Auburn (+5000 at BetOnline to win the 2020 NCAAF Championship) will make huge strides from last season. A reason why they finished 7-5 was their offensive line, which was particularly weak during the beginning of the season. This weakness was significant given Auburn’s proclivity to establish the run. Auburn had had to replace four departing senior blockers and its offensive line coach, so it took time for the Tigers to jell. When they did, a pleasant surprise turned out to be left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, who was PFF’s 17th highest-graded offensive lineman. Wanogho decided to return for his senior season. Auburn will not have to replace any starters on its offensive line like they did last year. Every one will return.
The defensive line also looks strong. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown decided to return. He had been projected as a first-rounder after accruing 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. Brown will be accompanied by defensive end Marlon Davidson, who achieved 3.5 sacks and three passes defensed last season.
Oregon (+2500 at BetOnline to win the 2020 NCAAF Championshiip) will contend for the Pac-12 title and maybe more. The Ducks return star quarterback Justin Herbert. He had been projected as one of the first picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Their starting right tackle, Calvin Throckmorton, will return. He was ranked top-seven in both pass- and run-blocking and was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12. He will be joined by all four of last year’s other starting offensive linemen.
The defense gets a huge boost by Troy Dye’s decision to return. The linebacker is the defense’s leader, which he led with 109 tackles. He creates havoc behind the line of scrimmage and pursues the opposing ball carrier from sideline to sideline.
Texas (+2000 at BetOnline to win 2020 NCAAF Championship) will lose a lot of seniors who will play in the NFL. But in terms of underclassmen who were deciding whether they wanted to declare for the NFL draft, Texas counts as a winner. The top returner at wide receiver will be Collin Johnson, the former five-star prospect, who, at 6″6, is known for his acrobatic catches and ability to leap for balls in the air. He had a career-best 68 receptions, 985 yards, and seven touchdowns.
On defense, safety Brandon Jones elected to return for his senior season. He was the team’s fourth-leading tackler despite missing four games due to injury. Jones also created havoc, accruing 5.5 tackles for loss. His experience and physicality will be crucial next year. A few hours after Collin Johnson, Malcolm Roach also decided to return. He’s a versatile defender who makes plays at various positions, including linebacker, defensive tackle, and defensive end. Although he spent much of last season injured, he accrued nine tackles combined in the Big 12 Championship and Sugar Bowl.
Miami (+5000 at BetOnline to win 2020 NCAAF Championship) became a draft deadline winner after the team’s former defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, became Miami’s new head coach. Some key defenders responded with the decision to forego the NFL draft and return to the team. One is linebacker Shaq Quarterman, who was second on the team with 82 tackles. He also created a lot of havoc, accruing five sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. Quarterman was loved by NFL scouts for his size at 6″1, 240 pounds, physicality, and durability. He was an every-game starter and brought a lot of energy on every play, both in pursuing the ball carrier and defending passes.
Another key returner likewise brings significant experience to Miami’s defense. Linebacker Michael Pinckney was Miami’s third-leading tackler and finished just behind Quarterman in sacks and tackles for loss. All of Miami’s linebackers, including Zach McCloud, will have started together since 2016.
Michigan State (+3000 at Bovada to win 2020 National Title) will still have an elite defense. The Spartans ranked fifth in opposing scoring and enjoyed the top-ranked run defense. Major contributions were played by All-American defensive end Kenny Willekes, team leader and leading tackler Joe Bachie, and starting defensive tackles Mike Panasiuk and Raequan Williams. All of these players have decided to return to East Lansing.