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Group of Five conference previews, top contenders, sleepers and predictions

With the 2022 college football season fast approaching, it’s time to start previewing the conferences. We’ll start with the Group of Five, where the trickle-down effect from last summer’s realignment bombshell is already being felt.

Once Texas and Oklahoma decided to depart the Big 12 for the SEC, the Big 12 looked to the American Athletic Conference to bolster its league. In turn, the AAC raided Conference USA and several of the remaining C-USA teams then departed for the Sun Belt.

While the AAC changes won’t go into effect until next year, several former C-USA members already moved to the Sun Belt. Consequently, both C-USA and the Sun Belt have a different look this season.

Here’s what you need to know from those two leagues, plus the AAC, MAC and Mountain West.

American Athletic Conference

What does Cincinnati do for a sequel?

After becoming the first non-Power Five team to qualify for the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati must replace a lot of key players if it wants to contend for a national title.

Gone are QB Desmond Ridder, RB Jerome Ford and WR Alec Pierce, while the defense must replace top-five pick Sauce Gardner along with Coby Bryant at corner as well as Bryan Cook at safety. Oh, leading tackler Joel Dublanko is also gone along with leading sacker Curtis Brooks.

On the bright side, Ridder, Ford and Pierce are the only offensive starters to replace. The offensive line returns intact and the QB competition is between veteran Ben Bryant and former four-star recruit Evan Prater. Ryan Montgomery is in line for a big role at running back while Tyler Scott and Tre Tucker are proven threats at receiver. Tight end is also a strength.

The defense should stay solid as well. UC has allowed fewer than 21 points per game in each of the last four seasons and it’s hard to see how that changes in 2022. A Week 1…


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Publish date : 2022-08-11 14:00:12

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