30 Things We Hope to See During the 2013 College Football Season
The USA Today college football coaches poll has been released for the first time this season.
The itch to see football start is so bad you may need to invest in some time with a DVR playing last season's games, yet the long wait that has been yet another summer is rapidly drawing to a close.
All that said, this college football season, like so many before it, is bound to be incredibly entertaining, filled with highlights, upsets and controversy.
Read on for a list of the top 30 things we want to see happen in college football during the 2013 season.
30. Good Alternative Uniforms
Alternative uniforms in all kinds of flashy colors are here to stay.
Deal with it. They are not for your viewing pleasure or mine, and pining for the days when uniforms remained the same for any length of time is squandering your wishes.
Recruits are what it's all about, and the 17- and 18-year-old kids who are being recruited want to see Oregon, Oklahoma State and West Virginia's style, rather than staid old Penn State, USC and Wisconsin.
There are going to be multiple uniform styles and colors on the field this fall, some nice and some not so nice.
We can only hope that more teams veer away from Maryland's style and veer toward the Oklahoma State/Oregon style.
29. The End of the BCS
Yes, the period of postseason football known as the Bowl Championship Series will be gone after this season, replaced by the allegedly better and more-appropriate four-team playoff.
Rejoice, if you will, for the departure of the system that brought us some tremendous years of football, but realize that the system may not be entirely gone.
The four-team playoff allows the top four teams to play and supposedly helps level the playing field when searching for a national champion.
But are the Boise States and NIUs of the world really going to have any more of a shot than they did before at making the thing?
What about the arguments over No. 4? They are going to be just as vehement as the current arguments over who should be No. 2 in the current BCS system.
The change is a step in the right direction, and let's celebrate that, hoping that we are not leaving the BCS era to enter into a modified BCS era.
28. Penn State Success
In spite of the fact that Penn State's success this season will have little impact on the course of the college football season, another winning season would be a positive not only for the program and the Big Ten, but for college football in general.
The team will have to overcome tremendous barriers this season, including postseason bans, a lack of scholarships and the lack of a quarterback.
A winning season would be a great, positive story for the Nittany Lions and would draw attention away from the issues of the past.
27. More of the Spread
Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Oregon are three teams that like to speed things up and run the spread offense.
While none of those teams has won a recent national title, the advent of the spread and its movement across the nation is a good thing.
As much as fans like to say good defense is entertaining, this is not always true. The numbers put up by a spread offense make things more entertaining than they might otherwise be.
Would you rather watch Michigan State or Texas A&M?
One had a top-four offense, the other a top-four defense.
26. Ka'Deem Carey
Guess who has two thumbs and led the nation in rushing last season?
The Arizona Wildcats running back racked up 1,929 yards last season and averaged 6.37 yards per carry. He's a beast, and he will have his work cut out for him this season as defenses load up to stop him.
Arizona has a mess at quarterback now that Matt Scott is gone, which could work both ways for Carey.
As the focal point and most talented member of the offense, Carey will get more carries, giving him more opportunities to produce. At the same time, defenses will know what is coming.
Here's hoping we see a healthy dose of Carey out of the Wildcats' backfield in 2013.
25. A Wild Miami Season
Miami is a long ways away from the days of Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmie Johnson and Dennis Erickson. The last two seasons have been a microcosm of the last decade or so for the 'Canes, as the team is 13-11 with Al Golden as head coach.
Virginia Tech has been the main beneficiary of Miami's fall from grace, winning the Coastal Division of the ACC six of the last nine times.
That ends this season.
The Hurricanes return a ridiculous amount of talent, including 10 starters on offense and nine on defense.
Going into Golden's third year, with the ability to play in the postseason, the 'Canes could make things really interesting in a conference that appears to belong to Clemson or FSU.
A return to prominence for a program that was once college football's elite is good for everyone (see: USC, Alabama).
24. Pac-12 Parity
Other than the Big 12, the Pac-12 is the BCS conference that is going to be the biggest mess this season.
UCLA, Arizona State and Washington are all getting better, while USC is heading in the wrong direction.
That's not to say the Trojans don't have the talent to make the Pac-12 title game, but as long as Lane Kiffin is head coach, the talent will be wasted.
So, the Pac-12 South is a mess, with USC, Arizona State and UCLA battling it out.
Meanwhile, between Bishop Sankey at running back and Keith Price at running back, the Washington Huskies have an intriguing backfield combination with the potential to put up monster numbers in 2013.
