Monday, August 12, 2013

Long and Suite Preview: NCAA Football National Outlook

Clemson's Tajh Boyd will look to throw (and run) his way to the Heisman Trophy.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

We conclude our ever-so-long college football preview with my national outlook. If you missed the preview for your favorite (or least favorite) conference, I have linked to all of those previews below.

The Pac 12

Non-Automatic Qualifying Conferences

The Big 12

The Big Ten/Notre Dame




Now, let's talk Heisman and BCS hopefuls.

Handicapping the Heisman Race

First, I will refer you to my early college football betting piece. Then, I will give you my five Heisman favorites.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
5. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Dark Horse: Random Redshirt Freshman/Sophomore QB in His First Year Starting

While many (Including Vegas) have Miller and Manziel as the favorites, I like Boyd for a number of reasons.

1. He opens and closes the season with marquee games against SEC powers Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. That means he can burst onto the scene, and deliver a big late-season performance. Both go a long way with voters.
2. While Boyd loses star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL, he does return a top tier wideout in Sammy Watkins, and four starting offensive linemen to protect him.
3. Boyd is already on voters' collective radar, and he has proven he can put up huge stats. His 4,410 combined yards and 46 TDs prove that. Meanwhile, Manziel loses his best receiver, plays a tougher schedule throughout, and Braxton Miller hasn't proven he can beat people with his arm consistently. 
4. Did I mention schedule? Boyd truly gets the best of both worlds, because if he can perform well in those two marquee games, he's got a ton of cupcakes to pile up stats on in the ACC.

Moving onto Miller, he's certainly going to be given every chance to win the award. If he can pick up his passing numbers from last year and lead the Buckeyes to another undefeated season, then the award is his to lose. I'm just skeptical of both of those propositions.

Manziel has had a truly eventful offseason, so you'll have to excuse me for not trusting him to roll through a brutal schedule without his top receiver and with SEC coaches having a full year of film on him.

Mariota is an interesting candidate, because DeAnthony Thomas, his versatile teammate, is also garnering preseason Heisman hype. But, let me remind you that this is essentially a QB award, so if the Ducks run the table, Mariota could very easily take home the trophy at season's end.

An exclusively defensive player has never won the award, but Clowney will have a better chance than any defender before him due to incredible preseason hype, and this hit resonating in voters' minds. Still, that chance isn't all that good. He's college football's best talent, but one that can be game planned against. Teams will use the zone read to "block" him with an option, they'll double team him on every pass play and run away from him.

He'll still put up big numbers, and probably change the game more than any player in the country, but my thought is that anything less than a new sack record won't be good enough for the Heisman.

Finally, our Dark Horse candidate could be a bunch of people, but one name that keeps popping up is Florida State redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. The tall, strong armed quarterback came out of Hueytown, Alabama as the top ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country in 2012, and the Seminoles managed to wrestle him away from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

We don't know much about him, except that he has a rocket for an arm (he's an elite pitching prospect as well) and enough speed to move around in the pocket. The Noles will have plenty of pass catching options for him, with leading receiver Rashad Greene returning next to the potentially dominant 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin. Could Jameis go all Johnny Football/Tim Tebow on the country?

BCS Predictions

Orange Bowl
Clemson over Louisville

Rose Bowl
Stanford over Ohio State

Sugar Bowl
Texas A&M over Notre Dame

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State over Nebraska

BCS Title Game
Alabama over Oregon

How fun would that Orange Bowl be? Hopefully we get Teddy and Tajh fun n' gunnin' against each other, but that Rose Bowl will be pretty fun too. I think Stanford's a little tougher than Ohio State right now, but watching Braxton Miller try to run against that Cardinal defense would be must see TV.

I love the Cowboys this season, and I think Nebraska will get in undeservedly, so that one seems like a no-brainer to me. In the Sugar Bowl, Johnny Football beats another team that probably doesn't deserve to be in the BCS, two-loss Notre Dame.

Finally, Bama edges Oregon in the closest title game since that other Alabama school edged Oregon a few years back.

Bold Predictions

The End of the Road for Big Name Coaches

As I mentioned in my Pac 12 and Big 12 previews, it's now or never for two big name coaches at national powers. USC's Lane Kiffin and Texas' Mack Brown, two men that bring in over $8 million combined annually, are both very much on the hot seat this season.

After last season's disaster in LA, in which the Trojans went from preseason No.1 to 7-6, Kiffin will need a huge 2013 to keep his job. Brown, meanwhile, hasn't gotten his team to play to expectations, or its own talent level, since the Horns made the title game in 2009. While I actually like what USC and Texas both bring back on offense, defense has been a major problem for both of these coaches.

I believe it will catch up with one, if not both of them, this season.

The U Gets Its Swag Back

Seriously, this is the year Miami becomes relevant again! I feel like people say that every year, but the difference this time around will be quarterback Stephen Morris. The Canes, like most national powers, are always just a good QB and coach away from making big things happen. So, with Morris ending last year on a tear, and Al Golden building up momentum on the field and recruiting trail, the Hurricanes seem poised for a return to prominence.

Every return to glory needs a signature win, and the Hurricanes do host Florida in early September...

Just sayin'.

After this season, it will be on running back Duke Johnson to power the Canes' offense until a new star QB can be found, but I think we all know that Miami can win national titles without a transcendent talent under center. Ken Dorsey anyone?

An Undefeated Team Gets Left Out of the National Championship

I think we've gotten to the point where no SEC champion will be left out of the BCS title game. That means that, even with a loss, one of those two slots is going to an SEC squad. Add in the fact that Louisville, Ohio State, Clemson, the winner of the Oregon-Stanford game and a bevy of mid-majors all have the schedules to run the table, and it's hard NOT to see an undefeated team left out of the BCS title game this year.

The Suite 10

Please note that these rankings are not based on who I think will have the best season. Aka, Louisville's cake schedule doesn't get it rated in the top-5 and South Carolina's brutal schedule doesn't get it penalized. These are simply the best teams in the country, in my humble opinion.

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Clemson
4. Ohio State
5. Stanford
6. Georgia
7. South Carolina
8. Louisville
9. Texas A&M
10. Florida State


Anonymous said...

No Florida in the top 10?? Bold predictions JP.

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