By: Adam Purvis ~Staff Writer~
The college football season kicked off this past Saturday in Australia, as the California Golden Bears took down the Hawaii Warriors in the season’s opening game. The bulk of the action will start this Saturday, with plenty of highly anticipated games slated for fan enjoyment.
Week one of the 2016 season is set to be one of the strongest starts in history thanks to the College Football Playoff committee’s emphasis on strength of schedule and big neutral-site games. There are three head-tohead matchups of teams that finished ranked in last year’s final College Football Playoff Top 25: Oklahoma vs. Houston, at noon, Alabama vs. USC, at 8 p.m. and Florida State vs. Ole Miss, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.
Other big games can be found outside of dual-Top 25 contests, with Saturday also featuring Notre Dame vs. Texas, Clemson vs. Auburn, LSU vs. Wisconsin and UCLA vs. Texas A&M.
Ohio State seems poised for another big year, much to the delight of local college football fans. The Buckeyes will surely face some challenges after losing Ezekiel Elliot, Cardale Jones, Joey Bosa and plenty more to the NFL, but an Urban Meyer-led team has always seemed to find its way. J.T. Barrett looks to regain the form that he found his freshman year when he acted as the replacement quarterback for Braxton Miller. OSU will be starting off its season at home against Bowling Green on Sept. 3 at noon, with young talent ready to shine.
As the winners of the National Championship last year, Alabama has high expectations for the 2016 campaign. The Crimson Tide’s offense should be as explosive as last year’s unit with new tight end O.J. Howard and receiving duo Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. The issue for Alabama lies in who will throw these talented receivers the ball, as no starting quarterback has been named for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban has had many candidates for the quarterback position and has narrowed it down to two for the opening of the season: Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett. Though Alabama has never been known for the high-profile play at quarterback, there will always be question marks surrounding a team that hasn’t named a starter a mere few days before the start of the season.
Clemson opens the season at No. 2 in the polls, returning a plethora of starters from last season’s team that lost to Alabama in the National Championship game.
Coach Dabo Sweeney will turn to quarterback DeShaun Watson to lead the Tigers, with Watson opening the season as the oddson favorite to take home the Heisman trophy. Watson finished third in Heisman voting in 2015.
Fans should also watch out for Stanford’s Christian McCafferey, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and LSU’s Leonard Fournette in the Heisman race, as they join Watson and J.T. Barrett at the top of the bill. Playmakers tend to make the college football season that much more exciting, and the 2016 season is packed full of them.