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Georgia kicked the ever-living you-know-what out of TCU to close the 2022 college football season, becoming the sport’s first repeat champion since 2012. Now that the campaign is behind us, I can acknowledge teams from across the country with the proper recognition they deserve for their seasons – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What do the Heisman, Biletnikoff, and Bednarik all have in common? They pale in comparison to the Justin Meyer Choice Awards, College Football Edition.
College Football 2022 Season Awards
Best Game: Tennessee 52, Alabama 49
The Vols initially went up 28-10, then blew that lead by the middle of the fourth quarter when a fumble-turned-touchdown pulled Alabama ahead, 49-42. Next possession, Bama returned an inception from its own end zone deep into UT territory on what was fourth down with fewer than four minutes to play. It appeared like yet another close-but-no-cigar day for the Crimson Tide’s competition.
But a flag for defensive pass interference wiped away the INT and provided the Volunteers with a much-appreciated first down. Twenty seconds later, Hendon Hooker hit Jalin Hyatt for his fifth touchdown of the game to cap off an 11-play, 75-yard drive to knot the score. But was too much time left for Bryce Young and Bama?
Tennessee’s defense bent but did not break. Alabama marched down the field to the edge of field goal range, but the Vols held firm at the 32-yard line. Nick Saban was left with a choice: attempt a conversion on a 4th & 10, or kick a 50-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to go up by three.
Saban chose the field goal, and the Alabama kicker curse asked him if he had learned anything. With 15 seconds on the clock, now Tennessee had the ball with a chance to make something happen, and make something happen they did.
In two completions, the Vols covered 45 yards and set up a 40-yard field goal attempt for Chase McGrath, who sent the ball between a pair of uprights that was soon to meet an untimely demise.
For the first time since 2006, the Volunteers defeated the Crimson Tide in a statement win that announced to the entire country that Tennessee football has left behind its era of ridicule (at least for one season).
It’s about damn time Tennessee has a pulse.
Worst Game: Texas A&M 20, UMass 3
Texas A&M and UMass entered this game with a combined 3-16 record, the Aggies reeling from six-straight defeats after a preseason top-10 ranking and the Minutemen offering up one of the worst seasons in the country. The dreary conditions were sent as a message from above that this stadium was to be avoided on this day, and most of College Station listened.
A&M lost four of five fumbles, missed two field goals, converted twice on 10 third downs, and won by three scores. Writing that out just made me depressed.
No atmosphere, no sun, and nothing to play for. This game is the opposite of the gold at the end of the rainbow – it’s the sludge at the end of a McDonald’s arch. May its memory be forgotten and its depravity never matched.
Most Surprising Team: TCU
It can’t really be anyone else, can it? TCU was unranked in the preseason, not even receiving a vote in the AP Poll or Coaches Poll. In the Big 12 preseason media poll, TCU was picked as a comfortable No. 7. The Horned Frogs went from that to losing 65-7 in front of everybody who’s anybody, even their biggest crush.
I kid. You can’t really make fun of this TCU team. To make the national championship game at all is an incredible accomplishment for this program, especially given the context. What a way to transition away from Gary Patterson and into the Sonny Dykes-era. It couldn’t have gone any better, except for 58 points and a conference championship.
Most Disappointing Team: Miami
This one is tough. There are several quality candidates to choose from: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor, Michigan State, and more fit the bill. Fifteen teams that were included in the preseason AP Top 25 were excluded in the final edition, three from the top 10. You may think someone else deserves the disgrace of this dishonor, but I’m giving my vote to Miami.
A&M got to enjoy a shock victory over rival LSU to close the campaign and beat Miami in Week 3. Oklahoma defeated in-state foe Oklahoma State, destroyed Nebraska in that series’ renewal, and made a bowl. Baylor overcame Oklahoma in one of its last games against the Sooners, plus played in a bowl. Michigan State toppled a ranked Illinois and outlasted Wisconsin, which used to be a rivalry kind of, like 10 years ago.
Miami didn’t do anything. No wins over ranked teams, no bowl game, and absolutely dismantled by its rival. The Hurricanes nabbed Mario Cristobal from Oregon after the 2021 season, and they dropped some serious cash to make it happen. Miami paid $12 million just to buy out Cristobal from Oregon and void former head coach Manny Diaz’s contract.
You do all that, and you get this? When the money on the table gets this close to the ceiling, results are required. In the age of the transfer portal, coaches are expected to perform turnarounds faster than ever before. I doubt another bowl-less December and a 45-3 flattening from Florida State was what Miami fans had envisioned at the season’s initial kick-off.
Best Meme Team: Iowa
I don’t know what seals it more – the 27-0 victory over Nevada in Week 3 that started at 6:40 p.m. local time and ended at 1:39 a.m. after three different lightning delays added three hours and 56 minutes to the game, or the 7-3 win against FCS South Dakota State in which the Hawkeyes needed two second-half safeties to make it through this Week 1 event (check out this scoring summary if you want to laugh). It’s tough to say, but cumulatively, it’s easier to say that Iowa handed college football the most bountiful memes in 2022.
In Iowa’s 54-10 dismantling at the hands of Ohio State, its offense was outscored by the Ohio State offense and both defenses. Quarterback Spencer Petras had a 1.0 QPR in the aforementioned South Dakota State, and his team still won – he finished the season with a 31.4 QPR, threw five touchdowns, and was sacked 32 times. The Hawkeyes finished last in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game, second-last in passing yards per game, and last in total yards per game. Yet this team went 8-5 overall, including a comfortable 21-0 triumph in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.
The memeability of an offensive offense is off the charts. There’s much more meat to pick off that bone than that of a deplorable defense. Thank you, Iowa City, for the content you provided college football in 2022.
Least Noticeable Team: FIU
I can almost guarantee that you did not watch a single second of FIU football this season.
The Panthers were picked last in Conference USA in the preseason media poll, and they met their expectations. FIU went 4-8 overall and 2-6 in their conference, finishing tied for last in the league. The program was 1-16 across 2020 and 2021, so four wins in one season was a step in the right direction, I guess.
Florida International did win two overtime games, which is fun. One of those was over Louisiana Tech, one of the other two 2-6 teams in C-USA. FIU also won at Charlotte, the other, other team it shared the basement with. With those head-to-head victories, the Panthers were the best of the worst in Conference USA. Nice.
FIU did not play a power-conference team all season and did not play any of C-USA’s best teams closely. The Panthers lost 73-0 at Western Kentucky, 52-14 at North Texas, and 30-10 to UTSA. In-state counterpart and two-thirds initial-sharer FAU slaughtered FIU, 52-7, the sixth-straight time the Owls have trounced the Panthers. FIU’s average margin of defeat for the season was more than 33 points.
If you are an FIU fan, I don’t know why. I am certain you have better things to do with your time, like watching better college football. If the Panthers’ season had never happened, no one would have noticed.