Although there is still several months before the 2014 NCAA College football season begins, watching the 2013 bowl games over again have sparked my interest in the college football season. Hence this latest blog previewing the upcoming season. Firstly I understand that many of my predictions will prove to be false dawns, as college football is so hard to predict because it’s constantly changing. I also profess that I am far from an EPSN college football expert, therefore it my preview lacks in-depth knowledge I can only apologise for that. So let’s get started, and where else can we start than with current national champions the Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State goes into the 2014 season with college football’s highest profile player as their leader in Jameis Winston, now Johnny Manziel has departed for the NFL and the Cleveland Browns. Whilst a lot has been written about Winston’s off the field affairs, I prefer to write about his stellar Redshirt Freshman 2013 season. He looked almost faultless as he led his Florida State team to a thrilling National Championship victory over Auburn in early January.
2014 will be a lot tougher however, as plenty of his team mates have departed for the professional ranks in the NFL. In particular, he will miss physical Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was a huge deep ball threat at his disposal last season. Another player he will miss is Running Back Devonta Freeman, who also left for the NFL, and provided a great compliment to Winston’s passing game for Florida State. Florida State has a deeply talented Freshman class coming in, and if Winston can keep the off-field distractions at bay Florida State should be competing for a second consecutive National Championship this season.
Auburn were beaten National Championship finalists after a gripping 2013 National Championship game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. For 2014 the team will be hoping the high tempo offense of head coach Gus Malzhan and ever improving Nick Marshall. The team will need help on the Offensive line after losing stud prospect Greg Robinson to the NFL, alongside Running Back Tre Mason also.
The Tigers have snared a lower profile yet no less exciting recruiting class for this year, to add to the immense depth their team already has. I sense whilst they may struggle to find their feet early, expect this team to be challenging for bowl victories in the 2014 post-season.
Alabama are a traditional college football powerhouse and that isn’t set to change in 2014, despite losing an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball to the NFL. The team’s Florida State transfer Quarterback Jacob Coker appears to be impressing so far in the pre-season, and it will be interesting to see how they develop during the season. One thing for certain is this team will be fighting for the National Championship as their strength in depth should shine through, bolstered further by the nation’s No1 ranked recruiting class for 2014 also.
A potential outside bet for a National Championship run are the Oregon Ducks, whose fast paced no-huddle offense has blossomed under the leadership of Redshirt Junior Quarterback Marcus Mariota. They fell short last year, however his decision to delay entering the NFL Draft for another year has left Oregon with largely the same team from last year. Therefore, I will be very surprised if this team is not fighting for a significant bowl game come January 2015.
A potential sleeper contender for a run at the National Championship will be the UCLA Bruins. Led by impressive dual threat Redshirt Junior Quarterback Brett Hundley. Another to stay in school for another year instead of declaring for the NFL, a hugely impressive Sun Bowl MVP performance could very well be the catalyst for a hugely impressive 2014 season for him and UCLA.
From here there are a whole bunch of teams who could very well put a decent run together in 2014. Many of these programmes however are going through transition after the 2013 season. Some of these include South Carolina, Missouri, Clemson , University of Central Florida, Louisville, Texas A&M and USC. If these programmes can continue their 2013 form into the 2014 season they are all more than capable of contending for a significant bowl game or even the National Championship.
For programmes such as Oklahoma, Stanford, Baylor, Ohio State and LSU they will be hoping to improve on their slightly underwhelming 2013 campaigns and all have impact players on their roster who can propel them to significant success in 2014. Some standout players include Quarterbacks Trevor Knight, Kevin Hogan, Bryce Petty and Braxton Miller for Oklahoma, Stanford, Baylor and Ohio State respectively. Finally LSU have a great Freshman class coming in for 2014, with the Nations No1 recruit in Running Back Leonard Fournette to lead their offense in 2014.
One thing for certain is that the 2014 College Football season will be as unpredictable as it is exciting, and picking a National Champion at this point would simply be the work of foolish guesswork. I, like many, cannot wait for the 2014 season to get underway.