May 28, 2024


The 2022 college football season begins in a few weeks, but before the games begin, a tradition as entrenched in the sport as any other must take place: the preseason rankings. Our starting point for the season is the CBS Sports 131 — our overall ranking of every team at the FBS level, now including James Madison — which has last year’s College Football Playoff runner-up, Alabama, ranked No. 1 with all but one voter picking the Crimson Tide as the nation’s top team entering the season.

No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Georgia following in the top three aren’t going to generate much discussion. But one doesn’t have to go too far down the CBS Sports 131 Preseason Rankings to find some teams to talk about.

With a Pac-12 championship trophy in the bag and an impressive returning quarterback in Cameron Rising, Utah is next at No. 4. The Utes have been strong under coach Kyle Whittingham the past two years, but they’re in rarefied territory here knocking on the door of the top three. Behind Utah are some more well-known top-5 and top-10 programs, including Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

Remaining in the top 10 through the 2021 postseason are Michigan and Baylor. On the other side of the coin is Texas A&M, one of the biggest risers among top-25 teams after finishing last season at No. 28 and moving up to No. 9 to start 2022. That adjustment isn’t the more movement in this new set of rankings, as USC, Miami and Tennessee all saw bigger jumps. See more about these adjustments, as well as some of the biggest year-over-year changes outside of the top 25, in Mover’s report below.

Most of the teams atop the Preseason CBS Sports 131 enter the year with momentum after respectable showings in 2021. There’s clearly a forecast for some regression from Cincinnati, Michigan State and Pittsburgh after outstanding (if not groundbreaking) seasons , but there’s still a high bar for expectations of all three given what they’ve accomplished. On the other end of the spectrum, a team like Penn State hasn’t had as many wins as it would like, falling to fourth in its division, but our voters still like the pieces for James Franklin’s team and have the Nittany Lions in in the top 20.

Of course, these rankings compiled by our experts at CBS Sports and 247Sports will change once we get through Week 0 and Week 1. Some teams may even see dramatic changes based on how they come out of the gate . Once Week 1 is over, CBS Sports 131 will be back with our first major update, but for now, these rankings are locked in to set the stage for next season.

College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top 25 below and 26-131 on the ranking page.

CBS Sports 131 Preseason College Football Rankings

1 Alabama 13-2 2
2 Ohio State 11-2 5
3 Agriculture 14-1 1
4 Jute 10-4 11
5 Clemson 10-3 16
6 Notre Dame 11-2 8
7 Oklahoma 11-2 10
8 Michigan 12-2 3
9 Texas A&M 8-4 28
10 Baylor 12-2 6
11 NC State 9-3 18
12 USC 4-8 85
13 Oklahoma State 12-2 7
14 Oregon 10-4 21
15 Wisconsin 9-4 23
16 Arkansas 9-4 20
17 Cincinnati 13-1 4
18 Penn State 7-6 31
19 Miami (Florida) 7-5 47
20 Michigan State 11-2 9
21 Wake Forest 11-3 15
22 Houston 12-2 14
23 Kentucky 10-3 19
24 Tennessee 7-6 44
25 Pittsburgh 11-3 13

The biggest mobiles

  • No. 12 USC (+73): A common thread for the teams in this division is coaching changes, as the 2021 games saw a change at the top. Lincoln Riley alone doesn’t elevate USC from No. 85 to the top 15, but its crowded transfer class, led by an immediate impact quarterback in Caleb Williams certainly does.
  • No. 30 Florida (+40): The bottom moment for the Gators came with the bowl game loss to UCF, but it started much earlier in the season and affects how we view Florida 2021 vs. Florida’s 2022 potential. Billy Napier comes with his of the hype factor, but any kind of shake-up of the system should put a product on the field better than the 6-7 team of a year ago.
  • No. 29 Texas (+31): I know this will come as a huge surprise, but Texas is entering a college football season with some hype a year after falling short of preseason expectations. Year 1 with Steve Sarkisian was decidedly mediocre. the Longhorns went 5-7 and finished 60th in our final rankings. But with Quinn Ewers added to the quarterback room and another year of growth for a now strong sophomore class, Texas is back (to be in the top 30 nationally).
  • No. 31 LSU (+28): Another coaching change brings a major boost to the standings. Brian Kelly has been a winner at multiple levels of college football and now faces the toughest test in the sport trying to win in the SEC West. How much of the BK hit will we see in year 1? Our voters see the talent on the roster and think it won’t take long for them to improve from last season’s 6-7 mark.
  • No. 19 Miami (+26): Mario Cristobal comes with a history of contending for conference titles at Oregon. He also inherits a roster ready to challenge Clemson right away in the ACC. Reigning ACC Rookie of the Year Tyler Van Dyke should get the offense humming again, and the Hurricanes defense has a strong mix of young players from last year and new transfer gate additions. If all the pieces gel, this adjustment won’t look so dramatic.
  • No. 24 Tennessee (+20): The return of QB Hendon Hooker and key pieces of the offense has led to Tennessee once again having one of the most successful offenses in the SEC, but can the Volunteers get enough stops to take a big step forward? That ranking suggests our voters believe Tennessee is in the mix for second place in the SEC East, which would be an impressive step forward for Josh Heupel’s program.
  • No. 9 Texas A&M (+19): The Aggies check almost every box for a national championship contender. They just need to hit the quarterback and improve their explosiveness in the passing game to take the next step. Without that next step, Texas A&M will have the same slim margins that make it possible to both beat Alabama while losing games to unranked SEC foes. It’s still a ceiling that could stick with the Tide, which is why we see Texas A&M in the top 10 after going 8-4 last season.
  • No. 27 Ole Miss (-15): If coaching changes are a common thread in the big moves up, losing a starting quarterback is one of the big steps down. Ole Miss has capable options with Jaxson Dart joining the quarterback room, but turnover after Matt Corral’s absence resulted in our voters downgrading the Rebels from a top-15 team to a top-30 team entering the season .
  • No. 61 Louisiana (-41): Last year’s 13-1 season was the culmination of years of building by Napier, his staff and more than a dozen super seniors. That memorable year saw the Ragin’ Cajuns finish 17th in our rankings, but a roster reset and switch from Napier to Michael Desormeaux was sure to lead to a major adjustment. Louisiana is still expected to compete for another Sun Belt title — picked by the media to win the Sun Belt West for the fifth straight season — but our pollsters think they’ll finish much closer to the middle of the pack nationally .

Check out the rest of CBS Sports 131: Ranked Teams 26-131
* UMass (currently listed as “others receiving votes” due to a technical error) is the 131st team


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