Every BCS Team's Biggest Concern Heading into Fall Camp
Fall camp is only days away for college teams across the country. With every camp comes a lot of optimism, but also plenty of concerns.
No matter how good some fans might think a team is, there is always going to be things to worry about, particularly in the eyes of head coaches. Teams face issues such as a particular game during the season or injuries to key players.
No matter what, every BCS team has a major concern.
Here they are.
*Notre Dame and BYU are included with the BCS teams
Alabama Crimson Tide
Biggest concern: Coming up with a game plan to stop Johnny Manziel
The man who ruined Alabama's perfect season will once again be in the way this year as Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel await the Crimson Tide in Week 2.
Head coach Nick Saban has undoubtedly been putting together a game plan all offseason to try to stop Manziel. That is the most challenging game on the schedule, and Texas A&M is likely one of only two ranked teams Alabama will play all season long.
No doubt Saban has lost some sleep thinking about slowing down the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. It is hard to imagine Alabama slipping up in many games, but this certainly could be one of them.
Biggest concern: Finding a replacement for Austin Hill
Austin Hill is not only Arizona's top wide receiver, but is also one of the best in the Pac-12.
During the offseason, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear. He is obviously not going to be an easy guy to replace.
Last season, he caught 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are phenomenal numbers for a guy who would have been entering his junior season.
As it is, head coach Rich Rodriguez will have to find a viable replacement.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Biggest concern: A tough early season schedule
Even though Arizona State begins the season against Sacramento State, the Sun Devils have a four-game stretch after that features Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame.
The Sund Devils' non-conference schedule is one of the toughest in the nation, and head coach Todd Graham needs to find a way to get his team through this difficult stretch without too many losses early on. A 1-4 start would put a huge damper on the year.
Biggest concern: Finding offensive playmakers
New head coach Bret Bielema loves to run the football, but he is going to have to find some running backs to replace the departed Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson. Quarterback Tyler Wilson has also moved on, and top wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is gone as well.
No returning skill player has more than 45 carries or 21 receptions.
It might be a bit of a rebuilding process in Fayetteville this year.
Biggest concern: No quarterback stepping up
Auburn struggled all over the field last season, but one position that could use a lot of work is quarterback. Right now, it appears that Kiehl Frazier or Jonathan Wallace will win the starting job.
Neither did much to separate themselves in the spring game, but the success of the team will certainly hinge on the play from this position.
If Frazier and Wallace struggle, it could be another long season at Auburn in 2013.
Biggest concern: Nick Florence and Terrance Williams prove hard to replace
Baylor returns the bulk of its running game, but head coach Art Briles will have to not only find a replacement for quarterback Nick Florence, but also find a wide receiver to fill Terrance Williams' shoes. That will be a tough task, as those two players dominated the Big 12 last season.
It looks like Bryce Petty will be the one who fills in for Florence. It will be hard to live up to the season he had in 2012.
It might take an army of guys to replace Williams, however.
Boston College Eagles
Biggest concern: The running game does not develop
Boston College was one of the worst FBS teams in the country last season, and part of the reason it finished 2-10 was the complete lack of a running game. The Eagles only averaged 90.5 rushing yards, ranking 119th in the country.
New head coach Steve Addazio will need to get some help in the running game for quarterback Chase Rettig if this team wants to win any more than the two games it did last season.
Rettig is a very talented quarterback, but he cannot do it all for an offense that struggled mightily on the ground last year.
Biggest concern: Navigating a challenging schedule
BYU returns some very talented players on both sides of the ball, and it will need that experience to make it through a very difficult schedule.
After facing Virginia to kick off the season, the Cougars take on Texas. There are also road games against Utah State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nevada. At home, BYU will take on Middle Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Boise State.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall certainly has to be concerned about the schedule in 2013.
