The college football season is just a couple of weeks away and rosters are taking shape. Here is the 2022 College Football Preseason Top 25.
25. Fresno State Bulldogs
After winning 10 games, the Bulldogs lose their coach in Kalen DeBoer, but quarterback Jake Haener returns with 13 other starters. The Bulldogs are the favorites to win the Mountain West and could push the two Pac-12 teams on their schedule: Oregon State and USC. They are in play for a New Year’s Six Bowl with top 30 offenses and defenses mostly returning.
24. Cincinnati Bearcats
Most of the impact players for the Bearcats have headed to the next level. Seven starters return on offense, but a new starting quarterback will need to be broken in. Evan Prater was a highly-ranked recruit who is taking over. He will be joined in the backfield by LSU-transfer Corey Kiner. Their fifth-ranked defense will need new playmakers, as they only return four starters.
23. USC Trojans
The Trojans have become “Transfer U” this offseason under new head coach Lincoln Riley. Caleb Williams joins him from Oklahoma to play quarterback. He’ll be joined by Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison. The defense was putrid last season and they only return five starters on that side of the ball, which could be a pain point.
22. Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa won 10 games in 2021 and return 16 starters. The defense, which is led by corner Riley Moss, can be great once again after finishing 13th last season. Offensively, the Hawkeyes will run the ball, but Spencer Petras returns after a decent season in 2021.
21. Kentucky Wildcats
Mark Stoops has built quite the program and quarterback Will Levis is generating first-round buzz for the 2023 NFL Draft. Running back Chris Rodriguez’s status for the season is up in the air, but the Wildcats have plenty of talent in the backfield and on the offensive line. The defensive line lacks experience, but the rest of the defense should be a tough unit after ranking 26th in scoring during the 2021 season.
20. Michigan State Spartans
Losing Kenneth Walker will be tough for the Spartans after he ran the ball so well last season. Mel Tucker has done a solid job of developing his roster though. Quarterback Payton Thorne and wide receiver Jayden Reed will be the key players on offense who could pick up some of the slack in the playmaking department. With transfers and returning players their secondary could lead to a lot of improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
19. Ole Miss Rebels
After Matt Corrral and a bunch of others departed for the next level, Lane Kiffin has another good group ready to put up points. Former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart will be joined in the backfield by former TCU running back Zach Evans. Both are extremely talented and can make the offense just as productive. The defense returns five starters from an averaged unit in 2021 and will need new players to step up.
18. Texas Longhorns
Texas may have only won five games in 2021, but they spent the offseason getting significantly better. Steve Sarkisian has been hired as head coach and quarterback Quinn Ewers transferred from Ohio State to give the program a possible elite signal-caller. Bijan Robinson and Xavier Worthy are about as good of playmakers as a team can ask for. Although the defense struggled last season, they return eight starters including a standout at linebacker in DeMarvion Overshown.
17. Miami Hurricanes
Tyler Van Dyke might be the best quarterback the Hurricanes have had in a long time after playing well in 2021. Six other players are back to help him on offense, including standout left tackle Zion Nelson. The defense will need to improve for Miami to really compete in the ACC, as they ranked 82nd last year and the team returns just four starters.
16. Baylor Bears
The Bears had one of the best turnarounds in recent memory after Dave Aranda took over. They won 12 games in 2021 and return 12 starters from that team. Blake Shapen takes over at quarterback and may actually be an improvement after getting a little bit of playing time in 2021. Most of the front seven are back for Baylor’s defense, which could help them move up from their 10th-ranked squad last season.
15. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest had one of their best seasons in program history in 2021. Sam Hartman is back at quarterback after passing for over 4,000 yards. He, A.T. Perry and a solid offensive line can help the offense try to reach their fourth-overall ranking from last season. On defense, seven starters are back after a rough 2021. With starters back on all levels of the defense, there is reason to believe they could be better in 2022.
14. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin has found their next star running back in Braelon Allen. He’ll be running behind three returning starters along the offensive line. Being able to lean on him will make the team so much better after going 9-3 last season. The defense returns just three starters, but they routinely rank highly. New playmakers have come in from within the program and from transfers.
13. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks return 14 starters even after head coach Mario Cristobal darted for Miami. On offense, the line is the strong suit. They’ll need playmakers and quarterback Bo Nix to live up to their potential to be great on that side of the ball. Defensively, they will be led by their linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe who are two of the best in the country. Oregon are rightfully the favorites to win the Pac-12 North and have the talent to get the job done.
12. Oklahoma Sooners
There was a mass exodus of players and coaches from Norman, but there is still enough talent to compete in the Big 12. Dillon Gabriel takes over at quarterback after transferring in from UCF. Marvin Mims will be his star receiver after playing well already in his young Sooner career. Their average defense from last season returns six starters. Brent Venables will have some road bumps in year one, but can be successful when all is said and done.
