The best college football teams in 2022 will be crowned and the order they’ll play next year is listed below. But who has the most talented roster? Here are four big-time programs to watch out for as we enter a new era of recruiting rankings, player salaries, and live TV broadcasts.
The “2022 college football playoff semifinals” is a term that has been used to describe the four teams that are in contention for the national championship. These four teams will be competing on Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd.
This is when things start to get interesting. Teams’ depth and skill generally win out in their third and fourth games of the tournament.
In ESPN’s 2022 hypothetical NCAA football playoff, we’re down to 16 teams (also known as the Sweet 16).
There have already been some remarkable moments in the early stages, including game-winning field goals, record performances, and suffocating defensive efforts. Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan are the only four No. 1 seeds still alive. No. 6 Kentucky is the lowest remaining seed.
To summarize, the initial seeds were based in part on ESPN’s most recent SP+ estimates for the 2022 season. Let’s complete football’s version of a 64-team tournament and, just maybe, persuade the sport’s leadership to stop dithering and enlarge the playoff.
In the Sweet 16, Bryce Young gets Alabama off to a good start. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images photo
REGION OF THE SOUTH
(1) Alabama 38, (5) Arkansas 16: Despite quarterback Bryce Young being held far below his season throwing average, the Crimson Tide won the regular-season meeting between these two teams in Fayetteville. In this meeting, though, it’s back to the real Young, who scores two first-quarter touchdown passes and leaves the rest to Alabama’s fierce defense.
(3) NC State 28, (2) Utah 24: The Wolfpack won their first ACC regular-season title since 1979, which was a long time coming for Pack supporters. But it’s in this game between two muscular, well-coached teams that their greatest triumph in decades occurs in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Devin Leary slips over the goal line from just inside the 1. Dave Doeren and the Pack will advance to the Elite Eight.
FINAL OF THE REGION
(1) Alabama 41, (3) NC State 21: Alabama’s defense lets up more than 20 points for the first time in the tournament, however one of NC State’s touchdowns comes in the last five minutes, when the game is already won. The Wolfpack’s failure to protect Leary well enough to put together any drives against a Tide defense that ends with six sacks and two forced fumbles is the story of the game.
WHERE WE’VE COME FROM
(1) Alabama defeats (16) Liberty, (2) Utah defeats (15) Memphis, (3) North Carolina State defeats (14) Oregon State, (13) Appalachian State defeats (4) Florida, (5) Arkansas defeats (12) TCU, (6) Iowa defeats (11) North Carolina, and (7) South Carolina defeats (10) Louisville in the first round. (8) Florida State loses against (9) Texas.
(2) Utah over (7) South Carolina, (3) N.C. State over (6) Iowa, and (5) Arkansas over (13) Appalachian State in the second round.
In this round, Luke Fickell leads Cincinnati over Notre Dame. Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire photo
REGION OF THE MIDWEST
(1) Ohio State 30, (4) Oklahoma State 14: Any opponent defensive coordinator would have a difficult time sifting through Ohio State’s assortment of playmakers on offense. Someone who can score from a vast distance may be found anywhere. But an offensive line that keeps getting stronger as the season goes on and plays its finest game yet, as the Buckeyes keep the ball away from the Cowboys and Spencer Sanders, is often ignored on this Ohio State squad.
(3) Cincinnati 24, (2) Notre Dame 20: Isn’t this a clash worth watching? Luke Fickell of Cincinnati and Marcus Freeman of Notre Dame have been friends for over two decades. Before joining Notre Dame, Freeman was the defensive coordinator for Cincinnati under Fickell. Fickell coached Freeman at Ohio State after recruiting him there. Last season, these two teams faced in the regular season, with the Bearcats winning, although Freeman was the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame at the time. He is now the head coach. The game comes down to the wire, but the mentor has the upper hand on his protégé.
FINAL OF THE REGION
(1) Ohio State 34, (3) Cincinnati 17: Eager to shake off the nickname “little brother” in Ohio, Cincinnati jumps off to a quick lead with tight end Josh Whyle receiving his ninth touchdown throw of the season. But the Bearcats can’t stop the big play, and Ohio State blows the game open with three throwing touchdowns of 50 yards or longer, the final one a 78-yarder to Marvin Harrison Jr., and the Buckeyes win their 13th consecutive victory against Cincinnati, dating back to 1897.
WHERE WE’VE COME FROM
(1) Ohio State defeats (16) Toledo, (2) Notre Dame defeats (15) UTSA, and (3) Cincinnati defeats (14) Marshall in the first round. (4) Oklahoma State defeated (13) San Diego State, (12) Maryland defeated (5) Michigan State, (6) Tennessee defeated (11) Nebraska, (10) UCF defeated (7) Oregon, and (9) Minnesota defeated (8) Mississippi State.
(1) Ohio State defeats (9) Minnesota, (2) Notre Dame defeats (10) UCF, (3) Cincinnati defeats (6) Tennessee, and (4) Oklahoma State defeats (12) Maryland in the second round.
Haynes King’s toughness pushes Texas A&M into the Elite 8. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
REGION OF THE EAST
(1) Georgia 37, (5) Miami 20: In the summer, the Hurricanes made unprecedented investments in their football program, including luring head coach Mario Cristobal away from Oregon. It was a wonderful run for The U and the beginnings of something great in Coral Gables, but Georgia’s defense is suffocating in the second half and forces Miami to just one field goal, despite all of the losses to the NFL. Jalen Carter has a total of three sacks.
