2022 College Football: The top three programs and how they're shaping up

Indianapolis, Indiana - With college football one month away, the nation's top football programs are gearing up for the 2022 season.

Who will the National Championship Trophy go to this year?
Who will the National Championship Trophy go to this year?  © KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The return of college football is nearly here, and it's time to have a look at the rankings.

Even as conference realignment has recently shaken the college sports world and taken center stage, those shifts won’t take effect for another couple of years.

For now, attention is turning to the top teams who will light up television screens across this fall.

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With the NFL draft, college graduation, and transfer portal causing massive roster disruptions for many programs, new contenders can always appear, and powerhouses can suddenly look less comfortable.

Having said that, here are the top three schools as things stand.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

Quarterback Stetson Bennett of the Georgia Bulldogs kisses the National Championship trophy after the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett of the Georgia Bulldogs kisses the National Championship trophy after the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide.  © KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The Georgia Bulldogs have just three starters from the national championship defense coming back, though head coach Kirby Smart's recruiting machine has ensured there's more than enough talent among the replacements.

One of the top linemen in the country, Jalen Carter, will also return to anchor the interior pass rush.

Additionally, with Stetson Bennett at quarterback, flanked by the likes of Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington, and Arik Gilbert on the receiving end, Georgia looks healthy in every position on the field.

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The Bulldogs are one of the few teams that can generate pressure at the line, and boasts perimeter speed that's hard to stop.

With a record of 14-1 in the SEC conference, the reigning national champions are looking to finish in the top three this season, accompanied by Ohio State and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Quarterback C.J. Stroud of the Ohio State Buckeyes awaits the snap against the Utah Utes during the Rose Bowl game.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud of the Ohio State Buckeyes awaits the snap against the Utah Utes during the Rose Bowl game.  © Sean M. Haffey / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The number one offense in the country is back, with Heisman finalist and top quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson, and wide-receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Even though it was the defense that cost Ohio State in statement losses to Oregon and Michigan last year, the unit should be on sounder footing with new defensive coach Jim Knowles, who comes in after coaching the number three defense in America at Oklahoma State last fall – a group that also led the nation in sacks.

The Buckeyes finished last season ranked sixth with an 8-1 conference record and 11-2 overall record.

According to ESPN'S College Football Power Index 2022 (FPI), the Buckeyes have an 82.7% chance of making it to the playoffs, and over a 70% chance of winning the conference championships.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Quarterback Bryce Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs of the 2022 National Championship Game.
Quarterback Bryce Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs of the 2022 National Championship Game.  © ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

This season, the national championship runner-ups will be looking to go one better.

The Crimson Tide will have a massive eight starters coming back on defense, including linebacker Will Anderson, college football's leader in sacks and tackles for loss, as well as Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young.

In addition to the return members, the defending SEC champions scored some big transfers: former LSU cornerback Eli Ricks, Georgia's leading 2021 receiver Jermaine Burton, and Jahmyr Gibbs, the former Georgia Tech running-back who comes in as the current active leader in total yards.

Finishing their latest season in second, Alabama had an overall record of 13-2 and are looking to come into the next season with a 79.6% chance of making the playoffs.

Under the leadership of head coach, Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will be the biggest team to watch in the upcoming college football season.

The big kick-off is set for Saturday, August 27, with the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide, and The Ohio State Buckeyes all starting their kickoffs the following week.

Cover photo: KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

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