Names to know-College Football

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​We are three weeks through the college football season and there are plenty of players catching fans’ attention. While everybody was focused on Texas A&M vs. Alabama last weekend, Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron weren’t the only players to shine.  This week we’ll take a look on some lesser-known players whose name you should know by now and look forward to watching for the rest of the year.

Jameis Winston-Florida St

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​Before this season began, the only reason I had heard of Jameis Winston were because of his ridiculous quotes. Sure, he had some absurd athletic talent, but his sound bits were hilarious. He said to reporters, “if I get Manziel disease, I want everyone of you to get your mics and start slapping me on the head.” The Florida State QB is known to have a love of cheese balls and when asked if he would give up a national championship for a lifetime supply of cheese balls he had to think about but then said, “I would not, BUT I’m gonna get some cheese balls anyway.” A championship may not seem too far-fetched as the Seminoles are currently ranked No. 10 in the AP poll.
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To call Winston efficient would be an understatement. The kid is damn near perfect. In his two games as starter he has completed 40 of 45 passes for 570 yards. That’s an 88.9% completion percentage, or the percentage of fucks to total words in Bo Pelini’s leaked audiotape. He has a 234.8 passer rating and has scored eight touchdowns. If you didn’t notice, he has more touchdowns than incompletions. If you somehow have not heard of Winston yet, you better start paying attention. He’s dove headfirst into the Heisman conversation and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable with putting Winston on a pedestal after two games. In Jameis’ own words, “I could make you [a white reporter] feel at home in a black church.” The guy is hard to not like, and impossible to ignore.

Brett Hundley-UCLA

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​Brett Hundley may not be a stranger to fans of schools in the Pac-12, but he’s starting to become more known on the national stage. UCLA’s comeback against Nebraska on national television gave him the stage to make his name known. Hundley threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns and has UCLA ranked No. 13 in the AP poll. Hundley has 124 yards rushing this season with two touchdowns to go along with his 585 passing yards and five touchdowns.
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He’s not busting into the Heisman conversation, but he is making a name for himself. Hundley has achieved something that seemed impossible a few years ago — he has UCLA considered the better Los Angeles football team. As a USC fan, that’s what hurts the most.

Blake Bell-Oklahoma

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Texas A&M vs Oklahoma
​He had never started a game and Blake Bell made sure that it would be hard to not let him start another. The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder started Oklahoma’s game against Tulsa after starter Trevor Knight was injured. Bell laid a beating down on Tulsa, giving the Sooners a 51-20 victory. Although previously thought of as a bruiser and dual-threat quarterback, Bell looked at home in the pocket. Bell completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns.
Blake Bell
Bell had lost the quarterback competition against the freshman Knight during the offseason, but he seems to have gotten it back with his performance. Bell will be the starting QB when Oklahoma goes against Notre Dame this weekend giving him another chance to make his name known to college football fans.

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Tye Masters
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The Hot Seat: Lane Kiffin & Mack Brown

LANE-KIFFIN-USC-PRESS-CONFERENCELane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin threw some gasoline in the fire when the Trojans fell 10-7 against Washington State at home, in the Coliseum. Then ranked 25 USC were 15-point favorites over the Cougars and a win seemed obvious in their home opener. The Trojan loyal were shocked, disappointed, and pissed as a team that once dominated the PAC-10 fell to a team that had won 3 away games in five years. Two words echoed throughout the Coliseum as the clock wound down and the Trojans fled the field-“Fire Kiffin”. Pat Haden has shut out the sounds of Trojan fans calling for Kiffin’s job previously, but he can’t ignore 90,000 chanting for him to be gone.

This time last year, Kiffin was coaching the number 2 ranked team in the country. The Matt Barkley led offense teemed with potential and the Trojans seemed poised to return to their former glory. Then came a loss to Stanford, another to Arizona, then Oregon, UCLA, and Notre Dame. The season culminated in an humiliating loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl were the Trojan players looked undisciplined, uncaring, selfish, and embarrassed. The frustrated players even had a locker room fight post game during which Kiffin probably hid behind his dad. The 2012 Trojans became the first team to be ranked #1 in the preseason AP poll to fall out of the top 25 entirely by season’s end. Kiffin had lost both his season and his the confidence of his team. Despite making history, and losses to rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, Pat Haden said he was 100% behind Lane Kiffin at the start of the 2013 season.

