Below is an excerpt from the College Football America 2013 Yearbook Encyclopedia, available now. College Football America features 919 college football teams in 454 full-color pages, including every NCAA Division I FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college program. CFA also features Canada Interuniversity Sport, club football programs, one-year postgraduate prep academies and Mexico’s college football scene. You can own the College Football America 2013 Yearbook Encyclopedia for just $5.99 as a beautiful digital PDF eBook that looks great on your kindle, your iPad or your regular computer and we recommend viewing it in Adobe Reader to enjoy the full-color capabilities. Purchase the College Football America 2013 Yearbook Encyclopedia today.
Special to RattleandHumSports.com
No. 1 Alabama
You’ve heard of the Crimson Tide, right? Winners of three of the last four BCS National Championship Games? No question the Tide are the preseason No. 1 when you consider QB AJ McCarron, RB T.J. Yeldon and LB C.J. Mosley are back. The Tide are 61-7 during the last five years and head coach Nick Saban knows how to get a team through the SEC gauntlet.
No. 2 Oregon
New head coach? No problem. The promotion of Mark Helfrich from offensive coordinator to head coach means the transition in the wake of Chip Kelly’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles should be seamless. QB Marcus Mariota is back, along with RB De’Anthony Thomas and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks ease Helfrich in with a relatively easy first two months of the season.
No. 3 Ohio State
Off probation, the Buckeyes look dominant. It isn’t just the fact that Urban Meyer is the head coach. It’s the improvement of QB Braxton Miller. It’s the All-American potential of LB Ryan Shazier and CB Bradley Roby. It’s the decisive play-calling of offensive coordinator Tom Herman. The Buckeyes may not go undefeated again, but they’re the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten’s Leaders Division.
No. 4 Georgia
This HAS to be the year for the Bulldogs. They won’t have a better quarterback than Aaron Murray. They have 10 returning starters on offense. RB Todd Gurley could be an All-American. The defense is young, but immensely talented. The SEC is tough once again, but feels manageable. If the Bulldogs can beat South Carolina, Florida and LSU, a berth in the SEC title game is theirs. That’s a big IF.
No. 5 Clemson
WR DeAndre Hopkins bailed for the NFL. But don’t let that scare you off the Tigers. QB Tajh Boyd is back. WR Sammy Watkins is lined up for a huge year. Defensive coordinator Max Venables seems to be getting the defense into shape. The Tigers have to stop their late-season slides, but they have all the talent they need to win the ACC and reach a BCS bowl game.
No. 6 Texas A&M
Ah, Johnny Football. QB Johnny Manziel is back after his 2012 Heisman campaign. If WR Malcolme Kennedy can make up for the loss of Ryan Swope and the O-line recovers from the departure of Luke Joeckel, there’s no reason the Aggies can’t push Alabama and LSU for SEC West supremacy. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait for an answer. A&M hosts Alabama on Sept. 14.
No. 7 Florida
Florida’s defense is still going to be lights out. It’s the offense that needs to get a little nudge. Is QB Jeff Driskel the guy to run this offense? If he is and significantly improves from last year then the Gators are in the mix. Florida may have the SEC’s most dynamic player in Loucheiz Purifoy, who can play both sides of the football and return kicks. He’ll be real fun to watch.
No. 8 Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have their QB in Clint Chelf. Or J.W. Walsh. You never know after last season. But the real star of the show is Josh Stewart, who should follow in the footsteps of Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon to put up massive numbers in his junior year. The Cowboys’ formula isn’t complex — score a ton of points and play just enough defense to win. A little more defense wouldn’t hurt.
No. 9 South Carolina
DE Jadeveon Clowney might win the Heisman this year. His campaign could use a boost from a Gamecocks team that, say, goes undefeated and wins the SEC? It’s a tall order, but the SEC schedule helps. No Alabama, no LSU and no Texas A&M means the Gamecocks really only have to beat Georgia and Florida to win the SEC East and reach the SEC title game.
