The Scoop is back…..Ready for some football

The National Championship Game comes to Miami this season. Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 the last time the game was held there.

Alright… It’s time to get back into what drives people crazy, causes fathers to disown their sons, and what makes Vegas millions of dollars.  Nope, it’s not prostitutes. It’s college football.

Since the Penn State scandal has dominated the landscape of college football over the past nine months, it is time to get back to on the field issues, especially with conference purging….excuse me, realignment.

Among the highlights:

College football will have a real national championship settled on the field when a four-team playoff starts in 2014. Missouri and Texas A&M prepare for a thrashing in the now 14-team SEC, with West Virginia and TCU being their replacements in the 10-team Big 12.

No one really cares about the preseason rankings except the fans of those schools, as much of it is mostly hype and so whoever is #1 at the start of the season will not likely be crowned the national champion.

We all know what happened to last year’s preseason #1 Oklahoma. The Sooners lost their starting running back and wide receiver to season-ending injuries and somehow went 10-3 and won the Insight Bowl.

The Pac-12 with new coaches Todd Graham (Arizona State), Mike Leach (Washington State), Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) and Jim Mora (UCLA) will bring a brand of pass happy, no-huddle style (not to mention, no defense) that will put West Coast football on the map once again.

Trojans quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite Matt Barkley will lead a loaded USC team. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The last six national champions (all from the SEC) have started the preseason in this order.

2006: Florida (preseason No. 7)
2007: LSU (No. 2)
2008: Florida (No. 5)
2009: Alabama (No. 5)
2010: Auburn (No. 22)
2011: Alabama (No. 2)

By the way, Florida State in 1999 and Southern California in 2004 are the only schools ever to start the season at #1, go wire-to-wire and win a national championship.

Running back #fail:
It’s seems like every offseason, college kids like to get up close and personal with their local law enforcement agencies. This past season was no exception.

Former Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell was charged with multiple felonies, including carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a weapon in a school zone. He is now enrolled at Alabama State. (Yeah, had to look them up too.)

Former Iowa back De’Andre Johnson was cited by cops twice….in a three-day period.  It quickly got him to the boot.

And speaking of screwing up second chances. When the cops call you a dumbass, as in the case of former Auburn and Arkansas State running back Michael Dyer, then your chances to earn a college education and play football are pretty much dried up.

Get acquainted with college football’s most unusual names  
Among the greats: Zeek Bigger, a linebacker from East Carolina; safety BooBoo Gates of Bowling Green, defensive tackle Ego Ferguson out of LSU, running back Mister Jones from Colorado State and tight end George George from Virginia Tech. And yes, these are their real names.

Don’t expect the Crimson Tide to hold up the crystal ball again this season. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Preseason Top 10 (unofficially)

The AP poll is scheduled to be released Aug. 18, and Penn State is eligible for the poll despite heavy sanctions by the NCAA.

1.    Alabama
Last season: 12-1; won BCS National Championship; returning starters: 14
The Crimson Tide occupies this spot until someone beats them.  It’s as simple as that.  Early style points in the beginning of the season mean nothing, because one loss in September or October can still land you a prime BCS or national title berth. Expect the Tide to reload at every position and be just a dominant as last season.

2.   Southern California
Last season: 10-2; no postseason; returning starters: 18
This season’s flavor of the year, USC comes into the 2012 season loaded on offense, led by Heisman candidate quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw 39 TD’s last season and stud receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. The offensive line is strong and the youthful defense will see a vast improvement under ageless defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  The question is who in the Pac-12’s defensively challenged conference will stop the Trojans. The answer is no one.

3.    LSU
Last season: 13-1;  lost National Championship game;  returning starters: 13
The Tigers’ atrocious offense is to blame for them not even putting up a fight in the national title game.  On comes Georgia transfer, 6 foot 5, 245 pound Zach Mettenberger, who is more capable than any Tiger quarterback in the past five years.  The strengths are the running game, defensive front and special teams. The Mad Hatter has the boys from the bayou primed for another run.

 4.    Oregon
Last season: 12-2; won Rose Bowl;  won Rose Bowl;  returning starters: 17
College football’s version of the New England Patriots (can score on anyone on offense, can’t stop anyone on defense) brings back their high-octane offense.  But there are huge questions on offense, particularly at quarterback and receiver so the defense must play well until those issues are solved. Their first four games are at home, so that should give them time to settle in. But this group, even with the loss of QB Darron Thomas and All-American LaMichael James, should content for a Pac-12 title.

 5.   Oklahoma
Last season: 10-3;  won Insight Bowl;  returning starters: 18
Once again, the Sooners will take their rightful place in top five (warranted or not) of every preseason poll.  If quarterback Landry Jones can stop throwing the ball to the other team and Oklahoma can establish a running game, big things are ahead.  The defense should be much improved with coordinator Mike Stoops back in the fold.
OU should be favored in every game, but it will come down to their last three games– at West Virginia on Nov. 17, home against Oklahoma State on Nov. 24 and at TCU on Dec. 1, which will decide their fate.
 

6.  South Carolina
Last season: 11-2;  won Capital One Bowl;  returning starters: 14
The Gamecocks will go as far as running back Marcus Lattimore will go. Lattimore is coming off an ACL injury and head coach Steve Spurrier has yet to display the offense from a decade ago at Florida.  The Gamecocks won a school-record 11 games last season, but will be hard pressed to duplicate that success. The defense will cause problems with the pass rush but the back end will need to replace linebacker Antonio Allen and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

7.  Georgia
Last season: 10-4; lost Outback Bowl; returning starters: 15
Head coach Mark Richt was one or two losses from the unemployment line last season and calls for his job will likely continue if he doesn’t get the Bulldogs to a BCS bowl game in 2012. The dismissal of Crowell is huge and the running game is still to the point where it isn’t going to scare people.  Three-year starter at quarterback Aaron Murray is back as well as all of his receiving weapons. The defense will be fierce as they return 10 starters, including linebacker Jarvis Jones and his 13.5 sacks and All-American safety Bacarri Rambo.

 8.  Florida State
Last season: 9-4, won Champs Sports Bowl; returning starters: 19
The bulk of Florida State’s problem last season was with their offense line and if they can’t keep talented quarterback E.J. Manuel upright, the Seminoles stay in the Top 10 will be quick, just as it was last year. The bright spot is the defense where sophomore defensive tackle Tim Jernigan has All-American potential. But with defensive back and return specialist Greg Reid being booted from the team, Florida State will need someone to step up immediately. The schedule is manageable with road games at Miami and Virginia Tech as potential stumbling blocks.

 9.  Michigan
Last season: 11-2; won Sugar Bowl; returning starters: 16
As explosive as quarterback Denard Robinson is, he will need to stay away from the turnovers if the Wolverines have any chance at the Big Ten title.  Once again, their defense could be an issue, as they lost three defensive linemen and the linebacking corps is a big question mark.  The schedule is no joke with Alabama to start the season and trips to Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State looms down the season. This team can easily go 12-1 or 8-5.

 10.  Arkansas
Last season: 11-2; won Cotton Bowl; returning starters: 13
Even with the loss of head coach Bobby Petrino, the Hogs are going to put up points and with a favorable schedule (hosts Alabama and LSU at home) can contend for a possible national title. The question is can they stop anyone.  The defense was an issue last season, and the offense featuring quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis might simply have to outscore teams. The special teams are a solid group.

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~ by Scooby Axson on August 1, 2012.

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