The 2022 college football season is right around the corner, which means it’s time to finalize the preseason projections for the College Football Playoff. With a full regular season and a slate of conference championships to get through before the picture is even close to clear, there are a handful of teams that could already be considered in the running.
Whether they are regulars with a couple of wins under their belt or a newcomer to the College Football Playoff scene, the 2022 season will have some interesting teams and storylines to follow.
Here are 10 teams that have realistic chances of making the College Football Playoff before the season even starts.
Michigan finished the 2022 season with a respectable 12-2 record. The biggest hurdle standing in the Wolverines’ way is Ohio State. Take down the Buckeyes and Michigan will have a spot in the final four teams. It may be an uphill battle all season long, but far from impossible.
The Miami Hurricanes are in the first season of yet another program rebuild. Mario Cristobal left Oregon to move back home and coach ‘The U.’ In 2021, Clemson didn’t come close to looking as dominant as it has in recent seasons. The ACC may be undergoing a shift in power. Could Miami be the program to rise up and overtake the Tigers for the throne?
Oklahoma has made the playoffs, but never won a semifinal game, head coach Lincoln Riley just couldn’t get it done during his time in Norman, Oklahoma. However, the Sooners now have head coach Brent Venables at the helm and a new-look team. Other programs in the Big 12 have taken big steps in the right direction, so Oklahoma will have to go undefeated in conference play to have a shot at the playoffs.
Lincoln Riley couldn’t get it done while at Oklahoma, but could a change in location help? Riley moved out west to USC and brought his young, star quarterback Caleb Williams from the Sooners. Much like the aforementioned Miami, USC is in its first season of a program rebuild, but that doesn’t mean playoffs are out of the question.
Clemson’s 2021 season was memorable for everyone that is not affiliated with the Tigers’ football program. A record of 10-3 for a team that had national championship hopes and dreams is devastating. Quarterback DJ Uigalelei didn’t appear to be the star many believed he would be. If he can turn it around in 2022, there’s a good chance Clemson stays on top of the conference and sneaks into the College Football Playoff once again.
Notre Dame will open the 2022 college football season with a matchup against Ohio State. Although this game is the first of the season and is months away from the college football playoff committee’s final selection, it has massive implications. The Buckeyes will be favorites, but if the Fighting Irish can pull off the win, the landscape of college football will be impacted for the remainder of the season.
The Utes keep getting closer and closer to a spot in the playoffs. After winning the Pac-12 championship in 2021, there’s a good chance Utah could run it back in 2022. If the team can win every game convincingly, it’ll be hard for the committee to leave the Utes out.
We can’t leave out the reigning national champions, right? The Dawgs in Athens, Georgia won it all in 2021 behind a historically strong defense. Many of the impact players from the championship-winning team are now in the NFL. Will Kirby Smart have enough firepower to keep up with other competitors fighting for a playoff spot?
The Buckeyes are considered to be one of the strongest teams in the nation heading into 2022. CJ Stroud started off a bit inconsistent in 2021 but turned it around greatly to finish the season. Much like last year, many expect Stroud to return to New York for the annual Heisman Trophy ceremony. He’s joined by some dangerous skill position players on offense that could make even the strongest of defenses a tad nervous.
The Crimson Tide didn’t manage to win it all in 2021, but came very close to it in what many Alabama fans would call a down year. Returning a majority of key starters on both sides of the ball, as well as keeping both coordinators will be major factors in this team’s success. There aren’t many teams in the nation that can rival this Alabama roster, but nothing can be ruled out. Many have already penciled in the Crimson Tide somewhere on the four-team bracket for the College Football Playoff.