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Fixing the First AP Poll

This past Tuesday, the initial 2022 College Football AP Poll was released. Unsurprisingly, the poll debuted with a fair share of controversy- which teams are ranked too high, too low, or just right? What should the poll have ACTUALLY looked like? Let’s get into it.

Initial AP Poll Rankings Via The Associated Press:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Clemson
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Utah
  8. Michigan
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Baylor
  11. Oregon
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. North Carolina State
  14. USC
  15. Michigan State
  16. Miami
  17. Pitt
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Arkansas
  20. Kentucky
  21. Ole Miss
  22. Wake Forest
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Houston
  25. BYU

While there are plenty of initial surprises with these rankings, the poll’s top 3 teams were fairly obvious from the jump. First-ranked Alabama is not only returning the reigning Heisman trophy winner in Bryce Young, but also the nation’s best overall player in Edge Rusher Will Anderson Jr. Only injuries can derail the Tide’s dominance this season. Ohio State comes in a solid #2 behind Nick Saban’s squad due to what’s expected to be the nation’s best offense behind the 3-headed monster of QB CJ Stroud, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and RB TreVeyon Handerson. While Georgia is the reigning national champion, losing seven defensive starters to the NFL Draft has them comfortably behind Alabama and OSU heading into the season. While Georgia is still the nation’s 3rd best team, growing pains are expected for a young and inexperienced defense, setting them up as a rare defending champion underdog.

Clemson coming in at #4 wasn’t a huge surprise, however, after a somewhat disappointing 10-3 season, teams like Notre Dame and Michigan (ranked 5th and 8th, respectively) are coming into 2022 with far more momentum. Utah at #7, while a fair ranking may be underselling the Utes a bit- with all their returning talent, they’ll be a CFP contender. Texas A7M at #6 was expected due to their monstrous #1 ranked recruiting class this cycle, but replacing nearly an entire offensive line will prove challenging for an Aggies team that isn’t known for offensive firepower to begin with. Their defense will be elite, though, and that’s why A&M finds themselves in the top 6.

Now, for the real surprises. Miami coming in at 16 shocked many. While QB Tyler Van Dyke is  Heisman hopeful, Miami has only won 10+ games once in the last 18 seasons. New coach Mario Cristobal is a promising hire, but let’s all pump the brakes on Miami being a New-Year’s-Six caliber team for now. Surprisingly, the SEC outside of Bama, UGA and A&M seems disrespected in the poll: Arkansas is 19th, Kentucky’s 20th, Ole Miss is 21st, and Tennessee was left off the poll altogether. Each of those 4 teams all have a case to be top 15, Arkansas arguably top 10. Tennessee’s omission was certainly unexpected, and honestly egregious. Although the Volunteers went an unimpressive 7-6 last year, they undeniably took a huge leap in the right direction with Hendon Hooker under center. It’s hard to believe BYU or Houston are bringing a better team out of the tunnel than Tennessee in 2022.

Now, what should the poll have looked like? In my opinion…

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Utah
  5. Michigan
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Clemson
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Arkansas
  11. Baylor
  12. Oregon
  13. NC State
  14. Kentucky
  15. Oklahoma State
  16. Wisconsin
  17. Ole Miss
  18. USC
  19. Pitt
  20. Miami
  21. Tennessee
  22. Michigan State
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Houston
  25. BYU

A little rational:

  • Arkansas is not only carrying a ton of momentum into this season, but also a great quarterback- KJ Jefferson will be a star for Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks this season. I expect Arkansas to win a minimum of 9 games.
  • I see Clemson at 8 right now, as they still have a ton to prove this year. Although they went 9-3 in the ACC last season, in the SEC or B1G they likely go 7-5 at the very best.
  • I don’t like Wake Forest at all this season with Sam Hartman out indefinitely. He’s practically your entire offense if you’re the Demon Deacons.
  • Kentucky is a huge sleeper. QB Will Levis is primed for an awesome campaign, and their defense is bringing back depth and experience necessary to win big games. This Wildcats team may be Stoops’ most talented roster yet- and that’s scary.
  • Concerning Utah, when they make the CFP this season, you won’t be calling me crazy.

There’s going to be plenty of debate over the initial AP Poll until games finally kick off, but one thing is for certain: after the first slate of games, things will be completely shaken up with 3 top 25 matchups in Week One. #2 Ohio State takes on #5 Notre Dame in Columbus, #3 Georgia squares off against #11 Oregon in Atlanta, and #22 Cincinnati goes on the road versus #19 Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks. 

Photo Creds: The Salt Lake Tribune