(2) Texas A&M 34: (6) Kentucky 28: Kentucky quarterback Will Levis flourishes under first-year offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, and he’s masterful in this game with one clutch third-down completion after another. Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King is equally effective with his ability to find open receivers on key drives, but it’s his toughness and running ability that propel the Aggies into the Elite Eight and three wins away from a national title.
FINAL OF THE REGION
(2) Texas A&M 24, (1) Georgia 23: The reverberations from this one can be felt all the way back to Kyle Field and beyond. Jimbo Fisher has racked up blockbuster contracts and marquee recruiting classes in College Station, but he has never had a win that means as much as this one. Fisher’s offense vs. Kirby Smart’s defense produces a back-and-forth classic. Brock Bowers gathers in a leaping touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone to give the Dawgs the lead, but a long kickoff return and then a key fourth-down scramble by King sets up Caden Davis to make the biggest kick of his career, and he nails it from 46 yards to send the Aggies to the FOUR FINALISTS.
WHERE WE’VE COME FROM
First round: (1) Georgia over (16) Syracuse, (2) Texas A&M over (15) Washington, (3) Wisconsin over (14) Western Kentucky, (4) Penn State over (13) Iowa State, (5) Miami over (12) Kansas State, (6) Kentucky over (11) SMU, (7) Ole Miss over (10) Arizona State, (8) Houston over (9) UCLA
Second round: (1) Georgia over (8) Houston, (2) Texas A&M over (7) Ole Miss, (6) Kentucky over (3) Wisconsin, (5) Miami over (4) Penn State
Oklahoma’s DaShaun White comes up with the game-winning play late in the game. Icon Sportswire/William Purnell photo
REGION OF THE WEST
Was there ever any question that Caleb Williams would wind up at USC when Lincoln Riley decided to go for the West Coast? Nothing has changed at USC since they were offensive wizards together at Oklahoma. Williams, in fact, is even more polished as a sophomore, tearing through a Michigan defense that is still reeling from the loss of so many outstanding players to the NFL. Williams threw two touchdown passes and added two more on the ground to set up a rematch with his former club.
(3) Oklahoma 21, (2) Clemson 17: Talk about coaching staff familiarity. Brent Venables, the first-year Oklahoma coach, spent ten years as Dabo Swinney’s defensive coordinator. Wes Goodwin, Clemson’s new defensive coordinator, was a protégé of Venables while working his way up from an analyst position. As both defenses come to play, neither side enjoys much offensive success. Although Clemson’s defense is suffocating, Oklahoma senior linebacker DaShaun White causes a turnover deep in Clemson territory, which the Sooners convert with the game-winning score.
FINAL OF THE REGION
(4) USC 28, (3) Oklahoma 35: This is an Elite Eight matchup that will elicit strong emotions and provide plenty of drama. The Sooners’ defensive strategy under Venables and defensive coordinator Ted Roof is superb, but Riley makes his own modifications against his former team and creates mismatches for tight end Malcolm Epps down the field. The Trojans are up by a score in the fourth quarter, but it’s the “other” quarterback who steals the show. Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby calls a brilliant fourth quarter, as Dillon Gabriel, his former quarterback at UCF, outplays Williams and leads OU to within two victories of college football’s most prestigious award.
WHERE WE’VE COME FROM
(1) Michigan defeats (16) Army, (2) Clemson defeats (15) Missouri, (3) Oklahoma defeats (14) Texas Tech, (4) USC defeats (13) Boise State, (12) Fresno State defeats (5) Baylor, (6) Wake Forest defeats (11) Auburn, (10) Purdue defeats (7) BYU, and (9) Pittsburgh defeats (8) LSU in the first round.
Second round: (1) Michigan defeated (9) Pittsburgh, (2) Clemson defeated (10) Purdue, (3) Oklahoma defeated (6) Wake Forest, and (4) USC defeated (12) Fresno State.
(1) Alabama 41, (3) Oklahoma 21: After taking a 28-0 lead, the Crimson Tide held off Kyler Murray and the Sooners in the playoff semifinals to end the 2018 season. Young throws two first-quarter touchdown passes to versatile running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who, like Jameson Williams a year ago, makes a major impression as a transfer. The Alabama defense takes care of the rest, with linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner combining for six tackles for loss and holding the Sooners to two scores until a last meaningless TD late in the game.
(1) Ohio State 38, (2) Texas A&M 24: There’s no stopping the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense, as they score 30 or more points for the fifth straight game in the tournament. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is spectacular, but so are running back TreVeyon Henderson and receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. Get the picture? Every time it looks like the Aggies might be on the cusp of making a move in the game, another one of the Buckeyes’ talented playmakers breaks loose for a big play. Ohio State finishes the game with more than 300 yards passing and nearly 200 yards rushing to set up a Big Ten vs. SEC CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL game.
CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
(1) Ohio State 34, (1) Alabama 30: It’s a stunning display of future first-round NFL draft picks. The stars are out on offense, defense, even special teams. Young and Stroud combine for nearly 700 passing yards, and Ohio State is finally able to show that Alabama’s defense is mortal. Nonetheless, Anderson’s strip sack of Stroud sets up a 40-yard field goal by Will Reichard to break a 27-27 tie. But back comes Ohio State, and Smith-Njigba scores on a perfectly thrown corner route from Stroud to give the Buckeyes the lead. The Tide have one last shot, but Young’s 47-yard heave to the end zone is batted away to give Ohio State its first CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL since 2014 and its first under Ryan Day. After the game, both Young and Stroud announce that they will return for their senior seasons after each signing NIL deals reportedly worth $30 million.
The “2022 national championship tickets” is a term used to describe the games that are played in college football’s 2022 season. These games will determine which team is crowned as the champions of college football.
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