The Weekend Preview
I know I'm not the only one excited about the upcoming college football season. Even though it will only include 4 teams, we will finally see a playoff used to crown the National Champion. I still think the system is defected because of the way things will be done. A committee will decide what 4 teams will play in the playoff, which will still cause controversy, and the BCS is still involved. I won't be happy until the BCS is completely out of the picture but I digress. Despite my small animosity, I think this is a step in the right direction for College Football. Eventually, I see a 10-team playoff in the mix, and in a perfect world, college campuses will host playoff games.
AP Top 25
AP Top 25
1Florida State (57)0-01496
- Others receiving votes: UCF 94, Florida 87, Texas 86, Duke 71, Iowa 68, Louisville 48, Marshall 41, Oklahoma State 37, Virginia Tech 26, TCU 23, Mississippi State 22, Michigan 19, Texas Tech 19, Miami (FL) 16, Cincinnati 15, Boise State 10, Oregon State 10, Northwestern 8, BYU 8, Penn State 5, Vanderbilt 2, Navy 2, Nevada 1, Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Utah State 1
Florida State is the only ACC team in the top ten this year, while the Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, and SEC all have at least two teams in the top 10. No surprises in this year's preseason rankings, except for some big names that are not ranked. Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Miami are all outside looking in. All 4 could easily make their way into the top 25 if they string some wins together but it won't be easy.
Ohio State will be in trouble this year without their Heisman hopeful, Braxton Miller. J.T. Barrett, a freshman out of Texas, will be Braxton's replacement. The 6'1 225lb quarterback enrolled into OSU in January 2013, still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during his senior year in high school. According to Urban Meyer, Barrett has very good intangibles and really impressed him in the film room. The biggest question marks are his physical shortcomings and inexperience. Barrett, despite his stature, has a weak arm compared to Miller and doesn't have the scrambling ability either. Regardless, he has Urban Meyer in his corner and we all know his work when it comes to quarterbacks. When Meyer was coaching in Utah back in the early 2000s, I remember him having a QB that didn't have a big arm or top notch scrambling ability and ended up turning that kid into a Heisman Finalist, #1 draft pick, and a current 9-year pro in the NFL. If its anybody that could bring the best out of Barrett, Meyer is definitely the one.
Florida State is aiming for their 4th National Championship in school history and has a great chance of doing it. As a Seminole fan, it's 4 games on the schedule that worry me a little bit, the first game vs Oklahoma State, @NC-State, vs Nortre Dame, and @Miami. I know that might confused people because only one team is ranked but unranked squads are a #1 team's worst enemy. Even though OK-State is unranked, they are still no pushover, plus being un-ranked going against the #1 team will have them ready and motivated for battle. NC-State has always been a thorn in Seminole fans' butt, especially when the game is in Carter-Finley Stadium. Nortre Dame worries me the least because the Noles are at home but I expect tough game under the lights. This will be the first time both schools square-off in the regular season since 2003. Expect some chippiness since people are dubbing this game "Catholics vs. Criminoles". And finally we have the Hurricanes, who I have the most respect for but also an equal amount hatred. No matter what the records are, I never expect to roll over them or vice versa, all I expect is a grade-A football game.
Can Baylor duplicate the stellar offensive season they had last year? The Bears are returning 6 starters on an offense that averaged 52 points and 619 total yards a game. Those 6 returnees include QB Bryce Petty, WR Antwan Goodley, RB Shock Linwood, and WR Levi Norwood. Head coach Art Briles in 7 years has turned the Baylor Bears into a semi-powerhouse. Now when you see Baylor Bears on the schedule, be prepared to run. What I love about their offense is its run oriented. Before anything else they are looking to run the ball, last season averaging 260 yards on the ground. They lost Lance Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, who together combined for 19 TDS, but sophomore Shock Linwood will be new premier back of this offense. Linwood was an important piece of the offense last season, scoring 8 TDs and rushing for 881 yards on 128 carries. Baylor's first test won't come until October 4th when they visit the Longhorns, who they beat 30-10 last year to end the regular season. The road will get tougher after that though because they then will see TCU, West Virginia, and Oklahoma before their November 15th bye. It will be interesting to see the Bears make a run for a playoff spot.