Kiffin’s coaching failures began even before the season started. The guy couldn’t even name a starting quarterback until week 3 of the college football season. It’s not like Kiffin didn’t know that Matt Barkley was leaving and that a new quarterback would need to be ready come this season. Kiffin has had THREE YEARS to decide who will follow Barkley and it still wasn’t enough time. When USC enjoyed success under Pete Carroll, the next quarterback was always ready to take over. The transition was smooth from Carson Palmer, to Matt Leinhart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, and finally Matt Barkley. It’s also not a good idea to fail to name a starting quarterback when you have the best receiver in college football on your team. Marquis Lee wanted to be able to establish chemistry with his quarterback before the season started. When asked about the quarterback situation preseason, Lee said that “This is crazy. I am still waiting” and was hoping for it to be decided before the preparation for Hawaii began. Lee began the season as a Heisman candidate but only has 15 receptions for 131 yards and zero touchdowns through two games. Kiffin’s inability to name a starter early has hurt Lee’s campaign and one of the weakest offenses in Trojan history.

kiffinOne highlight of this season has been the Trojan’s defense under new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Pat Haden kicked one Kiffin to the curb and has seen immediate improvement, so why wouldn’t shouldn’t kicking another help? Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was blamed for many of the 2012 problems and was replaced by Pendergast this season, and what a change it has been. USC ranks first in rushing defense (15 yards per game) and sacks (11), and 11th in total defense. The defense has allowed only one touchdown in the two games that they’ve played. Kiffin can put absolutely NO blame on his defense and its looking like it may not have been the main problem last year. The loss to Washington State came from Kiffin’s inability to call offensive plays and properly scheme.  USC’s two quarterbacks threw for a combined 54 yards and the rushing game ended with 139 total yards. Boos filled the Coliseum with every bubble screen and the refusal to make plays downfield. The Trojan offense could only get one touchdown on a team that previously allowed 31 points to Auburn. Kiffin’s play calling was more conservative than Dick Cheney and lacked any creativity.  The only way he could get the Trojan faithful cheering was when they shouted for him to be fired in unison.  The loss to Washington State falls entirely on Lane Kiffin and his seat can’t get any hotter.

It came out today that USC had a players only meeting following the loss to WSU. Kiffin wasn’t told and Marquis Lee said that it was about “staying positive and moving forward.” He said that “Kiffin don’t know nothing about it” and that it was a meeting for the players to discuss the future. There seems to be a lot of things “Kiffin don’t know nothing about,” such as players meetings, coaching, and keeping his team motivated and disciplined. Unless there is a massive turnaround for the Trojans, Kiffin will be left behind as USC moves forward.

Mack Brown

mackclaphd_1360938a Lane Kiffin isn’t the only big name coach moving towards the door. Mack Brown and Texas took a rough 40-21 loss to BYU this past weekend. BYU Quarterback Taysom Hill racked up 259 yards and embarrassed the 15 ranked Longhorns. Rather than take responsibility, Mack Brown deflected attention over to his defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz was fired earlier this week and replaced by Greg Robinson. After their performance against BYU, the new coordinator might want to put an emphasis on tackling. This basic fundamental of football seems absent in Texas right now. Anyway you look at it though, Mack Brown is running out of people to put the blame on and Texas is moving in the wrong direction.

Texas is in the recruiting hotbed of the football world and its head coaching position has long been considered the best in all of college football. Mack Brown seemed destined to remain the Longhorns coach after multiple national championship appearances and his ass had been kissed more by UT boosters than the Blarney Stone. Texas’ mediocre performance these past few seasons have changed all that. The University of Texas doesn’t tolerate mediocrity, they expect to be in the BCS picture every year. Even more damning to Brown and the Longhorns is that they are no longer considered the top dog in Texas.

Texas A&M had long been considered the little brother of UT and a second thought to Texas football. Johnny Football and Texas A&M’s surge in the college rankings have changed all that. Texas A&M even out-recruited Texas in 2013, snagging the #11 recruiting class compared to Texas’ #24 recruiting class according to Rivals rankings.  If Texas continues to be outperformed by A&M, all of those talented Texas recruits may look towards becoming Aggies rather than Longhorns. A&M is clearly moving in the right direction while Texas continues to flounder. The University of Texas has a reputation of being the elite Texas college, but that reputation may very well be in jeopardy.

