It’s not easy to go undefeated over the course of the college football regular season. Last year, we had just two teams in the entire country—Georgia and Cincinnati—finish the regular season with an unblemished record.
Going undefeated during the regular season isn’t a requirement to make it into the College Football Playoff. But it certainly helps. Both the Dawgs and Bearcats made it into the final four by selection Sunday. And of course there are also non-power conference teams that go undefeated that fail to even make it into the CFP conversation. Most notably that was UCF in 2018, but teams like Coastal Carolina and San Jose State went unbeaten in 2020 as well.
As we look ahead to the 2022 season, let’s take a look at which teams might be primed for an unbeaten regular season. Most of these teams will have real playoff chances next season, too.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Key games: vs. Notre Dame (Sept. 3), at Michigan State (Oct. 8), at Penn State (Oct. 29), vs. Michigan (Nov. 26).
Ohio State narrowly missed the playoff last season after losing to Michigan at the end of the season. But don’t be surprised if Ohio State goes unbeaten during the regular season in 2022.
The Buckeyes opening the season with Notre Dame will be a big test Week 1, but getting the Irish at home is huge. The road games against Michigan State and Penn State look daunting, but the Buckeyes have won the last 11 games combined against both opponents.
The Bucks will host bitter rivals Michigan this year. Michigan hasn’t defeated Ohio State in Columbus since 2000, when John Cooper and Lloyd Carr were the head coaches for OSU and Michigan, respectively.
The biggest reason OSU may go unbeaten? The return of Heisman finalist quarterback C.J. Stroud. Stroud threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions during his first year as a starter last season. Ohio State gets back a lot of talent back from 2021, too. The Buckeyes rank 24th in returning production rankings per ESPN’s S&P+, including 70 percent on offense. OSU will get 82 percent of its defense back, as well.