But to have any shot at winning the North division, they must get past Stanford and Oregon.
Both teams have enough talent returning to go undefeated with a few breaks, and their meeting in November could be to decide which one goes to the final BCS title game.
Yes, the SEC is the dominant force in college football right now, the Big Ten has the tradition and the Big 12 boasts the most entertaining offenses, but the Pac-12 is going to be the most interesting conference in college football.
Stay tuned in late, my friends.
23. An Unconventional Heisman Favorite
Since we hit the year 2000, only two college football players have won the Heisman Trophy who were not quarterbacks.
Compare that to the nineties, when six of the 10 winners were not quarterbacks.
This year seems like as good a time as any to pull for something different.
USC wide receiver Marqise Lee is a monster, with the capability to break receiving records if USC can find a decent quarterback.
While odds are the award will go to a quarterback, we are pulling for something a little more unconventional.
22. Less Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz was a great football coach and deserves all the respect in the world.
That said, his football predictions and segments on ESPN have been difficult to watch in recent seasons.
In his book, Notre Dame will always be a national title candidate, even with three losses.
His back and forth with Mark May and Rece Davis is mildly entertaining, but if the network could begin phasing him out slowly, it would be appreciated.
The cameramen could stop wearing rain jackets to film him at that point.
21. Big 12 Chaos
The conference that is home to Boomer Sooner, Bevo and Bill Snyder is undergoing some interesting shifts heading into 2013.
The USA Today college football coaches poll reflects some of the changes. Oklahoma State, home to Mike Gundy, T. Boone Pickens and lots of offense, is ranked ahead of both Texas and Oklahoma.
These rankings mean nothing, as evidenced by the fact that USC and LSU were atop the preseason polls last year.
However, the Cowboys should be the favorites to win the conference, as they are the most balanced team in the Big 12.
Even though Oklahoma State might seem to be the favorite, the conference race is going to be extremely messy, with TCU, Texas and Oklahoma fighting it out with OSU for supremacy.
If you enjoy chaos, the Big 12 will be the conference to watch in 2013.
20. Derek Carr's Monster Season
Fresno State's quarterback, Derek Carr, is going to have a monster season in 2013.
Last season, he put up over 4,000 yards through the air, threw 37 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, completed nearly 68 percent of his passes and led a Bulldog turnaround from 4-9 in 2011 to 9-4 in 2012.
His main targets last season, wide receivers Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams, are returning, and you better believe that head coach Tim DeRuyter is salivating at the prospect of getting them all on the field together for a second season in his system.
Carr possesses an incredible arm, his accuracy is ridiculous and he has the talent around him to put up huge numbers.
He will finish the season as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.
19. Texas A&M Production
In spite of all the hype, the Texas A&M offense is not just Johnny Manziel and the rest of the Aggies.
Kevin Sumlin has more choices at running back than Oregon has uniform combinations.
Ben Malena is the unquestioned leader and will be the primary back. After him, you have Trey Williams, Brandon Williams and Tra Carson.
Every one of them has the talent to be a starting running back at this level, and all of them will be in the backfield with Johnny Manziel at some point this season.
So, while Manziel provides the flash and panache that characterize this offense, this set of four will provide the substance.
This offense is going to be scary good.
Everyone loves some #MACtion!
The MAC has provided us with some entertaining teams over the past few years, and with many games, especially later in the season, taking place during the week, the conference has gotten incredible exposure.
Kent State running back/kick returner Dri Archer is a dark-horse Heisman candidate, as are Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch and Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
Seeing another conference outside the BCS conferences thrive and provide consistently entertaining football is a win for everyone.
17. Less Notre Dame
No offense to Notre Dame fans, but we are sick of the Irish.
All last season we heard about how good they were, and then we watched them get destroyed in the national title game.
We had to hear about Manti Te'o and his tremendous fortitude, taking the field in the wake of his girlfriend's death. Then, we had to hear weeks of press coverage on the fact that he was "catfished."
And then, quarterback Everett Golson had to leave the program for this season.
Enough already—the Notre Dame hype is ridiculous.
That said, it might not go away.
The Irish defense is stacked with Prince Shembo, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt returning. Tommy Rees, though no Steve Young, is talented and has experience.
We can hope to hear less about the Irish, but the talent on the field might not allow it.
16. No Targeting Hiccups
This is probably a pipe dream, but please let there not be controversy in a major game, or any game for that matter, regarding the new targeting rule.
Under this new rule, Jadeveon Clowney's vicious hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith last season might be illegal.
