Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Is Clemson back in the mix? Will UGA march their way to the playoffs? Is OSU as good as they seem? Can Will Anderson win a Heisman? That and more…
Before we move on to other Fact or Fiction issues, Brent has a few differing opinions of those of Erik:
2022 National Picture
Clemson is back to perennial national champion contender status.
I’m going with Fiction here. Clemson has a lot of talent, no doubt, and honestly recovered better last season than I thought they would after the early faceplant. But, ultimately, it just feels like a sinking ship. The elite coordinators that kept that program at the top for so long have left, and Dabo’s success has always come hand-in-hand with elite QB play – Tahj Boyd to DeShaun Watson to Trevor Lawrence. Well, DJ Uiagalelei ain’t it, and until they find someone else there, they’re going to continue being a team with a dangerous defense and some scary skill players, but not a real contender at the top level.
Southern Cal will be in the College Football Playoff.
FACT! I almost laughed and just said fiction and left it at that. USC’s got some talent, but it’s spotty due to shallow recruiting classes for essentially a decade now. Breaking in a new coach often doesn’t bode for great success in year 1, and, to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of faith that Lincoln Riley can manage a program for very long.
HOWEVER, have you looked at the Trojan’s schedule? I mean…. Woof. They dodged Oregon and Washington. Notre Dame is likely to take a sharp nosedive after losing their coach, and outside of Utah, the rest of the Pac-12 is a cakewalk. It’s essentially a 1 game season for the Trojans.
They’ll get mollywhopped in the playoffs (It’s a Lincoln Riley tradition, after all), but they’ll get there.
Ohio State will go 13-0 (regular season plus the B1GCG).
Fiction – The Buckeyes are kind of the opposite from the Trojans. They are neck and neck with Alabama as the most talented team in the country, and they’re likely a little more well rounded than the Tide. But check out this stretch: Wisconsin, Rutgers (perennial Buckeye slayer), Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State. Then a trio of really tough “easy” games with Northwestern, Indiana, and Maryland before a showdown with Michigan and then the Big-10 Championship.
That’s absolutely brutal.
Ohio State will drop a game, but they’ll win the Big 10 and make the playoffs.
2022 SEC PICTURE
Brian Kelly will win more SEC games this year than Jimbo Fisher (tiebreaker is head-to-head matchup).
Fiction – Year 1 will be tough for Kelly, and the Aggies have just stockpiled so much more talent than the Tigers the last couple of years. That said, I don’t expect there to be a huge gulf between the two, and I’ll even say that LSU wins the head-to-head. Jimbo is gonna Jimbo and they’ll go 8-4 or 9-3. LSU will get to 7 wins, though it won’t be easy for them.
Georgia will go 12-0.
Definitely Fiction. You don’t lose that many players from a great team and come back even better than the year before. We’ve seen many Saban teams lose their hunger the year after winning a national championship, and considering this was the first one for the Dwags since the Mayflower arrived, they’ll have a whole lot of mental hangover to overcome.
Plus the East just seems like it could be generally more dangerous this year. A Napier-led Florida could very well be dangerous in year 1, Tennessee might actually have a little something going for them (*gags*), and Kentucky just might have the second best QB in the conference (what a world we live in). And don’t forget they open the season with a showdown against the Oregon Ducks. 10-2 or even 9-3 seems more likely to me.
Vanderbilt will go 0-9 against Power-5 teams.
The Dores kept it close vs Missouri and South Carolina last year, and I’m not sure either of those teams are really going to be improved. So I suppose there’s a shot they could win one. You know what, let’s give them a little unearned faith. FICTION! Vandy picks up 1 win in the East this year.
2022 ALABAMA OUTLOOK
Will Anderson Will Win the Heisman. The question is not does he deserve it but can he actually pull it off and what it might take.
Fiction. Not a chance. He won’t have quite the stats that he had in 2021, and there’s no way the media is going to let three Alabama players in a row win the Heisman, let alone a boring defensive player.
The Crimson Tide offensive line will excel.
Fact. They won’t be 2012 or 2020 good, but they’ll be significantly better than 2021. Javion Cohen become an All-SEC guard, Tyler Steen solidifies one tackle spot and a young, talented player like JC Latham takes the other spot and makes significant strides throughout the season. The real question, to me, is center. Does Darrian Dalcourt fix his line call and chemistry issues? Or does Seth McLaughlin add some muscle to actually hold up in the middle? Can new OL coach Eric Wolford just mash the two together to get a complete player?
In any case, I think the change of position coach here makes all the difference in the world from the “chemistry” dumpster fire we saw last year.
Alabama will go 12-0 this season
Fact again, I think. It’s a comparatively weak schedule this year, and Saban always comes out on a warpath after a rough end to a season. This year should be the culmination of Saban’s defensive shift to the 3-3-5/4-2-5 defense that began with the hiring of Pete Golding. It’s a veteran-laden defense that’s now been fully recruited for this scheme, and I don’t see any real weak spots. Offensively, OL and WR are question marks, for sure, but, as I said above, I have a lot of optimism on the OL. The long-term prognostication on the WRs is still a bit sketchy though, and we’re depending on two transfers and a true freshman or two to develop chemistry with Bryce in time to make things happen.
I think there could be some offensive hiccups (just like we saw in a few games last year), but an outstanding defense and the best QB in the country cover for it enough to cruise the Tide into the playoffs.
Clemson is back!
Southern Cal in the CFP
Ohio State 13-0
Brian Kelly win more SEC than Jimbo
Vanderbilt 0-9 vs Power-5
Will Anderson Heisman
Bama OL will excel
It’s not a competition but, yeah, it’s a competition. So, whose opinions are you siding with?