Mack_BrownMack Brown is one of the most respected coaches in all of college football, but no one is irreplaceable (except maybe Saban). Brown is slowly running out of excuses, and he needs to get his team to perform the rest of this season if he hopes to save his job. There’s a sense of desperation in Texas as the Longhorns are reaching for any reason to explain their recent downturn. Eventually, Mack Brown will run out of any excuse beside himself for Texas’ performance. Fans and boosters will start to look for a change at the top in order to regain the prestige UT is accustomed too. However, Brown and Kiffin can turn down the fire that’s warming up their chairs. College football fans have short-term memories-if you win, all is forgiven. Both coaches are playing with fire and the rest of this college football season will show who gets burnt.

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Tye Masters
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College Football or Johnny Football

heisman-johnny-manziel-football_jpeg8-1280x960The college football season kicked off this weekend and the opening week did not disappoint. In the weekend’s biggest game, Tajh Boyd and Clemson outgunned Georgia in an early season showdown. Teddy Bridgewater showed why people are talking about Louisville this season. Alabama’s special teams and defense outscored its offense. Seven FBS schools that scheduled FCS opponents for easy wins were shocked in upsets. And the most polarizing figure in college football made sure he continued to be talked about. Even though it was the first week of college football, the entire week was more about Johnny Football. Let’s look at this week in the Manziel saga.

 

 

THE SUSPENSION:   

Dez Bryant has lunch with Deion Sanders:

Suspended entire season

 

Terrelle Pryor and four other teammates sell rings, jerseys, and awards for tattoos:

Five players suspended for five games, Ohio State later receives bowl ban.

 

Reggie Bush and his family receive money from sports agents Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels:

USC receives two-year bowl ban, reduction of 10 scholarships a year over three years, four years probation, has BCS title vacated, and Bush has his Heisman revoked.

 

Johnny Manziel allegedly sells autographed memorabilia to broker:

Half-game suspension against the Rice Owls.

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Manziel began his week by bending over the NCAA. When the news dropped about Johnny Football’s suspension, everyone was thinking the same thing: that the NCAA infractions  committee is a hollow organization that operates under no standards absent a double-standard.  Am I mad that Manziel only received a 30-minute ban despite pretty strong circumstantial evidence? No, I’m even in favor of college players being able to profit from their talents. I mean the NCAA, colleges and everyone else is profiting from them, so why shouldn’t they? Manziel is truly a once in a generation college football player. Not only can he make a joke out of opposing team defenses, he can make a joke out of college’s leading organization. Apparently, Manziel can show the weaknesses of the NCAA as easily as he shows the weakness in other defenses.

The first weakness of the NCAA is that the NCAA has the investigative prowess of Helen Keller. Texas A&M and Manziel gladly accepted the half game suspension, basically admitting that Manziel violated NCAA rules in some way. Why take a punishment if you did nothing wrong? You can’t drop the hammer on someone when you don’t even have a hammer. Everyone on the NCAA investigative committee must have been the worst hide-and-seek players of all time, because they are incapable of finding anybody. To avoid embarrassment, the NCAA had to hand down some sort of punishment after it became apparent that Manziel received money for his autograph. A&M danced at the idea of a 30-minute punishment, and the NCAA showed itself capable of slapping wrists despite a high-profile case. Once Manziel received his punishment, I’m sure he called Cam Newton and they had a good laugh about the investigative powers of the NCAA.

The next weakness is that college football marketability and profitability overrule NCAA ethics. The NCAA couldn’t afford to hand down a harsh punishment to Manziel.  Texas A&M will be playing Alabama in two weeks and every fan of college football demands Manziel to be in that game. That marquee game becomes ignored if Johnny Football doesn’t play. Big time players just don’t miss big time games. Look at the case of Newton. Newton was ruled ineligible for an entire day before being reinstated prior to the SEC Championship game and continuing to the National Championship.  Pryor and other would be suspended players were handed down their punishments prior to Ohio State’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The NCAA however ruled that the players’ suspensions wouldn’t begin until AFTER the big-time game. The supposed ethical standards that the NCAA pursues can take a backseat when money comes into the picture. But hey, what can you expect from an organization that had Paul Dee as its committee on infractions chairman. Yes, the same Paul Dee that was athletic director of Miami during the Nevin Shapiro scandal (in which Miami players received benefits such as cash, prostitutes, parties and even an abortion) was the chairman of the committee that handed USC its crippling suspension. I don’t know if any of these people should be preaching about ethical standards.

