College football top 25 rankings ahead of 2022-23 bowl season

Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) throws a pass against the LSU Tigers during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State jumps into the top four: After fourth-ranked USC’s loss in the Pac-12 championship game, the Buckeyes head to their third College Football Playoff in four years.

Georgia and Michigan remain the cream of the crop: Both the Bulldogs and Wolverines made the playoff last year and are the only remaining undefeated teams in the country this season.

TCU slips up, but the magical season can go on: Even after losing the Big 12 championship, the Horned Frogs will make their first playoff appearance in program history.

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We’ve officially made it to college football bowl season, a time for teams to put a bow on the 2022 season while the four best squads duke it out for the national championship.

Before the bowl games commence, here is how I currently view the top-25 teams in the country. Please note this ranking is not the same as PFF’s power rankings.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (Record: 13-0, CFP Ranking: 1st)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (Peach Bowl, CFP Semifinal)

While last year’s Georgia team won the national championship, it came up short in the SEC title game.

This year’s squad righted that wrong with a dominant 50-30 victory over then-No. 14 LSU. Now, the Bulldogs set their sights on winning a second consecutive national championship, which hasn’t been done since Alabama a decade ago.

2. Michigan Wolverines (Record: 13-0, CFP Ranking: 2nd)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs (Fiesta Bowl, CFP Semifinal)

Michigan suffered a devastating blow when it was announced last week that star running back Blake Corum would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Before that, Corum was the highest-graded player in the country, sporting a 95.9 figure. Starting in his stead now is Donovan Edwards, whose 90.8 grade is tied for fifth among Power Five running backs with at least 270 snaps. In the win over Purdue in the Big Ten championship game, Edwards ran for 185 yards, with 145 coming after contact. The Wolverines will need more performances like that in the pursuit of their first national championship in 25 years. 

3. TCU Horned Frogs (Record: 12-1, CFP Ranking: 3rd)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (Fiesta Bowl, CFP Semifinal)

TCU lost in overtime to then-No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, the Horned Frogs’ first defeat of the season.

Even with the loss, TCU remained No. 3 in the final College Football Playoff ranking, thanks to a loss from then-No. 4 USC. Now, the Horned Frogs head to their first-ever College Football Playoff and try to win their first national title since 1938. 

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (Record: 11-1, CFP Ranking: 4th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (Peach Bowl, CFP Semifinal)

Ohio State was one of the biggest winners of conference championship weekend without even playing.

That’s because USC’s loss in the Pac-12 title game pushed the Buckeyes up from No. 5 into the final four of the College Football Playoff. It’s Ohio State’s third playoff appearance in four years. The Buckeyes now have to go through top-ranked Georgia as they try to win their first national championship in eight years.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide (Record: 10-2, CFP Ranking: 5th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats (Sugar Bowl)

Alabama needed blowout losses from both TCU and USC to even be in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

Both lost, but TCU’s defeat came in overtime, which ultimately kept the Horned Frogs in the top four. It’s only the second time in the playoff’s nine-year history that the Crimson Tide won’t be included. Now, No. 5 Alabama looks to end its season on a high against ninth-ranked Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. 

6. Tennessee Volunteers (Record: 10-2, CFP Ranking: 6th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 7 Clemson Tigers (Orange Bowl)

Even though Tennessee lost two of its final four games, it was still a magical season.

The Volunteers started the season unranked in the preseason AP poll. Just nine weeks later, they were first in the playoff committee’s rankings with an 8-0 record. Now, Tennessee gets to play in the Orange Bowl against seventh-ranked Clemson, the Volunteers’ first New Year’s Six bowl in 18 years. 

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (Record: 10-2, CFP Ranking: 11th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 8 Utah Utes (Rose Bowl)

The Nittany Lions are victims of playing in the Big Ten East, one of the toughest divisions in college football.

Penn State’s only two losses on the season came to two playoff teams in second-ranked Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State. The Nittany Lions won their other 10 games by an average of 25 points. Now, Penn State plays in the Rose Bowl against eighth-ranked Utah. It’s the fourth New Year’s Six bowl game in seven years for the Nittany Lions.

8. Clemson Tigers (Record: 11-2, CFP Ranking: 7th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (Orange Bowl)

Clemson is back to its winning ways in the ACC.

After failing to secure the conference title in 2021 for the first time in seven years, the Tigers dominated then-No. 23 North Carolina, 39-10, in the ACC championship game. Clemson may have found its next star quarterback during the victory, as well. True freshman Cade Klubnik relieved junior DJ Uiagalelei after a couple of drives and never looked back. The top quarterback recruit in 2022 finished with an 81.4 grade in the win.

This week, Uiagalelei announced that he was entering the transfer portal, all but confirming this is Klubnik’s team next season.

9. Kansas State Wildcats (Record: 10-3, CFP Ranking: 9th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (Sugar Bowl)

After blowing an 18-point lead to TCU back in October, Kansas State was able to finish the job in the Big 12 championship game.

It certainly wasn’t easy, though. The Wildcats gave up an 11-point lead in the final eight minutes of regulation before putting away the Horned Frogs in overtime. It’s the Wildcats’ first Big 12 title in a decade. They now look to finish the season off with the program’s first New Year’s Six bowl win since 2000.

10. Utah Utes (Record: 10-3, CFP Ranking: 8th)

Bowl Game: vs. No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions (Rose Bowl)

Utah simply had USC’s number this season.

After beating the Trojans by one point in October, the Utes manhandled them in the Pac-12 championship game, 47-24. Utah dominated a normally elite USC offensive line, pressuring Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams 37 times, a season-high for the Utes. The win knocked then-No. 4 USC out of the College Football Playoff.

11. USC Trojans (Record: 11-2, CFP Ranking: 10th)

12. Washington Huskies (Record: 10-2, CFP Ranking: 12th)

13. Oregon State Beavers (Record: 9-3, CFP Ranking: 14th)

14. Oregon Ducks (Record: 9-3, CFP Ranking: 15th)

15. Florida State Seminoles (Record: 9-3, CFP Ranking: 13th)

16. LSU Tigers (Record: 9-4, CFP Ranking: 17th)

17. Tulane Green Wave (Record: 11-2, CFP Ranking: 16th)

18. Texas Longhorns (Record: 8-4, CFP Ranking: 20th)

19. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Record: 8-4, CFP Ranking: 21st)

20. Mississippi State Bulldogs (Record: 8-4, CFP Ranking: 22nd)

21. UTSA Roadrunners (Record: 11-2, CFP Ranking: 25th)

22. South Carolina Gamecocks (Record: 8-4, CFP Ranking: 19th)

23. Troy Trojans (Record: 11-2, CFP Ranking: 23rd)

24. UCLA Bruins (Record: 9-3, CFP Ranking: 18th)

25. Ole Miss Rebels (Record: 8-4, CFP Ranking: NR)

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