5 College Football National Championship Sleepers for 2022
Last season, Kirby Smart and Georgia finally overcame Alabama to win the National Championship. College football fans loved seeing the parity, but both teams were among the top contenders throughout the season.
Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State open as the clear National Championship favorites, but what about the 2022 college football sleepers? These teams don’t have as much hype as the favorites, but they could surprise people.
Let’s see who makes my top college football National Championship sleepers list.
USC Trojans (+1200)
I imagine everyone will have USC on their list of NCAAF sleepers. USC has only finished in the top five in the AP Poll once in the last 13 years. However, USC enters the 2022 season in a solid position to make its first CFP appearance.
USC has made many coaching changes since Pete Carroll went to the NFL, but they may have finally found a long-term option in Lincoln Riley. Riley guided Oklahoma to a pair of CFP appearances.
From there, Riley began to build USC’s roster via the transfer portal. He brought former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams to USC. Check out his numbers from the 2021 season.
- 64.5 completion percentage
- 1,912 passing yards
- 21 touchdowns
- 4 interceptions
Williams is more athletic than a pure pocket passer, but he’s not afraid to air it out. He had 402 yards and six touchdowns in a victory over Texas Tech.
Williams was far from the only addition to USC. They upgraded their offense with running back Travis Dye and wide receivers Mario Williams, Brenden Rice, and Terrell Bynum. Those additions made USC a top National Championship pick at the top online college football betting sites.
However, they emerged as one of the best college football value bets after bringing in wide receiver Jordan Addison.
Addison won the 2021 Biletnikoff Award after posting 100 receptions, 1,593 yards, and 17 touchdowns. He and Williams will form one of the best QB-WR duos in college football.
USC’s defense could use some work, but that offense is among the best in the country. We’ve seen Lincoln Riley teams make the CFP on the strength of a great offense. Can he do one better with USC?
It won’t be long before we don’t consider USC a college football championship sleeper.
Texas A&M Aggies (+2000)
Two years ago, Texas A&M was one of the best teams to miss the CFP. Can they overcome the odds and make their first CFP appearance? It looked like they would contend last season, but back-to-back losses ended their hopes.
Texas A&M knew they’d have to do something to overcome Alabama. That’s the only team standing in their way in the SEC West. Texas A&M emerged as an NCAA football sleeper because of its recruiting class.
- DT – Walter Nolan (1st)
- DT – Gabe Brownlow-Dindy (3rd)
- DE – Lebbeus Overton (6th)
- DE – Shemar Stewart (7th)
- WR – Evan Stewart (13th)
They made significant additions in the recruiting class, adding four top 10 prospects. It’s substantial they added to their defensive line because they lost that whole unit from the 2021 season.
Perhaps Texas A&M doesn’t have better odds because of the quarterback position. They have a few options, but no one has emerged as the starter. Haynes King was their starter last season, but he’s coming off a broken leg.
We don’t see many true freshmen starting in the SEC, but Conner Weigman could be the best quarterback at Texas A&M.
LSU transfer Max Johnson appears to be the favorite to open the season as the starter. He looked strong in 2021, passing for 2,815 yards, 27 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Evan Stewart will give him a true No. 1 receiver.
Texas A&M’s recruiting class makes them one of the top 2022 college football sleepers. It looks like their defense will lead the way, but how will it look when they play Alabama? They could be standing in the way of the CFP.
Georgia and Alabama are the teams to beat in the SEC, but we can’t forget about Texas A&M.
Oklahoma came close to another CFP appearance last season, but a pair of late-season losses ended their hopes. Still, we expected them to remain in contention, with Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams leading the team.
Following Spencer Rattler’s transfer, Riley and Williams both left for USC. That left Oklahoma scrambling, but they’ve done a nice job rebuilding their roster. It started with hiring Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as the head coach.
For years, the biggest thing holding Oklahoma back was their defense. There’s a good chance that it improves with Venables.
Oklahoma defense will blitz more under Brent Venables.— 𝕆𝕂𝕃𝔸ℍ𝕆𝕄𝔸-𝕍𝕊-𝕋ℍ𝔼 𝕎𝕆ℝ𝕃𝔻 (@soonergridiron) May 20, 2022
"According to CFB Film Room, OU blitzed on 19.6% of plays last year. That ranked No. 109 in FBS."
