1. The First Four: It’s Year 1 of the College Football Playoff, and almost everybody with a pen or Twitter account has an opinion about which four teams will vie for the national championship.
Pat Forde, whose “Forde-Yard Dash” at Yahoo! is always a recommended read for college football fans, is a voice of reason among the noise.
Forde likes FSU, UCLA, Michigan State and an SEC Team To Be Named. (Forde actually “named” Auburn but admitted he has no real idea who will win the league.)
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2. Slowing down the hurry-up: N.C. State and East Carolina averaged 81 offensive plays last season. UNC averaged almost 75. Don’t be surprised if those totals drop. It’s all part of the official plan to slow down hurry-up offenses.
Formalizing ideas they’ve discussed among themselves, officials have added pace-of-play procedures in the officiating mechanics manual. It’s not specific rules, but more of an outline on how to appease the up-tempo offenses while keeping the defenses relatively happy.
“It’s not revolutionary, but it sort of calls attention to the need for the officials not to make the ball ready for play until all the officials are in position,” said NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding, a referee in the SEC from 1994-2004. “That may mean cleaning up the sideline before, but having the umpire sort of crisply jog but don’t sprint, hustle but don’t hurry in getting the ball ready for play.”
3. So long, Legends and Leaders: The Big Ten’s ill-fated attempt at creativity lasted all of three seasons. (And you thought the only time the B1G teams went three-and-out was against SEC teams.) Nobody could remember who was in which division, anyway. East and West is simple, just like those offenses.
4. Jameis Winston: Man, can he escape trouble ...
Tracking the Top 25
Saturday’s games ... comments where deserving.
No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State at Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m.: “Dallas to Dallas” is the Noles’ theme. Only two champions overcame a season-opening loss (Alabama in 1965, Miami in 1983).
No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia at Atlanta, 3:30 p.m.: T.J. Yeldon. Derrick Harvey. Kenyan Drake. With running backs like that does it really matter who plays QB for the Tide?
No. 3 Oregon vs. South Dakota, 10:30 p.m.: Expect Ducks QB Marcus Mariota to get his Heisman candidacy off to a good start. His career highs are 456 yards and 6 TD passes.
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. Navy at Baltimore, Noon: True, freshman QB T.J. Barrett is replacing injured Heisman candidate Braxton Miller, and Navy dual-threat QB Keenan Reynolds might remind some of Michigan’s Denard Robinson, but ...
No. 6 Auburn vs. Arkansas, 4 p.m.
No. 7 UCLA at Virginia, Noon: In 2011, the Cavs lost to Southern Miss, barely beat Indiana and needed OT to knock off Idaho. Point being: They weren’t exactly equipped to deal with what’s come next. Their non-con opponents included Penn State and No. 17 Texas Tech in 2012, and No. 2 Oregon last season.
No. 11 Stanford vs. UC Davis, 4 p.m.
No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 16 Clemson, 5:30 p.m.: Dabo realized Tajh Boyd wasn’t going to be around this year, right? Senior Cole Stoudt, son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, makes his first start. Could be worse. He could have to try to tackle Todd Gurley.
No. 13 LSU vs. No. 14 Wisconsin at Houston, 9 p.m.: The Leonard Fournette era begins at LSU as Tigers get a chance show off their new star tailback on a national stage.
No. 15 Southern Cal vs. Fresno State, 7:30 p.m.
No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Rice, 3:30 p.m.: After an academic suspension cost him last season, Everett Golson returns for the Irish in his first game since BCS blowout against Alabama. This should be easier.
No. 20 Kansas State vs. Stephen F. Austin, 7:10 p.m.
No. 22 Nebraska vs. FAU, 3:30 p.m.
No. 23 North Carolina vs. Liberty, 6 p.m.: If Turner Gill were playing QB for Liberty instead of coaching, the Flames would have a much better chance of exposing UNC’s suspension-riddled secondary.
No. 24 Missouri vs. South Dakota State, 3:30 p.m.
No. 25 Washington at Hawaii, 10:30 p.m.
No. 10 Baylor vs. SMU, 7:30 p.m.
Number to know
0 Teams from outside the Power 5 conferences ranked in the preseason Top 25 AP or coaches’ poll. Does it matter? Central Florida finished 10th and beat Baylor in a BCS bowl last season after not being initially ranked.
“Dumbest thing: The entire state of North Carolina (UNC, N. C. State, Duke and Wake Forest) playing a total of one non-conference September game against a power-five conference opponent. And that’s being awfully kind to Kansas, which visits Duke on Sept. 13.” – Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde.
Compiled by Chris Wright with help from the Associated Press, Yahoo! and various team websites