2022 College Football Playoff and Heisman Predictions From The Eleven Warriors Staff

By Garrick Hodge on August 21, 2022 at 8:35 am
C.J. Stroud

Unlike last season, 2022 has very clear frontrunners for both the national championship and the Heisman Trophy.

Ohio State and Alabama appear destined to be on a collision course for the national championship based on oddsmakers, with Alabama being the perceived favorite at +210 and Ohio State slotted with the second-best odds at +350, according to Odds Shark. Defending national champion Georgia sits third at +475, while Clemson is fourth at +800.

Meanwhile, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (+200) and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (+350) are the overwhelming favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, according to Vegas Insider. The next-best odds belong to USC signal caller Caleb Williams at +700, while Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson and Texas running back Bijan Robinson are tied for the fourth-best odds +2000. You also may get a wry chuckle at hearing newly named Texas starting quarterback Quinn Ewers is seventh at +2800 (we didn't make the odds). 

With Week 0 of college football kicking off Saturday with Nebraska taking on Northwestern and No. 2 Ohio State facing No. 5 Notre Dame in less than two weeks, the Eleven Warriors staff figured we'd try our hands at prognosticating the entire College Football Playoff field and predict the 2022 national champion along with our Heisman Trophy winner. 

Considering this is a website that covers Ohio State, it probably won't shock you to learn the majority of the picks are slanted in the Buckeyes’ favor, especially considering the high expectations for the 2022 season. While that may be exciting for some, just take a look at how bad we were at this last year before getting your hopes up. 

Check out our CFP and Heisman predictions below, then tell us yours in the comments. 

Ramzy Nasrallah

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Utah 

National Championship: Ohio State over Clemson

Breakdown: I see Ohio State outscoring every opponent in a manner now possible with an okay-enough defense. The Buckeyes will go 15-0 and survive a few scary quarters, but no one is keeping this team under 35 ppg.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Stroud’s biggest threats are Bryce Young – burdened by being the returning winner – and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, whose YAC tendencies could split the vote. If Stroud doesn’t rely on JSN as heavily as he did in the Rose Bowl (fully aware Marvin Harrison Jr had three touchdowns, but Stroud targeted JSN a dozen more times) then splitting votes, especially in the Midwest, goes away. The Notre Dame game will set the trajectory.

Jason Priestas

CFP field: Ohio State, Alabama, Utah, Georgia

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Man, I really hate picking two SEC teams for the field again, but looking at the contenders, I don’t know of another team that will take that second spot from the SEC. Notre Dame? They’re going to get rocked in Week 1, and I don’t think they’ll have enough to overcome that. Clemson? Not with two new coordinators, despite how bad the ACC is. Oklahoma in Year 1 under Venables? Nope. Oklahoma State? Not a chance.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Let’s face it, this is a quarterback award and Stroud has better weapons to throw to and a better running back next to him than Bryce Young has at Alabama. Plus, God only made one man worthy of winning two Heismans and he wore No. 45.

Dan Hope 

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Utah

National Championship: Alabama over Ohio State

Breakdown: Ohio State and Alabama have the two best returning quarterbacks and the two most complete rosters in college football, so they seem destined to be the final teams standing this year. That’s a matchup I could see going either way, as I think Ohio State will have the nation’s most explosive offense and Alabama will have the nation’s best defense. But while I believe the Buckeyes’ defense will be better, I’m a bit more confident Alabama will have a championship-caliber offense than I am Ohio State will have a championship-caliber defense.

Heisman pick: Will Anderson, OLB, Alabama

Breakdown: Anderson should have won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football last year when he recorded a whopping 33.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. He didn’t even get an invitation to the ceremony last year, so I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical of this pick. What a defensive player really needs to have a chance to win the Heisman, though, is national media hype — and he’s going to have it from the beginning of the season this year in a way that he didn’t last year.

Griffin Strom 

CFP Field: Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Georgia

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Assuming Jim Knowles’ defense lives up to expectations, this feels like it could be a special year for the Buckeyes. Give me a shootout between what could be two Heisman Trophy winners, the top two quarterbacks selected in next year’s NFL draft and longtime friends C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young in the national championship game, with Ohio State’s high-octane offense having just enough to take home the title.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Voters may be hesitant to name a second-ever two-time Heisman Trophy winner with Bryce Young this season, and if the Buckeyes go 13-0 into the CFP, the inevitably impressive numbers Stroud will have accumulated should make him the first Ohio State player to take home the Heisman since Troy Smith.

Chase Brown

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Utah

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Ohio State's offense will be one of the best in college football behind C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If the Buckeyes have an improved defense from last season and land anywhere in the top 25, I expect Ryan Day to hoist his first College Football Playoff trophy with the rest of his team on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Stroud broke 17 school records at Ohio State last season, and he has a chance to break more in 2022. With talented weapons like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr., Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka as his receiving threats, I think Stroud will put together a strong enough résumé to fend off last year's winner Bryce Young of Alabama and any other contender who rises the ranks this fall.

