#1 UGA– The defending champion Bulldogs have started off hot in the 2022 season. Last season, Georgia won it all with a generational defense that stifled opponents. This season, Georgia is winning with offense. The Dawgs still need to be tested and games against Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida will be very telling on whether Georgia is on the road to repeating or having a championship hangover. As of right now, it’s foolish to list anyone other than UGA as the top seed.
#2 Ohio St– The biggest question for the Buckeyes was whether they could have at least an average defense. Jim Knowles has transformed the defense quickly. Everyone knew that Ohio St. would have a high-power offense and CJ Stroud is looking like a Heisman Finalist again. Ohio St. still needs to be tested with games at Penn State and Michigan State. And the final test awaits Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan. Early returns show that Ohio St. is ready to return to the playoff.
#3 Alabama– The preseason talk was that this was one of the best Alabama teams to take the field in a while. Week 2 when Alabama traveled to Austin, Alabama showed some weaknesses. People will argue if Quinn Ewers didn’t get hunt, Alabama would have lost. They slipped out of the Lone Star State with the victory and it’s hard to bet against the history of Nick Saban. Right now, they make the playoff, but they have some questions right now.
#4 Oklahoma– With all the drama that Oklahoma has been through, they have looked better than anyone could have expected outside of their fan base. Dillion Gabriel has taken to the offense beautifully and Brent Venables has shown that he is a great defensive coach. The Red River Rivalry still looms and don’t sleep on the Cowboys in Bedlam, but right now Oklahoma has had a remarkable jump since the start of the season.
#5 USC– There was a lot to like about what Lincoln Riley was putting together in Los Angeles. The question was always going to be whether it could come together. The offense lead by Caleb Williams has clicked and Jordan Addison continues to remind the country why he was the best wide receiver in America. USC’s defense has been good, and things are looking up for the men of Troy. There are games on their schedule that will have USC jumping into the top 4.
#6 Clemson– Clemson has been solid but still leave a little to be desired. They haven’t been as dominant as the teams above them. They still have a great defense that is loaded with NFL talent. The question remains that they can get quality quarterback play when it truly matters. Will Shipley has looked fantastic, and Clemson has equal or more talent than every team on their schedule. They still have some work to do but could see the biggest jump if some teams above them lose.
#7 Michigan– Michigan has been completely dominant in all their games this season but the quality of their competition has been severely lacking. Michigan has shifted away from the quarterback that led them to the playoff last year and opted to go with the player with the higher upside. The defense has been just as tough as last year, but the question remains on whether they are that talented or just playing teams that cannot hang with them.
#8 Oklahoma St.– The Cowboys came into the season with a quiet level of fanfare. There was talent in Stillwater, but there were some questions that hung around Mike Gundy and his program. Offensively, the Cowboys have been way better than advertised. Defensively, there are slight holes that can be seen from the loss of Jim Knowles. Still the Cowboys can put up points with anyone in the country. That makes them a sleeper to make the playoff.
#9 Kentucky– The Wildcats are a great reflection of Mark Stoops and his work ethic. Kentucky has shown that they are able to handle adversity. Will Levis looks like he could be a top Quarterback in the SEC. Kentucky will need to beat both Georgia and Tennessee to really make some noise. It probably won’t happen, but wilder things have happened in College Football.
#10 North Carolina St.– The Wolfpack started off the season slow by squeaking by ECU. After that, they have been back to playing Wolfpack party football. Devin Leary continues to shine under the radar. Most people have not seen the Wolfpack play and will probably wait until they matchup with Clemson before seeing if they are legit. They have the talent to make it two in a row against the Tigers. NC St. is the most likely to stub their toe during the season but right now they look like a top 10 team.
Others receiving consideration
Tennessee; Penn St.; Arkansas; Ole Miss; Washington; Wake Forest; Texas.
Bowl Projections (Not a reflection of rankings)
Peach Bowl– #1 Georgia vs #4 Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl– #2 Ohio State vs. #3 USC
Marquee Bowl Games Projections
Orange Bowl– Clemson vs App. St. Sugar Bowl– Alabama vs Oklahoma St.
Rose Bowl– Texas vs Michigan Cotton Bowl– Kentucky vs NC St.