We are officially a few days away from the kickoff of college football, meaning that my Saturdays will soon become incredibly unproductive. Coaches are planning, players are practicing and fans are buying gear and beer in preparation for the season. Every team is hoping for success, and success requires proper motivation. Coaches often come up with motivational sayings or quotes to inspire their team to victory. Here’s a look at what the mottos for the Associated Press’ Top 25 teams should be this year.
1. Alabama-“Roll ‘Bama roll”
Alabama enters the season as the early preseason favorite and for good reason. The powerhouse program has won three of the past four national championships and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Head coach Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide rolling and you better ride the wave or get the hell out of the way.
2. Ohio State-“Win when it matters”
Ohio State couldn’t go to a bowl game last season, but Urban Meyer led them to an undefeated season. I would take that trade all day. Let’s see if the Buckeyes can repeat and get themselves into the national championship picture. Meyer began the string of seven consecutive championships for the SEC back in 2006, but his Ohio State team will need to win big if he hopes to end the SEC reign.
3. Oregon-“Win the day, especially when it’s in November”
Chip Kelly may be gone, but the Ducks still have high expectations for themselves. What has been the biggest downfall for the Ducks the past two years? How about losses in back-to-back years during mid-November. You don’t make the national championship game when you lose that late in the season.
4. Stanford-“Nerds do it better”
Just look in Sports Illustrated and see Stanford linebacker Shane Skov embrace his nerd-athletic freak combination. Not only can the Cardinal beat your football team, but they probably murdered your SAT score as well. David Shaw has run a hell of a program, keeping the Cardinal relevant through a coaching change and the loss of Andrew Luck. Stanford-Oregon will be one of the games of the year and just may be for a national championship berth.
5. Georgia-“Beware of Dawg”
The Bulldogs made it into the SEC Championship last year and very nearly knocked off Alabama. Georgia won games because of its offense and is bringing back 10 starters from that unit. Opposing teams’ defenses better be ready if they hope to stop the Bulldogs. Georgia will live or die though with its defense as eight new starters will have to face Clemson in their first game. If it makes it through the fire early, Georgia will emerge as a strong contender.
6. South Carolina- “WWCD-What would Clowney do”
Unless you haven’t seen SportsCenter in the past year, odds are you’ve seen Jadeveon Clowney’s ridiculous hit, forced fumble and bear-paw fumble recovery against Michigan last year. The future NFL No. 1 pick sets the tone for South Carolina and every player should try to mimic his inhuman athleticism. Steve Spurrier should tell every player to think what Clowney would do on the play — make the hit, grab the ball, dodge some bullets and score a touchdown. Clowney is so feared that he is the only man that can scream “go Cocks” while cheering for his team and no one will laugh. The Gamecocks have talent and that talent could lead them to a title game.
7. Texas A & M-“The Twelfth Man isn’t the guy asking for autographs.
Apparently Johnny Manziel thought the Twelfth Man was the guy who pays you for your autographs. Texas A&M is sitting in some hot water over the recent autograph fiasco and even implemented a new policy against signing memorabilia. The Aggies need to shift the media away from Manziel and focus on winning the SEC.
8. Clemson-“Live up to the expectations.”
The Clemson Tigers won 11 games last year and have earned themselves a No. 8 preseason ranking. If the Tigers can make it past Georgia in week 1, they will make a statement and start to expect more than just an ACC Championship. Clemson’s goal should be to the first team that comes to mind when someone says “the Tigers did well this week.” You’re ranked higher than LSU right now, try to keep it that way.
9. Louisville-“Never make an insurance claim.”
Lousiville’s hopes rest on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his $10 million insurance policy against a career-ending injury. If the Cardinals hope to enter the BCS picture, they’ll have to make sure that insurance policy never gets claimed. If you insured your expensive house, you better have a good fence around it. There will be a lot of pressure on Louisville’s offensive line to keep its house protected and safe.
10. Florida-“It’s MusCHAMP, not MusChump”
Nobody expected the Gators to go on the tear they did last year and coach Will Muschamp seems to know what he’s doing. Muschamp went 7-6 his first year, 11-2 his second, and he’s looking for a championship in his third.
11. Florida State-“I’m gonna get some cheeseballs anyway”
Jameis Winston has the potential to be this year’s Johnny Manziel, not only because his athleticism, but because he too has a huge personality. For instance, when asked if he would give up a national championship for a lifetime supply of cheeseballs (Winston is known to LOVE cheeseballs) he replied, “I would not, BUT I’m gonna get some cheeseballs anyway.” So, here’s to Winston leading Florida State to a national championship and getting those cheeseballs while providing us with more ridiculous quotes.
12. LSU-“We got Les but we need more offense”
The Tigers lost their games because of their lack of offense. The LSU defense was top 10 in nearly every defensive category and was the reason that it won as many games as it did. LSU needs Zach Mettenberger to play well and Cam Cameron needs to redeem himself for almost preventing the Ravens from winning the Super Bowl. The Tigers are going to need a little more go from the offense if fans hope to be cheering Geaux Tigers this season. We’ll find out their offensive skill early as the Tigers take on TCU in week 1.
