The Circuit’s 2022 College Football Predictions
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 ultimately, who will Alabama beat to win it all? Getty Images/ Circuit Artwork 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 Getty Images 1- Alabama Crimson Tide 2- Ohio State Buckeyes 3- Georgia Bulldogs 4- Clemson Tigers 5- Utah Utes 6- Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7- Michigan Wolverines 8- Texas A&M Aggies 9- Baylor Bears 10- USC Trojans 11- NC State Wolfpack 12- Oregon Ducks 13- Oklahoma State Cowboys 14- Miami Hurricane 15- Oklahoma Sooners 16- Michigan State Spartans 17- BYU Cougars 18- Cincinnati Bearcats 19- Kentucky Wildcats 20- Wisconsin Badgers 21- Pittsburgh Panthers 22- Ole Miss Rebels 23- Texas Longhorns 24- Wake Forest Demon Deacons 25- LSU Tigers Alabama is going to kick everyone’s ass this season. But after that? Things are a little up in the air. I think Georgia is going to have somewhat of a hangover after winning the national championship last season. Clemson will depend on how long they take to go to the freshman Klubnik (remember when Dabo switched from Bryant to Lawrence in 2018? We might be seeing a repeat of that this year). USC feels like they are one year away with Riley and Williams, and Notre Dame is… Notre Dame. Ohio State feels like the only real contender to Alabama this season, and even that threat level is nowhere near Midnight ( Office fans, you’re welcome). Now let’s take a look at my preseason All-America team: Getty Images QB- CJ Stroud (Ohio State) RB- Bijan Robinson (Texas) WR- Jordan Addison (USC) WR- Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) TE- Brock Bowers (Georgia) TE- Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) OL- Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) OL- Andrew Vorhees (USC) OL- Paris Johnson Jr (Ohio State) OL- Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) OL- Blake Freeland (BYU) *Usually they go two running backs, but Mayer at TE was far more deserving than any RB other than Robinson, so I made a judgment call. Sue me. DT- Jalen Carter (Georgia) DT- Jaquelin Roy (LSU) DE- Andre Carter II (Purdue) DE- Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) LB- Will Anderson Jr (Alabama) LB- Noah Sewell (Oregon) LB- Trenton Simpson (Clemson) CB- Kelee Ringo (Georgia) CB- Cam Smith (South Carolina) S- Jordan Battle (Alabama) S- Antonio Johnson (Texas A&M) K- Noah Ruggles (Ohio State) P- Kyle Ostendorp (Arizona) RS- Brian Battie (South Florida) Clearly the talent still resides in the Southeastern Conference in 2022. But what about who is going to win one of the Mt. Rushmore individual awards in all of sports? (The Mt. Rushmore of individual awards in sports: Heisman, Green Jacket, NBA Finals MVP, World Heavyweight Championship belt) Here is my preseason top 5 Heisman rankings: Circuit Heisman Watch Rankings: Getty Images 1- CJ Stroud (Ohio State QB) 2- Will Anderson Jr (Alabama LB) 3- Bijan Robinson (Texas RB) 4- Caleb Williams (USC QB) 5- Bryce Young (Alabama QB) Ohio State is going to be a scoring machine this season. Stroud is going to throw for approximately one million touchdowns, with 990,000 of them going to Smith-Njigba. I like him better than Young, the reigning Heisman winner. Young has to not only be better than Stroud, but also better than the expectations set for him. ‘Bama will be so good on defense that they won’t need him to light it up, which could lead to Anderson finishing higher in the voting. Here are a couple sleepers for those degenerate gamblers like myself: Bo Nix (Oregon QB) and Tyler Van Dyke (Miami QB). Nix was very perplexing at Auburn, vacillating between prodigal son and benchwarmer. I think out on the west coast, Nix could put up some big numbers against, um, lesser defenses than Alabama and Georgia. With Van Dyke, if he can be the guy to lead the U back to the promised land? The narrative writes itself. 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 Getty Images SEC Championship: Alabama def Georgia SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Young (Alabama QB) SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Will Anderson Jr (Alabama LB) SEC Coach of the Year: Nick Saban (Alabama) SEC Freshman of the Year: Barion Brown (Kentucky WR) The SEC East is awful, so Georgia should sleepwalk to the title game. But Alabama is going to beat them so badly the officials may need to consider calling it at half. The awards feel indicative of the games, with Alabama winning everything. Big Ten Getty Images Big Ten Championship: Ohio State def Purdue Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year: CJ Stroud (Ohio State) Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year: Andre Carter II (Purdue) Big Ten Coach of the Year: Jeff Brohm (Purdue) Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Will Johnson (Michigan CB) I think Purdue learned a lot last year, having their first winning season since I’ve been alive (I think, I honestly didn’t do a deep dive into Purdue football, for obvious reasons). They will carry that over to a phenomenal season that will climax with a beatdown at the hands of Ohio State. ACC Getty Images ACC Championship: Clemson def Miami ACC Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Van Dyke (Miami QB) ACC Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Murphy (Clemson) ACC Coach of the Year: Mario Christoball (Miami) ACC Freshman of the Year: Cade Klubnik (Clemson QB) After a “down year” of 10 wins, Clemson is “back”! The switch to Klubnik will rejuvenate this team and propel them on a deep run. I also think Miami is going to be “back”, and have their best season in years. All other teams? Meh. Pac 12 Getty Images Pac 12 Championship: Utah def Oregon Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year: Caleb Williams (USC) Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year: Noah Sewell (Oregon) Pac 12 Coach of the Year: Kyle Wittingham (Utah) Pac 12 Freshman of the Year: Domani Jackson (USC DB) I love this USC team, but like I said earlier they are probably one year away. I think Utah is legit, and I see the Utes having a magical season in 2022. Big 12 Getty Images Big 12 Championship: Baylor def Oklahoma State Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year: Bijan Robinson (Texas) Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year: Jeffrey Johnson (Oklahoma) Big 12 Coach of the Year: Dave Aranda (Baylor) Big 12 Freshman of the Year: Kelvin Banks (Texas OT) This conference is on life support, and 2022 appears to be pulling the plug. A few months after Texas and Oklahoma decided they would rather play Alabama and Georgia than stay in the Big 12, those two teams are poised to have down seasons and leave the playoff hopes of the conference with Baylor. Not good. 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? Getty Images Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 1 Alabama Crimson Tide def 4 Utah Utes PlayStation Fiesta Bowl 2 Ohio State Buckeyes def 3 Clemson Tigers Alabama will run the table this season, so they will easily get the #1 seed. Their opponent, Utah, will also be undefeated! I think 4 teams will enter bowl season without a loss: Alabama, Ohio State, Utah and a Group of Five team to be named later (this will be some random school like East Carolina or Fresno State. Who knows, but there will be one I promise you). Utah’s magical season will end in rough fashion to Alabama, but the other semifinal will be a doozy; The Buckeyes will be 13-0 and fresh off a mutilation of the Wolverines. Clemson will be 12-1, but will be 7-0 with Klubnik at QB after they lose to BC on October 8th and make the switch. A great game, but the Buckeyes pull away late. National Championship Game: Getty Images 1 Alabama Crimson Tide def 2 Ohio State Buckeyes As good as Ohio State is, Alabama is better. The quarterbacks are basically a wash, the skill positions lean towards Ohio State, but the defense is so lopsided towards Alabama that the Buckeyes won’t be able to overcome it. Not to mention, Saban has won more national championships than the number of seasons Ryan Day has coached Ohio State. Alabama wins. There you have it! My preseason predictions for the 2022 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!