College football is underway, and the first full week of games kicks off on Thursday.
Who’s going to crack the College Football Playoff? Which teams will surprise the nation? Can Bryce Young defend his Heisman Trophy? These are among this fall’s many burning questions.
With that in mind, FOX college football analyst Joel Klatt offered his current top 10, as well as sleeper teams for the 2022 season in the latest episode of “Breaking the Huddle.”
Alabama & Ohio State headline Joel Klatt’s Preseason top 10
Joel Klatt gives his preseason top 10, as well as sleeper teams for the 2022 college football season.
Klatt’s thoughts: “I think Bama, what they bring back with their quarterback, Bryce Young, and Will Anderson, that’s gonna be really hard to overcome for everybody else.”
2. Ohio State
Klatt’s thoughts: “Ohio State, we know their issues: It’s on the defensive side. That’s probably the best offense in college football.”
[How Jaxon Smith-Njigba became Ohio State’s next great receiver]
Klatt’s thoughts: “Georgia, obviously, replacing all of those great defensive players, but they still have 14 five-stars on their roster.”
Klatt’s thoughts: “Clemson, replacing [both] coordinators, that’s a big deal, obviously.”
Klatt’s thoughts: “Utah and Kyle Whittingham have built something really special. Remember, Cameron Rising, when he’s their starting quarterback, they were outstanding late last year and really made a run. I love Utah. I’ve got them at No. 5. I think that they’re the class of the Pac-12 and could make a push to the playoff for the first time out of that conference in quite some time.”
Klatt’s thoughts: “Quietly, I think this could be the second, third-best offense in all of college football. They’re going to trade off quarterbacks early in the year. J.J. McCarthy and Cade McNamara, they’re each going to get starts in the first two weeks, but they’ve got weapons around them.”
7. Notre Dame
Klatt’s thoughts: “Notre Dame is a really quality team. Last year, I thought that they exceeded expectations. They’ll be better at the line of scrimmage. I like what Notre Dame brings back.”
[Week 1 lookahead: Who is feeling the pressure?]
8. Texas A&M
Klatt’s thoughts: “What a recruiting class they’ve had. Now, granted, they’re going to have to get better in particular in SEC play. Last year, 4-4 in the SEC. They’ve got to get better there, get better quarterback play, as it relates to interceptions and turnovers.”
9. North Carolina State
Klatt’s thoughts: “North Carolina State quietly has built something very good. Dave Doeren, their head coach, has been outstanding. Devin Leary, their quarterback, is back. They’ve got 10 starters back on their defense, which was the second-ranked defense in the ACC, so North Carolina State should be really good.”
Klatt’s thoughts: “USC is going to be good on offense. We know that. The question is, defensively, what are they? Remember, now, they gave up 37 points per game in Pac-12 play last year. Their defense was atrocious. That’s the reason they went 1-6 in their last seven. They’ve got to fix their defense, and they gotta fix the line of scrimmage.”
Klatt’s sleeper teams: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin
Klatt likes the trio of Big Ten West teams, but the Golden Gophers’ favorable schedule and returning players pique his interest the most.
Klatt’s thoughts on Minnesota: “They avoid both of the big boys, Michigan and Ohio State. They’ve got Tanner Morgan, their quarterback, back. Kirk Ciarrocca is back, their offensive coordinator that Morgan had a terrific year with a couple of years ago. They’ve got Mo Ibrahim back, their running back who tore his Achilles against Ohio State in that first game last year. If you remember, he was shredding that Ohio State defense in that first half. …
“If there’s a sleeper team out there that goes from unranked to potentially top 10 or near it, watch out for Minnesota, rowing that boat with P.J. Fleck.”
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