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College Bowl Betting Previews

CFB Preview: An Early Look at 2022 Champions Futures

by Zachary Krueger
Updated On: January 14, 2022, 9:53 am ET

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The dust has barely settled on the 2021-2022 college football season, yet the fine folks at PointsBet have already given us futures bets for the 2022-2023 season.

While those of sound mind would consider taking a break from the madness of college football for a moment, us sickos have already begun rationalizing values on these lines in hopes of securing a big payout a year from now.

After taking a look at these lines, and looking not just at the top dogs, but also a few underdogs, my wife has been put on notice. An early retirement is undoubtedly in our future not if, but when these future picks it.

If you want in on the action, continue reading.

If you need a rest, give this a leisurely read, bookmark it, and come back around. We're chasing the 2022-2023 college football champion early!

NOTE: All players listed as Potential Key Departures are taken from Pro Football Focus' 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: PFF's Top 100 Prospects article and the NBC Sports EDGE Bowl Opt Out Tracker.

Alabama (+200)

Potential Key Departures:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Alabama is the early odds-on favorite to not just make it back to the 2022 national championship game, but to also win it.

Nick Saban has several key players returning to the team in 2022, with the most notable being Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young, who finished 2021 with 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions while also rushing for 81 yards and another three scores.

Bryce Young 2021 Stats

Bama apologists would argue that the team wouldn't have dropped it's CFB Playoff national championship game against Georgia if they were at full strength, which in some ways a fair argument. The Tide lost wide receiver John Metchie (96-1142-8) for the championship game after he suffered a torn ACL in the team's SEC Championship win over Georgia. Then wide receiver Jameson Williams (79-1572-15) suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of the national championship game against Georgia, leaving young without two of his top targets who accounted for 55.7% of his passing yards in 2021.

Both Williams and Metchie could be heading to the NFL Draft, but the tide have former five-star wide receiver Ja'Corey Brooks, and four-star wide receivers JoJo Earle and Agiye Hall ready to step up to fill those voids.

Additionally, The Tide also return star linebacker and 2021 Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson, who put on one of the most impressive defensive displays of any player last season, as he racked up 101 total tackles which included 31.0 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks.

In addition to these keys player returning, Alabama is also getting an upgrade at running back, having secured transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs, formerly from Georgia Tech, for the 2022 season. Last season with the Yellow Jackets, Gibbs totaled 143 carries for 746 yards and seven touchdowns while also catching 35 passes for another 465 yards and two touchdowns.

Jahmyr Gibbs 2021 Stats

Gibbs was the no. 8 running back from the 2020 recruiting class according to 247Sports' composite rankings and was the 76th ranked player nationally. Despite receiving an offer from Alabama during his initial recruiting process, Gibbs opted to take his talents to Georgia Tech. Now, he appears to have had a change of heart and should be poised to lead the Tide in carries in 2021.

Whether you love Alabama, or simply love to hate them, you can't deny that they've earned the right to be favorites in this spot year-after-year, especially under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama 2022 class rankings

It also helps that Alabama has the no. 2 recruiting in the nation according to 247Sports.com, which includes two five-star commits and 10 four-star commits.

Georgia (+275)

Potential Key Departures

The good news for Georgia is that they're currently on track to bring in the no. 3 overall recruiting class in 2022 according to 247Sports.com, which features four-star quarterback Gunner Stockton, who is the seventh ranked quarterback of the 2022 class per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Stockton heading to campus could throw an interesting wrench in the team's quarterback plans heading into next season, which 2021 starting quarterback Stetson Bennett is clearly aware of, after he failed to commit to a return to school in 2022. Bennett said of his return to Georgia in 2022 that he will have to see if he can trust the decisions that are being made by the staff, which is fair for a guy who very well may not be the best quarterback on Georgia's roster next season should he stick around.

Stetson Bennett 2021 Stats

Last season, Bennett was often kept under wraps by head coach Kirby Smart and company, being asked to throw 30 or more times in just two of his 12 starts on the season, as he finished 2021 with 2,861 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Instead, Georgia leaned heavily on running backs Zamir White (161-859-11) and James Cook (113-728-7), but Cook has already declared for the NFL Draft, leaving White as the most tenured running back heading into 2022. It's certainly not a bad scenario for Georgia to have White coming back to lead the team next season, but the loss of Cook is worth noting given the fluctuation that the Bulldogs could see at the quarterback position.

