While it is still early summer, the 2022 college football season is just a little more than five weeks away. Things will get underway on Aug. 27 with 11 games, with the headlined matchups being West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh and Penn State vs. Purdue.
As always, there has been a lot of turnover throughout all 131 FCS teams, but I will give out my best bets for the winners of each of the 11 conferences. The odds are via FanDuel (July 19).
College Football Favorites: UCF +210, Cincinnati +230, Houston +250, SMU +800, Memphis +1200
The 2022 AAC race has the potential to be fantastic, with three or four teams having legitimate chances of claiming the crown. Cincinnati is going for their third straight title and is 48-15 under head coach Luke Fickell. However, the Bearcats lost half their starters and brought back just four starters from their terrific defense that allowed 16.5 points a game.
I’m going with the betting favorite here as UCF returns 17 of their 24 starters overall, including quarterback Mikey Keane who played well as a freshman after starter Dillion Gabriel was lost for the year in the season opener. The Knights also have some talented returnees at the skill positions, a veteran offensive line, and a defense that gets after the quarterback. In addition, the schedule works in their favor as they will host Cincinnati and won’t face Houston during the regular season.
College Football Favorites: Clemson -155, Miami (Fla.) +600, NC State +800, Pittsburgh +1200, Wake Forest +1600, North Carolina +2500.
The big question is can Clemson rebound after a disappointing 2021 campaign? The Tigers saw their conference title streak end at six as Pitt earned their first ACC chip with a victory over Wake Forest. I don’t expect to see such a surprise in the championship game again.
Miami appears to have the easiest route to the ACC title game this year as they play in the Coastal division. Still, I’m going with the Tigers as their defense has the potential to be sensational, and they have a deep and talented backfield. Plus, I believe quarterback D.J. Uigalelei will take a step forward; whether it is just as a runner remains to be seen.
College Football Favorites: Ohio State -200, Michigan +800, Wisconsin +1200, Penn State
+1400, Iowa +2000, Nebraska +2000
It is tough not to go with Ohio State here. The Buckeyes return 14 starters overall – six players on each side – including Heisman Trophy favorite C.J. Stroud, who has a tremendous amount of talent to work with on the offensive side. However, there are questions surrounding new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ unit.
College Football Favorites: Oklahoma +200, Texas +250, Oklahoma State +600, Baylor +600, TCU +12000
As the odds rightfully indicate, The Big 12 looks like a toss-up. I’ll take Oklahoma State as the Cowboys have the conference’s most dynamic quarterback in Spencer Sanders though he has to limit his mistakes. Plus, they have the conference’s top returning defense.
College Football Favorites: UAB +200, UTSA +200, Western Kentucky +450, FAU +1000, Middle Tennessee +1000, UTEP +1600
C-USA has already felt upheaval with three teams leaving for the Sun Belt, so now the conference is down to 11. I believe the league is top-heavy and will go with Western Kentucky to capture its first conference crown since 2016. Ex-WVU signal caller Jarret Doege, who threw for over 10,000 yards for the Mountaineers, will be behind center for the pass-happy Hilltoppers, and they do return seven starters from a defense that wasn’t as bad as their numbers.
College Football Favorites: Toledo +340, Miami (OH) +380, Northern Illinois +500, Central Michigan +600, Kent State +600, Western Michigan +800
The MAC arguably presents the best betting options, with no one considered a prohibitive favorite, as every team has questions due to high player turnover. Also, each squad carries at least a 3x money designation.
The West seems to be the tougher division, with Toledo and Northern Illinois headlining the group. Miami is the best in a weakened East division, and the Red Hawks should be one of the teams in the MAC Championship game. But I’m going with NIU to repeat as conference title holders with senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi and a solid offensive line leading the way.
College Football Favorites: Boise State +230, Fresno State +340, Air Force +450, San Diego State +470, Utah State +550
The Mountain West also has intriguing betting options as the conference is known for surprises. I’m going with Fresno State as senior quarterback Jake Haener leads the most talented and potent offense. Boise State should also be a major contender, but the Bulldogs own the league’s best-returning roster, which includes 15 starters.
College Football Favorites: Appalachian State +240, Louisiana +350, Coastal Carolina +440, Marshall +480, Georgia State +900, Troy +900
The Sun Belt is now up to 14 teams, but the same trio seems to be bound to capture the conference title. I will take Appalachian State as the Mountaineers have plenty of experience, and former Duke signal caller Chase Brice was solid behind center last year. They also have a fantastic running game, and Kaedin Robinson could develop into a difference maker at wide receiver.
College Football Favorites: Alabama -140, Georgia +160, Texas A&M +1800, Kentucky +4000, Tennessee +5000, Ole Miss +5000
While Texas A&M has designs on capturing their first SEC title of any kind, Alabama and Georgia are the best two teams in the conference, and both teams are loaded with top-level NFL talent as usual. But I’m going with Bama to claim its third straight league crown as the Tide returns 14 starters led by Heisman winner Bryce Young and sack master Will Anderson Jr.
College Football Favorites: USC +150, Utah +300, Oregon +300, UCLA +1000, Washington +1700
I like Oregon to return to the top of the conference even though they will be under the direction of a first-time head coach Dan Lanning, who served as the defensive coordinator for 2021 national champions Georgia. The Ducks return 16 starters overall, including a very talented defensive front seven as well as all five offensive linemen. Former Auburn dual-threat quarterback Bo Nix is underrated, and running back Byron Cardwell is an emerging star.