But the problem with the rule is not what it limits and what it doesn't.
The problem is that it is open to interpretation.
What might be considered targeting by refs during the Virginia Tech-Alabama showdown in Week 1 might not be by the crew running the Clemson-Georgia game.
The room for inconsistency is maddening, but at least the NCAA has improved the postseason, right?
15. Less Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin and USC were deflated in a big way last season, dropping from No. 1 in the initial preseason poll all the way to unranked by season's end.
Good. The man deserves it.
Kiffin has done nothing of note but run his mouth and squander incredibly talented players since arriving at USC, and while this season may be different, it is not very likely given the emergence of UCLA and Arizona State as legitimate contenders in the Pac-12 South.
The less we see and hear of this man, the better for all concerned.
14. "Smart School" Success
We live in a universe where Northwestern is ranked in the initial USA Today college football coaches poll and where the team is coming off a bowl victory.
Vanderbilt is also on the rise, as head coach James Franklin has injected his intense personality into the program, leading the team to nine wins last season.
It's difficult to ascertain which resurgence is more impressive, but both are interesting to follow.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is a difficult guy not to like, and Franklin compels everyone to pull for Vandy (except other SEC fans) by sheer force of personality.
While each team could take a step back this season, watching two teams that usually struggle turn into winning programs is entertaining.
13. More Gus Johnson
There is no college football announcer in the game right now as entertaining as Gus Johnson.
The man can't contain himself.
His excitement and love for the game spills through whenever something exciting happens, and we are provided with another classic "Gus moment."
The more of him we get to hear on Fox networks, the more we can forget about other bland announcers who shall remain nameless.
12. A Non-SEC Title
Outside of the SEC, the rest of the nation hopes for a champion from a different conference this season.
The SEC's run of dominance, starting when incoming freshmen were in sixth grade, needs to end at some point, so why not this season?
There are plenty of candidates to end the run: Ohio State, coming off of a perfect season; Oregon and Stanford, titans of the Pac-12; or even the long-shot Oklahoma State Cowboys.
SEC fans scoff at the idea that another conference might someday dethrone the SEC, but these things are cyclical, and at some point, it is bound to happen.
A BCS title game featuring Ohio State and Oregon or Oregon and Clemson would be incredibly entertaining and would bring an end to the stranglehold of the dark side, also known as the SEC.
11. More Clemson and Dabo Swinney
Believe it or not, Clemson has won more ACC titles than any other football program.
The Tigers have 14 total to their credit since 1956 and will be in the running for another in 2013.
Here's the thing: The Tigers will be in the media from Day 1, as they face Georgia to start the season. A win there will ensure plenty of attention for head coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson.
Swinney is an excitable guy who provides entertaining interviews on a regular basis.
It is a stark contrast to the staid demeanor of other successful college football coaches, and also a welcome relief.
Clemson will also feature a high-powered offense, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, adding just another reason to watch the team.
Somebody, please make this happen.
10. The Cowboys
Oklahoma State features an explosive offense, a balanced defense and plenty of orange.
Take all of this team you can get in 2013, as they have an interesting outside shot at reaching the BCS title game.
Before you tune this out, realize that the Cowboys have been part of the upper echelon of the Big 12 for several years now, and with the conference as wide open as it is in 2013, there is reason to believe they could run the table.
Mike Gundy's team has only two games scheduled against teams ranked in the Top 25, Texas and Oklahoma, so don't be surprised if the Cowboys rip through their schedule and embroil themselves in another BCS controversy.
Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the ride. It's sure to be entertaining.
9. You Get an Upset, You Get an Upset and Everyone Gets an Upset
On September 8 of last year, Kolton Browning led the ULM Warhawks to the stunning upset over then-No. 8 Arkansas, at Arkansas, 34-31.
The next week, top-ranked USC was upset by Stanford.
It happens every season, more than once. A team we all assume will win, usually with ease, falls to a "lesser opponent."
It is part of what makes college football great and will continue as long as games are played.
Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech have the first shot at a big upset in Week 1 when they face Alabama, and it is a long shot for them to win.
But watch out for Vanderbilt, as well as whoever plays Notre Dame every week and Ohio State every week, to make some noise and possibly pull off a big win.
There are going to be upsets, and hopefully more than a few.
8. History Made
Whether you are a Johnny Manziel fan or not, the kid made history last season and has a chance to do so again in 2013.
There has never been a back-to-back Heisman winner in his first two seasons of college football.
