Ahh Saturday. The one day of the week that we can kick back, watch some football, and forget about things like tanking, franchise tagging, and listening to pregame show announcers laugh awkardly for hours on end.
What makes college football in 2014 more fun than in any other year? Simple. The College Football Playoff. Gone are the days of computers and percentage points deciding a champion. Because for once, this years champ will be decided ON the field. So sit back, (I'll give you permission to crack open your first autumn beer of the season) and enjoy my 2014 College Football preview:
Champion: Michigan St.
Dark Horse Team: Wisconsin
Player to Watch: Christian Hackenberg, QB Penn St.
If you asked me two weeks ago who my Big 10 champion would be, I would have still said MIchigan State, even though Ohio State may have had one of the most electric offensive players in the country. Yes, losing Braxton Miller is a huge blow for the Buckeyes, but don't expect much of a dropoff from Urban Meyer's squad. As for the Spartans, they return their QB and the majority of the number two defense in the country. Sparty should cruise after a brutal non-conference tilt with Oregon on September 6th.
Champion: Florida State
Dark Horse Team: Louisville
Player to watch: Vic Beasley, DE Clemson
This conference prediction is what we in the business call a slam dunk. In the ACC it's pretty much Florida State, Clemson....and then everyone else. The Seminoles return last year's Heisman winner and lots of talent on defense, while their only real conference challengers (Clemson) lost all of their offensive firepower as we in Buffalo are well aware of. (See Watkins, Sammy). Bobby Petrino is back in Louisville but I don't expect much noise from the Cards in the first season in a "real" power conference. The 'Noles should cruise.
Dark Horse Team: Texas
Player to watch: Bryce Petty, QB Baylor
The Big 12 is a passing party every single week, and this year is no exception as the conference boasts some of the best offensive talent in the country. Oklahoma is coming off a monster Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and finally have a rock solid starter in Trevor Knight at QB. Last year's champion Baylor will be sure to light up the scoreboard, but eventually their defense will have to make plays if they want to roll with the big boys. But hey, don't take my word for it, you can watch the Bears prolific passing attack and Heisman candidate Bryce Petty in our own backyard as Baylor takes on UB on Friday, September 12th.
Dark Horse Team: USC
Player to Watch: Brett Hundley, QB UCLA
Could this finally be the year the Pac-12 catches up to the SEC? Maybe. They are definitely on their way with 4 teams in the preseason top 15 this year. The hype machine is certainly in full swing for UCLA, but will their inexperience at the top prove to be their demise? I think fans in Westwood will be set up for a disappointing season in the W-L column, but a spectacular season out of QB Brett Hundley. As for the conference champ, it will once again come down to the winner of the Oregon vs Stanford game in early November, and this year I think the Ducks FINALLY take care of business. Quack Quack.
Dark Horse Team: South Carolina
Player to watch: Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
Despite being dethroned as kings of the college football world last year, nobody can question the depth that this conference brings every single season. You know the teams, but the players are different this year. There's no McCarron, Mettenberger, Manziel or Murray, but make no mistake, there is still lots of talent. Alabama rolls out the best WR/RB combo in the country led by Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon. Georgia's power tandem of Marshall and Gurley is back for the third straight year. The number one ranked freshman in the country sits in the backfield of LSU, and oh yeah, last years champion Auburn is one of the only schools to return their starting QB. Last year there were crazy upsets and finishes and we can only hope the same will occur this season. After the dust settles, I think it's Georgia's experience that pushes them over the edge as conference champs.
College Football Playoff:
Georgia vs Florida State
Oklahoma vs Michigan State