No. 10 Louisville
Want a lead-pipe 2013 prediction? Louisville will win the American Athletic Conference in its final season before moving to the ACC. The Cardinals are immensely talented, led by QB Teddy Bridgewater. But the American is depleted, thanks to realignment. Then, you take a look at Louisville’s schedule and you realize that the Cardinals might just go undefeated.
No. 11 Oklahoma
Welcome the “Bell-dozer” to the starting QB job, as Blake Bell moves into the starting role for the graduated Landry Jones. Right? Not so fast. Bob Stoops threw everyone a curveball by choosing redshirt freshman Trevor Knight as his starting quarterback. Apparently, Stoops saw Bell as little more than a 263-pound power runner. The Sooners need a true passer because WR Trey Metoyer is about to emerge as a serious threat. C Gabe Ikard might be the best overall lineman in the land.
No. 12 Nebraska
Nebraska hasn’t quite found its footing in the Big Ten yet. RB Rex Burkhead is gone, but the return of QB Taylor Martinez and RG Spencer Long means the Huskers are armed to score points. But gosh that Blackshirts defense ended the season on a sour note, didn’t it? It could be worse in 2013. The Huskers need eight new starters on defense, including the entire LB corps.
No. 13 Texas
Too high? Maybe. But the Big 12 is not as dominant as it was a year or two ago. Texas’ defense is talented, led by CB Quandre Diggs. The running back position is stocked with immense talent, and RB Jonathan Gray is just about ready to break through. If QB David Ash realizes the faith that his head coach, Mack Brown, seems to have in him, the Longhorns will be players in the Big 12 again.
No. 14 Michigan
Devin Gardner will be just fine. The quarterback taking over for Denard Robinson means that head coach Brady Hoke can install the pro-set offense he craves. That will allow him and offensive coordinator Al Borges to utilize All-American OL Taylor Lewan fully. Running back could be a trouble spot for the Wolverines, as could the injury to star LB Jake Ryan, who tore his ACL this spring.
No. 15 Stanford
Too low? Maybe. But the Cardinal lost its all-time rusher to graduation and the pro-style offense is predicated on a consistent, productive running game. It could be a committee approach until a bell cow back emerges. The good news is that three potential All-Americans return on defense — LB Trent Murphy, LB Shayne Skov and FS Ed Reynolds. Starting QB Kevin Hogan is back, too.
No. 16 Boise State
The Boise way wins football games. That’s all there is to it. And it’s a sign of a great program when an 11-2 record is considered an off year. QB Joe Southwick should provide more punch in the passing game. DE Demarcus Lawrence has the potential to be an All-American after 9.5 sacks last year. But the Broncos have to find a new running back to replace D.J. Harper.
No. 17 LSU
No SEC team lost more players to the NFL this past offseason than LSU. That was especially true on defense. But at least the Tigers can count on the return of potential All-American DT Anthony Johnson and SS Craig Loston. But what the Tigers really need is improved play from QB Zach Mettenberger. The Tigers hope new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can help.
No. 18 Florida State
Two words — Jameis Winston. The redshirt freshman quarterback will start for the Seminoles, and the dual threat passer is already drawing comparisons to that certain redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas A&M that won the Heisman. Head coach Jimbo Fisher would probably rather fans focus on a defense that returns NT Timmy Jernigan and newcomer DE Mario Edwards Jr.
No. 19 Notre Dame
The Irish was a Top 10 team. That was before we learned QB Everett Gholson would not play in 2013. Tommy Rees is the new starter and that could mean a drop in production in South Bend. LB Manti Te’o is gone, too. But the defense is in fine shape with returning players like NG Louis Nix III, DE Stephon Tuitt and CB Lo Wood. But that QB position could be a pesky issue all season.
No. 20 Northwestern
The Wildcats were so close to being undefeated. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald says the Wildcats trailed in their three losses for 5:03 of clock time. The Wildcats are using it as motivation. Fortunately they have the talent to back it up — RB Venric Mark, QB Kain Colter, DE Tyler Scott and LB Damien Proby. The schedule is a beast. Michigan. Michigan State. Ohio State. Wisconsin. Nebraska. Yikes.