California Golden Bears
Biggest concern: Finding replacements at the skill positions
California only won three games last season, but to improve on that, it will have to do it with completely new skill players. Similar to Arkansas, the Golden Bears will have to replace a lot of talent at those positions. Running backs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson have departed, along with wide receiver Keenan Allen.
Perhaps the toughest player to replace will be quarterback Zach Maynard. Even though he struggled last season, he was a three-year starter and it will not be easy to compensate for his absence.
New head coach Sonny Dykes will have his hands full getting this program back on track.
Central Florida Knights
Biggest concern: Transitioning to a new league
Central Florida rose to the top of Conference USA over the past few seasons and now will have a new challenge in a new league.
With Penn State and South Carolina posing huge threats outside of league play, the Knights also have the opportunity to take on the likes of Louisville and Rutgers.
The competition this season might be a little more challenging than head coach George O'Leary and his squad are accustomed to.
While it is not the SEC, the new American Athletic Conference is a step up from Conference USA.
Biggest concern: Developing a run game
Cincinnati has had the benefit of having an excellent running game for the past few years with Isaiah Pead and George Winn.
Both those players are gone in 2013, and finding a replacement for them will be a challenge for new head coach Tommy Tuberville.
Jameel Poteat was in line to see some snaps, but he transferred, leaving Ralph David Abernathy IV as the only back on the roster who has seen meaningful action.
The Bearcats will need to have a player or two step up if they are planning on another 10-win season.
Biggest concern: How to win those key games
For the Clemson Tigers, the 2013 season will likely come down to three games.
They begin the season against Georgia, and midway through the year, Florida State comes calling. The Tigers then finish the season up against South Carolina on the road. Head coach Dabo Swinney needs to find a way to win the big games for his Tigers to live up to expectations.
Biggest concern: How to fix an awful defense
Colorado was the worst defensive team in the nation last season, and it wasn't even close.
The Buffaloes ranked last at the FBS level, allowing 46 points a game. New head coach Mike MacIntyre will have his hands full trying to find some players on that side of the ball.
It could be another long season in Boulder if the Buffaloes defense struggles in 2013 like it did in 2012.
Biggest concern: Finding a way to run the football
Connecticut struggled mightily last season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and averaged less than 88 yards a game on the ground. That ranked 121st in the country and was a big reason why the team was also 121st in points scored, averaging less than 18 a game.
Running back Lyle McCombs returns, and he will need to do a little better than the 3.5 yards a carry he averaged last year.
A little assistance along the offensive line will also help.
Duke Blue Devils
Biggest concern: Not having a letdown season
Duke had an excellent season in 2012. The Blue Devils not only qualified for a bowl game, but also defeated rival North Carolina in the process.
The 2013 season is going to be a little more challenging for head coach David Cutcliffe and his squad. There were a lot of experienced players who have departed, and it will be hard to maintain bowl status year in and year out.
Having a down year in 2013 will not be good for a program that appears to be headed in the right direction.
Biggest concern: Jeff Driskel and the offense do not improve
The Florida defense will be tough once again, putting more pressure on quarterback Jeff Driskel. He had his moments during his sophomore year, but the Gators are going to need more if they have any hope of contending in the rugged SEC.
Head coach Will Muschamp certainly has to be wondering if his quarterback can become the player he needs him to be.
If he does not, Florida could find itself in worse shape than it was a season ago.
Florida State Seminoles
Biggest concern: Can EJ Manuel be replaced?
With EJ Manuel headed to the NFL and Clint Trickett transferring to West Virginia, Florida State will rely on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston to run the show.
The Seminoles have enough returning talent, particularly at the running back position, to be able to put some points on the board, but they are going to need a solid season from this youngster to win the ACC and reach a BCS bowl game.
Once again, the defense will be very strong, but the success of the team will hinge on Winston's play.
No matter how good he is, a freshman quarterback is always a cause for concern before the season begins.
