College soccer picks: Predicting winners for Power 5 video games

Should you’re like me, August is the longest month of the yr. That has nothing to do with the climate and every thing to do with school soccer being so shut which you can virtually really feel Ralphie working onto the sphere within the Rocky Mountains or hear the totally different renditions of “Tiger Rag” trumpeting throughout the Southeast.

Ten years in the past, to get via this month, a buddy who shares my disgust for August joined me in choosing the winner of each single Power 5 soccer recreation. Regardless of how a lot we disagreed on a recreation, we needed to come to a consensus and go along with it. It was a means of checking one another and, we hoped, coming to a better place of understanding.

Properly, after a number of years, we stopped doing this. Life moved on. I obtained married and occurred to honeymoon in August. The following yr, my spouse and I had our daughter in August. (These are undoubtedly two really useful methods to get via this month, if you happen to’re so fortunate).

However then, in 2019, my buddy Sam and I made a decision it was time to get the band (of principally defective predictions) again collectively. We had Georgia profitable the nationwide championship — hey, we had been solely two years off on that one.

Right here’s our forecast for the 2022 season and which two faculties might be dealing with off at SoFi Stadium in January on the College Soccer Playoff nationwide championship.

Atlantic Coast Convention

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, second from proper, walks along with his gamers onto the sphere earlier than the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl towards Iowa State.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Related Press)

The largest storyline within the ACC is apparent: Can Clemson return to the dominance that outlined its run of six straight convention titles from 2015 to 2020? We anticipate Dabo Swinney’s program to reply and take again the league crown, however the Tigers will fall simply wanting the playoff. The ACC Atlantic Division needs to be rather more aggressive than it has been in recent times — North Carolina State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Louisville and Florida State might grasp with Clemson on any given Saturday, and three of these are on the highway. Plus, the Tigers play at Notre Dame, the place they misplaced in 2020. Based mostly on what we noticed final yr from quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, the St. John Bosco Excessive product, we merely don’t see 11 wins on the schedule.

ACC championship recreation

Clemson (11-2) defeats Miami (8-5)

Large Ten Convention

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud looks to pass against Utah in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud seems to go towards Utah within the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

(Mark J. Terrill / Related Press)

For the primary time in a decade, Ohio State needed to dwell with a loss to Michigan for a whole offseason. And, because the 2020 recreation was canceled due to Covid-19 points inside Michigan’s program, the devoted in Columbus are going to be downright rabid Thanksgiving weekend when the Wolverines come to city. That needs to be one other top-five showdown, nevertheless it’s onerous to think about Michigan profitable at Ohio State for the primary time since 2000 when the Buckeyes ought to characteristic one of the highly effective offenses at school historical past, led by quarterback CJ Stroud of Rancho Cucamonga. Who will Ohio State face within the Large Ten title recreation? We’ve obtained Nebraska having a giant yr beneath embattled Scott Frost however falling at Iowa within the season finale to offer the nod to Wisconsin.

Large Ten championship recreation

Ohio State (13-0) defeats Wisconsin (9-4)

Large 12 Convention

Oklahoma State's Stephon Johnson Jr. catches a pass in practice.

Oklahoma State’s Stephon Johnson Jr. catches a go in apply.

(Sue Ogrocki / Related Press)

Baylor blew up the Large 12 final yr, turning into probably the greatest tales in school soccer. Will Oklahoma restore order in its first yr beneath Brent Venables, who left as Clemson‘s longtime defensive coordinator to return to Norman as Lincoln Riley‘s replacement? The Sooners will be good, but the Big 12 has enough teams legitimately nipping at their heels for them to put together a playoff resume. We’ve obtained a three-way tie on the prime with Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State, with the Cowboys profitable a “Bedlam” rematch at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Large 12 championship Recreation

Oklahoma State (11-2) defeats Oklahoma (9-4)

Pac-12 Convention

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham raises the Pac-12 championship trophy after beating Oregon in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham raises the Pac-12 championship trophy after beating Oregon in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.

(Chase Stevens / Related Press)

The hype surrounding Lincoln Riley’s first USC group is warranted. Certain, there are questions in regards to the Trojans’ depth on protection, notably up entrance, however the star energy of offensive transfers Caleb Williams, Jordan Addison, Mario Williams and Travis Dye brings sufficient optimistic mojo to consider this group might win a convention title. Nevertheless it gained’t. USC might be simply ok to start out 6-0 and switch Utah’s final victory in Salt Lake Metropolis right into a top-10 win that enhances the Utes into the playoff dialogue. Utah has the very best group within the league, and Kyle Whittingham can preserve the Utes targeted week to week. The Pac-12’s five-year playoff drought will lastly finish in 2022. As for USC, the Trojans will begin 9-1 however drop their final two video games in disappointing style to rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, exhibiting that Riley has rather more work to do to get USC again to the highest of faculty soccer. The Bruins can have an opportunity at 10 wins however blow it at California, which can take out its anger over UCLA’s Large Ten transfer and revel in some candy revenge.

Pac-12 championship recreation

Utah (12-1) defeats Oregon (9-4)

Southeastern Convention

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young runs with the ball against Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Younger runs with the ball towards Cincinnati within the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.

(Michael Ainsworth / Related Press)

Alabama and Georgia stay on one other stage from the remainder of the SEC. The Crimson Tide return quarterback Bryce Younger, a Heisman Trophy winner with one thing nonetheless to show after shedding to the Bulldogs within the nationwide championship recreation. Alabama is loaded on either side of the ball and can have a Heisman contender on protection as properly in edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. Georgia loses 10 of its prime 15 tacklers from its traditionally dominant protection, however the Bulldogs reload shortly on that aspect of the ball, and the schedule feels completely designed for one more undefeated common season in Athens.

SEC championship recreation

Alabama (13-0) defeats Georgia (12-1)

Independents

Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner passes against Toledo in September 2021

Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner passes towards Toledo in September 2021

(AJ Mast / Related Press)

The winner of Notre Dame-Brigham Younger on Oct. 8 in Las Vegas can have an outdoor shot at a playoff berth. We expect BYU wins that one, however the Cougars schedule is hard. In the event that they by some means get to 11-1, they’re seemingly in.

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches quarterback Bryce Young warm up before a game against Mississippi State in October.

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches quarterback Bryce Younger heat up earlier than a recreation towards Mississippi State in October.

(Rogelio V. Solis / Related Press)

Alabama and Ohio State would be the prime seeds, and the committee will seed Utah and Georgia to keep away from an SEC championship recreation rematch within the nationwide semifinal. Alabama will diplomatically put an finish to Utah’s dream season, and Ohio State will edge Georgia, establishing a matchup of Southern California quarterbacks Younger and Stroud dueling it out at SoFi Stadium. Younger will lead the Crimson Tide to Nick Saban‘s seventh nationwide championship at Alabama and eighth in whole.

Semifinals
No. 1. Alabama defeats No. 4 Utah
No. 2 Ohio State defeats No. 3 Georgia
Finals
No. 1 Alabama defeats No. 2 Ohio State

Nationwide champion: Alabama