Boys of fall prepare for new season
As fall camps get underway for college football teams all across the country, the time has come once again to take a look at the upcoming season.
Ohio State comes in as the top-ranked team in the nation in every major preseason poll. The Buckeyes return 15 starters from last season’s national championship team including running back Ezekiel Elliot and All-American defensive tackle Joey Bosa. The biggest game on the schedule for the Buckeyes is on November 21 when they host seventh-ranked Michigan State. Senior quarterback Connor Cook and a defense that has allowed just 18.3 points per game since 2010 lead Michigan State. Wisconsin is the only other Big Ten School in the Top 25 as they come in at 24.
Auburn is one of eight teams from the Southeastern Conference that are ranked in the Sports Illustrated Top 25-preseason poll. Junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson looks to help the Tigers bounce back from a disappointing 8-5 season that ended in an embarrassing loss to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. Alabama (5), Georgia (11), Ole Miss (13), Missouri (20), Arkansas (22), LSU (23), and Mississippi State (25) round out the rest of the teams from the SEC in the preseason poll.
TCU and Baylor come in at three and five, respectively. After getting left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff last season, both teams return a lot of playmakers and are headed for a major collision that could have Playoff implications on November 27 in Fort Worth.
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame start the season at No. 4 after a comeback win against LSU in the Music City Bowl. Led by quarterback Malik Zaire, the Irish return 18 starters and look to build off of a comeback win in the Music City Bowl against Auburn in 2014.
Led by senior quarterback Cody Kessler, the USC Trojans will start the season as the eighth-ranked team in the country. Kessler threw 39 touchdown passes in 2014 compared to just five interceptions and helped the Trojans earn a 45-42 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl to cap off an 8-5 season. Oregon (10), UCLA (14), Arizona (15), Arizona State (17), and Stanford (18) round out the rest of the Pac-12 teams in the preseason Top 25 polls.
Florida State comes in at No. 9 but has a tall task in replacing 11 NFL draftees including quarterback Jameis Winston. They have four new starters on the offensive line and must replace wide receiver Rashad Greene who set almost every school receiving record. Clemson (12) and Georgia Tech (19) are the other two Atlantic Coast Conference teams to crack the preseason Top 25 poll.
Boise State is the only team from a non-Power 5 conference to crack the preseason poll. The Broncos come in at 16 but have to replace running back Jay Ajai who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. They also have to travel to Logan to face Utah State and to Provo for a meeting with BYU.
With 16 returning starters, the University of Utah is looking to build upon their 9-4 record in 2014. It was their best season in the Pac-12 since joining the conference in 2011. Led by workhorse running back Devontae Booker and defensive lineman Hunter Dimick, the Utes will look to make noise in the Pac-12 South and compete for their first appearance in the Pac-12 Championship game. With a schedule that features games against Michigan, at Utah State, at Oregon, at USC, at Arizona, and a home contest against UCLA in November, the task is tall for the Utes.
BYU is looking to rebound from a disappointing 8-5 season that ended in a brawl against Memphis at the conclusion of the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl. Taysom Hill returns from a season-ending injury to lead an offense that features 6’5” receivers Mitch Matthews and Nick Kurtz on the outside and running backs Adam Hine, Algernon Brown, and Nate Carter. Sophomore linebackers Fred Warner and Harvey Langi along with defensive end Bronson Kaufusi anchor a BYU defense that surrendered 27.5 points per game and allowed 270 yards passing per game.
Chuckie Keeton returns to the Utah State University backfield and looks to lead the Aggies to a Mountain West Conference title and an invite to a New Year’s Six Bowl. Nick Vigil and Kyler Fackrell anchor the Aggie defense that finished last season among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Injuries played a part in the 2014 season for USU but they still went to their fourth straight bowl game and were victorious for the third consecutive year. One has to wonder how good they could have been had they stayed healthy. Most of those injured athletes are back as well as a strong recruiting class that was brought in this past offseason. They will help the Aggies continue their record-breaking run of consecutive bowl appearances.
I am 32 years old, love the Chicago Cubs. A huge lego maniac and love to crochet team blankets (just ask, cool stuff)!! I have a passion for sports and a passion to write about them.