Biggest concern: Finding a way to ensure a good start to the season
Georgia will be one of the top teams in the country once again this season, but the schedule is not doing it any favors, particularly early on. The Bulldogs take on Clemson on the road in the season opener and follow that game up with South Carolina at home.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the country to play two such challenging games to start the season.
Good thing there is an experienced quarterback in Aaron Murray to lead the team. A couple losses could ruin the year just a week into September.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Biggest concern: Vad Lee does not fill the shoes of Tevin Washington
Tevin Washington is no longer at Georgia Tech, and sophomore Vad Lee will be taking over at the quarterback position. Many thought Lee was the better of the two by the end of last season, and now he will get a chance to prove himself.
It is a whole different ballgame when a player is the starter as opposed to when he is just filling in.
If he does not live up to the expectations, it could be a long season for the Yellow Jackets.
Biggest concern: Finding a way to replace star running back Charles Sims
Houston is one of four teams jumping from Conference USA to the new American Athletic Conference, and it might be a long year for the Cougars in 2013.
The Cougars managed to win five games last season, and it's not going to be easy now that Sims is transferring to West Virginia.
Do not expect Tony Levine's squad to get anywhere close to the bowl conversation in 2013.
Ilinois Fighting Illini
Biggest concern: Will Nathan Scheelhaase play well?
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has regressed every year at Illinois, and he needs to turn things around in his senior season.
Last year, he missed two games and was limited in a few others, but only managed to pass for 1,361 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.
If he has a season like that again in 2013, the Fighting Illini might have another two-win season. That would be a nightmare.
Biggest concern: Finding a way to build on the four wins from last season
Indiana made more noise last year than it had in quite some time, and with three games remaining, the Hoosiers controlled their own destiny to win the Big Ten.
Obviously, that came nowhere close to happening and the Hoosiers finished the year 4-8. But the two wins in conference play were a step in the right direction.
Regressing in 2013 would not be good for head coach Kevin Wilson and his staff. Another finish near the bottom of the league, and Wilson may find himself on the hot seat.
Biggest concern: Preventing a repeat finish of last season
Last year, Iowa started off by wining four of its first six games, including 2-0 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes then proceeded to lose their final six games to finish the year 4-8.
The biggest concern for head coach Kirk Ferentz would be another season ending like 2012 did.
Iowa State Cyclones
Biggest concern: Finding replacements at the linebacker position
Iowa State qualified for a bowl game each of the past two seasons, and a lot of that was due to the success the team had on defense—particularly the linebacker position. Both A.J. Klein and Jake Knott were excellent during their collegiate careers, and now head coach Paul Rhoads will need to find some viable replacements.
While there are some candidates, it is going to be hard to replace what these two guys did over the past few years.
Biggest concern: Finding a way to win a league game
Kansas was one of the worst teams in the country last year, only managing to win one game.
This year, head coach Charlie Weis could only do worse if his team does not win at all. While that is not likely, it certainly is not out of the question as the 2013 season approaches.
The season opener against South Dakota should be the one the Jayhawks get. After that, the schedule features 11 games against bowl-eligible teams from last season.
If Weis does not get a win against another Big 12 team, he may be out the door before the season is over.
Kansas State Wildcats
Biggest concern: Replacing Collin Klein
Kansas State rode the shoulders of quarterback Collin Klein over the past few seasons and now will have to find a way to move on without him. Head coach Bill Snyder certainly knows what he is doing, but replacing Klein will be a big task.
The Wildcats have had a lot of success in recent years, but with the strength of the schedule and Klein moving on, it is not out of the question for this team to miss out on a bowl game.
If Klein proves to be irreplaceable, it is not going to be a typical season in Manhattan.
Biggest concern: Not living up to the hype
While there is certainly not a lot of hype surrounding the Kentucky program compared to others in the SEC, there is a lot more than there has been in recent years. The Wildcats struggled mightily in 2012, only winning two games and going winless in SEC play.
With new head coach Mark Stoops in town, there is some optimism surrounding the program. If the Wildcats have a season like they did in 2012, the fanbase won't have those good feelings for long.
A two- or three-win season would certainly be a big disappointment for Stoops and the Kentucky faithful.
Biggest concern: Living up to the hype
Even though Louisville is nowhere close to the most talented team in the country, the Cardinals might have the best chance of anybody in the country to run the table and go undefeated. They are playing in a relatively weak conference, so it would be a huge disappointment if they did not win the league.
The only two legitimate challenges on the schedule are a home game against Rutgers and a road trip to Cincinnati to finish out the year.
Finding a way to not crumble under the pressure will be harder than this team might think. Living up to the hype is the biggest concern for Charlie Strong as the season begins.
Biggest concern: Zach Mettenberger
The LSU defense lost a lot of talent, but the group will be strong once again in 2013.
There is no question that the running game will be the team's strength, but the success of the season might hinge on the play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He showed signs of improvement last season, but still has a ways to go if the Tigers are going to turn some heads and reach a BCS bowl game.
Biggest concern: Staying healthy at quarterback
No team in the country suffered more devastating injuries at the quarterback position than Maryland in 2012. The Terrapins lost four starting quarterbacks, and by the end of the season, they had to resort to a freshman linebacker to line up under center. No doubt that head coach Randy Edsall has been thinking about that all spring long.
Some healthy quarterbacks will almost certainly mean more wins in 2013 for the Terrapins.
Biggest concern: The schedule
Memphis is another team that struggled in Conference USA last year and will now be moving into a much tougher league in 2013.
The non-conference schedule is not very favorable either, with Duke, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State to get things started.
Do not expect this team to put together more than the four wins it did in 2012. It could be a long year in Memphis, mainly because of a tough schedule.
Biggest concern: The young players do not develop
Miami is quickly developing into the national power it was a decade ago. With that being said, the Hurricanes are going to rely heavily on some young talent this season.
While Stephen Morris is very experienced at the quarterback position, there is plenty of youth throughout the field, particularly on defense.
The offense is led by sophomore running back Duke Johnson. Those young players will need to make some improvements for Miami to live up to the hype in 2013.
Biggest concern: Devin Gardner at quarterback
Devin Gardner filled in rather nicely last season in the absence of Denard Robinson, but now he will be the go-to guy on offense for the Wolverines. Whether or not he can sustain that success for the entire season remains to be seen.
Gardner is certainly a threat with his legs, but whether or not his accuracy can hold up under pressure for the entire season is certainly the biggest concern for Michigan heading into the 2013 campaign.
Michigan State Spartans
Biggest concern: Finding a way to put points on the board
Not many players in the nation carried a bigger workload than Le'Veon Bell did at Michigan State last season.
The workhorse carried the ball 382 times for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the offense for Michigan State, and now that he left early for the NFL, head coach Mark Dantonio will have to find a viable replacement.
This offense might be in worse shape than it was a season ago, and that is not a good sign for 2013.
The quarterback position is another issue as well.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Biggest concern: Finding a way to win close games once again
Last season, Minnesota had the advantage of winning some close games—particularly out of conference against much lesser opponents. That helped propel the Golden Gophers to a bowl game after a 6-6 regular season.
If Minnesota plans on having a repeat season in 2013, it is going to have to start off the season strong, as it's facing three below-average squads, including UNLV, New Mexico State and Western Illinois.
Ole Miss Rebels
Biggest concern: Getting some production from the talented freshman class
The 2013 Ole Miss recruiting class has been well-documented in recent months, and a lot of expectations have been put on that group. Many of those are not fair, as it is going to be very difficult for most of these guys to contribute from day one.
If that does not happen, people in Mississippi might get a little antsy as the season progresses. Not getting at least something out of this class in 2013 would be cause for concern for Hugh Freeze.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Biggest concern: Losing a game it is not supposed to
The main reason Mississippi State went 8-5 last season was because it beat all of the teams it was supposed to.
