Expectations are sky-high at this time of the year and the defending national champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes, are the college football odds on favorites to repeat. Let’s take a look at the preseason top contenders for 2015.
Ohio State (+300)
Talk about an embarrassment of riches the Buckeyes are proud owners of just that. Urban Meyer got way out in front of a three-man logjam at quarterback when he stated that former All-Everything quarterback and fifth-year senior Braxton Miller will now ply his trade as the H-Back in the Ohio State offense. Miller was injured last season and before the Buckeye faithful could orchestrate a parade of tears, mourning a season lost before it began, understudy J.T. Barrett took the reins and rode the Buckeyes offense like he had been doing it his whole life. As if one fairytale story wasn’t enough, Barrett got injured and third-stringer Cardale Jones was summoned for a primetime appearance in the National Championship and killed it. This offense is immense as all the key pieces are back, aside from losing wideout Devin Smith to the NFL, and the Buckeyes loom large once again on the national stage.
If you live in or around the Tuscaloosa area then you already know it’s Nick Saban’s world and you’re just living in it. However the Tide lost a boatload of talented players to the next level and their offense is a question mark with the quarterback situation unresolved and the sublime receiving skills of Amari Cooper gone but not forgotten. The Alabama defense is still among the best but Saban needs to gel the offense. History says he will.
The Tigers will see their fair share of absences from last year’s roster but the depth they have established behind last season’s starters and their highly touted recruits should make this a tough offense to contain. The defense is still an issue which is why Will Muschamp was summoned back to his old stomping grounds and became the highest paid defensive coordinator in college football upon his return. The Tigers aren’t paying all that dough to stay porous on defense but don’t expect a miracle. The Tigers will still be a bit toothless on the defensive side of the ball - at least for this season.
The Horned Frogs boast the frontrunner in this year's Heisman Trophy sweepstakes in senior quarterback Trevone Boykin and as Boykin goes so too goes the TCU offense. The Frogs also made sure head coach Gary Patterson stuck around by signing the 2014 Coach of the Year to a long term deal. The offense looks poised for greatness but the defense may be an issue with the departures of Paul Dawson and Chris Hackett. Nevertheless this squad looks like a lock for the Big 12 title and perhaps a trip to college football's version of the Final Four.
The Trojans were an offensive juggernaut last season putting up an average of almost 36 points per game in '14 and will return Cody Kessler under center as a fifth year senior. All appears to be on track for another season full of crooked numbers on the scoreboard but the defense will have to somehow fill the gaping void left by All-American defensive lineman Leonard Williams and last season's leading tackler Hayes Pullard.
Notre Dame (+1800)
Wideout Will Fuller is the man to watch in South Bend this season after a sophomore season that saw the Philadelphia native haul in 76 receptions to go along with 1,094 yards and 15 trips to the endzone. Fuller will be catching passes from either Everett Golson or Malik Zaire but this offense has plenty of experience, a better than solid offensive line and oodles of depth at the skill positions. Unfortunately the defense needs plenty of work after allowing an average of over 29 points per game last season.