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College football preview: FBS

Quarterback Braxton Miller passes during Ohio State's 26-21 victory over Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

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Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 11:57 p.m.

BCS hopefuls


SEC (2012: 13-1)

Alabama has won three national championships in four seasons under coach Nick Saban. Winning a fourth title in five years could come down to how the Crimson Tide perform in three pivotal games: Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and LSU.OHIO STATE

Big Ten (2012: 13-0)

Last year's undefeated record may have been a tune-up for coach Urban Meyer, who is stocking his Big Ten roster with SEC-caliber talent. Quarterback Braxton Miller's continued development is critical if the Buckeyes expect to make a BCS title run.TEXAS A&M

SEC (2012: 10-2)

If Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is the best-known player in college football, offensive guru Kevin Sumlin is the most underrated coach in the country. Before Sumlin arrived, Manziel wasn't expected to start at A&M, much less win the Heisman.


Pac-12 (2012: 10-2)

Stanford is the West Coast version of Alabama, boasting a power ground attack and a defensive front straight out of the SEC. Kevin Hogan ended last season as the starting quarterback, going 5-0 against ranked teams.


Pac-12 (2012: 12-1)

Can new coach Mark Helfrich pick up where Chip Kelly left off? Although Helfrich has big shoes to fill, Kelly left him a boatload of talent, highlighted by quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Heisman hopefuls


South Carolia, junior, DE

Likely the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 NFL Draft he recorded 13 sacks and 23 12 tackles for loss to finish sixth in Heisman balloting a year ago. It won't hurt his chances that defensive players have recorded top five Heisman finishes in three of the past four seasons.


Ohio State, junior, QB

Already a dangerous runner, he should improve on the 2,039 yards he threw for last season. Playing for a legitimate national title contender following last year's 13-0 season only raises his Heisman stock.


Texas A&M, sophomore, QB

Based on his offseason activities, Manziel appears to be destined for self-destruction. On the field, however, Manziel's success a year ago is difficult to overlook: 3,706 passing yards, 1,410 rushing yards and 47 total touchdowns.


Louisville, junior, QB

Passing for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns in 2012 vaults Bridgewater into Heisman consideration for a team with national title aspirations.


Alabama, senior, QB

McCarron does more than manage the offense. He led the nation in passing efficiency last season and has a big-time target in Amari Cooper. Did we mention that all McCarron does is win?

5 games that could determine the title

SEPT. 14

Alabama at Texas A&M

It's never too early to play a big game, right? Alabama goes for revenge against the Aggies, and Johnny Football goes for two wins in a row against the Crimson Tide.

NOV. 7

Oregon at Stanford

This game could determine more than who wins the Pac-12. The winner could have the inside track of representing the conference in the national title game.

NOV. 9

LSU at Alabama

The past three regular-season games have been decided by a combined 10 points. Two years ago, No. 1 LSU beat No. 2 Alabama during the season, but Alabama beat LSU for the BCS title.

NOV. 23

Texas A&M at LSU

Both teams already will played Alabama, so the survivor could be in line not only for the SEC title but also, at least, a BCS at-large berth.

NOV. 30

Ohio State at Michigan

This could be a preview of the Big Ten championship game the following week. It also could end the national championship hopes for the loser and raise title hopes for the winner.

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