Garrick Hodge

CFP field: Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: First things first, I just can't pick a Pac-12 team to make the CFP, so I'm banking on a Clemson rebound. Two SEC teams in the playoff yet again is boring, but it's also likely, even if it's never happened in back-to-back years. 

I went back and forth on the eventual 2022 champion and was so tempted to pick Alabama because of Nick Saban and my concern about Jim Knowles fixing the very problematic OSU defense from last season overnight. But the Buckeyes will indeed channel 2014 vibes and beat Alabama in the title game because their offense is the best overall unit in college football this year, just as Georgia's defense was the best overall unit in football last year. In that end, that's enough for me. 

Heisman pick: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Breakdown: I was the one that put together everybody's selections and after seeing C.J. Stroud pick after C.J. Stroud pick, I figured it was time for something different. I know nobody is forgetting how good Jaxon Smith-Njigba is. But I do think we're forgetting in the lone game he played without first-round picks Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson he had 347 receiving yards (!!!) in a single game on 15 catches. Obviously, OSU's wide receiver room is loaded with talent with the likes of Marvin Harrison Jr., Julian Fleming, Emeka Egbuka and so on. But I'm predicting Smith-Njigba will turn in a season similar to the one DeVonta Smith did for Alabama in 2020 and arguably post the best numbers any wide receiver has recorded in a single season in college football history. 

Andy Vance

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Ohio State’s defense only needs to suck 30% less than it did last year for this year’s squad to be a championship team. They don’t need to be the ’85 Bears, they just need to be reasonably solid, and I think Jim Knowles will make that happen and then some.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: This kid is good; he’s now a seasoned veteran who still has an insanely talented array of weapons at his disposal, and he’s going to have plenty of opportunities for Heisman moments and to pad his stats against the usual cast B1G also-rans.

Johnny Ginter

CFP field: Ohio State, Alabama, Utah, Georgia

National Championship: Alabama over Georgia

Breakdown: Alabama continues to the be most talented and most complete team in the country, and while I want to believe that Jim Knowles will be able to fix the defense enough to take down the Tide, my guess is that something stupid happens and they end up not getting the chance because the college football gods have an apparent all-SEC championship fetish.

Heisman pick: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Breakdown: I'm kidding! It's really going to be Quinn Ewers. I'm kidding again! C.J. Stroud, duh.

George Eisner

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Georgia

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Last year's young Buckeye team has grown up and gone through enough adversity to overcome any challenges in front of them. The offense was already the best in the country a season ago, it will be thrilling to see how they perform while complemented by a defense poised for enormous improvement with appropriate coaching. A rematch of the 2020 CFP title game almost seems fated, while USC figures to reclaim the PAC-12 shortly before leaving and Georgia steamrolls an SEC East considerably weaker than its western counterpart.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Stroud has the experience, supporting cast and schedule to become Ohio State's first Heisman winner since Troy Smith – and more importantly, hold off Bryce Young from joining Archie Griffin as the only two-time recipients.

Matt Gutridge

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Utah

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Alabama has been invited to the College Football Playoff in seven of its eight years of existence. Might as well make it eight of nine. It is believed Ohio State's weakness the past two seasons has been fixed with the arrival of the almighty Jim Knowles.

The SEC has never had two teams make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, so Georgia is out. I'm not sold on Clemson, but Dabo and company typically find a way to make it in. The Pac-12 has not had a playoff team since Washington in the 2016 season. Utah might be the team to end that drought.

Alabama has won three of the eight championships during the CFP era and has played in six of the championship games. Alabama plays for the title for a third straight season, but numerology is on Ohio State's side.

Since the turn of the century, Ohio State has gone undefeated in every regular season ending with the number two. This is 2022 and the scarlet and gray go undefeated again. We all know that numbers don't lie.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Only once since 2009 has a player with the best preseason odds (ranked in the top three) won the Heisman. That player was Baker Mayfield in 2017. Stroud becomes the second favored signal-caller to take the prized trophy since 2009 and the first Buckeye since Troy Smith in 2006. Yes, my scarlet-tinted glasses are happily on full blast.

Josh Poloha

CFP field: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Breakdown: Buckeye fans (and all of college football, really) already know how good Ohio State's offense is and can be this season, it all just comes down to the defense. If Jim Knowles and his new-look staff can turn things around on that side of the ball and Larry Johnson's defensive line gets back to their dominating ways, the Buckeyes are going to be tough to beat. They should score a lot; just imagine if they don't allow a lot of points, too, no matter who the opponent is. It would've been easy to choose the top-four teams in the preseason polls – Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson – but I had to add in one under-the-radar team to make the CFP.

Heisman pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Breakdown: Man, my first roundtable and I feel like a homer. Seriously, though, Stroud has a plethora of five-star wide receivers to throw to and arguably the best running back in the country next to him in the backfield. QB1 is going to prove that he's the best quarterback in college football this season while also leading Ohio State to the promised land. The Buckeyes' streak of going undefeated in a year that ends with the No. 2 in this millennium will continue.

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