[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The preseason AP Poll is out now, so there's no better time to dissect who's being overrated and underrated heading into the 2022 season.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]
I have seen Clemson ranked in almost every preseason top five. They are number four in the preseason AP poll. After last season, I’m not buying it. They had a really good defense, but their offense was abysmal. Sure, they went 10-3 last season. However, a lot of those games were not pretty. They beat a three-win Georgia Tech 14-8, Boston College 19-13, Syracuse 17-14, Florida State 30-20, and Louisville 30-24. None of those teams were in the top 25. Even their wins weren’t impressive.
They didn’t add much to their offense over the offseason and are losing both coordinators. Also, DJ Uiagalelei was simply not good last season. He has a lot to prove before I can say that Clemson is back to where they were before last season.
USC is ranked 14th in the AP poll heading into this season. I understand they got a new coach and a lot of new key players, but they still went 4-8 last season. None of their new guys have ever played together, aside from Caleb Williams, Mario Williams, and a few other players that came over from Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley. It is hard to find your footing and be great without much playing experience together.
I think that USC might be good this season - even very good at times - but at this moment, I believe they are overrated. They haven’t proven anything yet. I hope I am wrong because I would love to see USC return to greatness. College football as a whole is better when teams like USC, Miami, Nebraska, and Texas are good. The passion brought by those fan bases helps drive national interest in the sport and could end up balancing the playing field at large.
Speaking of Texas, it seems like every season, we hear “Texas is Back.” But every year, they're not. The Longhorns continue to underperform year after year. Last season was no different, they went 5-7 in Steve Sarkisian’s first year. The loss of wide receiver Isaiah Neyor and starting guard Junior Angilau for the season due to injury also doesn’t help their chances of turning things around.
I like the addition of Quinn Ewers at QB, and of course, they have Bijan Robinson at RB. I just think they need more to be back to being what Texas should be. They are well on their way with how they have been recruiting, but I don’t think it will happen this season.
Staying in the state of Texas, the Aggies come in ranked sixth in the AP Poll to start this season. I understand they just had the number one recruiting class in the country and one of the best ever, but those guys are freshmen. What about the rest of their players that were there last season? Those guys finished the season 8-4 and 4-4 in conference play. They had an unimpressive 10-7 win against Colorado and lost to both Mississippi State and LSU. Yes, they beat Alabama, but I don’t see them doing that again this season. They also lost RB Isaiah Spiller and WR Demond Demas, two big contributors from last season.
They don’t know who their starting quarterback will be, and I don’t see a game-changing option for them there. Haynes King is coming back from a season-ending injury, transfer Max Johnson led LSU to only a 6-7 record (last in the SEC West,) and Conner Weigman is only a true freshman. Despite his youth, I believe that he might actually be the best choice for the Aggies. If you tell me in a year or two that Texas A&M will be a top-five team, I wouldn’t doubt it. I just don’t see them living up to the hype again this season.
The Irish are ranked fifth in the preseason poll, but they start the season in a very difficult fashion with a game in Columbus against the Buckeyes. Ohio State is a 14.5-point favorite for a reason. Notre Dame has a lot of new faces, including a new starting QB (Tyler Buchner) and head coach (Marcus Freeman) There’s a lot of inexperience there.
I have heard that all of the players love him, and I have seen what he has done on the recruiting trail, but that doesn’t matter once kickoff happens. They also have a very tough schedule this season. Including their debut against the Buckeyes, they also have to play North Carolina, BYU, Clemson, Boston College, and they finish the season with USC. Do I think the Fighting Irish will be good this year? Yes. Do I think they will be a top-five team? No.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]
I am very high on Arkansas this season, just as I was last year too. They come in ranked 19th to start the season, but I truly believe they could be a top ten team by the end of it. They return key players and picked up some good transfers to fill in holes. They return quarterback KJ Jefferson, linebacker Bumper Pool, and their whole running back core from last year. From the transfer portal, they landed some key pieces, including WR Jadon Haselwood from Oklahoma, LB Drew Sanders from Alabama, DB Latavious Brini from Georgia, among others.
They proved last season that they have the ability to beat Texas A&M. This season, they get Cincinnati, Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss at home. I also think that Sam Pittman is one of the best coaches in the country. The way he has turned that program around and how quickly he did it doesn’t get talked about enough.
When you hear people talk about the PAC-12 for this season, you only hear about Utah, USC, and Oregon. I believe UCLA is a team that could make some noise. They finished 8-4 last season and return both QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and RB Zach Charbonnet. They also get both Utah and USC at home. Head coach Chip Kelly is entering his fifth season but continues to coach like he has something to prove. I’m not saying that UCLA is going to look like prime Chip Kelly Oregon, but I do think they are being overlooked heading into 2022.
I'm so confident in the Boilermakers that I'm picking them to win the West and play in the Big Ten Championship come December. They have one of the more underrated quarterbacks nationally in Aidan O’Connell, and return both tight ends and starting running back, King Doerue. They lose WR David Bell, but return receiver Broc Thompson, who broke out in the Boilermakers bowl game last year. They return a lot on defense as well. They are also the only Big Ten West contender that avoids playing Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State from the East. Their toughest crossover opponent is Penn State, who they get at home in week one. A win there could be huge and kickstart a great season for Purdue.
Nobody talks about Brigham Young. They have some of the most returning production in the country. They are ranked 25th to start this season and have a lot of opportunities on their schedule to make some serious noise. They play Baylor, Oregon, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Boise State, and Stanford. They truly have a shot at winning every single one of those games.
I am very excited to see them in person when they travel to Las Vegas to take on Notre Dame. They went 10-3 last season and went undefeated against the Pac-12. They beat Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, Washington State, and USC. I personally believe that they could be even better this season.
I know what you’re probably thinking. What could I possibly see in Nebraska? They went 1-8 in conference play and 3-9 overall last season. But did you know that every single one of their losses were by single digits? They lost to Illinois by eight. Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota by seven. Both Michigan and Michigan State by three. Purdue by five and Ohio State by only nine. They could have very well had a winning record.
I still think Scott Frost is a good coach, but he needs to prove it this year. Incoming quarterback transfer Casey Thompson from Texas will help that offense a lot. They do have to travel to play at Michigan in November, but they get Oklahoma and Wisconsin at home. I think that the Oklahoma game could set the tone for the rest of the season for the Cornhuskers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]