That is not always going to be the case, and if the Bulldogs want to have the season they did in 2012, they are going to have to beat all of the teams they will be favored against.
There are not a lot of games they won't have a chance to win, but an early loss to an opponent they should beat could derail the season entirely.
Biggest concern: Keeping James Franklin healthier
Missouri struggled to a 5-7 season in 2012, and a lot of that was due to the health of quarterback James Franklin. When 100 percent healthy, he is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the conference, but that was not the case for much of last season.
If he gets hurt again, it will be another long season for the Tigers. If he can stay healthy, this could very easily be a bowl team.
Staying healthy is one thing, but returning to old form is another. That is not going to be easy, particularly against the tough defenses in the SEC.
Biggest concern: Keeping Taylor Martinez on the field
Even though Taylor Martinez is nowhere close to being the best quarterback in the country, he is as valuable as just about anybody to his team, simply because the Cornhuskers do not have an experienced replacement behind him.
Martinez is a senior, and there is no other quarterback in the program who has seen any meaningful action, as he has been the starter for virtually his entire career.
If something happened to him this season, head coach Bo Pelini might not know what to do.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Biggest concern: Developing a running game without Giovani Bernard
North Carolina relied heavily on the running game, led by Giovani Bernard, last season. He has now moved on to the NFL, and quarterback Bryn Renner returns for his senior season without his best playmaker.
Developing a solid running game will be the key to the season for North Carolina. If that does not happen, it could be a long year in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels.
It looks like A.J. Blue will be the go-to guy out of the backfield. He needs to step up big for the Tar Heels in 2013.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Biggest concern: Replacing Mike Glennon
North Carolina State had to say goodbye to a very talented quarterback in Mike Glennon. He was very successful the past two seasons and will be sorely missed in Raleigh this year.
This was similar to what happened two years ago when Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin. Only this time, the team might not have a viable replacement.
One guy who might have a slight edge in the quarterback competition is Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell. Whether or not he can replace Glennon is a huge question, and the Wolfpack could have a nightmare season if he cannot.
Biggest concern: Starting the season slow
Northwestern does not play the cupcakes at the beginning of the season that some teams do, and with how much the Wildcats have progressed in recent years, getting off to a good start in 2013 is essential to building momentum.
They have a road trip to California to start off the year, followed by a home game against Syracuse. Northwestern needs to win these two games to continue to build on last season. A couple of losses could mean a downward spiral.
Needless to say, that would be somewhat of a nightmare.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Biggest Concern: Can Tommy Rees replace Everett Golson?
Notre Dame fans and the college football world were shocked to hear that starting quarterback Everett Golson was no longer enrolled at the university.
Brian Kelly's worst nightmare has already come true, particularly with the transfer of quarterback Gunner Kiel to Cincinnati. If Tommy Rees cannot fill in, it could be a long season in South Bend for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame was fortunate to win as many games as it did a season ago, and Rees will be counted on heavily in 2013 if the Irish want to be in BCS contention.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Biggest concern: The passing game does not improve
Braxton Miller will likely be in the Heisman conversation if he can improve on the season he had in 2012.
The junior quarterback is one of the best dual-threats in all of college football. He had an excellent sophomore season, but if he does not take care of the ball and improve through the air, it could be a disappointing season for the Buckeyes.
Miller is the main contributor on offense for Ohio State, and he will need to be outstanding for the team to be competitive once again.
Biggest concern: Navigating a challenging non-conference schedule
Oklahoma did not do itself any favors when it scheduled three very challenging out-of-conference games against teams that finished a combined 31-9 last season.
The Sooners start off the season against Louisiana-Monroe, and then after a conference game against West Virginia, they take on Tulsa, followed by a road game in South Bend against Notre Dame.
