The 2022 College Football Playoffs are roughly 8 months away, but it’s never too early to predict what the playoffs will look like come January. Will Bama repeat? Or can someone make a run and dethrone the greatness of Nick Saban?
In 2021, Alabama saw pretty much no problems running through all competition on the way to their 6th National Championship in just 10 years. As the 2022 season creeps up Alabama has reloaded along with other teams waiting for their shot at the champs.
Here are my predictions on who will be the last 4 teams
After an undefeated 2020-21 season, it would be hard to top last year’s team. But it’s all about reloading for Saban. So far in Tuscaloosa, he’s won 6 out of the 7 National Championship games he’s been to. He’s proven that losing a couple of players to the NFL will never stop him.
Losing as much as Saban did on offense will be a challenge for him. He’s also replacing new Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, with Bill O’Brien. Saban signed the highest-rated recruiting class we’ve ever seen so there will be no short of talent, along with Heisman candidate Bryce Young under center they should see no problems running through the season.
Regardless no one expects any less than another playoff appearance from Saban. The defense will remain mostly the same and still be elite coming into the season. This will give the team something to ride on when needed as seeing how O’Brien does with the offense will be a surprise in the fall.
When Trevor Lawrence was forced out of the lineup with COVID, true freshman D.J. Uiagalelie calmly took over and proved he belongs. A 47-40 double OT loss to Notre Dame couldn’t be put on him as Clemson’s defense had clear-cut problems trying to stop Ian Book and the Fighting Irish offense.
Uiagalelie gives the Tigers hope that they can return to QB greatness with the hole Lawrence will leave at Clemson. Losing running back Travis Etienne might serve as a bigger loss for the Tigers. Clemson’s offense proved they can move without Lawrence or Ettiene. Against Notre Dame Ettiene was boxed in for only 28 yards on 18 carries. Uiagalelie still threw for 439 yards as the Tigers were still able to put up 40.
The Tigers Defense was hurting last year without star linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who was a top-10 draft pick, and cornerback A.J. Terrell, who was a second-round draft pick. With More returning experience coming into this year, Clemson’s D should take a big step.
Between an improved defense and rising star sophomore quarterback Spencer Rattler, there is a lot to be excited about in Oklahoma this year. They fly under the radar of Alabama and Clemson but could, and probably should be in the same conversation as them.
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is one of the best offensive-minded coaches in the nation. As long as a team in the NFL doesn’t pick him up he’ll be back in Norman along with Rattler who is a very high Heisman candidate. This will be the first time in 4 years Riley will be coming into the year with a returning quarterback as a starter.
Defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch, will welcome back some key contributors to his already much-improved 2021 defense. Add that to Rattler’s continuous rise and the Sooners are heavy BIG 12 favorites. Oklahoma should have no problem getting back to the College Football Playoffs with this team, Maybe even take the crown this year.
4. Ohio State
The offense is going to have some big losses with Trey Sermon and potential top-10 pick Justin Fields. The Buckeyes also have a defense that was seen to have many things to improve on to be concerned about as they are looking for improvement in the 2020-21 season.
The Buckeyes have a 3 horse race for a quarterback this season, C.J. Stroud, Kyle McCord, and Jack Miller. McCord will be a true freshman and he could be the guy under center for Ryan Day’s offense, but he has some elite talent to beat out in Stroud and Miller. But with returning receiver Chris Olave and Garret Wilson, whoever Coach Day picks should feel right at home,
As long as the Buckeyes can bulk up on Defense this year, they should be right in the conversation for the Big 10 and the College Football Playoffs. They’ll be losing key contributors at linebacker, yet that may also be a good thing for Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ next set of linebackers are all upper-classman who can bring speed and maturity. Dallas Grant is one to look out for a breakout season.
All these teams have a great chance to be the last 4 teams alive.
Look out for teams like Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and LSU to also be in the mix at the end of the season.