You may believe he is a martyr, being persecuted for his fame, or you may believe he is a 20-year-old kid who just needs to mature a little bit. Either way, Manziel is talented, and he has an incredible scheme with which to work at Texas A&M and a coach who believes he can win.
While it would be great to see a player from another position other than quarterback win the Heisman in 2013, seeing Manziel make history would trump that.
7. Plenty of Marcus Mariota
Here is a guy who does not get enough credit.
Marcus Mariota led Oregon to an incredible 12-1 season, capped off by a decisive victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
He put up 37 total touchdowns at the head of the offense last season, threw for 2,677 yards and rushed for 752 more, and finished the year with only six interceptions and a 68.5 completion percentage.
The man can rush the ball and throw it with the best of them, and he demonstrated this for us during his freshman campaign last year.
While Johnny Manziel gets the press, Mariota is the quarterback who will have better numbers in 2013. Don't be surprised to look up in January and see Mariota leading the Ducks to the national title game.
6. The Real Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney is a monster, and easily the best defensive lineman in the nation.
But is he the kind of guy he is made out to be by the media and avid Gamecock fans, one who can consistently produce big plays?
Clowney posted 4.5 sacks against Clemson last season, bringing his sack total on the year to 13. That means he had 8.5 sacks throughout the other 11 games last season.
Not a bad number, but certainly not enough to propel him to Heisman status, especially as a defensive player.
Can he produce at a more consistent level in 2013?
If so, can he do it well enough to make a serious bid for the Heisman?
We can only hope.
5. No Expansion
The big moves currently in the works include Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten, and Louisville to the ACC. There is also the arrival of Pitt and Syracuse in the ACC this season, a whole new conference (AAC) and the disappearance of another (WAC).
Let's hope that the current landscape stays where it is for now.
4. A Big Ten Revival
The Big Ten's failures on the football field are many and varied.
Michigan and Ohio State have been down, and nobody has picked up the slack, as Wisconsin lost three straight Rose Bowl games and no one else has made a real bid to lead the conference.
The conference is on the verge of a revival of sorts, however, and it will start this season.
With Ohio State eligible for the postseason, the conference has a viable national title contender.
Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska all have the potential to make the Rose Bowl, and even if they don't, each one has the talent to actually win a bowl game against an SEC team rather than be embarrassed.
Watch the conference during nonconference play, and see how ranked teams fare. While one decent season does not erase a half of a decade of awful football, it will be a step in the right direction, and good for college football as a whole and the conference in particular.
3. BCS Chaos
Chaos, utter and total chaos.
That's what we hope for in the last season of the BCS system.
Maybe a season in which there are no undefeated BCS conference teams.
Or maybe a season in which the entire Top 25 is turned upside down with upsets.
Whatever it may be, a season loaded with controversy and plenty of questions would be a great way to say goodbye the most chaotic, yet successful, system in college football history.
2. A Shift in the SEC
The SEC West has been the dominant force in college football for the past four seasons.
Between Alabama, LSU and Auburn, the West has clearly been the division in which the balance of power lies.
While Alabama is ranked No. 1 going into the season, with Texas A&M not far behind, the SEC East provides at least three teams that could help shift that balance of power.
Georgia, South Carolina and Florida are all extremely talented, and each of them, especially Georgia, possesses the talent to knock off the SEC West challenger in the SEC title game.
As much as some may want a BCS title game without the SEC, odds are it is going to happen again.
But with Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley leading Georgia, Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina, and the incredible defensive talent Will Muschamp will field at Florida, it would be nice to see a team from the East division finally break through atop the conference.
1. Intense Rivalry Games
The last two Iron Bowls between Auburn and Alabama have been won by the Tide with a combined score of 91-14.
The Georgia vs. Georgia Tech rivalry, known as "Clean Old-Fashioned Hate," has been won by Georgia the past two seasons to the tune of 73-27.
USC and UCLA's 38-28 score last season was the closest in the series since 2006, with the Bruins winning last season, and USC winning the previous five meetings by a combined score of 158-35.
The Red River Rivalry has not been much better, with Oklahoma beating Texas each of the past two seasons by a combined score of 118-38.
Stanford has won the last three editions of the "Big Game" over Cal by a combined 100-45 score.
Over the last three years, the "Civil War" score stands as such: Oregon 134, Oregon State 65.
This is disturbing.
Rivalries should be intense, passionate battles decided by overtime field goals and last-second desperation heaves, not more than three touchdowns.
Please, football gods, allow more close rivalry games, for the good of us all.