There is no doubt that this is one of the toughest non-conference slates in the entire country. It is made even more difficult by the fact that a new quarterback will be under center. A loss would ruin any slim national title hopes for the Sooners.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Biggest concern: No quarterback stands out
Wes Lunt's decision to transfer has left Oklahoma State with two quarterbacks battling for the starting job.
Both Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh bring something different to the table, but head coach Mike Gundy must pick the right starting quarterback for this team to continue the success it has had on offense in recent years.
Whoever he picks must be ready to step up. The Cowboys' quarterback is the key to running the high-flying offense.
If somebody does not perform, it might be a tough season opener against Mississippi State.
Biggest concern: Head coach Chip Kelly is missed
Even though the Oregon Ducks seem to be in good shape, there is always a transition period with a new head coach.
The high-powered offense has been what has made Oregon so successful in recent seasons. Even though the group will likely not miss a beat with Chip Kelly having moved on, if it slows down at all, it could be a very disappointing year in Eugene.
The good thing for Ducks fans is that there is still plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.
Oregon State Beavers
Biggest concern: The difficult schedule to end the year
Looking at the Oregon State schedule, it is very easy to assume that this team could be 7-0 heading into a game against Stanford at the end of October. The bad news for the Beavers, is the final five games of the season are the toughest on the schedule.
The Beavers follow up a meeting with Stanford with USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon.
A fast start and a slow finish is almost certainly on the mind of head coach Mike Riley. That is exactly Oregon State is trying to avoid.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Biggest concern: Keeping the momentum from 2012
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien did as good a job as just about anybody could, guiding the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record in a season filled with scrutiny. Now, he has the unenviable job of trying to do it again.
That is not going to be an easy task, as a letdown is almost certainly on the horizon. While there are some talented players on the roster, there is no way that this team has what it takes to win as many games as it did a season ago.
But, stranger things have happened.
Trying to keep the fanbase around is the biggest task for Penn State this season.
Biggest concern: Transitioning to the ACC
This does not appear to be a good time for Pittsburgh to be upgrading conferences. The Panthers not only lost most of their skill position players, but a lot of other talent on both sides of the ball as well.
Throw in a game against Florida State to kick off the season, and it could be a losing campaign for head coach Paul Chryst and his squad.
Biggest concern: The defense
Purdue came on strong at the end of last season to reach a bowl game, but the Boilermakers still struggled on the defensive side of the ball last year. They finished the season 89th in the country, allowing over 31 points per game.
That is going to have to change if this team plans on getting back to a bowl game—particularly with Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois looming outside of conference play.
New head coach Darrell Hazell has his work cut out for him this coming season.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Biggest concern: Maintaining a running game
Jawan Jamison's decision to enter the draft after his sophomore season was surprising. Now the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will have to try to find a way to win without him.
Junior Savon Huggins is the man in line to replace Jamison, and a lot is riding on his shoulders.
The Rutgers offense struggled enough as it was last season, and if Huggins cannot carry the load, this team could regress heavily in 2013.
Biggest concern: A dropoff in the running game
Even with Zach Line rushing for over 1,200 yards in 2012, the Mustangs still only finished 95th in the country at 132 yards a game. With Line now gone, it might even be a little more difficult for SMU to run the football.
Head coach June Jones will need to find a more balanced attack to succeed in a new conference, particularly with Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU out of conference.
If the Mustangs cannot run the football, they might be in the same situation as Rutgers.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Biggest concern: A challenging early season schedule
South Carolina starts off the season with a relatively grueling stretch. The Gamecocks open up the season against North Carolina and follow that up with a road game against Georgia. They also take on Vanderbilt the following week.
That is not an easy way to open up the season.
South Florida Bulls
Biggest concern: Finding a way to finish the season strong
Even though South Florida welcomes a new head coach in Willie Taggart and a lot of new players on both sides of the ball, the Bulls certainly enter the season with that all-too-familiar feeling of just how the past few years ended.
