Week 1 of the 2022 college football season is here. And what better way to start the season than with some predictions that will undoubtedly be imperfect? Here are the conference champion and College Football Playoff predictions from our Yahoo Sports college football staff with insight from Nick Bromberg and Sam Cooper on their playoff picks below.
College Football Playoff predictions
Nick Bromberg: I realize that we had Clemson ahead of Utah in our preseason top 25 but I’m backing Utah to make the playoff over the Tigers because of a couple of factors. Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei needs to make a massive step forward in 2022 for the Tigers to make the playoff or Cade Klubnik needs to play like Trevor Lawrence did as a freshman. The quarterback play that Clemson got in 2021 isn’t good enough for a playoff berth.
Utah’s Cam Rising was the best QB in the Pac-12 in 2021 and is right behind USC’s Caleb Williams in the pecking order this year. Tavion Thomas is a fantastic running back and the Utes have great tight ends. Throw in a win over an improved Florida team in Week 1 and Utah makes the playoff at 12-1 with a Pac-12 title.
It’s pretty chalky for me everywhere else. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alabama and Georgia meet twice in the postseason again at the end of the 2022 season and I think the Crimson Tide win the national title.
Sam Cooper: It’s hard not to go with chalk this year. I think Clemson will rebound enough on offense to win the ACC, though I did consider NC State there. The Tigers’ defense is too nasty. I think Alabama will edge out Georgia in the SEC but it’s very possible that both roll through the regular season undefeated. That’s why I have them both in the CFP field. I also considered both Ohio State and Michigan making it (with the OSU game being Michigan’s only loss), but the two SEC teams making the field feels like a much more likely outcome.
Our favorite College Football Playoff sleeper
Nick Bromberg: The national title odds at BetMGM show a clear brand-name bias as bettors like to bet on teams they know. USC is at +2000 and the No. 5 favorite while Utah and Oregon are at +5000. Texas is at +4000 ahead of Oklahoma at +5000 even though the Sooners are the Big 12 favorite. Arizona State is +10000 despite a bunch of players transferring and a host of coaches leaving due to an NCAA investigation.
I wanted to keep that in mind as I looked for my sleeper but I got stuck on a team that also could have slightly inflated odds: Miami. The Hurricanes are at +6600 and seem ripe for a new coach bounce in Mario Cristobal’s first year. QB Tyler Van Dyke is a potential first-round pick and four of the team’s five leading tacklers return. Miami should also rebound in the turnover department after ending the 2021 season -6 in turnover margin. Games at Texas A&M and Clemson are extremely tough and the Hurricanes will likely be underdogs in both but those games also provide great opportunities for Miami to get signature wins and climb up the playoff rankings.
Sam Cooper: I’m pretty high on Oregon (+5000) this year. I’m not expecting a Week 1 upset over Georgia, but it could go a long way from a perception perspective if the Ducks put up a fight into the fourth quarter. From there, it’s possible that Oregon could be favored in every game the rest of the season. The Ducks get UCLA, Washington and Utah at home. Mario Cristobal left behind a lot of talent for Dan Lanning, especially on defense with guys like Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe. The offensive line is stellar and Bo Nix could potentially have a lot more success facing Pac-12 defenses than he did going up against SEC competition at Auburn every week.