As college football nears and anticipation for kickoff ascends daily, it’s ironic that all everyone seems to want to talk about is the end game. With a bewildering amount of money being spent on facilities, coaching, and with the introduction of NIL, the expectation to win and win now is higher than ever before. The 2022 college football season, on paper, has potential to be the most exciting in a long time. Let’s take a look at what things will most likely look like in the end for the P5 conferences.
SEC: Undoubtedly the premier conference in college football, the SEC tracks to have not one, but multiple teams compete for playoff contention. Even so, you never know what to fully expect from the conference as a whole. Some consider the conference to be top heavy with the current reign of powerhouses Alabama and Georgia. Statistically, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 12 of the last 16 champions have come from the SEC. The conference boasts a staggering six different champions since 1998. The SEC has proven to be as deep as any conference in the country. That said, you should expect more of the same at the top for the 2022 season. Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Arkansas, and the team you can never really count out, Auburn, all look to regain form and make a push. Moreover, I fully expect to see a rematch of last year’s SEC and National Title game in Atlanta come December and a probable Crimson Tide victory.
(PREDICTION): Alabama 38 Georgia 21
BIG10: The B10 has established itself as the clear cut second deepest conference in the country. Depending on who you ask, some say they’re the deepest. The projected leader in the pursuit of B10 bragging rights is the Ohio State Buckeyes. They’ll field the most explosive skill group in the nation on offense. The Michigan Wolverines had a banner year in 2021. They finally got over the hump and beat their bitter rival Ohio State. The Wolverines also hoisted the B10 Championship trophy and cliched a CFP berth. Michigan St also had an impressive year. The Spartans went 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. Problem is, that impressive trio is in the B10 East. The B10 West is solid, but figures to be a weekly rotation until the very end. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Purdue will fight for the chance to play for a B10 title. In the end, expect a decisive Buckeye victory in Indianapolis.
(PREDICTION): Ohio State 49 Wisconsin 28
BIG12: A conference in limbo due to realignment, this Big12 season will be one of the last of a very successful era. With historic powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC in the near future, the Big12 will look much different in the coming years. When it comes to football this year, the picture in the Big12 is pretty clear. There’s defending champion Baylor, then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and then everyone else. Texas, with a slew of prominent transfers, will be more competitive. However, there is no reason to get overly excited. The rest of the conference including teams like Iowa State, West Virginia, and Kansas State will look to become bowl eligible first and anything additional is a bonus. After an extremely competitive year at the top of the conference, Oklahoma and Baylor are my favorites to meet in Arlington for the title game. The Oklahoma Sooners are best poised to hold the trophy in the end.
(PREDICTION): Oklahoma 35 Baylor 17
PAC12: Much like the Big12, the Pac12 will undergo a facelift in the coming seasons. Traditional legacy programs USC and UCLA are both leaving for the B10 in 2024. This move stunned not only football fans, but intercollegiate sports fans alike. Football wise, the outlook is also similar to the Big12. There’s defending champion Utah, Oregon & UCLA, then everyone else. However, unlike Texas, USC is a program that you can and most certainly should be excited for. The Trojans, equipped with a new coaching staff and haul of talent from not only the transfer portal, but recruiting, are primed to return to prominence. Utah and Oregon are both loaded with talent and will be very competitive threats in the hunt for the Pac12 title. Washington, Stanford, and Arizona will all look to get back on their feet. The remaining teams will vie for bowl game berth and that would be a success. Ultimately, the Trojans and Ducks will meet for an epic clash in Las Vegas. The Trojans, in year one of a new regime, will rise to the top of the Pac12 once again.
(PREDICTION): USC 42 Oregon 35
ACC: The most maligned P5 conference in recent memory is assuredly the ACC. The Clemson Tigers have dominated for the the better part of the last 15 years. Even in 2021, a down year by recent standards, the Tigers went 10-3 and won a bowl game. Pittsburgh, which some would consider the surprise of the 2021 season, broke through and won the conference. With a load of returning talent despite some departures due to the transfer portal, they should be very competitive again this year. Wake Forrest, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Louisville all look to get their chance to return to the top as the conference is mainly up for grabs. All that said, the team everyone should be excited to watch this season is the Miami Hurricanes. A new coaching staff, a new crop of talent, and a bevy of returning starters will catapult the Hurricanes back into the limelight. A prediction that may be shocking to some, I expect the Hurricanes to meet the Tigers in Charlotte. Not only will they make it to the ACC title game, they’ll pull off the unthinkable and win it.
(PREDICTION): Miami 31 Clemson 28
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