Top 5 Storylines 2017-18 College Football Season
posted Aug 26 2017, 12:53PM
story by Lee Harvey
posted in NCAAF, Analysis

 2017 season gets started today!!!

2017-18 college football SZN gets underway today, so I figured with all of the talent coming back this season...why not make a top 5 storyline list to get ready for the season? Let's get started.

5. Can anyone stop Alabama from making their 4th straight college football playoff apperance? Lately the SEC has been Alabama & everyone else. Programs like Georgia, Florida, Auburn & LSU have had decent seasons but can't compete let alone win an SEC Championship because Alabama is always in their way. Georgia isn't expected to do much this year even though Jacob Eason is going into year 2 as the starting QB (1st year as the main guy) & their star RB Nick Chubb has returned for his senior season. I say they're not expected to do a lot cause no one's really talking about them, good or bad.

Florida has won the SEC East for the past 2 years & that's without having stability at QB. I feel like they have one now with Malik Zaire transferring from Notre Dame, he's been waiting for his opportunity for quite a while since he broke his ankle in the 2nd game of the 2015 season & DeShone Kizer took the starting job and ran with it last season. They've lost a lot of talent on defense from last year, guys like Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Marcus Maye & that's just their secondary. They have a tough test right away game 1 vs. Michigan, it won't make or break their season but beating Jim Harbaugh's squad is always a good way to start the season.

Some people feel like Auburn can be the team to take down Alabama this year. I mean why not? Whenever they have a QB that make plays instead of managing the game, they beat Alabama....for example Cam Newton in 2010 & Nick Marshall in 2013. They hope Jarrett Stidham (transfer from Baylor) can be that missing piece to help them compete & maybe beat Alabama this season. Their 2 RB's Kerryon Johnson & Kam "Bubba" Pettway are back to make some more noise for the Tiger ground game. I don't know what their defense looks like going into this season, last season they were one of the best in the SEC. This year it doesn't have to be at Alabama's level but they can't be giving up 25-30 points a game if they want to compete with their Iron Bowl rival.

LSU this season is led by their star RB Derrius Guice who ran for 1,387 yards & 15 TD's last season as Leonard Fournette's backup. The sky is the limit for Guice as most expect him to be in NYC for the Heisman. They just announced recently that Danny Etling will be their starting QB, he took over after Brandon Harris (who transferred to North Carolna) got benched early last season. They also hired new offensive coordinator Matt Canada from Pittsburgh, orchestrating Pitt's offense that averaged 42 points a game last season. Whether that will translate to LSU who's not known for scoring like that, we'll see...their defense lost talented dudes like Jamal Adams & Kendal Beckwith but I'm not worried about their defense cause they always reload on that side of the ball. It's still important that the offense must improve in order to get by Alabama, win the SEC & make it to the Final 4. This is Ed Orgeron's chance to prove that he can be the head coach of a big time program like LSU after not getting his fair shot at USC a couple years ago.

4. The College Football Playoff - Who's In? Me personally I love the playoff, it gives all the top teams an opportunity to make up for losing early in the season like Ohio State in 2014, Alabama in 2015 or losing late in the season like Clemson last season. The top 4 teams in this year's preseason polls are Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State & USC in that order. That doesn't mean this top 4 list will look like that at the end of the season, as we seen historically in college football a lot can happen but the differences between the BCS & the playoff....one bad game doesn't end your chances of being in the running for the National Championship.

3. Who's that one team ranked in the top 10 that's gonna have a disappointing season? There's always that one team coming in with high expectations & fall way short of them or had a good year but not a great year. Last season it was Notre Dame who was ranked 10th in the preseason polls, only to finish the season at 4-8 & not make a bowl game. Tennessee had high expectations too ranked 9th last year, only to finish at 9-4 ranked 22nd after starting the season 5-0. Looking at this year's top 10 rankings, the team I see that could fall off is #8 Washington. Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin & Dante Pettis are back on offense but they lost a lot on defense like Elijah Qualls, Joe Mathis, Budda Baker, Kevin King & Sidney Jones. Head coach Chris Petersen can recruit but they have their work cut out for them this season trying to replace all of that talent & leadership on defense.

