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
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Stage volunteer dies following collapse at Pine-Richland High School
- Top pitching prospect Taillon’s time with Pirates must wait a bit
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- Missing hikers found in McConnells Mill State Park
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Pirates notebook: Martin finding power stroke
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh