The clock continues to countdown toward what’s expected to be a great college football season, with games starting next week. Here are some of the pressing questions we’re looking forward to teams answering:

Will they or won’t they?

Yet again conference realignment rears its ugly head. The Big 12’s potential move toward expansion is casting a shadow over the rest of the landscape. As many as 20 schools reportedly were contacted after expressing interest in becoming candidates, leaving many wondering just what Big 12 officials are doing. And the longer the process drags on during the 2016 season, the more it takes away from the actual accomplishments on the football field.

Which teams could surprise in 2016?

Uncertainty swirled around the LSU program at the end of last season and it took a public push to prevent the administration from pushing Les Miles out the door. The community could use something positive to rally around amid flooding in Louisiana and the Tigers could fit the bill.

Everyone seems to be in love with Clemson and Florida State, but keep an eye out for Louisville. The Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the country and are flying low on the radar, making them a big threat.

There’s no denying the immediate impact felt by UCF’s hire of Scott Frost. Despite a winless 2015 season, fans are energized about the future of the program and they should be. While a bowl spot seems unlikely, expect the Knights to surprise some teams.

Is this a bounce back year for the Pac-12?

It’s inevitable with just four spots available in the new playoff semifinal system that a major conference is going to be on the outside looking in. That distinction fell to the Pac-12 last season, with parity washing over the conference and no team managing fewer than two losses. Expectations aren’t high entering this season, with Stanford serving as the league’s highest ranked team in preseason polls – No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, No. 8 in coaches’ poll.

Could the ACC land two teams in playoff?

The College Football Playoff has avoided the sticky situation of having two teams from the same conference wind up in the semifinals. It’s not far-fetched to believe it could happen, perhaps as soon as this season. Clemson and Florida State appear to be the most likely candidates even though both face off in a highly-anticipated matchup on Oct. 29. If the loser of that game ends the season with just one loss, it’s possible we could see both teams earn semifinal spots.

Is it time for Jim Harbaugh to put up or shut up?

Good or bad, Jim Harbaugh has certainly left an indelible impression on college football since taking the job at Michigan. He’s earned national attention for his social media jabs at fellow coaches, his recruiting tactics and his over-the-top approach to satellite football camps, helping resuscitate the Michigan brand. A 10-win 2015 season was a good start, but nothing short of a Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinals could shut the haters up for good.

Can Alabama go wire-to-wire as No. 1 team?

History tells us it’s nearly impossible for a team to start the season as the No. 1 team and finish in the same spot. USC did it in 2004, as did Florida State in 1999. The chances of Alabama accomplishing the same feat are slim. The last two times the Tide started the season atop the polls, ‘Bama finished seventh (2013) and 10th (2010). Not to mention this squad has huge question marks at quarterback and running back positions and features just 13 returning starters.