The 2013 college football season figures to be one of the most entertaining in recent memory. With so many great storylines, how couldn't it be?
Can Alabama win a third straight national title, and by extension, can Nick Saban win his fifth? And if they do, can we go ahead and place the Tide among the greatest dynasties of all time--and Saban among the greatest coaches of all time?
Can Urban Meyer turn Ohio State into the kind of powerhouse that can claim the national title back from the SEC?
Or will the SEC--either in the form of Alabama or somebody else?--continue to rule college football?
Can Johnny Manziel win another Heisman Trophy, or will be crumble under the pressure? And if Manziel can't win it another, who will take it from him?
Can Lane Kiffin hold on at USC? Can Kirk Ferentz hang on at Iowa? Can Randy Edsall hang on at Maryland?
All of these questions, and so many others, remain to be answered. But we'll do our best to answer them right now here, as we look ahead to college football 2013.
Question: Who will win the Heisman Trophy:
Answer: I'll say this right up front--Manziel has his work cut out for him. There is a sense of weariness regarding Johnny Football of late (which, of course, should not be surprising), which means the door is open for somebody to step in and take the aware from him. While there are many worthy candidates out there, I am going to take the safe pick. And that pick is Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. He's a talented kid, he's playing on the best team in the nation, and he has the perfect resume for that classic "career achievement award" Heisman win. Runner-up: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Question: Who will win coach of the year?
Answer: Last year, Penn State's Bill O'Brien was lauded for his work at Penn State--for taking on a seemingly impossible situation and not only surviving, but thriving. And the kudos were well deserved. But I don't expect O'Brien to garner similar plaudits this season, if only because we're one year removed from that entire storyline. Instead, I think it will be one of O'Brien's Big Ten rivals--Ohio State's Urban Meyer--who will ultimately emerge as coach of the year. The Buckeyes are expected to win the Big Ten, and I think they will do so, but I think they will achieve that goal with ease. Meyer is building a mammoth powerhouse in Columbus, and this year, we'll start to see that powerhouse emerge. Nick Saban officially has something to worry about. Runner-up: Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Question: Which coach needs to step up?
Answer: Oh, there are so many to choose from. Kirk Ferentz has been mailing it in at Iowa. Mack Brown has been mailing it in at Texas. Frank Beamer probably isn't under any threat at Virgnia Tech, but yeah, he's been mailing it in, too. Then there's the likes of Charlie Weis at Kansas and Randy Edsall at Maryland, neither of whom seem destined to do anything much at those programs. The most obvious coach on the hot seat, though, is of course Lane Kiffin, formerly of Tennessee, and formerly of the Oakland Raiders, and currently of the USC Trojans. Last season was mostly a disaster for Kiffin, and so the pressure is on for him to start delivering results here in the third year of his tenure. The talent is there, as it always is at USC, but there is the real sense that the Trojans have fallen behind the new powers of the Pac-12--namely, Oregon and Stanford. And you know what? That's just not good enough. Runner-up: Tim Boeckman, Illinois