2. Who will win the Heisman? We have a bunch of guys that can win the award this season including the reigning Heisman winner from last year Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. I personally predict that he's gonna do something that hasn't been done since Archie Griffin in 1974-75, win the Heisman in back-to-back seasons. It's crazy but if anyone can do it, I say he can. Of course he has a lot of competition...Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, LSU Derrius Guice, Ohio State QB JT Barrett, Penn State QB Trace McSorley, USC QB Sam Darnold, Alabama QB Jalen Hurts, South Florida QB Quinton Flowers, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Florida State QB Deondre Francois & more. Going into last year, people who cover college football knew Lamar Jackson was super talented but even they didn't see that coming. Who knows? Maybe the guy who wins this year's Heisman was a preseason longshot but I still have Lamar winning it again.

1. So many QB's to look out for in 2017 - I'm not sure if I can recall a year where we have this many QB's just waiting & wanting to wreak havoc on whatever defense they face. In the AAC (American Athletic Conference), the best QB is Quinton Flowers from South Florida . They haven't had a QB this good since Matt Grothe back in 2008-09, he has a new head coach this season in Charlie Strong after Willie Taggart took the head coaching job at Oregon. Even for a year, Strong is gonna enjoy coaching Quinton Flowers. Houston lost Greg Ward Jr to the NFL but they did gain Kyle Allen, he transferred from Texas A&M and didn't play all of last year because of NCAA transfer rules. Houston also lost their head coach Tom Herman who went to Texas, I don't know how much of last year's team came back but Kyle needs all the help he can get.

In the ACC, there's Lamar Jackson & Deondre Francois. Lamar is the better athlete but Deondre is the better passer. There's also Kelly Bryant who's replacing the best QB in Clemson history...Deshaun Watson. Kelly looks to part but we'll see if he can lead Clemson back to the playoff for a 3rd straight season.

In the Big 12...there's Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Hill, Shane Buechele, Nic Shimonek & Will Grier. Baker got in trouble this offseason trying to run from the cops on tape but he wasn't punished. Oklahoma is looking at him for leadership especially since they lost RB Samaje Perine, RB Joe Mixon & WR Dede Westbrook to the NFL. Baker Mayfield as a senior can make up his troubles off the field being the playmaker that he was on the field leading the Sooners for what can be their 3rd straight Big 12 Title. Mason Rudolph going into his senior season with lofty expectations. The chances of a Heisman, Big 12 Title & a trip to the College Football Playoff are what's expected of Mason, his mullet head coach Mike Gundy & their Oklahoma State Cowboys. But none of that can happen unless they find a way to take down their Bedlam rival....Oklahoma. Kenny Hill & TCU don't have much expected out of them this year & that could be a good thing. In 2014 not much was expected of them either but led by Trevone Boykin, they became one of the more dynamic offenses in the nation & if they didn't give up a big lead against Baylor & end up losing 61-58....TCU would've been in the 1st college football playoff & not Ohio State. Can Kenny Hill & head coach Gary Patterson lead TCU to be that surprise team again? We'll find out soon enough. Shane Buechele went through expected bumps & bruises as a Freshman, now going into year 2 as the guy at QB, his play will decide whether Texas climbs back to the top of the Big 12 with their new head coach Tom Herman, a place they haven't been in quite a while. Nic Shimonek has big shoes to fill replacing Patrick Mahomes this season, I expect Nic to put up big numbers just every other QB that's come through Texas Tech. I just don't expect his team to do that much based on winning enough games to keep head coach Kliff Kingsbury off the hot seat. And finally Will Grier who transferred from Florida to West Virginia after he was suspended for the 2nd half of the 2015 season for failing a PED test. Before that he led Florida to a 6-0 record, I can see him in Dana Holgorsen's spread offense making a name for himself again & having fun in Morgantown.

In the Big Ten there's JT Barrett, Trace McSorley & Wilton Speight. As an Ohio State fan, I'm willing to admit Trace is the better of the 3 I named going into this, that can change as the season moves along. JT Barrett going into his senior season with a new offensive coordinator (Kevin Wilson) has to play like his Freshman year, the JT I saw last year was lucky to make it to the CFB Playoff. Playing scared & with no confidence like that this year won't cut it knowing some people (Colin Cowherd & Kirk Herbstreit) are picking Ohio State to win it all. Trace McSorley shocked everybody last year by leading Penn State to not only an upset win of Ohio State but winning the Big Ten altogether. He, Saquon Barkley, head coach James Franklin & Penn State in general just has to prove that last year wasn't a fluke & that the Nittany Lions are here to stay. Michigan is led by Wilton Speight this season, they've lost a ton from last year's team including guys like Jabrill Peppers, Taco Charlton, Jourdan Lewis, Chris Whorley, Amara Darboh, De'Veon Smith & more. Jim Harbaugh is a great coach but he has to do 2 things in order to be a coaching legend at Michigan, beat Ohio State & win the Big Ten Championship. That doesn't happen unless their QB Wilton Speight becomes a playmaker instead of a game manager.

