This is the final season of college football before the size of the playoff triples from four schools to 12. So with that, we’ll do a Power 12 this season to help set the table when 11 “Power Five” schools (and Notre Dame) plus one “Group of Five” team will make it. Just getting ready for the inevitable. The SEC and PAC-12 look like the strongest conferences, with the latter poised for one of those four coveted playoff spots for the first time since 2016. Will Florida State top Clemson? Can anyone in the balanced Big XII post a good-enough record? Could Penn State challenge the Buckeyes and Michigan? How about an 11-1 SEC team that doesn’t play in Atlanta getting a second berth? All will be sorted out. Here we go.
1. Georgia – The two-time reigning national champion Bulldogs bring back a lot of talent, despite having 24 players drafted the last two years. Kirby Smart is the absolute best at managing a roster. Getting settled at quarterback and placekicker is the top priority.
2. LSU – Brian Kelly won big at Notre Dame and considering that the last three coaches at LSU won national titles, it’s a good bet that Kelly will be highly successful. The Tigers open against Florida State in Orlando.
3. Alabama – Nick Saban built a dynasty in Tuscaloosa, and is driving the Tide to get back to the SEC Championship Game and Playoff. Bama lost its two best players, but made the blueprint on restocking talent. Bama gets Texas, the Vols and LSU all at home.
4. Michigan – Jim Harbaugh has led the resurgence Michigan has been hungry for. Two straight wins over Ohio State, Big Ten titles and CFP berths. Now Michigan is hungry for that final step, getting to the big game and capturing the big prize.
5. Ohio State – The Buckeyes have been recruiting at the highest level in the Big Ten. But the last two years, after two decades of Ohio State domination, Michigan has beaten the Buckeyes. The game is in Ann Arbor this November. OSU hosts Penn State and Michigan State.
6. Tennessee – Joe Milton played very well down the stretch in 2022 and is definitely QB1 in Knoxville.. A September road trip to Florida is a borderline must win. The Vols host South Carolina, A&M and Georgia. You know Bama will be out for vengeance.
7. Southern Cal – Heisman winner Caleb Williams is back for Lincoln Riley’s high octane offense. In October, USC goes to Notre Dame and then hosts nemesis Utah in back-to-back weeks. That will tell the story if a great year is in store in Troy.
8. Clemson – Last year, the Tigers won the ACC title for the seventh time in eight years, but lost three games, including South Carolina. The Tigers get Florida State, Notre Dame and North Carolina all at home this year and then close in Columbia.
9. Florida State – For the first time since Jameis Winston played at Florida State, Clemson doesn’t appear to be the heavy favorite in the ACC. We’ll know in September. The ‘Noles open with LSU in Orlando, then in Week Four head to Clemson.
10. Notre Dame – Marcus Freeman led the Fighting Irish to wins in six of their last seven games and expectations are high under the shadow of the Golden Dome. Ohio State and Southern Cal both visit South Bend, while the Irish go to Clemson.
11. Oregon State – The Beavers bring back a lot of pieces from last year’s 10-3 team and they add DJ Uiagalelei at QB. The schedule is manageable. OSU could be 9-1 heading into the final two at home with Washington and then at Oregon.
12. Utah – The Utes have captured back-to-back PAC-12 titles and are once again amongst the league favorites. Utah, Oregon, USC, Oregon State and Washington all have a legitimate shot at the title and CFB berth. Utah opens the season with Florida in Salt Lake City.