The 2022 college football the regular season is over and the conference championship rosters are set. In light of these developments, let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and which is falling as the playoffs approach.
Stock: Michigan Wolverines
It all led to The Game, the 11-0 showdown between Michigan and Ohio State, both atop the Big Ten East. The Buckeyes were largely the favorites heading into this contest, but the Wolverines shocked the nation with a 45-23 win at Columbus, scoring 21 in the final quarter.
Now, after plenty of penciling in the Buckeyes for the Big Ten championship and eventual BFC playoff berth, it’s Michigan that will go that route instead. There are plenty of players to thank among them JJ McCarthy, Donovan Edwards, Cornelius Johnson and Olusegun Oluwatimi, but the biggest credit ultimately goes to Jim Harbaugh, who is set to make the playoffs for a second straight year with a victory over Purdue.
Low Stock: Ohio State Buckeyes
The loss alone wasn’t the most demoralizing thing for the Buckeyes on Saturday. Equally deflating was the way Ohio State shrank under the midday lights.
Ohio State entered the half with a lead, but things quickly spiraled out of control in the second half. And when the Buckeyes started to fall behind, Ryan Day was in no real rush to take calculated risks and regain momentum.
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That’s no reason to doubt Days’ status as Buckeyes football coach. And OSU’s playoff hopes are not totally dotted, because a loss to TCU or USC next weekend could change things. But it was an incredibly disappointing conclusion for a team with incredibly high expectations. And with the departure of CJ Stroud, Ohio State will have a recalibration to do in 2023.
Fuel Up: Purdue Boilermakers
Somebody had to win the Big Ten West. While the odds are slim of this team beating Michigan in the Big Ten title game, the Purdue Boilermakers still have to be thanked for getting the job done in stride.
A few weeks ago, Purdue was 5-4 and reeling from a 24-3 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. With a tough game against Illinois on deck, this could have been the breaking point for the Boilermakers, but Jeff Brohm didn’t let it go.
Instead, Purdue responded with a declaration of victory over Fighting Illini, then took care of business against Northwestern and Indiana in the final weeks that followed. It took a bit of luck, but you always need a bit of that in college football. Purdue took advantage of that, and now they’re in the Big Ten Championship.
Stock down: LSU Tigers
For weeks before the conference championship slate, we talked about the playoff path remaining open for the LSU Tigers. Winning against UAB, Arkansas and Texas A&M seemed like the easy part. The toughest, meanwhile, upset Georgia in the conference championship game.
But in a surprising twist, the Tigers couldn’t even get past the first step. They lost 38-23 to the now 5-7 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, dropping to 9-3 on the year. Playing to keep their playoff hopes alive, LSU squandered their chances against a team with very little left to play.
LSU was already locked in the SEC championship game. But after that ugly loss, even a surprise win over Georgia probably won’t be enough to please LSU with the committee. With those playoff hopes officially dashed, this SEC title opportunity suddenly has a lot less potential payoff.
Out of Stock: Oregon Ducks
Oregon was in the Pac-12 Championship game with a win over Oregon State. And in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Ducks were going to come off easy. They led 31-10 late in the third and 34-17 with less than 15 minutes remaining. But at the final whistle, Oregon trailed 38-34.
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It was an epic slump that was almost entirely the Ducks doing a colossal slump with turnovers, lack of discipline and an ultimate denouement in the final minutes. Dan Lanning’s freshman year in Eugene was a success overall, but this latest loss that knocked Oregon out of the title game will leave a sour taste for some time.
Fueling Up: Florida State Seminoles
Only a select few teams will be celebrating conference championship berths this week, but there are other things to celebrate. The Florida State Seminoles are a team with a lot to look forward to, despite not owning a spot in the ACC title game.
Mike Norvell’s third regular season at FSU is over, and the strong 9-3 campaign has looked very much forward with a hint of optimism. Norvell ended the year on a high note, beating rival Florida State, a team led by future NFL first-round draft pick Anthony Richardson.
It wasn’t quite time for Florida States to topple Clemson or North Carolina this year. But a change in the pecking order could eventually occur. If so, 2022 will be seen as the stepping stone that made it possible.
Stock up: South Carolina Gamecocks
No college football team finished the 2022 regular season on a stronger note than Shane Beamers South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina was already bowling eligible in Week 11, but they decided to take it a step further and improve their national rankings with back-to-back top-10 wins over Tennessee and Clemson.
In those two wins, South Carolina scored a combined 94 points. Spencer Rattler threw for nearly 800 total yards, and the team as a whole seemed more energized and confident against high-level competition.
The Gamecocks will no doubt have a chance to build their momentum with a win in a bowl game. And depending on who returns in 2023, this could be a team to watch in the SEC East.
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