Farewell offseason, hello to our final last-gasp picks

The 2015 college football season kicked off Thursday night, with South Carolina defeating North Carolina 17-13 in Charlotte.

The schedule hits full swing this weekend, so it's a good time to take one last look at the offseason that was and what might lie ahead over the next 3ยฝ months.

Here's a look at the best of college football's offseason, along with predictions for each of the FBS conferences and what to watch for across the country:

Best headshots

1. Many, many members of the Division III Bethel University football team

2. Texas kicker Nick Rose

3. Nebraska defensive end Ross Dzuris

4. Georgia coach Mark Richt, circa 1979

5. LSU coach Les Miles, circa 1972

New stadium renovations

1. Auburn will unveil a new $13.9 million, 190-by-57-foot scoreboard that features one of the country's largest video boards. Infamous Alabama fan Harvey Updkye has already complained about seeing the lights from his home in Louisiana.

2. Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium underwent a $120 million face-lift, including the installation of a new synthetic playing field. The end zones are patterned in blue checkerboard, which is supposed to mimic Secretariat's silks.

3. Texas A&M's Kyle Field is now the largest stadium in the SEC after undergoing a $485 million renovation. Capacity is now 102,512, making it the fourth-largest on-campus stadium in the country.

4. Central Florida has added beach-themed club seating at Bright House Networks Stadium. There's even a sundeck and frozen drinks.

5. Notre Dame announced plans last month to add a video board -- but not advertisements or commercials -- to its stadium by 2017. The north scoreboard will be removed to give fans a better view of "Touchdown Jesus."

Best coach Tweets

1. Matt Ruhl, Temple

2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

3. Dave Doeren, NC State

4. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan

5. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois

Best preseason drills

1. Oklahoma's one-handed catches

2. Southern Miss' place-kicking

3. SMU's sliding practice

4. North Texas' weight-lifting costume party

5. Eastern Michigan climbing sand dunes

Best stadium concessions

1. The Runza Sandwich at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium is a mixture of ground beef, onions and cabbage between two yeast-bread pockets. The sandwich originated in Russia but is a Cornhuskers staple.

2. Texas is adding Torchy's Tacos to the offerings at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this season. If you're in Austin, try the brisket or fried-chicken varieties.

3. Texas A&M's "Howdy Dog" is a hand-battered, chicken-fried hot dog on a stick. There's even jalapeno-flavored cream gravy for dipping.

4. Arkansas is adding a quarter-pound hot dog covered in mac and cheese to the menu at Razorback Stadium.

5. For the second straight season, Maryland will sell the "Cheesie," a monster-sized, 24-ounce, hot, soft pretzel smothered in back-fin crab dip and melted cheddar cheese and dusted with Old Bay seasoning.

Long-snapper tricks

1. Akron's Michael Buddenberg hit a moving golf cart from more than 100 feet (and six stories)

2. Western Kentucky's Nolan Dowling snapped from the Harbaugh Club into a trashcan at field level

3. Buffalo's Corbin Grassman pulled a William Tell, snapping a Gatorade bottle off a teammate's head

4. Southern Miss' Lance Schuffert pulled off a plethora of snapping tricks

5. Ohio's Jake Hale snapped off the roof of the press box at Peden Stadium

Guys we can't wait to see back on the field

1. J.T. Barrett & Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Barrett is competing with Cardale Jones for the starting quarterback job, while Miller has moved to wide receiver.

2. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Treadwell's devastating leg injury was one of the worst moments of the 2014 season. He has reportedly fully recovered and is better than ever.

3. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Watson missed Clemson's bowl game after tearing the ACL in his left knee. If he stays healthy, he might lead the Tigers to an ACC championship.

4. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU

Hill might be college football's toughest quarterback since Tim Tebow, and he's healthy after breaking his left leg and tearing ligaments in his ankle against Utah State last season.

5. Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State

Keeton, who missed 19 games the past two seasons because of knee injuries, is back for one more season after receiving a medical hardship from the NCAA.

Best Twitter recruiting alerts

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from publicly talking about prospective student-athletes, but that doesn't stop them from announcing commitments on Twitter.

1. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

2. David Cutcliffe, Duke

3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

5. Charlie Partridge, FAU

Freshmen to watch

1. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The "Rosen One" was the No. 2-ranked pocket passer by ESPN Recruiting, and he'll start Saturday's opener against Virginia at the Rose Bowl.

2. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley was ranked as the No. 1 receiver by ESPN Recruiting, and Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has compared Ridley's talent to that of former Alabama star Amari Cooper and ex-USC star Marqise Lee.

3. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Hyatt, ranked the No. 2 offensive tackle by ESPN Recruiting, will start at left tackle in Saturday's opener against FCS foe Wofford. It's believed he'll be the first freshman offensive lineman to start the opener in modern Clemson history.

4. Derwin James, S, Florida State

James, ranked the No. 8 prospect in the ESPN 300, is expected to get significant time from the start for the Seminoles. He looks to be FSU's next great player in a long line of great safeties.

5. Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M

The Aggies' 335-pound freshman is so strong that strength coach Larry Jackson reportedly had to order new bars to carry more weight. Mack will play early and often on new coordinator John Chavis' defense.

Summer postcards

1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

2. Bo Pelini, Youngstown State

3. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

4. James Franklin, Penn State

5. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

Coaches on the hot seat

1. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Since guiding the Cyclones to back-to-back bowl games in 2011-12, Rhoads has a two-year record of 5-19, 2-16 in the Big 12. Iowa State went 0-9 against Big 12 foes last season.

2. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

Hazell looked like the next big thing after guiding Kent State to an 11-3 record in 2012, but his Purdue teams have dropped 20 of his first 24 games. The Boilermakers have defeated one Big Ten opponent during his tenure -- a 38-27 win over Illinois in 2014.

