5 College Football Power Five Rebound Teams For 2022

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Which teams in the Power Five conferences should bounce back big after a disappointing 2022? Here are five teams that should rebound.

You just knew 2021 would bounce back to normal – and it did, at least until the bowl season.

2020 was such an insane outlier of a year in every possible way thanks to the imbalanced schedules, teams that had to tap out, and with the transfer portal starting to take off.

Into the void stepped Iowa State and Indiana as they got a whole lot of preseason love and affection, and then … pffffffffft. The air quickly went out of the balloon for them and several other programs.

On the flip side of that were the teams that fizzled in 2020 but went back to their normal selves, and in some cases, were better.

For the most part, last year’s 5 Teams That Will Rebound was close to the pin.

Louisville? Not so much in a 6-7 season, but Tennessee (compared to the expectations and the 3-7 2020, boom), Penn State (smaller bang), Wisconsin (medium boom), and Michigan (an earth-shattering, illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator producing ka-BOOOM)? Yeah, they all improved.

Here are five teams that should rebound from a relatively down 2021. The list is based on last year’s preseason ranking going from the bottom up, starting with …

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College Football Teams That Will Rebound

Texas Longhorns

2021 Preseason Ranking
AP (21), Coaches (19)
Final Record: 5-7

What Went Wrong? 

Texas continued its long-standing policy of being a tackling-optional football school.

The offense was good enough – even if it was a tad inconsistent – but the defense finished eighth in the Big 12, Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams took away the run D’s purpose in life, and meaningful third down stops were a rumor.

Things aren’t exactly working out when you’re giving up 57 points at home in a loss to Kansas.

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Why 2022 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

Steve Sarkisian’s second year should be a whole lot stronger for one big reason – the offense might be Texas defense-proof.

The Longhorn D will be better. The linebacking corps has experience to go along with a nice transfer portal get in Diamone Tucker-Dorsey from James Madison, the line at least has guys who look the part of big-time talents, and the secondary could be one of the team’s hidden gems.

But it doesn’t matter because the O should go ballistic.

Don’t discount the concept that Ohio State transfer QB Quinn Ewers might be everything Longhorn fans are hoping for Arch Manning – he’s not coming aboard until next year – to be and more.

Getting WR Isaiah Neyor from Wyoming to go along with Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington is almost unfair, and RB Bijan Robinson should be in an NFL camp right now.

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Schedule 
Texas Preview | Top 10 PlayersSchedule Analysis

The schedule really wasn’t the issue last season, and this time around there’s the Week 2 two-piece coming from Alabama. However, the Baylor game is in Austin, the first seven games of the year are in the state of Texas, and having to go to Kansas State and Kansas isn’t that bad.

It’s not like having to go to Georgia and LSU, which the program might have to do in the near future.

NEXT: Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies

2021 Preseason Ranking
AP (20), Coaches (21)
Final Record: 4-8

What Went Wrong? 

To be a little bit fair to how much Washington was hammered for its 0-2 start last year, Montana turned out to be terrific – yeah, yeah … beat the FCS team, U-Dub – after coming with a 13-7 shocker in Seattle, and the blowout loss to Michigan is far more acceptable in hindsight.

The defense did its part, It was No. 1 in the nation against the pass – granted, it’s partly because everyone was so good running the ball against the front seven – and overall it was the second-best in the Pac-12.

The offense, though, didn’t find a turnover it didn’t like to give away, it finished tenth overall in the conference, and it failed to get past 21 points eight times.

However …

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Why 2022 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

The defense suffered a slew of key injuries – and it was still terrific – and the offense is about to get a jump-start. The Husky attack that was 114th in the nation overall, couldn’t run, and couldn’t stop making mistakes now gets head coach Kalen DeBoer and a system that made Fresno State shine.

The line should be better around top left tackle Jaxson Kirkland, the running backs are fine if they get room to move, and the passing attack will take to the new coaching staff in a hurry.

On the other side, the defensive front will be a rock around a big group of tackles, and the linebacking corps will be among the best in the country despite the loss of Jackson Sirmon to Cal.

And why? UAB’s Kristopher Moll and Pitt’s Cam Bright will rock from the transfer portal, and getting back Edefuan Ulofoshio at some point this season – hopefully – from a knee injury will help.

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Schedule 
UW Preview | Top 10 PlayersSchedule Analysis

The first four games are in Seattle – even if the date with Michigan State is dangerous – there’s no USC or Utah to face from the South, and getting to at least eight wins is a must.

The road run of UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, and Washington State has its problems, but there are a few winnable games in there if 2021 really was just a blip.

NEXT: USC Trojans

USC Trojans

2021 Preseason Ranking
AP (15), Coaches (14)
Final Record: 4-8

What Went Wrong? 

You mean besides everything?

The Trojans suffered a stunning loss to Stanford in Week 2, head coach Clay Helton was sacked soon thereafter, and the team played in a daze the rest of the way going 2-7 after a blowout win over Washington State.

The offense was the best in the Pac-12 – even with star receiver Drake London going down – but the penalties didn’t stop, there weren’t enough big plays from the defense, and there weren’t any breaks whatsoever in loss after loss after loss.

The team was competitive, and it gave it the old college try, but it was a lost year that should lead to a gigantic leap forward because of …

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CFN Preseason All-Pac-12 Football Team, Top 30 Players: Preview 2022

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

Lincoln Riley.

Talent wasn’t really the problem last season. Other teams had a slew of great players, but the parts were there up and down the board for the Trojans.

