College football sometimes gets hammered for its predictability at the top. Look no further than an SEC Championship rematch between Alabama and Georgia in last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship for supporting evidence. However, a deeper look into the 2021 season reveals how surprises remain part of the fabric of the sport, even at the highest levels.

After losing seasons in 2020, Baylor, Michigan and Michigan State began their 2021 campaigns unranked in the AP Top 25. However, by the end of the season, the trio was ranked in the top 10 of the final AP poll after playing in the New Year’s Six bowl game. Baylor won the Big 12 and the Sugar Bowl; Michigan won the Big Ten and appeared in a playoff semifinal against Georgia; and Michigan State won the Peach Bowl while producing a surprise Heisman Trophy contender under Kenneth Walker III.

The collective success of that group should give some hope to programs that begin the 2022 season on the outside looking in. AP preseason poll. In fact, the “other vote getters” category is made up of so many big names that it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of them become factors on the national stage — just like the Bears, Wolverines and Spartans did last season. .

As the start of the 2022 season draws ever closer, here’s a look at the five unranked teams with the best chances to finish the 2022 season in the top 10.

With an 11-11 record (8-10 in the Big Ten) over the past two seasons and a 2-6 finish through 2021, Penn State was easy for voters to overlook. However, that line of thinking ignores the Nittany Lions’ 5-0 start last fall — which could have been 7-0 had quarterback Sean Clifford not suffered an injury against Iowa.

Defensive coordinator Brent Pry leaving to become Virginia Tech’s head coach would have been cause for concern — he and head coach James Franklin coached together for more than a decade — but Franklin hit home by hiring Manny Diaz to replaced Pry. With offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich in his second season, plus a healthy Clifford with a loaded group of skill players around him, the Nittany Lions are capable of beating anyone in their program. This includes state no. 2 Ohio at home on Oct. 29. The offensive line is the biggest question mark, but if that group can also facilitate a rushing attack, this could be a top-10 team.

Texas somehow managed a ranking of no. 18 in the preseason Coaches Poll — by one first-place vote, no less — which is in contrast to the program’s 5-7 record from last season. Clearly, the coaches (or whoever submits the ballots on their behalf) are riding the annual wave of hype surrounding the Longhorns. AP voters are taking a more sensible approach, which is to wait and see if this team can put it all together.

Assuming Texas loses to top-ranked Alabama in Week 2, then the program’s candidacy for a top-10 finish will hinge on how it fares against No. 1 Oklahoma. 9 (October 8), in state no. 12 Oklahoma (October 22) and against 10 Baylor (November 26). Wins against two of those three would put the Longhorns in prime position to move up in the polls all season. Texas finished 0-3 against that group last season by a combined 22 points during a brutal October. Those games are more spread out this season, giving a team that has already proven injury-prone during preseason practices a chance to breathe a little. With Quinn Ewers officially under centerexpectations are that the Longhorns have the key ingredients to compete for the Big 12 title and just their second top-10 finish in the AP poll since 2009.

AP voters poured some cold water on one of the season’s top darlings by leaving the Volunteers out of the preseason poll. Trips to No. 17 Pittsburgh, LSU and No. 3 Georgia — aside from home games against Alabama, Florida and No. 20 Kentucky — could leave this team trying to improve on last season’s 7-6 mark. But coach Josh Heupel’s high-octane offensive philosophy also makes the Volunteers capable of beating anyone in their program.

Because of how dependent this team is on quarterback Hendon Hooker and because of how weak the defense looks, this group qualifies as one of the most unpredictable teams this season. The same could have been said for Ole Miss last season. The Rebels also had a second-year coach, questionable defense and an all-important star quarterback. But they finished 10-3 and were ranked 11th at the end of the season. The Vols could pursue that plan if the attrition goes their way in 2022.


When LSU won the 2020 CFP title, it did so with a 64% Blue-Chip ratio, which is how 247Sports measures a program’s overall talent. The metric looks at how many four- and five-star prospects a program signed over the previous four recruiting cycles, and LSU actually has a higher BCR in 2022 (66%) than when it won the national title. The Tigers also have a better coach, with Brian Kelly making his SEC debut after a very successful run at Notre Dame. Joe Burrow isn’t walking through that door to play quarterback, but if Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels can find the promise he showed as a freshman in 2019, then LSU could have what it takes to be a national factor ahead of schedule under Kelly.

While the schedule makes a top-10 finish challenging, a Nov. 5 game against Alabama looms as the lone final loss. Even this can get weird if it’s a Death Valley night game. Usually, a high level of variance is possible with this program; games against Southern, New Mexico and UAB appear to be the only final wins. As we saw in 2019, however, the upside for this program is as high as it gets. A 10-3 record is as much within the realm of possibility as a repeat of last season’s 6-7 record.


Florida is all the way in a tie for No. 37 in the AP poll. The Gators received just 14 votes after a 6-7 season and the coaching transition from Dan Mullen to Billy Napier. However, this program is also less than a calendar year removed from taking on eventual SEC champion Alabama, and less than two years removed from winning the SEC East.

The Gators have a potential star at quarterback in Anthony Richardson and a track record under first-year coaches. The past seven UF coaches have taken their teams to the top 15 at some point in their first season, and six of those seven coaches had the Gators as high as the top 10. Only Mullen and Galen Hall finished their debut seasons with a team top-10, but that’s still an incredible strikeout rate in a league as tough as the SEC.

A cross-division trip to No. 6 Texas A&M the week after the Georgia game, along with a tough road trip against No. 7 Utah and Kentucky make for a big boys schedule in 2022, but those features also present great opportunities for Florida to become a surprise player on the national stage.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *