The 2021 college football season didn't stick to the script as only two of the 10 FBS conferences featured repeat league champions from the year prior, not counting a no-contest Sun Belt title game in 2020. Most notably, Michigan shocked the Big Ten by emerging from a disappointing pandemic season with its first conference championship in more than 15 years.
There was plenty to discuss beyond the Wolverines' success, though. Baylor flipped from a 2-7 squad to a 12-2 conference champion in one of the biggest single-season turnarounds ever. Breakout performances at Pitt and Utah State also paced the field.
However, winning a conference once is hard. Putting together title-winning teams multiple seasons in a row is even more difficult. Of course, Alabama has a chance to repeat as the early national championship favorite. After the Crimson Tide, the next seven championship favorites, per Caesars Sportsbook, are programs that did not win their conferences in 2021.
Without further ado, here is how we rank the 2021 FBS conference champions by their chances of repeating in 2022.
|The Crimson Tide enter 2022 as the prohibitive national title favorite out the SEC despite losing in a rematch with Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Alabama returns arguably the best offensive (Bryce Young) and defensive (Will Anderson III) players in college football, bolstering its roster with one of the most star-studded transfer classes in the nation. A battle with Georgia likely awaits once again in the SEC Championship Game, but the Bulldogs have lost a boatload of production from their historic national championship squad. The Tide are heavy favorites to win the SEC.|
|The Utes shocked Oregon twice en route to their first Pac-12 title since joining the league a decade ago. Don't expect that to be a one-hit wonder. Utah hit another level after switching to Cameron Rising at quarterback, winning eight of its last nine regular-season games and giving Ohio State all it could handle at the Rose Bowl. Replacing linebacker Devin Lloyd will be the biggest question mark, but the Utes are the team to beat out west once again. All eyes will be on a season-changing Oct. 15 matchup against USC in Salt Lake City.|
|With Oklahoma in a transition, the Big 12 has quietly become as competitive at the top as it has been in several years. As many as five teams could have legitimate Big 12 title shots in 2022. However, the Bears are in a great position to repeat with what should be one of the best line groups in the country on both ends. Baylor returns every member of the two deep on the defensive line and add elite Tulsa transfer Jaxon Player to the rotation. The four top offensive line starters are back, too. New starting quarterback Blake Shapen will make or break the Bears' title chances after beating out veteran Gerry Bohanon in camp. Early returns are strong.|
|The Roadrunners are only starting to scratch the surface in Conference USA as former Texas high school coach Jeff Traylor enters his third season. UTSA brings back star quarterback Frank Harris, future NFL wide receiver Zakhari Franklin and a number of key contributors on the defensive end, including safety Rashad Wisdom. The pieces are in place for UTSA to capture another C-USA title in its final season in the league, so long as the Roadrunners can withstand heavy losses against Houston and Texas early in the year.|
|Luke Fickell has built a behemoth in the American at Cincinnati, and his track record of recruiting and development is second-to-none. Still, losing a pair of All-American cornerbacks, an NFL quarterback and an NFL running back leaves the Bearcats a number of holes to replace. However, Fickell deserves benefit of the doubt as Cincinnati enters its final season in the Group of Five.|
|Betting on anyone to string together consecutive title seasons is a fool's errand in the MAC. The last team to do it, ironically, was Jordan Lynch's Northern Illinois in 2011-12. However, the Huskies won the MAC a year ahead of schedule with a youth movement across the roster and now bring back more than 83% of their overall production. With such a competitive and balanced conference, there are no guarantees, but Thomas Hammock has figured something out in DeKalb.|
|Blake Anderson was a strong fit at Utah State after years of success at Arkansas State, but no one could have predicted how quickly everything would come together in Logan during a Mountain West title run. Utah State upset Washington State in the opener, recovered quickly from a loss to Boise State and upset San Diego State in the title game. In the LA Bowl, Utah State beat Pac-12 foe Oregon State. There's plenty of reasons for excitement in 2021.|
|Louisiana has built a monster over the last several seasons in the Sun Belt and opted to keep the train rolling with former Louisiana high school coach Michael Desormeaux taking over the program. Unfortunately, the Ragin' Cajuns lost a number of talented players to the transfer portal, including seven to Power Five schools. Three starS followed Billy Napier to Florida, including two offensive linemen. Louisiana has plenty in reserve, but the Sun Belt is too competitive to win at half strength.|
|The Wolverines put together a magical Big Ten season behind a Heisman Trophy finalist campaign from NFL first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson and a tremendous rushing year from Hassan Haskins. Both stars are off to the NFL, along with numerous other key draft picks. Michigan should improve offensively with another year for Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy under their belts, but Ohio State enters 2022 as a strong favorite to earn a trip to the national championship game. Even if Michigan can tread water, it might not be enough to repeat as champions.|
|The Panthers had never won an ACC championship after a long tenure as an independent, but Pat Narduzzi broke the curse behind a monster Heisman finalist season from QB Kenny Pickett. Pitt added a strong replacement for Pickett in USC transfer Kedon Slovis, but losing WR Jordan Addison to USC is a painful offensive loss. It's hard to see the Panthers replicating the model from last season, especially if Clemson and Miami solve their quarterback issues.|