So recently while I was in Florida on vacation I walking through a store when the Sporting News College Football preview magazine caught my eye. Eager to see how the 2013 season is looking I quickly bought it and immediately began reading it. While many things intrigued me, there were three big story lines for me, and what I’m looking forward to most in the upcoming fall.
The first one was my team, the Miami Hurricanes. Looking through the preseason top 25, I noticed the Canes ranked 22nd. This made me ecstatic, as Miami hasn’t been ranked before the season started since 2010. I have really high hopes for the Hurricanes this year, and apparently so do a lot of other people. They are picked to finish first in the ACC-Coastal division, and play in their first conference championship game since joining the ACC in 2004. On offense, Miami is returning many starters, including all five lineman. However, I’m most excited to see how sophomore running back Duke Johnson will do after finishing last year as a Freshman All-American. Quarterback Stephen Morris also returns for his senior year, after throwing for 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, including a 566 yard performance against NC State. Phillip Dorsett, a speedy receiver who had 842 yards last year will definitely help Morris’ numbers. Defensively, Miami hopes to have a better year than it did in 2012. The defense gave up a total of 486.4 yards per game, including a whopping 217.9 yards on the ground. However, they do return players like end Anthony Chickillo and linebacker Denzel Perryman. Miami will have its first real test when they host in-state rival Florida, which will be the second game of the season. They will have also have other home games against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The entire outlook of Miami’s season will change if it gets good news from the NCAA later this month. If eligible, Miami has an excellent chance of winning the Coastal and competing for a BCS berth.
The second story lines concerns the school I will be attending in the fall, Utah State University. After an 11-2 record last year, the Aggies moved from the WAC to the Mountain West conference. However, coach Gary Andersen then decided to leave for Wisconsin. Matt Wells, who was Andersen’s offensive coordinator, took over a program that has loads of talent and is anxious to begin play in its new conference. With eight returning starters on offensive and seven on defense, the team has a bright future. Junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton returns after a stellar sophomore season. Keeton completed 68 percent of his passes and threw for over 3,000 yards with 27 touchdowns. Keeton also ran for 619 yards and eight touchdowns. On defense outside linebacker Zach Virgil, another junior returns after making 105 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2012. The Aggies start out the season playing at Utah, a game in which they should squeak out. Three weeks later, they travel to USC to meet the Trojans. If they can win at least five of their first six games, including a Friday night showdown at home against BYU on Oct.4, they will have a lot of confidence going into the next week, a matchup against conference favorite Boise State in Logan. That game will decide who wins the Mountain West. After the Boise State game, they play against five lowly teams, including three of those games at home. If Keeton can perform the same way he did last year, the Aggies can definitely repeat another 11 win season.
The third and final story line for me is about the two time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban is leading a team that since 2008 is 61-7 with three national championships into 2013 with no other expectations than to win a third straight championship. Question is, how can you improve on near perfection? Even though the Tide lost to Texas A&M last year, that didn’t derail Bama from their appointment against Notre Dame in the championship game. Since 1936, no program has won four national championships in five years, so yes, Alabama has a chance to make history. There are some issues on the best team in the country, including on the offensive line and in the secondary, but does that make me think that those problems will stop the most dominant team of the last era? Absolutely not. If they can win in College Station against the Aggies, a payback game on Sep.14, I don’t see them being stopped, and I believe they will take home a third straight championship.