Will the SEC's reign of terror end? Who's deadlier in the open field: The Black Mamba or The Honey Badger? These questions and more are answered in MyHOFS second annual college football season preview.
- QB - Southern Cal
With sub-freezing wind chills and a history of lame performances in the Pacific Northwest, it appeared the Trojans were walking into a familiar trap on Nov. 19th at Autzen Stadium. Luckily for Lane Kiffin, Barkley and the young offense he commanded had other ideas. Barkley shredded the Oregon defense, tossing four touchdown passes. USC knocked the fourth-ranked Ducks out of the title game picture
and Barkley established himself as an elite passer.
Barkley takes his aerial show on the road, impressing fans coast-to-coast, culminating in a BCS championship victory in Miami. Throw in every award he is eligible for, including the Heisman Trophy.
- RB - Wisconsin
Ball's 2011 season ended as it began, exceeding the hype while filling up the stat sheet. Ball's 215 all-purpose yards in the Rose Bowl weren't quite enough to pull off the upset, but they were still quite impressive. Ball finished the season with, and this is not a typo, 2,229 yards and 39 touchdowns.
He won't be topping his personal bests in 2012, but he could lead the Badgers to an undefeated season and a trip to the BCS title game. With Ohio State and Michigan State
making the trip to Madison, an undefeated season is on the table.
- RB - South Carolina
The Gamecock workhorse was last spotted being helped off the field
on October 15th in Starkville, MS. Through six full games, Lattimore was on pace to rush for close to 1,700 yards to go along with 19 touchdowns. He has since made a full recovery from an ACL tear in his left knee.
Lattimore is a coach's dream. He can do everything from the running back position and single-handedly make an offense work. If he returns to pre-injury form, he'll threaten the 2,000 yard mark and carry this team to the SEC title game in Atlanta.
- WR - Clemson
Sammy quietly racked up 200+ all-purpose yards and a touchdown in the bloodbath that was the 2012 Orange Bowl. Watkins was nearly unstoppable in 2011 and as long as Clemson's offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, finds ways to get him the rock, his legend will grow in the ACC.
A two-game suspension
to kick off his 2012 campaign is a downer, but something tells me this first-time offender will take out his off-season frustrations on the remainder of Clemson's schedule. An upset of the Seminoles on September 22nd could propel Watkins and the Tigers to their second straight ACC title game.
- WR - West Virginia
Austin terrorized a defenseless Clemson secondary in the Orange Bowl for four quarters. He may never be welcomed back into the state of South Carolina again after an eleven catch, four touchdown performance for the ages.
His targets may increase this season as Dana Holgorsen plans to move him all over the field
to maximize his open field talent. WVU may struggle defensively against diverse Big XII offenses in 2012, but everyone from Ames to Austin should be scared to death of the 5'9" jitterbug from Baltimore. If he keeps up the blistering pace from 2011, the Mountaineers will win the Big XII in their first year.
- TE - Notre Dame
He represented the only viable option for the Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State. The Mackey Award finalist was a safety blanket for the Irish's bullpen of passers throughout 2011 and his return to South Bend will be a welcome sight for Touchdown Jesus.
Eifert wins the Mackey Award while performing his best Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez impression throughout the year. The Irish return to a BCS bowl and he's the first tight end selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
- OT - Alabama
If you're up against Fluker all afternoon, you'll think you're at IHOP -- never-ending pancakes.
- OG - Georgia Tech
Uzzi is a master of the cut block -- the most terrifying thing in Georgia outside of NeNe
from the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
- C - Alabama
His quarterback, AJ McCarron, is also his roommate. I'm not sure Barrett even let's McCarron's family hug him when they visit -- just reminds him of a sack.
- OG - North Carolina
He looks like the Predator and last time I checked, Arnold Schwarzenegger had exhausted his eligibility.
- OT - Texas A&M
He kept Ryan Tannehill
upright long enough to trick the Dolphins into thinking he was a top ten talent. Translation: He's a miracle worker.
- DE - Texas
If the Longhorns start the season the way they ended it, a 21-10 defeat of Cal, they may be able to take aim at a Big XII title. Okafor was a force off the end in 2011 (7 sacks) and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz
will need him and Jackson Jeffcoat (13 TFLs) to help take the pressure off a young secondary.
Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to double his sack total from last season thanks to the pass-happy attacks UT will face in '12. If the UT defense is as fierce as advertised, they'll return to a BCS bowl for the first time since the '09 BCS championship game.
- DT - Utah
First things first, his name is pronounced Lo-Too-Leh-Lay. He's a sure-fire top ten pick in the NFL draft next April, so it's high time we get his name right. The last time we saw him on the gridiron he was wreaking havoc in Georgia Tech's backfield on New Year's Eve in the Sun Bowl, tallying six tackles and a fumble recovery.
The former junior college transfer is on the verge of superstardom. If the stars, pardon the pun, align for Lotulelei and the Utes, they'll shock the college football world on the first Thursday of October by upsetting the USC Trojans. If he makes big plays on the big stage, he may end up as the number one overall selection
in the NFL draft.
- DT - Alabama
Apparently, this offseason the Aussie transplant benched 600 lbs
. Even his own teammates, including All-American Barrett Jones, are beginning to fear his other-worldly strength. After Williams tweeted a photo of the feat, Jones replied, "I have to block that..."
Saban's 3-4 defense requires a dominate nose tackle and while his stats may belie his talent, Williams is the reason teams will fail to run the ball against the Crimson Tide again this season. There's no reason to believe Alabama won't be top five against the run and that Williams could end up as a top five pick just as former Bama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
was in 2011.
- DE - Ohio State
Simon was a force off the edge in the Urban Meyer (Gator) Bowl last January, finishing with three tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery.
Urban Meyer has already called Simon's work ethic and dedication "Tebowish." His preparation should pay dividends in 2012 as he's joined by eight other returning starters on a defensive unit that has the potential to make a major jump this year. If Simon unleashes the beast
on the B1G Ten this year, he could take home the Outland, Bednarik, Nagurski and Hendricks honors in 2012.
- OLB - Georgia
The dredded-out pass rusher was credited for seven QB hurries in the Outback Bowl, including one that led to a Georgia interception. His 13.5 sacks and an absurd 49 quarterback hurries, only begin to describe the most feared pass-rusher in all of college football.
Since the SEC title game has become a de facto national semi-final, all Jones and the Dawgs have to do is win the East
to have a shot at a national title. Jones decided to return to Athens for a shot at a title and to stock his shelf with awards. You shouldn't turn your back on the Dawgs or Jones this season, it's just asking for trouble.
- MLB - Notre Dame
Te'o registered 13 tackles, .5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble against Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. He led a vicious run defense that held the Noles to just 41 rushing yards.
One of the most celebrated recruits in Notre Dame history, Te'o has been living up to his billing. According to Phil Steele
, Notre Dame faces the most difficult schedule in the country this year, so a BCS Bowl and a Butkus Award is the best the hard-hitting Hawaiian can hope for in 2012.
- OLB - Stanford
Thomas had few opportunities to make plays against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, as the Cowboys only ran the ball 13 times, leaving Thomas with just one tackle. The previous game against Notre Dame, however, was a different story. Thomas should have been paying rent in the Notre Dame backfield, finishing the contest with three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Now that his partner in crime, Shayne Skov
, is back in action, Thomas will be free to blow up plays in opposing backfields. With fewer double-teams to contend with, look for Thomas to double his TFLs from last year and contend for the Butkus Award in December.
- CB - NC State
The 6'3" field corner toyed with true freshman Teddy Bridgewater in the Belk Bowl, picking him off twice and returning one for a score. His two thefts in the game bumped his season total up to an implausible 13 for the season.
Amerson, just a junior, is already the best corner in the nation and an NFL scout's dream. If he can duplicate his performance
from a year ago, Amerson could become the first cornerback to win the Bronko Nagurski Award (Best Defensive Player) since Oklahoma's Derrick Strait accomplished the feat in 2003.
- FS - Southern Cal
McDonald led the Trojans to a shutout, completely embarrassing their crosstown rival, UCLA, 50-0. He tallied ten stops, a tackle for loss, a pass break up and he returned an interception for 25 yards.
TJ is following in his father's footsteps. His father, Tim, was a two-time All-American who led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory in 1985 before enjoying an illustrious professional career
. TJ can do him one better by achieving All-American status and winning a national championship in his senior season.
