By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
While Xavier men’s soccer continues to impress, most colleges and universities across the country are coming alive for a new season of college football.
I-71 neighbor Ohio State may be the most intriguing team in the nation. Last season, the Buckeyes got off to a rocky start when starting quarterback Braxton Miller hurt his shoulder during training camp. The injury required surgery that sidelined Miller for the entire season, throwing freshman J.T. Barrett into the fire.
After squeaking out a win against Navy and suffering an unwarranted loss to Virginia Tech, Barrett catapulted the Buckeyes back among the nation’s elite and himself into Heisman consideration. After Barrett suffered a season-ending ankle injury against rival Michigan, third-string Junior Cardale Jones assumed his spot on the quarterback carousel.
Jones carried the team to a national championship in the first year of the College Football Playoff system, leaving the Buckeyes with three quality quarterbacks as they went into spring training. Since last season’s end, Miller switched positions to wide receiver in an effort to better prepare for the NFL, leaving the recovering Heisman-hopeful Barrett and a constantly improving Jones in a battle to be the starting signal-caller – placing coach Urban Meyer in an enviable situation.
Jones was eventually named the starter and will have an abundance of weapons at his disposal between Miller, standout junior running back Ezekiel Elliott and the expected cushion that will come from a dominant Buckeye defense led by a slew of potential All-Americans.
The Buckeyes will certainly have their hands full now that storied rival Michigan hired the entertaining John Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s highly confrontational approach to the game led to success as the head coach for both Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers (NFL).
Among the remaining college football landscape, nearby Notre Dame looks to have solidified the quarterback position with sophomore Malik Zaire after riding the Everett Golson roller coaster for three seasons. Golson led the Fighting Irish to an undefeated 2012 regular season before losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Golson then sat out the 2013 season due to academic issues. After a disappointing 2014 season, Golson was benched and eventually transferred to Florida State where he hopes to take over for a departed Jameis Winston (the No. 1 overall pick in the most recent NFL Draft). Oregon also hopes to replace an elite quarterback since Marcus Marriota departed for the NFL (selected second overall to the Tennessee Titans).
Playoff snub TCU will have to overcome the high-octane offense of conference foe Baylor to prove their worth this season behind the salient quarterback Trevor Boykins. The Horned Frogs were destined for a playoff berth before being jumped by Ohio State at the last possible moment after the Buckeyes and Cardale Jones shutout the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten championship game.