College football season is finally upon us. Familiar faces take shape in the top 10 of this year’s AP preseason poll, including one from the Pac-12.
1. University of Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are coming off its fifth Nation Championship title in the past nine years. Yet, that wasn’t the most relevant storyline in Bama’s offseason. Instead it was the quarterback controversy between dual-threat junior Jalen Hurts and National Championship hero Tua Tagovailoa. The week one starter has yet to be named but head coach Nick Saban will likely do just fine with either guy.
2. Clemson University Tigers
The Tigers are another elite program dealing with quarterback competition. Head coach Dabo Swinney must decide between senior Kelly Bryant and inexperienced yet talented freshman Trevor Lawrence. Regardless of which direction it goes, Clemson will hope to make it to the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive year.
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3. University of Georgia Bulldogs
It was nothing short of a heartbreaking 26-23 overtime loss for Georgia in the National Championship against their SEC rival, Alabama. Six Bulldogs proceeded to go pro in April, including defensive leader Roquan Smith. It is difficult to replace talent on both sides of the ball, but the Bulldogs managed to coalesce a talented recruiting class this year, signing seven 247Sports five-star recruits. Georgia hasn’t won a National Championship since 1980, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made a run this year.
4. University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers
The Badgers were one of the best teams last season but a loss against Ohio State put it just short from the College Football Playoffs. Heisman-hopeful, running back Jonathan Taylor, is coming off a successful freshman campaign, where he rushed for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns. If Taylor can emulate even close to that success this season and quarterback Alex Hornibrook continues to improve, Wisconsin could finally reach the playoffs.
5. The Ohio State University Buckeyes
OH – Uh-oh? Despite Ohio State coming off a season where it would most likely make the College Football playoffs if it beats Iowa, it has been a tough time for Buckeye Nation as of late. Head coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith are both currently suspended the first three games of the season regarding to the domestic assault allegations between former assistant coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife Courtney Smith. Next year’s potential No. 1 pick, Nick Bosa, stands to have a big year, but will outside drama doom the Buckeyes?
6. University of Washington Huskies
There are no qualms that Jake Browning, the first four-year starter in Huskies history, has the talent and experience to make the Huskies a true title contender this season. With a young receiving core around him, Browning will look to have a season much like the outbreak he had as a sophomore, where he won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and throwing for 43 TD’s and 9 Int (167.5 passing rating).
7. University of Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners were one of the most exciting teams in football last season, with Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield under center. Now, junior Kyler Murray is coming in to try to maintain their high-powered offense. Appearing in the College Football Playoffs twice in the past three years, the program has high expectations for this season. Other key players to watch are junior wide receiver Marquise Brown and redshirt junior running back Rodney Anderson.
8. University of Miami Hurricanes
Last season indicated “The U” was back after having an impressive 10-3 record. What separates Miami’s defense from others is its highly talented linebacking duo, consisting of Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney. Add in defensive back Jaquan Johnson to the mix and the Miami Turnover Chain will be seen plenty of times this year.
9. Auburn University Tigers
Nine Auburn players were named preseason All-SEC (none first-team). It is too early to know if that will translate to wins, but it shows that Auburn has many playmakers on both sides of the ball. Heisman hopeful quarterback Jarrett Stidham, will need to help guide his team to wins over Alabama (week 13), Georgia (week 11) and Washington (week 1) if Auburn wants to go the distance.
10. Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions
It will no longer be the Saquon Barkley show at Beaver Stadium, but the Nittany Lions will still have a solid chance at the Big Ten title. Penn State hasn't lost at home the past two years and only have one considerably tough game on the road (Michigan). Its schedule and all-around depth is what could ultimately separate this team in the top-heavy Big Ten. Having a top quarterback in Trace McSorley under center will help, too.
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