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PICK SIX: Who’ll win the national championship in 2022?

Sometimes a prediction can feel right though it eventually ends up wrong. And vice versa.

Last season, this column projected both Ohio State and Alabama to skip the College Football Playoff. Bold? Dumb? The line is okay.

One out of two isnt bad, however in some ways one that finished up being wrong felt more right.

As the Buckeyes did grow to be vulnerable, the pick here to win the Big Ten and reach the playoff for the very first time was … Wisconsin. The Badgers went 9-4 last season and didnt even win their division. The Buckeyes lost to Oregon early and Michigan late.

For Alabama, the idea behind the Crimson Tide missing the CFP was that it could lose a regular-season game probably at Texas A&M and Georgia would eliminate Nick Sabans team by winning the SEC title game.

That appeared as if an excellent call once the unbeaten and favored Bulldogs went up 10-0 in the next quarter in Atlanta. Then Bryce Young carved up Georgias vaunted defense also it became another exemplory case of the perils of picking against Bama.

Some redemption came in the CFP title game, when Georgia as predicted within the preseason won the national title.

While its cool to be right, predictions are mostly designed for fun. Straight chalk is boring, but last seasons volatility that included Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma having long conference championship streaks snapped may be tough to repeat. With all that at heart:


Three teams that may start the growing season ranked in the AP Top 25 but finish unranked:

No. 12 Oklahoma State. The super seniors and coordinator that powered among the best defenses in the united kingdom have died and the Big 12 is definitely unpredictable.

No. 16 Miami. Hurricanes haters get yet another year of mocking the way the U. is Back! Should get it from your system, though, because Miami under Mario Cristobal isn’t apt to be mediocre for a lot longer.

No. 19 Arkansas. The SEC West is really a gauntlet and somebody will likely be disappointed. Youre it, Razorbacks.

Three teams which will start the growing season unranked but finish ranked:

Penn State. On the path to building toward something big in 2023, James Franklin and the Nittany Lions bounce back from two lackluster seasons.

Kansas State. The Adrian Martinez redemption tour.

UCF. The Knights have already been usurped by Cincinnati as kings of the AAC and Houston may be the buzzy G5 team heading into this year. But UCF looks loaded in Year 2 under Gus Malzahn.


American Athletic Conference Houston over UCF. The continuing future of the Big 12.

Atlantic Coast Conference Clemson over NEW YORK. What better solution to end divisional play in the ACC than Clemson beating the fourth-best team in the conference?

Big 12 Kansas State over Oklahoma. Score one for the leftovers.

Big Ten Ohio State over Minnesota. The West Division should come down to a great, four- or five-team scramble and the winners reward is really a beatdown from the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.

Conference USA UAB over UTSA. (Insert joke about how exactly difficult it really is to remember who’s still in C-USA).

Mid-American Conference Toledo over Miami (Ohio). Picking the favorites in the MAC is never a good idea, but here we have been.

Mountain West Fresno State over Boise State. Quarterback Jake Haener and the Bulldogs give Fresno State its first MWC title since 2018.

Pac-12 Oregon over USC. A first-year coach wins the Pac-12. Not the one obtaining the most attention.

Southeastern Conference Alabama over Georgia. Yep, were achieving this again.


Nebraska gets off to an encouraging begin in coach Scott Frosts make-or-break season, but stumbles down the stretch against a hard closing schedule (Minnesota, at Michigan, Wisconsin and at Iowa). The institution parts ways with the hometown hero. Next up for the Cornhuskers? Think about Matt Campbell from Iowa State?


Rose Bowl Michigan vs. USC.

Sugar Bowl Georgia vs. Kansas State.

Cotton Bowl Houston vs. Oklahoma.

Orange Bowl NEW YORK State vs. Texas A&M.


Fiesta Bowl (semifinals) No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson.

Peach Bowl (semifinals) No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oregon.


Ohio State over Alabama. The Buckeyes win a rematch of the 2020 CFP championship game, with C.J. Stroud outdueling Bryce Young.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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