The 2022 College Football Season Kicks Off, Media Make Their Predictions

The Heisman Trophy at the ESPN Heisman Trophy Ceremony

For the first time since 2017, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner returns with a chance to become only the award’s second back-to-back recipient and the first since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1974-75).

That is 2021 Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, of course, who returns as the Crimson Tide’s second-year junior starter.

Desmond Howard, the 1991 winner of the trophy, tabbed Young as the favorite for the 2022 honor. 

Asked if he thought anyone had an edge heading into this year, the longtime ESPN analyst said: “If you had to give anyone an edge, to me, the only player that deserves that distinction right now would be Bryce Young because he won it a year ago,” Howard said. “He’s the returning Heisman Trophy winner. I would give him the slight edge over the field simply because of that reason.”

See his full comments here.

The 2022 college football season kicked off Aug. 27 with a modest slate of games, none featuring ranked teams. 

(For those keeping track, the only time an eventual Heisman winner began his season on Aug. 27, it was Ohio State’s Eddie George in 1995. George ran for 99 yards and two scores and added 48 receiving yards in a Buckeye win over Boston College).

This upcoming week features a full slate of action with ranked teams playing Thursday and Friday ahead of Saturday’s (Sept. 3) packed schedule. 

Young’s No. 1 Alabama hosts Utah Utah while No. 2 Ohio State hosts No. 5 Notre Dame in a huge opener, among other big games.

There is no shortage of college football commentary tabbing OSU’s 2021 Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud as the favorite heading into the season.  

The sophomore quarterback passed for 4,435 yards and 44 TDs last year against just six interceptions, finishing fourth in the Heisman voting.

Stroud joins Young and junior Alabama linebacker Will Anderson as the only returners among the top-10 vote-getters in the 2021 Heisman balloting.

Anderson, fifth in last year’s tabulations, also has his fans as a potential Heisman winner after the strong showing as a sophomore.

Howard’s ESPN GameDay colleague Kirk Herbstreit released his preseason Herbie Awards and bestowed Anderson with the “Ultimate Herbie” Award as the best college football player for the upcoming season.

This USA Today article filled with “bold predictions” for the 2022 season tabbed Anderson as the 2022 winner, which would make him the first defensive player since, of course, Charles Woodson in 1997, a quarter century earlier.

Wrote USA Today’s Michelle Martinelli: “This year, Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. will break through and actually win. Not only is he on a perennial championship-contending team that will surely give him an added boost in the eyes of voters, but he’s also a powerhouse quarterback-eating machine who’s as disruptive as he is fun to watch. He averaged more than one sack a game last season and led the nation with 17.5 on the year. Stay healthy, keep destroying offenses and Anderson should be a Heisman frontrunner.”

Among the Heisman contenders Stroud will compete with this season will be at least two teammates in running back TreVeyon Henderson and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the keys to what The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman has dubbed “will be the best offense Ohio State has ever had.” He predicted “C.J. Stroud will win the Heisman, but TreVeyon Henderson will have almost as big a year, and there’s no better receiver room than the one in Columbus.” The full story is here.

In Dennis Dodd’s CBSSports article detailing the Buckeyes’ firepower, Stroud candidly said this about the Heisman: “I don’t want to think about it, but I do. I would be lying if I said I didn’t.”

Understandable.

Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer and Brad Shepard both picked Stroud in BR’s 2022 college football preview story.

ESPN’s Heisman Trophy Preview show, which featured a pair of our award winners, finished with predictions for the award. GameDay host Rece Davis went with Anderson, 1989 winner Andre Ware took Stroud while 2011 winner Robert Griffin III predicted Young would be a repeat winner.

Of course, there are more than three players dotting the college football landscape of course.

Heisman winner Matt Leinart, a commentator for Fox Sports, thinks first-year Trojan Caleb Williams, who joined Lincoln Riley in coming to USC from Oklahoma, will have a chance to contend considering the offensive talent around him.

Said Leinart: “Caleb Williams, to me, just keep an eye on him because USC, Lincoln Riley quarterbacks, the history there, the best receiving core in the country with Mario Williams coming and Jordan Addison coming, an offense that’s going to score a lot of points. I think he is a dangerous, dangerous player that could be in that race at the end of the season.”

Among other potential Heisman contenders bandied about in 2022 predictions are Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel, Stroud’s teammates Henderson and Smith-Njigba, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke and Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei, among so many others.

Time will tell!