A capsule look at Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision conferences that include Carolinas schools:
Favorites: Florida State, Clemson (Atlantic); Miami (Coastal); Florida State (overall).
Contenders: Louisville (Atlantic); Virginia Tech (Coastal).
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Players to watch: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville); QB Deondre Francois (Florida State); DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson); DE Harold Landry (Boston College); WR Jaylen Samuels (N.C. State); QB David Jones (Duke).
Comment: Florida State and Miami meet Sept. 16 in Tallahassee and could have a Dec. 2 title-game rematch in Charlotte. The Seminoles have 20 starters returning but face a big test in their division from Clemson. The Coastal Division is a wide-open affair, although Miami has the edge in offensive talent.
Favorites: Georgia (East), Alabama (West); Alabama (overall)
Contenders: Florida (East); Auburn and LSU (West)
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are picked fourth of seven in the East, with linebacker Skai Moore anchoring a strong defense.
Players to watch: RB Nick Chubb (Georgia); WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M); RB Derrius Guice (LSU); DE Arden Key (LSU); DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama); RB Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).
Comment: With a powerful defense and wide receiver Calvin Ridley, Alabama is again the team to beat. LSU’s Guice had 1,387 yards rushing on a part-time basis last year, and Pettway (if he stays healthy) gives Auburn a strong ground game. Georgia and Florida look to battle it out in the East.
Favorites: South Florida (East), Memphis (West); South Florida (overall).
Contenders: Central Florida, Temple (East); Houston, Navy (West).
East Carolina: The Pirates, picked fifth of six in the East, lost stellar WR Zay Jones but have their No. 2 through No. 5 receivers back.
Players to watch: QB Riley Ferguson (Memphis); DT Ed Oliver (Houston); QB Quinton Flowers (South Florida); LB Shaquem Griffin (Central Florida); RB D’Angelo Brewer (Tulsa).
Comment: Ferguson, a Butler High product, passed for a school-record 32 touchdowns last season. South Florida has former Louisville and Texas coach Charlie Strong as its new head coach, along with Flowers, the 2016 conference player of the year.
Favorites: Western Kentucky (East), Louisiana Tech (West); Western Kentucky (overall).
Contenders: Middle Tennessee State, Old Dominion (East); Texas-San Antonio (West).
Charlotte: The 49ers are picked last in the seven-team East for the third straight year.
Players to watch: QB Mike White (Western Kentucky); LB Joel Iyiegbuniwae (Western Kentucky); QB Brent Stockstill (Middle Tennessee State); LB Josiah Tauaefa (Texas-San Antonio); RB Ray Lowery (Old Dominion).
Comment: Western Kentucky has six defensive starters back and offensive firepower from White, who threw for 4,383 yards in 2016. The league is loaded with big-name coaches, including Lane Kiffin (Florida Atlantic), Butch Davis (Florida International) and Skip Holtz (Louisiana Tech).
Favorites: Appalachian State, Troy
Contenders: Arkansas State, South Alabama, Idaho
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers are picked last of 12 teams, as they lost 14 starters from a year ago. RB Marcus Outlaw, a Boston College transfer, will play a key role.
Players to watch: QB Brandon Silvers (Troy); RB Jalin Moore (Appalachian State); DB Clifton Duck (Appalachian State); DL Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State).
Comment: With 14 starters back, including Shelby’s Moore and Butler High product Duck, Appalachian State is the favorite. The Mountaineers don’t have to play Troy or Arkansas State this season. Idaho, behind QB Matt Linehon, could be a sleeper in its final season before dropping to FCS.
FCS LEAGUES Big South
Favorites: Charleston Southern, Kennesaw State
Contenders: Gardner-Webb, Monmouth
Players to watch: QB Tyrell Maxwell (Gardner-Webb); D: Anthony Ellis (Charleston Southern); RB Darnell Holland (Kennesaw State).
Comment: Charleston Southern returns 16 starters from its conference title team, but also has a new head coach in Mark Tucker. ...Maxwell gives Gardner-Webb a big-play threat. ...The Nov. 11 Charleston Southern-Kennesaw State game should decide the title.
Favorite: James Madison
Contenders: Richmond, Villanova
Players to watch: QB Kyle Lauletta (Richmond); RB Kendall Anderson (William & Mary).
Comment: Defending national FCS champ James Madison has 14 starters back. ...New Hampshire has reached the FCS playoffs 13 straight years. ...Elon is picked 11th of 12 teams, with new coach Curt Cignitti.
Favorite: N.C. Central
Contenders: North Carolina A&T, S.C. State, Bethune-Cookman.
Players to watch: RB Anthony Philyaw (Howard); LB Derius Leonard (S.C. State); QB Lamar Raynard (North Carolina A&T).
Comment: The favored Eagles’ strong defense includes five preseason All-MEAC picks. N.C. A&T will feature a strong offense behind Raynard. S.C. State’s Leonard might be the league’s top player.
Favorites: San Diego, Dayton
Contenders: Marist, Drake
Carolinas schools: Davidson is picked to finish last in the 11-team league but has 2016 Freshman of the Year QB Stockton McGuire. ...Campbell, behind 1,000-yard RB Aaron Blackman, is picked for fifth.
Players to watch: QB Anthony Lawrence (San Diego); CB Christian Searles (Dayton).
Comment: San Diego is four-time defending league champion. ...Dayton lost 10 starters but should have a strong defense. Marist has 14 returning starters.
Contenders: The Citadel, Samford
Players to watch: QB Devlin Hodges (Samford); DB Dailik Williams (The Citadel); RB Detrez Newsome (Western Carolina).
Comment: Wofford has an outstanding defense, with four preseason all-conference defensive selections. ...The Citadel, behind Williams, is almost as strong on defense.