- SS - Alabama
Lester chipped in three tackles and a .5 TFL as Alabama became the first team since the 1991 Miami Hurricanes to win the national championship by shutting out
The only returning starter in the Crimson Tide secondary, Lester will need to make more plays in 2012. That could led to more recognition for a player who has been incredibly consistent while competing at the highest level. If the new players gel quickly, a win at LSU on Nov. 3rd could give Bama an opportunity to win its third title in four seasons.
- CB - LSU
Mathieu made six tackles and one TFL in the title game, but mustered just one return yard against the highly motivated Crimson Tide of Alabama.
With just four more forced fumbles, the ferocious Honey Badger
will have the NCAA record for FFs in a career. HIs blitzing ability is on par with the recently retired Eagle/Bronco Brian Dawkins. And his knack for the game-changing return, be it a fumble, interception or punt, is reminiscent of the '97 Heisman winner Charles Woodson. His ceiling, simply put, is a Heisman and a national title ring.
- PK - Florida State
The Groza Award finalist has one of the biggest legs in college football, a 130 consecutive PAT streak and 94 career touchbacks. Kicking woes have held back the Seminoles before, but Hopkins hopes to make big kicks en route to a national title the same way Sabastian Janikowski
did twelve season ago.
- Kick Returner - Oregon
Last seen: The Black Mamba
carried the ball just twice in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. As it turned out, that's all he needed, scoring on both carries while collecting 155 yards for a 77.5 yards per carry average. The electric return man ended 2011 with a 27.3 yards per return average with two touchdowns.
is the fastest college football player since ECU's Chris Johnson, and his jump cuts and jukes are reminiscent of WVU's Noel Devine. If he can build on his 18 touchdown coming-out party, he'll be in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy. If his homecoming (DAT was born in LA) on Nov. 3rd ends with him getting the best of Matt Barkely and the Trojans, Oregon may end up with their first Heisman Trophy winner.
- Punt Returner - LSU
During the final game of the regular season, Arkansas punted to him three times with TM7
racking up 115 yards and a touchdown. Georgia didn't learn it's lesson in the SEC title game and punted to him four times, one of which was a 62-yard touchdown return. Nick Saban had seen enough. Alabama only punted to him once in the title game and the high punt reined him in.
When teams punted to him more than twice in a game last season, as Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia and Oregon did, there was a 50% chance he'd take one to the house. If teams punt to him he'll be the best return man in the nation, period.
- P - LSU
At one point last season, teams were averaging 18 inches (not a typo) per return against this guy.
- Head Coach - Southern Cal
Treading water time is over. Kiffin kept the program from going under and now that he convinced Barkley and McDonald to return, this team is the only hope college football has of dethroning the SEC. As an in-game coach, he has improved greatly, evidenced by USC's 38 point outburst against Oregon last November.
- Offensive Coordinator - Oklahoma State
The former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver coach took full advantage of his first opportunity calling the shots. The Cowboys exploded, going for 48.7 ppg in 2011. If he can keep things rolling with a true freshman quarterback this fall, ADs will start making inquiries in Stillwater.
- Defensive Coordinator - Alabama
He was the man behind the Crimson curtain last season, the baddest defense college football may ever see. It may take a mega head-coaching offer like Texas or Florida to pull Smart away from Saban and Tuscaloosa.
Jan. 1st, 2013
Oregon vs. Michigan State
Jan. 1st, 2013
Florida State vs. Louisville
Jan. 2nd, 2013
LSU vs. West Virginia
Jan. 3rd, 2013
Texas vs. Wisconsin
Jan. 7th, 2013
BCS National Title
Southern Cal vs. South Carolina
Top 5 Incoming Impact Freshman (Adrian Peterson Award)
- WR - Mizzou
- WR - South Carolina
- RB - Georgia
- QB - Oklahoma State
- WR - Oklahoma
Top 5 Incoming Impact Transfers (Cam Newton Award)
- RB - PSU to USC
- RB - Oregon to Baylor
- QB - Texas to SMU
- FS - Florida to Western Kentucky
- WR - USC to Northwestern
Matt Barkley - QB - Southern Cal
Geno Smith - QB - West Virginia
Marcus Lattimore - RB - South Carolina *Winner
De'Anthony Thomas - RB/WR/RS - Oregon