The Bulls have struggled down the stretch in recent years. That couldn't have been more evident than in 2012, where they finished the year 3-9.
Things might be a little different with a new head coach and a new quarterback in 2013, but it certainly has to be on the mind of Taggart as the season approaches.
Developing a new mindset in South Florida will be Taggart's first job.
Biggest concern: Kevin Hogan struggles
When freshman Kevin Hogan took over at quarterback for Stanford midway through the 2012 season, it proved to be the turning point for the Cardinal.
While Hogan performed well, the jury might still be out on him. He will be relied on much more this season with running back Stepfan Taylor and Hogan's top targets at tight end gone.
We will see just what he is made of in 2013, when he is forced to throw the ball down the field.
The running game might not be as strong as it was a season ago, so Hogan will be Stanford's man on offense.
Biggest concern: Starting the season slow
Syracuse not only has to find a way to move on without quarterback Ryan Nassib and head coach Doug Marrone, but the Orange are also entering the much more challenging ACC.
The non-conference slate is not going to be easy either, and the Orange will be challenged from the outset of the season. A game against Penn State kicks off the year, followed by a road contest against Northwestern. Two straight losses to begin the season would make it very difficult to end up bowl eligible by the end of the year.
TCU Horned Frogs
Biggest concern: Casey Pachall
For a team as talented as TCU, the season might hinge on the play of quarterback Casey Pachall.
He missed the final nine games of the season in 2012, and the Horned Frogs only managed to win three of those games.
Playing in the Big 12 certainly proved to be a challenge, and freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was not quite playing at the level of Pachall.
The Horned Frogs will need him to return to form to live up to their Top 25 ranking.
Biggest concern: Developing a run game
Temple excelled last year at running the football, but the Owls will have to do it this year without Montel Harris and Matt Brown.
They are also going to need continued help from the running back position after struggling in the passing game.
It could be a long season in Philadelphia for the Owls if the passing game does not improve, because it is hard to imagine the running game being anywhere close to what it was last season.
This is a nightmare that almost certainly will come true.
Biggest concern: Finding new skill players
Not many teams lost more skill players than the Tennessee Volunteers.
Not only did quarterback Tyler Bray leave early, but new head coach Butch Jones will also have to find new wide receivers to replace the departed Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Zach Rogers.
Throw in the loss of tight end Mychal Rivera, and this team has some holes to fill.
Hopefully, for the sake of the Vols, those players develop. If not, it could be a long year.
Biggest concern: Failing to live up to expectations
This scenario is more of a concern for head coach Mack Brown, as his Longhorns have had more than one season where they have not lived up to expectations.
Texas will once again be picked to finish near the top of the Big 12, and with how favorable the schedule is, it should be able to win the league if quarterback David Ash can live up to the hype.
The Longhorns are fortunate enough to get Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home, but have two tough non-conference games at BYU and at home against Ole Miss.
It seems like Brown has enough talent to contend every season, but the team never puts it all together. This has to be the year where that happens.
Texas A&M Aggies
Biggest concern: Keeping Johnny Manziel on the field
We all know about the success Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel had last season, and with how much talent the Aggies have coming back, they could contend for the national championship.
The only thing that could possibly derail those expectations would be losing Manziel. No player in the country is more important to his team than him, and head coach Kevin Sumlin certainly knows that. The problem is, Manziel seems to be a ticking time bomb that could go off at any point.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Biggest concern: Seth Doege is irreplaceable
The quarterback is key for an offense like Texas Tech.
Seth Doege had quite a career for the Red Raiders, particularly over the past two years. He threw for over 4,000 yards in each of those seasons, with 67 touchdowns and 26 picks over that span.
That is not going to be easy to replace, and if the Red Raiders plan on returning to a bowl game, they are going to need to get production from the quarterback position.
Their passing offense relies heavily on its quarterback, and that will likely even be the case under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Biggest concern: Brett Hundley hits a slump
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was excellent last season as a redshirt freshman, and he will be counted on even more heavily this season with running back Johnathan Franklin having moved on.
