With it being Bold Predictions Week here at LGHL, we figured we would try to knock your socks off with a couple prognostications for the upcoming college football season. There won’t be a shortage of spicy Ohio State predictions for the 2022 season on this website this week, but we figured we’d branch out a little bit and look beyond Columbus for today’s predictions.
There has been plenty of changes around the college football world since the end of the 2021 season. Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams, and Jordan Addison are now all in California, as they look to restore some of the glory at USC. Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU, and five minutes later was already speaking with a fake southern accent. Those moves are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the movement of players and coaches during the offseason.
For today’s question, we are looking for the boldest prediction for the upcoming season that doesn’t involve Ohio State. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick Wisconsin to win the Big Ten, or picking a team that the Buckeyes play to have the Heisman Trophy winner. The prediction just can’t be about Ohio State.
Today’s question: What is your boldest non-Ohio State prediction for the 2022 college football season?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: NC State will win the ACC
At first glance this might not seem like all that bold of a prediction since the Wolfpack will likely be ranked in the top-15 heading into the season. The reason I think putting my chips on Dave Doeren’s team to win the ACC is bold is because the last time the Wolfpack finished the season at the top of the conference was 1979.
Last year, North Carolina State finished the season at 9-3, with a 6-2 record in the ACC. Had a couple bounces went in favor of the Wolfpack, there’s an argument to be made that NC State could have finished the year 8-0 in the ACC, which would have matched them up against Pitt in the ACC Championship Game. The Wolfpack lost to Miami, 31-30, and Wake Forest, 45-42.
A positive that came out of NC State’s 2021 season is they were able to finally beat Clemson, snapping an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers with the 27-21 win in double overtime in Raleigh. Now the Wolfpack will go to Clemson this season, where they will be looking for their first road win over the Tigers since 2002. Even though they finished the 2021 season with six-straight wins, we still don’t know what we’ll get from Clemson after the Tigers lost their offensive and defensive coordinators, and the jury is still out on quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.
The road to the ACC title isn’t going to be easy for NC State, especially since they close the season with road games against Louisville and North Carolina. The good news is they’ll get Wake Forest at home this year, as well as their toughest non-conference opponent, Texas Tech.
What I love about the Wolfpack is they have quarterback Devin Leary returning. Leary is coming off a season where he threw 35 touchdowns and five interceptions. Even though it’s probably never wise to bet on a Tim Beck offense, Leary was able to put up numbers with Beck as his offensive coordinator last season.
I would love to really shock the world by saying NC State will be in the playoff this year, but I think they’ll suffer a loss somewhere in the season, which will keep them from being in the mix. Even if the Wolfpack went undefeated, it might be tough to see them as a playoff team, especially if the usual playoff suspects are playing at the level we have been accustomed to. At least with a strong defense and some pieces on offense, NC State will make life tough for everyone they square off against this season.
Meredith’s answer: Rutgers will finish 4th or higher in the Big Ten East
I’ll give one to Rutgers, and predict that the Scarlet Knights will finish fourth or higher in the Big Ten East standings. Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s a lame “bold prediction” to select a middle-of-the-division standing, but that would mean that Rutgers would do something it hasn’t managed to do since it joined the Big Ten in 2014: beat out three teams in its own division.
Of course it is a challenge — the Scarlet Knights have to compete every season against the quartet of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. To finish fourth or higher, Rutgers would have to beat out one of these teams in the standings. Competing against Indiana and Maryland, while not nearly on the same level, isn’t exactly a cakewalk year in and year out, either.
This year’s conference schedule is as follows for the Scarlet Knights:
- Iowa (Sept. 24)
- @ Ohio State (Oct. 1)
- Nebraska (Oct. 7)
- Indiana (Oct. 22)
- @ Minnesota (Oct. 29)
- Michigan (Nov. 5)
- @ Michigan State (Nov. 12)
- Penn State (Nov. 19)
- @ Maryland (Nov. 26)
Looking at the schedule, there are some clear opportunities for Rutgers to capitalize on, like home games against Nebraska and Indiana. While they’ve been hit or miss against Maryland in the past, that final game of the season could also be a reasonable victory for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights could also keep things close against Iowa (because Iowa, remember, doesn’t score points), and, on the stretch of Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, could catch one of those teams unaware. Those five games could be enough to get the No. 4 spot or higher in the Big Ten East.
It’s bold, because this schedule is a challenging one. Last year, the Scarlet Knights won just two conference games against Indiana and Illinois. However, things could turn around this season with Greg Schiano in his third season as head coach. With more of his recruits in Piscataway (including what should be a much-improved offensive line), Rutgers could have a shot at wins against most of the middle-to-bottom teams in the conference.