THE GAME:

Manziel began and ended the game against Rice in timeout. Manziel served his suspension in the first half of the game and entered the second half with his team up by a touchdown. Manziel did exactly what everyone expected him to do once in the game. Manziel completed 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also scrambled for 19 yards on 6 carries. You can’t find much to complain about when a guy scores three touchdowns in a quarter-and-a-half. This is Johnny Football we’re talking about though, there has to be something for people to argue about. Manziel didn’t disappoint as he proceeded to talk shit to a Rice player and then point to the scoreboard, earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the process. He then proceeded to arrogantly walk by his coach and take a spot on the bench. Matt Joeckel went back in for the final series of the game but you can’t argue that this is Manziel’s team.

Manziel is one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football and he knows it. He’s arrogant, egotistical and young. At the same time he’s a great leader, team player and aggressive. This young quarterback has the entire nation forming an opinion about him. Manziel’s teammate best expressed why people love him after the Rice game.  A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi said, “He’s a fiery guy; that’s what we love about him. He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s going to be loud and aggressive, and that’s what makes him Johnny Football.” Manziel’s aggressive, loud and in-your-face personality has won him millions of fans. Johnny Football is living the dream of every college guy. He’s a top quarterback, a celebrity and does pretty much whatever he wants. If you told me I was the best player in college football at the age of 19, I’d probably make some poor decisions too.

The same antics that have won over millions, have condemned him in the minds of millions of other fans.  They see him as a careless, selfish and pompous young kid given the Heisman too early. No matter your opinion, nobody can argue the fact that everyone is completely fascinated by Johnny Football. College football fans around the world will tune in to see what happens next in the Manziel saga and watch him play. Love him or hate him, you can’t escape him. He’s at the very center of the college football universe and there is no bigger story. It’s early in the season and all we need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride that is Johnny Football. College football is Manziel’s world right now, the rest of us are just part of it.

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Tye Masters
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Good,Better,Best:The Heisman Race

2011 Heisman Trophy Winner Portraits

Every year, there’s a player that takes over college football and shines above the rest.  It’s hard to predict who will be best player in college football this year. After all, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton weren’t even on the preseason radar in the years that each of them won. The Heisman Trophy is one of the most exclusive fraternities in sports, and if you are deemed to be the best college football player, your name will forever be followed by “Heisman Trophy winner” (unless you’re Reggie Bush).

One can’t help but notice though that eight of the last 10 winners in the past decade have been quarterbacks, with the other two being running backs. So, is the award really given to the best player in college football? You can’t dismiss the argument that the Heisman has turned into a popularity contest given to the player marketed best on the best team. There is no way that in the history of the Heisman Trophy that the best player in college football was not a pure defensive player. Hell, I remember how dominant Ndamukong Suh was in 2009. He won the AP Player of the Year, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy Award, but finished decisively fourth in Heisman voting. Now Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart and Colt McCoy were all good and dominant players, but you can’t say that they were decisively better football players than Suh. This might be the year the bias against defensive players changes. If young Jadaveon Clowney can perform like he did last season and match the hype, we may have our first pure defensive player win the award.

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Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina

Position: Defensive End

2012 Statistics: 54 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

I don’t know if there has been a pure defensive player ever more poised to snag the Heisman Trophy than Clowney, who should be considered the best college football player hands down. Clowney’s hit against Michigan’s Vincent Smith during the 2013 Outback Bowl has gone viral and served as a coming out party to the world. Only a sophomore last year, Clowney wrecked opposing offensive lines, having half of his tackles go for a loss and recording 13 sacks. Clowney blew through double teams and may have been the No. 1 overall pick if he was able to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft. Even more impressive is the fact that he is setting sights on Derrick Thomas’ 27-sack single-season record and no one is doubting that it’s within possibility. If Clowney can have another highlight like he did against Michigan, he very well may get the hype to overcome the bias towards offensive players.

Heisman Make or Break Game:

Sept 27: South Carolina at Georgia

Clowney has a steep enough hill to climb by becoming the first ever purely defensive Heisman winner. If he stumbles out of the gate early against the No. 5 team in the country, that hill might just become impossible.

