The 2022 college football season is one month old.
Yes, Week 4 was the last weekend in September, as most teams are already over a third of their regular season. With October fast approaching, it’s time to see how the 10 top-level college football conferences stack up against each other. And, spoiler alert, the SEC is in first place.
MAC’s two biggest wins so far are Bowling Green’s loss to Marshall after the Thunder Herd beat Notre Dame, and East Michigan’s victory over Arizona State, which cost Herm Edwards his job. MAC doesn’t have a clear leader yet, and no team has hit more than .500 thanks to the buying games its teams are loading into their schedules against Power Five rivals. However, we are still looking forward to November’s mid-week MACtion.
9. Conference USA
This is a conference that feels the pang of regrouping with Marshall, who is now in the Sunbelt, and others who are about to leave after this football season is over. Middle Tennessee took the C-USA season with a win over Miami on Saturday, while UTSA took a win over the Army and a close loss to Houston. On Friday night, UTEP defeated reeling Boise State, and Western Kentucky hasn’t scored less than 30 points since 2020.
8. Mountain West
Wyoming and the Air Force seem to be the top teams in the conference, with the Cowboys beating the Falcons in Week 3. Boise State struggled through the first four weeks of the season and lost to Oregon State and UTEP. Colorado State could easily be the worst team at the top level of college football with a 0–4 score, and Utah State lost 28 to Weber State after losing to Alabama. San Diego State also appears to be worse off than in recent years, with Fresno State 1-2 after a loss to USC that saw QB Jake Haner go away with an ankle injury.
7. Solar Belt
The Sun Belt has really become a fun belt this year. Marshall has a win over Notre Dame, James Madison is 3-0 in his first season at the top level of college football, and Georgia South’s victory over Nebraska resulted in Scott Frost being fired. The Coastal Carolinas are leading 4-0 and we can’t forget App State as the Mountaineers are incapable of playing a normal football game. App State scored 40 points in the fourth quarter in a 63–61 loss to North Carolina, beat Texas A&M, beat Troy on a Hail Mary, and then succumbed 29 unanswered points to James Madison, who lost on Saturday.
The AAC is still the top Group of Five conference and its champion is likely to head to the New Year’s Six Bowl game. Cincinnati had three convincing wins after losing seven to Arkansas in Week 1 and beat Indiana 21 on Saturday. UCF is 3-1 and Tulane eliminated Kansas State in Week 3. Houston is also one of the best teams with two losses outside of the Power Five as its losses came at the hands of Texas Tech and Kansas. SMU could also be better than their 2-2 record after TD’s loss to TCU on Saturday. AAC looks pretty deep, even if Cincinnati and UCF look at the top of the heap.
If Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei plays the way he played against Wake Forest on Saturday, then the No. 5 Tigers are a real threat to the playoffs. The No. 21 Deacons Demons have shown that in 2021 they weren’t a one-hit wonder in this overtime and they were just unfortunate enough to be in the same division as the Tigers. Otherwise, we might see this match up again in an ACC Championship game. NC State #12 is also undefeated and is in the Atlantic Division. Coastal, meanwhile, is just mediocre. Virginia Tech lost to West Virginia at home on Thursday, Miami was embarrassed by Middle Tennessee and Virginia lost to Syracuse (another Atlantic member) 4-0 on Friday night. Pitt looks like the best team on the coast.
With the exception of the Colorado team, which looks to be the worst Power Five team in the country, Pac-12 is a solid conference. Oregon pulled off a fantastic comeback victory over a feisty Washington State team on Saturday, and Washington has improved a lot from 2021. Utah is still a potential 10-win team despite losing week one to Florida, and even Arizona looks a little better than last year. back when he was in the Colorado position. While Pac-12 may not end the season with a playoff-contending team, it should still have plenty of top-25 teams.
3. Big 12
Is the big 12 closer to the second than the fourth? Oklahoma State still seems like conference class, but there are nine fan bases that can legitimately talk themselves into an eight-win season. And that includes Kansas fans after the Jayhawks went 4-0 with a victory over Duke. Of course, the entire Big 12 doesn’t finish above .500, but this is a serious conference that will likely make every team consider cup eligibility in the last few weeks of the season. If Baylor and Oklahoma were 4-0 and Kansas State was 3-1, we would consider it.
