College News & Analysis

Comparing the AP top-25 poll to PFF’s college football rankings

Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) reacts after being beat by the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

• The Associated Press just released its initial top-25 poll for the 2022 college football season, and there are quite a few differences between it and PFF's top 25. 

Alabama sits on top of both the AP poll and PFF’s rankings due to future first-round picks Bryce Young and Will Anderson leading the way on both sides of the ball.

• For a detailed analysis of nearly every FBS team, check out PFF’s 2022 College Football Preview Magazine.

One of the biggest days of the college football offseason is when the Associated Press reveals its top-25 teams ahead of the upcoming season. Therefore, it's time to see how every AP top-25 team fared in PFF’s rankings. 

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

PFF ranking: 1st

Alabama has the reigning Heisman winner in Bryce Young and the reigning Nagurski winner in Will Anderson Jr.. Enough said.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

PFF ranking: 3rd

The Buckeyes have arguably the best offense in the country, as they have a top-five quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive tackle in PFF’s preseason rankings.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

PFF ranking: 2nd

The defense lost a slew of stars, but PFF’s simulations give the Bulldogs a 23.8% chance to repeat as national champions in 2022 (second to Alabama).

4. Clemson Tigers

PFF ranking: 4th

The Tigers have one of the best defenses in the country, but quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has to improve upon his 66.6 grade from last season. If he doesn’t, Clemson could turn to true freshman Cade Klubnik, who was the top quarterback recruit in 2022.

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

PFF ranking: 7th

It’s Year 1 of the Marcus Freeman era, and the Fighting Irish have “several All-American candidates,” per PFF’s College Football Preview Magazine. If sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner and a thin group of wide receivers can step up, Notre Dame can contend for a playoff again in 2022.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

PFF ranking: 6th

The Aggies have stars on both sides of the ball and really are just a quarterback away from shaking things up atop college football's landscape. If Haynes King or LSU-transfer Max Johnson can step up, Texas A&M is a serious national championship contender. Don’t count out true freshman Conner Weigman either, as he was 2022's No. 2 quarterback recruit.

7. Utah Utes

PFF ranking: 10th

Utah could win the Pac-12 and make the playoff next season, but Cameron Rising will have to improve from a good quarterback to an elite one.

8. Michigan Wolverines

PFF ranking: 5th

The Wolverines have “a full arsenal of weapons,” according to PFF’s College Football Preview Magazine. The question is, who will be delivering them the ball? Cade McNamara startered last season and gives the offense a higher floor, but sophomore J.J. McCarthy has an intriguing upside.

9. Oklahoma Sooners

PFF ranking: 8th

Oklahoma is experiencing a complete makeover in 2022 after losing head coach Lincoln Riley and star quarterback Caleb Williams to USC. Replacing them are former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel. The Sooners are still the favorite to win the Big 12, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they underwhelm next season, either.

10. Baylor Bears

PFF ranking: 15th

The Bears had a Cinderella run to the Big 12 title last season, as they had 80-to-1 odds to win the conference at the beginning of the season. If Blake Shapen becomes more than a system quarterback, the Bears could make some more noise this season.

11. Oregon Ducks

PFF ranking: 26th

It’s a new era in Eugene with former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning at the helm. Oregon's defense will be strong, but all eyes will be on the passing game. If transfer quarterback Bo Nix and the receiving corps can improve, the Ducks could win the Pac-12.

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys

PFF ranking: 9th

The Cowboys made the Big 12 championship game last season on the back of one of the best defensive fronts in the country. The defense will remain strong this year; however, the offense, specifically quarterback Spencer Sanders, will determine Oklahoma State’s ceiling.

13. North Carolina State Wolfpack

PFF ranking: 24th

The Wolfpack return PFF’s No. 12 quarterback in Devin Leary, immediately giving this team a high floor. If he can continue to improve, the Wolfpack can challenge for the ACC title.

14. USC Trojans

PFF ranking: 67th

The busiest team of the offseason, the Trojans added stars both on the field and on the sidelines. New head coach Lincoln Riley is one of the top offensive minds in the sport, and he brings PFF’s No. 2 quarterback in Caleb Williams with him. USC also added PFF’s No. 2 and No. 6 receivers in the country in Jordan Addison and Mario Williams. USC’s lack of experience together could be its downfall in 2022, but the Trojans can potentially make a playoff run.

15. Michigan State Spartans

PFF ranking: 17th

Michigan State had a preseason win total of four entering last season and shocked everyone by going 10-2. Unfortunately, the offense should take a major step backward this season after losing workhorse running back Kenneth Walker III. It should still be a good season for Mel Tucker and Co., just not as magical as 2021.

16. Miami Hurricanes

PFF ranking: 30th

The Hurricanes have a high ceiling next year thanks to new head coach Mario Cristobal and a potential first-round quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke. It’s been five years since Miami has been to the ACC Championship game, but that may change this season.

17. Pittsburgh Panthers

PFF ranking: 14th

The Panthers lose their Heisman-finalist quarterback and Biletnikoff-winning receiver in Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison, but this should still be one of the ACC's best teams. USC-transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis will replace Pickett and should give the Panthers passing game a high floor. On the other side, interior defender Calijah Kancey could become the first Pittsburgh defender taken in the first round since Aaron Donald.

18. Wisconsin Badgers

PFF ranking: 18th

From Jonathan Taylor to Melvin Gordon, the Badgers are known for their star running backs, and Wisconsin has a new one in Braelon Allen, who recorded an 80.9 grade in 2021 — third-highest among true freshmen. If quarterback Graham Mertz improves a little bit, Wisconsin can win the Big Ten West once again.

19. Arkansas Razorbacks

PFF ranking: 23rd

The Razorbacks are full of optimism for the first time in nearly a decade, but they face the nation’s third-hardest schedule in 2022. They should muscle their way to a bowl game due to their great run game, but it won’t be easy.

20. Kentucky Wildcats

PFF ranking: 11th

The Wildcats should have an explosive offense that is led by potential first-round quarterback Will Levis. If the defense can outperform expectations, Kentucky will easily surpass this ranking.

21. Ole Miss Rebels

PFF ranking: 13th

The Rebels cleaned up in the transfer portal, adding the sixth-most win shares of any program in the country. Sophomore Luke Altmyer and USC-transfer Jaxson Dart are competing to replace Matt Corral in one of the most quarterback-friendly offenses in the country.

22. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

PFF ranking: 34th

Wake Forest’s season rides on quarterback Sam Hartman‘s health, as he currently is out indefinitely with a non-football-related medical condition. Before that announcement, he was PFF’s No. 5 quarterback in the country. If he’s able to return, he should lead one of ACC's most explosive passing offenses.

23. Cincinnati Bearcats

PFF ranking: 12th

The Bearcats lost a ton of talent to the NFL from their historic playoff team last season, but they’re still PFF’s top Group-of-Five team next season. The defense is led by brothers Ivan and Deshawn Pace, the first and third most valuable returning linebackers in the country, per PFF’s wins above average.

24. Houston Cougars

PFF ranking: 28th

Houston is main challenger to dethrone Cincinnati in both the AAC and Group of Five, as the Cougars return one of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country in Clayton Tune and Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. Both ranked in the top seven at their respective positions in PFF’s wins above average generated last season.

25. BYU Cougars

PFF ranking: 36th

The Cougars went 10-3 last season and didn’t lose many key players. The offensive line looks like one of the best in the country, and Jaren Hall is PFF’s No. 17 quarterback in the country. BYU plays four fellow top-25 teams this season and could play spoiler to any one of them.

Schools in PFF’s top 25 who didn’t make the AP poll

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