Alabama will play with a lot of anger this year. They're season didn't end well, losing to arch-rivals Auburn on a last second play, and being outplayed by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and that came after being ranked #1 the entire season. Despite losing their decorated QB, AJ McCarron, and 6 starters on defense, the Tide is still strong. Alabama will always be one the best teams in the county simply because they are always 3-4 players deep at every position (It's safe to call Nick Saban the greatest recruiter ever). A prime example of that is how Derrick Henry, who only had 35 carries in 2013 being 3rd on the depth chart, gained 161 total yards on 9 touches in the Sugar Bowl. Henry will be apart of a now 3-headed monster in the backfield, splitting carries with TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Florida State transfer, Jake Coker, will end up being the starter unless senior Blake Sims can outshine Coker, who arrived at campus this summer. Bama has an opportunity to be undefeated going into their November 8th matchup against LSU in Baton Rouge, but be sure to circle November 29th on your calendar because that's when Auburn visits Tuscaloosa, can't wait.
The home-state school, Maryland Terrapins, will began a new era for the school playing in their inaugural season apart of the BIG 10. I didn't like this move not one bit, but in order for the Terps to keep some of the other sports apart of the athletic program, they had to chase the money and jump to the BIG 10. On the football field, I think the Terps will struggle. The BIG 10 is a lot more competitive than the ACC and UMD has been an average team in the weaker conference. Luckily for them they have 17 returning starters on both offense and defense which is a huge positive. Terps finished last season 7-5 and had glimpses of potentially being a power in the ACC but that was until they faced Florida State, which resulted in a 0-63 loss. The Terps have Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan on the schedule and all 4 have the potential of making UMD look real bad. Coach Randy Edsall will be coaching his 4th season at UMD with a record of 13-24, which I think is very unacceptable. In order for the Terps to really become somewhat of a force in the Big Ten, a new coach will be needed.
- Coach Charlie Strong is in the process of building a new culture in Austin. He removed the Longhorn decal from players' helmets, stripped them of air-conditioned buses that took them to the practice field, dismissed two players, and suspended 5 from the team. It's a new sheriff in town.
- Will this be the year Oregon finally get over the hump? We know they are great in the regular season but they always have those hiccups that leaves them outside looking in on the National Championship. Marcus Mariota has all the Heisman Hype in the world but will it be enough to put them in the Final Four?
Games to Watch
- #21 Texas A&M @ South Carolina (Thursday 8/28) - How will the Aggies look without Johnny Cr'nack?
- #1 Florida State vs Oklahoma State *Game played @ AT&T Stadium* - The quest for back-to-back for the Noles starts in the same Stadium it will end at.
- #16 Clemson @ #12 Georgia - Last year's game between these two ended up being one of the best games of the season. Expect another stellar game.
- #14 Wisconsin vs #13 LSU *Game played in Houston* - These two schools have only met twice, LSU winning the last game 27-7 in 1972.
- #8 Michigan State @ #3 Oregon - Only the 5th meeting all time, series tied at 2. Two completely different styles to clash in what should a great game.
- #15 USC @ #11 Stanford - Stanford has won 4 out of the last 5 meetings against the Trojans, 2 of which were at home.
- Virginia Tech @ #5 Ohio State - 1st meeting for the two schools also 1st test for freshman JT Barrett.
- #7 UCLA vs Texas *Game played @ AT&T Stadium" - How will Coach Strong and his Longhorns fare in their first matchup against a ranked opponent?
- #12 Georgia @ #9 South Carolina - They don't like each other, simple as that.
- #6 Auburn @ #20 Kansas State (Thursday 9/18) - Last time the Tigers visited Manhattan, Kansas was in 1972 and they left with a 45-32 victory. This is only the 4th meeting between the 2 schools, K-State 0-3 against the TIgers.
- #16 Cemson @ #1 Florida State - In the last three meetings against the Seminoles, the Tigers are 1-2 and has allowed 205 points.
- #7 UCLA @ #19 Arizona State (Thursday 9/25) - The last 3 meetings between these two have been decided by 8 total points, Arizona State winning last year 38-33.
- #11 Stanford @ #20 Washington - Potential trap game for the Cardinals. Last time they made a trip up to Washington, it was a tough 13-17 loss.