The Bulldogs will have to deal with some potential key losses on the defensive side of the ball, with the most notable being linebacker Nakobe Dean and defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who combined to form an opposing front seven for the Bulldogs in 2021. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has also left to become the next head coach at Oregon, leaving the Bulldogs with some changes to workout within its own staff.

Georgia should have a legitimate shot at running things back in 2022, but their quarterback situation needs to be ironed out to instill a bit more confidence in a title repeat.

Ohio State (+650)

Potential Key Departures

If there's one thing we learned from the Rose Bowl, it's that Ohio State is absolutely set at wide receiver following the departures of Chris Olave (65-936-13) and Garrett Wilson (70-1058-12) for the 2022 NFL Draft.

In their 48-45 shootout win over Utah in the Rose Bowl, Ohio State wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba (95-1606-9) caught 15 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. caught six passes for 71 yards and another three touchdowns.

Jaxson Smith-Njigba 2021 Stats

In that game, quarterback CJ Stroud, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, threw for 573-6-1 against the Utes, capping off a season in which he threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Running back TreVeyon Henderson will also be back to build off of his strong true freshman season in which he rushed 184 times for 1,255 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching 27 passes for 312 yards and another four scores.

The Buckeyes were knocked from the CFB playoffs following their 42-27 loss to Michigan, and also had an early-season home loss to Oregon by a score of 35-28 to only add further insult to injury.

In addition to the loss of Olave and Wilson, senior defensive lineman Haskell Garrett is leaving for the NFL Draft, along with starting left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, but Ohio State looks to be in prime position for another deep run in the Big Ten in 2022.

Bowl opt outs can be difficult to stomach when your favorite team is suddenly down its best players, but the absence of Wilson and Olave in the Rose Bowl offered us an early look at the future of Buckeyes receivers in 2022, and gave Harrison Jr. some much needed experience on a big stage.

Rival Michigan is also losing key defensive players Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo to the 2022 NFL Draft, along with running back Hassan Haskins. Michigan's 11-2 season could be difficult to repeat for a Wolverines team that entered 2021 unranked, only to push their way into the CFB playoffs.

I am confidently picking Ohio State to make the playoffs next season, and love the +650 line value here.

Clemson (+900)

Potential Key Departures

Roughly six weeks into the 2021 season, we began to get the sense that Clemson was not at all close to the no. 3 AP Ranking they carried entering into their Week 1 matchup against Georgia.

In that Week 1 matchup against Georgia, Clemson failed to score an offensive touchdown, losing by a score of 10-3. It wasn't surprising to see Clemson study against what wound up being one of the best defenses in the nation, but a 14-8 victory over Georgia Tech in Week 3, followed by a 27-21 loss to NC State in Week 4, and the nation was officially put on notice.

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struggled mightily in his 2021 campaign, after some thought that he may have a shot at winning the Heisman following limited success in 2020.

This season, Uiagalelei threw for 2,246 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing just 55.4% of his pass in what was a shockingly difficult year.

Five-star running back Will Shipley will also be returning to campus in 2022, looking to build on a season in which he rushed 149 times for 739 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 16 passes for 116 yards.

Will Shipley 2021 Stats

Clemson was able to grind its way to a 10-3 on the thanks in part to a defense that was allowing almost as many touchdowns per game as its offense was scoring. The Tigers ranked second in the nation in points allowed per game in 2021 (14.8), and allowed the eighth fewest yards per game at 307.2.

Soon after the regular season ended for the Tigers, head coach Dabo Swinney was forced to make several changes to a coaching staff that was gutted by other teams that had coaching vacancies to fill. The most notable of these changes was the loss of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who left to fill the head coaching vacancy at Oklahoma following Lincoln Riley's departure to USC. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has also left the team to become the head coach at Virginia.

The Tigers don't figure to lose too many players heading into the 2022 season, but will be without wide receiver Justyn Ross, defensive tackle Tyler Davis and cornerback Andrew Booth, who have all set their sights on the 2022 NFL Draft.

Clemson boasts a 2022 recruiting class that is currently ranked as the 25th best class in the country per 247Sports.com rankings. This is a steep drop off from the no. 5 overall rank that the team's 2021 class carried.

