The 2022 college football season is still some time away, but it’s never too early to start predicting how the season will go, right? Every conference has teams that are consistently at the top and teams that always hover near the bottom.
In this article, we break down which two teams from every Power Five conference will have a surprisingly good season or a disappointing one.
Sometimes programs rise from the ashes and compete for a conference title, while others take a steep fall from the top and let down their fans and make preseason projections look silly.
Here are the programs we project will either be the biggest surprises or disappointments from their respective conferences.
ACC’s biggest surprise? Miami.
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Now, no one necessarily expects Miami to be bad, but winning the conference is seemingly out of the question in the minds of analysts. Cristobal is an established head coach that brings a certain type of culture with him. He’s got a rising star in quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, let’s see what he can do with the rest of the roster. Be on the lookout for the Hurricanes.
ACC’s biggest disappointment? Pitt.
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I bet you were expecting to see Clemson fill this spot after what happened in 2021. Every heavy-hitting program is allowed to have an off year. It’s expected. That being said, Clemson’s not under treacherous waters yet. They should be able to run the Atlantic Division. Pitt, however, has high expectations to meet. Saying the program’s 2022 season will be a disappointment isn’t writing them off completely, just that they won’t be able to match or surpass last year’s performance. Transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis sure helps but losing Kenny Pickett to the draft and Jordan Addison to USC stings.
Big Ten’s biggest surprise? Wisconsin.
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Wisconsin has been quiet recently. The Badgers’ defense last season was phenomenal, the only piece of the puzzle that the program lacked was o-field production. Graham Mertz made headlines before the 2021 season for being the first college football player with a NIL logo, now it’s time for him to make headlines with his plays.
Big Ten’s biggest disappointment? Michigan State.
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Are the Spartans able to match or surpass their accomplishments from last season? Star running back Kenneth Walker is gone, but a lot of the high-powered offense remains. Mel Tucker signed a massive extension to stay at Michigan State long term. In a conference loaded with potential national title contenders, carrying over success from one season to the next is a difficult thing to achieve.
Big 12’s biggest surprise? Oklahoma State
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In a time where the Big 12 is such a mess no one is quite sure how much longer it will be standing, Mike Gundy and Oklahoma state have taken advantage. A strong 2021 season that featured an appearance in the conference title game have college football fans tuned-in to what might be an interesting 2022 season. Plenty of spots that need to be filled, but the Cowboys might be a team to watch out for.
Big 12’s biggest disappointment? Texas.
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Steve Sarkisian’s Texas Longhorns managed to scrape together a 5-7 record last season, which was a disappointment in itself. Why might 2022 also be disappointing? Well, it’s because the expectations are raised. The offense will now be led by NIL star quarterback Quinn Ewers, who has yet to appear in a college football game. Running back Bijan Robinson will also be back out on the field in 2022. The offense appears ready to go, but will the defense be able to keep them competitive in all 12 regular-season games.
Pac-12’s biggest surprise? Oregon.
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Surely this would not be a massive shock to anyone, seeing as the Ducks have been one of only a few programs from the Pac-12 to achieve and sustain national relevancy. However, with Mario Cristobal now in Miami, Oregon is being led by first-year head coach and former Georgia defensive coordinator, Dan Lanning, and will have former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix under center. The real surprise here isn’t the success the Ducks will likely have, but that it came surprisingly fast with a whole new look.
Pac-12’s biggest disappointment? USC.
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Lincoln Riley made the move from Oklahoma to USC, as did his young quarterback Caleb Williams. Star wide receiver Jordan Addison recently left Pittsburgh to swap coasts. The pieces are there, but will they function cohesively? Some national college football pundits believe the 2022 USC team is destined for the College Football Playoff. With all the hype built around this team, it feels like its win or bust. Any regular season loss will loom over this team until the 2023 offseason begins. For those reasons, this team is most likely to disappoint out of the Pac-12.
SEC’s biggest surprise? Tennessee.
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The Volunteers are likely not going to be representing the SEC East in the conference title game, that will probably be Georgia. However, Josh Heupel has this team trending in the right direction and Hendon Hooker is one of the better quarterbacks Tennessee has had in recent years. No championships incoming for Vols fans, but don’t be shocked if people stop using them as a punchline in the SEC.
SEC’s biggest disappointment? Florida.
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The Gators will have Anthony Richardson under center and Billy Napier at the helm of the team as Florida’s newest head coach. There aren’t many expectations for this team in 2022, but one of the biggest brands in the SEC having another down year under a new coaching staff will have people overlooking the Gators without thinking twice.