College Football Predictions: 10 Biggest Storylines for the 2011 Season
With the status of the 2011 NFL season currently up in the air, football fans are eagerly awaiting the start of college football.
The college football season is always filled with drama and great storylines, but the upcoming season could have more than normal.
From scandals and suspensions, to Heisman front-runners and teams in new places, this year is shaping up to be a doozy.
Scandals and State of the Game
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Some of the most successful programs in college football are under fire for the recent run of allegations and off-the-field rule violations that have literally dismantled teams.
The violations made big news last year with Cam Newton, and more schools are being looked into at this very moment.
The biggest story in the offseason was the destruction of the Ohio State Buckeye’s, and that will continue to be a top storyline in 2011.
Destruction of a Dynasty?
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Ohio State Football is in a state of shock.
Ohio State had a permanent place in the top 10 of the college football rankings, but all of that ended in the offseason.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was the poster boy for a memorabilia scandal that had engulfed the campus. Numerous players were guilty of selling or exchanging Ohio State goods and trophies for services.
Head coach and Buckeye icon Jim Tressel, resigned under pressure of the scrutiny, and all of a sudden, Ohio State is in trouble.
How much trouble is yet to be seen, but every game will be under a microscope when the season kicks off. Buckeye fans will hope the team is still on an elite level, while rivals will watch for a slow and steady decline of a once-proud program.
Storylines won’t belong to just teams as several players will be under the white-hot spotlight this year, and it all starts at Stanford.
Lucky Run to the Championship?
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Andrew Luck surprised the college football world by essentially turning down the chance to be the top pick in the NFL draft, when he announced he was returning to Stanford for one more year.
Many football analysts were stunned that Luck would risk injury and turn down the type of money he would earn as a top NFL draft pick.
Yet Luck is back under center for the Stanford Cardinal and will be one of the most watched players in college football this season. Luck could surpass the popularity of Tim Tebow, if he leads Stanford to success on the football field.
Luck is not the only signal caller that will be heavily scrutinized this year.
Russell Wilson the Missing Link?
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The Wisconsin Badgers have a new quarterback, and his name is Russell Wilson.
Wilson previously played with the North Carolina State Wolfpack but left college to pursue a short-lived professional baseball career. Now with baseball in his rear-view mirror, Wilson returns to the gridiron as a Badger.
Wilson provides the Badgers with an experienced quarterback that can use his legs almost as much as his arm. The Badgers had a hole to fill at the quarterback position, and Wilson fits perfectly.
Wilson will be watched closely to see if he adjust to football life in Wisconsin. Wilson is not the only football player to move to a new location, as several teams switched conferences during the offseason.
Pac-10 Plus Two
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The Pac-10 is now the Pac-12, thanks to the offseason additions of Utah and Colorado to their football family. Utah and Colorado will become part of the South division along with UCLA, USC, Arizona and Arizona State.
With USC falling from stardom, Utah seems like the perfect fit, bringing a team that has had some success on the national stage. Along with two new teams, the Pac-12 will have its first ever championship game.
This will make the Pac-12 a big storyline heading into the season. The Pac-10 is not the only conference undergoing a transformation in the offseason.
Legends and Leaders
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The Big Ten has expanded with the addition of Nebraska to an already talented football conference. This has prompted the conference to be split into two divisions labeled the Legends and the Leaders.
The addition of Nebraska will elevate the Big Ten in status, as one of the toughest conferences to play against in college football. Although they could have come up with better names for each division, Nebraska is a threat to win the conference in year one.
The Big Ten is now a hotbed of college football activity, but all eyes will be on another conference in college football.
Will SEC Dominance Continue?
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The SEC is arguably the best conference in all of college football.
Those that argue against the SEC will have a tough time selling their theory considering the SEC has dominated the college football national championships of late.
In fact, the SEC has won five national champions in a row dating back to 2006. The conference always produces teams that are ready to compete for college football’s biggest title.
Last year, Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers emerged victorious, but without Newton, they will become another storyline on the 2011 college football landscape.
Auburn One and Done?
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Cam Newton is now a member of the Carolina Panthers, and he may have taken the hopes and dreams of Tiger’s fans with him.
Newton captured the hearts of the Auburn faithful on the way to the securing a National Championship. Now that he is gone, one of college football story lines will focus on the chances of Auburn repeating.
The Tigers have essentially entered rebuilding mode and although they still have a dynamic duo of running backs Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, the cupboard is bare.
The Tigers are not the only SEC team that will be going through a dramatic change this year.
Florida's New Coach and QB Controversy
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The Florida Gators are another team that will get plenty of headlines due to their offseason changes.
Urban Meyer stepped down after six years at the helm for the Gators, and Will Muschamp was named as his replacement.
Muschamp is just one of many new coaches that headed south to help turnaround the Gators. Charlie Weis will call the offense and he has installed a pro-style offense.
That new offense, along with some bad performances in the spring, has caused a bit of a quarterback quandary. John Brantley has not looked great adjusting to the new system, but the Gators lack another signal caller that is ready to take over.
This could make for a long year in Florida.
With some of the top teams in the country in flux, the door could be left opened for another team to step up and win the national championship.
Is This the Year for Boise State?
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Boise State has been knocking on the door of the national championship for years but always seems to fall just short. This year they will again be a top storyline as a team that can win the championship.
The Broncos no longer seem to have the lovable underdog role and instead are an offensive Goliath that teams get up to play every week.
This makes it very difficult for the Broncos to make it to the big game because one loss can be a death blow to their chances.
However, the 2011 team is loaded with talent to include senior quarterback Kellen Moore. They are ranked high in the preseason college football rankings and will be a storyline all year long.
Questions and Answers
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The college football season is filled with great storylines to watch for the upcoming season that come with some interesting questions.
Will Russell Wilson make the Badgers a Contender? Can the Gators return to dominance? Can a newcomer win the revamped Pac-12?
All of these questions will be answered this season, but there is one question that needs to be addressed now.
Are you ready for some college football?
James Brown is a B/R Featured Columnist. Feel free to contact James at email@example.com.