One interesting aspect of the 2022 class, however, is that the Tigers are set to welcome five-star quarterback prospect Cade Klubnik to campus. Klubnik is the consensus no. 1 overall quarterback prospect of the 2022 recruiting class, and could immediately challenge Uiagalelei for the starting role if he turns in a strong camp with the team.

The idea of Clemson ending the 2022-2023 college football season as national champions feels like a long shot for a team that struggled the way it did in 2021. However, Swinney and his coaching staff have turned out a few national champions in recent years, and previous class rankings suggest that a strong team still exists at Clemson. Now we wait to see if that potential can be unlocked.

Texas A&M (+2500)

Potential Key Departures

Texas A&M made headlines in Week 6 of the 2021 season when they knocked off Alabama by a score of 41-38 at Kyle Field, with head coach Jimbo Fisher becoming the first Nick Saban assistant to defeat him after departing the school to take on a head coaching gig.

Fisher's win over Saban and the Tide came with quarterback Zach Calzada under center, a quarterback who was never expected to start for the team in the first place.

The Aggies went 8-4 this season, managing to get by several SEC opponents, which included a four game win streak over Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina and Auburn, despite Calzada's underwhelming performance in most games. Calzada threw for just 2,185 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while completing 55.4% of his passes.

Their true strength in 2021 was a ground game, led by Isaiah Spiller (179-1011-6) and Devon Achane (130-910-9), but with Spiller declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft, lead back duties will go solely to Achane next season. Which some may argue was always the more optimal play, as Achane showed tremendous explosiveness on the ground and through the air.

Devon Achane 2021 Stats

The Aggies look to be losing only one key player from a defensive unit that ranked third in the nation in points allowed per game last season (15.9), and they boast the top recruiting class from 2022 according to 247Sports.com, which includes four five-star prospects.

In regards to Calzada, he entered the transfer portal following the end of the season, and was replaced with former LSU transfer quarterback Max Johnson. The son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, Max Johnson is a four-star quarterback prospect from the 2020 recruiting class, and threw for 2,814 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions at LSU last season, completing 60.3% of his 373 pass attempts.

In a lot of ways, the Aggies came dangerously close to flirting with the opportunity to play for an SEC championship against Georgia, if not for a few SEC losses to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State earlier in the year.

But with a potential improvement at quarterback coming in 2022, plus powerhouse recruiting class, Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies just might make enough noise to find themselves playing for a bit more in 2022.

Tennessee (+8000)

Potential Key Departures

it's safe to say that Tennessee was one of my favorite stories through the 2021 season, despite the fact that they finished with just a 7-6 record which included a devastating bowl loss to a depleted Purdue team.

In head coach Josh Heupel's first year at Tennessee, the Vols had one of the most explosive offenses in the nation thanks in part to the high-level play of transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker.

Hooker wasn't named as the team's starter at the beginning of the season, but after two weeks of the Joe Milton project, Heupel elected to start Hooker in Week 3 against Tennessee Tech, and never looked back.

Under Hooker, the Vols went 6-5, with key losses coming to SEC opponents Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia. He threw for 2,948 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions, while also rushing 73 times for 786 yards and another five touchdowns.

Hendon Hooker 2021 Stats

Tennessee finished 2021 as the seventh ranked team in points per game (39.3) but ranked 90th in points allowed per game (29.1). 

The Vols will have some serious work to do on the defensive side of the ball heading into 2022, but they don't appear to be losing too many key contributors on either side of the ball, which is a big step in the right direction.

In addition to a slew of returning players, which includes wide receiver Cedric Tillman (64-1081-12) Tennessee also has the 15th best recruiting class of 2022, which is a nice leap from the 22nd ranked class they had in 2021.

Hooker is one of my favorite Heisman Trophy dark horse candidates heading into 2022. His success in the Heisman Trophy race would likely have a direct correlation with the team's success in the SEC and a run toward a potential college football playoff bid. Knowing that it is difficult to have one without the other, putting down a natty ticket on Tennessee at +8000 doesn't feel like the craziest way to kickoff the New Year.

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Zachary Krueger

Zachary Krueger is a college football fantasy/DFS analyst for NBC Sports EDGE, and hosts his own live stream “Roster Locked: A Best Ball Show” in the offseason. He will proudly tell anyone that he was the first to believe in Darren Waller’s elite upside as a tight end - and has the article to prove it.