The college football season has come to a conclusion. What are some of the biggest storylines, and what are we looking forward to next year?
The college football season has officially come to a conclusion, and as usual, the year came with no shortage of stories. From our first back-to-back champion to unexpected rising stars to new stud quarterback who we’ll be keeping a close eye on, it was a thrilling campaign. Let’s take a look back on some of the best headlines and narratives as we close the book on 2022 and look forward to 2023.
Back-to-Back Top Dogs
For the first time in the College Football Playoff era, a team has won back-to-back titles, and that team is the Georgia Bulldogs. On the back of Heisman-finalist and 25-year-old senior quarterback Stetson Bennett, who could be a name to watch in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bulldogs steamrolled their way through an undefeated season. But it wasn’t just the offense. Head coach Kirby Smart demonstrated once again that he has the leadership and recruiting capabilities to keep Georgia rolling for years to come. Fifteen players from the 2021 champions were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, and it didn’t seem to stop them. There’s no reason to believe they can’t do it again in 2023.
The Playoffs Pack a Punch
Though the championship game was unfortunately devoid of drama or any type of back-and-forth, the playoffs themselves still provided plenty of entertainment. The first game on New Year’s Eve saw Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines taking on the TCU Horned Frogs, who no one expected to see in the tournament at the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, the Horned Frogs and their first-year head coach outlasted Harbaugh’s boys in blue and gold in a shootout that ended 51 to 45. The second game saw the Georgia Bulldogs face off against the Ohio State Buckeyes in their toughest test of the season. They’d overcome a 14-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, as well as a last-second field goal attempt to head to the National Championship game right as the clock struck midnight.
TCU Leapfrogs the Competition in a Storybook Season
Though the championship certainly didn’t go their way, TCU fans, alumni and players had a year for the books. Entering the season unranked with a first-year head coach, their expectations were low, but quarterback and Heisman-runner-up Max Duggan constantly connected with star receiver Quentin Johnston en route to a perfect regular season. Their hopes of becoming the champions of the Big 12 were dashed by Kansas State in overtime, and they put up very little fight against Georgia in the championship game, but an appearance on college football’s biggest stage is nothing to scoff at, especially for a team looking to establish itself and build a respectable reputation. Obviously they’ll look to repeat their success in 2023, but it could be difficult with Max Duggan on his way out. Still, they’ve built themselves a great platform to stand on and could look to take the Big 12 throne as Texas and Oklahoma make their exit.
A Lincoln Riley QB Wins Another Heisman
With Lincoln Riley looking to elevate USC to its former glory, coaching Caleb Williams to a Heisman further cements his status as a quarterback whisperer. With Baker Mayfield winning in 2017 and Kyler Murray winning in 2018, a Riley-coached QB has now won three of the last six, and that still doesn’t count Jalen Hurts finishing as a finalist in 2019. Though often looked at as one of the year’s best teams in college football, they just couldn’t seem to get over the hump despite an unbelievable season from Williams, dropping the Pac-12 championship game to Utah before losing in heart-breaking fashion to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. They’ll certainly look to improve further in 2023 as Williams returns to defend his Heisman.
Is the Tide Out?
For so long it has seemed like Alabama has been the mainstay of college football. Challengers have come, and challengers have gone, but one thing seems to have remained true: Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were the gold standard of continued sports success. Now they’ll be tasked with replacing 2021-Heisman-winner Bryce Young, who could be taken first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. That said, it’s never smart to count out Nick Saban and Alabama, who missed the College Football Playoff for just the second time since the tournament’s inception. They’ll look to bounce back in 2023 after two losses by a total of four points cost them a shot at a title.