No. 21 Wisconsin
Bret Bielema might be gone, but there is a Wisconsin way. New head coach Gary Andersen sounds like he’s happy to oblige power-run Badger fans in 2013. The big task this offseason was finding a player — or, more likely — players that could replace departed RB Montee Ball. The offensive line will be tough and LB Chris Borland will lead the defense. That’s how the Badgers do it.
No. 22 Miami (FL)
At some point, the NCAA has to rule, right? Head coach Al Golden could have bailed, but he may be rewarded with the best Hurricanes team in years. QB Stephen Morris emerged as a legitimate ACC quarterback. RB Duke Johnson has potential beast written all over him. LB Denzel Perryman and DT Shayon Green return. But the loss of LB Eddie Johnson for 2013 is significant.
No. 23 Cincinnati
Butch Jones left new coach Tommy Tuberville plenty to work with. The problem is that the personnel leftover runs the spread and Tuberville likes power football. Tuberville faced the same transition at Texas Tech, with mixed results. The Bearcats might have the best left side in football in OT Eric Lefeld and OG Austen Bujnoch. LB Greg Blair returns, but he needs some help.
No. 24 Virginia Tech
Last year was tough for Beamer Ball. Going 7-6 is not how it’s done in Blacksburg. The defense should have plenty of talent, thanks to players like LB Tariq Edwards, DE James Gayle and LB Jack Tyler, last year’s leading tackler. But the offense has to move forward. QB Logan Thomas has to improve and the Hokies must find replacements at wide receiver and on the offensive line.
No. 25 USC
There’s always drama in LA. And it will only get more intense if the Trojans don’t bounce back from last year’s 7-6 record. QB Matt Barkley is gone and Max Wittek should take over. He has an All-American in WR Marqise Lee to throw the ball to. The defense has a pair of stars in DT Leonard Williams and DE Morgan Breslin. But has the majority of the Pac-12 South passed by the Trojans?
No. 26 Kansas State
No more Collin Klein means there’s no telling which way the Wildcats will go. We’re banking that the magician in Manhattan, head coach Bill Snyder, will find what he needs to keep the Wildcats in the mix in the Big 12. Daniel Sams looks like the starter at quarterback. As long as he can get the ball to the Wildcats’ dangerous WR tandem of Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, they should be fine.
No. 27 Penn State
Three more years of probation for the Nittany Lions shouldn’t take the bloom off what head coach Bill O’Brien did last year. It will be harder this year, though with the departure of key seniors like QB Matt McGloin, LB Michael Mauti and others. WR Allen Robinson will be among the best receivers in the nation and LB Glenn Carson should take a step up in 2013.
No. 28 Oregon State
There’s no telling what the Beavers will do at quarterback. It could be Sean Mannion or it could be Cody Vaz, or it could be both. The Beavers have a wealth of experience at key positions and should challenge Stanford and Oregon again in the Pac-12 North. DE Scott Crichton is back after recording nine sacks last season and could be in line for an All-America season.
No. 29 Arizona State
Todd Graham seems to have found a home in the desert. Yes, that’s a bit of a loaded statement. But the Sun Devils should improve in 2013 and challenge for the Pac-12 South title. The Sun Devils are stable at quarterback, running back and linebacker. But DT Will Sutton is the key to the season. He skipped the NFL to return to Tempe after sacking the quarterback 11.5 times last year.
No. 30 Vanderbilt
The Commodores aren’t pushovers anymore. James Franklin is recruiting like he’s not tied down by Vanderbilt’s academic standards or its reputation for losing football games. Vandy loves that it has two great linebackers in Chase Garnham and Karl Butler. WR Jordan Matthews is one of the best pass-catchers you haven’t heard of. Vandy just hopes new QB Austyn Carta-Samuels steps in and plays fast.