The 2022 college football season is right around the corner with just a few weeks between now and the first full weekend of games.
With a new season comes hope for all the teams across the nation that this might finally be the year they reach their goals, whether that be a national championship, a conference championship, or simply reaching a bowl game.
A team’s projected success is many times predicated off of what happened in the previous year or what a team returns from the year prior. The AP Top 25 Preseason Poll is a good example of this, as it will likely feature many of the teams that were on last year’s final AP Poll.
Here is how we see 2022 AP Top 25 Preseason Poll looking when it is released later this month.
25. Cincinnati Bearcats
2021 Record: 13-1 (8-0 AAC)
Luke Fickell has a lot to replace, but 13 returning starters and a bevy of talent to choose from will keep the Bearcats directly in the hunt for another AAC Championsip.
24. Tennessee Volunteers
2021 Record: 7-6 (4-4 SEC)
Tennessee played some of its best ball down the stretch last year and returns 15 starters, including one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC in Hendon Hooker.
23. Michigan State Spartans
2021 Record: 11-2 (7-2 Big Ten)
Sparty returns nine starters on defense alone and although they must replace Heisman contender Kenneth Walker III, Payton Thorne returns at quarterback after a school record 27 touchdowns in 2021.
22. Houston Cougars
2021 Record: 12-2 (8-0 AAC)
Dana Holgorsen’s squad looks to be a prime contender for the AAC title as Clayton Tune returns at quarterback along with a strong defensive front.
21. Kentucky Wildcats
2021 Record: 10-3 (5-3 SEC)
QB Will Levis returns for Mark Stoops in his 10th year after an impressive 2021 campaign. Getting back to 10 wins is doable, but will be challenging with Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia on the schedule.
20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
2021 Record: 11-3 (7-1 ACC)
Sam Hartman returns at quarterback and will lead a potent offense once again. The defense returns six starters and will look to be much improved in 2022.
19. BYU Cougars
2021 Record: 10-3
The Cougars return all 11 starters on defense and eight starters on offense including dark horse Heisman contender Jaren Hall. Watch out for the Cougs in 2022, despite a tough schedule.
18. Texas Longhorns
2021 Record: 5-7 (3-6 Big 12)
Incoming transfers Quinn Ewers (QB), Isaiah Neyor (WR), and Agiye Hall (WR) are added to a pool of offensive talent that already has All-Big 12 caliber players in RB Bijan Robinson and WR Xavier Worthy. The question is, can they fix the defense?
17. Wisconsin Badgers
2021 Record: 9-4 (6-3 Big Ten)
Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi return as one of the top running back tandems in the country, plus Graham Mertz might finally give the Badgers an answer at quarterback in his sophomore year.
16. USC Trojans
2021 Record: 4-8 (3-6 Pac-12)
Lincoln Riley and QB Caleb Williams have brought hype and enthusiasm back to Southern Cal and the Trojans have a very manageable schedule in Year 1 of the rebuild.
15. Arkansas Razorbacks
2021 Record: 9-4 (4-4 SEC)
Arkansas returns KJ Jefferson at quarterback and will have one of the best running attacks in the country once again in 2022. The problem? They have the toughest schedule in the country with contests against Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Alabama, and BYU all in the first seven weeks.
14. Oklahoma State Cowboys
2021 Record: 12-2 (8-1 Big 12)
Mike Gundy’s squad will need to rebuild his defense after losing Jim Knowles and seven starters from a dominant 2021 unit. Spencer Sanders returns at quarterback and will be vital to the Pokes’ success in 2022.
13. NC State Wolfpack
2021 Record: 9-3 (7-2)
Quarterback Devin Leary returns after a breakout 2021 campaign, and he will have a stout defensive unit that is returning 10 starters to lean on.
12. Miami Hurricanes
2021 Record: 7-5 (5-3 ACC)
Expectations are high in Miami in Mario Cristobal’s first year, but Tyler Van Dyke is electric at quarterback and the Canes should be better on the offensive and defensive lines in 2022.
11. Oregon Ducks
2021 Record: 10-4 (7-2 Pac-12)
Oregon will be expected to compete for the Pac-12 title in Dan Lanning’s first year, and it will all depend on Auburn transfer QB Bo Nix to get the job done.
10. Baylor Bears
2021 Record: 12-2 (7-2 Big 12)
Dave Aranda’s squad returns 12 starters from last year’s squad, but has as much talent and experience in the trenches as anyone in the country. Sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen will be the pivot upon which Baylor’s season sways.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2021 Record: 11-2
Marcus Freeman inherits a good team in 2022 and returns 15 starter from last year. The schedule is difficult however, with games against Ohio State, UNC, BYU, Clemson, and USC on the docket.
8. Oklahoma Sooners
2021 Record: 11-2 (7-2 Big 12)
Brent Venables will get his shot at being a head coach in 2022 and has an experienced staff and roster to help him get going. OU has a lot of new pieces, but a wealth of experienced transfers should help the Sooners fill the holes left from 2021.
7. Utah Utes
2021 Record: 10-4 (8-1 Pac-12)
Kyle Whittingham might have his best team yet in Year 18 as the Utes return Cameron Rising at quarterback and Tavion Thomas at running back, while also bringing back six starters in what should be one of the nation’s best defensive units.
6. Michigan Wolverines
2021 Record: 12-2 (8-1 Big Ten)
Jim Harbaugh returns nine starters on offense, including the majority of the offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award last season. The defense has a lot of pieces to replace, but UM has the talent to plug-and-play there.
5. Texas A&M Aggies
2021 Record: 8-4 (4-4 SEC)
Jimbo Fisher has one of the most talented rosters in college football and could finally put something together in 2022. Quarterback play will be vital for the Aggies, and if Max Johnson can be better than average, A&M will be a contender in the SEC
4. Clemson Tigers
2021 Record: 10-3 (6-2)
Brent Venables and Tony Elliott are both gone, but Dabo Swinney returns 15 starters, and nine on offense. The Tigers have one of the deepest rosters in America, and should be improved in 2022, as long as the new coordinators pan out.
3. Georgia Bulldogs
2021 Record: 14-1 (8-0 SEC)
UGA returns just 10 starters from last year’s national championship team, but there is still five-star talent all over the roster. Seven starters return on offense, including quarterback Stetson Bennett, and the Bulldogs should be among the nation’s best again in 2022.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
2021 Record: 11-2 (8-1 Big Ten)
Ryan Day added defensive coordinator Jim Knowles after the Buckeyes defense cost them a couple of games last year. If Knowles gets things ironed out defensively, Ohio State might just run the table in 2022, as the offense should be next to unstoppable.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2021 Record: 13-2 (7-1 SEC)
Nick Saban’s squad returns several key pieces including Heisman winner Bryce Young and Nagurski Award Winner Will Anderson. Bama returns depth and experience on both sides of the ball and will be the frontrunner to win it all in 2022.