With our 2022 Way-Too-Early college football top 25 established, we asked our reporters what each team's biggest strength will be in the coming season — in other words, what makes the best teams so good.
Looking into a crystal ball more than six months before the start of the season can be a bit murky, particularly with the transfer portal continuing to churn, but here is what our experts came up with.
1. Alabama: Pass-rushing LBs
You'll have to keep a close eye on the quarterback when Alabama plays, and not just because the Crimson Tide return Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who threw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns in his first season as the starter. You'll have to watch the opposing QB carefully as well because Alabama's defense possesses what promises to be the best pass-rush tandem in college football. On one side at outside linebacker will be Will Anderson Jr., the presumptive first-round draft pick who led the country in sacks (17.5) and tackles for loss last season (31). On the other side at outside linebacker is Dallas Turner, who came on like a rocket late last season with 5.5 sacks in the final four games, earning Freshman All-America honors. — Alex Scarborough
2. Ohio State: QB C.J. Stroud
Quarterback C.J. Stroud was a Heisman finalist and got better and better as the season went on. He has experience now and the offense is going to need him after losing receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the NFL. Stroud threw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns. He has Jaxon Smith-Njigba returning at receiver and we got a glimpse of the future offense in the Rose Bowl when Smith-Njigba had 347 yards and three touchdowns. We also got a chance to see who could fill the void left by Wilson and Olave as freshman Marvin Harrison Jr. also caught three touchdown passes. — Tom VanHaaren
3. Georgia: Tight end
Good luck to the linebackers and safeties trying to cover Georgia's tight ends next season. Alabama coach Nick Saban called freshman Brock Bowers "one of the premier players in college football," and after Bowers scored 13 touchdowns last season, it's hard to argue the point. But Bowers isn't alone. Darnell Washington, at 6-foot-7, is a matchup nightmare who struggled with injuries early in the season and could be poised for a breakout junior year. Then there's Arik Gilbert, who looked like a star in the making at LSU in 2020, transferred to Georgia and hasn't been heard from since. While he wasn't part of the team last season, he was a student and could return to the fold, adding to the talent at offensive coordinator Todd Monken's disposal. — Scarborough
4. Texas A&M: Defensive line
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko is now the head coach at Duke, and several of the Aggies' outstanding defensive linemen headed for the NFL, including DeMarvin Leal, a probable first-round pick. Even so, the Aggies are stocked there thanks to several stacked recruiting classes, including a freshman group that will include the nation's Nos. 1 and 2 defensive tackles and No. 6 and No. 9 defensive ends in the ESPN 300. And an experienced secondary, featuring safety Antonio Johnson, Pro Football Focus' best returning safety in the country, plus stars in safety Demani Richardson (32 games played), cornerbacks Tyreek Chappell (SEC coaches' all-freshman team) and Jaylon Jones (started 22 games in two seasons), will allow new coordinator D.J. Durkin to turn those big fellas loose up front. — Dave Wilson
5. Michigan: Offensive line
Michigan won the Joe Moore Award this past season for best offensive line unit in college football. The line was a key to Michigan's successful run game in 2021. Coach Sherrone Moore has done an excellent job turning this into a dominant unit, and he will lose only starting center Andrew Vastardis from this past season's group. Michigan is replacing that hole with grad transfer Olusegun Oluwatimi, who at Virginia was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's best center. — VanHaaren
6. Notre Dame: Defensive front seven
The front seven should be absolutely dynamite. End Isaiah Foskey and tackle Jayson Ademilola combined for 19 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, and end Justin Ademilola came on strong late in the season as well. Of the 10 linemen who played at least 100 snaps in 2021, eight currently return, and while size could be an issue — only one of the eight is currently listed higher than 280 pounds — speed and playmaking are not. The linebacking corps was thinned out a bit but still includes run-stopper JD Bertrand and the sure-tackling Jack Kiser, and the 2022 signing class includes a trio of blue-chip LBs led by Jaylen Sneed and Niuafe Tuihalamaka. — Bill Connelly