The first College Football Playoff rankings of 2022 will release tonight. Where do teams stand as we hit November?
1. Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) | Last week: 1
A flurry by Florida in the third quarter temporarily made it a game after Georgia’s 28-3 halftime lead, but the Dawgs were too much for the Gators and pulled away with a 42-20 victory to improve to 8-0. A couple of uncharacteristic turnovers led to the 17-point third quarter for Florida, so look for UGA to be focused on cleaning that up ahead of this Saturday’s massive showdown.
2. Tennessee Volunteers (8-0) | Last week: 2
The 44-6 rout of Kentucky was too much to ignore, and Tennessee is finally up to No. 2 in the AP poll—with the expectation that they’ll land in the top two for the initial CFP rankings tonight. Quarterback Hendon Hooker (three passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown versus Kentucky) continues to light it up, and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt (nine touchdowns in his past three games) cannot be stopped. No. 1 against No. 2 this Saturday afternoon should be one of the games of the year, though college football odds have Georgia as relatively big favorites.
3. Michigan Wolverines (8-0) | Last week: 3
Michigan had to settle for more field goals than they would have liked in their 29-7 win against Michigan State, but the reigning Big Ten champions were able to get a little redemption for last year’s loss to the Spartans. The Wolverines outrushed the in-state rival 276-37, and they had 27 first downs compared to MSU’s 11. The postgame fight in the tunnel was obviously unacceptable, and both teams using the same tunnel is unfortunately becoming a big issue at Michigan Stadium.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) | Last week: 4
Ohio State ultimately won by multiple possessions after a 28-17 fourth quarter, but their victory over Penn State at Happy Valley was closer than the final score might indicate. The Buckeyes offense had some struggles on third down and was relatively sloppy through the first three quarters, but four turnovers forced by the defense—led by J.T. Tuimoloau, who was sensational with two sacks and two interceptions including a pick-six—was key to improve to 8-0.
5. Clemson Tigers (8-0) | Last week: 5
Clemson, a team coming off a bye week, is one of the most intriguing teams heading into tonight. We still have them at No. 5 following their 8-0 start, but the Tigers have been a bit inconsistent this season—and it would not be shocking if they were as low as No. 6 or No. 7 for the initial rankings. This week, Clemson will go on the road to face a Notre Dame team that’s been playing better lately.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1) | Last week: 6
Considering Alabama’s lone loss was to Tennessee in a game with very questionable officiating at the end, don’t be surprised if the Crimson Tide land at No. 5 or even in the top four tonight. Bama had off last week and will next play a surging LSU team (now ranked No. 15 in the AP poll) this Saturday in Baton Rouge.
7. TCU Horned Frogs (8-0) | Last week: 7
TCU hit a bunch of big plays to key their 41-31 win over West Virginia, with quarterback Max Duggan throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 completions and running back Kendre Miller carrying ten times for 120 yards and a touchdown. The Horned Frogs defense was on the field for 79 plays last week, so keep an eye on this Saturday against Texas Tech.
8. Oregon Ducks (7-1) | Last week: 8
Bo Nix is inserting himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion after totaling six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) and nearly 500 yards of total offense in Oregon’s 42-24 win over Cal. The Ducks might have been a bit sluggish early coming off their huge win over UCLA the previous week, but Nix and the offense are humming.
9. UCLA Bruins (7-1) | Last week: 10 (+1)
Running back Zach Charbonnet paced the Bruins with 198 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns while also leading the team in receiving (five receptions for 61 yards) in a 38-13 home win against Stanford. Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Kazmeir Allen also scored on the ground, helping the offensive effort of 324 rushing yards compared to Stanford’s 270 yards total.
10. USC Trojans (7-1) | Last week: NR
Star receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams were out for USC, but Caleb Williams still threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns on Arizona’s defense. Overall, while some of their wins have been a little close for comfort, the Trojans racked up 621 yards on offense, and it’ll be interesting to see where the selection committee ranks Lincoln Riley’s explosive squad tonight relative to conference foes Oregon and UCLA.