Remember that scene in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York where Kevin McCallister gets a limo and his very own cheese pizza, compliments of the Plaza Hotel--New York's finest hotel experience--?. The look on Kevin's face and pouring Coke into a champagne glass en route to Duncan's Toy chest is what college football is like for me. The pinnacle of happiness. That happiness begins today.
1. Florida State:
Not to get all #HotSportsTakes on you, but if you look at the Seminoles, it's nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which they don't get a chance to defend their title in the Championship game, let alone make the playoffs. Crab leg jokes aside, Jameis is the frontrunner for the Heisman, and seeing as how Florida State is in a damn good position to go undefeated in the regular season, there's a pretty good chance he could do it again. So not only do you have the best player and reigning Heisman winner--Florida State's offensive line are also the creme de le creme. The defense is rebuilding--a defense that ranked in the Top-Five in nearly ten defensive categories--but I think they'll be fine.
Preseason Status: Burgundy.
Sometimes I think college football is scripted. Lane Kiffin to Alabama is almost too perfect. There's a negative connotation to the term system quarterback--but it's worked out pretty well for Alabama in the Saban-era. The offensive identity will only become more refined with Kiffin. A lot of Bama's success will depend on Florida State transfer and Kiffin's first project, Jake Coker. You'd have to wonder why Kiffin would ever want to be anything other than Saban's number two. He's a solid coordinator, he's an even better recruiter, and he's a terrible head coach. Winning a National Championship, or three, sounds a lot better than literally being left on the curb like garbage. Saban and Kiffin is beautifully disgusting. College football needs villains.
Preseason Status: Draper
3. Michigan State:
I really wanted to vote the Spartans number one. Braxton Miller's tragic season-ending injury will deny us of a more exciting Big 10 narrative for 2014. Now that Bucks are more likely to be a 9 win team--as opposed to a playoff contender--the truth is able to come out. Even with Braxton Miller, Michigan State was the best team in the conference. By season's end, they'll be saying "Told ya so".
Preseason Status: Heisenberg.
With FSU losing a handful of guys on defense, Oklahoma became every contrarian's number one pick. Mike Stoops has nearly perfected his defense, now all eyes will be on Trevor Knight. The dominating Sugar Bowl win against Alabama has been divisive for Oklahoma. On one hand, they played an amazing game. They beat the team who many thought, despite the last second loss to Auburn, should've played for the National Championship. Thus Alabama's Sugar Bowl was nothing more than a consolation, so they must've half-assed the game, right? You see, even when you beat Alabama...they still beat you.
Preseason Status: "Please, have you seen our preseason love?" Aka: not-so-cautiously optimistic.
Can the magician do it again? If you want to read something brilliant on how Gus Malzahn's offense works, look no further than Ian Boyd's brilliant piece.
Preseason Level: F---Bama!!! WMFE!!!
Entering the second year removed from the Chip Kelly-era, it's still hard to predict Oregon's footprint for the future. But for now...Mariotta is God.
Preseason Status: Quack.
Creeping up on a decade, Stanford is currently doing everything Notre Dame's wanted to do the past twenty-five years. Elite academics. Elite football.
Preseason Status: Still Good. Still smart.
College football in LA is a pendulum. Or so it's seemed. But as we begin the Mora vs Sarkisian chapter, we could finally see USC and UCLA playing each while they're both at a high level. Mora's been brilliant in LaLa Land. Not to mention, they have my two favorite non-TCU players; Myles Jack and Brett Hundley. Also calling Myles Jack as my sleeper Heisman pick.
Preseason Status: Myles Jack.
Here's where problems arise. Because I write about, and went to TCU, when I say that Baylor will "take a step back", non-TCU fans take it with a grain of salt. As they should. We know that Bryce Petty is amazing. We know that even without Cy Richardson--Spencer Drango and the offensive line will dominate in the trenches. We know that they have an army of receivers and an offense that could put up 100-points on Buffalo. But here's the rub. Beyond skating past their non-conference schedule, the Bears will face off against a Big 12 that will be loaded on offense this year. And Baylor's losses on secondary in an Air-Raid conference may not make things as pretty as they were in 2013.
Preseason Status: Baylor
10. South Carolina
In the Spurrier era-Always really good, but never great. No Sugar Bowls. No National Championships. But high rankings and one of kind talents like Jadaveon Clowney, gritty mercenaries like Connor Shaw, and the Ol' Ball Coach, have always made South Carolina a lot of fun to watch.
Preseason Status: Spurrier
|1. Florida State (3)||75|
|3. Michigan State||63|
|10. South Carolina||47|
|13. Ohio State||37|
|14. Kansas State||25|
|17. Arizona State||17|
|17. Ole Miss||17|
|21. Texas A&M||13|
|22. North Carolina||11|
|23. Notre Dame||9|
Also Receiving Votes: Central Florida
Voters: Jaime, Melissa, and Marsh.