11. NC State Wolfpack
After going 9-3 in 2021, the Wolfpack bring back 16 starters. Devin Leary has played very well at quarterback and will have four returning starters on the offensive line back. He will also get Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter back at wide receiver, which should help them have a top 25 offense this season. With Cory Durden back on the defensive line and Payton Wilson returning from injury at linebacker NC State’s defense can keep them in any game on their schedule.
10. Arkansas Razorbacks
New wide receivers will need to emerge, but K.J. Jefferson has a chance to prove why he is one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks as he heads into his junior season. After scoring over 30 points in 2021, Jefferson and four returning starters on the offensive line, including star center Ricky Stromberg, can help improve their scoring. While only a few starters return on the defensive side of the ball, the Razorbacks have leaders in linebacker Bumper Pool and safety Jalen Catalon.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Marcus Freeman has already made a huge impact for the Fighting Irish on the recruiting trail, but the 2022 season will give him the chance to show off how he runs a program after they won 11 games in 2021. Eight starters return on offense and quarterback Tyler Buchner is expected to take the reins of the offense after sharing time in 2021. Tight end Michael Mayer is one of the best players in all of college football to help and so is an offensive line that returns everyone. The defense, which is Freeman’s specialty, returns four starters, but has a star player at each level: Isaiah Foskey at defensive end, Jack Kiser at linebacker and Cam Hart at cornerback.
8. Oklahoma State Cowboys
With Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12, Oklahoma State can send them out by winning the Big 12. Spencer Sanders is one of the more experienced quarterbacks in college football for the Pokes. Five other starters from last season rejoin him, including wide receiver Brennan Presley and three offensive linemen. Their defense took a huge jump last season and brings back four starters. They may not be as good as last season, but should be solid enough for the Cowboys to compete atop the Big 12.
7. Utah Utes
Kyle Whittingham led the Utes to a 10-win season and a Rose Bowl appearance in 2021. Quarterback Cameron Rising and running back Tavion Thomas are back in the backfield for the Utes after staring together last season. Six other starters are back including three offensive linemen. Five starters are back on defense, which could help them hold onto their 35th ranking from last season. Cornerback Clark Phillips III has NFL-starter potential.
6. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan shocked the world and made the College Football Playoff in 2021. Seven starters are back on offense including starting quarterback Cade McNamara and some real talent on the offensive line. Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards will take over a lot of the running duties with the potential to really be successful as a one-two punch. Their star defensive ends will need to be replaced, but their five returning starters make the Wolverines worthy of a high ranking in the 2022 college football preseason top 25.
5. Clemson Tigers
Dabo Swinney and the Tigers had a down year in 2021, which meant they won 10 games instead of making it to the College Football Playoff. With seven returning starters on offense, they’ll need to vastly improve and a lot of that will hinge on whether D.J. Uiagalelei can be more productive. He’ll have Will Shipley at running back and a talented offensive line in front of him. The defense held things together last season and returns six starters. Look for defensive ends Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas to make a huge impact.
4. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies and their no. 1 ranked recruiting class were the talk of the offseason. Devon Achane and Ainias Smith are both really good playmakers and can make Max Johnson‘s first year as a starter at Texas A&M a little easier. The defense returns five starters and will specifically be strong in the secondary. After ranking third as a scoring defense in 2021, they still have talent to be successful in 2022.
3. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia may have lost a lot to the NFL, but they reload. Stetson Bennett is back at quarterback as a serviceable option. They have returning talent at wide receiver and at running back, where Kendall Milton is expected to carry more of the workload of the rushing attack. The defense returns just three starters, but they are all impact players. Edge rusher Nolan Smith and cornerback Kelee Ringo are specifically expected to help lead a Georgia defense that will be very good, even if they can’t live up to last season’s historic unit.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
C.J. Stroud had Buckeyes fans clamoring for him to be benched early in the season, but then had one of the most impressive seasons in school history. He lost some wide receivers to the NFL, but Ohio State is loaded with talent at the position with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. TreVeyon Henderson proved why he was such a highly-rated recruit as a freshman and why he is one of the best running backs in the country. Three offensive line starters return also. The defense had its ups and downs in 2021, but return six starters and has a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles. Defensive end Zach Harrison hasn’t quite lived up to the hype yet, while cornerback Denzel Burke had a nice freshman season in 2021.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
After losing the National Championship, Alabama will have some fire for this season and they return their two best players. Bryce Young is back as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. There will be plenty of talent on the offensive line returning, but new playmakers at running back and wide receiver will be in the fold. Defensively, Will Anderson was one of the top players in college football in 2021. Six other starters are back on the 18th-ranked defense from last season. Dallas Turner will wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks with Anderson, while Henry To’o To’o will be tracking down ball carriers all over the field. The secondary will also be loaded with Kool-Aid McKinstry, LSU-transfer Eli Ricks, Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams. Alabama is fully ready to win the championship at the no. 1 spot in the 2022 College Football Preseason top 25.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more content like 2022 College Football Preseason Top 25!