13. Oklahoma State-“The best defense is having a good offense”
Oklahoma State better hope this is true because there are some major questions surrounding its defense this year. Its saving grace may be its offense where Jeremy Smith looks to continue where Joseph Randle left off and OSU’s endless supply of talented receivers continues with Josh Stewart. The Cowboys will need to avoid having their defense hold them back again this season if they hope to make any noise.
14. Notre Dame-“Play like a champion today, even though you couldn’t against Alabama”
Between the Manti Te’o embarrassment and the spanking put on Notre Dame by Alabama during the national championship, it’s easy to forget the Irish had an undefeated season. While the Irish went from unranked to BCS berth last year, they will need to do some serious praying if they hope to end up back there. Tommy Rees is back in the saddle at the quarterback position with Everett Golson suspended. Rees will need to vastly improve to give Notre Dame a 10-win season.
15. Texas-“Don’t mess with Texas, please Oklahoma?”
Few rivalries go as deep as the Red River rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. Texas fans are fine with not winning a championship, not winning 10 games and losing in a bowl game. However, they HATE losing to Oklahoma, and the Sooners have now crushed them two years in a row. If Mack Brown and the Longhorns don’t step it up against Oklahoma this year, expect some heads to roll.
16. Oklahoma-“Boomer! Let’s play Texas Sooner”
Oklahoma will aim to win the Big 12 and make it three in a row against Texas. Even more important is for the Sooners to get back in the BCS picture. The Sooners are now three years removed from their last BCS bowl. This Oklahoma team lacks the usual preseason hype. I don’t see it making too much noise in the BCS and think it’ll have its hands full against Texas this year. However, if it pummels Texas three years in a row, Bob Stoops will keep Sooner fans smiling.
17. Michigan-“Defend the Big House”
The schedulers looked kindly upon Michigan this year as they gave it Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all in Ann Arbor. If the Wolverines can manage to hold down the Big House, it’s easy to see them in the Big Ten championship and potentially the Rose Bowl. Expect the Michigan-Ohio State game to potentially shake up the BCS picture, and for the Big Ten championship to be a rematch of the two teams the next week.
18. Nebraska-“Pound the rock”
Not only is this a saying on the huge rock by the Cornhuskers locker room, but it should ring true this year. Nebraska’s offense looks to be the most dominant in the Big Ten and will put up points all year long. With Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell returning, the Huskers offense can be scary. The Huskers will move the ball, but their defense’s inability to stop it could ruin their season.
19. Boise State-“We still hate the BCS system”
It’s entirely possible for Boise State to go undefeated this year and still not make it to the BCS Championship game. Boise State moved to the Mountain West conference but its two most difficult games this year will be out of conference teams BYU and Washington. If you’re a good team joining a new conference, make it an automatic qualifier next time.
20. TCU-“No longer tadpoles, fear the Frogs”
TCU had a little bit of a rough introduction in its first year of the Big 12. The Horned Frogs will have an opportunity to make some noise early when they open the season against LSU. If TCU can beat LSU, they’ll set the tone for the rest of their season and put some fear in the rest of the Big 12 teams.
21. UCLA-“We want Mora what happened last year”
Last year was an incredible success for new UCLA coach Jim Mora. Mora won the Pac-12 South and defeated USC. UCLA fans couldn’t ask for much more. Mora may have a more difficult time winning this year with away games against Nebraska, Oregon, Stanford, and USC. Can UCLA beat USC in the Coliseum and show that LA’s football monopoly is over? Or was last year just a fluke?
22. Northwestern-“More is always better”
Northwestern had one of its best seasons last year and will try to build off of it. Northwestern takes the idea that more is better to heart. Not only does it hope for more wins, but its success comes from utilizing as many players as possible. Why use only one quarterback when you can use two? Let’s throw in three running backs and seven different receivers. The strategy kept opposing teams unprepared and uncomfortable, and Northwestern is hoping for more of what happened last year.
23. Wisconsin-“Jump Around”
Not only is Jump Around a stadium tradition for fans, but the Badgers will need to do it to be successful. With Montee Ball leaving to the NFL, Melvin Gordon and James White will attempt to replace the former leading rusher. If the ball hopes to move, the entire offense will need to jump around opposing defenders and into the endzone.
24. USC-“Fight On! And out of the embarrassment”
If it wasn’t for Marquise Lee, last year would have been an entire embarrassment for the USC football program. As a USC alumnus and fan, I watched my team plummet from preseason No. 1 to completely out of the rankings. Throw that in with an abysmal bowl performance and loss to UCLA and you have a failure of a season. Lee is arguably the most talented football player in the country and will be looking to further improve his draft stock this season. USC hit rock bottom last year, let’s see if it can fight its way back into the college football’s elite.
25. Oregon State-“Beavers are best at building”
The Oregon State Beavers had a quiet 9-4 season last year and will be hoping to build off that success. Mike Riley will have to show that last year wasn’t a fluke and that two teams may soon be relevant in Oregon. With games against Stanford, Oregon and USC, the Beavers will have their hands full.