College Football Preview: What to Watch for

With the college football season right around the corner, fans have a lot to look forward to as teams get ready to make their claim for the national title.

Less than a week away from the start of the college football season, the buzz around the FBS has been centered around teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers, who are geared up to make another run at a championship-caliber season.

The returning champions, the Crimson Tide, are ranked first according to the Associated Press’ top 25 rankings. Behind them is the runner-up from last season in Clemson, sitting at the No. 2 spot. Teams like Oklahoma, Florida State and LSU round off the top five. Other notable teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Stanford and Notre Dame help fill out the AP top 25 rankings as listed by NCAA.com.

After coming off of a championship season the Alabama Crimson Tide have a lot to live up to. Just like every offseason, Alabama lost a good amount of starters to the 2016 NFL draft. One name to note amongst others is the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in running back Derrick Henry. With the losses of key players, head coach Nick Saban’s 2016 recruiting class still ranked No. 1 among all FBS college football teams. Like usual, Saban reloaded his team with three 5-star recruits and 14 4-star recruits who will be expected to fill some of the holes left by those who entered the draft last season.

For the Clemson Tigers, Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson makes his return as the leading Heisman candidate. After a disappointing loss in the national championship game, Watson’s return to the team means there is only one thing on the mind of Clemson Tigers, and that is winning a national title.

While Saban’s Crimson Tide and head coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are the front-runners to win the national championship, teams like LSU, Oklahoma and Stanford plan to make there own run at a national title with their respected Heisman Candidates.

At the head of the Heisman chase is Clemson’s Watson. In 2015, Watson put up astounding numbers as a quarterback. In 13 regular season games, the 6’2” quarterback passed for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns. Watson’s dual-threat ability as a quarterback is what separates him from the rest of the pack. Along with his passing statistics, Watson ran for 1,105 yards and scored 12 touchdowns by way of the ground. His ability to run and pass makes him one of the most dangerous players in college football this season.

Looking to surpass Watson in the Heisman race are running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. LSU’s Fournette was last season’s front-runner for the Heisman Trophy through much of the regular season. Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry with 22 touchdowns to pair with. Coming into his junior year, Fournette will look to improve on his already impressive stats while chasing down Watson as the leading Heisman candidate.

Not far behind Watson and Fournette is Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey ended his season with 3,864 all-purpose yards, breaking the NCAA record. Maybe he can come back and break his own record set just last season and take the Heisman trophy with him.

Other Heisman hopefuls like Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook each have a shot at winning the Heisman as well. However, the only way they will have the best oppotunity is by making the biggest impact for their respective teams through the regular season and into into the College Football Playoffs.

As the season progresses, be sure to look out for teams like Michigan and Ohio State to work their way into the top five. Also, teams like TCU, Baylor and Oregon who are ranked lower could make big leaps in the AP Top 25 rankings with the help of their explosive offenses this season. With all the Heisman hopefuls you could wish for and teams in the hunt for a national title, it should make for an exciting season in college football.

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