It was a dream season for the Georgia Bulldogs, who beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Three different SEC schools have won the last three national titles. Cincinnati crashed the big boys party and made the playoffs. Michigan beat Ohio State and made the playoffs. Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State all missed out on their conference championship games. It was a refreshing year. Especially in Athens.
1. Georgia – The Bulldogs scored the final 20 points of the National Championship Game to beat Alabama 33-18. Georgia outscored the opposition by an average of 28.4 points. Kirby Smart has done an incredible job, and now the Dogs have the national title.
2. Alabama – For the sixth time in seven seasons, Nick Saban led Alabama to the national title game. Sophomore quarterback Blake Young won the Heisman Trophy and is a big reason the Tide will likely be preseason No. 1 for 2022.
3. Michigan – The victory over Ohio State in the snow of the Big House is one of the grand scenes of college football. Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines past the Buckeyes, to the Big Ten championship and to their first playoff appearance in the Orange Bowl.
4. Cincinnati – For the first time in the playoff era, a non “Big Boy” got the berth in the playoffs. A perfect regular season and American championship earned a Cotton Bowl berth. Last two years, their only two losses are to Georgia and Alabama.
5. Baylor – The Bears won the Big XII Championship Game against Oklahoma State by inches and then played great defense in the Sugar Bowl triumph over Ole Miss. Dave Aranda has kept the Bears amongst the best in the Big XII.
6. Ohio State – The Buckeyes won a thriller over Utah in the Rose Bowl. It was a typical high scoring Pasadena affair. Ohio State’s two losses came to Oregon and Michigan. The Buckeyes are a good bet to be preseason No. 2 in 2022.
7. Michigan State – Mel Tucker led the Spartans to an 11-2 record and Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl win over Pitt. The Big Ten East was loaded this season and Sparty made their mark with a memorable victory over Michigan.
8. Oklahoma State – It was a painful end to the Big XII Championship Game and then an awful start in the Fiesta Bowl. But the Cowboys came back from a 28-7 deficit to Notre Dame to beat the Fighting Irish 37-35 in Tempe.
9. Notre Dame – Marcus Freeman has had a meteoric rise and is now the head coach of Notre Dame. In his first game as the head man, the Irish lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. Brian Kelly is now at LSU.
10. Oklahoma – It was a stunner with Lincoln Riley bolting for Southern Cal. Bob Stoops stepped in as interim coach, and the Sooners rolled past Oregon to finish 11-2. Brent Venables is the new head coach, as Oklahoma’s days in the Big XII wind down.
11. Ole Miss – It was a tremendous regular season for the Rebels, and a tough loss to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Losing Matt Corrall in the game was a tough blow. Lane Kiffin surprised a lot of fans by staying on in Oxford.
12. Utah – The Running Utes made a name for themselves with a strong close to the season, highlighted by a pair of wins over Oregon and the PAC-12 championship. It was a tough loss in Pasadena to Ohio State. Kyle Whittingham has done a great job at Utah.
13. Pittsburgh – The ACC champions lost a tight one to Michigan State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Pat Narduzzi has done a very good job in Steel City. It was disappointing that Kenny Pickett didn’t play in Atlanta.
14. Clemson – The Tigers got going offensively late in the season, including impressive wins over Wake Forest and South Carolina. Their defense is one of the nation’s best. The Cheez-It Bowl win over Iowa State pushed Clemson to 10-3 on the year.
15. Kentucky – For the second time in four years, the Wildcats posted a 10-3 record. That’s big news in Big Blue Basketball Nation. Mark Stoops has done a fine job in Lexington. His Wildcats won a physical slugfest over Iowa 20-17 in the Citrus Bowl.