5 Most Anticipated College Football Matchups in 2022
The 2022 College Football season is around two and a half months away, yet fans are already talking about it. Many storylines are emerging, lots of new faces in new places, and some revenge tours are going to occur. Here are my 5 best matchups for this upcoming season. What would you change?
1. Notre Dame @ Ohio State, Week 1
Notre Dame comes off a solid season last year, finishing 11 and 2. They floated at the top 15 all season, finishing ranked 8th in the final AP poll. Their 2 losses came to a tough Cincy team (who made the CFP) and Oklahoma State (in the bowl game), who lost in the Big XII Championship and missed a potential playoff spot by about half a yard. 2 very quality losses, nonetheless, both being close games. New HC Marcus Freeman (formerly DC before Brian Kelly left for LSU) looks to get the Irish back on track. They come into the season losing a lot of talent, such as Kyren Williams, Jack Coan and Kyle Hamilton. Yet, I believe Marcus Freeman can get this team back to standard and potentially make the Playoff.
On the other side, it’s one of the National Championship favorites, the Ohio State Buckeyes. They finished the season 11 and 2, their losses coming to Oregon and Michigan. In perhaps the Game of the Year, the Rose Bowl, CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba went OFF. Stroud finished the game with 37 completions for 573 yards and 6 TD. Jaxon set a Rose Bowl record with 15 receptions for 345 yards and 3 TDs. A last second FG by Noah Ruggles gave the Bucks the W. Ohio State returns a lot of talent this year, those 2 studs I mentioned before along with RB TreVeyon Henderson. With Ryan Day’s brilliant playcalling and this amazing offense, I can see the Bucks going all the way this year.
This will be a fun one to watch, historically defensive minded Marcus Freeman vs offensive minded Ryan Day. Can this ND defense stop the lethal Buckeyes attack?
2. Georgia @ Oregon, Week 1 (ATL – Neutral Site)
UGA comes into the season after winning their first National Championship in 41 years. Georgia finished 14 and 1. Their season ended with Kirby Smart avenging the SEC Championship loss to Alabama, conquering them 33-18. Georgia lost a decent amount of talent in the offseason, guys like George Pickens, Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis, and Lewis Cine. They also lost a coach who they will see in this game. However, they will reload with a bunch of new guys and be just fine this upcoming year.
On the other side, it’s the PAC-12 Juggernaut, the Oregon Ducks. Oregon comes into this season with a disappointing 2021 campaign, going 10 and 4. Those 4 losses were to Stanford in OT, Utah twice, and OU in their bowl game. The new coach I talked about in the UGA piece? Yeah, he’s Oregon’s new HC. Dan Lanning enters Eugene looking to bring the Ducks back to the Playoff, after being the Georgia defensive coordinator. The Ducks lost a lot of talent in the transfer portal but got some back. Some of the names they lost were star RB Travis Dye, who left for USC and Lincoln Riley. However, they picked up former Auburn QB, Bo Nix. Nix was decent in the Plains but didn’t exactly live up to expectations. It will be interesting to see if he can revitalize his career.
This is one of the headliners for Week 1, it will certainly be interesting to see how Dan Lanning coaches the Ducks. Furthermore, can UGA keep it’s momentum and get another title?
3. USC @ Utah, Week 7
One of the main talks of the offseason has been USC and their offseason moves. After bringing in former Sooners HC Lincoln Riley along with QB Caleb Williams and WR Mario Williams, the Trojans are looking good. However, they finished the 2021 season going a miserable 4-8, and firing Clay Helton. They lost QB Jaxon Dart to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss but gained Oregon RB Travis Dye. With 2021 Biletnikoff Winner Jordan Addison also joining this high-flying offense, USC fans must be pumped. Can Lincoln Riley turn the Trojans around and bring USC back to a title?
Now for maybe, the most slept-on team in 2021, the Utah Utes. Ty Whittingham has done a phenomenal job with this program, finishing with a record of 10 and 4. Yet, they won the PAC-12 Championship in convincing fashion, beating the Ducks 38-10. They return some notable talent, like JR QB Cameron Rising, along with JR RB Tavion Thomas and SR TE Dalton Kinkaid. They also got SR LB Mohamoud Diabate, who had 89 total tackles with Florida last year.
Will the Air Raid offense of Lincoln Riley prevail in this matchup, or will the under center, 3 TE vertical passing game of Utah succeed?
4. Texas A&M @ Alabama, Week 6
The Aggies and Alabama had an amazing game in 2021, with A&M toppling the Tide 41-38 on a last second FG.
Texas A&M has had an interesting offseason, to say the least. They finished the 2021 season with an 8 and 4 record, with some bright spots. They come into this year boasting the #1 recruiting class in the country, which comes with some drama. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban had some verbal exchanges about the NIL stuff, Jimbo claiming he hadn’t spent any money on recruits. Then, he claimed to only have “bought” one recruit. A lot of controversy between them this offseason will soon be settled on the gridiron, which many will tune in to. I personally cannot wait for this matchup.
Alabama had a typical season, finishing 14 and 1, falling in the Natty to UGA. Winning an SEC Championship was nothing new to them, but their fans should be happy with the season they had. Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman winner, looks to go on a revenge tour and give Saban another ring. Speaking of Saban, he added a ton of talent through the transfer portal, such as GT RB Jahmyr Gibbs, along WR Jermaine Burton from UGA, and WR Tyler Harrell from Louisville. Bama still has potential top 10 pick Will Anderson, their best defensive player. Some may say he may even win the Heisman Trophy this year.
5. Texas @ Oklahoma, Week 6 (Dallas – Neutral Site)
Texas and OU also had College Football Game of the Year potential in 2021. Yet, not many of the stars from that shootout are in this game. Spencer Rattler left for South Carolina, Caleb Williams went to USC, and Casey Thompson went to Lincoln. However, some new faces are entering the spotlight for these two bluebloods.
If the Red River Showdown was only 1 quarter long, we wouldn’t be talking about this game right now. Sadly, for Texas fans, the game lasted all 60 minutes. After the first quarter, Texas was throttling OU, 28 to 7 on 3 Casey Thompson passing TD’s, along with a Bijan Robinson TD run after a blocked punt. Then, OU came back, and won on a last second TD run by Kennedy Brooks to win 55-48.
This season, however, is different. For OU, UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel will conduct the offense, behind his new OC Jeff Lebby and new HC Brent Venables. For UT, hometown Freshman Quinn Ewers transfers from Ohio State to play for the Horns. This game has talent on both sides of the ball, and should be a treat for college football fans across the country.
Will Sarkisian keep his dreams alive of succeeding at UT, or will Brent Venables get his first victory in this rivalry as a HC?
All stats in this article came from sports-reference.com