the Power Five conferences and see who’s going to win each conference championship.
SEC Championship: Georgia def LSU
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Brock Bowers (Georgia TE)
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama DB)
SEC Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly (LSU)
SEC Freshman of the Year: Caleb Downs (Alabama DB)
Georgia should be able to get to the SEC title game undefeated once again this year. But who they will face is where the real intrigue comes in; LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M are all going to be very good this year, but ultimately Brian Kelly will lead the Tigers into the SEC championship game and the playoff bubble.
Big Ten Championship: Michigan def Wisconsin
Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year: Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State WR)
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year: Tommy Eichenberg (Ohio State LB)
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Luke Fickell (Wisconsin)
Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Bai Jobe (Michigan DE)
These Wolverines are awesome, man. They have the best rushing attack in the nation, and finally have a force multiplier at quarterback. With Harbough nice and rested coming off of his laughable 4 game suspension, look for the Wolverines to run over the B1G this season. And shout-out to Wisconsin, you might be back!
ACC Championship: Clemson def Florida State
ACC Offensive Player of the Year: Cade Klubnik (Clemson QB)
ACC Defensive Player of the Year: Jared Verse (Florida State DE)
ACC Coach of the Year: Mike Norvell (Florida State)
ACC Freshman of the Year: Peter Woods (Clemson DL)
This conference is going to boil down to Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina. Can Drake Maye play well enough to carry the Heels into the playoff discussion? Feels like a tough ask, so I’ll go with the proven commodity that finally has a good quarterback again in Clemson emerging from this conference into the playoff conversation.
Pac 12 Championship: USC def Washington
Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year: Caleb Williams (USC)
Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year: Laiatu Latu (UCLA LB)
Pac 12 Coach of the Year: Kalen DeBoer (Washington)
Pac 12 Freshman of the Year: Zachariah Branch (USC WR)
Utah has been on a great run the last couple years, but this is finally the year Caleb Williams, Lincoln Riley and the Trojans break through and win the conference.
Big 12 Championship: Texas def Kansas State
Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year: Quinn Ewers (Texas QB)
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year: Jaylan Ford (Texas LB)
Big 12 Coach of the Year: Steve Sarkisian (Texas)
Big 12 Freshman of the Year: Anthony Hill (Texas LB)
Damnit. I’m in! Texas is back! And if Texas is truly back, that is a very bad thing for every other team in college football, because they aren’t even starting their best quarterback… The Longhorns are already the best team in the country in 2025, you heard it here first!
Finally, it’s time to reveal my 2022 College Football Playoff predictions! Who are the four teams I see getting in, and ultimately who will Alabama beat for the title?
1 Georgia Bulldogs def 4 Clemson Tigers
Dabo will get Clemson back in the Playoff now that he actually has a quarterback who can play, but unfortunately it will be a short-lived appearance. The 2x defending champion ‘Dawgs will lean on a defense filled with pro talent and a tight end who has the potential to be the next Travis Kelce. Give me Georgia fairly comfortably.
2 Michigan Wolverines def 3 USC Trojans
The Pac-12 finally gets in! In their last season due to this absurd realignment nonetheless! Can Caleb Williams lead the Trojans back to glory??? No. No he can’t. Michigan will use their disaster of a loss against TCU in the Playoff a year ago to fuel them and get to the inevitable matchup between the Wolverines and the Bulldogs…
2 Michigan Wolverines def 1 Georgia Bulldogs
Unlike last year, THIS title game will be epic! Ladd McConkey will come out of nowhere and score a pair of touchdowns like he always does in championship games, Bowers will be a menace and Kirby Smart will do some Kirby Smart things. But Jim Harbough will let McCarthy rip and with that run game and an athletic defense, look for Michigan to finally break the B1G curse and bring glory back to Ann Arbor!!
There you have it! My preseason predictions for the 2023 college football season! Make sure to check back in towards the end of September for my 1st Quarter Polls to see what I got right, and more importantly, what I got wrong!