The 8 Most Exciting College Football Teams in the Country
It's almost that time of the year. No, not the holiday in December, but the holiday college football fans eagerly await all year for: the beginning of the new season.
Each year brings us surprise teams and dark-horse contenders for the Heisman Trophy, and fans of every school can dream that this year will be the year. OK, that may be a bit presumptuous, but nonetheless, the start of a new season brings hope to all fans.
Whether it is because of individual players or coaches, fans around the country look forward to watching specific teams play. Obviously, the more a team scores, the more exciting they are. However, scoring points isn't necessarily the only qualifier to be on this list.
Will two-time defending national champion Alabama be on this list? What about your favorite team?
8. South Carolina
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When you see South Carolina on this list, the first thing that comes to your mind is head coach Steve Spurrier. Spurrier, one of the top offensive minds in the game, has often had to win with defense since taking over at South Carolina eight years ago.
This season will be no different. Spurrier features a rare athlete on his team in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is so good he could have been the No. 1 player taken in this year's NFL draft. He will likely have that opportunity again in 2014. But for now, Clowney has an outside shot at the Heisman Trophy, which makes the Gamecocks an exciting team to watch.
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Robert Griffin III put Baylor on the map in 2011 when he won the Heisman Trophy. However, with Griffin lighting up NFL defenses in 2012, the Bears finished No. 2 nationally in total offense behind the much less heralded Nick Florence at quarterback.
For the third straight year, head coach Art Briles will have a new man behind center. In 2013, Bryce Petty takes over at quarterback after sitting behind Griffin and Florence for three years.
Petty has an outstanding cast around him led by terrific junior running back Lache Seastrunk. Baylor will once again be among the highest-scoring teams in the country in 2013.
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Rich Rodriguez's first season in Tucson couldn't have gone much better for Arizona fans. Rodriguez led the Wildcats to an 8-5 record, including a bowl win over Nevada.
While Rodriguez does have to replace Matt Scott at quarterback, he does return Ka'Deem Carey at running back. Carey led the nation in rushing with 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Rodriguez's system will always put points on the board. He has a really outstanding player in Carey, and if he can get something out of the quarterback this season, the 'Cats will be a team to watch in the Pac-12.
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When you have the top quarterback in the nation, you belong on this list. Louisville happens to be a pretty good football team, too.
Junior Teddy Bridgewater returns behind center and is one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Bridgewater's coming-out party was in the Sugar Bowl when the Cardinals trounced the heavily favored Florida Gators from the vaunted SEC.
Head coach Charlie Strong will put together a solid defense while Bridgewater will put a lot of points on the board. Things are looking up for the Cardinals. The only problem is they play in the new American Athletic Conference, but that's just for the short term.
4. Ohio State
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Junior Braxton Miller's first year as quarterback in Urban Meyer's zone-read offense couldn't have gone much better. The Buckeyes finished 12-0, but of course were ineligible for bowl play.
Miller figures to be much better in his second year in the offense. The cast around Miller is solid, too. The Buckeyes are in good shape at all of the offensive skill positions.
The Buckeyes may not have the level of talent Meyer enjoyed at Florida yet, but they are well on their way. And there is no better quarterback for this offense than Miller. Meyer will have the Buckeyes challenging for multiple national titles, and that quest could begin this year.
Oh, and keep an eye on cornerback Bradley Roby. Not only is he the best corner in the nation, but he is also an electrifying return man as well.
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While Johnny Manziel, Bridgewater and Miller may get more hype for the Heisman, Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd is a very strong candidate.
Now entering his third season as the starter, Boyd is as talented of a passer as he is a runner. He possesses a strong arm and is well-versed in offensive coordinator Chad Morris' scheme.
While Boyd lost DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington to the NFL, he does get a healthy Sammy Watkins back. Watkins, outside of USC's Marqise Lee, is the most talented receiver in the nation. He and Boyd will connect for quite a few big plays in 2013 and have Tiger fans dreaming of something much bigger than the ACC title.
2. Texas A&M
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Say what you want about sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, but he is without a doubt the most exciting player in all of college football. He showed how great he was last year in the upset win at Alabama.
Manziel is surrounded by a host of good players, led by senior left tackle Jake Matthews and wide receiver Mike Evans. The Aggies are loaded at running back, too, led by returning starter Ben Malena.
As great as the talent is in College Station, and it is elite, it's easy to forget head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin, in just one year at Texas A&M, has made the Aggies relevant again and will be on the short list of every major college head coaching job as well as some in the NFL. He is one of the best offensive coaches in the game, and the Aggies will play at a much faster pace than most of the SEC would like.
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Chip Kelly's departure to the NFL doesn't keep Oregon from being the most exciting team in college football in 2013. New head coach Mark Helfrich served as Kelly's offensive coordinator the past four years and not much is expected to change offensively for the Ducks.
Sophomore Marcus Mariota returns at quarterback. Mariota is the perfect quarterback for Oregon's spread offense. He is big, strong, fast and can break a game open at any time with his arm or his legs.
Junior De'Anthony Thomas returns in 2013 as a do-everything wide receiver/running back. Thomas is a matchup nightmare and will line up everywhere on the field. Thomas rushed for 701 yards last season and also led the team in receptions. The Ducks also happen to return their top three receivers from last season, too.
The biggest question facing Helfrich is if he will be as aggressive as Kelly. Regardless, there is no team in college football that is more fun to watch than the Ducks. And no, that isn't because of the ever-changing uniforms.