Franklin was a big part of that offense, rushing for over 1,700 yards, and Hundley is going to face a huge challenge moving on without him.
This could be a critical year for Hundley's development and the Bruins' continued progress. A step back would be a nightmare for head coach Jim Mora.
Biggest concern: Nobody can get Marqise Lee the ball
USC wide receiver Marqise Lee is certainly the most skilled player in the country at his position and might be the most talented player in the nation.
He posted huge numbers last season, but this year might be different with the quarterback situation still up in the air. He might not be able to show off if none of the three potential quarterbacks pan out.
Biggest concern: The passing game
Quarterback Jordan Wynn's career-ending really set the Utah program back last season. That was part of the reason why the Utes finished 100th in the country with just over 190 yards per game through the air.
There are some serious challenges on the schedule, with Utah State and BYU out of conference.
This team will certainly need more production from the quarterback position in 2013. If that does not happen, it most likely will be another down season for the Utes.
Biggest concern: Keeping the momentum from 2012
Vanderbilt is a team similar to Northwestern in that it has to continue to move in the right direction to hold on to the momentum it picked up last year.
The Commodores won nine games a season ago, but in the SEC, it is hard to sustain that high level of success. Head coach James Franklin needs to keep up that success in 2013 and beyond.
Losing six or seven games would not be a sign of progression for Vanderbilt.
Biggest concern: Having a repeat of 2012
Virginia was downright awful last season, not living up to the hype from the previous year. The Cavaliers struggled on the offensive side of the ball, as they simply could not put up enough points.
That is going to have to change this season, but it is still too early to tell whether the offense will be improved in 2013.
The non-conference slate is not going to help either, with BYU, Oregon and Ball State on the horizon.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Biggest concern: Logan Thomas
Most people know just how talented quarterback Logan Thomas is, but that was not on display during the 2012 season. The Hokies quarterback regressed during his junior campaign and will need to return to the form he possessed as a sophomore in 2011.
If he plays like he did two years ago, this could be a very dangerous team, but if he returns to last season's form, it could be another long year for the Hokies.
There's no question he is the key to the team this season.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Biggest concern: The offense
Wake Forest did not qualify for a bowl game last season, mainly because it struggled on the offensive side of the ball.
The team ranked 116th in the country in both rushing yards and points scored. Its 18.5 points-per-game average will have to be improved upon drastically if the Demon Deacons plan on returning to a bowl game. The non-conference slate should offer a chance for that to happen as well.
Biggest concern: The play of Keith Price
Washington quarterback Keith Price struggled in 2012. His touchdown passes dropped from 33 to 19, and it showed with how much the Huskies struggled—particularly in the early going.
If he can return to his 2011 form, this could be a very dangerous team. If not, it might be another disappointing season.
Washington State Cougars
Biggest concern: The running game
No team at the FBS level rushed for fewer yards than Washington State in 2012, as the Cougars only averaged 29.1 yards a game.
While Mike Leach and his squad certainly love to throw the ball around, they are going to have to get a better performance from the running game in 2013. That is the only way this team is going to improve on the 3-9 record it posted a season ago.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Biggest concern: Replacing offensive talent
We all know just how bad West Virginia was on the defensive side of the ball in 2012, but with how much talent the Mountaineers lost on offense, it is hard to imagine that group not taking a huge step back as well.
The losses of quarterback Geno Smith, along with wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, could make this a very challenging season in Morgantown if head coach Dana Holgorsen cannot find some playmakers.
Biggest concern: Quarterback play
Wisconsin is another talented team that needs a quarterback to step up in order to get over the hump.
The Badgers have a few viable candidates for the job, including Joel Stave and Curt Phillips. While the running game will likely be as strong as ever, there is going to have to be some good quarterback play for the Badgers to be a contender in the Big Ten.