3. Al Golden, Miami

It looked like the Hurricanes were finally starting to turn the corner after they went 9-4 in 2013. But then the Canes laid a 6-7 egg last season, falling to 28-22 (16-16 in the ACC) in Golden's four seasons. He might need to show marked improvement this season to save his job.

4. Steve Sarkisian, USC

After Sarkisian's regrettable actions at a USC alumni function last month, he might have a short leash entering his second season. USC athletic director Pat Haden indicated Sarkisian has to earn back the trust of Trojans fans, who are expecting their team to compete for a Pac-12 title this season.

5. Mike London, Virginia

London has recruited well for the Cavaliers, but his 23-38 record in five seasons has him firmly on the hot seat. The Cavaliers have had one winning season -- 8-5 in 2011 -- during his tenure.

Best Cardale Jones tweets

Transfers to watch

1. Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

Adams, who played the past three seasons at FCS Eastern Washington, needed only two weeks to win Oregon's starting job after arriving to preseason camp late. His first start will come in Saturday night's opener against his former team.

2. Everett Golson, QB, Florida State

Golson, who transferred from Notre Dame this summer, has the unenviable task of replacing 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Golson has to take better care of the football after throwing 14 interceptions and losing eight fumbles in 2014.

3. Jason Smith, WR, Auburn

Smith played quarterback at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College last season, but he'll play slot receiver for the Tigers. His speed and athleticism might make him one of Jeremy Johnson's favorite targets.

4. Greyson Lambert, QB, Georgia

The former Virginia starter arrived on Georgia's campus about seven weeks ago and then beat out two other candidates for the starting job. At 6-foot-5, he's Georgia's tallest quarterback in quite a while.

5. Devonte Fields, LB, Louisville

Fields, a former Big 12 defensive player of the year at TCU, will start at outside linebacker for Louisville in Saturday's opener against Auburn in Atlanta. Fields, who was dismissed from TCU following his arrest on domestic violence charges, might be an elite pass-rusher in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense.

Summer jobs

1. Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs interned at Pratt Whitney, which builds engines for rockets and jets

2. Maryland tight end P.J. Gallo interned (and landed a job) at Goldman Sachs

3. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill interned at a venture capital firm

4. Kansas walk-on T.J. Semke works part-time - as a bounty hunter

5. Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell is a budding author

The picks

American Athletic Conference

East Division winner: Cincinnati

West Division winner: Houston

Conference champion: Cincinnati

Team poised to surprise: Temple

Team poised to disappoint: USF

Coach of the year: Tom Herman, Houston

Offensive player of the year: Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy

Defensive player of the year: Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple

Freshman of the year: Jae'lon Oglesby, WR, Memphis


Atlantic Division winner: Clemson

Coastal Division winner: Virginia Tech

Conference champion: Clemson

Team poised to surprise: NC State

Team poised to disappoint: Miami

Coach of the year: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Offensive player of the year: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Defensive player of the year: Kendall Fuller, DB, Virginia Tech

Freshman of the year: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Big 12

Conference champion: TCU

Team poised to surprise: Kansas State

Team poised to disappoint: Oklahoma

Coach of the year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Offensive player of the year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Defensive player of the year: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Freshman of the year: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

Big Ten

East Division winner: Ohio State

West Division winner: Wisconsin

Conference champion: Ohio State

Team poised to surprise: Northwestern

Team poised to disappoint: Iowa

Coach of the year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Offensive player of the year: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Defensive player of the year: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Freshman of the year: Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

Conference USA

East Division winner: Western Kentucky

West Division winner: Louisiana Tech

Conference champion: Western Kentucky

Team poised to surprise: UTEP

Team poised to disappoint: North Texas

Coach of the year: Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky

Offensive player of the year: Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky

Defensive player of the year: Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech

Freshman of the year: Shuler Bentley, QB, Old Dominion


East Division winner: Bowling Green

West Division winner: Toledo

Conference champion: Toledo

Team poised to surprise: UMass

Team poised to disappoint: Northern Illinois

Coach of the year: Mark Whipple, UMass

Offensive player of the year: Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

Defensive player of the year: Jatavis Brown, LB, Akron

Freshman of the year: Gus Ragland, QB, Miami

Mountain West

Mountain Division winner: Utah State

West Division winner: San Diego State

Conference champion: Utah State

Team poised to surprise: Colorado State

Team poised to disappoint: Air Force

Coach of the year: Rocky Long, San Diego State

Offensive player of the year: Rashard Higgins , WR, Colorado State

Defensive player of the year: Kamalei Correa, DL, Boise State

Freshman of the year: Cory Young, RB, Boise State


North Division winner: Oregon

South Division winner: Arizona State

Conference champion: Oregon

Team poised to surprise: Cal

Team poised to disappoint: USC

Coach of the year: Mark Helfrich, Oregon

Offensive player of the year: Cody Kessler, QB, USC

Defensive player of the year: Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona

Freshman of the year: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA


East Division winner: Georgia

West Division winner: Auburn

Conference champion: Auburn

Team poised to surprise: Texas A&M

Team poised to disappoint: South Carolina

Coach of the year: Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Offensive player of the year: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Defensive player of the year: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Freshman of the year: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Sun Belt

Conference champion: Georgia Southern

Team poised to surprise: Appalachian State

Team poised to disappoint: Texas State

Coach of the year: Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

Offensive player of the year: Matt Breida, RB, Georgia Southern

Defensive player of the year: Gerrand Johnson, DL, Louisiana-Monroe

Freshman of the year: Garrett Smith, QB, Louisiana-Monroe