In the Mountain West, a QB I'm looking out for is Josh Allen from Wyoming. He's got scouts saying he can be a top 5 or top 10 pick going into the 2018 NFL Draft, that's how much talent he has apparently. He has 2 games...at Iowa to start the season on September 2nd & Oregon week 3 on September 16th. If he can show out in those games, I'll believe the hype but first I have to see him play against those well-known teams out of conference.

In the Pac-12...there's Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Jake Browning, Luke Falk & Justin Herbert. Sam Darnold has the most hype out of the group. As poised & calm as he is, Sam has to show he's worth the hype and lead USC to their 1st Pac-12 Championship since 2008 when it was originally called the Pac-10. Jake Browning threw TD's at a rapid pace last year, 43 to be exact setting a new Pac-12 record. He lost John Ross to the NFL but he does have Dante Pettis back, Jake started strong but struggled at the end of the season in games against USC, Colorado in the Pac-12 Title game & Alabama in the CFB Playoff. In order for Washington to get back to the playoff, Jake Browning has to be on his A game all season long. Josh Rosen fully healthy for his junior season after missing most of his sophomore year due to injuries. He made some comments this offseason about how hard it is to play football & go to school that rubbed some people the wrong way http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2722587-josh-rosen-qa-ucla-qb-on-injuries-ncaa-and-post-nfl-goal-to-own-the-world, but he's ready to move on from that & lead UCLA to a conference title. Luke Falk going into his senior season at Washington State, he's done a lot for the program out in Pullman & the only thing left on his resume is a Pac-12 Championship. His best chance to win it was last season but they got beaten down by their Apple Cup rival Washington. I don't know if his team going into 2017 is good enough to do that but it doesn't mean he still can't try. Justin Herbert going into year 2 as the QB for Oregon, he has Rolls Royce Freeman back but he his favorite target Darren Carrington dismissed from the team after he got a DUI during the offseason, he's now with Utah & is able to play immediately. Thrown into the fire last year after Dakota Prukop turned out to be a bust, Justin Herbert wasn't that bad now can he Oregon & their fancy uniforms back to the top of the Pac-12?

In the SEC there's Jalen Hurts, Jarrett Stidham, Malik Zaire, Jacob Eason, Nick Fitzgerald, Drew Lock & Shea Patterson. Jalen Hurts has a lot of work to do after failing to at times complete a pass in games against Washington & Clemson in the CFB Playoff. He was an 18-year old Freshman last year but Bama fans don't care about that, they care whether you're good enough to win a National Champonship. He can play but can he be efficent enough throwing the ball this year to lead Alabama back to the playoff & finishing the job this time? We'll see. Nick Fitzgerald going into year 2 at Mississippi State after he passed for over 2,000 yards & ran over 1,000 last year as a Freshman. His coach Dan Mullen thinks he can be better than Dak Prescott who's the franchise QB for the Dallas Cowboys. I disagree with all that but if Nick is that good, he should be in the running for the Heisman or lead the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship game. Drew Lock is going into his junior year at Missouri, the 1st 2 have been a struggle but this year he's got a 1,000 rusher back in Damarea Crockett & a 1,000 WR back in J'Mon Moore. I heard Missouri will be running an Air Raid offense so this should be a fun year offensively for Drew Lock & the Missouri Tigers. And lastly Shea Patterson, he's next in line now that Chad Kelly has moved on. Shea & the Ole Miss Rebels won't be going to a bowl game this season because their school is knee deep in NCAA violations, violations that got their head coach Hugh Freeze fired 37 days before the season started. Shea's a talented kid & he's got some recievers around him like A.J. Brown & DK Metcalf so I think he'll do good in his 1st full year as a starter despite the bowl ban.

Lee Harvey
25 years old. Big fan of Ohio State football, Cavs/Celtics basketball & Cleveland Indians baseball. Looking forward to start a new journey in writin...



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