The season has finally arrived
College football isn't Sistine Chapel, '63 Corvette Stingray, "Mad Men" Season 1 perfect, but it's very close -- like Sofia Vergara, but with a tiny piece of spinach stuck between her front teeth.
And that's OK. I love that about college football. I love that it still lives in a dorm, that it isn't the NFL Jr., that it acts like a dumb teenager sometimes.
And by the way, I'm not anti-NFL. It's my second-favorite sports child, right behind college football. I even own Green Bay Packers stock and a Paul Hornung throwback that makes me mist up with pride.
But c'mon. What's the best compliment ever paid to Lambeau Field? That it has a college football atmosphere.
The NFL gets more TV eyes, but college football gets more hearts. Even convicted knucklehead Harvey Updyke, who poisoned Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner oak trees, acted out of misguided, reprehensible Roll Tide love, saying later that he had "too much Bama in me."
College football has its problems -- lots of them. But every fall I renew my wedding vows with the game. What can I say? I'm a romantic.
Why? Here are 100 reasons:
To read the rest of Gene Wojciechowski's story, click here.
Opportunity knocks for the ACC
The ACC, in so many ways, has literally been under construction.
ACC headquarters, much like the conference itself, is expanding. The building will grow another 4,200 square feet, including new offices and more space for video production and game-day operations. With the additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame, the ACC staff had to grow, too. Over the past two years, there have been so many changes to the league and its membership that the conference has literally undergone a makeover.
The question is whether or not the ACC will actually look any different next week when three of its teams open the season against SEC powers Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
To read the rest of Heather Dinich's story, click here.
Big Ten QBs look to leave their mark
Quarterback questions dominated much of the offseason conversation throughout the Big Ten.
Eight of the 12 league schools at least officially had an open quarterback competition in the spring, and Northwestern continues its plan to juggle Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian based on situations. That left just three clear-cut, every-down starters in the conference, and they just happen to pilot three of the Big Ten's signature programs. In a happy coincidence, all three -- Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Michigan's Devin Gardner -- are potential Heisman Trophy contenders in what might just be their final collegiate seasons.
To read the rest of Brian Bennett's story, click here.
Is the Pac-12 ready for its close-up?
Five Pac-12 teams were ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll. The Pac-12/10/8 has never had five teams ranked in the final AP poll, though that would change if new members Colorado and Utah were included in the tabulation.
What that means is the preseason perception of the Pac-12 is strong heading into the 2013 season, perhaps as strong as it has been in a while. The last time as many as four conference teams were ranked in the preseason AP poll was 2006.
Depth? Eight conference teams received votes. National title contenders? Oregon is ranked third and Stanford fourth.
To read the rest of Ted Miller's story, click here.
Quarterback the Big 12's great unknown
Not long ago, Big 12 media days was an event worthy of a red carpet, with star-studded quarterbacks annually filling the halls.
Many -- like "Vince" and "Sam" -- were on a first-name basis with their fans. Others -- like "RG3" -- donned catchy nicknames.
This year, though, there were no rock stars at media days in Dallas. Because, well, there are no marquee quarterbacks returning.
As the SEC with defense, the Big 12 has become synonymous with quarterbacking. Of the past 13 quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL draft, six are Big 12 alums.
But these are foreign times in the conference. For a change, quarterbacking is the Big 12's big unknown.
To read the rest of Jake Trotter's story, click here.
Talented QBs lead SEC offenses
For as long as anyone can remember, running the football has been the SEC's offensive calling card. Clearly, that isn't going anywhere, but the 2013 season is literally bringing a change in the southern air.
"The depth of quarterbacks in this league, to be honest with you, it could turn the tide to more of an offensive league than a defensive league this season," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said.
A league that consistently has had a run-first, run-as-much-as-you-can philosophy will see more passing plays thanks to a handful of talented starters returning in 2013. Sure, this still will be league marked by its running games, but teams won't be afraid to sling it more this fall, as seven of the league's top 10 passers from a year ago will return. That list includes reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, two-time defending national champion AJ McCarron and constant record-breaker Aaron Murray.
To read the rest of Edward Aschoff's story, click here.
The BCS will be remembered fondly ... one day
The Bowl Championship Series may be leaving us -- finally! -- but for all its faults, the BCS seriously boasted the popularity of college football in America. Ivan Maisel »
League perceptions: Real or imagined?
When teams from different regions play, we extrapolate grand conclusions from the results. Heck, we do the same even when they don't play, weaving together twisting arguments of hypotheticals and transitive properties. When the sport is debated at a conference level, even the casual observer is aware of the negative stereotypes rival fans use to tweak each other. Ted Miller »
If it walks like a duck and limps like a duck
Though it pains Bill Hancock to hear it, 2013 is a lame-duck season. Like a president in the final days of his term, the Bowl Championship Series is coming to a close. Hancock, who runs the BCS, knows that better than anyone else. Ivan Maisel »
Preseason Power Rankings
- 25. Baylor
- 24. USC
- 23. Oregon State
- 22. Northwestern
- 21. Boise State
- 20. Nebraska
- 19. UCLA
- 18. TCU
- 17. Oklahoma
- 16. Oklahoma State
- 14. Texas (tie)
- 14. Michigan (tie)
- 13. Notre Dame
- 12. LSU
- 11. Florida State
- 10. Florida
- 9. Clemson
- 8. Louisville
- 6. South Carolina (tie)
- 6. Georgia (tie)
- 5. Texas A&M
- 4. Stanford
- 3. Oregon
- 2. Ohio State
- 1. Alabama
ESPN The Magazine
Team Preview Capsules
|WAKE FOREST||VIRGINIA TECH|
|OHIO STATE||MICHIGAN STATE|
|SOUTH CAROLINA||MISSISSIPPI ST.|
|NORTHERN ILLINOIS||NOTRE DAME|
|SAN JOSE STATE||TULSA|
2013 Heisman Watch
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is ESPN.com experts' preseason favorite to win the Heisman, but four quarterbacks are hot on his heels. Heisman Watch »
2013 Preseason All-Americans
Video: Power Rankings (Nos. 1-5)
Video: Power Rankings (Nos. 6-10)
Video: Power Rankings (Nos. 11-15)
Video: Power Rankings (Nos. 16-20)
Video: Power Rankings (Nos. 21-25)