Top 10 College Football Stories to Follow In 2008

Jerry BurnesAnalyst IJune 4, 2008

College football opens up every season with a number of questions, stories, and potential breakouts. This list examines 10 stories that will dominate the local and national headlines in college football.

10. Northern Illinois Will Rebound

The Huskies will be rebounding in two ways. They went 2-10 last season after making the Poinsettia Bowl in 2006. They will, also be playing to raise the campus' hopes and return prevalence to DeKalb after the tragic February 14 shootings on campus.

The football team will perform behind Justin Anderson, Larry English, and new head coach Jerry Kill, while returning to a sense of normalcy in a still healing campus and return the team to it's Mid-American Conference glory. Look out for the Huskies this season, as they have a lot to play for.

9. Joe Paterno Will Be Penn State Coach

Joe Paterno will not retire this season, or next season. Let's face it, Paterno isn't going anywhere until he is forced out or kicks the bucket. The Nittany Lions will have a decent year and the Penn State faithful will give “Joe Pa” another season at the helm.

8. A mid-major will make a serious run at the National Championship

This won't be the "serious" run made by Hawai'i last season. This will be the serious run made by Boise State two years ago when they beat Oklahoma. Only this time, that mid-major team is going to run away with their bowl game and add gas to the fire of playoff talks.

Look out for Boise State to make this happen again, they had a good season last year and have Ian Johnson returning. Keep an eye out for Central Florida and BYU to come out of the closet and make a short BCS run. The Broncos of the "Smurf Turf" will be the only mid-major to stick around the BCS to end the though. They won't make the big game, but they'll sure state their case for a chance to go.

7. LSU will miss Ryan Perrilloux

With Matt Flynn gone and Perrilloux kicked off the team, the Tigers are going to have some big questions behind center. Perrilloux stepped in last year when Flynn couldn't get the job done. Who’s there now that he’s gone? Remove Early Doucet and Jacob Hester from the offense and they’ll have a team with not a lot of superstar talent. Because it's Les Miles and LSU, they will have a decent season, but might struggle against the tougher opponents in the SEC. Expect the Tigers to post 2-3 losses this season in the conference alone. Oh yeah, look out for Appalachian State during the season opener. Who knows what they will pull off again…?

6. Playoffs? Bite your tongue

Jim Mora had it right all those years; unfortunately the talk by the end of the college football season will revert to a playoff system in the BCS. There will be at least two teams in the running for the BCS National Championship that will get hosed.

As the trend goes, fans, media and coaches alike will discuss the need for a college football playoffs system. Guess what? It's still not going to happen after this season. The BCS feels they are consistently putting the best team into the National Championship game, even if it is Ohio State in back-to-back years. Another season with championship "snubs” will not alter their thinking one bit. Let the debate begin.

5. Tim Tebow will not win the Heisman again

He has the talent to do so, but looking at some of the other potential starters around the nation, Tebow, like Leinart, will have his work cut out for him. His own teammate Percy Harvin will present a good candidate in addition to USC's, Joe McKnight; Texas's, Colt McCoy; Missouri's, Chase Daniel; and if he can reduce the interceptions, Illinois's, Juice Williams. As a junior, watch out for Ohio State's Chris Wells, also.

Fact is that one of these guys, or someone else will break out with a big season and Tebow will struggle to match his numbers from last season. When your numbers drop from a Heisman season, you won't win it again. Congrats Archie, you're two Heismans are still safe.

4. The big upset or upsets will happen

A slew of upsets shook up the BCS last season. Expect that to happen again this season. Whether it's Appalachian State shocking LSU, or Notre Dame pulling a huge upset on USC or Kentucky ruining Georgia's National Championship hopes, the big upset will rumble the BCS and shake the standings.

3. Michigan will struggle under Rich Rodriguez

The Wolverines have no quarterback. That usually isn't much of an issue, but when you're talking about Rich Rodriguez's option offense, it is. Losing Terrelle Pryor to Ohio State was a big blow to Michigan. He ran the option offense in high school.

With Mallett gone there's not even a quarterback that can run a normal Michigan offense. Thankfully for Rodriguez he has Brandon Minor and Kevin Grady to help the running game, which will have to be traditional Michigan to have any success.

A bad thing for Rodriguez is that Michigan doesn't exactly have the easiest schedule. Utah and Miami (OH) shouldn't provide trouble, but Toledo may. Their notable conference opponents consist of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, and of course Ohio State. Notre Dame is also thrown in there as a wild card.

2. The SEC will win it all again

Since its inception in the 1998-1999 season the SEC has appeared in the National Championship game four times, winning it all times. Last season Georgia made the BCS as a 10-2 at large to the Sugar Bowl defeating Hawai'i 41-10. LSU won the National Championship over Ohio State 38-24.

There's little doubt the SEC has been one of the most dominating conferences in the NCAA. Georgia should be the conference front-runner this season, but look out for Florida to rebound from last season. As previously mentioned, LSU should struggle, but if they show up and play their game they will contend. If Georgia gets to the BCS Championship Game, nobody is going to stop them.

1. Ohio State will lose in the National Championship game... AGAIN

Make it a three peat, just not how Jim Tressel envisioned it. Not that Ohio State isn't a good team, they just can't keep up with the SEC. They'll take out USC in week two and redeem themselves against Illinois.

James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins will be leaders on the defense and quarterback Todd Boeckman, wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, and running back Chris Wells will run amok in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes will enter the big game undefeated or with one loss at Wisconsin and will lose once more to Georgia. This will obviously boost playoff talk or Big Ten championship game talk. Either way the Buckeyes will be back and will feel the wrath of the speedy SEC again.

Other notable stories:

Notre Dame will rebound from terrible to mediocre and Charlie Weis will be safe for one more year.

USC will face another scandal with top player Joe McKnight, questioning his personal and team achievements.