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Nick Saban | Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Shake off those offseason cobwebs, my friends, because the 2022 college football season will be here in just a few short weeks.
First, however, is the fall camp.
The much-anticipated return to the training grounds brings with it a handful of major storylines annually. As always, there are QB battles, but the intrigue extends to many other positions, and previous season title favorites always draw the most attention.
While the list is subjective, this is just a small sampling of key issues surrounding the Football Bowl Subdivision.
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Cade McNamara and JJ McCarthy Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
After all, quarterback is the most important position.
Around FBS, programs will use August to make final decisions about their Week 1 signal callers. Most notable, of course, are teams that we expect to see in the top 25 – and especially top 10 – of the preseason polls.
Texas A&M has the biggest unknowns in Haynes King, Max Johnson and possibly Conner Weigman, all competing below the middle. Michigan returns Cade McNamara, but JJ McCarthy saw regular playing time as a freshman. The same goes for Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner trying to top Drew Pyne – just as reigning Clemson DJ Uiagalelei is working to stop Cade Klubnik.
Auburn, Cincinnati, Iowa, LSU, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pitt and Texas are among the other programs worth watching for QB situations.
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Kris Hutson | Tom Hauck/Getty Images
When it comes to high-level teams, most of the points on the depth chart are generally set by the start of fall camp. However, a handful of positions have not yet been decided.
Specifically, all of Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas A&M and Wisconsin have agreed to early rotation of recipients. USC and Oklahoma need to improve the offensive line, and a redesigned Michigan State group is unsettled after an injury-strewn spring.
Georgia breaks in a new line of defense, and Ole Miss has a remodeled linebacker corps. Notre Dame can shuffle the secondary, while Baylor and Oklahoma State undoubtedly retool the unit.
And this is all in addition to the quarterback fights we mentioned in the previous section.
Don’t expect resolution for everyone Position – performance and injuries will change the depth charts midway through the season anyway – but most starters will certainly be determined at fall camp.
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Devin Leary | M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Are they important? Not really.
In the days of the Bowl Championship Series, the Harris Poll and Coaches Poll had a significant impact on rankings. Today, however, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is in complete control.
The short version: Neither the AP Top 25 – which is historically considered a record poll – nor the Coaches’ Poll have a direct impact on the outcome of the season.
But they are definitely fun!
United States today will release the Coach Poll on or about August 8th, and the AP Top 25 will follow on August 15th.
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Marcus Freimann Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Although the season officially kicks off on August 27, the Week 0 matchup roster is terribly tame. The most impactful game is the Big Ten match between Nebraska and Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland.
The actual fireworks begin on September 3rd.
Oregon meets reigning champion Georgia in a (not exactly) neutral duel in Atlanta, and Florida State has a similar pseudo-neutral date with LSU in New Orleans. Notre Dame and Ohio State — two expected top-10 teams — will face off in Columbus, and Florida hosts Pac-12 leaders Utah.
Until the college football playoffs inevitably stretch out, the margin for error remains incredibly small. No squad with two losses has made the final cut through eight editions of the CFP.
Yes, excitement happens. But the tone coming from, say, Baylor in the Bears’ prep for Albany in the minor league won’t be as fearful as that of Florida, Ohio State or Oregon.
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Dillon Gabriel | Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Don’t confuse the previous section with a lack of enthusiasm. Regardless of the competition, the season opener is full of excitement.
Fall camp is the final prep season for players like Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel (of UCF), Spencer Rattler of South Carolina (Oklahoma) and Washington State’s Cameron Ward (Incarnate Word).
The list, as you can probably imagine, is quite extensive.
Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) and Jordan Addison (Pitt) joined USC, along with many other new Trojans. Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), Eli Ricks (LSU) and Jermaine Burton (Georgia) are preparing for their Alabama debut. High-flying quarterbacks Jaxson Dart (USC) and Quinn Ewers (Ohio State) are looking to win contests at Ole Miss and Texas, respectively, and lead their Week 1 attacks to the field.
Outside of the battle for positions, the game of transfers and newcomers – more on that in a moment – will grab most of the headlines.
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Luther burden | AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
Oh yes, our favorite pastime.
The moment a prospect offers a commitment, fans of this program begin to dream of instant fame. National Signing Day fuels this fantastical madness, and the vivid reports at Spring Training and Fall Camp once again capture our imaginations.
The reality is that an overwhelming majority of true newbies will be role players, special teamers, or observers on the fringes.
Adapting to the speed of the college game is Yes, really difficult. It’s not exactly popular to remember, but this process — especially on the mental side given the complexity of each team’s systems and terminology — can take several years to get used to and Earn the trust of a coaching team.
We’ll be hearing from potential Day 1 contributors. The trick is to figure out if it’s a starting job, a rotational role, or a spot that covers kicks on special teams.