College football preview: FBS
By John Harris
Published: Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 11:57 p.m.
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.
South Carolia, junior, DE
Likely the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 NFL Draft he recorded 13 sacks and 231⁄2 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Denver wife killed 12 minutes into 911 call, sparking inquiry
- Q&A with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
- Obama, House Republicans trade accusations in thwarting immigration reform
- Reward offered in six-year-old homicide in Clairton
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Peduto says Penguins playoff series will be economic boon
- Former heavyweight champ Tyson enjoying second act
- Legislative sting’s scope broad, diverse
- Collier Township’s use of solar energy recognized by state
- Elementary school program in Plum shows fun and math can be in same equation
- Quaker Valley’s young softball lineup gaining experience