August 29, 2013

Unlike BCS, the Tide isn't receding

Stocked with future pros, an unflappable QB and a great coach, Alabama could three-peat.

By JOHN MARSHALL/The Associated Press

The BCS farewell tour is about to begin.

Jadeveon Clowney,
click image to enlarge

South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney could be the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

The Associated Press

Love it or hate it -- we're guessing there are far more in the hating camp -- the system for determining college football's national champion will be mothballed after this season, replaced by the new, aptly-named College Football Playoff.

As farewells go, this one has a chance to be a memorable one, filled with intriguing story lines, great players and great teams, led by two-time defending national champion Alabama.

And, because this is the BCS, we can probably expect plenty of debate about what team should be where in the rankings.

This final go-round starts on Thursday, so here's a few things to look for:

TOP TEAMS

Alabama. All those future pros, an unflappable quarterback, one of the game's all-time great coaches -- hard to pick against the Crimson Tide making it three straight titles.

Ohio State. The Buckeyes went 12-0 in their first season under Urban Meyer, but were tattooed out of the national title game because of NCAA sanctions. They're still loaded with talented players.

Oregon. Don't expect any drop-off under Mark Helfrich. Chip Kelly left the cupboard plenty full before leaving for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Stanford. The defending Rose Bowl champions are eyeing the big prize this season.

Texas A&M. Johnny Manziel is good to go after the NCAA looked into whether he was paid for signing autographs.

Georgia. The Bulldogs have to replace a few players on defense, but their offense is loaded with playmakers led by QB Aaron Murray.

TOP PLAYERS

Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. The first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Football may still have something to prove this year after a difficult offseason.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. The most disruptive force in college football could become the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama. He has as many national titles (two) as losses. 'Nuff said.

Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California. One of those threat-to-score-on-every-touch guys.

Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona. Nation's leading rusher should continue to thrive in Rich Rodriguez's snap-before-they're-ready offense.

De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon. Possibly the most dynamic player in the country.

BEST GAMES

Alabama at Texas A&M, Sept 14. Manziel had the signature game for his Heisman resume by handing Alabama its only loss of the season. The Crimson Tide want payback -- in a bad way.

Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7. The ultimate in contrasting styles could have a huge impact on the national championship race again this year.

LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9. Another Game of the Century? Maybe, but will have national championship implications and fun to watch no matter what.

Georgia at Clemson, Saturday. The No. 5 Bulldogs and No. 8 Tigers have two of the nation's best quarterbacks in Murray and Tajh Boyd. The marquee game of the opening weekend should provide plenty of fireworks in Death Valley.

Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 30. The Fighting Irish won last year's game in overtime on a goal-line stand and went on to the national title game. The Cardinal had to "settle" for the Rose Bowl and will be looking for payback at home.

Wisconsin at Arizona State, Sept. 14. The Badgers' speed vs. the Sun Devils' power in an early-season test for teams that have BCS bowl aspirations.

HOT SEATS

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