- #2 Alabama @ #18 Ole Miss - Bama has won 10 straight games against the Rebels but both teams could walk into this game undefeated. Bama will be walking into a very hostile environment which could motivate a young but experienced Rebel squad.
- #13 LSU @ #6 Auburn - LSU gave Auburn their only loss last year and the visiting team has loss 12 out of the last 14 matchups.
- #3 Oregon @ #7 UCLA - Last year the Ducks dominated the Bruins 42-14 but the visiting team is 1-6 since 2008.
- Texas vs #4 Oklahoma *Game played @ Cotton Bowl* - This will be Charlie Strong's first Red River Shootout and first opportunity to truly win over the Texas' alumni.
- #17 Notre Dame @ #1 Florida State - I don't think the Irish will be able to keep up with the Noles but we'll see. The Irish will have Everett Golson back under center so I do expect a good game.
- #9 South Carolina @ #6 Auburn - Another SEC clash that will have some implications on the 4-team playoff race.
- #11 Stanford @ #3 Oregon - Stanford has been the thorn in Oregon's butt for the last 2 years, ending their title hopes twice. Can they do it once again?
- #2 Alabama @ #13 LSU - I like to compare this rivalry to Ravens-Steelers. Leave all the pretty stuff at home, just bring your pads and expect a lot of head knocking.
- #5 Ohio State @ #8 Michigan State - By this point we will know whether or not the Buckeyes are still a contender and how well Barrett handles being a starter.
- #10 Baylor @ #5 Oklahoma - Last season the Bears defeated the Sooners 41-12, scoring 28 straight points between the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Revenge will be on the Sooners' mind
- #6 Auburn @ #12 Georgia - Georgia was a victim of Auburn's magical run at the end of the season when Nick Marshall hit Ricardo Louis for a 73 yard game winning TD with 25 seconds left in the game. Make it sting.
- #15 USC @ #7 UCLA - The biggest rivalry on the West Coast. Depending on how things playout, this game could have some major playoff implications.
- #13 LSU @ #21 Texas A&M (Thursday 11/27) - Since joining the SEC in 2012 the Aggies have yet to defeat the Tigers and that was with Johnny Cr'nack on the squad. I'm not sure if they can break that losing streak without him.
- #11 Stanford @ #7 UCLA - A possible preview for the Pac-12 championship game. Stanford has won the last 6 meetings.
- #6 Auburn @ #2 Alabama - The atmosphere in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be electric.
This is probably the most anticipated College Football Season in a long time. Many story lines, exciting rematches, and the birth of a new era in College Football. Questions still remain about the playoffs though. How will the committee select the 4 teams? What will be the criteria they use to select the 4 teams? One of my main concerns is that the committee will show favoritism to certain conferences and yes I am talking about the SEC. If the SEC is heavily represented in the 1st playoff then it will signal another corrupted system in College Football
Sugar Bowl: Florida State vs. Oklahoma
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Alabama
Here are my 4 teams and yes it is basically the top 4 teams in the preseason poll. I didn't take the easy way out but I truly believe these are the 4 best teams in the country. Do I believe all four will go undefeated? No, just because its rare for 4 teams to finish undefeated. Only 3 times since 2002 has 3 or more teams finish the regular season undefeated, only once has 4 teams finish undefeated (2009; Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati). Two of these teams will possibly finish with 1 loss and that will probably be Oregon and Alabama. Alabama has some tough conference games on the road and Oregon always seem to hiccup once it gets close to crunch time. Oklahoma and FSU both have average conference schedules that has some potential traps but not like Bama and Oregon.
I do believe more teams should be added. If you look outside of the top 4, you could argue for each team. I'm not a believer in picking the best teams on paper, especially when we're talking about declaring a national champion. On any given Saturday, any team can be beat, especially when the stakes are high. Name another playoff system in a major sport that only uses 4 teams? There are 115 FBS teams but yet only 4 are eligible to participate for a National Championship. I'm not saying that we should have a round of 64 but we definitely need more than 4 teams. Alabama loss their final two games of the season to teams that wasn't ranked in the preseason top 10 (Oklahoma ranked 16th and Auburn wasn't ranked), so lets not make it seem like there are only certain teams that could win it. Just look at the top ten teams and think about if they battled it out for a National Championship, definitely must see TV.