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Is this the season for Carolina to get themselves back in the hunt?
  1. NCAAF

NCAAF - US Sports: Season preview

After a momentous offseason of realignment plans, coaching changes and star player transfers, college football feels like it could be moving into a new era in 2022.

While conference realignment has take place sporadically over the years, the NIL (Name, image and likeness) ruling has been the driving force behind the current state of flux.

As student-athletes look to maximise their opportunities, the best players are collecting at high-profile schools set up to exploit the new landscape.

Big-name coaches like Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly spotted which way the wind was blowing early on and left their programs to align themselves with the new talent hubs.

More players than ever before used the transfer portal to find new teams, but the chances of a surprise package or non-Power 5 team making the College Football Playoff this year seem less likely than before.

WhatNCAAF Season 2022/23
WhereUSA
WhenAugust 27th 2022 - January 9th 2023
How to watchBT Sport
Odds

Alabama +200, Georgia +300, Ohio State +350, Clemson +1200

Georgia and Alabama to renew rivalry

After meeting to decide the SEC Championship and national title within a matter of weeks last season, Georgia and Alabama are expected to make the strongest challenge for overall honors again in 2022.

The Bulldogs lost nine players from their smothering defense during the first three rounds of the NFL draft - with five taken inside the first day to underline how much talent they possessed.

Kirby Smart's men still have some elite prospects in that unit, such as projected top-12 picks Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo, while they return senior QB Stetson Bennett.

The former freshman walk-on Bennett earned Offensive Player of the Game honors at the Orange Bowl (CFP semifinal) and in Georgia's 33-18 win over the Crimson Tide in last January's CFP title game.

Georgia's only loss last year was to Alabama, who have featured in the national title game in no less than six of the last seven seasons, in the SEC Championship Game.

Head coach Nick Saban has utilized the transfer portal to plug some gaps in the roster, but the top-end talent at Tuscaloosa remains unparalleled.

The presence of top draft-eligible quarterback Bryce Young and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Will Anderson Jr, who led the nation in sacks last year, suggests they will be strong on both sides of the ball.

Five of the past seven national champions have emerged from the Southeastern Conference and it's hard to look beyond it for the next.

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Buckeyes out on their own in Big Ten

Michigan prevailed in the Big Ten last year, but Jim Harbaugh's men are not expected to be as strong in 2022 - leaving Ohio State as the overwhelming favorite in the conference.

Ryan Day's team still finished 11-2 last year and have a potentially devastating offensive combination of All-American quarterback C.J. Stroud and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

This conference could be the place for elite running back play with Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim, who missed virtually all of 2021, vying with the Buckeyes' TreVeyon Henderson, who tallied 1,567 scrimmage yards and 19 scores as a true freshman, for the most rushing yards

Wisconsin Badgers bruiser Braelon Allen, who blasted his way to 1,268 yards and 12 scores in his first college season, is another to watch.

Strange times in Big-12

Oklahoma (+175) and Texas (+260) are in the final chapter of their time within the Midwest's Big-12 as they prepare to join the ultra-competitive SEC before 2025.

The conference will add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF next season, but for now it should be the realm of the Sooners.

The Bearcats (+190) and Cougars (+250), who ended the 2021 season on top, are the cream of the crop in the American Athletic Conference.

Both are expected to post double-digit win totals this year while Memphis and Tulsa could parlay the play of their returning quarterbacks into unexpected challenges.

Trojans trying to be relevant again

In the Pac-12 conference, USC (28/1 for the national title) have been making plenty of noise after attracting Riley from Oklahoma.

He led a transfer portal frenzy of recruiting that included ex-Sooners QB Caleb Williams in a bid to turn the Trojans back into title contenders sooner than the usual rebuild timescale precludes.

Defending champions Utah will look to build on their superb 2021 by backing up their very first Pac-12 win while Oregon should be there or thereabouts after bringing in a new coach too.

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