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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | January 13, 2022

Way-too-early predictions for the 2022 college football season

Way too early predictions for the 2022 college football season with B/R's Adam Kramer

Bleacher Report senior writer Adam Kramer joined NCAA.com's Michella Chester to preview the 2022 college football season and make a series of way-too-early predictions.

Here are Kramer's top five teams entering next season, his top three non-conference matchups and some of his biggest storylines to watch for the 2022 season.

Will the balance of power continue to lean towards the SEC?

For the second time in five seasons, Alabama and Georgia met in the College Football Playoff National Championship, but Kramer also noted the potential depth the conference could have in its next tier, whether it's schools that have a first-year head coach or those that might be ready for a breakout season several years into a coach's tenure.

"You talk about Texas A&M with its recruiting class, you look at Brian Kelly coming in (to LSU), you look at changes at Florida," Kramer said, "you look at teams like Tennessee that had a really nice year, did some really nice things. I'm leaving (out) Arkansas, who had a tremendous year. So I'm wondering, you have Alabama and you have Georgia that are going to be expected to do big things once again and yet the firepower of that conference really is tremendous."

CONFERENCE SUPERIORITY: Conference bowl records for the 2021 season

Could Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. be serious Heisman Trophy contenders (again)?

In 2021, Young became the first Alabama quarterback to win the award and Anderson finished fifth, just missing out on a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Both players will return to Alabama next season, potentially as the best offensive and defensive player in the country, respectively.

"I think Bryce Young can repeat," Kramer said, "but, honestly, the more I watch, the more I think Will Anderson Jr. — if you're like me and you want a defensive player to win the Heisman — will have one of the best and biggest campaigns we've seen for a defensive player heading into a season."

In 2021, Young finished second in the country with 47 passing touchdowns and 4,872 yards, while Anderson led the country with 34.5 tackles for loss — 12.5 more than the No. 2 player in the country, Utah's Devin Lloyd.

Kramer also pointed to Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud as a top candidate, as many of last season's top finishers in the Heisman voting could once again be leading players in 2022.

THE DAWGS' DOMINANCE: Georgia pulls away from Alabama for its first national title since 1980

Here are Adam Kramer's way-too-early top five teams

1. Alabama: "They're going to lose a lot of good players but they do this every year," Kramer said. "I think the one thing about this year is you had young players step up, and Bryce Young and Will Anderson, maybe the two best players in college football on both sides of the ball, and Nick Saban."

2. Georgia: "We've talked about the exodus of talent, Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis, James Cook, others," Kramer said. "But this roster is wild. It is wild."

3. Ohio State: "When you have the wide receivers that they do, when you have the quarterback and when you have a defense that's actually really young — and I think going to be wildly improved, especially a defensive line that I thought underperformed this year — I think they're going to be considerably better," Kramer said.

4. Texas A&M: "This is a defense that was not to Georgia's level but was really close," Kramer said. "Really close. They lost their starting quarterback early, they've stockpiled wide receivers. They've got impact players in this recruiting class that's coming in. I think they're going to be great."

5. Clemson: "Clemson, very quietly, like salvaged their season," Kramer said. "I mean, this was a team we gave up on, a team that was in my top five last year. They've got to find a way to manufacture more points on offense, that is a concern. They lost both their coordinators, longtime coordinators, but defensively great and this was a team that was injured a lot."

Kramer's top non-conference games to watch

Sept. 3, 2022 | Notre Dame at Ohio State: These two schools — two of the winningest programs of all-time — have only played six times ever, with the Buckeyes holding a 4-2 advantage in the series. They last met on New Year's Day in 2016 in the Fiesta Bowl, which Ohio State won 44-28. Ohio State has won the last four meetings, with Notre Dame's last win in the series coming in 1936.

Sept. 3, 2022 | Georgia vs. Oregon (Atlanta): The reigning national champion will face the program that is now coached by the defensive coordinator who engineered the Bulldogs' historically great defense in the 2021 season. Former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning was hired by Oregon and the top marquee programs will open the 2022 season against each other in the University of Georgia's backyard in Atlanta.

Sept. 10, 2022 | Alabama at Texas: The reigning national runner-up will go on the road in Week 2 to face Texas, which is coached by the offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, who helped the Crimson Tide win the national championship in the 2020-21 season. Texas holds a 7-1-1 series lead over Alabama, with the Crimson Tide winning the last time the two programs met in the BCS Championship Game in January 2010.

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