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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | August 9, 2022

Preseason college football preview with B/R's Adam Kramer

Preseason college football preview with B/R's Adam Kramer

The 2022 college football season is almost here and there's no better time to look at what's ahead.

NCAA.com's Michella Chester sat down with B/R's Adam Kramer before the season to preview the season.

Without further ado, let's get started. Here are some takeaways:

College Football Playoff field prediction

Bold from the start

Kramer predicts that the SEC will get two teams in the playoff for the second-consecutive year and the third time in playoff history. Below are his top four teams.

Top four

Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and Clemson made Adam Kramer's preseason top four. 

All of Kramer's top four teams have multiple College Football Playoff appearances in their history.

"Ohio State and Alabama were pretty easy selections," said Kramer. "Clemson and Georgia were a little more difficult."

Clemson

Kramer cites Clemson's offensive struggles in 2021 as a reason for the difficulty with his prediction. Last year, D.J. Uiagalelei struggled in his first full year as a starter, completing only 55 percent of his passes with a 9:10 touchdown-interception ratio. In 2022, Clemson has more options at quarterback with an experienced Uiagalelei, five-star recruit Cade Klubnik and former Clemson-turned-Northwestern transfer Hunter Johnson.

On defense, Kramer predicts Clemson will bounce back and become "really good" with players returning from injury. One player set to make his return is defensive lineman Bryan Breese, who played just four games and still earned All-ACC honors.

RANKINGS: Click or tap here to find out where your team landed in the rankings

Georgia

Georgia had 15 players selected in the 2022 NFL draft from its 2021 championship team, but national-championship game starting quarterback Stetson Bennett returns under center.

"They can reload," Kramer said, referring to Georgia's five top-four recruiting classes (per 247Sports) on campus since 2018.

Ohio State and Alabama

Ohio State and Alabama round out Kramer's playoff field as two strikingly similar teams. The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide both have two elite quarterbacks in C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, respectively. Both are surrounded by great skill position players. Kramer also sees the potential for Ohio State and Alabama to each have elite defenses by the season's end.

SCOREBOARD: See scores from every college football game

2022 national champion prediction

Kramer predicts that Ohio State will stand atop the podium as the 2022-23 College Football Playoff champion.

"Ohio State checks all the boxes,'' said Kramer. "Even though they lose two great wide receivers, they've got a stocked cupboard full of really good pass-catchers. They've got a great running back, they've got C.J. Stroud and they bring in one of the best defensive coordinators in the country (Jim Knowles)".

College football schedule: Click or tap here for game times, TV channels and scores from every game

First two teams out

Utah and Texas A&M are Kramer's other teams considered for the preseason playoff field. 

Utah is bubbling underneath the top four after an impressive showing in last year's Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, Texas A&M has potential in 2022, thanks to the talent on its roster. 

"In terms of overall talent, there's a ton of it, but a lot of it is young talent," said Kramer. "They've shown that they can compete, but they've found ways to lose games as well. I still think it's a year away."

College football schedule: Click or tap here for game times, TV channels and scores from every game

Under the radar teams

Here are three teams that Kramer thinks are flying under the radar

Wisconsin

After struggling in 2021, opening with a 1-3 start, Wisconsin won eight of its last nine games to close the season. The Badgers found their running back of the future during the run as true freshman Braelon Allen ran for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns on 6.8 yards per carry.

"He's the closest thing I've seen to Derrick Henry, ever," said Kramer.

Kramer expects that Wisconsin's Big Ten West schedule will play to its favor in 2022. Yet, questions remain about Wisconsin's passing offense.

West Virginia

West Virginia returns plenty of starters from a 2021 season that saw the Mountaineers go 6-7, including five starters on the offensive line. Highly-regarded but oft-injured quarterback JT Daniels transfers in from Georgia; if healthy, he could bolster the offense.

Miami

Miami has a new head coach in Mario Cristobal from Oregon and a new offensive coordinator in Josh Gattis from Michigan. With all the change at the top, Miami remains the same at quarterback with Tyler Van Dyke. He threw for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions last year as a true freshman en route to ACC Rookie of the Year honors.

"Miami quietly closed out last year strong," said Kramer.

College football schedule: Click or tap here for game times, TV channels and scores from every game

Leading Heisman candidate

Alabama pass-rushing linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is Kramer's leading Heisman trophy candidate entering 2022.

"He's the best player in the sport. He's the best defensive player we've seen in the last decade," said Kramer.

Anderson led college football with 17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss in 2021, but when it comes to winning the Heisman, it's an uphill battle as a defensive player.

"The Heisman is a quarterback-driven award," said Kramer. "It's certainly an offensive-driven award."

A defensive player has not won the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997. No defensive lineman has ever won the award.

HEISMAN HISTORY: Every winner and runner-up since 1935 | Colleges with the most Heisman Trophy winners

What's the ceiling at USC?

Southern California only won four games last year. The Trojans have since brought in a new head coach in Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma), a new defensive coordinator in Alex Grinch (Oklahoma), the Biletnikoff Award winner in wide receiver Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh), a freshman All-American quarterback in Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) and plenty of other talented transfers. 

How all that talent meshes is one of the biggest storylines entering 2022.

"I'm super intrigued to see what the ceiling is going to be for USC," said Kramer. "The ingredients are there for a special season."

College football schedule: Click or tap here for game times, TV channels and scores from every game

Non-conference games to watch

Here are Kramer's three non-conference games to watch:

College GameDay: 2022 Locations, all-time appearances, most times hosting

Houston is a playoff dark horse

Houston finished 2022 with a 12-2 record, winning 11 straight games before losing to Cincinnati in the AAC championship game. The Cougars peaked at 16th in the College Football Playoff rankings last year and beat Auburn in a bowl game. After seeing conference opponent Cincinnati become the first AAC team to make the College Football Playoff — ever — Kramer sees Houston as a dark horse entering 2022.

"I'm not sure why Houston's not getting that same hype (as Cincinnati in 2021)," said Kramer. "I think Houston can at least flirt with that conversation about making the playoff."

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