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One of the most common complaints about college football is the parity– or lack thereof– in recent years, especially since the start of the College Football Playoff (CFP). This year appears to be no different in terms of the major players, right?

Maybe. Below, we'll dive into the field of all the potential teams, longshots and all. Will it really just be Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia?

The Obvious Contenders

The two top dogs in the nation are crystal clear: the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Both teams return Heisman-caliber quarterbacks, an embarrassment of riches on their roster, and elite coaching staffs. They're the only two teams that are projected to be favored by double-digit points in every single game this year.

We've talked about these two teams pretty extensively this offseason, so not much more needs to be said. They're the betting odds favorites for good reason.

The defending-champion Georgia Bulldogs lost a great deal to the NFL Draft, particularly on defense, but they still belong in the elite category. A lot comes back on offense, where they Dawgs are projected to have one of the best offensive lines in the country.

Finally, the Clemson Tigers, coming off a disappointing year, are loaded to have the best defense in the country and perhaps one of the best defensive lines in recent memory. Should the QB position improve or get sorted out, Clemson is going to return right back to where they were.

Names To Know

While it's true the above four teams have dominated spots in the College Football Playoff, we've had at least one new face in the CFP in four of the last six seasons. Last year, it was both Michigan and Cincinnati.

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Despite a ton of new faces and more hype than almost any team in the nation, the USC Trojans cannot be overlooked. They have the offensive firepower and the coaching chops to make a run at the Playoff and be a real threat. A lot has to come together on defense, but they potential is there.

Staying in the Pac-12, the Utah Utes have the best combination of talent, experience, and coaching to make a run out West. Utah came up short of the CFP in 2021, but showed that they could run with Ohio State despite having to start a running back at corner. With all that is returning for the Utes and a handful of resume-building tests on the schedule, they're an interesting CFP party crasher.

Other quick names not to overlook include the Michigan Wolverines again and the Oklahoma Sooners, who bring in three-time National Champion DC Brent Venables as head coach.

Longshots Worth Keeping Tabs On

Two incoming Big 12 members are absolutely feisty teams that, if given the right circumstances, could be in the CFP conversation late into November. One of them is the BYU Cougars. BYU returns the most production in the nation (85%) from a team that won 10 games in 2021. Most notably back is star QB Jaren Hall and nearly every defensive starter.

Not only that, but BYU has a schedule primed to make a strong argument for the CFP should they run the table in 2022 (Baylor, Oregon, Arkansas, Notre Dame).

The other current Group of Five program absolutely worth noting is the Houston Cougars. Cincinnati set the precedent for a Go5 program in the CFP in 2021 and, while a repeat would be difficult in 2022, Houston has the best chance to. They won a quiet 12 games last year, most of which in emphatic fashion, and they return stud QB Clayton Tune and top receiver Nathaniel Dell.

UH might have the best chance of any team to go unbeaten this coming season with a schedule that ranks 106th in difficulty. That strength of schedule could stunt their CFP chances, though (see: 2017 UCF).


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