With the kickoff of football season just weeks away, we took a look at some of the storylines we will be following during the upcoming season. Our hearts are pumping and anxious to spend Saturdays in the stands and on the couch following one of America’s most beloved sports.
1. Can Florida State Repeat?
On paper this seems to be an easy answer, but the college football season seldom goes as planned. Returning Heisman winner Jameis Winston at quarterback along with the entire starting offense line from a year ago means this offense will be just as lethal as a year ago. Last year Winston tossed an ACC record 40 TD passes en route to winning the national title and going undefeated. With the recruiting being stellar for the Seminoles over the past few years, the talent pool will remain deep and the skill positions will provide the depth needed. The ACC typically presents easier waters to navigate than most other divisions in college football, and this year should be no different.
2. Life after AJ McCarron at Alabama
Eyes will remain on Tuscaloosa yet again as the Tide looks to replace three year starter, AJ McCarron at Alabama. Lane Kiffin will now be running the offense, and with presumed starter Jacob Cooker who backed-up Jameis Winston last year at Florida State, has mighty big shoes to fill. McCarron accounted for 36 wins and 74 TD’s in his three years as a starter while leading the Crimson Tide to two national titles. Alabama comes into this year with the nation’s number one recruiting class and depth at every position, so there should be no drop off as long as this mix of talent blends well. The SEC will be a stellar conference yet again, which will mean there will be no room for slip-ups if this team wants to remain in the hunt for a third national title in the last four years.
3. Charlie Strong’s Revival of the Texas program
First year head coach, Charlie Strong, is used to winning everywhere he goes. After a successful stint at Florida as offensive coordinator, Strong took the reigns at Louisville and helped return the program to national prominence. Taking the job in Austin for the Longhorns this past offseason meant he would assume the highest expectations of his football career. What led Strong to taking the job at Texas has a lot to do with the dreadful 25-14 record by the Longhorns over the past three years. In a state where football is a way of life and possesses the most fertile recruiting grounds of any state, that just won’t fly.
4. The Year of the Duck
Time will tell if Mark Helfrich can be the man for the job in Eugene, but he certainly has pieces that can help him win now. Returning quarterback Marcus Mariota is 23-2 as a starter and had the second highest QBR last season behind only Heisman winner, Jameis Winston. The Ducks posses a variety of weapons in the deadly zone read offense that has consistently put up points in bunches. An early test this year in week two against Michigan State will give some insight into what this Oregon team may be capable of. If they can get past Sparty and shake the Cardinal demons from years past, this team might have what it takes to finally get back to the BCS Championship game.
5. Braxton and Bucky
The Buckeyes were one win away from playing for the BCS national title last year but had those hopes dashed by Michigan State in the Big 10 title game. Urban Meyer certainly knows how to build contenders wherever he goes, but he will need returning starter at QB, Braxton Miller, to play at the highest level of his career if they want in to the first year BCS College Football playoff. Undefeated regular seasons come at a premium in this day and age, and doing it two years in a row is almost unheard of, but that is what the fans in Columbus will demand.