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Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Position: Quarterback

2012 Statistics: 3706 passing yards, 1410 rushing yards,  47 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 155.5 QBR

Manziel may have had some off-season issues but don’t doubt that the guy will be able to play come September. Manziel led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman trophy. Manziel has the Aggies carrying a No. 7 preseason ranking and in talks of a national title. So long as Manziel can avoid “Manziel disease” (a reference by other players such as Florida State QB Jameis Winston to the off-the-field issues) he could retain his Heisman belt.  So long as Manziel can avoid taking pictures with money, getting drunk the night before he has to do something and getting filmed signing autographs while talking about cash, he should be fine.

Heisman Make or Break Game:

Johnny Manziel at the bar

Manziel’s biggest opponent this year is going to be himself and his off-the-field issues. If Manziel can keep his name in the headlines for his football performance rather than his off-field antics, he’ll have a chance at back-to-back Heismans.

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Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Position: Quarterback

2012 Statistics: 2039 passing yards, 1271 rushing yards, 28 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 140.5 QBR

In case you didn’t notice because of their bowl ban, the Buckeyes went undefeated last season. That record has given them the No. 2 preseason ranking. Miller may not have the greatest arm but he thrived under Urban Meyer’s system. If Meyer has shown us anything, it’s that he can make a Heisman Trophy winner out of a quarterback who can’t even throw. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow still can’t throw but was one of the most dominant college football players of this generation. He may have turned Patriots preseason camp into a game of Survivor with everyone wondering when Bill Belichick will vote him off the island, but the guy could play college ball. If Meyer can have Miller lead Ohio State to back-to-back undefeated seasons, he’ll be a marquee name come Heisman time.

Heisman Make or Break Game:

November 30: Ohio State at Michigan

If Ohio State rolls into Michigan undefeated with Miller at the helm, this game will be enormous for his Heisman considerations. If Miller has a huge performance in prime-time, against a ranked Michigan team, in one of the most difficult places to play in college football, and with national championship implications, you can put his name on the Heisman.

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A.J. McCarron, Alabama

Position: Quarterback

2012 Statistics: 2933 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 175.3 QBR

McCarron officially lives every man’s dream.  He has a smoking hot girlfriend, two national championship rings and is quarterback for the No. 1 team. People may say Alabama’s running game and defense wins its championships, but McCarron has played well during his time at Alabama. If you look at the 30 touchdowns to 3 interceptions you cannot ignore his skill and success within the system he plays. If McCarron keeps the Tide rolling and gets his third national championship, no one will say that he isn’t integral to that team.

Heisman Make or Break Game:

September 14: Alabama at Texas A&M

Last year, Manziel made his Heisman highlight when he single-handedly manhandled Alabama in its own house.  McCarron will need to establish himself early and return the favor to Manziel as the Crimson Tide head to A&M. If McCarron outguns Manziel, not only do the Tide knock off the No. 7 team in the nation, but McCarron knocks Johnny Football down in the Heisman standings early.

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Marqise Lee, University of Southern California

Position: Wide Receiver

2012 Statistics: 118 receptions, 1721 receiving yards, 856 kickoff return yards, 14 receiving touchdowns, 1 kickoff return touchdown

If one positive thing can be taken out of USC’s season last year, it’s the play of Lee. Lee emerged as one of the most dangerous players in all of college football, snagging the Biletnikoff Award as college’s best receiver. Lee has more potential to score than Ryan Gosling in a sorority house. Lee’s only disadvantage though is that he can’t get snapped the ball, and USC plans to play two quarterbacks in its opener against Hawaii. Lee can make a strong argument for being the best player in ALL of college football, and if he doesn’t win the award, it may be more the fault of his QB than his own.

Heisman Make or Break Game

November 16: USC vs. Stanford

USC gets to play Stanford in the Coliseum during mid-November. Stanford enters the season as the No. 4 team with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. If Lee is high in the Heisman polls and can dominate against a stout Stanford defense, the voters will have to pay attention to the wide out. Stanford coach David Shaw will have his defense keyed on Lee as Shaw has referred to Lee as the best receiver he’s seen since scouting Randy Moss. The Trojans will get him the ball, it will be up to Lee to perform.

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Other Contenders: Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Tahj Boyd (Clemson), Aaron Murray (Georgia)

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College Football Top 25 Team Mottos

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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.

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