2. Big Ten
The Big 10 have an advantage over the Big 12 because Ohio and Michigan feel like stronger contenders for the national title at the moment than both Oklahoma schools. Throw in a Pennsylvania State team that is probably better than the third best team in the Big 12, and the Big 10 will have an advantage even if the middle of the Big 12 is better overall. Minnesota is probably the No. 4 team in the conference after they crushed Michigan State on Saturday, and after that one can only guess how the rest of the teams in the conference through Nebraska finished 14th. Sorry Huskers, you’re at 1-3 and already lost the conference.
Georgia and Alabama earned their No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, while three other teams entered their fourth week in the top 11. Including Tennessee, who beat No. 20 Florida for just the second time in the last 18 seasons on Saturday. . No. 16 Ole Miss looks like a dangerous matchup for anyone in the SEC West, and Mississippi State is also likely to score an upset or two along the way this season. In 2022, the SEC will once again have 10 or 11 bowl-eligible teams, and if you can figure out the order of the six teams in the SEC West after Alabama, you’re smarter than us.
– Nick Bromberg
Here are the winners and losers of this week:
Clemson: Clemson was on his defense for a long time. However, there was an attack against Wake Forest on Saturday. The Tigers threw for 559 yards in a 51-45 overtime offense in Winston-Salem with much-maligned quarterback DJ Wiagaleley in the lead. Wiagaleley threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns, adding 52 ground yards. Will Shipley added 104 yards to the win, but for the Huiagalels it was his best performance since throwing 439 yards on the road against Notre Dame like a true freshman. With this win, the Tigers are now 4-0 and North Carolina State will be in town next week.
Kansas: It’s time to rank Kansas. The Jayhawks are 4-0 after beating Duke 35-27 on Saturday. Jalon Daniels had a great day for KU throwing for 324 yards, rushing for 83 yards and throwing five touchdowns. The Jayhawks had 528 offensive yards and were 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 2009. It is also the first time CU has achieved four wins in a season since 2009. Kansas has not had a winning season since 2008.
Tennessee: For only the second time in 18 attempts, Tennessee beat Florida. It was a 38-33 decision in front of a noisy crowd in Knoxville, and it wasn’t as close as the final score would show. Vols completely outplayed the Gators and improved the score to 4-0. Hendon Hooker was the best player on the field. He threw for 349 yards and touched down twice, added 112 yards and hit on the ground. Tennessee is now entering a week bye ahead of a trip to LSU and a visit from Alabama for his next two games. Can Vols claim SEC title?
Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez: Martinez had many difficult moments in Nebraska, but he put on an incredible performance and led Kansas State to an upset victory over No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday. Martinez threw for 234 yards, rushed for 148 yards and threw for five touchdowns at 41-34. His epic 55-yard scrimmage on the third and long stint became the game of the game.
Michigan RB Blake Corum: After three high-profile victories at the start of the season, Michigan found themselves in a battle with Maryland. And the Wolverines might not have won without Blake Corum. The veteran running back had a great day, hitting a career-high 243 yards and landing twice on 30 carries. Corum broke a 33-yard touchdown on fourth down to give Michigan the lead just before halftime, and then scored 47 yards to end the game late in the fourth quarter in Michigan’s 34–27 victory.
Oregon QB Bo Nicks: Beau Nicks received a lot of criticism for his volatile performance at the Auburn, but he deserves a lot of credit for his performance on Saturday. The Knicks, who started in Oregon, broke an early six to lead the Ducks in an epic victory over Washington State. The Knicks threw for 428 yards and three touchdowns, including a 50-yard go-ahead in the final minutes. Knicks has struggled with some of the SEC’s defenses, but he has a chance to really excel in Pac-12.
Texas Tech: TTU beat Texas in Lubbock for the first time in 14 years. The Red Raiders trailed the Longhorns 31-17 at the end of the third quarter, but TTU came back to equalize 31-31 midway through the fourth. The teams traded last-minute field goals to send the game into extra time. It was then that the TTU defense forced Texas star Bijan Robinson to fumble the ball and hit the game-winning field goal to deal with the upset. Texas Tech University started their first season under Joey Maguire with a 3-1 record and looks like a team capable of making noise in the Big 12.