2022 college football season: fact or fiction?

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We are almost all there! More than a month off-season. And with that, we’re going to slowly start to enter the season. To that end, we’ll be doing a roundup next year, but with a slightly different twist: Fact or Fiction. And today, Airwreck tries to answer the questions of our panel:

National Photo 2022

  • Clemson is back to perennial national champion status.

Fiction “The Tigers’ problems run deeper than the loss of Venables. Although he made a mistake of 8 and 9 wins and helped them consistently win that crippling conference, the group fell apart completely: both OCs gone, the DC. The recruitment strategy is also suspect because when it works, it really works. But signing small classes, dodging the gate and promising starting jobs is playing with fire. When you miss a single critical position, it sets your team back for 3-4 years at a time. DJU seems to be that miss, atop an offensive line that has never been very good, with losses out and in the backfield to boot. The defense is damn talented on offense. They will be salty. And the simple fact is that the rest of the ACC is improving (albeit slowly) around them. A super-talented Miami team or a rebuilt FSU can pose existential threats to Clemson’s hegemony. Pitt and UNC don’t think they’re going anywhere, and Luhvl is improving as well. Forget the vivacious natty competitor. I’m not sure they’ll be conference favorites in 24 months.

  • Southern Cal will participate in the College Football Playoffs.

Fiction – Absolutely not. It always takes a year to bring in a new coaching staff, the Trojans have lost their best players (especially up front), and the fact is that not only Lincoln Riley underperformed, once he was without the Stoops rookies and had to croot and develop his talents on his own, he suffered diminishing returns and far more misses than slam dunks. In his last four seasons, the Sooners have gone from 1st overall to T-1, to 2nd, to 3rd in the Big 12. And those failures start with soft, selfless defense on one side, and recently in the field back: So far, Rattler and Caleb look like Big Lots Jalen Hurts. It’s a team with 3 or 4 defeats this year, with all the requirements. If the Trojans actually move the Big 10, they’re a 3-and-4 loss team all year. It’s also what this coward deserves.

  • ohio state will go 13-0 (regular season plus the B1GCG).

Do – The Buckeyes go 13-0 and may not have a single game decided by less than double-digit runs too…until they meet Alabama at CFPCG, where they will lose again (although from much more competitively than in 2020). Rest assured, however. Most programs would kill to go 14-1, have a winning Heisman QB, and fight their way to a Big 10 title. This team is going to set all kinds of B1G records and come in just short.

DRY PHOTO 2022

  • Brian Kelly will win more SEC games this year than Jimbo Fisher (the tiebreaker is a head-to-head matchup).

Fiction — Brian Kelly is a better coach, but it will take time to put the talent and the system in place. Aggie suffered significant losses, but at least the system is in place and people generally have familiar expectations. Expect both to try and win with the ground game this year, as the QB room for both teams is a hot mess, to be frank.

Fiction – You don’t lose 28 players in draft, graduation and gate and you get better – including 8 off defense, Jermaine Burton, James Cook, half an offensive line, 6 of 7 on the front defensive and the defensive coordinator. Oh sure, there are weapons at TE and WR, and UGA will always have running backs, but the margin for error is significantly slimmer this season. I think returning a full third of the list is going to matter at some point. And while Florida, Sakerlina is still a year away from getting it all in place, there are enough pitfalls on this schedule and enough question marks that it sounds the ‘Dawgs at least one somewhere, maybe be twice.
The funniest thing to watch this year will be the crazy Honky McFailson suddenly thinking he’s Aaron Rodgers and trying to play outside of himself and offense. Those 50-50 eephus he threw against inexperienced Alabama reserve corners won’t fly against teams that have some starting experience there.

Joshua L. Jones/USA TODAY NETWORK

  • Vanderbilt will go 0-9 against the Power-5 teams.

Fact – Vanderbilt will lay the goose egg against major conference peers, and I predict that in fact they will not come within 14 points of any of them – WakeForestAlabama, Ole MissTennessee in particular will assault this secondary.

2022 ALABAMA OUTLOOK

  • Will Anderson will win the Heisman. The question isn’t whether he deserves it, but can he actually pull it off and what it might take.

Fiction “However, he will eventually get his due and go on stage in New York with Bryce and Stroud. But even as he has seasons for the literal ages, with marked productivity in generations, it is an offensive sport. And with Stroud likely to put up Madden-like stats on the way at a 13-0 OSU record, the Buckeye has to be your favorite. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a sufficient amount of production to guarantee that the best player in the country actually wins the award acknowledging that fact.

  • The Crimson Tide offensive line will excel.

Fiction — The line will improve, if it is addition by subtraction alone. The new coaching will count; giving underperformers a quick hook or better staff chemistry will matter more. It won’t be an elite line, but it will at least be an average to above average line…and that’s enough to make a world of wonder for offense (no matter how badly BoB wants give games a way).

  • Alabama will go 12-0 this season

Do – The Tide’s usual competitors in the West are all heavily rebuilding (A&M, Auburn, USL), having new coaches (LSU, Auburn in several positions), and/or both (LSU). The newcomer must rebuild his attack (Ole Miss). And the most stable and experienced teams are MSU – which is a home game, and Nick Saban likes to dominate Mike Leach – and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs are hosting ‘Bama, so it’ll be a little harder than you’d like. But Arkie has suffered significant, if not numerous, losses that still make them a second-tier SEC team. THAT SAID, everyone is even further behind. So don’t be surprised if the Piggies finish second in the West this season. Alabama’s other toughest game, and most likely risk of defeat, is at Tennessee. The Vols’ offense will be deadly, and if the defense is even slightly improved, it’ll be one hell of a match. Unfortunately. But, at the end of the day, Alabama has even more Jimmies and Joes, and the offense won’t be exceptional like Tennessee’s…it’ll be otherworldly. 38-27 seems about right, en route to a 12-0 regular season for Nick Saban and company.

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