A slew of good players are still around, and in comes QB Caleb Williams and WR Mario Williams from Oklahoma, RB Travis Dye from Oklahoma, WR Jordan Addison from Pitt, left tackle Bobby Haskins from Virginia, LB Shane Lee from Alabama, and on and on and on for an all-star team that fits the modern age of college football.

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Schedule 
USC Preview | Top 10 PlayersSchedule Analysis

Granted, the schedule didn’t seem that bad last year, either, and then came the losses to Stanford, Oregon State, and Cal. There are a few huge differences, though, between the 2021 and 2022 slates.

The Notre Dame game is at USC at the end of the season, not playing BYU this time helps, and best of all, the team doesn’t leave LA in November meaning there are only four true road dates – if you assume Trojan fans will help fill up the Rose Bowl for the UCLA showdown.

However, playing Utah in Salt Lake City is a problem and Fresno State is no pushover. On the plus side, there’s no Oregon and no Washington.

If everything goes right, USC should be favored in every game but the battle with Utah.

NEXT: Florida Gators

Florida Gators

2021 Preseason Ranking
AP (13), Coaches (11)
Final Record: 6-7

What Went Wrong? 

Talk all you want about how things got loose under Dan Mullen, or how there wasn’t enough discipline, or any of the other reasons he was let go after a disappointing 2021, but there were two key parts in all of this …

Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Trask, Marco Wilson, Evan McPherson – in all, eight very good Gators were gone to the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Gators not only lost a ton of talent, but they had to completely change their offensive identity from a high-powered passing attack to more balance and power. 2021 was a rebuilding year in a lot of ways, and …

Second, if the Gators get in on that two point conversion try against Alabama and end up pulling off the comeback in overtime, Mullen might still be there … maybe.

Who knows how the team would’ve reacted if it started the season 4-0 with wins over Bama and Tennessee, but after the victory over the Vols it lost five of its next seven games, there wasn’t any consistency, and three close losses – and a blowout against South Carolina – sealed Mullen’s fate.

However …

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CFN Preseason All-SEC Football Team, Top 30 Players: Preview 2022

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

Getting Billy Napier as the next head coach was very, very big.

Mullen was better than he’ll get credit for, but Napier has the upside to be truly special as a young head coach who appears to be as ready as it gets for the modern era of college football.

More than that, the shift in last year’s Gator offense – it was fourth in the SEC in rushing and finished 15th in the nation in total O – should help the new staff hit the ground running.

Napier brought over a few players from his great Louisiana teams – watch out for RB Montrell Johnson – QB Anthony Richardson is one of the stars among the NFL scouting circuit, and there’s enough experience on the defensive side to hope for a quick improvement.

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Schedule 
Florida Preview | Top 10 PlayersSchedule Analysis

This is supposed to be a national championship-level football program. It’s supposed to beat Utah. It’s supposed to beat Kentucky. It’s supposed to be able to battle with Georgia and give Tennessee and Texas A&M more than just a fight on the road, and …

Yeah, the schedule is a problem.

There are only four road games, but hosting South Carolina and LSU doesn’t make things easy.

Whatever. It’s Florida. It’s supposed to be good enough at college football to win more than six games no matter what the schedule is.

NEXT: Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers

2021 Preseason Ranking
AP (3), Coaches (2)
Final Record: 10-3

What Went Wrong? 

Clemson didn’t win the ACC Championship. That’s not okay.

The defense was national title-good, but the offense fell flat, couldn’t do anything on the ground, couldn’t move the chains, and for the first time since 2014, the program didn’t enjoy a conference title.

To be fair, it’s hard to say things went wrong with a ten-win season finished off with six straight victories, a dominant shutout performance of the rival – South Carolina – and a good bowl win over Iowa State, but that’s where Clemson is at under Dabo Swinney.

Celebrate the positives – all teams should do that, no matter what – but either you win big things, or you don’t.

It was the offense.

The D was eighth in the nation despite a few key injuries – no one got more than 27 points on that group – but the program with all that talent and a quarterback with the upside of DJ Uiagalelei was 120th in the nation in passing efficiency and 100th overall in total offense.

But there’s another way to look at it …

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Why 2022 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

The offense was totally inept at times and couldn’t throw the ball a lick down the field or to convert on third downs, and yet it took a pick six for Georgia to pull out a 10-3 win in the opener, NC State needed to hang on for dear life, and the 27-17 loss Pitt wasn’t that bad.

That’s it. Three losses were away from Death Valley coming against the eventual national champion, an NC State team that finished with nine wins, and the eventual ACC champion.

This year’s defense should be even better if everyone can stay healthy – the defensive line is going to be a monster with all the NFL talent returning.

The offense can’t/won’t be that bad again with a slew of experienced receivers back, a slew of good backs for the rotation, and a revamped Uiagalelei who’s in fantastic shape and should look far more like the rising superstar who put up massive numbers during his brief time in 2020.

Why 2022 Will Be Better: Schedule 
Clemson Preview | Top 10 PlayersSchedule Analysis

It’s hardly a walk in the park with a trip to Notre Dame to go along with landmines against Florida State and Boston College on the road and South Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest and Miami at home, but … come on.

This ain’t the SEC West or Big Ten East the Tigers are dealing with.

Again, it might seem strange to think a team that won ten games is about to have a rebound year, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen. It’s more like Clemson’s offense is going to rebound, the defense is going to be the defense, and 2021 should seem like just a strange blip.

CFN Predictions of Every Game
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC
AAC | C-USA | Ind | MAC | M-West | Sun Belt
CFN Preview 2021: All 131 Teams
2022 Bowl Projections | Preseason Rankings 1-131

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News



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