"Brent Venables’ defense at Clemson last season blitzed 39.8% of the time."#OUDNA | #BoomerSoonerhttps://t.co/NCP5fVDN8r
Clemson also had a top-tier offense, but their defense was always among the best in college football. Will we see the same for Oklahoma in 2022?
Oklahoma wouldn’t be a top college football championship sleeper without filling their void at quarterback. Oklahoma landed former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel. He only played in three games last season but put up great numbers in 2020.
Gabriel had 3,570 yards, 32 touchdowns, and four interceptions. We know how many points Big 12 teams score, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he improved upon those numbers.
Oklahoma has done a nice job building their defense. Check out their top additions ahead of the 2022 season.
- CB – Trey Morrison
- DL – Jonah Laulu
- CB – C.J. Coldon
Trey Morrison and C.J. Coldon will give Oklahoma’s secondary a boost. Jonah Laula recorded eight tackles for loss and four sacks with Hawaii last season. Playing in Venables’ defense should give him more sack opportunities.
It seems like everyone forgets about Oklahoma after the offseason changes. However, I believe they present great value as an NCAAF sleeper. It’ll be interesting to see if their offense remains at an elite level.
Can Oklahoma end its National Championship drought?
Utah Utes (+6000)
We often hear about Oregon and USC in the Pac-12, but Utah had a late-season surge to capture the Pac-12 title. That included a pair of victories over Oregon.
It looked like Utah would capture a victory in the Rose Bowl. They held a 14-point lead over Ohio State but watched C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba lead a big comeback. Even with the loss, it was a thrilling game.
I talked about USC being a top NCAA football sleeper. I believe they’ll make a run at the CFP, but if USC stumbles, Utah could become the second Pac-12 team to make the CFP.
The biggest challenge for Utah will be replacing key members of their defense. Devin Lloyd is their biggest loss. Lloyd was an All-American linebacker in 2021, but he became a first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hopefully, the defense can hold up because Utah could have one of the best offenses in college football.
Quarterback Cameron Rising didn’t have many big passing performances, but no one will complain about his 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. Running back, Tavion Thomas had a fantastic 2021 season with Utah.
Check out his impressive numbers against UCLA and Stanford.
It’s no coincidence Utah won each game by 20+ points. Thomas should remain the focal point of this offense while Rising develops into a better all-around quarterback. Those improvements could make Utah a 2022 college football playoff sleeper.
It’ll be tough to win the National Championship with (+6000) odds, but I wouldn’t rule them out of CFP contention. Michigan, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State had (+5000) odds or worse at this point last year.
The 2022 Rose Bowl showed Utah could compete with the elites of college football.
NC State (+25000)
We had to include at least one longshot that could emerge as a sleeper pick to win the 2022 college football playoff. A few teams present value, but NC State stands out with their (+25000) odds.
NC State is one of those teams that’s never bad, but they’re also never among the top 25. They’ve only finished top 25 in the AP Poll twice in the last 11 years. I believe this could be the year they finish top 10 for the first time in program history.
The biggest thing in NC State’s favor is they didn’t lose much talent. Ikem Ekwonu is a significant loss, but he’s their only top player to go to the NFL. Quarterback Devin Leary returns after an impressive season.
- 65.7 completion percentage
- 3,433 yards
- 35 touchdowns
- 5 interceptions
NC State lost their top two running backs, so the passing game should take center stage. Before watching a potential high-scoring NC State offense, it might be wise to brush up on the best approach to betting on college football totals.
Last season, NC State finished 9-3, but it could’ve easily been 11-1. They lost a pair of road ACC games by a combined four points. They also defeated Clemson in double-overtime.
NC State will return 17 starters to a team that nearly went 11-1 last season. It’s no wonder people have them as a 2022 college football sleeper. Their odds give them tremendous value for the 2022 season.
Clemson will enter the season as the favorite in the ACC, but I believe NC State has what it takes to take them down. From there, it’ll be a march to the CFP. Some people may not buy into the hype, but NC State has enough potential to justify betting on them winning the National Championship.
Betting on the National Championship in 2022
It’s not often you see a sleeper win the National Championship. The CFP era has only seen two teams win the National Championship with (+1000) odds or worse. Still, you have to value the 2022 college football sleepers.
Feel free to visit our college football betting strategy page for more betting tips.