The most entertaining season of them all is finally here, College Football. Last season we were finally blessed with a playoff system which I was initially skeptical about, but by season end, was satisfied with the results. My only gripe with the system is it only includes 4 teams. Baylor and TCU were left out of the playoff party, even though both were ranked high and only had one loss. The Big 12 conference not having a championship game was the main reason why both teams were outside looking in.
This season, I expect the same drama and controversy.
- Ohio State won't be the sleeper anymore, so I'm curious to see if anyone can make that same run come playoff time. If I had to choose a team off the top of my head, it would be Michigan, only reason why is because of their new head coach, but that's just my educated guess. So with all that being said, Welcome back to The Weekend.
Ohio State comes in the season ranked #1 unanimously, receiving all 61 media votes. The Buckeyes will not surpirse anyone this season, and neither will Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett. As of August 24th 2015, the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes is still unknown. We do know that Braxton Miller will be lining up at wide receiver which I suggested back in January after they defeated the Ducks. No matter who take the snaps for the Buckeyes, they will be one of the best scoring offenses in the country. Urban Meyer is calling the plays and they have Heisman front-runner, Ezekiel Elliot, running the ball which will open things for everyone else, like it did in the final 3 games of the season.
TCU at #2 is a little shocking to me, only because I didn't think the voters would be that high on the Horned Frogs after they lost 6 starters on defense. They will have to replace the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Paul Dawson who led the team in tackles, tackles for loss (20) and was 2nd in sacks and interception. That's a lot of production you have to replace. TCU for the last few years has been known for their 4-2-5 defense implemented by head coach Gary Patterson, but this season it will be the offense that will drive the Horned Frogs to a potential trip to the National Championship.
The most important returning starter is Trevone Boykin. Boykin broke the school record for most passing yards with 3,901 yards and 33 touchdowns. Boykin will need a Heisman-caliber season for the Horned Frogs to make it to the title game but he proved last season with 42 total touchdowns that he is capable of doing such. TCU will have a tough season opener in Minnesota but they won't see another true challenge until later in the season when they face Oklahoma and Baylor in the final two weeks of the season.
Michigan State is another team that I am surprised to see high in the rankings. They finished the 2014 season ranked 7th in the AP Polls with a 10-2 record. The Spartans only two losses came against playoff teams, Ohio State and Oregon. They will play their home-opener against the Ducks, which should be good one – I'm sure East Lansing will be rocking, giving the Ducks a nice welcome. Reason why I'm shocked to see Sparty ranked 5th is because, similar to the Horned Frogs, they lost a lot of production but on the offensive side of the ball. Connor Cook is still the play-caller but he lost his leading rusher, Jeremy Langford, and top receivers, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphrey. Michigan State's offense was never potent but they did have a top tier run game, and still should. Majority of the offensive line is returning; and offensive line that only allowed 11 sacks all season and blocked for Langford who scored 22 rushing touchdowns.
The schedule for the Spartans is well in their favor, only two ranked teams on the schedule; except those two ranked teams are #1 Ohio State and #7 Oregon. They will have tough trips to Ann Arbor in mid-October and Lincoln, Nebraska in early November. An early win against Oregon should give the Spartans momentum to hopefully build for an epic battle on November 21st in Columbus.
The Ducks will come in at #7, their lowest ranking since 2010. I'm expecting this to be a rough season for the Ducks because they will have a new QB and one of their running backs will miss the season due to shoulder surgery. Vernon James Jr. and Jeff Lockie were fighting for the starting QB position but James Jr. has been named the starter. This is a transition period for the Ducks losing the bulk of the offense, Marcus Mariota, every school experience this. If James can have a great season, then I can see the Ducks making some noise. As of now though, I think this will be a rough year for the Ducks of Oregon.
Games to watch:
- #2 TCU @ Minnesota (Thursday 9/3) – The first test for the Horned Frogs with a tough game on the road against the Golden Gophers.
