Even though there were a few games played over this past weekend, the real start of college football comes today. Last year’s runner-up, Ohio State, will travel to Minnesota to take on P.J. Fleck and the Gophers. Last year, college football was a wild ride. We saw maybe the best team in the history of college football win the national championship at Alabama. Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina crashed the college football party, ending the season with only one loss apiece. Texas A&M, who might be the most talented team this year, barely missed out on a playoff spot last season. Jimbo Fisher will be looking to take the Aggies to their first College Football Playoff game ever. However, let’s not forget about Clemson and Alabama, who might be down a bit this year, but still are overwhelming favorites to make the Playoff.
Overall, it seems like this year could be even wackier than last year.
In ESPN’s first preseason rankings, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State were the top four teams, unsurprisingly. However, all four of those teams have tough roads ahead of them. Clemson will travel to Charlotte to take on number five, Georgia. Alabama has to take on a good Miami team in week one, and also has to play a tough SEC schedule. Oklahoma is the odds on favorite to win the Big-12, in what could be the conference’s final year. Can Lincoln Riley cook up something special with quarterback Spencer Rattler, and finally win a playoff game? This year might be their best shot. Ohio State on the other hand is starting over at the quarterback position, where redshirt freshman CJ Stroud will look to lead the Buckeyes back to the Playoff.
However, there are some sleeper teams hiding in the bushes, looking to knock the blue-bloods out of the Playoff race. Mack Brown has his best team at North Carolina. They are led by junior quarterback Sam Howell, who will look to wrap up his college career on top. As stated earlier, Jimbo Fisher and his Aggies will be looking for revenge after last year. However, Georgia may be the most talented team in the country. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs will be led by quarterback J.T. Daniels and a great defense.
Can Smart finally get past his old mentor Nick Saban? We will have to wait and see. For now, here are five bold predictions for the 2021-2022 college football season.
Georgia Will Beat Clemson in Week 1
The first upset of the season is going to be (5) Georgia beating (3) Clemson in Charlotte. Clemson has a great defense, and we all saw what type of player D.J. Uiagalelei is last year in their loss to Notre Dame. He was great in that game despite the loss, however, dealing with Georgia will be a different story. Kirby Smart will lead his Bulldogs into the game, knowing this is their chance to show the country they are one of the blue-bloods of college football. Former Bulldog quarterback, and current CBS Football Analyst Aaron Murray, picked the Dogs to beat Clemson in Charlotte.
“I am going with Georgia,” Murray said. “JT Daniels – this is the first time, in his career, that he is the starter from day one. He had to battle at USC, he had to battle when he got to Georgia – battle an injury. He has been the leader in spring, summer, fall camp.JT is the guy they can rally around offensively. Hopefully, they open it up a little bit with Todd Monken. Defensively, they are going to be great. They will be able to run the football. A little worried about the receivers, but you got a quarterback finally in Athens.”Aaron Murray (CBS Sports Network)
I tend to agree with Murray on this one. JT Daniels can sling the pigskin, and with all the talent around him, Georgia should be confident heading into Saturday. However, the main reason Georgia will upset Clemson, is their defense. The Dogs have multiple All-American candidates on their defense including nose guard Jordan Davis, defensive end Travon Walker, and “mike” linebacker Nakobe Dean. Georgia is the real deal this year, and they will win the opener versus Clemson 27-21.
Chris Olave Will Win The Heisman Trophy
I can see this becoming a trend in college football. With so many quarterbacks putting up ridiculous numbers these days, the focus might turn to the players around them. We saw how good Devonta Smith was last year for Alabama. Well, Chris Olave could very well be more talented than the current Philadelphia Eagle. Teams will not be able to double Olave, with the fear of Garrett Wilson beating them over the top. CJ Stroud is a fine quarterback, and Olave will only help him become elite. Olave may not put up the insane numbers Smith did, but he’s more important to Ohio State than Wilson was to Alabama.
Even though I think Olave will win the Heisman, all three blue-chip quarterbacks will be in New York as well. D.J. Uiagalelei at Clemson, Bryce Young from Alabama, and Stroud will all put up huge numbers and accept the invitation to New York. The fifth and final finalist will be Breece Hall, the running back from Iowa State. He had a great year last year for the Cowboys, and many of the players around him are returning as well. The real issue with the Heisman this year, will be that all three of the quarterbacks mentioned above will put up crazy numbers, but won’t be able to separate themselves from each other. You can get Olave at +10000 right now, I suggest you do so.
Oklahoma Loses Red River Shootout
Many around the country are saying that this year’s version of Oklahoma, is the best team they’ve had under Lincoln Riley. The biggest issue I have with Oklahoma is that Spencer Rattler is nowhere near the type of player Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were. Sure, he’s a very good quarterback, but what has he shown us that would make me believe he’s the best player in college football? The Sooners will likely go into their rivalry game at 5-0. However, Steve Sarkisian will be waiting on the other sideline for the Sooners.
The Longhorns don’t have a particularly difficult early-season schedule. They will host Louisiana, travel to Arkansas, and also travel to TCU. I’m not saying Texas is back, but I think they are headed in a good direction. The Sooners will come into the game flying high, however, even as their defense has greatly improved, they will lose a close one to Texas.
For The First Time In CFP History, Clemson And Alabama Miss Out
After dispatching the Clemson Tigers in week one, the Georgia Bulldogs will win the SEC Championship Game, and earn the number one playoff seed. Ohio State is nearly a lock to win the Big Ten, barring injuries, which means they will snag the second seed. As for the third seed? That will go to Texas A&M after they beat Alabama on October 9th. Finally, the last team into the Playoff will be Oklahoma. Oklahoma, as stated above, will lose to Texas in the Red River Shootout, but will finish the season strong, and give Lincoln Riley maybe his best chance to win a title.
As for the first two teams out? Well, to me that’s pretty simple. I think Alabama will be the first team out. The SEC will make a strong push to get the Crimson Tide into the playoff, but instead, the committee will go with A&M. The second team to miss out on the Playoff will be Cincinnati. The Bearcats bring back a lot of starters from last season, including quarterback Desmond Ridder. He will make a push to be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony, but will ultimately be left out. Luke Fickell and his Bearcats have to play in South Bend versus Notre Dame this season. I predict they will lose a close one to the Fighting Irish, but finish the season with only one loss.
Jim Harbaugh And Michigan Go Their Separate Ways
Ah, yes. The Jim Harbaugh Experiment in Ann Arbor will finally come to an end at the conclusion of this season. Jim Harbaugh was a huge hire for the Wolverines in 2014. However, things have not gone exactly as planned for the big blue. Harbaugh started out his tenure well, finishing 10-3 during his first season. His second season in charge, Harbaugh got the Wolverines up to a number three ranking, but ultimately fell to Ohio State in two overtimes. Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill for the Wolverines and Harbaugh.
Going into this season, Harbaugh is 49-22 during his tenure at Michigan. However, he just can’t seem to win big games in Ann Arbor. Overall, Harbaugh has not beaten Ohio State as the Wolverines head coach. On top of that, he’s only 3-3 vs Michigan State, who has been on a downward slope recently. Finally, Harbaugh is 1-4 in bowl games and 1-8 versus top-10 teams. When Harbaugh loses his sixth game to Ohio State in Ann Arbor this year, the university will be forced to push him out. They will say they mutually agreed to part ways, but we all know that’s just not true. When he was hired in 2014, Harbaugh was supposed to be the savior of the Michigan Football Program. However, when he leaves after this season, they will be in worse shape than they were when he was hired.