5. Stanford. The Cardinal have flirted with hopes of winning a national championship the past few years. With a break or two, that could happen this season. Experience is Stanford’s strong suit, with 17 starters back. Defense wins championships and 10 starters return there. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is more than adequate to carry Coach David Shaw’s offense.
Five Heisman Hopefuls
1. Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina): Some say defensive players can’t win this award. It’s sad but probably true. If there is a breakthrough, the 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end might be the one. Watch his sack stats.
2. A.J. McCarron (Alabama): All he does is win. He’s 24-2 as a starter for the Crimson Tide with a National Championship in his pocket. No one had better passing efficiency numbers.
3. Johnny Manziel (Texas &M): Unless the NCAA says otherwise, the A&M quarterback has a chance to be the first repeat Heisman winner since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Off-season PR blunders will hurt.
4. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville): More than a sleeper. The Cardinals quarterback threw for 27 TDs last year and should top that in 2013. He’s an ultimate team player – he asked U of L not to mount a Heisman campaign.
5. Braxton Miller (Ohio State): If the Buckeyes make a championship run, the dual threat QB will be the man in the spotlight. Passed for 15 touchdowns and ran for 13 last season as Ohio State won all 12 games.
Five Must-See Games
1. Georgia at Clemson (Aug. 31): Both teams have big hopes for 2013. This ACC-SEC clash has coaches Mark Richt and Dabo Swinney shoving all chips onto the table in this one.
2. Alabama at Texas A&M (Sept. 14): So many storylines to ponder. Can “Johnny Football” do it again? Will he even play? Nick Saban gets two weeks to prepare for a trip to College Station.