- Michigan @ Utah (Thursday 9/3) – The beginning of the Jim Harbaugh Era.
- #20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama, Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas – Last season the Badgers loss a heartbreaker to LSU on neutral grass, this time they'll look to walk out of "Jerry's World" with a victory over the top school in the SEC.
- #1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech – Revenge will be on the minds of the Buckeyes.
- #19 Oklahoma @ #25 Tennessee – This should be a good one. Both squads are looking to emerge back into the national scene and a victory for either will provide great momentum for the rest of the season.
- #7 Oregon @ #5 Michigan State – Last season, the Spartans traveled to Eugene to play the Ducks, giving up 28-unanswered points in the second half. The Ducks will be walking into a raucous atmosphere.
- #6 Auburn @ #14 LSU – Last time these two played, Auburn smashed LSU 41-7 on their home soil. Rankings won't matter in this SEC showdown.
- #13 UCLA @ #21 Arizona – The Bruins are returning majority of their offense except Brett Hundley. Pat Forde picked the Bruins to be in the 4-team playoff at the end of the year. A conference battle on the road will let us know early how good this team is.
- #8 USC @ #15 Arizona State – The loser of this game will go on to have a rough season, mark my words.
- #3 Alabama @ #9 Georgia – Expect a very physical game between these two. Also two very good running backs will be featured, Derrick Henry for the Tide and Nick Chubb for the Bulldogs.
- #12 Notre Dame @ #11 Clemson – The last time these two played was 1979 and before that 1977. No set time for kickoff but my guess will be in the evening, under the lights, in front of a Sold Out Death Valley crowd.
- #5 Michigan State @ Michigan - By this time of the season, I think the Wolverines will have cracked the top 25. This will not be an easy game for the Spartans.
- #8 USC @ #11 Notre Dame – One of the best rivalries in College Football. Hopefully both teams can keep their high rankings when this game approaches, one week before the playoff rankings are released.
- #7 Oregon @ #17 Arizona State – The Ducks always struggle against the teams from Arizona. Depending on how well James Jr. will be playing, this could be a tough outing for the Ducks.
- # 17 Ole Miss @ #6 Auburn – I'm not really sure how good Auburn is and if they can have a dominant performance at home against the Rebels, I can see them with a higher ranking going into week 10.
- #10 Florida State @ #12 Clemson – As a Florida State fan, I always consider Clemson our toughest game, no matter who is on the schedule, especially when the game is being played in Death Valley.
- #2 TCU @ Oklahoma State – Potential Trap Game.
- #14 LSU @ #3 Alabama – The most physical rivalry in college football.
- #19 Oklahoma vs #4 Baylor – You might as well not pay attention to the rankings for this game, with playoff implications on the line, the Bears are going to have their hands full with the Sooners.
- #9 Georgia @ #6 Auburn – Life in the SEC never gets easy. Week after week there is a great risk of you taking a loss.
- #3 Alabama @ Mississippi State – Potential Trap Game
- #8 USC @ #7 Oregon – This game will have playoff implications but I'm not sure if either team in good enough to make a run for the playoffs.
- #2 TCU @ #19 Oklahoma – Oklahoma has the opportunity to upset both top-five Big 12 teams in back to back weeks.
- #5 Michigan State @ #1 Ohio State – The Buckeyes defeated the Spartans, giving them their second loss, and ending their playoff hopes. Both will be in the playoff situation, but a loss would be end both of their go home.
- #1 Ohio State @ Michigan - Coach Harbaugh went 2-0 against the Buckeyes as a player. He will look to create a new streak for the Wolverines, who has only won 3 games since 200 against the Buckeyes.
- #4 Baylor @ #2 TCU – Last time these two played, a total of 119 points was scored between the two. Expect the same high-scoring action.
- #3 Alabama @ #6 Auburn – Winner of this game will walk into the SEC Championship.