College Football Picks Week 1: Predictions and Odds for Top 25 Schedule
The Ohio State Buckeyes have an opportunity to make a statement to the college football world in their first game of the 2022 season.
C.J. Stroud and Co. welcome the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Ohio Stadium on Saturday night in the first Top Five clash of the season.
Ohio State has at least two Heisman Trophy candidates in Stroud and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Running back TreVeyon Henderson could emerge as a third candidate.
While the Buckeyes are deserving of their No. 2 ranking behind the Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame has more question marks than the usual No. 5 team in the preseason rankings.
The season's theme could be about teams proving their worth behind Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia with the final College Football Playoff spot in sight.
The Clemson Tigers are one of the teams expected to fight for the final playoff spot. Clemson does not have a tricky matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Monday, but DJ Uiagalelei needs to improve in his second season as the starting quarterback.
Clemson could emerge as the ACC powerhouse we have been used to seeing under Dabo Swinney, but with two new coordinators and a quarterback with question marks, a few weeks of proof may be needed to hoist the Tigers into the title conversation.
Week 1 Schedule and Odds
Thursday, September 1
Central Michigan at No. 12 Oklahoma State (-20.5) (Over/Under: 59) (7 p.m. ET, FS1)
West Virginia at No. 17 Pittsburgh (-7.5) (O/U: 51) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
VMI at No. 22 Wake Forest (Odds N/A) (7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Friday, September 2
Western Michigan at No. 15 Michigan State (-22) (O/U: 54.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Saturday, September 3
Sam Houston at No. 6 Texas A&M (Odds N/A) (Noon ET, SEC Network)
Colorado State at No. 8 Michigan (-28) (O/U: 58.5) (Noon ET, ABC)
No. 13 NC State (-11) at East Carolina (O/U: 55) (Noon ET, ESPN)
No. 11 Oregon at No. 3 Georgia (-17) (O/U: 52) (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma (-32) (O/U: 56.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
Bethune-Cookman at No. 16 Miami (Odds N/A) (3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas (-6) (O/U: 52) (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 24 Houston (-4) at UTSA (O/U: 61.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Troy at No. 21 Ole Miss (-22) (O/U: 58) (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
No. 25 BYU (-12) at South Florida (O/U: 58) (4 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Rice at No. 12 USC (-34.5) (O/U: 63.5) (6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
No. 7 Utah (-2.5) at Florida (O/U: 51) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Albany at No. 10 Baylor (Odds N/A) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Illinois State at No. 18 Wisconsin (Odds N/A) (7 p.m. ET, FS1)
Miami (OH) at No. 20 Kentucky (-17.5) (O/U: 52) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Utah State at No. 1 Alabama (-41.5) (O/U: 62.5) (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State (-17.5) (O/U: 58.5) (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Monday, September 5
No. 4 Clemson (-21.5) vs. Georgia Tech (O/U: 48.5) (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State
Ohio State gave us a preview of what the 2022 season would look like in January at the Rose Bowl.
C.J. Stroud threw for 573 yards and six touchdowns, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba recorded 347 yards and three scores on 15 catches.
The Stroud-to-Smith-Njigba combination will likely be the most successful in college football this season. It will make the losses of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to the NFL almost irrelevant.
Ohio State has Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming ready to step into roles behind Smith-Njigba. All three of those players gained experience in the Rose Bowl while Olave and Wilson prepared for the NFL draft.
Ohio State's passing attack could run rampant against a Notre Dame secondary that lost a first-round pick in Kyle Hamilton.
Notre Dame lost its starting quarterback and running back from last season, and it may have to win its first few games with defense while the offense gets up to speed.
The problem in Week 1 for the Fighting Irish is that they are going up against what will likely go down as the most explosive offense in college football this season. Ohio State also has a star at running back in TreVeyon Henderson, who can gash the Irish defense for big gains in both facets of the offense.
Notre Dame could go on to have a solid season since it only plays four true road games, but the start could be rough, especially if Ohio State's offense fails to miss a beat.
The Buckeyes should be supercharged by the energy inside Ohio Stadium, and they could feed on that to put Notre Dame in an early hole that it can't recover from.
Ohio State's offense should not slow down in the second half because the final result could be important when it comes to the College Football Playoff rankings later in the season. A 20- to 30-point win over a Top Five team could be the difference between the No. 1 and No. 2 seed.
Predictions: Ohio State -17.5; Over 58.5
No. 4 Clemson at Georgia Tech
Clemson's perception may be skewed in a negative way coming into the 2022 season.
The Tigers lost two of their first four games last season and were written out of the national-title conversation. Clemson responded to a bad September by going 8-1 to finish the season.
Clemson's defense was the star of the turnaround, as it held five of its final nine opponents to 14 points or less.
Its defensive line may end up as the best positional unit of any defense in the country. The return of Myles Murphy, Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee and Xavier Thomas should make the Tigers difficult to run against all season.
Dabo Swinney's side has a chance to sway the public perception back in its favor a bit if it runs up the score on Georgia Tech inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday. A potential blowout starts with an incredible defensive performance. Clemson held Georgia Tech to eight points last season.
DJ Uiagalelei needs to show improvement from last season with 5-star recruit Cade Klubnik pushing for his job, but the junior should get off to a strong start against an average-at-best Georgia Tech team.
Uiagalelei gets his top three running backs and a few top pass-catchers back, and that should allow the Tigers to get off to a fast start and bury the Yellow Jackets by halftime.
Prediction: Clemson -21.5
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